Sunday, January 30, 2011

My first repo

This story by request.

Setting: Dyersburg, TN - June 1999. I have just been hired by Enterprise. Previously, I had worked for a rent-to-own place, so repossession was not foreign to me at all!

My manager, Rich, learns this over lunch and he tells me that he wants me to help him repo a car. At the time, we didn't really go over details of why we did a repo or when. Rich explained that this was generally up to the manager of each Enterprise location, with a few broad guidelines.

Rich also explained, as was his way, that there was really only one reason we would ever repo a car - only if the customer owed money. Made sense to me. I learned later, as Rich predicted I would, what circumstances generally happened leading up to a repo.

But this day, I was wide-eyed and full of wonder.

The vehicle was a nice Chevy pickup truck. The renter lived a bit of a drive away from the branch - 30 minutes or so. We drove to the house, and Rich taught me the 2 most fundamental rules of a repo:
1. Never leave until the person doing the repo leaves.
2. Stay behind the person doing the repo on the drive back. There might be problems with the car.

I executed the two, and Rich picked up the truck. There was really not a lot to it. Of course, later I asked many questions, and Rich answered them quite well. Doing repos in the rent-to-own world were quite different. As Rich taught me, doing them with keys in hand to a car was another story altogether.

Rich felt I had an advantage because in rent-to-own, we had to gain access to the person's house to do the repo, but that was rarely the case with a rental car. These days, though, with chip-keys and the like, I bet the Enterprise folk have to get the customer to hand over the keys, or get the car towed. I don't think that would be as much fun.

More Real Repo Stories

From a guy who was actually paid to repo cars.

Man, I never knew they'd pay ya to do it - I always thought you got to repo just for the fun of it!




Oh, and here's a post from "Failing Enterprise" too. I hold no ill-will toward ERAC whatsoever. Much the opposite. But the site is funny, and informative.

Friday, January 28, 2011

On "Military Arms"

So often, we hear the left, and the gun-grabbers say that since certain firearms have "no sporting purpose," then they should be restricted. Often, they will say similarly, that firearms have been designed with features for military use. Or that the Founding Fathers never envisioned the weapons we have these days, and would, therefore, be accommodating of restrictions. There are several main problems with this line of thinking.


1. Many states allow these firearms for sporting purposes.
For example, TN allowed the use of so-called "semi-automatic assault rifles" for hunting several years ago. Many other states allow the same, or substantially similar.

2. "Sporting use" is rarely defined well.
And I think this is on purpose. The gun-grabbers will mention hunting - as if the Second Amendment is all about hunting - and use this as their de facto platform. Problem is, that the guns they wish to grab are often used in sporting events.

3. The Second Amendment was created to protect the citizen's rights to own military style firearms. 
One of the reasons for the Revolutionary War was the prohibitions that the British put on military style firearms of the day, as well as confiscation of ammo and powder. From this article:
"Because Britain had done little in past years to furnish her Colonists with military arms, the militia employed a wide assortment of smoothbore muskets..."
4. Guns do not commit crimes. Criminals do. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A funny one from the hiring front

This from the files of the funny stuff:

I was at an interview with a pharmaceutical company. The interviewer was set up in a small meeting room in a hotel. After he led me into the room, he received a call which he had to take. In taking the call, he stepped out of the room for privacy.

Being a person geared toward preparation, I saw his interview manual on the desk. I moved quickly, and peeked at it. It was labeled "Behavioral Interview Guide" and it had 10 behavioral questions to ask, and the objective that each question was to determine.

I thumbed through the questions at light-speed. By getting a feel for them up front, I would be able to have a moment or two more to give an answer that spoke directly to the objective behind each question.

I put the manual down, and awaited the interview. In a few moments, the interviewer came back in, apologized for the interruption, and proceeded to conduct the interview...

...BUT...

He never asked a single behavioral question. Instead, he asked about the objective behind the question. For example, he asked:
"What is your philosophy on customer service?"

When the behavioral question had been:
"Tell me about a time you went above and beyond for a customer. What did you do, and how did it turn out?"

Any person can answer the first, and make it sound great. Not everybody could tell about a specific time. And of those who can tell of a specific time, the behavioral question gives the candidate the opportunity to open up and demonstrate how they view customer service - as evidenced by how they have treated customers in the past.

I declined the job for salary reasons, but it was still funny.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Liberal Reporter gets it right

I can't believe it! This is a month of "firsts."

Link to article.

A liberal actually realizes that more gun control is not the answer.

Some good, some not so good

This article - "10 things your auto insurer won't tell you" - takes a look at some of the mysteries of auto insurance. This happens to be a specialty of mine - having worked for an insurer for many years. Here's my take on it:

1. "When I say this is a good policy, I mean it's good for me."
This is true - but not to the extent that you might think. Auto insurance companies pay 10%-15%  commissions. Usually 13% - 15%. The agents getting the special spiffs are usually making no more than 2%-4% extra. That means on your policy costing $1000 per year, the agent will only see an additional $20 - $40. While it is worth possible risk of losing you as a customer if the rate and coverage with the higher-paying company are comparable, it is certainly not worth it if he loses your business altogether.

2. "Young drivers can't catch a break."
True. And deservedly so. There is a strong, direct correlation between inexperience and likelihood of a claim. This has been known for years. 

3. "Spotty credit? That'll cost you."
True. I am not completely convinced that credit has a lot to do with the likelihood of a claim, but it is what all the companies are doing now - so we have to live with it. Reason # 87 to keep a good credit history. 

4. "How do we set premiums? That's for us to know and you to find out."
Not entirely true. In TN, companies must file rating structures with the Department of Insurance. Problem is, many are based on complicated mathematical formulas - so good luck figuring those out. 

5. "Your repaired car might look and run like new, but it's worth a lot less."
This has nothing to do with insurance. And, we have known this for years. Not sure why this was in there, unless the author needed "filler" to get to 10 things. 
 
6. "Totaled your car? Good luck collecting its full value."
Unfortunately true. Insurance is a business. To make a profit, companies can maximize revenues, or minimize costs. Claims are costs. Most companies will offer below value as settlements. This is your chance to negotiate. 

7. "And we're more likely than ever to declare your car totaled."
Also true. Repair work is costly. Very costly. Companies will total a car if repair work is 40%-70% of the car's value (depending on company, and the car in question). 

8. "Your mechanic works for us."
Poor choice of wording. They should say that the repair shop works for them. It's almost true. 

9. "Brand loyalty is for suckers."
True to an extent. 

10. "But be careful switching carriers -- it could cost you."
Again, true to an extent. Shop. Read your fine print carefully.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stop the Presses!

A California judge threw out an ammo ban for the state of California!

Yes, you read that correctly. And here's the link to the story.

The ban - which targeted online ammo sales - was ruled unconstitutionally vague.

Figuring Nashville Sales Compensation

Most employers, and most professions have very straightforward salary arrangements. Typically, there is a set pay per week, month, or hour worked. Sales is different. Salespeople want to be compensated based on effort and performance. Many companies do this. Some companies do not. Most companies talk about sales compensation in shades of gray. They hide behind words like "potential" or "top salesmen can make..."

How does a candidate determine the actual compensation in a sales position?

Sales people are familiar with the "80-20 Rule." Traditionally, this has meant that 20% of a salesperson's clients will generate 80% of his or her revenue, or similar.

In salary translation terms, the "80-20 Rule" is different, and a bit more detailed.


Basic Idea:
You must find the range that the pay will be. The way to find this is to use the numbers the company gives, and translate that into true figures. To get the range, you need two numbers:
- 80% of the lower number.
- 80% of 80% of the higher number.
You will notice that these two numbers will wind up being similar, and they will form the likely range.

Suppose a company advertises that sales people will make between $60K and $80K. One uses the lower figure ($60K in this case), and takes 80% of that. For this example, 80% of $60K is $48K. That number - $48 K is a good average to expect.

Another way to do it is to take the higher number and take 80% of that, then 80% again, to find the likely number. In our example, 80% of $80K is $64K. 80% again is $51K. Notice how similar that is to the other number ($48K) from above? This is not a coincidence.


Base Salary Rules:
1. Most companies do not have a pay structure that will allow the sales associate to double base pay. They may say otherwise, but this is not at all the case.

But, it does give us a quick way to estimate pay for a good salesman.

2. 80% of 80% to get the range.
Suppose we have a position that pays a base of $35K. Double that, and we have $70K
Take 80% of 70K - $56K. This is the most you will likely make at this position.
Take 80% of that to get the true range of likely compensation - 80% of $56K is $45K.
Your expected earnings at this position will realistically be $45K - $56K.


Straight Commission Rules:
1. Most companies paying straight commission do not believe in their product. Otherwise, they would pay a base. However, some are still good companies. Nonetheless, the advertising of pay will be overstated.

2. Use the half and 80% rule.
Suppose the advertised pay range is $120K - $150K.
- Take the lower number to work with.
- Take half of the lower number - in this case, $60K
- Take 80% of 80% of the lower number. In this case, 80% of $120K is $96K. 80% of $96K is $76K.
- The real range of this job (for a great salesman) is $60K - $76K.

3. With straight commission jobs, the rule can vary wildly.
But, the fact is that it will almost never be more than the above rules. Those numbers are the most that one can expect to make.


Why this works. 
I seriously doubt that people actually work this math in reverse when trying to figure the amount to put in the job ad. However, it is well-known that sales jobs overstate the likely amount that can be earned. It just so happens that in order to attract the talent level they desire, these companies must overstate the pay to the extent that the 80% rule works.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Some funny stories

Discussing some recent and past "fun" I've had with tuxedo rental, and formal wear places with my newest brother-in-law, I've been urged to put down some thoughts, memories, and funny times. MJ, this one's for you!


ABSTRACT
Measurements:
As I noted in my Guide for Groomsmen, a man should know his measurements. How does one come across his own measurements? Not by measuring oneself. Go to a professional and get measured.

The Asian guy or lady at the local tailor shop that barely speaks English but gets your clothes right every time - good choice.

The local "sales associate" at Men's Wearhouse (or similar chain store) - worst possible choice.

Here's why:
The local tailor has made a livelihood for the better part of two decades in making sure all his customers come back (because he does not get the benefit of $ millions in network advertising) will know exactly how to measure you correctly.

The sales associate at a chain store has likely been working there less than a year, and takes little personal pride in making sure to know exactly how to measure a man or woman. Since they do not have the depth that only comes with experience, they will write down your numbers with a personal question - because you look the same size as their friend, and they KNOW their friend is not that measurement.

So you wind up getting a tux that fits their friend.

How I know:
For this reason, I always call in measurements. I was taught this by my father at age 16, when there was a formal function at school. The tux place measured me wrong. Way wrong. They had to rush-order the correct size tux in. I was frightened that even that one wouldn't fit. Thankfully, it turned out OK.

The next weekend, my dad took me to Cooley's in Chattanooga. The gentleman, Jimmy, who had been there over a decade at the time, measured me. I took note, and memorized my measurements.
PS - Jimmy is still there and can still measure you correctly! He correctly measured my son  (age 5 at the time) for my sister's wedding back in October.

More similar situations:
I have been measured over twenty times by retail associates. Exactly one has measured me correctly. I know this as I've worn the exact same size since age 15 (over 20 years now). I fluctuate, like everyone else, but have never been more than an inch up or down in any measurement. 

My pant size is a 42-30. That means a 42" waist, and a 30" inseam.  I still have a pair of khaki pants in the closet I wore in 10th grade. I measure myself every time before calling in tux measurements with these pants (which still fit the same, BTW).
The kicker - I've been measured as having an inseam anywhere from 27" to 36". Similarly, I've had these retail associates measure my waist at anything from 36" to 51".

My jacket size is a 52-Long. This means I have an over-arm measurement of 58" (which the retail folks almost never have seen - so they fudge the number down and try to order me a smaller jacket). It also means my arms are a sleeve length of at least 36".
The kicker - I've been "measured" at every size from 44-Long to 58-short.


Funny Stuff - 1

Setting: my brother-in-law's wedding (which took place this past weekend).
I call in my measurements to the Men's Wearhouse in Chattanooga. A nice lady working as the sales associate answers.

I explain to her that I live out of town, and need to call in measurements.
She suggests I go to a local store to get measured.
I counter (nicely) by stating that I know my measurements, and will gladly provide them. I advise her that I've been part to over a dozen weddings since 1998 and this is all second nature for me now.
She states again that I need to come in to get measured (most sales associates get the hint by now, but who's counting?).

So I am forced to up the ante. I explain to her that I've never been measured correctly for a tux by a retail associate. I explained that I meant that as no affront to her, or her associates - that it is simply a fact.

She huffs and starts asking questions about measurements. She starts with the jacket.
I explain I am a 52-Long.
She apparently does not want to accept that, so she tries the specific numbers - chest, over-arm, etc.
I re-state: "52-Long."
She asks numbers again.
Again, I re-state: "52-Long - I can wear a 52-Long right off the hanger with no alterations."

She again tries to get me to come into a location so I can be improperly measured.

I calmly and politely advise her that I will be happy to call in my measurements later, since obviously she does not want to do this right now.

That seemed to get her "in the mood" to actually write down a few numbers. For a moment.

We continue. She writes down my jacket, shirt, and pant measurements. Then she asks me my height and weight.

"Six feet two inches. Approximately 260 pounds." I reply.

"There's no way you are a 42-30 in the pants. How tall are you really? 5'8"?"

I remind her that perhaps I need to call back.
She suggests I need to come in to get measured.
"52-Long," I start again.

She forgot to ask my shoe size and shirt sleeve length!



Part 2:
When I went to a local shop to pay, they tried to get me to let them measure me. I declined politely, but made sure to fill them in on the measurements that were missed.
The sales associate all but insists that it would only take a moment to measure me.
I suggest that if I can, as I claim, fit into a 52-long right off the hanger, then perhaps I might be right on the rest of the measurements.
The manager, being a reasonable lady, agrees (over-riding the sales associate who was helping me). I sincerely think she thought I was mistaken.

I asked the sales associate to point me at the brand I should try.
He pointed.
I reiterated "52-long." And then I found a coat of that size.
I put the coat on, and let them inspect it. As usual, the sleeve went to my wrist. The jacket is the perfect size for my torso (perhaps I can now fit a 50-long, since I've lost 25+ pounds in the last year or so, but I was not sure). It looked exactly right.
The manager had a shocked look on her face, and capitulated.
I paid and left. We had several pleasant conversations during that time.


Funny stuff - 2

About ten years ago, I was in the market for a new suit for work. I made the mistake of going to Joseph A. Banks. Again, just like Men's Wearhouse, I am not picking on the chain. Wel, maybe I am a bit, because Jos.A.Banks does one thing that is really funny.

They arbitrarily decide what size pants go with a suit jacket. For jacket size 52-Long, they have selected a pant size of 48 inch waist. Note that like a good outfitter - they sell pants unhemmed and extra long, so that the man can get his pants tailored accordingly. However, the practice of selling a predetermined size pant with the suit is unacceptable.

I found out later that only certain retailers do this - and then only to maximize profits. By forcing you to purchase another pair of pants, they sell more (at a regular markup) and increase profits.

Not only was this practice the funny thing - but the excuse given by the sales associate was laughable. He said that I could go to a tailor and have the pants "taken in a bit." Folks, that works on pants that are an inch or two too big. These pants were the predetermined size 48. I am a size 42. Not gonna work!

... more to come - check back soon!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Guide for Groomsmen

This is a guide for groomsmen. And for Best Men. And for Ushers. And to some extent for Grooms. Pretty much any male who is officially part of the wedding ceremony.

This is sparked by the fact that earlier today, I was an Usher for my brother-in-law. This makes about a dozen weddings that I've been an official part of since 1998.

A wise Groomsman will follow this advice to the "T" and, in so doing, will help make the wedding go more smoothly for the others. So here's the advice:


Know your measurements. 
A Wise Groomsman knows his sizes. Your jacket size, shirt size, pants size (the real size - not what you wish you were!), and shoe size. You should be able to call your sizes in without getting measured. To do so means you might first need to get professionally measured, but more on that later.

Jacket - know the chest size, and arm length. Know how many inches exactly that the arm must be hemmed, if necessary. I am lucky - I wear a 52-Long: straight off the rack. In my measurement, the "52" indicates chest size, the "Long" indicates the sleeve length.

Shirt - the measurements here are neck size, and sleeve length. I am an 18 1/2 (neck) and 36/37 sleeve.

Pants - know the waist and the inseam measurements. I am a 42 - 30. Meaning my waist is 42, my inseam is 30. Some places might ask your outseam, so know that one, too (I'm a 40).

Shoes - the size includes the length and width. I am a 13-E (or 13-wide). The number is the length, the letter is the width.

All tuxedo rental places are not created equal. MOST are chain stores. You will not be measured correctly in a chain store. Chain store employees are no more a tailor or seamstress than a McDonald's cook is a chef.

For example - I have been the same pant size since 10th Grade - over 20 years. I have fluctuated as much as an inch up or down (tuxedo pants adjust 3-4 inches up and down). I have been measured a 36" and I've been measured a 51" waist... and almost everything in between. However, tuxedo pants do not fit me unless they come in a 42 waist.

Oh, yeah, every other measurement taken at a chain has been interpreted to wild extremes, too!


Bring the basics.
Bring a white t-shirt and black dress socks. The most likely thing that the tuxedo rental place will forget is the socks. The most likely thing you will forget is the undershirt.

I bring extra undershirts, for the other men who will inherently forget one. I've been a part of at least s dozen weddings, and never seen one where every male participant brought a white t-shirt.


Know how to fold a handkerchief.
It really is simpler than you think. Here's a link. Unless uniform handkerchief folds have been specifically mandated, I suggest a careful "TV" fold, or "3-Point" fold. Point up. Always, point up. This shows you pay attention to detail.

PS -  similarly, a man should know how to tie a tie, but that's a different blog post. Windsor knot - anything less is lazy or uncivilized.


Know how to follow directions. 
You will be ordered around by a wedding planner. Or a friend of the bride, that the bride feels is a good organizer. If she (they are almost always "she's") is not a professional wedding planner, it's likely she has been to only one or two more weddings than you have.

Still, it is the Bride's day - and the wedding planner knows exactly what the bride wants. It will be over in an hour or two - so shut up and listen.


Know how to be helpful.
Folks are going to forget things, or plans will change, or something will break... you get the point. Be ready to help out. Be the first to help out.


Mind your manners. 
Be a complete gentleman on this day, nothing less.

I'm talking James Bond, here.

When that fat lady barges past you to get ahead in line for the cake, let her by, and compliment her on how slimming her dress is.

When the drunk uncle accuses you of some hideous atrocity that is humanly impossible, apologize for your part in his imagined plot.

When you get asked to dance with the single person in the room you really didn't want to dance with, smile and enjoy the fact that the dance will be over in a moment.

Remember - it's not your day (even especially if you are the groom). It is the bride's day. Little girls grow up dreaming about this one day. Every little girl deserves that, even if the woman she's become does not deserve it. Give that special day to that precious little innocent 8-year-old she once was.


Participate. 
Seriously. It can be fun. At the least, you get free food, some cake, and the opportunity to look really sharp for a couple of hours.


Don't mind the kids. 
Kids will be kids. Don't mind it at all. Let them enjoy themselves. Or cry. Or whatever.


Have some alone time afterwards. 
It might be hard to do that same weekend, but within a month, you need to have a day all to yourself. Everybody's gotta wind down, and weddings can be hard to wind down from.

Me? I'm going shootin' in a week or two!

Friday, January 21, 2011

"The Chart" and reality

Many "gun people" online will quote from The Chart when trying to help people pick an AR15. While there are some good intentions in so doing, there are also a lot of misleading points, and outright fallacies with the chart. Let's take them one by one:

Bolt:
I am going to observe on this segment as a whole. While many of the tests listed do promote a warm and fuzzy feeling for the consumer, the absence of testing does not indicate that the product is not up to par.

One can properly stake his own gas key in a minute or two with a common hammer and screwdriver, or similar.

AR15 vs M16 bolts only matter really if you have an AR15 capable of selective fire. Most people do not have a need for this.


Barrel:
The issue of testing every product vs. batch testing again does not indicate a poor product.

Chrome bore is not an advantage to a High Power or other precision shooter. It is only an advantage to a novice gun owner not likely to clean the gun well or often.

Twist rate - the most common triviality on the AR15 market today. 1:7 twists can destroy smaller bullets (under 50 grain). 1:9 stabilizes all the same bullets as 1:7, except those over 70 grains - but typically costs considerably less (unless there is a sale, etc.). So 1:9 will be more than good enough for common shooters. Not even match shooters use 1:7 frequently - the 1:8 twist is preferred by more precision shooters.

Feedramps can occasionally be an issue - but putting a new upper on the rifle is easy. This is not really an issue.

Pins under the FSB and finish under the FSB are a matter of personal preference. Again, for the casual shooter, not ever going to be an issue.

Handguard shields and FSB height can be fixed for $30, total. Not worth spending the extra for a casual shooter.


Lower:
None of the things here will matter to a casual shooter. Heck, they will be only marginally better, if at all, for a serious shooter.

The staked castle nut - most AR15 people would prefer this not to be staked.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I would say "I told you so"...

As his first act, Governor Haslam has signed an executive order, eliminating the requirement that the Governor and top aides disclose how much they earn.

Link to story.


Folks, this is why I warned against voting for him - in the primaries, and in the general election.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reminders

Today, browsing on a job board, I found the position that was once held by my buddy, Rick - who passed away recently.

Hope they find a good replacement, as I know he had to have been a top-notch employee.

Liberals don't always know what to ban

These have got to be the two funniest quotes on guns by liberals that I've ever seen. I know I've posted them before, but they are worth repeating. People who wish to ban something should at least understand the fundamentals of that which they wish to ban.


Case 1
In this clip, Representative Carolyn McCarthy wishes to ban barrel shrouds.
Remember, barrel shrouds are the forward handgrips.
These keep the shooter's hand from getting overheated when the barrel heats up.

McCarthy suggests that a barrel shroud is "the shoulder thing that goes up."


Case 2

Patricia Eddington appears (oddly enough, with Carolyn McCarthy) in this clip, speaking out against .50 caliber rifles, and against tracer ammunition. She makes two errant claims about tracer ammunition:
First, she says it makes the bullet heat-seeking. This is a really strange claim.
Second, she says it would cook a deer as it passed through one. Again, very odd.

Tracer ammunition is designed to burn brightly, so the shooter can clearly see the bullet path. The fire from it is certainly not large enough to cook any meat as it passes through. And the concept of it being heat-seeking is quite far-fetched.

I can say that there is a certain risk with tracer ammunition. In extremely dry environments, tracers have been known to spark fires in dry brush. This is certainly not worth banning - just hold idiots responsible for arson who ignore this fact. We have enough laws in place already to deal with possible outcomes.


Just in case you want to know where your Congress-Critter stands on the issue:

Here's a link to the 20 best gun rights advocates.
(not surprisingly, all are Republicans - most from the South and Midwest)

Here's a link to the 20 worst - who wish to control you and others.
(not surprisingly, all are Democrats - most from NY and CA)


Oh, and who ever said the 2nd amendment was about hunting deer? It's not. Though that is a nice little side effect we can enjoy from it.

Excellent Quote

Link here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

And we're off!

Presidential Election 2012 has begun. The first conservative candidate is Herman Cain.
He announced today that he was setting up an exploratory committee to investigate a possible run for President.

Although we are very early on, I would not lose a second's sleep if I voted for Cain. He is a conservative radio talk show host. Unlike our current President, he has real leadership ability - having been an executive at Pillsbury, and a CEO at Godfather's Pizza.

In my estimation, Cain is far more conservative than other potential candidates such as Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney (Mitt is nowhere near conservative). Cain is also more likely to be able to rally support from traditional Republicans than Sarah Palin could at this time.

Oh, and the left will absolutely hate this small fact... Cain just so happens to be black.

Destroying Liberal Arguments, one after another.

As more and more facts emerge on the Arizona shooting, we get to see more and more liberal talking points on why guns are bad, why certain things should be banned from the public, and various other absurdities.

I want to use this post to keep a running tab on things we hear through the media that are false. I will document and link to proof as needed.

Loughner was a right-wing nutjob. 
Nope - check out my previous post - he was a left-wing nutjob.

We need more gun-control so that he would have been barred from buying the gun.
Again, I'll reference my previous post. This clown was barred from buying a gun, primarily under two parts - his mental stability was in question, and he had a history of illegal drug use. Both are disqualifying factors.

Much of the gun-control talk has been coming from Representative Carolyn McCarthy. She is the same representative who, on the air, admitted she did not know what a barrel shroud is - even though she was wanting to ban them. She went on to speculate that a barrel shroud is a "shoulder thing that goes up."

We should ban high-capacity magazines.
In reality, the fact that he used higher capacity magazines probably saved lives. Loughner was tackled when his gun malfunctioned. GLOCK's are not known to malfunction frequently - mine has never malfunctioned. The aftermarket high capacity mags are known to malfunction.

Had Loughner been armed with a handful of standard 17-round magazines from GLOCK, there would have been no malfunction, and he would have been able to keep shooting and reloading until he was all out of ammo.

... more to come...



Update - 1/19/2011

Here's a link to an article about the magazine failure... in an effort to meet reader's request!








Update - 1/25/2011


Here's a link to an article about police shootings. A funny quote from the article:
“Many of these criminals are outgunning our police officers. We’re seeing criminals with high-velocity clips on their guns.”
Clips load magazines. Magazines  load guns. There is no such thing as either a high speed clip or magazine (whichever he meant). The magazine (or clip) does not determine the rate of fire. It only determines how many bullets can be fired before reloading.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

From a certain point of view

I had lunch today with a friend from Sunday School. At the restaurant, I saw a sign banning things. This time, the thing to be banned was the plastic placemats for kids.

Mrs. Usagi uses these things frequently, and has inspired many friends and family members to do the same.

My friend and I discussed this, and figured the restaurant probably banned them due to the sticky parts of the placemats being difficult to clean up. Although I 've never seen such residue, I imagine that it could build up.

Seems to me that the whole thing makes more work for their employees who clean off tables, and it likely turns away moms with kids. But perhaps that was their goal all along?

Irony in the anti-gun movement

When I was writing this article, it struck me. There is a bit of irony in some of the arguments liberals use to try to sneak in more gun control. Specifically, when liberals argue that restrictions are "not" about hunting or sporting guns, but instead are about "assault weapons."

Let's break that down. From the arguments made, the liberals are "fine" with guns that serve a "legitimate sporting use," or "commonly used for hunting," just not the "assault weapons." We are all familiar with hunting. Would it surprise anyone to know that one of the most popular hunting rifles available is the AR 15 and its variants? Of course, the AR 15 is the quintessential rifle targeted by liberals as being an "assault rifle."

Here's an article about the Remington R25 - which is an AR chambered for the popular .308, .243, and 7mm-08 hunting rounds. Standard AR15's are often used, where legal, for hunting - typically deer, feral hogs, and predators (such as coyote). The AR15 platform is inherently accurate, easily customized (good for adding scopes, bipods, or other tools), and they can be configured in many popular hunting cartridges - .223, 7.62x39, 6.8 SPC, 6.5, and others.

What about legitimate sporting uses? Let's examine that, too. The most common and popular types of competition are NRA High Power, USPSA, 3-Gun matches, and Cowboy & Western shooting. The last, Cowboy & Western Shooting, is typically done with old-fashioned guns - revolvers, lever-actions, and the like. However, the other types of competition use the exact kind of guns that are targeted by liberals.

NRA High Power (DCM and CMP matches are substantially similar)
These competitions focus on one of four main rifles: Pre-WWII bolt-actions (1903, and 1917 models), M1 Garand (a semi-automatic battle rifle), M14 (and the M1A counterpart - a definitive "assault rifle" by media standards) and the ever-famous AR15. Coincidentally, the AR15 matches are commonly the best attended.

So the "assault rifle" is also the most commonly used rifle in competition? Yep.

USPSA (also similar are ISPC and IDPA)
Also known as pistol competitions, all three organizations require use of pistols or revolvers at least 9mm in projectile diameter. The most commonly used pistols at these events are GLOCK's, 1911's, and other similar semiautomatic pistols. Preferred by competitors are pistols with higher capacity magazines, as most events require shooting many targets.

So the GLOCK, and "high-capacity" magazines that are being targeted now in the wake of the Arizona shootings, are the primary types of guns used in pistol competition?  Yep.

3-Gun matches
3-Gun matches incorporate pistol, rifle, and shotgun shooting into a single test of skill. These competitions are increasingly more popular, and the USPSA (mentioned above) is one of the main organizations to sponsor competitions.  From this page, one needs the following to compete:
- Serviceable semi-auto pistol in 9mm or larger caliber. (more pistols that liberals want to ban!)
- Serviceable semi-auto, or pump shotgun in 12 gauge with 20-21” bbl threaded for screw-in chokes.
- Serviceable semi-auto rifle in .223, .308, or 7.62x39 (AK) caliber. (more "assault rifles!")


So it would seem that legitimate (and quite popular) sporting use includes these particular guns that are coming under fire (pun intended).

Liberals don't want you to have guns of any sort. They want to take your freedoms away, and they are willing to do it piecemeal if needed.

A guide for liberals

Who want to write about guns, and not sound stupid.


Credit to Say Uncle for pointing me to the article.

Link to article.



My favorite part:
"It’s true that many gun-rights enthusiasts are also hunters, but the “strong desire” to preserve gun rights stems from the need for self-defense, not for killing Bambi."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Funny thing in the snow

When it snowed on Christmas, the Mrs. and I had something funny happen.

Traveling to her parent's house, to pick up the kids, some snow blew off the top of out vehicle. The car that was tailgating us honked their horn at us!

Mrs Usagi:
"Yeah, buster... like I have a button in here that launches snow at you!"

We pondered how if the other driver had not been tailgating, he could have dodged the flying snow.

Some points by another blogger

Pdb has made several blog posts about Appleseed. He has, in his own way, made some brilliant observations. Two posts, in particular, got me to thinking. So I thought I'd jot it down here, and make a record of it.

Link 1
Link 2





Firearms Training BS Detection Checklist

Link 1 is about detecting BS is firearms training. Much of it would also be a good checklist for martial arts training. For the sake of this exercise, a "YES" means that AS does demonstrate some BS. A "NO" will mean that there is no BS detected. Here is what pdb asks:

Are They Selling Something Other Than Training? 
Be suspicious of sales pitches delivered during training for items conveniently sold in their ‘Pro shop’. Not all pitches are for tangible goods; are they selling you on training, or a dogma or lifestyle?
For AS:   NO
Although many instructors sell slings, and RWVA merchandise, there was no focus on this. Perhaps there have been at some AS events, but I have yet to hear of it. I'm going to rate this one "NO."
Cult Of Personality? 
Be honest, are you coming to hone your craft, or bask in a guru’s glow? If the head of the organization went under a bus, would you still train with them?
For AS:   YES
This is a difficult one. Few, if any in Appleseed are blind followers of "Fred" (Jack Dailey). However, there is a cult personality of Appleseeders as a group. Many of them have only trained with Appleseed, and therefore think that AS is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Their mentality lends to acting the same way. I'm going to rate this one a "YES" because of that sheep mentality, though it it not Fred they follow
What Rules? Dogma Or Results? 
If you ask them why something is done a certain way, they better have an answer other than “We’ve always done it this way.” or “That’s how the [Army, Marines, SEALs, FBI etc etc] do it.”
For AS:   YES
Again, another difficult one. AS will  never publicly claim they are the one true way. However, for the training they give, it is most certainly "the Appleseed Way or the Highway!" Particularly disturbing is there adherence to sling shooting, while giving up on other aspects of High Power or old Army shooting. Given the almost cult-like following of sling shooting, I will have to rate this one a "YES."
Lowest Common Denominator or All High Speed? 
Classes consist of a variety of skill and talent levels. Do they focus exclusively on one group or the other? Or can they tailor the attention given to each student so that everybody gets their dollars worth?
For AS:   YES
Again, another difficult one. Although they try to keep to the lowest common denominator, when they get to the AQT portions, it is sink or swim. Instruction and coaching drops off at that point. In fact, the speed is what causes folks to get left behind, so maybe it's not as difficult a decision as I once thought. Definite "YES."
Training For Me But Not For Thee?
Do they have a non-LEO credentialing policy, or Law Enforcement only classes? Personally, I think that’s bullshit and refuse to train with anyone who believes in two levels of citizens.
For AS:   NO
This is a definite "NO." But there is a caveat, they allow military to shoot for free, and have offered the same for LEO's in the past. However, the question from pdb is whether they are open to everyone, and they are. No BS here.
One True Gun, or Run Whatcha Brung? 
Making people run a Glock or SIG or Beretta like a 1911 is idiotic. Same thing goes for making G3, FAL, AK or Galil owners run their rifles like ARs. Good instructors can help their students get the most from any weapon. 
For AS:   NO
This one is pretty easy - "NO" on the BS meter. They claim they are a "run what ya brung" event - often to their own detriment. This is a point of contention, as they should only allow semi-autos, with certain exceptions for bolt or lever guns for those who have already shot well at a prior Appleseed.



Appleseed Response Summary

From Link 2, pdb explores some of the responses from Appleseeders:

"So in response to pointing out some problems with the Appleseed syllabus, here’s pretty much the answers I got:

“It’s an advanced course and really isn’t for the beginning shooter.”

“It’s a beginner’s course and doesn’t need to cover advanced subjects like cover and improvised positions.”

“It doesn’t matter that the instructors sometimes suck, they’re all volunteers.”

“It doesn’t matter that some shooters leave the program less confident, our intentions are good. Besides, we only ever hear back from the guys who liked the program, so what could possibly be wrong with it?”

“Shun the nonbeliever! Shun! ShunnnnnnnNN!“

So let's explore those responses:

“It’s an advanced course and really isn’t for the beginning shooter.”
Then why do Appleseeders insist on getting newer shooters to their events? Plus, I would argue that the course of fire is advanced, but the skills taught are fundamental. Herein lies the problem. The information they have is taught to Marines over a 2-week period of time. What is currently called Appleseed should be broken into two parts - a "part 1" and a "part 2."

“It’s a beginner’s course and doesn’t need to cover advanced subjects like cover and improvised positions.”
So which way do you want it?  Is it beginner level or advanced? On a more mundane note, to keep with AS's running theme of fundamental marksmanship, they should keep it mostly as-is, but add a correct sight-in portion from a rested position. 
If they were to do the right thing, and break the current training into "part 1" and "part 2" then they could allow bipods or other rests, and sighting in would be much more effective. 
Also, if they had parts, then they could include topics such as cover in a potential "part 3."

“It doesn’t matter that the instructors sometimes suck, they’re all volunteers.”
Kudos for people having the wherewithal to volunteer, but this statement is a cop-out.  Just because someone is nice enough to volunteer their time to teach, does not mean their teaching ability shouldn't be looked at critically. Moreover, because Appleseed insists on recruiting new shooters, they need to be hyper-critical about whom they permit to instruct.

“It doesn’t matter that some shooters leave the program less confident, our intentions are good."
I seem to recall a proverb about the road to a very hot place being paved with "good intentions." Again, because Appleseed insists on recruiting new shooters, they need to be extremely critical of persons they allow to instruct. Allowing shooters to leave less confident is a failure - for Appleseed, the instructors, and the gun community as a whole.

"Besides, we only ever hear back from the guys who liked the program, so what could possibly be wrong with it?”
This is a big issue. Any instructor, or head of a program should want to know more from people that didn't enjoy it, or had difficulty. Knowing the hows and whys of failure enables the plan for success.  Appleseed seeks to squash this information. Organizations that stand the test of time don't squash the information, but learn from it, instead.

"Shun the nonbeliever!"
This refers again to the problem above about not being able to handle criticism. As an organization, this is Appleseed's largest single weakness. Only by taking a look at oneself critically, can one objectively see faults, and hope to fix them!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Be mindful of your training

Not all Appleseed instructors are created equal. It is a volunteer organization, and this can spawn some nitwits who will teach you all wrong, and they will leave you thinking they know better.

Instructor "Mudcat" at my first Appleseed is an example of just that sort of thing. For the sake of documentation, here are the errors he passed on as being correct methodology.


Sling too tight
Mudcat advised myself and others to tighten slings - to the point of hands turning purple. He stated that we should loosen them between firing times, so as not to cause permanent damage.

The correct method, is just taut. A sling, properly adjusted, can be worn all day with no ill effects.

Over-tightening not only poses circulatory issues, but causes the shooter to have to muscle shots on target. This defeats NPOA and makes shooting accurately more difficult.

Over-tightening also shifts the rifle's Point Of Impact (POI). On traditional wood-stock rifles, the effect is less pronounced - often 1 MOA or less. On AR type rifles, and some others - where the sling attachment is directly touching the barrel - the POI shift becomes more dramatic. There are also reports of barrels being ruined by overly-tight sling shooting.


Proper support elbow position. 
Mudcat advised that the support elbow, in prone, should be 45 degrees to the side of the rifle. He stated we should try to get as close to the ground as possible with the rifle.

The correct method is to have the support elbow directly under the rifle. This props the rifle up, and allows the shooter to shoot over low grass, or short barricades. It is also much more stable a position.

Now, the upper arm of the support hand should form a 45 degree angle to the front toward the ground - with minor variation depending on the person's build and individual comfort. But Mudcat kept telling us to get it to the side, as it was the only way we could get closer to the ground.


Proper sling positioning.
Mudcat showed incorrect sling position - having me put mine on backwards, and actually putting my wife's on backwards for her.

Putting a sling on backwards reduces the effectiveness of the device as a shooting crutch. It also makes accurate shooting more difficult.


Conclusion
I would have, in my earlier years, admonished this "instructor" for the errors he was passing along. Additionally, his attitude, which sparked several others to leave, left a lot to be desired.

However, as I've aged and matured, I've come to realize that one should never ascribe malice when a simple excuse of stupidity will suffice.

Why the Government Cannot create jobs

This one is really quite simple, but it seems to elude the liberals, so I'll type it out really slow:


All that government has (including money), it must first take from the people.

When taken from the people, the money cannot be invested by those people or companies into other jobs. In fact, the reverse is true - it forces these people and companies to reduce the number of jobs, since they can no longer pay for more manpower.

The government would have to be 100% efficient to simply break even - that is, to create one job for everyone it destroyed through taxation.

Because nothing is 100% efficient - the government is scientifically unable to maintain the current job outlook through taxation of any sort.

We all know the government is one of the most inefficient machines out there - meaning the TRUE effect is that the government must destroy a hundred private sector jobs to create a single public (government) job.

Political Parties and Religion

I'm in the mood to cook and eat a few sacred cows today. :)

A recent thread with a friend on Facebook is the inspiration of this piece. The main quote that started things off was this:
"When I was growing up I asked what the difference was between Republicans and Democrats. In a nutshell I was told that Republicans were Christians and Democrats were Non-Christians. That is so funny to me now."
The clear inference is that one party or the other aligns itself with Christian Beliefs more than the other. This person mistakenly believes that Democratic party ideals are more in line with Christian beliefs than Republicans. This is not true, so let's examine that:





Democratic Party:

According to Wikipedia, the Democratic party has traditionally favored liberal positions. However, the article also states:
"In recent decades, the party has adopted a centrist economic and socially progressive agenda, with the voter base having shifted considerably. Today, Democrats advocate more social freedoms, affirmative action, balanced budget, and a free enterprise system tempered by government intervention (mixed economy)."
Based on this, let's look at liberal and socially progressive concepts that are in line with Biblical teaching, and those that are not, and compare.

Equal Rights - Nope
Jesus came to save all mankind, equally. John 3:16; Romans 10: 11-13; and Galatians 3:8-9 are good examples.
Democrats opposed the 15th Amendment (equal voting rights for minorities) and the 19th Amendment (equal rights for women).
Modern Democrats claim to want equality, but they are the ones that so often push class warfare, or racism - and they never back up their claims with proof.


Social Programs - Nope
The Bible teaches that we are to help the needy. The "Tithe" goes to help the needy, but it is done to build the character of the person giving the Tithe.
Democrats prefer mandates socialized programs like Welfare for helping the needy. Problem is that mandating the program, makes those who pay into it resentful - and this is the opposite of character building.
A better approach would be to stop taxing those with the money as much - they will tend to give more with the excess. It is also well-known and documented that conservative people give far more than liberal folk.

Taxes - Yep
Jesus said in Matthew 22:21 to "...render unto Caesar (the government) what is Caesar's."
Democrats have enacted and proposed more tax increases than Republicans. The liberal philosophy is that there is no such a thing as being taxed too much. Seems they took this verse and ran with it!

Right to Life - Nope
Democrats are well-known for being in favor of abortion. They call it "Pro-Choice" to try to mask the ugly truth of what abortion is all about.
The Bible says "You shall not murder." Some say "you shall not kill," but this translation is inaccurate compared to modern English. There are times when the taking of a life is justified in the Bible, e.g. - in self defense, or as punishment for crime in certain instances. Also, killing the enemy in combat was not included in this. No, the Bible warns against murder - the killing of the innocent. I cannot think of any person more innocent than a small, unborn child.


Religious Tolerance - Nope
Democrats espouse religious tolerance - except for Christianity!
It is common to see them allow, or even require other religions to be taught in schools. But if Christian beliefs are the topic - they yell about "separation of Church and State" (which is not, by the way, ever mentioned in the Constitution).


Republican Party

Equal Rights -Yep
Republicans were the ones that proposed and voted in both the 15th and 19th Amendments. Additionally, Republicans voted far more in favor of the Equal Rights Act of 1964, than did Democrats.


Social Programs -Yep
See above link about Republicans being the ones who willingly give far more than do Democrats.

Taxes -Nope
Seems Republicans (Bush tax cuts, for example) want you to keep more of your hard-earned money. Since Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, I must say that this topic is better addressed by the Democrats - who would like for 100% of your pay to go to "Caesar."


Right to Life -Yep
Republicans are the ones on the front lines of repealing the Abortion ruling Please note that this was a ruling by liberal judges, not a law passed, that allowed abortions. Not only is this against Christian beliefs, but it is not Constitutional, either.


Religious Tolerance -Yep
Seems Republicans tolerate all religions - including Christianity. Dems just can't support Christianity - too many of them are far too busy trying to get attention by rebelling against Christianity. Look at their actions and tell me this is not so!




Conclusion:


My conclusion is this:
If you are Christian, and insist on voting your beliefs, you cannot be honest with yourself and vote Democrat. 
If you call yourself a Christian and are voting Democrat, you are either being intellectually dishonest, or you are being ignorant of the facts and positions. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Correct English

In a previous article, I referred to a female member of the US Congress as a "Congressman."

The popular style of the day is to refer to female members of the US House of Representatives as "Congresswoman" or "Congresswomen." To do so is linguistically incorrect. The term "Congressman" does not in any way signify gender - it is a title for a position held; like "Mayor," "President," etc.

The term, like the term "freshman," can be viewed as an idiomatic term, but is more correctly referred to as a designation (from the link: "3. A distinguishing name, sign, or title"). One would never have a "freshwoman," and so there is no such thing as a "Congresswoman." 

If this confuses you, please use the term "Representative." The only problem known with using that term is that so many "Representatives" do not properly represent those that elected them. But, that's a topic for a different blog post.

Congressman Marsha Blackburn is a fine example of both rules - she uses the term correctly, and represents her constituents well.

A tragedy, some comments, and a prediction

It's all over the news - AZ Congressman Gabrielle Giffords and Judge John Roll were shot today by an apparent lunatic with a GLOCK 9mm pistol. Link to the story.

Of course, liberal media outlets are trying to find locals who place blame with the Tea Party, or conservatives, since the Congressman is a Democrat. The first problem is, this guy was just plain crazy. Here's his Youtube page proving it.

The second problem is, he is a left-wing nutjob - or more correctly, a liberal, atheist, pothead. There is evidence out there that the shooter was dissatisfied with the Congressman for voting against Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader. There is circumstantial evidence (circumstantial and possibly too much "tinfoil") he was after Judge Roll, who was killed in the attack.

The shooter is well read on Mein Kampf by Hitler, and lists the Communist Manifesto as a favorite, too. His quote from Youtube, and Myspace:
"Books:
I had favorite books: ...The Communist Manifesto, ... Mein Kampf, ... Animal Farm,..."
Those aren't exactly "right-wing" books there. Despite this clown's general anarchy-based "thought" process, none of it leans right at all - it's all left leaning - Marxism and Nazism.

Prediction: The left-leaning media will try to portray him as right-leaning.
Prediction 2: There will be a call for a ban on guns for the rest of us.


Edit - 1/10/11:
The gun ban idea has already begun. Too bad their logic is sadly failed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

On the housing bubble bursting

A judge in Massachusetts has come down on two banks that held mortgages, then foreclosed on them.

Link to story.

I have said for a long time that there were two major problems that led up to the housing crisis - banks knowingly lending to people that had no business borrowing money, and people knowingly borrowing money they knew they could not repay.

Seems the judge in this case feels the banks should have to suffer their fair share for the mistakes made. You know the people that were foreclosed on have already suffered.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I do not suggest this course of action

Idiots rob a convenience store. That's not the dumbest part. The dumbest part is that they robbed it while there were COPS in the parking lot.

Link to story.

Furthering your training

I have been contacted by literally dozens of people over the past several months, and they've asked me to give some thoughts on furthering their marksmanship training. It stems from people who have attended Appleseed events, and now wish to take things a step further. So let's explore this topic in detail for folks.

The reason for this is simple. Appleseed is a program that has served as the first training that many shooters have had. This also accounts for why so many will defend the program to the death - right or wrong, even when it might make the program look bad, or make them look foolish. Appleseed was their first training, so it just has to be the best, in their minds. Those of us who've trained elsewhere, or have an in-depth knowledge of what teaching a topic is truly about, it is a valuable training source, that is a good platform from which to learn more about one's chosen craft.

To make things simple, I will break my training suggestions down into two main categories. In one part, I'll elaborate on positional shooting for folks. In another part, I'll talk about other training avenues. Before either of those, I'll make a few broad suggestions:


General Marksmanship Suggestions

First - if your state allows, get a concealed / carry permit. Often, there is a certain minimal amount of training needed. This will open you up to a new world of marksmanship - pistols.

Also - Get some empty handed self defense training. Krav Maga, Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing, Wrestling, etc.

Look for local shooting clubs. Maybe they do the kind of shooting you want to do. Maybe they do something different that you might want to try.

Check out the NRA Marksmanship program. There are many types of certifications and courses of fire - almost to the point of having something for everybody. A huge advantage with the NRA program is that you shoot it on your own.

Always train to do what you are already doing - just better. In other words, sharpen your current skills.


General Training Suggestions

I'm going to stick with broad-based advice here, as there is a lot of information out there, and different people will lean different ways.

Training Schools
Modern schools of self defense using firearms have devised many methodologies that are very useful, and well proven in actual situations. Generally speaking, they classify training into pistol, rifle, and shotgun. Many schools further the categories, such as "defensive pistol" vs. "defensive revolver," or similar.

While there are many good schools out there, it would be impossible to name them all. And certainly, some people are disinterested (to say the least) with certain training facilities. I suggest Google is your friend. Research any school prior to plunking down the money.

That's another topic. Most training beyond Appleseed will involve substantially more money. Most schools will specify what kind of firearm to bring - if you don't have one of that sort, investing in one will either be mandatory, or strongly suggested. Some places require certain types of ammo (for varying reasons). Do your homework first.

Training via video
Another option is learning on your own. Keep in mind that the obvious detraction for this is the fact that you will not have an instructor there to help you with problems YOU are facing. Many places put out instructional videos - most often on DVD. I own several from Thunder Ranch, and will gladly recommend any video put out by Clint and Heidi Smith. Top quality folks, top quality products. I hear that training with them is great, too!

The folks at Magpul Dynamics are well known for having quality DVD's, too. Though I do not own any of their material, nor have I viewed any of their DVD's in their entirety, they rate well with folks in Law Enforcement and Military. What I have seen of their DVD's is very accurate, too.

Courses to take
For someone who wants to increase his or her self defense capabilities with a firearm, some specific training to seek might include topics on defensive handgun (like the course at Thunder Ranch, or similar),  urban rifle, precision rifle, and defensive shotgun. A course on basic tactics would be useful, too. Knowing how to pie a corner, defend with one hand and shoot with the other, clear malfunctions, and use a flashlight are absolutely critical.


Positional Shooting Skills

Once a shooter has earned a "Rifleman" designation from Appleseed, there are many ways to improve. There are fewer training avenues, so the shooter will have to rely on working on technique on their own in many cases. I strongly suggest improvement with the AQT course of fire. It is a good COF, and offers many alternate ways to train.

Competition
One way to continue the education in a group environment is to become an NRA High Power competitor. Certainly, shooting from actual distances will be superior to shooting at 25 yards on reduced size targets. The major drawback is that to be competitive will require a match grade equipment, rifle, and ammo - which represents a significant investment. In either event, a shooter should at least try it out once.

Solo training
This is the bulk of what I've been asked, so I'll spend a lot of time on this topic. I'll run this as a general guideline on how to improve shooting performance, one step at a time.

Solo Training - a new drill
I must give props on this drill to Trident Concepts, which I understand to be where it originated. Start with an 8" circle at 50 yards. Prep three mags with 5 rounds in each. At the "fire" command, the shooter loads the fist mag, and fires the five rounds at the circle while standing. Then the shooter reloads, and fires five rounds at the circle from sitting. Then the shooter reloads and shoots five rounds from prone. Time limit - 25 seconds.

Scoring: 1 point for each hit.
2 points for each miss.
1 point for each second over 25 taken.

Objective: to score only 25 points. Lower scores are better.
Alternate - post a 4" circle at 25 yards.
Keep practicing until you can consistently hit a 25 each and every time.

Solo Training - Refinement
I've received in excess of 100 emails asking about continuing after "Rifleman." First, let's dispel a myth - shooting "Rifleman" is not akin to getting a black belt in the martial arts. More like getting the first belt after white belt - particularly in the fashion that so many make the cut: with scopes, highly tuned rifles, match grade ammo, light triggers, and the like.

So I suggest that the aspiring Rifleman start taking these things away - one at a time - and refining the skill to a point that is true marksmanship - the shooting of the fabled "4 MOA" without any assistance.

These suggestions will be cumulative. In other words, you should keep adding to the difficulty level as you train. 

Ammo
First, stop using the match grade ammo. For you .22LR shooters, this includes the fabulous CCI (mini-mags, or Standard velocity). At first, it will be a bit harder, but not too much so. This will be the easiest step of them all. Some recommendations on decent bulk ammo? Try Federal or Winchester for your .22's. For centerfire, that will be up to you, though on military calibers (.223, .308, .30-06) one should go with military surplus, or similar.

For .30-06, I suggest using the bulk stuff that is true military surplus - like the current Greek ammo from the CMP. For .223 - I suggest that any inexpensive ammo that duplicates the 55-grain or 62-grain loads used by the military should be adequate. For added difficulty - try shooting the steel-cased .223. I've shot "Rifleman" scores with Wolf and Monarch (which is identical to Brown Bear, from what I understand). Both types of ammo are capable of 4 MOA.

Trigger
The next step to take is to stop using the hair triggers. Now this topic is a tight-wire act, so let me make a distinction - the M1 has a nice trigger that is usually about 4.5 lbs. It also just so happens that HP competitions require at least a 4.5 pound trigger for competition. So this is just fine in my book. Conversely, I see no reason to have a horrible 12 pound beast of a trigger.

Predominantly what I will say people use is the Ruger 10/22 - and with a Volquartsen trigger, the pull can be reduced to under 2 pounds. While that's nice, it is also gaming the AQT a bit, in my book.

Remember that  the best way to improve is with a cumulative effect, so once you revert to match-legal triggers, do not forget that you need to keep shooting bulk ammo, too!

Rifle
This is for all those with a really nice setup - bull barrel, thumb-hole stock, etc. - now shoot the score without all the getup. Take that old plain rifle out, and use it. Keep using the standard ammo, and the match-legal trigger. Make this another step of improvement. Let these things be one less crutch on which to rely.

Also covered in the rifle section is the centerfire rifle (for those who have only shot the score with a .22). Now is the time to take the AR15 out of the closet, and qualify with it. Remember to use correct sling tension (not too tight!) on the AR15 - you can bend your barrel and throw shots off.

Optics
If you've reached this point, you are ready to take the scope off. Use plain peep sights (or tech-sights) on the rifle. Some will say that they just can't see the far targets. This is true, but not as frequently as people think. If you use glasses or contacts, be sure your prescription is up to date and accurate.

I'd say that over 90% of people who use the "eyes can't see the target" excuse are doing just that - making an excuse. Sure, there are some with severe medical conditions for which this might be true... but that's not most of you! I know, because I once made the same excuse about myself.

Sling
There are not many who will venture here. There are some who contend that you cannot shoot 4 MOA without a sling. This is simply not true - I think everyone capable of shooting 4 MOA can do so without a sling. I'm not the only one to think this, either.

Anything that helps get the bullet on target, but is not essential to getting a bullet on target, is a "crutch" (Link to where I found that quote). The sling is no different.  It helps, but is not critical, to getting the bullet on the target. Nothing - not even the sling - is more vital than proper shooting position, except possibly proper sight picture and trigger pull.

So now, I urge you to shoot without the sling. Focus on what you are doing. Make that "Rifleman" score without the sling. I firmly believe that most human beings are capable of  shooting 210 or better on the AQT, with a true off-the-rack rifle, standard ammo, and no other assistance. No sling, no bipod, no hair trigger, no expensive or handloaded ammo, etc.

When you get to the point that you can consistently shoot high 220's to low 230's under these parameters, then you have really developed your skill to a black belt level.

Follow up
Now go back. Shoot with the sling, scope, bipod, match ammo, whatever. You will see marked improvement.

Additional drills
Occasionally use the "redcoat challenge" from Appleseed fame. "Parker's Revenge" as a game with this is really fun, and a great way to learn cooperative shooting with friends / family.

Try shooting an AQT, using the sitting position in the last three stages. Try to make a "Rifleman" score that way - no easy task!

Try shooting an AQT with a bipod or rest on the final stage.

Shoot a "Rifleman" score on the original AQT, the standard QDAQT, and on a RFAQT. Then do it with a centerfire!

Practice "double taps" on the 100-yard scale target.

Have a friendly challenge with a less experienced shooter. Both of you are prone - they shoot 10 shots at the 200-yard targets - 5 shots per target. You shoot 10 at the 400-yard targets - 2-2-3-3 as normal. No rests or bipods, but your friend may use a scope, whatever ammo, whatever rifle, etc. You shoot under a time limit of 90 seconds, but allow him longer if he wants. Compare the scores straight up.

See if you can do the RFAQT in 3 minutes. 2 minutes? With a tube fed? Under 3 minutes and no sling?
PS - I've done the RFAQT in under 3 minutes with a tube fed and scored over 210. Can you?

Shoot the entire AQT standing. See if you can get 210. (I've only scratched 200 so far!)

Shoot the AQT on your weak side (left handed, for me).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Misleading story is not really misleading

Link to story.

MSNBC tried to do an article about the Republicans getting sworn in to Congress today.

The subheading was misleading:

"Republicans take charge of House, ending 2 years of Democratic dominance"

For the record, the House of Representatives was controlled by the Democrats since the 2006 elections (for which they were sworn in early January, 2007).

Simple math tells me 2011 - 2007 = 4.

Dems have been in control of the House of Representatives for four years - not the misleading two.
The misleading "two years" might be a reference to the past two years, when the House, Senate, and the President, were all Democratically controlled - but that was not stated in the article at the time I publish this.

Rules for a duel

In case you've ever wondered (like I did), here are the rules for dueling.

Link.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How does Obama "cut" taxes?

With surprise tax bills of course.

My brother put it best:
"Thanks, Barry.  'EFFing' it up for everybody's income tax..."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dangerous old man from the south

Read a bit about Jack Hinson.

Link 1
Link 2

Seems he was too old to fight when the Civil War started (nearly 60 at the time).
Hinson remained neutral - keeping friends among the local Confederates, as well as General Grant himself.
Until Union troops murdered his two sons. Then he snapped.

By the end of the war, he had killed over 100 Union Soldiers and Sailors with his special-made sniper rifle.
Once, a 500-man detachment was sent to get him - they and failed.
He reportedly made 500-yards shots (this claim is of a dubious nature - muzzle-loaders today cannot replicate the feat).
Hinson's family was decimated by the war - 7 of his 10 children died due to the hostilities or related events.
Hinson himself survived the war, and lived until 1874.

On shooting with a sling.

A few days ago, Pops and I were speaking with an old Marine (retired) who was working the gun counter at a retail sporting goods chain. The subject went to the M1 Garand, and eventually to sling use. Both Pops and the clerk had been taught sling use in the military. I had learned some from Appleseed training, and more based on my own research after that.

There is much information, and much misinformation out there about use of the sling, so I thought I'd take a moment to catalog the uses of the sling.

What does it do?
Everybody has a Natural Point Of Aim (NPOA). This is a position where the body is completely at rest, and still holding the rifle. This is important, because since the muscles are not holding the rifle, the shooter's "platform" is much steadier.

The sling helps steady a rifle by assisting in the creation of a more stable platform from which the rifle is held. Typically, the sling is used in one of the four major shooting positions.

Using the sling is important because the steady hold of a rifle is imperative, if the shooter wishes to hit a target far away.  

Applications
The sling is best used competition, or personal shooting training.


Because "slinging up" (putting the sling on for proper marksmanship use) is time-intensive, use of the sling in combat is highly situational. In fact, given the advent of the bipod, or finding other platforms from which to rest a rifle for a long range shot, one might argue that sling use in combat is counter-intuitive.

I'd probably never use a sling in combat. That said, I've never been in a combat situation. However, extensive conversations with those who have been, added with suggestions from noted combat experts backs this claim. There have been very few documented uses of the sling in combat. There's a reason for it: TIME.

How to use the sling.
Here are some demos and pictorials on how to put on a sling:
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
How to put on a 1907 style sling.
How to put the 1907 style sling on an M1 Garand.
How to put on a web sling (click on "Web Sling Help").
A great step-by-step

How tight?
Many from certain disciplines, and some yahoos who refuse to really learn the art, will advocate a very tight sling "the tighter the better" - this is outright wrong. These folks often say these things in error because they lack in-depth training, or have only received marginal training from a single source. Certainly, they lack the competition experience that would teach them the difference.

The old Marine clerk talked about fellow Marines that were slung up so tight, it cut off circulation in their hands, and the skin on their fingers split from the pressure! This is an example of way too tight!

The objective is not to get the sling as tight as possible. The objective is to tighten the sling just to the point where it holds the weight of the rifle. Another way of saying this is "thwump tight" or just taut.

Why is this important?
Two reasons:
1. A sling that is too loose will not help steady the rifle.
2. A sling that is too tight will cause the shooter to have to use muscle strength to get to his NPOA. This degrades the stability, or the shooter's NPOA, and neither is acceptable.



Why not too tight?
1. It can pull the stock such that it affects the POI by creating different harmonics due to the stock touching the barrel in places it was not designed to touch.
2. Slings that are too tight cause the shooter to use more muscle to get on target at his normal NPOA.
3. On the AR15 and similar (and a few other) platforms, the sling attaches directly to the barrel. A sling that's too tight actually pulls the barrel off of the rifle's normal POI.
4. Slings that are too tight can cut off circulation in in the support arm.
5. Slings that are too tight can force the shooter to use a different "POA" than is normal and natural.

Loop tightness
Additionally, it should be noted that the loop or cuff that is used on the upper arm should not be too tight, either. Most experienced sling shooters (p. 38) feel - and I agree - that the correct loop on the upper arm will leave enough room to easily slide a couple of fingers into and out of.

A loop that is too tight  will not only cut off circulation, but will also transmit more pulse to the rifle and therefore decrease steady hold.

First post of the year.

It seems, in Europe, where there is already socialized healthcare to bankrupt the nations, politicians are trying to make a play for the pensions held by the citizens.

Link to blog article.


Anybody who thinks Obamacare will not take us down the same path is fooling only themselves.