Friday, March 31, 2006

Scenes from "Gran Marcha"

Here’s a rare non-gun post.

Blood pressure alert. If you’re prone to high blood pressure, abdominal cramps, anger management issues, and other health problems you might want to refuse to click on this link. It’s from an organization that’s happy with illegal immigration and support a “return” of North America to the true indigenous people. They want to combat “European terrorism” and send us all packing.

The site has many photos of the recent “gran marcha” in California from their point of view. I know not every illegal immigrant, legal immigrant, native-born Hispanic, etc. agrees with these sentiments. In fact, it’s probably a minority who thinks this way. Still, they’re out there and they don’t mind us knowing about them. You’ll note that captions are in English.

You’ll see photos of posters and read captions that’ll get your blood boiling. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

BAG Day Dilemma Solved (Partially)

I mentioned that I am having a BAG (Buy A Gun) Day dilemma. I’m just not sure what to buy this year. My earlier post garnered a lot of welcome advice, but I already own most of the guns y’all recommended. What can I say—I’m a woman who’d rather buy guns than shoes. Besides, have you ever priced Manolo Blahnik shoes? Guns don’t cost as much and last a lot longer.

There’s one gun I saw recently that talked to me. It’s a Colt Model 1903 Pocket Pistol. I already own one of these wonderful little guns, but this other one has a deep blue that was discontinued in 1914 and the very old pattern grips. Right now it’s a little too pricey for me, so it can shout and scream all it wants, but it’s going to stay in the gun dealer’s case.

I will be attending a gun show in a couple of weeks and I’m leaving my options open just in case I see a collectible piece for a good price (as if I’ll ever see that at a gun show).

In the likely event that I won’t see such a gun, I’ve picked out two guns, one of which I’ll buy for BAG Day depending on price and availability. Drum roll, maestro.

The first and slightly higher in my priorities is a coach gun suitable for Cowboy Action Shooting. I’ve toyed with the idea of giving Cowboy shooting a try. It’s a three gun contest, looks fun, and I’ve got all the guns I need except for a Cowboy-type shotgun. The Baikal-made Remington-distributed Spartan shotgun could fit the bill (second one on the page). I like the exposed hammers simply because all my other shotguns don’t have exposed hammers and if one’s going to be old-fashioned then one might as well go whole hog.

My second choice is a .22 caliber plinking handgun. I hate to admit, but I don’t own one yet. I’ve used Bill's Beretta Neos, but there’s nothing like shooting your own gun. If I see one that I like (they do come in different colors and patterns), I’ll buy a Walther P22. I’d probably go with the extended 5 inch target barrel, but then again for plinking….

So, that’s my BAG Day plans. Be sure to make some of your own.

Bane on ATF and Custom Gunsmithing

Michael Bane has a very important post up on yet another ATF abuse. Be sure to go over there and give the whole thing a read.

In a nutshell, it seems like ATF may prosecute custom gunsmiths for “manufacturing” a gun without a license. The new definition of manufacturing is if a gunsmith substantially altered a gun from its original appearance. That seems to me to be the very definition of custom gunsmithing.

It may be a tempest in a teapot, but if not it needs to be nipped in the bud.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Trash Shooters on Public Lands

Jed at Freedom Sight discusses a free shooting range that may be shut down soon. Is it because anti-gunnies rallying against it? No, in this case, “We have met the enemy and he is us” (Walt Kelly in his comic strip Pogo). Trash shooters are causing the potential shut-down.

The United States Forest Service runs a range in Pike National Forest. The Forest Service receives monies under the Pittman-Robertson Act. Part of act mandated the provision of “free” target shooting ranges. Every gunnie pays for this range thanks to an 11% tax on ammunition, sporting arms, and archery equipment. There is also a 10% tax on handguns.

Trash shooters come to the range and leaving everything from used targets to kitchen appliances. Volunteers have tried to keep the range looking halfway decent, but haven’t been able to keep up. Forest Service officials are looking at closing it unless a private operator can take it over.

Jed points to other public lands that he’s seen trashed. He counsels us to clean up after ourselves or better yet, take out more trash than we take in. Good advice.

I have some experience shooting at a Forest Service range; one set up in Florida in the Apalachicola National Forest near Tallahassee, Florida. I shot there in the mid-1980s, so my memory may play a trick or two.

The Forest Service had done a good job with it. There was a covered shooting area with about ten stations with a long shooting counter. Target frames, made of 2x4s, were set in notches cast in concrete lanes that ran parallel to the shooting area and were spaced about 10, 25, 50, and 100 yards. There was a picnic table and an enclosed latrine with a fiberglass “toilet.”

The range was clean and in decent repair and I believe it’s still there because it is shown on on this map (warning pdf).

What bugged me though is some people couldn’t resist shooting stuff other than the targets. There were holes in the shooting areas roof, in the picnic table. People even shot up the toilet. What skill is there involved with hitting a toilet?

I remember seeing a sign at the range that warned that the Forest Service might close the range if people didn’t keep their bullets down range. They pointed out there were several forest roads and hiking trails near by. The bullet holes in the sign were testimony to its effectiveness.

I love to plink, but I always clean up after myself. There may be some gun owners who’ll think I’m a nag if I suggest that they do the same thing. A small minority of trash shooters could well close public lands to all shooters.

So, I’m going to be a nag. If you’re a trash shooter, STOP it. If you don’t know you’re a trash shooter, take this simple quiz:
*Do you shoot everything that doesn’t move in a 360 circle around you regardless of common sense?
*Do you shoot at junk that you bring with you, but don’t clean up before you leave?
*Do you shoot up road, safety, information, other signs or public property?
*Do you shoot toilets that don’t belong to you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, reform or hang up your guns before you ruin shooting for the rest of us.

Monday, March 27, 2006

NRA Voting

Bill and I took time to recuperate the last couple of days. We had a nasty flu that’s going around—one which I’ve had for about two weeks. Except for one errand, we stayed in the house for three days straight and ended up with cabin fever. Better cabin fever than the flu and we do feel better now.

I was gratified to see Ten Ring had a lot of readers recently, over 450 on one day alone. That’s almost a personal best. I think most of the attention centered on my post about hot brass finding its way down one’s blouse. If I’d known how much attention that post would get, I would have breast-blogged earlier. Nah, they’ll be looking for pictures and I’m not about to try that.

Now to the meat of this post (I hear a collective sigh of relief). I’m a voting member of the NRA and I finally completed my Board of Directors ballot. If you too are a voting member don’t forget to get your ballot in. You have until April 30.

When I voted, I kept gun rights firmly in mind. All nominees on the ballot have impressive credentials, but it matters less to me if a candidate is a hunter, competitive shooter, or a former military hero. Any of those credentials are important, but I looked for people who have fought gun-grabbers in courts, in media, in political office, or elsewhere. I believe I found several good ones.

Now I gotta say that every time I blog about the National Rifle Association and mention that I’m a Life Member, I get comments on how NRA compromises too much, how they support “existing” gun laws, and other issues. I’m going to head off the comments by admitting that NRA has problems. What organization doesn’t?

I support NRA because I believe that without the organization, even with its missteps, we would be virtually stripped of our gun rights today. At the same time, I know we’ve lost much especially compared to my grandfather’s time.

Sometimes NRA representatives and lobbyists even backed certain laws that even ended up taking away our liberties. The passage of the NRA-backed Firearms Protection Act (FOPA) is a case in point. It included the last minute Hughes Amendment which makes it impossible for financially average gun owners to afford a fully automatic collector’s piece no matter how good a citizen he or she is.

But, I know that politics is the art of compromise. Many gun control bills would have passed no matter what NRA did. Certainly the 1968 Gun Control Act—the mother of all infringements—would have passed. NRA was at the table and did what it could do to soften the act. They later backed the aforementioned FOPA which further eased the impact of the 1968 assault on our gun rights.

We gunnies can take a no compromise attitude, refuse to negotiate with gun banners, and discuss how gun control laws are immoral and unconstitutional until we’re blue in the face. While we do, we‘ll watch our rights erode like a child’s sand castle when the tide comes in.

Gun banners and those who vote for their lies simply ignore us. Look at Massachusetts where I used to live. I hate to say it, but most voters there are proud of their state’s gun laws and would be happy to enact more. Massachusetts courts certainly won’t protect us and US Courts aren’t much better.

I can wish that more people and our government agencies supported gun rights and NRA could become a target shooting club again. But that’s not the reality we face and that’s why I support the only gun lobbying group that has been able to defeat gun banners often if not always.

There’s an old saying that’s apropos here, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” NRA is far from perfect, but it has done good work for us. I also plan on doing what I can as a member to keep their collective feet to the fire and let its leaders know that most of us support an unfettered and uncompromised Second Amendment.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What Not to Wear

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Day by Day comic strip and not just for its occasional gunnie content. Gun blogs have been all a twitter with the recent series because two characters Zed and Sam are taking Damon and Jan to a gun range. Jan is liberal and thinks she hates guns; we’ll see. If you need to catch up, click on March 20 and then keep reading.

This strip discusses what to wear at a range.

It brings up a very important point and I realized I’ve never addressed the dangers of hot brass and female flesh. I don’t want to leave such an important topic to anti-gunnies who might try to scare women away from shooting. They might preach about “dangers” of shooting and advise all sorts of impractical safety gear.

I’ve shot countless rounds in all kinds of weather and in all sorts of clothing. I found out that brass from your gun or someone else’s seems to have a mind of its own. Brass can get everywhere, particularly .22 brass. I’ve found it in my shoes, caught in my hair, almost everywhere (no further details guys).

In my younger days, I once wore a tube top as the cartoon says—once was enough. Hot brass found the first hint of cleavage and headed south from there. Watching me fish brass out of places I wish it hadn’t gone was way too entertaining for other people shooting that day.

I also remember wearing a sleeveless tee with a scoop neck. Two things plagued me--brass finding the ole cleavage again (see above) and other peoples’ brass bouncing on my bare arms.

I remember shooting on a cool autumn day wearing a high neck tee-shirt and a barn-type jacket. Damn if hot brass didn’t find it’s way inside my bra again.

What can I say, the “twins” are made to be brass catchers. It has something to do with the way a bra creates a funnel shape under clothing. I’ve gotten so used to shaking brass out of there that I just ignore it until I get home. It doesn’t hurt for long. Besides, on a cold New England day, you need all the warmth you can get.

There’s other places brass can go on women and men. I was shooting our AR-15s with Yosemite Sam (Bill) and his brass kept hitting me while we were in the standing position. One of his hot cases hit the top of my head and bounced down between my glasses and my left eye. Now that hurt and I had a loaded gun in my hands. By the time I safed my gun, the brass had cooled and I had a luxurious eye rub after I left the firing line.

On a serious note, brass rarely hurts beyond a sting, but there are things that can hurt you. I’ve had bits of bullets splash off steel targets and hit me with enough force to cause a bruise. If one bit had gone directly into an unprotected eye, I might be wearing an eye patch and saying, “Arrgghh, me hearties” today.

In summary, some sort of “Brady Bunch Armor” is not necessary, but ear and eye protection is mandatory. Your eye protection should have wrap around frames that prevent anything from coming between them and your eye. Wearing a long sleeve shirt with a high neck, pants, and a cap are good ideas. I always follow this advice now except for a cap, sometimes.

Shooting is fun and a safe activity for women (except for those who are pregnant). Yes, I’ve had a few “owies” while shooting, but I’ve never had one leave a scar, not even in my cleavage (no, pictures are not available).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Winchester, Smith & Wesson, and New Haven

Here's a bit of potential good news for Winchester fans. Smith & Wesson will visit the New Haven, Connecticut Winchester factory to discuss a possible takeover of the plant with city officials. According to the New Haven Register, two other gun makers are in similar conversations.

City officials are trying to strike a deal with Herstal of Belgium the current plant owners. The city will forgive certain tax and other issues if Herstal cedes the plant to another gun maker. At the same time, Olin owns the Winchester brand and would have to allow another company to use the brand. It's a complicated situation with a lot of chances for failure, but maybe Winchester '94s, Model 70s, and 1300s will return.

The paper's article intrigued me on another level. Here's a Northeastern newspaper publishing an article about guns with no snarkiness. Yeah, there's a play on words, "City officials and a slew of hired guns have worked find a buyer...." The author couldn't resist that one, but the rest of the article says nothing about "evil killing machines" as we tend to expect from urban Eastern newspapers--or maybe that's just me.

Surprisingly, the article's authors also did their homework and report a little firearms history. It mentions that Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson faced hard times and were forced to sell out to Oliver Winchester. If this deal works out, it will prove that history has a sense of humor.

Now, if Smith & Wesson begins to make Winchesters, I hope they've fixed their own recent quality control problem.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Massachusetts Bothers Me

Gun banners make me tired. They just won't stop mumbling their poisoned mantra, "Guns are bad, we won't ban sportsmen's guns, except all guns are bad, and then we will define out of existence all sportsmen's guns, trust us, trust us, o mani padmi hmm." Repeat ad infinitum.

So, what set me off today? Glad you asked. Bruce of mAssBackwards found this little poison pill in the Boston Globe. It's an unsigned editorial from yesterday--meaning it's the voice of the editorial board. They're dismayed at a perceived glut of guns coming from New Hampshire and Maine. Bruce covers it well so be sure to click-click on the link above and give it a read--it's well worth your time.

I had a ho-hum feeling after my first reading of the editorial. Wow, Boston Globe editors don't like guns. There's a newsflash for you. Jeez, their editors support things that would harm honest gun owners. Stop the presses.

But, hidden inside the editorial there's an insidious little worm that left me cold and caused a closer read. Here's the entire paragraph:
Local and federal law enforcement officials in Boston can't do much to influence handgun policies in the Southern states, where about a third of the illegal guns found in Boston originate. But the increasing levels of regional cooperation required by homeland security concerns suggest that police departments and federal officials could join forces to close gun show loopholes across New England. [Emphasis mine.]
What the hell does this mean? Liberal pundits and newspapers have been excoriating the Patriot Act and other anti-terrorism measures as a threat to freedom and now they're turning around and saying it is a good thing. Guys, it's one or the other. You can't support library and press freedoms while advocating the suppression of gun freedoms. The tools forged to accomplish the latter can and will be used against the former at least some day.

I don't know if "regional cooperation required by homeland security" poses a real threat to New Hampshire, Maine, or Vermont gunnies. Maybe it could even be a good thing if free states could force Massachusetts to ameliorate its laws (fat chance). Still, it leaves me cold.

I moved out of Massachusetts to get away from its freaking gun laws. Now that damn state is trying to bring them into New Hampshire.

So you Massachusetts pols, stop trying to subvert our gun laws. We're happy with them. Stop trying to pervert the English language itself (gun show loophole indeed). Take care of your own damn problems and leave the rest of us alone.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Bullseye Shooting and "Shooting Gallery"

Bill and I were kinda out of it this weekend. We ended up with a miserable head cold. I started getting ill on Friday and Bill followed on Saturday. Normally we're the picture or rosy-cheeked health, but lately viruses are having their way with us. I blame it on the lingering winter that must kick us one more time before it leaves these granite hills. It ruined our planned day of shooting, it did.

But, nature has a way of granting boons as well as exacting tribute. Bill and I went to our Thursday night bullseye league and maybe because of the incipient work of a maliginant virus, we both shot excellently. I posted my personal best aggregate score. When I saw my score, I could of turned a cartwheel. Bill posted his second-best score. I don't know if catching a cold really helped or not, but I do know that strange things affect one's shooting for good or bad.

I think what happens is that shooting is a body, mind, practice thing. If you try to force your mind over your body, your body doesn't follow the right path and youl end up with a poor shot. Conversely if you don't have the proper concentration, you won't make the shot.

I like to describe precision shooting as zen. That is, that you do something without conscious thought, but in such a way that you become the shot.

I know it sounds like mystical claptrap, but I don't know how to put it into other words. But I'll try to desribe it. It's living in the moment of easing that trigger back perfectly while maintaining perfect sight alignment. You forget the guy next to you, you ignore the aggregate score, you don't think of work, fun, food, the weekend, anything. You become that shot.

I'm far from the only person who's described precision shooting as zen. Here's a series of articles in the Encyclopedia of Bullseye Shooting on zen and shooting. The Encyclopedia has other great articles on the practice of bullseye shooting.

Finally, through referrals I found that Ten Ring is listed on "Shooting Gallery's" webpage of blogs and articles. If you're not familiar with "Shooting Gallery," it's a television show devoted to shooting sports. Bill and I watch it every Friday night on cable on the Outdoor Channel. The show has featured professionals shooting Steel Challenge matchs, interviews with Jeff Cooper, tours of the annual SHOT show, cowboy action shooting, and just about everything else.

Michael Bane hosts "Shooting Gallery" and produces or writes for several other shooting shows. Bill and I met him briefly at the NRA Convention in Houston last year. He's a class act.

Ten Ring is not the only blog listed on "Shooting Gallery's" blog page. Also here are Alphecca, AnarchAngel, Cogito Ergo Geek, and Resistance is Futile. Plenty of gunnie goodness to read.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Lying Liars

This is probably not news anymore thanks to Internet speed (closely related to "ludicrous speed" from the movie Spaceballs). The City of New Orleans is facing a lawsuit dealing with their illegal confiscation of law-abiding people's firearms after Hurricane Katrina. City lawyers said they don't have a big room full of guns they confiscated from its citizens.

Well, someone finally spilled the beans and city lawyers had to give a tour of a big room full of guns they confiscated from its citizens. Alphecca has clipped the news story.

Why do anti-gunnies have to lie (i.e., "there's no room full of guns")? They say they believe that they're in the right, but they lie. Of course, they have to lie because truth and logic are not on their side. Lies are all they have. I've noticed that gun control groups are the worst liars followed closely by police and district attorneys. This time they got caught in the lie.

Maybe Patricia Konie will finally get her gun back. Maybe she'll end up owning what's left of the City of New Orleans. Maybe someone could finally lock up those cops who abused her rights so terribly--if they could be extradited from California.

Maybe justice will be done and those who would steal the rightful property of lawful gun owners will get their just deserts. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Support BAG Day

I have a real dilemma. I don’t know what I want for BAG (Buy a Gun) Day on April 15. I feel like a kid sitting on Santa Claus’s lap days before Christmas crying out, “ I don’t know what I want for Christmas.” What’s a girl to do?

Other people already have a handle on their BAG Day purchases. Jay G has several guns on his list. Smallest Minority already bought his. They have it together. I don’t.

For those new to BAG Day, here’s a post from a year ago that explains it. I supported the idea last year and support it now. It’s simple, the more people who own guns, the less likely it is that people will vote our gun rights out of existence.
Springfield Armory's "Organ of Guns"

I’m not talking about people who want to control our lives although they exist. I’m talking about those folks who don’t understand that a gun is a tool demonized by would-be gun banners. Guns have no moral compass. They are nothing more than a simple machine used by bad guys or good guys. They have many purposes beyond self-defense or offense. You can use guns for target shooting, hunting, and they ward off tyranny.

Yes, ward off tyranny. When we gunnies say such things, gun banners like to point out the absurdity of a group of ordinary citizens defeating a US military turned into a tyrant’s tool. But they are being disingenuous. Armed Americans couldn’t defeat any military in straight up battles, but they could become “insurgents.” Any dictator from the right or left realizes that taking on an armed American people would only result in years of turmoil and strife.

Dictators hate turmoil. It can cause their army to stop supporting the state and throw its lot in with the people. When that happens a tyrant is through. He ends up a suicide, on the wrong end of a firing squad, or living in exile (France seems like a popular spot). An armed populace is thus a deterrent for any tinhorn who wants to become a dictator.

It troubles me that so many “progressives” have a mixed message when it comes to guns and freedom. They say they fear a police state, but still support gun control schemes. The result of this paradox is a country in which only criminals and a possibly politicized police force own guns. I wouldn’t want to live in a country like that.

To sum up, guns in the hands of honest people are not a problem, but there are those who make them a problem. They want total bans and will patiently work to ban them one small step at a time.

I can imagine what would happen after a total ban on guns. Smugglers would soon bring them in from other countries. Thieves would steal them from police and military arsenals (particularly thieves who are employed in those arsenals). Entrepreneurs would buy machine tools and make new guns. I know I’m right, because this happened in England where all handguns are banned.

So that’s why I support BAG Day as an opportunity for good men and women to go out and buy a gun. Tax refunds are good for something aren't they? Let’s increase America’s true arsenal—the guns held by the American people. Now I have to decide what to buy. I have no idea unless a gun “speaks” to me before April 15. Any ideas (and I need to watch my pennies right now)?

(NOTE: Sorry about not posting for a couple of days. Work gets in the way of fun and blogging all the time.)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Getting Well and a Shooting Weekend

I looked out of the window this morning and saw blue sky. I wondered if the weatherman was right for a change. The thermometer mounted outside our living room window read 50 degrees. Woohoo, it is a nice day.

I'm still a little bit sick from whatever crud I picked up, but I got to work yesterday where my boss kept saying, "take it easy today, you look terrible, and oh can you get this done and that and then follow up on another thing." So, work was not fun, but sometime about 2:00 pm yesterday, I suddenly felt a hundred times better.

When I woke up this morning, I actually felt like a human being again instead of a virus's incubator. Couple that feeling with a nice day and what's a gun nut to do? I went shooting.

The operative word in that last sentence is "I." As nature ordains these things, Bill (Yosemite Sam) is now sick. He's moaning in the bed even as I write saying things like, "I feel terrible." and "I'm sick, leave me alone."

So I went to our gun club and shot by myself. Because I'm still slightly ill, I got more tired than I usually would, but I had fun. It felt so good to get out and burn some powder even if I shot only handguns.

I finally took my Model 1912 Steyr-Hahn out. I shot ten shots from it (the ammo's expensive and I really own it as a collector's item). My first shot strayed to somewhere near the Shoot-n-See. I adjusted my sight picture somewhat and hit the center of the Shoot-n-See. After that, I kept the rest of the rounds near the center. It's a very accurate pistol for having minimalist early Twentieth Century military sights. The recoil was very light. I was impressed with it's accuracy and the way it handled. However, loading it with a stripper clip was awkward.

Thanks for all the get well wishes you sent. They worked for me. Keep 'em coming for Bill. Have fun with your own shooting.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Gun Nut Book Review

The Art of Shooting by Charles Edward Chapel
My Copy of The Art of Shooting

I haven’t done a gunnie book review for awhile, and because I’m still home sick with a crud that won’t go away, I’ve got plenty of time to read. That is, I read until my eyes get tired, then I get bored, read again until my eyes get tired, and repeat the cycle. What is it about flu that makes your eyes hurt? It’s just not fair (using my most petulant, little girl voice). Well, enough about me, here’s a discussion about a book that’s almost as old as I am.

Charles Edward Chapel was a prolific gun writer in the 1950s and 1960s. A former Marine and aeronautical engineer, he once served in the California State Legislature. His passion was gun writing and he was very good at it. A list of his books would only get boring to the reader, but here is what lists under his name.

He wrote Guns of the Old West, which is still an authority on the topic and has been republished over 40 years after he wrote it. He wrote about cleaning and caring for guns, shooting rifles, pistols, and shotguns, and every thing else dealing with guns. He even wrote a book with an intriguing title, The Boys Book of Rifles. Try to get that past a publisher’s desk now.

I picked up The Art of Shooting in a used bookstore. I recognized the author’s name from a book or two my father owned. I thought it would be worth reading and I was right. “The Art of Shooting” is a combination of two earlier books, Simplified Rifle Shooting and Simplified Pistol and Revolver Shooting. I haven’t read the earlier books, so I’m not sure how much he updated them for the single volume published in 1960.

The Art of Shooting contains excellent information on shooting. It’s a sport that doesn’t change in its bare essentials; sight alignment, sight picture, trigger squeeze. Even though we have many new gun sports that didn’t exist in 1960 (Sporting Clays, Cowboy Action Shooting, Practical Pistol, etc.), there are still many things in his book that are useful for us to learn. Many rifle shooters, for instance, have forgotten the art of the sling. There’s a section that will reacquaint you with that useful device.

Of course, there are anachronisms. There is little mention of women as shooters and Chapel seems to go out of his way to say things like “…men on the firing line.” I think Chapel would have welcomed women shooters. He mentioned that a .22 rifle is an ideal first gun for a young boy or girl. However, he doesn’t go out of his way to encourage women to take up shooting.

Chapel wrote at a time when gun rights were not under siege. As an NRA member, he includes a chapter on advantages of NRA membership. Not once does he discuss protecting our gun rights as a benefit of NRA membership. It simply wasn’t an issue YET.

Even a simple, declarative, true sentence like, “The right to own firearms and acquire skill in their use is a basic part of the democratic way of life.” (Preface, p. 7) would need to be hedged with an argument today simply because today’s reader might question that position. Chapel doesn’t shy away from the fact that marksmanship is an important skill for future soldiers who may have to kill another human being.

There are a couple of things on which I part company with Mr. Chapel. For instance, he talks about how to shoot running deer even at long yardage. I hunt and would not take a shot like that because there’s too much risk of injuring the animal and only a snowball’s chance of making a quick, clean kill. Still, his discussion of hitting moving targets with a rifle is interesting and would be useful in other contexts.

Chapel writes well with a gift for making a complex topic easy to follow. The Art of Shooting is written for a non-expert on guns. There are parts that assume the reader has no knowledge and I admit I got a little tired of the section on the history of firearm development. Still, I learned a little bit more while reading it.

If you find yourself laid low with a virus and you want to read clear gun writing, buy yourself a used copy and enjoy stepping back in time. You’ll find yourself in a time when a prolific gun writer and avid shooter could get elected to the California State Legislature.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

One From the Vault

Baikal IZH-35M
What’s the nicest thing one could say about this ugly duckling of a gun? How about that it shoots extremely accurately and reliably?
Bill's Target Pistol

Yosemite Sam’s (Bill’s) uses a Baikal IZH-35M as his bullseye pistol. It’s a semi-automatic target pistol chambered in .22 long rifle made in Russia and was once imported by European American Armory (EAA).

It’s an interesting hunk of metal when you start looking at it. The slide sits under the barrel. What appears to be a slide is really an immobile upper cowling. Instead, you push back two tabs near the gun's muzzle and thus shove the internal bolt back. Its hammer is exposed, sort of. It sits on top of the gun when it’s cocked. When you pull the trigger, the hammer drops like a trapdoor. A red dot on the hammer’s top serves as a loaded gun indicator. The slide doesn’t lock back when you fire the last round, so it helps to count to five as you shoot it.

I mean five because that’s its magazine capacity. After all, it’s designed for bullseye shooting. The gun comes with two very over-engineered magazines. There’s a lot of steel in these puppies, so much so I’d swear they could hold up a tractor.

An IZH-35M doesn’t have a pretty finish. It almost looks like factory workers polished the steel with a hammer before bluing it. In fact, bluing is a misnomer. It’s more of a dark-grayish brown color. The ergonomic grips are smooth and utilitarian, but also not pretty. But, how a gun shoots is the main thing.

Bill has put about 3,000 rounds through his gun. He hasn’t had a misfire, failure to feed, or failure to eject. However, he did have a problem with the grip safety. If he didn’t hold the gun just right, he couldn’t engage a very minimalist grip safety and the gun wouldn’t fire. We solved that problem with a piece of duct tape to hold it closed. A gunsmith friend said that Baikal added a grip safety to satisfy complicated Federal import guidelines. Whatever the reason, it’s very much an afterthought. Import though has only happened since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Baikal pistols were rarely seen in America while the Soviet Union existed. You did see them during competitions with the Soviet Olympic Team. Bill’s IZH-35M is basically the same gun as they used with some changes as the model improved.

Partly because of its pedigree as a professional shooter’s tool, the gun is very user friendly. Bill can adjust the trigger in several different ways. One screw changes the trigger’s position relative to the grip, another screw changes its pull weight, and another adjusts its take up. Surprisingly for a target pistol, it has a two-stage military-style trigger. One must take up the slack before the real trigger pull begins.

As you might expect, it’s a very accurate pistol. Its rear sight is completely adjustable and nicely frames its front sight. The barrel is attached to the frame. The gun is heavy enough that you scarcely feel recoil and it returns to its point of aim very quickly. The grips help ensure proper placement of Bill’s hand and trigger finger. If you’re a southpaw, you're out of luck. Baikal doesn’t make a left-hand model and there’s no practical way to shoot the gun left-handed.

IZH-35Ms impressed another gun maker, Walther. They bought many from Baikal and refinished them, added new grips, crafted a slide stop, and called them Walther KSP200. They even made a left-handed version.

Baikal is a trade name for Izhevsky Mekhanichesky Zavod, a company formed in 1807 to make ammunition. It branched out to guns and armed Czars and Commissars. After the fall of communism, the factory became self-supporting and is profitable. EAA used to import Baikals and may still have a handful for sale. Remington bought Baikal’s shotgun line for importation, but to the best of my knowledge they didn’t pick up Baikal’s pistol line. Remington sells the shotguns under its Spartan trademark.

Oh, one other Baikal IZH-35M feature: they retail cheaply. Bill bought his gun brand new for under $450.00. Not bad for an accurate, reliable ugly duckling target pistol.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Woman's Gun

Work kept me busier yesterday than Lucille Ball near a pie factory’s conveyor belt and I apologize for the lack of gunnie goodness . I’m home sick today. I picked up a virus or another form of cootie. I felt bad yesterday, but was laid out this morning. I won’t go into details, but I wouldn’t wish this crud on Sarah Brady.

I did a post the other day on "Women and Gun Buying" and I received one FoxNews spam (ahem) and five great comments that got me thinking.

Egregious Charles mentioned how his wife found a nice, clean gun store but the owners talked to him and not her. When she and Charles went to a messy store the owners talked to HER. Guess where she bought a gun. Yep, the place where they treated her as an equal albeit a neophyte. Having a clean store is good, but it’s better is to treat people right.

KCSteve points out gun store owners and clerks who understand that women represent a huge customer base. OldeForce says women and their men should stand up to gun store clerks who don’t get it. They’ll get the message eventually.

It’s great that gun stores realize there’s a new market out there. That’s not to say that there aren’t curmudgeons out there who need educated, but getting women to buy a gun is the main thing.

Seth from Massachusetts started me thinking about a different issue. He responded to a line in my post about some manufacturers who build guns for women. He said, "I remember about 20 years ago seeing in a dealers case a little .25 auto pink in color with white grips with a flower decoration, and thinking ‘Gee, what a stupid sexist creation by an obviously male chauvinist pig designer….’" His statement begs the question: What is a woman’s gun?

I own a number of guns ("more than a need, but not as many as I want" to quote Tom Gresham). My parents gave me my first gun on my thirteenth birthday. I still have that gun and it’s one of my treasures—a pump action Remington Fieldmaster 572. Not one of my guns has white grips with or without flowers. I don’t own any pink guns. The closest I have to "frou-frou" guns are a stainless steel Ruger Mark II and a nickel-plated revolver.

I don’t like shiny guns. I prefer blued-steel and decent wood. Any yet, every now and again I’ll go to a gun store and see a set of decorated grips. They speak to me and I’m not sure why.

There are many guns marketed to men that look pretty frou-frou to me. Even a man’s man like George S. Patton carried guns with ivory grips. Here’s a Smith & Wesson for example.

So that confuses the question even more: What is a woman’s gun? There are a few things that a woman needs to look for. Does the grip fit her hand or is it easily modified? Is the stock of a long gun too long for her reach? Beyond concessions to anatomy; here’s my final answer. A woman’s gun is anything she wants to buy. She might want an AR-15 with pink furniture. She might want a Holland & Holland double gun (I hope she has the bucks).

So if there’s a woman in your life who’s thinking about buying a gun encourage her to spend her money on any gun that strikes her fancy after she understands what to expect (i.e., don't expect a .454 Casull to have little recoil).

Remember BAG (Buy A Gun) Day is April 15 and there are only 292 shopping days before Christmas.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

No Oscars for Me Tonight

I used to love Oscar night. Every year, I'd watch TV while the "stars came out" and took their turns at the podium. It was a highpoint of the year for me. I teared up when Anna Paquin won the Oscar for The Piano. I cheered when Lord of the Rings: Return of the King swept the Awards two years ago. I groused when favorite movies or actors weren't even nominated.

I love movies. I love weepers, oaters, thrillers, and war movies and almost all the other categories you can think of (though I'm not fond of teen scream movies). I watch as many as I can at home and during an occasional trip to the theaters (especially a drive-in near our home).

I recognize recent problems in the industry. Also, movies have gotten expensive, which is one reason I watch movies mainly on pay-per-view, HBO, or DVD. Producers are running out of ideas while too many of them want to impress their own Hollywood and leftist clique and damn the public.

I'm not watching the Academy Awards this year. King Kong, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and not so surprisingly 40-Year Old Virgin (although it had me laughing our loud) were no where to be found in the major categories. I couldn't find one movie that Bill and I had seen until Best Sound or some such minor award.

I like art house movies when I'm in the mood along with "blockbusters." I enjoy small movies, but this year the major nominations were all really small movies (except Munich) and with limited popular appeal.

I'm not interested in watching two gay men having a conflicted relationship (Brokeback Mountain). A bio-pic on Truman Capote could be interesting, but not my cup of tea this year. It's silly to discuss Joe McCarthy without a reference to recent scholarship showing that some of McCarthy's accusations were right although perhaps his methods were wrong (Good Night and Good Luck). Even a movie as topical as killing Islamist terrorists has to be given a twist that maybe it's not good to fight terrorists (Munich). I don't even know what Crash is about and I don't care.

So, I won't be watching the stars tonight. Maybe next year the members of the Academy will notice drooping box office receipts and (probably) the lowest rated Oscars since they've put them on TV. Maybe they'll try to create a movie we can all enjoy. And maybe the sun will shine out of George Clooney's butt as he seems to think it does.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Gun Nut Test

I don't usually post results of on-line just-for-fun tests I take, but when one of them asks if I'm a gun nut, I gotta talk about that one. According to the test, I am a gun nut. But only 96%! Where did I go wrong? Back to the remedial class with me.

I do have one quibble with the test. It states the "...number of guns in your house is probably over five." Five guns! Why so few? Enjoy. (NOTE: i had to shrink the size of the picture because it covered most of Ten Ring--hope the test authors don't mind.)

Gun Nut
You are 96% of a gun nut!

You are a true gun nut. The number of guns in your house is probably over five. All of them are truly effective in your hands.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 96% on knowledge
Link: The Gun Nut Test written by slayer1am on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Friday, March 03, 2006

Women and Gun Buying

Kim du Toit reports that more women are getting into the shooting sports than ever before. I did a clothed version of his “happy dance” when I read his post.

The only minor nit I have to pick is when he says that women-in-hunting programs don’t resonate with women, because hunting isn’t hard-wired into us ladies. I’ve seen women take to hunting like ducks to water. Traditionally women are in charge of a family’s food and when hunting is shown to produce superior meat for the family, women really relate to the idea.

I certainly have no nit to pick on Kim’s assertion that women intuitively understand a gun’s role in family protection. After all, we all know what happens if something threatens a mother’s cub.

As a female gun blogger, I’ve discussed women buying guns and I've said that women are the future of gun ownership in America. I’m delighted that women are entering gun stores and taking home the best means of self and family defense yet invented. But, there are roadblocks.

For one thing, some men still don’t want the “little woman” to learn how to shoot a gun. A subset of these men includes those who wear wife-beater tee-shirts and try to live up to their shirt. They may fear the “little woman” will become equal in their relationship, at least in the Samuel L. Colt sense.

Most men aren’t wife beaters and most are beyond the “little woman” crap. For those who aren’t, realize that your “little woman” votes and you don’t know how she votes in that booth. You could lose your gun rights, and other rights, simply because you don’t trust your woman.

Many men do take women out shooting. But, just taking a woman out shooting is not enough for her to become a gunnie. Too many women use only her husband’s or father’s guns. They may have access to guns and may even become proficient, but they have no stake in the Second Amendment. Women must buy a gun because if a woman feels gun banners are trying to take away something that she researched and ultimately bought, look out for a fight.

Still, it’s hard for women to enter a gun store and buy a gun. There’s the phenomenon of walking into a place that's full of men. I’ve done so and felt I’d roamed into an exclusive club where I’m not welcome. I’ve tried to pry information from gun store clerks and sometimes they’ll answer my questions while looking at Bill. What, am I invisible? There’s still a “good ole boy” prejudice that guns aren’t a woman’s concern. We can’t afford that old prejudice any longer.

Gun store owners need more female clerks and need to attract more female customers. I’m not a marketing guru, but there are ways to do it. I’m not talking about pastel curtains and potpourri, but c’mon a store should be clean and well organized. I’m going out on a limb here, but most women see dirt better than most men do.

Gun makers though understand the market. They've marketed to women and made guns in colors other than black or blued steel (don’t get me wrong, I like blued guns). I’ve seen revolvers with metallic-red finishes, semi-autos made with colored polymers, and AR-15s with pink furniture. Now, husbands and fathers may shiver when they see a pink gun, but some women will like them. They’re just as effective against goblins as a traditionally finished gun and if women will buy them, well, that’s fantastic (for the record, I don’t own a pink gun, but I’d still shoot one).

So, the weekend is coming up and it’s time for women to get out and buy a gun. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Why I Collect Guns

Hell in a Handbasket has a great post on collecting and shooting old guns. He mentions his Krag rifle has finger impressions probably left by a scared soldier fighting in the Spanish-American War. Now that’s a connection to the past. His post inspired me to try to put into words why I love to collect guns.

Ages ago in blog-time, I talked about collecting guns. I mentioned collecting. I talked about our criteria, the fact that I have a Curio & Relics license, and that I once worked in a museum and have taken apart, cleaned, conserved, and reassembled many guns. But, I didn’t talk about my passion that lies behind collecting guns.

First and foremost I love shooting. I’ve been doing it almost my entire life. I regularly shoot rifles, handguns, and shotguns. I’ve rented and shot submachine guns. I’d love to shoot a crew-served heavy machine gun and one of these days I will.

I love how guns are put together. I never get tired of taking a gun apart and seeing how a gun maker decided to make this particular design work. He labored in a field constrained with patents belonging to other people, material science, physics, ballistics, and a whole lot more. Each gun maker solved certain problems to ensure his gun design worked. One maker, like Luger, decided that a toggled slide would work best in a semi-auto while another, like Browning, decided that a reciprocal slide would work best.

Because of these constraints, guns come in an almost infinite variety while still maintaining their form and function. Most handguns, for instance, have a grip, a barrel, and a trigger. Within those parameters you will find revolvers, semi-autos in a bewildering variety, pen guns that don’t even have a grip, derringers and so many more.
How's this for variety? A 19th Century "Palm Squeezer."

The same thing's true with rifles and shotguns, though with less outward variety. A long gun must fit the human shoulder, arm reach, and hands while a handgun must fit only the hand. That’s not to denigrate the variety of long guns. They have straight English stocks, semi-pistol grip, pistol grips, fore ends that go all the way to the muzzle, splinter fore ends that are barely there, and more action types than you have time to read about.

In this post, I’ve mentioned shooting, fascinating mechanisms, and variety, but there’s another reason why I love to collect guns. It’s what Hell in a Handbasket covered so well--that connection with the past. For example, I recently bought a Steyr-Hahn. I shelled out my hard-earned money for something I’ll never use as a self-defense weapon. I certainly won’t target shoot with it and I’ll probably shoot one box of ammo out of it while I own it. It’ll spend more time in the safe than it ever will in my hand.

But I bought it because it connects me to history. It was once the sidearm of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which ruled my ancestors. It was put into service in 1917, during World War I, the War to End All Wars, only it didn’t. I don’t know who used it, if he ever shot it in anger or fear, but it’s a palpable connection with my past and with human history. I pick it up, or one of my Lugers, or my M1 Garand, or Bill’s Enfield and I can better understand history. Hefting them, loading them, shooting then, and feeling their recoil helps me understand what our ancestors experienced.

I studied history in college and graduate school and I make my living now helping to preserve today’s history for future generations. Thus, it’s no surprise that I feel such a connection. A handful of my colleagues don’t want to understand it. One of them once said that he wouldn’t even touch a gun because “they’re made to kill.” I point out to these naysayers that mankind rose from the swamps only because of our ability to make weapons and other tools. They can’t understand that a weapon is just another tool.

My love of guns is a connection with the past. I plan to ensure that my collection is available for future generations and that those generations are able to shoot and collect guns. They too can touch a part of that which makes us human.

Things Seen on Site Meter

Ah, the things you see on Site Meter. I was taking a break from work (another post will be up later today too) and I looked at Site Meter. I noticed that a person from a State of Massachusetts domain was on Ten Ring. As of this writing that person's been reading 52 minutes and read 20 pages.

I don't know if that person is catching up on some reading during a slow time. If he or she sees this post, make yourself at home and enjoy.

On the other hand, that person could be researching how gunnies feel about Massachusetts gun laws. Let me say then, I don't like them. They're an unnecessary infringement on liberty. They don't affect criminal use of guns, and they don't increase public safety. They drove this law-abiding citizen and her husband out of the state. So how's that for a research conclusion?