Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful for the Camp Perry Rifle Match

Tactical Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving means more than just family, friends and turkey followed by early morning Black Friday shopping.  For me Thanksgiving means family, friends, and turkey followed by the rifle pop-up match at Camp Perry.  This fun match benefits Friends of Camp Perry and is run by the Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association. 

The CoF involves 40 pop-up targets from 50 to 300 yards.   Excluding military and police I don’t know any other match that has reactive rifle targets.  It’s a blast and I look forward to it all year long
Pop-up rifle range - Camp Perry

The targets are half–size plastic humanoids.  They are colored either blue or red to prevent accidental cross-over.  You can choose your politics as you wish.

Pop-up in its foxhole.   

This year the CoF was a little more difficult than previous years.  All the pop-ups were either doubles or triples.  Triples will stand up for 9 seconds while doubles will be visible for 5 seconds.  The computer that controls the match puts 3 seconds between each group. 

Scoring is either hit or miss and the computer detects the bullet passing through the plastic and takes the target down.  It is by far the fastest and most fun rifle match I have ever shot.  

There are no winners or losers.  Your identity is simply your relay number and firing point.  But you can learn a lot from the print-outs which detail the distance to the target and if you’ve hit or missed.

The Tactical Side
If you can consider the possibility that you might need to engage multiple targets to protect yourself or others, shooting paper or steel isn’t enough.  I’m sorry, but it’s not.  It’s the fixed nature of the targets that prevents you from maximizing your potential.  Sure, Perry pop-up targets are located in specific locations, but you don’t know which ones will show up next.

There are several ways to shoot the match depending on your equipment.  If you’re young and your eyesight is still crisp and eagle sharp, you can use iron sights.  The rest of us need dots and scopes.

I’m shooting a 3x variable scope on an AR platform.  The first thing I learned is higher power means you can see the 300 target easier, but the smaller field of view prevents me from seeing other closer targets in time to engage them.  My scope only dials down to 3x, but 2x might be better as would a more expensive scope with large field of view.

You don’t shoot with a spotter, so it’s easy to miss the 150 yard target on the other side of your shooting lane while engaging another at 300 yards.  I can speculate that two shooters per lane, one with scope and other with a dot or iron sights, could very effectively control the lane as well as pick up the slack while the other reloaded.  That sounds a little like a sniper team, doesn’t it?

Since only one shooter uses a lane at a time there are several options on order of engagement.

Tactical Only: Engage each group of targets from near to far.  This makes several assumptions.  They all have the same weapon, that the 300 yard guy isn’t shooting an RPG.

Easy First: Quickly shoot the nearest, allowing accuracy to slide in the favor of speed.  The time you save is then used for the more difficult targets.

Hard First: The theory is take your time to hit the far one, then confident with the reassurance of your ability, speed into the easy one.

I Spy Method:  Shoot the target closest to cross hairs when the targets pop up.  Don’t waste time moving to the hard or easy target, just shoot what you see and then move to the next.

For me, I Spy worked the best.

The Weapons
The AR platform was the most common. 
With bells and whistles and a dot.  Note the black rubber block provided for support.
Basic model - skill provided by the shooter

I didn’t see any bolt action rifles this year.   

The venerable M1-Garand was represented as was the M1 carbine and the civilian semi-auto version of the M14.  

M-14 - Note the shooting glove - slings aren't just for carrying.
 I saw both FN Scar and FN FAL.   

Mono or bi-pod - - Stability is king at 300 yards.

 The former Soviet Union was represented with at least one AK47-type rifle.  

AK set up as a scout rifle. Shooter told me this made it almost too easy.

 I’m sure I missed all the other possible semi-autos.

The Garand was seriously handicapped by the 8 round N-block and the difficulty of reloading.  

Garand in 30-06    8 N-blocks plus one in the rifle - Busy shooter

 The M1 carbine has a reputation of being inadequate for distant killing power.  Still, in combat or in self-defense, a wounded man becomes a liability.  Few people choose to be shot with any caliber. 
M1 Carbine

Ability to pour fire into an area or target has always been significant.  One can only wonder that a Minute Man with his musket would have thought of a lever action 30-30 or the doughboy with his M1903 examining an AK47.

Quite possibly the most tactical aspect of the Perry Pop-up Match is learning your limitations.  And it’s fun too!

I hope to see you there next year!

For more information go to:

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Ohio Castle Doctrine.

Some things are so important to your survival that you need an understanding of it and a copy.  The Ohio Castle Doctrine is now part of the body of Ohio CCW law, but its interpretation is critical for any claim of self-defense in the home and quite possibly your personal car. 

Why am I excited about this?  One sentence:  The perceived reality is the legal reality.

Any good sentence needs Ricky to say, "You got some splainin' to do, Lucy!"  I don't want to get into that here, but WKYC (Cleveland) had an interview with an Ohio district attorney about the Castle Doctrine. 

You must have a copy of this to demonstrate what you knew before you protected yourself or loved ones with lethal force.  Here's the link:|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|featured

Here's the video:

Final Words - This is one person's, an important person I grant you, opinion and a sound bite.  Until case law is established and upheld in court, things can change.  Don't be the poster child for stupid mistakes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Keeping Your Distance

A smart fellow once told me, “A wise man learns from his mistakes, but a wiser man learns from the mistakes of another.”  That made an impact which I’ve never forgotten. 

So I’ve got a story from my best friend, my wife, in her own words to share with you.

Every knife has a story.

Dexter bread knife - soft rubber handle and eight inches of teeth

I was on my way to my favorite restaurant/janitorial supply store.  No, I don’t run a restaurant nor am I a janitor.  This store has some neat stuff and they sell to the public.  I’m at a red light right behind a semi.  He must have realized he didn’t have enough clearance to make the right turn, so HE STARTED BACKING UP. 

Into me! 

I’m driving a little (comparatively) VW Jetta.  Did he know I was there behind his 53 feet?  In that split second that comes with years of experience, I checked my mirrors and threw it into reverse.  All while blowing the horn (which I’m sure he couldn’t hear).  I was lucky.  There was no one behind me and I was able to evade his oncoming motion.  The light changed to green and he went merrily on his way.  I continued straight through the intersection and into the parking lot of my destination store.  I was shaking.  All I could think of was what if there had been someone behind me? 

Moral of story (here’s the tactics part): always leave enough maneuvering room in front of your vehicle.  (I remember when my dad was teaching me to drive and telling me to see the rear tires of the car ahead of me.)  Lesson learned, and now refreshed after all these years.

So, what does the knife have to do with this?  When I got in the store, I told the woman behind the counter what almost happened, and there in front of me was a display of very unusual knives.  I don’t really need another bread knife, but as my knife guy likes to say, this one ‘spoke to me.’  As a reward for not being in an accident, I treated myself.  And boy, what a knife!  It cuts like a dream.  It even beats my beloved (and discontinued) Spyderco bread knife.  

That’s all for now.  Maybe you’ll hear from me again.

That’s my wife’s story.  I don’t like realizing how close she came to being injured.  But it’s an important message.  Tactics aren’t always about reloading before you go through the door, or FBI cant compared to straight drop holsters.  Tactics are about anticipating problems and having options available.

And every time I see that knife, I’m reminded to make sure my tactics are grounded and give me options.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Zombie Max

I just want to get it on the record:  I’m not immune to merchandising.  A pretty girl, an interesting box or a commercial that makes me smile can get me to buy something.  

In this case it was Hornady Zombie Max.  The green and purple box with the alert “Warning:This Is Live Ammunition. This Is Not A Toy.” was too much to resist. 

The bullets are tipped with a sickly green plastic. 

Twenty rounds of .55gr .223 rem, and I paid too much, but it’s still pretty cool!  The box gives you some quick ways of IDing zombies.  Key indicators include:
                Waving their arms around to distract you,
                Table manners have disappeared,
                Dragging their feet.

Hmmm.  Makes you think.  Sounds like some of my co-workers before their first cup of coffee each morning.  Could it be??  Naa, I don’t think so, but I’ll keep an eye on them from now on.

The box has some ballistic data.  Bullet weight 55gr. Muzzle velocity, that’s 3240fps.  The bullet drop data indicates a 200 yard zero and 46 inch drop at 500 yards.  I don’t know, 500 yards with a 55gr .223 seems like a bit of a stretch. It’s too far for head shots, the only sure way to stop a zombie.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Autumn always finds me racing the weather.  All spring, summer and early fall finds me shooting, but not cleaning guns.  Come the time change, I always have to squeeze in my cleaning so my wife can get her car back in the garage.

My garage goes from summer “wood butcher” shop to gun-cleaning station.  I set up saw horses, lay sheets of plywood over them and drag out my dip tanks, cleaning chemicals, patches, good screw driver set and rubber gloves.

It’s a one-man production line; dirty guns enter, shed their grips, are field stripped to my reassembly confidence level and are dipped, scrubbed, wiped, oiled and re-wiped.  Each gun gets disassembled to a different level.  Glocks get completely taken apart.  My 1911s get field stripped to the frame (pins alarm me) while the slide gets detailed stripped. 

I was cleaning my first .22 Ruger many years ago when disaster struck.  I turned it sideways and a pin fell out of the frame followed by several components.  I was afraid I would have to buy another Mark II so I could figure out how to reassemble the first!  I finally doped it out.

Sometimes things don’t go together quite the way you think.  I’m not one to pry, hammer or file, thinking I can make it better than the factory or a professional gunsmith. 

So when I had a little trouble getting my .380 Beretta Cheetah back together I stopped for a few moments and studied the parts.  It’s a little tricky. The blow-back barrel isn’t fixed to the frame, but slips out with the slide like its big brother, the 92F.  The barrel has to line up with the frame just right in order to reassemble the Cheetah. 


The surprise came when the gun locked up and the hammer was frozen in the cocked position.  I looked at the parts diagram, checked the dip tank for dislodged parts, made sure everything was where I thought it should be.  Checked, rechecked and doubled checked but no joy.  Time to turn to a professional.

I called Dave Laubert at Defensive Creations and arranged to come down to his shop.  I’ve known Dave for several years both as a shooter and a gunsmith.  A professional machinist turned gunsmith, Dave has a reputation for high quality work and customer satisfaction.

It didn’t take long. Dave zeroed in on the magazine safety spring.  It looked like it was in place, but the right hand grip didn’t fit as tightly to the frame as it should.  He moved the spring so it dropped into its channel in the frame and the gun works fine.  I still have to fire it, but the rest of the functions - safety, magazine safety, double/single action - work fine dry.

The spring was still attached, but had come out of the frame channel and sat next to the grip screw.  This was enough to prevent the gun from working.  The spring is now in the correct position.

I want complete confidence in my self-rescue tools.  I get that from having the professionals work on my guns when I’m out of my comfort zone.  My mind will be on solving the problem and not on “Did I fix it right? and “Will it go BANG?”

Random crap: 
According to a Ripley’s Believe It or Not cartoon, a Brown Bess musket will shoot a candle through a barn door.  Believe it or don’t!

I can’t help wondering how someone figured that out.  Was someone trying to waterproof a black powder load or lubricate the barrel and had to shoot the stuck candle out of the barrel?  Did someone reach into an ammo pouch and mistakenly pull out a candle stub and not know it?  Today I would suspect beer was involved, maybe then too.

I know!  It was an early step in the development of the tracer round!

Ripley didn’t indicate if the candle was lit after the test.