Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shotgun Reloading

First Thing:  I’m presenting my ideas about reloading shotguns based on my training and skill set.  Some of these suggestions may (hopefully, will) encourage you to try developing better reloading skills.  If you intend to practice anywhere but at a range with a safe backstop you must buy/make inert shells or snap caps.  

Stop whining.  
snap cap used in reloading practice
Snap Cap for 20 gauge

Using live rounds anywhere but the range is foolish and stupid.  Even at the range, initial practice with dummy rounds is a smart move.

If you can’t be safe, stop reading my blog. 

Watching the shooters in the 4th season of Top Shot wheel and fire the 1877 Hotchkiss Mountain Gun was amazing.  William Bethards  told me later the shells were hand-turned and cost $200 each.  He also reports the cannon was difficult to move, had tremendous recoil and made a real impact.

Kind of reminds me of a shotgun.

20 gauge shotgun on tactical sling
Semi-auto 20 gauge shotgun
Firearms self-defense instructors often refer to the shotgun as artillery: large, stationary, and powerful.  Following that military analogy, the modern battlefield has changed.  We see the shotgun as movable firepower, clearing areas, engaging multiple targets and securing egress and entrance points.  

The shotgun can deliver a range of functions from less-lethal beanbag rounds or futuristic Taser electrified impact slugs or the force multiplier hollow-point slugs.  All of which are based on the premise the shotgun moves across the zone of conflict until the target is in range.

No matter if you are Suzie Sportsperson or Tonya Tactical, moving the shotgun results in more targets and the need to reload.
There are high capacity shotguns and modifications on the market ranging from simply removing the magazine plug, or adding a magazine extension,

Or the hot, new and very high capacity shotguns.  Check out the links

Some of magazine fed shotguns can add a snail magazine adding 25 to 50 rounds.

I don’t know, that’s seems like a lot of weight to carry around all day.  I question the reliability of these aftermarket gismos.  Total reliability is king followed by the royal prince, shot placement!

Rob Haught once told me (and the rest of the class) if you have to shoot more than three times, you didn’t bring enough people with you.  Even with this in mind, sometimes all you have is just you and what you are carrying.  The new paradigm means you have to reload.
shooter is loading with left hand while reloading port faces to the right
I barely have the gun under control and can't really see what I'm doing.

It’s easy to make a hash of reloading.

Up close look of fumbling a reload

Friday, November 23, 2012

What Time Does Your Bomb Say?

Is the moon full?   Is it the silly season again?  Would you wear a watch bomb to the corner store, much less the airport?  

Of course no.  You have some level of sense.  You don’t attract unwanted attention.  Apparently California teacher and artist Geoffrey McGann doesn’t have that amount of sense.

Phoney time bomb on watch
It's either a time bomb or a portable electric chair.  Maybe both.

Imagine seeing this for the first time.  I don’t know about you but I’d move to the WTF stage right away.  My comments are in italics. Here’s the rest of the story from the San Jose Mercury News:

"California teacher and artist Geoffrey McGann made a fashion faux pas when he showed up at Oakland International Airport wearing a watch that looked like the timing device for a bomb.

But the San Jose Mercury News reports that police have decided to not file charges against McGann, 49, who was temporarily arrested after being removed from an airport security line last week. He was released after posting $150,000 bail.  (If he didn’t have that amount in real property or cash, he needed to pay a bondsman $15,000 and Geoffrey doesn’t get that back.  Maybe he’ll awake up!)

"It's something for TSA to be vigilant, but it's something else to be hypervigilant," McGann's attorney Douglas Horngrad said Monday. Horngrad said he is acting to have the arrest removed from McGann's record. (The lawyer should be glad his client wasn’t shot!)

Nonetheless, Sgt. J.D. Nelson said the watch, which has a toggle switch with wires and fuses sticking out of it, posed a legitimate concern. A bomb squad was called in to examine the watch and determined it was not connected to an explosive device. 

(Attorney) Horngrad said McGann has worn the watch through airport security a number of times, even receiving permission from the Transportation Security Administration  (You can get permission to be terminally stupid from TSA?  Why doesn’t that surprise me?) to wear the watch aboard a recent flight departing from Los Angeles International Airport."

The tactical message?  It’s an old one.  Your parents probably told you about it.  Don’t do stupid things.  Don’t associate with people who do stupid things.  We all make mistakes, but you only get a few passes before serious consequences catch up with you.  

 I suspect anyone traveling with numb nuts McGann are on TSA’s watch lists.  Let someone else be the lightning rod for things that go wrong with TSA.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sniper Shoot

My favorite shooting club, Greenport Tactical Association, just had a sniper match.  The stages utilized a team approach which involved both a spotter and sniper.  People put together their own teams before the match and the smarter ones practiced together as much as possible before the match.  

It was a small match at varying distances ranging from 200 yards to less than 50.  A foam core shoot house was constructed to let the spotter “clear” the way for the sniper.  Most of the targets were the expected type, swinging steel plates, some cardboard IDPA targets, paint balls and fruit, specifically apples and oranges.

A little out of the ordinary was the car stage.  The sniper fired from a roof ridge line at a suggested automobile.  A plastic water jug served as the radiator/engine block and two IDPA targets served as driver and passenger.  What was unusual was the sniper had a real automotive windshield to shoot through.  Each sniper got a new, unused windshield to perforate.

sniper prepares to shoot car windshield
Even at this distance you can see the glare.  Perhaps a polarizing filter on both the camera and the scope would have helped both shooters.
The 200-yard fruit shoot was interesting.  Fruit, being biodegradable, could be left there after the match.  Even with the mark 1 eyeball a solid hit could be recognized.  The little dot of fruit would suddenly expand into a white ball and disappear.  It was very cool.

I didn’t shoot the match, but I did learn a few things.
.223 Remington will penetrate a tempered safety glass windshield at 144 yards if you’re shooting 55g FMJ or SS109, the green tip penetrator round.  Hollow points tend to fragment and not punch through and hole your target.  No problem with .308, as you might expect.  

Two targets behind windshield
The water jug represents the engine block, but can you see the targets? 

At least one sniper reported the reflection and glare off the glass window made it impossible to see the targets.  He had to shoot at where the driver and passenger would normally be.  Perhaps the spotter, with a different angle could have confirmed the identity of the targets and their placement.  Do I need to discuss the value of the Team?

One of my instructors told me once about the value of having a little 10-round AR magazine loaded with SS109.  I believed him, he has seen the elephant and has the injuries to prove it.  It was nice to have it confirmed.

Sniper shot, .308 at 144 yrd punches through safety glass windshield
Even up close your can barely see the targets.  If you're going to take a sniper shot at a car, you better know who is in it!
I also watched the shooters replace the fruit at 200 yards.  They were smaller than I expected.  I shoot half size human pop up targets at Camp Perry at 300 meters and found that difficult.  Moving targets at 200 yards might not be as easy as you think.

Two yards and two moving targets
Shooters replacing the shot fruit as seen at 200 yards

The entire match also pointed out to me the value of two rifles.  The sniper’s rifle and the spotter’s rifle have drastically different functions and one gun can’t do it all.  Your vision of what could happen and your response to it should determine if one or perhaps both rifles are needed.