Archive for March, 2013

Feline Interlude

Posted: March 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

I decided to celebrate the snowstorm this weekend by skipping the Appleseed I signed up for (this probably means that I fail as a Founding Father, but at least I haven’t put one of the vehicles in a ditch) and drowning my sorrows in beer, rooster sauce, saltine crackers, and a Ken Burns documentary.

(The camera pans across a picture of a person being gnawed on by several zombies. Voiceover: “But the impact of the Zombie War on the people of Austin, Texas, Sacramento, California, Pune, India, and McMurdo, Antarctica was not yet fully realized.”)

This is the sort of thing one can do when one is the sort of bipoly quasi-bachelor that I am. It is not, however, the sort of thing that always works well when you have a cat that loves:

  1.  Beer.
  2. Whatever the human is eating.
  3. Oh, and also the human. Possibly to eat.

I promptly found myself with a dilemma between stopping the cat from drinking my beer and stopping the cat from eating my rooster sauce. This called for one of them Executive Decisions; I prioritized the beer, figuring that I’d be most unhappy if it were dumped into my laptop.

The rooster sauce turned out to be, shall we say, a self-solving problem. The cat went after it with great anticipation of the food glory to come, took a lick… and instantly did a kitty version of the Mr. Yuk face and ran off.



Posted: March 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

Have not been near as prolific as I was anticipating. Oh well. Here’s a rundown of the things I’ve been up to:

— Continuing to go back and forth about which aspects of the shooting hobby I’m going to pursue, and what I’m going to pursue it with. I’m in a financial situation such that I can pretty much get whatever is for sale, barring ridiculous things — admittedly not much, in this environment — but most things I probably shouldn’t get.

— Waiting for my M1 Garand. And waiting… and waiting. I’ve received my order acknowledgment — known in the biz as the “DBU (Don’t Bother Us) Letter”, and I’m guessing that I’m probably around two months out from getting the actual rifle. In the meantime, I’m watching World War Two movies, reading forums, and pondering whether my Zombie Rifle will be this, the RAR, or a rifle to be named later that is likely to be a Gunsite Scout.

— Not watching the news. No. Seriously. NOT watching the news.

— Petting the kitty cat. I kind of quasi-impulsively acquired a kitten over the Christmas holidays — quasi-impulsively in the sense that I’m experienced with cats and had concluded that I could have a cat but was not really planning on getting one until I kinda did. It’s turned out to be a great decision so far, despite the little cuts up and down my arms and legs.

— Engaging in the preliminary stages of taking a bit more of an active part in my career, which has been going well but has been kind of on cruise since I landed my first job out of grad school. Although I  enjoy where I’m presently working, I feel a bit stalled and also observe that the company seems to be in the less-happy phase of its morale/financial/retention cycle. So although I’m not actively searching at the moment and don’t intend to particularly soon, I’m seeing a career coach to help clarify my options and polish up my resume and interview style.

— Working in somewhat of an unfocused manner on financial preparedness and some really basic food storage (which, in this present snowstorm, I am now eating).

— Shaving my head. It’s fun!

More to come… or so I say, right?

Pistol Fundamentals

Posted: March 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

Took this course at BluCore last night. Overall thought it to be a worthwhile experience with a few minor quibbles.

The structure of the course was basically a relatively short period in the classroom going over basic firearm safety and then how to load, unload, and operate a semi-automatic handgun (I thought I knew these things already, but apparently I was wrong). We then went out to the range to run various drills for the rest of the night — these drills being generally of the form “Take one magazine of ~15 rounds (or, for special people like me, two of my seven-rounders) and expend it in thus and such a manner.”

One odd moment came in the competitive drill near the end — I volunteered for the second wave, and there was a bit of a shuffling around positions before I started. Being as I was in front of a table containing several black semi-automatic handguns that looked about the same, I picked up the wrong one at first, then realized it and picked up my own — I think I was the only one there who had Hogue grips. I also happen to have memorized the serial number for that particular firearm, as I used to use it for a password (for a function that I absolutely did not want to forget, hence wanted to have it written down and in my gun cabinet… and figured “hey, efficiency, why not start with what’s already there?”). So I read off the serial number and felt reasonably reassured, then on the second of three shots in the actual drill thought “wait a minute, are those my sights” — they’re slightly faded tritium sights, and whether because of the light or something else they seemed much more visible than I thought they should be — had a minor moment of consternation, then figured that since I’d put my magazine in it and fired it twice, at the very least it was close enough. Turns out I missed advancing in that round by about half a second, which was unfortunate.

I found myself trying to compare the event with the Appleseed I recently took, which is not a very fair comparison given that one is a two-day event and one is a three-hour course. So I felt a bit rushed, or probably more properly that I clearly need much more instruction and practice that can fit into three hours, and also to a degree that I was kind of thrown on the range and told “have at it!” One thing I think they might have done better at was the use of range commands — they did not seem near as standardized in their usage, and as a result I didn’t feel entirely confident when I was meant to start shooting. Not as a safety issue, since it was clear when the range was cold, but I found myself a number of times holding my firearm and sneaking looks to my left and right to see whether other people had loaded, how many shots they were firing, et cetera. The fact that I was doubling my hearing protection as opposed to using the baffle plugs I was using at the Appleseed (nearly normal hearing, but not suitable for use with centerfire rifles or in an indoor range, as I found through experimentation) didn’t exactly help.

Speaking of hearing protection, I do kind of have to wonder about the common sense that said “Where should we put our classroom… how about right on top of the pistol range?” The result was, er, kind of distracting.

I seemed to be about in the middle of the field relative to the rest of the class as far as accuracy/speed, and I kind of suspect that the instructors didn’t talk to me much because my faults (though legion) were less. Their advice on grip and stance seemed to cure a persistent problem I’d been having with bashing the knuckle of my right thumb into my watch. I also learned that I have a number of “training scars”. At Appleseed, I noticed this more with regard to speed than any particular tics, but I’ve also not been training with rifles very much. With handguns, I have a number of very “rangey” stereotyped behaviors around loading, unloading, and dealing with malfunctions — I bring my feet together when I unload, for instance, and tend to leave the firearm in place (pointing at the end wall) and step around it when doing various manipulations, rather than bringing it up (which is still in a safe direction, i.e. up, although no longer oriented in the Official Direction of All That Is Good And Safe, i.e. at the bullet trap of the one-way range).

I think I may add loading and unloading procedures and presentation from the high ready position to my at-home practice. With this, it becomes rather clear that I need to institute a better policy with regard to home practice given that my only solution at the moment is a) not doing much firearm manipulation at home b) generally not permitting my finger to be on the trigger except for c) when I’m pointing at the Sand Bucket, which for a safe direction is rather small and inconvenient, also I have some doubt about just how much it will stop. So I need to do me some figuring.


Posted: March 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

Much to the cat’s outrage, I spent last weekend at my first Appleseed event. Here are my thoughts:

I expected to learn basic marksmanship, and I was not disappointed — I went from scoring around 50 out of 250 on their standard test (and that, after a bit of instruction) to around 150. Before this class, I’d never shot at anything at 25 yards with any hope of hitting it, and hadn’t fired at anything further away than that at all. Now I feel like I at least understand the concept, even if I don’t execute it very well.

Additionally, I seem to have gained a greater amount of intimacy with the RAR. The class is fairly fast-paced and the tests themselves have time constraints, so I found myself handling my rifle with much greater authority than I usually do. I start from the perspective of being a fairly methodical person — possibly to a fault, in that I have to fight a tendency to think first and think second, and act maybe perhaps later. With firearms this tendency is somewhat exacerbated, at least when left to my own devices — I tend to be very slow in what I do. However, I’m more comfortable doing that on a controlled range where there are other people keeping an eye on the safety aspects, and I’m kind of forced out of my comfort zone in this matter by the pace of the course.

Do is how you live” — Grandmaster Larry Hampton

That bit, actually, is something that I see as a way I can grow as a person through studying this sort of marksmanship. Being confident in what I do, and maintaining sufficient precision while remaining in motion, is a weakness of mine in more than just firearms. So, as far as the goal of the course in showing people a thing that they didn’t think they could do — I feel as if I’ve got that as well.

On a slightly less esoteric level, I’ve had the notion knocking around in my head that I might get a M1 Garand. The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a delightfully archaic organization that sells military surplus rifles to civilians for the purpose of… well, civilian marksmanship. The Garand is the most recent rifle they sell — the ones after that are select fire, and many bloodsucking insects et cetera. It’s an interesting piece of history, but I had some doubts about how much use I could get out of it as a firearm mostly because of its weight (the magazine capacity, sadly, does not seem to be that much of an issue). I’d handled a M1A at a gun store some months back, this being somewhat similar in size, and found it unspeakably heavy — but I’ve done about eight months of weight training since then, so I thought there might be some difference. One of the people there had a M1 Garand, and I asked if I could handle it to see if the weight was manageable — they said that I could not only handle it, I could shoot it. I fired eight rounds…

… the paperwork was in the mail the next day. The CMP is apparently utterly backed up, partly because of people wanting to get in on the deal before they run out (estimated 2-3 years until this happens) and probably also partly because of the current crisis (which might, I think, have an impact on how long before they run out). So I expect to receive an acknowledgement of my order in something like three weeks, and maybe my rifle a month after that. It should be fun.

So, all in all I was quite impressed with the Appleseed program — I’ve actually signed up for another session later this month. I ended up having a number of experiences that I haven’t had before — firing the Garand, firing an AR-15 (I was intrigued, but a bit less instantly enamored — the thing makes a sound like an old Hide-A-Bed), shooting on a range controlled by range commands, actually making holes where I intend to make holes (more or less), et cetera. And I found a new restaurant, which is always a bonus.

Still not sure where I’m going to go with the shooting thing — tomorrow evening the pistol contingent is going to make its case, as I’m taking an introductory course over at Blucore — but at least I’m having a fun time bouncing around.