Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bits and Pieces

Just a little stuff that keeps sloshing around....

THE Akron Beacon Journal (July 29, 2011) reports a wire story from Kosovo captioned, “OK given for retaliation.”

Sounds ominous, but it appears that NATO has given French and American peacekeepers on the northern border with Serbia the okay to fire their weapons in self-defense if attacked.  The article is troublesome on two levels.

One, what the hell?  Armed forces need permission to defend themselves?  And two, given the first restriction, it occurs to me NATO didn’t say anything about having ammo in the guns.

YOU'VE seen the 17-odd minute tape of the Canton police officer going off the deep end on a driver with CCW.  How could you not have seen or heard about it?  I was listening to the early evening news and it appears another Canton police video has surfaced.  Same LEO?  I don’t know.  But I do know every police officer takes it on the chin when one cop goes over the edge.  I like the police, and there is no nice way of saying it, but some departments have a well deserved bad reputation.  It’s only through the release of these videos that the community can force a change.  

But it is a warning to CCW holders.  Not every LEO will treat you professionally.  I’m not the first to say don’t go to bad neighborhoods.  Don’t stand out.  Don’t draw attention to yourself.

THERE is so much I don’t know about shotguns.  So, the first thing I thought I would do would be to zero my 20 gauge for slugs.  I normally put my ammo in a steel ammo can, pack some sand bags and scope, water, tools, ears, targets, pasters, measuring wheel, staple gun and anything else I might think would be useful into my traveling gun bag which I call my car.   

The first and last half hour at the range is spent lugging stuff to and from the firing point and my car.  This time I left the metal can and a few other things at home.  I took only one small sand bag and a gun case and told the Sherpas I didn’t need them that day.

I planned on using my hard-sided rifle case and the small sand bag to support the shotgun.  However, I discovered the combination was not only too low but the case flexed up and down while I was shooting.

The low shooting rest positioned me so that only the butt’s heel contacted my shoulder.  Every time I pressed the trigger, the recoil slipped the shotgun butt down and the barrel up.  I had no confidence I was accomplishing anything.

Hit much?

I was down to my last round, so I piled a plastic bucket used to collect unwanted empties on top of my rifle case, added my sandbag and discovered I could almost stand up and shoot the gun!  So I did.  Here’s the result.

Honest to God!  My last shot.

Ain't it grand!   Proof that even a blind hog finds an acorn every once and awhile.  

IT seems Pfc. Naser Abdo discovered Islam and these beliefs made him a conscientious objector.  He must have been pretty committed to these beliefs as the Army accepted his request for CO status and recommended his separation this spring.  Along the way the Army discovered his beliefs don’t exclude child pornography.  The Army withdrew the separation and was investigating the kiddie porn charges when Naser went AWOL on July 4th.  The FBI just arrested him for planning an attack on Ft. Hood.  I guess killing some people but not others is acceptable.

Guess who turned him in?  A gun store!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Terror Comes To Oslo

Terrible news coming out of Oslo, Norway.  If we believe the newspapers, not what I would consider a totally reliable source, one radicalized man planted bombs and went on a shooting spree.  He was assisted in the shooting spree in that he wore police garb.  His acts caught the police and the civilian population off guard and unable to cope.  The resulting carnage is so horrible the government darkly hints at unknown accomplices to explain the devastation. 
We can pin all kinds of labels on him, second guess why he did this, study his mind, dissect his brain for abnormal brain structure, but in the long run we’ll never really understand what causes a person to do this.

Unfortunately, it was predictable with broad brush strokes.  Hardened government and military sites make poor terrorist targets.  They require time, extensive detailed planning involving many people, any of which can be become a weak link unraveling the plot.  

The self-motivated terrorist maybe an individual or a small cell of like-minded individuals united by a common complaint or belief.  They could put together an attack on defenseless people, the so called “soft target.”  Such planning is simpler; security is lax; physical barriers can be overcome or circumvented.  

Don’t believe me?  

Really, do you really think the no-gun sign on store doors keeps criminals out?  I was at large public activity and discovered the metal detectors run by the police weren’t even plugged in.  Hmmm, do you still want to hand over all responsibility for your protection to someone else?

Since such events focused on soft targets are more likely, we should concentrate on what our response should be.  I mean you, not the Red Cross, not the police, not the CIA/NSA.

Even if you’re not directly affected by a localized terror attack you may still be involved.  The temporary vacuum caused by the withdrawal of police, fire, or activation of the National Guard will create criminal opportunities.  Be ready for them.

Surviving the event, your response might be to assist the walking wounded to get out of danger or to assist first responders so they can address the more pressing needs. 

Self-rescue is certainly a possibility and requires preplanning on your part.  Do you know where the stairs are?  Which doors lead out?  Where could you barricade yourself if you needed to?   Starting with the first burst of gun fire, the first shock wave of an explosion, getting out of the danger area, out from under terrorist control, should be a priority.  Remember promises made to hostages for safety in return for obedience are lies.  Any delay a terrorist has in killing you is purely for his or her convenience.  

Escaping, avoiding seizure, finding shelter and protection are viable options.  Ignore instructions by hotel staff or police safely on the other side of the barricade, or any officials on the radio and TV.  They are safe and have little to lose.  Get out as soon as possible.

The least likely possibility is engaging the terrorist.  Do you have the skills and tools needed on you?  It isn’t likely you’ll be able to retrieve equipment from home, your vehicle or locker and return to disrupt the mayhem.  It’s only in the movies that agent X-1 can get the drop on someone and slowly accrue weapons, communication and other operational supplies.  Good drama, poor reality.

Still, it is within the realm of possibilities you could be the only thing standing between evil and innocent people.  Experts indicate the longer a situation goes on the more control the terrorist has.  If you’re going to act, you need to act as soon as possible.  But how is the question.

Leave aside the question of skill with your tools, what do you do?  I remember reading about the recommended Israeli tactic for suicide bombers and terrorist attacks.  Shoot them dead.  Move in and shoot them in the head to make sure.  Holster your weapon, so security forces would not confuse you with other terrorists and move rapidly to a safe place.  This is all based on the presence of other undisclosed terrorists waiting to react to rescuers and police.

A similar model could work for you and me.  Shoot anyone killing unarmed people.  Kill them dead right now and reload.  Holster your weapon and move to the safe edge of the event.  Again, let’s not confuse the already chaotic police arriving on the scene.  God only know what arriving police or military know, but I know they will not see the good guy halo over your head. 

Terrorism depends on creating fear driving social change.  At its heart is a blackmail scheme: give me what I want and I will leave you alone (until I want something else).  Paying off blackmail never works.  Giving into terrorists will not work either.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tribal Knowledge: A to Zins

There’s a lot of undocumented information in the shooting community.  You know, knowledge that one group collects from their experience and shares with others.  In the engineering community we call it “Tribal Knowledge.”  It’s the kind of thing Jim Croce sang about in “You Don't Mess Around With Jim.” 

Lemme clear my throat….
“…don’t tug on Superman’s cape,
 …don’t spit into the wind,
 …don’t pull the mask of that old Lone Ranger…”

You get the idea.  The problem is how to know what part of Tribal Knowledge is true and valuable and which part is just dross.

You could try everything you read and hear, but then what’s the advantage of learning from others?  And that’s the answer to this little problem.  Learn from the person who, as Jeff Cooper said, “...has seen the elephant.”

I had a chance to talk, but mostly listen, to Brian ‘Gunny’ Zins.  You should recognize that name: 10-time NRA Pistol Champion and one of the final four on the 2011 season of Top Shot (History Channel).

The conversation was about the 1000-yard phase of shooting the Barrett .50 BMG.  If you watched that episode, you may have noticed the independent spotter helping each of the participants.  Brian talked about riding the Barrett recoil back and then down onto the target in time to see the bullet impact, making a correction and finishing the trigger pull before the spotter could score the impact.  

That's right, finishing the pull.  During the recoil he prepped the trigger so the last fraction of the squeeze occurred as soon as the correction was made.  This let him walk the impacts onto the target with impressive speed.  His success comes from his educated trigger finger.

Being able to control your trigger finger is critical to bull’s-eye shooters.  It may be more critical to the tactical shooter.  The Top Shot .50 BMG range was selected to have a safe, suitable backstop.  I can almost guarantee you that in a self-defense shooting, the backstop will be the worst possible.

Trigger control will assist you with keeping your rounds on target when conditions degenerate into a shoot or be killed situation.

Want to develop Zins’ educated trigger finger?  Look into bull’s-eye shooting with all the associated practice and work.  Of course, it helps to have the hand/eye coordination and reflexes the top shooters have, but every one of us can improve.  Remember, only hits count and misses carry a frightful cost.

Zins has also introduced his own line of match grade .45 ACP.  Here the tribal knowledge has broken down.  We all know FMJ ball is the best.  We all know that a bull’s-eye load should have a velocity of about 600 feet per second with a 185 gr. lead semi-wadcutter.  We all know this is true. 


I expected Zins’ match grade ammo to be 185 FMJ semi-wadcutter with a muzzle velocity of 550-600 fps.  Was I wrong!  The round is a 185 gr. JHP with a muzzle velocity of 821 fps.  For someone grown up in a bull’s-eye culture that spoke of lead bullets (to protect the backstop), low velocity (to protect the shooter’s joints), and semi-wadcutters (to enhance scoring), this is incredible.

A great review can be found at Tony’s Blog.  He has researched it better than I could.  Bottom line, this ammo has tighter tolerance, is extremely reproducible, and produces remarkably tight groups.

Nothing is said about the more traditional concerns of JHP: expansion and penetration.  Zins’ bullets are made by Nosler, so I called them with a typical reloading question: “What velocity do I need to get your 185 gr. .45 ACP JHP to expand properly?

Nosler told me the bullet will start opening up at 600 fps, but they recommend 800-900 fps for expansion and penetration.  That fits Brian’s specifications.

In my world, the hierarchy of needs is:
  • Total reliability of gun and ammo,
  • Shot placement,
  • Stopping power performance based on bullet design, and
  • Micro accuracy.

Brian is at Camp Perry this week introducing his ammo (  It’s a good price ($425 per thousand) compared to other high-end ammo.  If you’re a bull’s-eye shooter and you think you are being held back by your ammo, this could be your answer.  Try a couple hundred rounds and find out: is it you or your ammo?

If you’re a tactical shooter who’s learned the lessons of bull’s-eye shooting and needs tighter groups, I think this ammo may also solve your problems.

Both shooters still need to answer the question: will it feed flawlessly in my .45 semi-auto?

Now, what about us 9 mm shooters?  I don’t know, but Brian mentioned a brand and weight of a 9 mm round that had great inherent accuracy.  So you never can tell what’s on his mind.

Anyway…We wish him good luck and success!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Upcoming M-1 Garand Clinic

The M-1 Garand is the American archetype WWII and Korea military rifle.  For many men owning one is a rite of passage.  Even today there are few shooting situations that cannot be managed with a 30-06 M-1.

Canton McKinley Rifle and Pistol Club is hosting an M-1 Garand Clinic October 8, 2011, followed by a 100-yard rifle match which will enable you to purchase an M-1 from the CMP.  You need any centerfire rifle and 60 rounds of ammo, 20 of which you will fire during the clinic.  The remaining 40 rounds will be shot in the 100 yard rifle match.  (I’d bring a few extra rounds as sighters.)  The cost is $65, but you need to register and get your money in.

Even if you own an M-1 Garand, it’s a great chance to learn how to disassemble, clean and re-assemble your rifle to preserve your piece of Americana. 

Contact Marty at 330-714-3597 or

The clinic is limited to 24 participants.

Frankly, if you're concerned that .223 Rem doesn't have enough stopping power or range, the 30-06 has a slight edge on .308 and you should have one and learn to shoot it.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Value of Doing

We celebrate the 4th of July as Independence Day, but that was just the beginning.  That was just the formal declaration of our intent to become a separate, self-governing nation.   Everything, the fighting, the surrender at Georgetown, the Treaty of Paris between Great Britain and the fledgling American government, the Treaties of Versailles between G.B. and our allies led to the actual day of independence when we ratified the Treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784.

Still, a 4th of July picnic sounds much nicer than a 14th of January ice party.

What’s the significance of the dates?  Intent VS Action.  We had the intent, but our actions precariously carried us to January 14, 1784. 

We know people who want to achieve something: money, a bestselling novel, skill with weapons or fluency with a second language.  They have the intent, but never make the effort.

I believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said it best.  (TR often said things best.)  He certainly said it better than I can paraphrase it, but here goes.

TR thought the credit should go to the person who tries, fails and still stands up and tries again until he reaches his goal.  Even though he may not achieve the apex of his dream, he becomes more than what he was.

I used to work out with another student who started his martial arts training elsewhere.  He didn’t, in general, like the studio, but he tells one story that stuck with me.  When the students seemed to be losing ground and giving up, the head instructor would pull everyone together and call his worse students to the front of the class.  Not being blessed with natural talent, these men persevered until they achieved their goals and became his chief assistant instructors and black belts.  Many of the students who started with them were better and more talented.  But they dropped out and by dropping out, failed where the others succeeded.

This 4th of July, I’ll celebrate the doers.  The men and women who worked, failed, got up and did it until they left things better than they found them.  Whether you’re a concrete mason, a weekend gardener, or a guy sitting at a desk in a bullpen adding numbers, your effort is recognized and you’re what makes America great.

I salute you.