Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kill Bill

The TNT bowdlerized version doesn't suck as much as you might expect, but that's a bit damning with faint praise.

The part of the movie that appeals to me isn't so much the over-the-top Tarantino violence, although I'd be lieing to say I don't enjoy it, its the cinematography he stole for the film. The end of the film is my favorite: he manages to capture the feeling of Anime Japan, and the style I love, with out the annoying shit so many of the actual anime directors end up using. The best example is the arrival sequence in Tokyo.

From there on out its pure gravy.

Incidentally this is the major complaint I've heard about the movie. Perhaps its my love of good fan-fiction that makes this movie appeal to me so much. Of course part of the appeal is then going out and finding the sources, to watch the original and see how it compares to the retelling.

Edit to Add: Dr. Paws gives it a paw of approval for a movie to sleep through curled up next to me.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another Week Down

Well, another weekend down, and I haven't spent more then half an hour on the computer or teh interwebz. I suppose this is a good thing, but it does mean less writing then I'd hope.

We've got a new cabinet for the TV and Tivo put together and stained. The electronics can be moved some night this week, after the stain finished drying. Since Sr. Paws has managed to leave the electronics alone in their current state (sitting on the floor) we have high hopes that a Tivo cage will not be needed in the new set up.

While I was working on that LadyElf managed to get all the crap scattered around the house cleaned up. I'm impressed, given the number of times I've tried and failed at that task.

Last night was dinner with some folks from the Basenji forum (LadyElf maintains the web presence there, I handle the gun forums). A good time was had by all, except the dogs, who were left at home in the kennels.

The road bike made another appearance: 22 miles today. Riding in the flat lands here is (gasp and shock) much easier then the hill country around Worcester. I'm going to need a longer loop, or to go harder, or both.

Tonight LadyElf's parents stopped in for dinner on their way back from SC. And now I'm cooking super garlic meatballs: 1/2lb of hamburger, 2 bulbs (not cloves) off garlic, a pan of tomato sauce to cook them in, and other spices to taste (for me this includes 2tbls of Daves Insanity). Make the meat balls, and use one bulb of garlic in the meat, make the sauce and use the other. Cook for an hour or longer.

Don't expect a kiss after eating.

Welcome to the excitement that is my life. Coming up this week: a write up of the Norfolk County Rifle Range IDPA match last Thursday; an update to the Open Carry Files; LadyElf's first day at her new job; Hopefully something interesting to both of you.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008



As the url suggests its a flash animated spider. Mostly posted for my own amusement.


h/t To Marko for the link.

Basic Shooter Instruction

JayG has asked for input on teaching new shooters. Rather then try to fit this as a comment over at his place, here's my answer:

For brand new shooters, or those who haven't shot in years, I try to go as informal as possible. My goal is to take them out for a safe and fun day. Unless asked, I avoid getting into the hows and whys of self defense shooting, or great depth on any particular portion of the fundamentals. The one exception is safety.

We go over the four rules several times: first when they approach me about going shooting, then in the car on the way to the range (I like to have the student ride with me so we can talk more about what they want to get out of the day, and what their concerns are), finally we go over each of the four rules as the guns come out. This means having them identify the safe direction(s) at the range (floor good, ceiling bad, sky worse), talking about how we specifically manipulate firearms when they are loaded (remember they always are), and how its safe to walk down range of the empty but still 'loaded' guns, so long as they are left alone on the table. Rule four we talk about while walking down range to see the target hangers and set up anything not left out on the range. Finger off the trigger will be a constant discussion with most new shooters, who while very conscious of muzzle direction will often lapse on trigger finger discipline.

From my safety perspective muzzle control, control of other shooters on the range, and the student's trigger finger are the biggest issues. In that order. You never know what the Fud three bays over will do, even at a private range, and I have taken guns from other club members (and nearly drew down on another) because they were waiving guns at or near my students. This makes an impression, and not often a good one. Also be ready to pre-emptivly correct other shooters near you, and explain why to your students.

A side note: I always carry concealed while teaching, and while I will some times (in a discussion of self defense with firearms) reveal my primary carry, the BUG always remains concealed.

Back to intro to shooting: You and your new shooter are at the range, time to set up targets, and unpack guns. I like to do it in that order. Reactive targets are key. Some paper is okay, especially for the first few shots, and defiantly have them shoot up a couple good targets to take with them, but most of the time steel or clay pigeons are the most popular. The instant feed back, and just plain fun, of dinging steel or breaking a clay(even a stationary one on the back stop) turns most people on allot more then punching perfect holes in paper.

Once the targets are up, the guns and ammo come out of the car. I'll break with Xavier on this one: I bring lots of guns for the new shooter. We start with .22lr, and move up from there. Assuming sufficient range time I'm happy to have a new shooter try every gun in my collection, at least for a few rounds.

This does two things: first it keeps the excitement level up and second it puts some perspective on the different guns. They have doubtless heard and seen plenty of things on TV or other media that just aren't true. Having them try out a shotgun and see how narrow the patern is can be a great eyeopener, and makes them wonder what other things they 'know' are wrong. That leads to some great discusions, and puts it on their terms, rather then our rant on a topid dejour. The one down side is they may never get as good a group as they would have shooting .22 all day, but they do get a wider exposure.

This sets them up for trip two: where they know which guns they liked, and can shoot them in more depth and learn in greater detail about them. Greater then half of the range trips for 'new' shooters I've run have had at least one person returning from a previous one, often with a friend in tow who is brand new.

As for the actual skills taught:
Dominant eye.
Grip (Two handed)
Stance (modified weaver or isosceles, as comfortable to the student)
Sight alignment.
Trigger squeeze.
Breath Control.
Basic operation of each firearm.

I'll spend no more then 5 minutes talking about all of those, before getting the student blasting away with a .22 pistol or revolver. Then we focus on sight alignment, trigger squeeze and breath control (usually in that order) to tighten up their groups.

If the sight alignment is inconsistent there is no group, its a scatter pattern.
If the trigger squeeze is bad the group will be offset, usually down from jerking, or to the left from too much trigger finger.
Lack of breath control is least obvious, but likely smears the shots in a vertical line on the target. I honestly don't worry about this one too much.

Finally: your students will put groups in odd places on the target, especially those with corrective lenses (and if you wear corrective lenses even those with out). This is a parallax issue and is fine: explain that if it were their gun they could just adjust the sights and 'walk' that group right into the bulls eye. I try to avoid adjusting sights for students, but have on occasion. This is also a good chance to teach Kentucky windage.

As for safety gear: I try to get students to bring their own eye protection (usually in the form of their own sunglasses) but I do have several sets in my range bag, and I try to shoot outdoors the lessen the noise. However I do provide both foam ear plugs (home depot has the best ones) and muffs for students, I also encourage them to use both of they are concerned about the noise.

Final thoughts:
The goal is to have a safe trip and make some noise. NOT to convert some one to the path of being a Gun Nut. Plenty of them will jump at the chance to become a Gun Nut, and ask all sorts of questions and demand to be shown the way. However it has to be at their pace, and this is not the time for a rant on MA gun laws, or other politics.

The amount of shooting skill required to have fun is not very high, so I don't let perfect marksmanship get in the way of fun. Latter lessons, or a more formal class, will be there to teach that stuff and get them hitting at 50ft with a pistol. Get them on the target and watch the fun.

The only thing to do different for ladies is make sure they wear a shirt with a high neckline. In my experience they don't want different treatment, and are often better shots and less recoil sensitive then the guys. More ladies then men have wanted to try the 3" mag 12 gauge shells, and several ladies have shot up all that I brought, after their husband/boyfriend declared the round too powerful.

To contradict myself: always make sure the lady or girl gets to shoot the AR-15. The combination on noise, looks, and light recoil has left many a husband leaving the range cursing my name, knowing that the next gun bought will be an AR, for his wife.

Take a couple shots yourself. I try to get in at least one mag or cylinder very trip. This makes it more fun, and avoids the trap of being at the range all the time, and never shooting.

If you are in MA: make sure your students check their clothing for spend casings, this includes shoe treds and pants cuffs. The possession of which is a crime unless they have an LTC or FID (ammunition components). Have them wash hands and face after shooting, before leaving the range. I also council them to wash again before eating, just to be sure.

I'd appreciate any feed back or insults on this one.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Open Carry Files (1 of many)

This will (hopefully) be a recurring feature here, where I talk about what happens when you open carry in Southern VA.

Here's what got me thinking about it:
"I'm beginning to think that you could walk through the middle of the mall with a neon-pink STI Open Class racegun in a drop thigh rig, wearing a tee-shirt that says, in four inch fuschia letters "I AM CARRYING A GUN", and maybe one in ten people would pause their cell phone conversations long enough to notice..." ~ Lady Tam

While I have none of that equipment I do have a Govt. Model 1911 and an IWB holster. LadyElf prefers the Sig 239 (.357Sig) she liberated from my safe, and a JIT slide holster.

In shopping for furniture this weekend (isn't being a grown up exciting?) we wandered through a good dozen shops so attired.

A few people noticed, but made no comment. I'd say maybe 15%.

Two people made comments:

One furniture store sales guy asked LadyElf why she was carrying a weapon, and when told: "Because I'm a citizen and I can." Stated to ask about shooting, lawfull use of deadly force, and what sort of sofa he could sell us. I must admit it was a good transition back to the business at hand.

In the grocery store an older gentlemen in an NRA ball cap walked up and asked me: "Do you need a strap or something on your holster to Open Carry in Va?" I replied that I sure hoped not, as my holster has no retention features (other then my pissy attitude about people grabbing for my gun, and some training to back that up). We had a nice chat about his new concealed carry permit and how few people seem to care about open or concealed carry around here. Then our wives returned, and we both moved off in search of food.

At the dog park on Friday I got more comments then I have everywhere else combined. Almost everyone took it as an invitation to ask me about shooting, guns, why their husband was so into guns, what sort of safe to get... You get the idea. Honestly I'll be sure to open carry there in the future, as it makes the experience much less boring (watching dogs play chase, and picking up dog poo: not my favorite hobby).



I have a confession to make: I'm one of those cyclists who wears brightly coloured spandex for riding. My shorts are WPI cycle team surplus, and my shirt is a shade of flourescent yellow most comonly seen on low pipes and unexpected steps in the industrial environment.

I don't wear this get up to look cool, or because I have some perception of being a competition grade cyclist. I know I'm not, and frankly have little desire to be. However looking like I'm moving fast will hopefully lower the number of idiots who pull out of driveways in front of me (this is advice from a couple of actual competition cyclists, I'm not sure how true it is). And when I do end up on the ground the spandex really comes into its own.

At 20MPH road rash sucks, allot. The last time I wiped out the exposed skin that hit pavement didn't heal for two months(did you know that road rash down to the fat doesn't blead imediatly? Neither did I.), in the areas covered by trendy cycle cloths the bruises faded in a week or two and the scratches were gone in days.

Now before JayG threatens to run me over with his truck, I do stay on the side of the road, not the middle, and if you see me in the middle or left lane of a road, its because I'm turning left, very soon. I'm also a big fan of hand signals, although I try to make my manuevers when there is no one back there to see them any way.

Tonight was, incidentally, the first actual ride I've taken on my road bike in a couple years. Its a bit different then riding on the trainer, and the bad habits gained from having the bike supported definitely show. An almost 7 mile ride on a cool fall evening certainly made the day better, and the combination of quite and solitude is one I quite like.

I almost grabbed my iPod on the way out the door, but decided against it. Mostly to keep better situational awairness. About two minutes later I was far to busy listening to the birds, then wind in my ears, and the pleasant creaking of an ancient race bike to want or care about music blasting in my ears.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

STI Escort: Round Two.

After a second range trip I did a full detail strip of the pistol. The wear patterns were minimal and as expected. All the internal lockwork is tight, and well machined. I don't know enough about custom or semi-custom 1911s to know if these parts were as they should be, but all looked very good to my eye. Additionally the quality of the fit and finish is notably tighter then my Kimber (at least 10K difference in round count may influence this too).

This time out I was at the NRA range, where I could shoot at longer ranges. The gun is definitely more accurate then I am, but I was able to hold a 4" group at 100 ft with it. I didn't have the Kimber with me for direct comparison, so I'll have to go back.

I have two complaints with the gun: first is that the trigger is a 'long' length, instead of the medium I prefer; second is the plastic mainspring housing.

On the issue of trigger length: I fail to understand why all manufactures seem to be using them at this point. The only people I know who's hands actually fit this length trigger are the men with gorilla hands. Every one else I've seen shoots better with a shorter trigger, myself very much included. I'll be getting a 10-8 flat trigger when I have a chance.

The mainspring housing is purely one of preference and style. I'm not aware of any technical advantage to the metal ones, but I just don't like plastic parts.

The function of the pistol is near flawless. The slide stop is slightly too long on the internal face, where it should engage the magazine follower. This causes the slide to lock open on the occasional cartridge that is slightly too long. A little work with a file, and the problem is likely gone. Next range trip I'll bring a file with me to be sure though.

Overall I'm quite happy with the piece, and carrying it in a 511 holster shirt is very comfortable. The gun also disapears with the holster shirt under a fitted dress shirt.


Friday, September 19, 2008


The wedding was a great success, as was the reception. LadyElf's parents know how to put on a good party, and honestly most of the credit goes to them, the part that doesn't goes to LadyElf. My main contribution was to stay out of the way and bring drinks for those doing the work.

The honeymoon was a similar success, three days and two nights backpacking in the Shenandoah National Park. We had to cut the trip short a day and a night because Dr. Paws foot pads were beginning to crack from the rocks. We've gotten his feet taken care of (and really his condition bothered us much more then it did him), and are going to be working to get him boots he will wear.

On the first day, at the first trail intersection we saw a black bear cub, safely up a tree. The sow was no where to be see, but we did not delay unnecessarily in that are. Much to our consternation the first night we heard several large animals moving around very close to our camp site. In the morning Dr. Paws lead LadyElf directly to a still sleeping deer, while when I poked my head out of the tent another walked almost close enough to pet. This was inspite of both of us talking to either the dog, or the approaching deer. I guese they know its safe in that hollow.

The second night we camped on the porch of the the Corbin Cabin because it is locked, and you have to mail off for the key. Its a mighty fine View, but not easily accessable. The verdict there is that we will be back.

Once back to civilization, or at least some where with running water and a hot tub, we enjoyed cold beers, and said hot tub. For the record LadyElf does not consider water 'running down the side of a mountain' to count towards the 'house must have running water' requirement. I'm not at all surprised by this verdict.

On a final note: we gave the trip a 4 out of 5 on the Bilbo Baggins scale. This measures the quality of a given outing based solely on the quality (assuming sufficient quantity) of the food involved. To score a perfect 5 fresh, and tasty fish or game must be procurred along the way, and this is highly discouraged in national parks.


Thursday, September 11, 2008


LadyElf and I will be getting married this Saturday. Honeymoon to follow.

Blogging will be lighter then usual until we return next weekend.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

STI Escort Range Report

At the advice of Mr. Correia I got an STI Escort. After taking it shooting once my only complaint is that I didn't bring more ammo.

I had oiled the gun up a couple days before heading out, and there was still oil in all the places I put it when I got to the firing line. After a hundred or so rounds, about as fast as I could reload the mags, I saw 2 failures to feed. The cartridge was not quite making it out of the feed lips. Another squirt of MachineGun lube, and that was solved for the rest of the day.

Those were also the only failures seen, and may have been the mag, not the gun.

My initial impressions were good: out of the box the gun was very tight, and the trigger has some take up, breaks like glass (about #4) and has no over travel.

Shooting was no less impressive: it holds tighter groups then I can appreciate, and the narrow front sight makes shooting at 25 yards easy. Up close the three dot sights are easy to pick up and use.

I'll have to try an IDPA match to really get a feeling for how fast the gun is, but my suspicion is that it will do anything I can, better then I can.

Compared to my Kimber: the recoil is much harsher. The weight savings of the aluminum frame take the big push of a full size 1911 and turn it into more of a snap. Its still not as snappy as a Glock or my Sig, but defiantly more recoil then the Kimber. That one gripe aside, it makes a very nice little sister to the Kimber.

Bottom line: I'm happy with it, and suspect LadyElf will be stealing it from me sooner then latter.

Cleaning report and view of the funky STI take down system to follow after I get some work done.


Breaking News

A man walked into a Suffolk area Farm Fresh market with a gun this afternoon.

He proceeded to buy some lunch meat, soda, and a cold drink.

The only other person in the store at all interested in his pistol was an elderly gentleman in the checkout line wanting to know what kind of 1911 that was.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mr. The Plague (Is living in my lungs)

Apparently my trip back to MA last weekend resulted in my getting sick with the fall Plague.

However LadyElf and Dr. Paws are safely moved into the new apartment, which appears to be getting good reviews from both. The second floor porch is particularly popular with The Dr, who likes to sit and watch every one going in and out of the complex.

The trip to MA also included my bachelor party, in preparation for the wedding next weekend. It started in the morning, with Sporting Clays; and ended in the evening with dinner and a gentleman's club. Everyone had a great time, and really how can any day that involves guns, steaks and 'entertainment' not be a good time?

The STI Escort ordered long ago from FBMG has finally arrived, so there will be pictures and a range report tomorow.