Saturday, February 26, 2011

When it gets personal

 From the Examiner:

 From time to time, an employer or a recruiter might ask to see your W2 or 1099 earnings from previous years. There are numerous reasons to comply and provide the documents. There are just as many reasons to find another solution. The difference is, supplying the documentation can lead to problems, and those problems can be more severe for the employee than the employer.

In the Nashville market, it is rare to have an employer or recruiter ask to see documents proving previous wages. However, it does happen from time to time, depending on industry. Specifically, out-of-state based corporations hiring for the Nashville area are more likely to ask for tax documents to support wage claims, than are local companies.

Reasons not to provide wage documentation:

1. Personal Nature of the Information
There are several reasons the author advises against providing this documentation. Not the least of which is the personal nature of the information. Asking for a candidate's tax documents is no different that coming out and saying they do not believe the candidate is telling the truth. That's no way to start an employment relationship.

Interview questions that are too personal (like asking for wage documentation) are good indicators of unprofessional interviewers. If a company or hiring manager won't take the time to learn how to properly conduct an interview, do you really want to work for them?

2. Legal ramifications of discrepancies.
The author checked with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. It is not illegal for a prospective employer to ask for these documents. Still, the candidate can find themselves in hot water legally if wage documentation is provided.

W2 fraud is a crime, punishable by law. The IRS is generally the government agency that cracks down on such crime. The problem is, that allowing an employer to obtain wage documents can possibly make a candidate look like a criminal, even when no crime has occurred.

Suppose a candidate provides a W2 to a prospective employer, that was given them by a current or previous employer. Suppose that employer verifies the W2, either with the other company, or with the IRS. Now suppose that the company that issued the W2 sent an amended W2 to the IRS, negating that one... but forgot to send the candidate the amended W2. Now, it looks like the candidate fabricated a false W2. The previous employer is free of blame, because they sent the correct document to the IRS, but the candidate could be facing fines and prison time!

Another possibility lies with company error. Suppose an employee's W2 is just $0.01 different than the one sent to the IRS. Or worse, the company completely goofs, and sends totally different amounts to the employee and the IRS. Hey - it can happen. Companies are not perfect, because they are staffed by imperfect people. Again, this situation can make it look like the employee fabricated the document.

3. Wage suppression.
The last major reason a candidate should not provide wage documents is wage suppression. Frequently, companies that want previous wage documentation are trying to "get away" with only paying the candidate marginally more (if not the exact same) than the candidate is/was making. 

As a candidate for the position, you must sell the company on your value as an employee. If they cannot be made aware of that value without "documentation," then that value really never will exist in their minds. This reduces your value to them - both as a person, as well as an employee.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Funny story from a while back

I get this message some time ago, from a recruiter who is trying to fill a sales position:
"[Usagi], your resume tells nothing about what you've sold."

My response:
"True. That's because it tells you how well I've sold."

His reply:
"That's irrelevant. What employers need to see is what you've done."

My response:
"What you fail to see is that my resume shows exactly what I've done. My performance compared to quota is listed for every year I've been in sales."

His remark:
"But what have you sold?"

My response:
"Financial services, insurance. But what's more important is that I've always been at or above quota. That would be true regardless of product/service sold."

His final reply:
"Sorry, not a fit for my client. I'd suggest you change your resume. Not all recruiters and hiring managers would take the time to call with your layout."

My final response:
"Thanks for the advice. Duly noted. With the current format, I'm getting calls from over 90% of the positions I apply to. What changes would you make to increase those odds?"

There was no reply. He was shown to be the "jackwagon" he was.

For those interested, in sales, there is a resume format that will get you noticed by a lot of hiring managers. I'll gladly share it, if you email and ask nicely!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Of political cowardice

By this point, we are all familiar with the politics swirling in WI and IN - where lawmakers have fled to avoid votes on bills at hand.

Let me say that again...

Lawmakers have FLED

A bit redundant isn't it?

On a friend's Facebook post, of a WI legislator who was complaining about multiple "injustices" the Republicans were thrusting upon him and other Democrats, I stated that it all sounded like sour grapes to me. Seems these Democrats and liberals are still mad about the butt-kicking they took at the polls in November.

They should all remember, as we all must, that elections have consequences.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Success story at the range.

This past weekend, I was in Chattanooga. While there, I went to the range - irst alone, then later with my son, my sister, and her husband.

After some fun at the pistol range, we moved to the rifle range. My sis and bro-in-law opted for the 50-yard rifle range as opposed to the 100-yard range.

While there, my bro-in-law shot my AR 15 a bit. He was "OK" at keeping the shots on paper from that range. After a target analysis, I could tell he was a bit bummed about not hitting consistently. He asked for, and I provided, some shooting instruction.

Within a half-hour, he was shooting 2-3" groups at 50 yards. Another man, nearby, was also on the 50-yard range, shooting an AR 15, using a bipod and a $500 red-dot optic (EoTech). He had no discernible groups, and was all over the paper.

Bro-in-law saw those groups, and decided to keep this target. I am proud of him. I've seen people "get it" before, but never so quickly.

Oh, and he was shooting iron sights, from unsupported prone with a sling. The other guy had been shooting off a bipod, with optics. For non-shooters, this means the other guy *should* have had better groupings.

My son was also consistently popping balloons at 50 yards with his little .22. Not bad for age 6.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A sad story

Last Sunday, I was called on to substitute teach my Sunday School class. The general lesson was about "crime and punishment." Specifically, I delved into decision making as a major influence in people's lives.

In research for the lesson, I was reminded of poor decision making on the part of a friend I knew in High School. The story goes like this:

My friend, Jeremy, is approached by a co-worker, Amy. Amy is looking for someone who can do a murder for hire. Amy has fallen in love with the owner of the restaurant, Dr. Jorge Sanjines. Dr. Sanjines' wife has been cheating on him, and in return, the doctor started a relationship with Amy.

Amy and Dr. Sanjines are getting serious, and the doctor figures that if a burglar was to break into his house, and shoot his wife and her boyfriend (Mr. Schrag), then the problem would be solved. To do that, he needs to contact someone who will do the hit.

Amy asks around, and Jeremy tells her he knows of someone who had done something similar recently. In the end, $10,000 was paid to Jeremy from Dr. Sanjines - through Amy.

Jeremy used a .22 caliber handgun to kill Mr. Schrag, and he severely wounded Mrs. Sanjines. She had a bullet lodged in the base of her skull, and was thereby rendered quadriplegic.

Jeremy sits in jail to this day, serving his life sentence. Back in the early 1990's, I visited twice, but soon after, he shut off all communication with former friends and classmates. Some of my other classmates were a bit harsh on him. He deserved it, I just didn't act that way towards him.

Here's some court documents from the case. Not much else can be found these days:
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Link 4

Political Theatrics

State senators in WI have left the building.


There was a vote scheduled, on a piece of legislation that reorganizes Unionized State employee's benefits. Under the plan, state employees would have to pay 5% toward their retirement fund and 14% towards their health care coverage.

The health care part means the average employee would have to pay $200 per month towards their own insurance policy. Sounds fair to me - I pay a bit more than that  - and what I pay is pretty standard.

By the senators leaving, the State Senate of WI is one vote short of being able to conduct business.

According to the article linked:
"The sergeant-at-arms immediately began looking for the missing lawmakers. If authorized, he can seek help from police. Senate rules and the state constitution say absent members can be compelled to appear, but it does not say how."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I almost went to this

The TFA holds meetings every month - close to my house. Tuesday evening was their most recent event.

Here's a funny blog post (linking back to this one) about last month's event. I was unable to attend due to work commitments. Man, I wish I could have seen that fellow that was upset there were people with guns!

I have a new term, now, too. PSH.

A cheap training rifle

I am asked all the time: "what would make a good, cheap gun to learn marksmanship with?"
Let me answer that question this way:

I feel that rifle marksmanship is easiest to learn, and translates well into pistol marksmanship. Also, all the tactical training in the world is useless if, when you pull the trigger, you do not hit your target.Marksmanship is the most fundamental part of shooting as a martial art.

Also, for folks looking to get a good rifle setup for Appleseed, this is the way to go.

The Rifle:

Out of all the possibilities out there, I have selected the Marlin 795 as the training rifle of choice. Naturally, the 795's older brother, the Marlin 60, is a fine choice as well. There are numerous other makes and models that will suffice, but the 795 was the cream of the crop in several categories:

Detachable box mag. 
I personally like the tube-feed Marlin 60, but most people want or demand a detachable box mag.

At $125 (this price is true at most retailers), the 795 is the least expensive semiautomatic rifle on the market.

Marlin's legendary reliability dwarfs competitors such as Ruger. The 795 is also less picky about ammo than most other models on the market.

Marlin's micro-groove technology is unparalleled. To get a more accurate rimfire, a person must spend no less than $500 - thus destroying the fundamental premise of this article.

Ease of use. 
The only complaint about the 795 with regards to ease of use is that magazines do not drop free. That's OK - they are removed easily with the gentlest of tugs.

The Modifications

Marlins are not perfect. No gun is. But the Marlin requires the fewest modifications of any "out-of-the-box" rifle on the market. The only real modification that most people will need is a trigger job. Some want more, and I'll give you links to that, as well.

Trigger job:
1. Clip 1 coil off the hammer spring. File the clipped remainder smooth.
2. Weaken the return spring.

This will yield a trigger with a pull weight of about 5 lbs. That's all you need for most training.
Here's a link to some photos, as well as some other suggestions for trigger weight reduction.

Here's a more in-depth trigger job.

Tech sights or a scope are a must.
A good scope can be had for less than $50. Tech sights are $75, delivered.
Center Point makes a good 3-9x scope that can be had at Wal Mart for about $50.

Marlin 795 magazines are about $20 - online or in some stores. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Pick up one or two extra. Generally, I advise getting the nickle-plated 10-round magazines, though Marlin makes some 7-round mags that will work, too.

Be mindful - not all Marlin 7-round mags will work in the 795!

For those shooting the 795 at an Appleseed, here's a link to their site, with some suggestions. Also, anybody wanting to use a USGI sling for shooting will find that the Marlin already has studs installed, so all you will need is a 1.25" swivel. These are available from Uncle Mike's (online or at a local Wal Mart or sporting goods store), or Talon (often available at Academy Sports).

For those outfitting their Marlin with a bipod, you will have many to choose from. Use bipods designed to attach to the sling stud, as Marlins come with studs installed.


Marlins are well known to be very forgiving with a variety of ammo. As with all .22's, they will like certain types of ammo better than others. The difference is that other rifles will jam, or have severe accuracy issues with ammo they don't like. Marlins will still feed it and shoot it straight, just not as straight as higher-quality ammo.

Most bulk ammo types will do OK. Generally, Remington ammo is the worst. Federal and Winchester bulk are perfectly fine. CCI is more expensive, but also more accurate and more reliable.

One can purchase higher quality match grade ammo, but unless you compete, there will be no need.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Martial Artists who shoot

Many martial artists are also attracted to shooting.

Here's a clip of Steven Seagal out-shooting some police officers in a friendly shooting challenge.

Insurance Company gets stupid

Folks on would call this "going full-retard." I think that would be an offense to retarded persons everywhere.

Travelers insurance has allegedly dropped some homeowners because they own "assault weapons."

My response:
"Traveler's isn't in the business of protecting anyone's Constitutional rights. They're trying to protect themselves from a huge personal injury claim if someone accidentally gets shot because the gun is kept out in the open (as an example)."
This is incorrect. As a licensed insurance agent, I can tell you that the part of the homeowners policy mentioned by Mike Barry in the article only pays if the guns in the house are lost, stolen, or destroyed. And then, payment is made to restore the homeowner's guns. This part has nothing to do with bodily injury.

The part of a homeowner's policy dealing with BI (Bodily Injury) is separate, and having a so-called "assault weapon" is no more or less likely to cause injury than any other firearm.
As targeted, most AR 15's and AK 47's actually have weaker cartridges than common rifles used for deer hunting and similar.

The types of firearms kept are no indicator of potential injury. More people are hurt and killed each year in the home due to other common household things: electricity, poisons, and knives, than are hurt or killed form firearms. For insurance company purposes, the risk of the firearm in the home as a potential hazard for the homeowner or legal occupants is negligible. The only risk worth their time is that of the guns being stolen or destroyed.

This is a clear case of the insurance company, Traveler's, wishing to push forth a liberal agenda by one of its "top dogs." I will not own a policy of theirs until this is changed, and I will advise my clients, friends, and family to do likewise.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A beginning

There is always a first step on every journey. Some first steps are better than others.

My brother-in-law had his first game as head coach for ETSU. It did not turn out as he had hoped, but it is now in the books. In all fairness, not many teams would have fared better against a top-5 ranked Lady Vols team.

Two good things from Congress

A bill to restore more 2A rights for residents of Washington, DC.

A bill to allow more relic firearms to be imported without oversight of the Department of the State, or the Department of Defense.

With regards to the second of those bills, remember that recently, the Obama administration blocked the import of thousands of M1 Garands and M1 Carbines from Korea. These rifles were loaned to Korea, and are still property of the US Government. The administration cites "concerns" that these rifles could be used as "assault weapons," as the reason why they don't want the rifles back on American soil. Neither rifle is capable of fully automatic fire, so neither is an assault weapon. 

However, the CMP takes delivery of M1's and M1 Carbines, and sells them to the public - making more money on behalf of the government. I think this is further proof Obama wants the economy to crash.

PS - I own both an M1 Garand and an M1 Carbine. Both are great guns!

Other places understand the Right

The Right to Keep and Bear is true in only a few countries. The Swiss recently voted to keep that right.

The only thing disturbing in that report is that only 57% of the votes were of the "Pro-2A" variety. And yes, I know that the 2nd Amendment does not apply abroad - and the Swiss have their own variation.

Too much gun control can lead to this...

In the UK, residents are urged by local police forces to avoid putting up barbed wire to keep thieves out.

Because the thief could get hurt while attempting to break in and steal. Under the local laws, the thief could then sue the homeowner.

This, my friends, is backwards.

Monday, February 14, 2011

An alternative way to learn

Some have said that if I think I could do things better than Appleseed, then I should start my own program. Well, here goes!

The purpose:
When I teach people how to shoot a rifle, I want them to have fundamental skills in the three major positions, as well as the ability to sight in their own rifle. The student should also be taught how to shoot from a rested position.

The equipment:
Shooters should bring a repeater rifle, that can hold no fewer than 5 rounds in the magazine. Single-shots are not permitted. Rifles will be separated into two main categories: manual action and semiautomatic.

Also permitted will be the use of scopes, slings, bipods, sand bags. Scopes or spotting scopes are recommended so that the shooter can more easily observe hits.

Ammo requirements will vary, and will be detailed later as the course framework is solidified.

The courses of fire:
There will be three stages of course of fire:

1) Sighting in.
This stage will use 1" squares at 25 yards. Shooters will shoot from a supported position (prone or seated at a bench).

2) Positional Shooting.
This stage will use either Appleseed "Redcoat" targets, or similar sized circle targets. When possible, "Shoot-n-see" targets or similar will be used to assist the shooter in spotting hits.

3) Qualification
Appleseed "Redcoat Targets" will be used for score. This target, designed for use at 25 yards, offers scaled targets of 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards, as well as a "250-yard 'headshot'." Depending on ammo and time restrictions, there will be versions where each target will be shot twice, four times, or five times.

The Instruction:

1) Safety
Students will be taught the four rules of firearm safety, as made popular by Col. Jeff Cooper.
- All guns are always loaded
- Finger off trigger until sights on target
- Keep muzzle pointed in a safe direction
- Be aware of target, and what is beyond it

Students will also be taught how to make a safe rifle for moving down range.
- Magazine out
- Bolt open
- Chamber flag in
- Safety on
- Nobody touches rifle. (rifle "grounded")

Students will be guided through a 15-shot "Redcoat Challenge." The instructor will score the Redcoat Target, and retain it so that the student will have a reference point for later.

2) Supported shooting
Students will learn about the fundamentals of firing a good shot:
I. Sight Alignment
II. Trigger control

Students will sight in their rifle at 25 yards with the same type of ammo they intend to use later for scoring. This will be done from prone supported, or from the bench.

After sighting in is done, student will do a few more 5-round stages of shooting 1" targets at 25 yards to verify that the rifle is sighted in.

3) Standing shooting
Students will learn the fundamentals of firing a good shot, and steady hold factors for the standing - or "Offhand" - position:
- Support elbow under the rifle, support hand relaxed.
- Sling properly positioned (if used)
- Good cheek weld

Student will practice at 25 yards on the Redcoat 100-yard scale silhouette target, or a circle target - at least 5" across (preferably a bit larger).

4) Sitting shooting
Students will learn the fundamentals of firing a good shot, and steady hold factors from the sitting (or kneeling) position:
- Support elbow under the rifle, support hand relaxed.
- Sling properly positioned (if used)
- Good cheek weld

Students will practice at 25 yards on the Redcoat 200-yard scale silhouette target, or a circle at least 2.5" (preferably a bit larger).

5) Prone shooting
Students will learn the fundamentals of firing a good shot, and steady hold factors from the prone position:
- Support elbow under the rifle, support hand relaxed.
- Sling properly positioned (if used)
- Good cheek weld

Students will practice at 25 yards on the Redcoat 300-yard scale silhouette target, or a circle at least 1.75" (preferably a bit larger). 

6) Prone supported
Students will learn the fundamentals of firing a good shot, and steady hold factors from the prone supported position:
- Support hand to the rear of the stock.
- Rifle properly rested.
- Good cheek weld.

Students will practice at 25 yards on the Redcoat 400-yard scale silhouette targets, or a circle at least 1.25" (preferably a bit larger).They will also practice on a 1" square.

The Measurement:

To measure the student's progress, the student will shoot the Redcoat Challenge during the final "class." Beginning and final performance will be evaluated.

General Rules of the Redcoat Challenge:
- Shooters will shoot 20 rounds. 4 rounds per stage, five stages.
- Hits count. Misses do not count. If the bullet breaks the line of the silhouette, it counts.

- Scores of 12-14 hits will earn the shooter a title of "Marksman"
- Scores of 15-16 hits will earn the shooter a title of "Sharpshooter"
- Scores of 17-20 hits will earn the shooter a title of "Expert"
- The shooter will be awarded the highest title earned, even if it was only shot once.
- Shooters have 60 seconds for each stage, if shot in stages.
- If the course is shot through, shooters will have 5 minutes total time.
- Transitions will not be made with a loaded magazine in the rifle.

Additional Levels

- Shooters will use a rimfire rifle.
- Scopes allowed. 
- No bipods or rests - unsupported prone only for stages 3, 4, & 5. Slings allowed.

"Trident course" (High Power):
- Shooters will use a centerfire rifle.
- Scopes or iron sights allowed.
- Use an 8" circle at 18 yards.
- No bipods, slings, or rests.
- 5 rounds each - standing, sitting, prone
- 3 mags - each with 5 rounds.
- 30-second time limit.
- Scoring: you start with 50 points. -5 points for each miss. -1 point for each second over 30 seconds.
- Marksman: 29-37 points
- Sharpshooter: 38-44 points
- Expert: 45-50 points

High Power:
- Shooters will use a centerfire rifle (preferably 5.56mm, 7.62x39 mm, 7.62 NATO, or .30-06)
- Iron sights and scopes permitted.
- No bipods or rests permitted - unsupported prone only for stages 3, 4, & 5. Slings allowed.

"No Excuses:"
- Shooters will use a rimfire rifle.
- No scope, no sling, no match grade ammo.
- No triggers under 4.5 lbs. Factory issue barrels only.
- Concept is a "rack grade" military style rifle. The rimfire should be comparable (factory grade). Exceptions for triggers only, as some rimfires have exceptionally heavy triggers. 

- "No Excuses" COF shot with a military (or clone) centerfire rifle.

Each additional level shot will earn the shooter a star - up to 5 stars.
Shooters with 2 stars or more may instruct.
Shooters with 5 stars are "Master Instructors" (MI's)


Rank is not awarded - it is earned. Any shooter may earn any rank - with or without the approval of an instructor. All that is needed is the ability to shoot to the standards for each level. A witness is required for each level.

In short, instruction is separate from rank. Rank is earned solely by accomplishment. Instruction is done with the goal of enabling the shooter to progress in skill to the point of being able to shoot for rank.

Initially, all participants will receive a "Rifle" patch, and a "Pro-marksman" patch. This is the entry rank. The Pro-Marksman patch is affixed immediately below the Rifle patch.

Rank Patch Placement:
If the shooter wears a shooting jacket, the rank patches should be affixed to the right arm sleeve (left sleeve for left handed shooters). If the shooter wears a shooting vest, then the rank patches should be affixed at the left breast (right side for left handed shooters). Do not have rank in both places on the same garment.

Assistant Instructors:
Assistant instructors should indicate their dedication to teaching the shooting arts, as well as their commitment to become a full instructor, by wearing rank patches indicating as much.

Above the "Rifle" patch, the shooter should place an "Assistant Instructor" patch. 

Under the standard "Basic Practical" patch, the student will place:
- Five (5) "Pro-Marksman" patches - one each for the 5 Additional Levels.
- These are placed, in order, for: Smallbore, Trident, High Power, No Excuses, and Ultimate - from top to bottom. (Bottom is Ultimate)

As the Assistant Instructor shoots "Marksman," "Sharpshooter," or "Expert" on any given course, they should update their rank patch. Courses need not be shot in a particular order, but patches are placed in specific order.

When an Assistant Instructor earns an Expert rating on one of the 5 Additional Levels, he should place a star above the Assistant Instructor patch. 

When the second star is earned, the shooter places the "Instructor" patch above the "Rifle" patch, in place of the old "Assistant Instructor" patch.

As the shooter earns additional "Sharpshooter" and "Expert" ranks, then the patches should be updated accordingly. Stars should be kept up to date, as well. Stars should be placed horizontally above the "Instructor" patch.

Master Instructors:
As the shooter earns their fifth and final "Expert" rank, and the last star is added, some other options are available.

Master Instructors should put a "Master Instructor" patch in place of the older "Instructor" patch. The five stars should be placed evenly in a line atop the Master Instructor patch. DO NOT place the stars in a circle.

At this point, the shooter may, at his discretion, remove the "Basic Practical" and all of the lower five "Expert" patches. This leaves the Stars, Master Instructor, Rifle, and Expert patches in place.

Shooters are encouraged to keep their targets. This provides a record of each rank earned. Label the targets by date, and place the score on them.

Keep a record of targets in a log book or Excel Spreadsheet. Have patches ready for when you earn the designation.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Things found on side of road:

A cement mixer, sans the truck that should have been under it.

Bad news for a local company

Sabre Defence, a Nashville-based firearms manufacturer, is facing several serious issues. Known mainly for high-end AR 15's and parts for same, Sabre has a past record that has been called into question.

This time, Sabre has been charged with illegal arms trafficking. Additionally, a bank is liquidating some of Sabre's assets in an effort to collect funds due.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Shooting as a martial art

Several readers, after reading this post and this one, have asked me to list what I think of shooting as a martial art. Of course, I think that shooting for martial arts purposes is an excellent type of training. Naturally, as with any other martial arts practice, my hope would be that you never have to use it.

That said, what would make for good training? What kind of gun should you use? What should a martial artist be able to do with a firearm? When would shooting be appropriate? There are a million questions to be answered. But let me cover the main ones.

When to shoot for self defense?

Generally speaking, this is a very well-regulated part of the law. It goes without saying that if you feel you can safely avoid shooting, then do so. Most states will allow you to defend yourself from life-threatening attacks with deadly weapons by shooting. Some do not - check local and state laws.

States like Tennessee have "Castle Doctrine" - which broadens the legal scope in which a person can defend himself in his own home. Not only is a person allowed to defend their life in their own home, but Castle Doctrines typically prohibit lawsuits against the resident brought by surviving members of the criminal's family.

A very few states have a "duty to retreat" clause - requiring residents to make every attempt to flee before resorting to violence. Some states mandate that a resident do this in his own home. While this is an idea good in theory - the reality of what has become of it has no place in a free society. I could not live in a place that had such a law.

Persons with concealed / carry permits generally have the ability to defend themselves with a handgun in public places. There are many circumstances, and even more laws on this topic. Suffice it to say that the person legally carrying a handgun must be in a situation where there is no alternative to violence, before being able to shoot.

What kind of gun?

There are three main parts to this answer. Primarily, one should be able to use the gun that one already owns. If one does not own a gun, or if the gun to be used needs upgrading, then I will provide suggestions.

Revolvers, and modern semiautomatic pistols are both good choices. Revolvers should be a larger caliber (.38 special, .357 magnum, .44 magnum, or similar). Semiautomatics should also be in a larger caliber (9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP). Stick with the common calibers I've listed, and you will do fine.

For revolvers, stick to brands Smith & Wesson, Ruger, and Taurus. For semi-autos, the best choices are made by GLOCK, Sig-Sauer, Smith & Wesson, and Springfield.

Best choices are pump-action or semi-auto. Most major manufacturers are just fine. Stick with a 12-gauge (20 gauge OK for the ladies), and use either buckshot or slugs.

Best choices are semiautomatic, external box-magazine fed. Though not all-inclusive, here are some types that will do the job well, by caliber:
.30-Carbine - M1 Carbine
.223 - AR 15; Mini-14
7.62x39 - AK 47; SKS (also the 5.54 mm - AK 74)
7.62 NATO - M1A; Fal; AR 10

What skills?

Most shooting for self defense takes place in close quarters - 21 feet or less. Suffice it to say that the average individual would do well to master his own marksmanship inside of 25 feet. It is also reasonable to state that if someone can consistently hit similar sized targets at much greater distances, then shooting for self defense will become easier.

Be able to hit COM (Center Of Mass) shots and head shots at reasonable ranges. For handguns, COM shots may be made up to 50 yards, and head shots to 25 yards. For shotguns, similar distances, maybe longer. For rifles, double those distances, at a minimum.

Be able to load and reload your gun. Be able to change mags (or use speed-loaders for revolvers). Be able to clear malfunctions. Be able to shoot both a handgun, and a long gun, and transition between the two as necessary. Be able to completely operate your firearm of choice.

At a minimum, be able to safely enter a room ("pie" a corner), and go up and down stairs. Couples should learn how to do this as a pair, too. Be able to do this with both a pistol and a long gun.
Double-tap drills, and "Mozambique" drills are  good to put in the tool box.
Low-light tactics are good to learn.

Be able to "field strip" and clean your choice of firearms. At a minimum, know this for your long gun, and your handgun. If you have a pistol, shotgun, and rifle, be able to do this on all three. If you have a backup gun (handgun or rifle), know how to strip and clean it, too. There is nothing bad that will come of knowing the ins and outs of your gun.

Know how to stand and fire. Know how to shoot from having fallen down. Learn how to shoot over / around barriers or cover. Know the basics of stance. Know the basics of blocks (strikes, club attacks, knife attacks). Learn the difference between cover and concealment, and how to use each.

I think there are two main lines of thought when it comes to advanced training - operator training and marksmanship training. Neither is "better" than the other. Both are good to learn and know. Both have their application.

For the civilian, operator training is likely to be more appropriate, so it should be primary. Being able to do drills in and around barriers, and fighting out to about 100 yards, and the like will be far more likely for the civilian in a self defense situation.

Long range marksmanship - beyond 100 yards - will not be as likely for the civilian to use. But do not discount the usefulness of the training. Knowing you can make hits out to 500 yards with iron sights is a big plus. Taking that further, and making shots and reading wind out to 800 (or more) yards is also an advantage.

Friday, February 4, 2011

More on Wonderlic Tests

In response to this blog post, I've had readers ask me about tips to do well on the Wonderlic test. Some of these readers have never contacted me before, and blog stats indicate I'm getting a lot of Google hits on the search word "Wonderlic."

So, for the tips, here goes:

1. Reading
I'm not talking anything but speed reading here. Be able to read fast. If you cannot read fast, perhaps a course in speed reading might be in order. The Wonderlic is 50 questions in 12 minutes. That's over 4 questions per minute - if you want to answer them all. That's about 15 seconds per question.

2. Math
Make sure your fundamental adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing are strong. Really strong. Be able to do basic arithmetic in your head, or with a scratch sheet of paper. Do calculations FAST.

I have a friend who is a supervisor in the construction trades. I would imagine he would do very well on the math part of the Wonderlic, as he has to do that sort of math all day long. As an example:

You have 20 beams. Each beam is 9.5 feet long. The cost is $12 per foot. How much did the beams cost?

3. Word association
Know the definitions of commonly written words. Know synonyms. Know antonyms. Be able to spot the different one FAST.

4. Strategy
The score is based solely on the questions you answer correctly. If you do not INSTANTLY know the answer, move on to the next question.
Go back, rapidly and fill in the answers to questions you can get quickly, but not instantly.
Go back and work on the harder questions after that.

Remember - 20 questions correct and you are thought to be average. Nothing wrong with that.
30 questions correct, and you are thought to be well above average.

By using the strategy of answering all easy questions first, then moving on, you set yourself up to be able to answer all questions. This is crucial.

Suppose you know you got 20 questions correct.
You think you got another 15 narrowed down to "pretty close" - but let's assume you got only 5 of those correct, though.
Now, if you put "B" in the remaining 15 answers - even without looking - you will get 1/4 correct (about 3 or 4 questions).
20 + 5 + 3 = 28. This means by using good strategy, you took an "average" score to well above average.

Wonderlic evenly distributes answer letters. Meaning, on average, a correct answer is just as likely to be an "A" as it is a "B" as it is a "C" as it is a "D."  So if you guess - it pays to keep all guesses the same letter.
Also, look back, do you have a lot that you know you answered correctly, marked as "B"? Put "C" as your guesses. Make it make sense.

5. Practice
It goes without saying that practice helps. In anything. Get some practice Wonderlic tests, and take them. Be honest - use no calculators, and set a timer. Take both the 8-minute, 30-question version, as well as the 12-minute, 50-question version.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Scary agenda

Here's a look into the mind of the gun-control folks.


This is really frightening. Imagine if they had a plan for bans on freedom of speech, or any of our other Constitutionally protected right.

Also, if you want to see what the Brady campaign against gun owners will do next, simply read. It is prophetic.

An oddity in the hiring front

Was contacted by a company to whom I'd applied. They sent an email, inviting me to take a Wonderlic test, to see if I qualified for an interview.

This is an oddity, because fewer than 1 in 50 employers use the Wonderlic. 

This was not my first experience with the Wonderlic, and the wife said I should post a bit about it. According to employers, the Wonderlic can be a useful tool to gauge a prospective employee's cognitive ability. In other words, it can tell you pretty quick if you have a bright person interviewing, or someone who just doesn't get it.

About the Wonderlic:

The test includes mathematical problems, word associations, and several other aptitude gauging problems. The traditional Wonderlic is 50 questions long, and examinees are given 12 minutes in which to complete the test. Scores are given strictly on the number of questions answered correctly.

According to Wikipedia, a score of 20 is roughly the equivalent of a 100 IQ. The article also gives average scores from given professions. Interesting to note that chemists have an average score of 31, while folks in sales have average scores of 24. I have worked in sales ever since graduating college with a degree in Chemistry.

Vince Young, former QB for the Tennessee Titans, scored a 6 on the test his first time. His second score was a 16. A score of 10 is said to indicate literacy. Wonder what they taught him at the University of Texas?

My history with the Wonderlic:
When I take traditional Wonderlic exams, I score perfect 50's. My first ever score was a 46, and the person administering it had never seen an exam completed in the time allotted, and had never seen a score over 35. I had completed the entire exam, and only missed four questions. She made me retake the exam, and I scored a 50.

Several years later, I took a couple of Wonderlic tests, and scored a 50 on them. Last year, when I was searching for a job, I took a Wonderlic, and scored a 50. I was disqualified from consideration, and the hiring manager truly thought I'd either cheated or gamed the test. On another Wonderlic, I intentionally missed some questions, scoring a 40 on purpose. I went farther in that interview, surprisingly.

Since my first Wonderlic, I've learned the secret to the two or three questions that initially plagued me, and I do believe I could score perfect on the test as often as not now.

Last night's results:
So last night, the prospective employer sent me a link to an online Wonderlic. It was a modified version - only having 30 questions and only allowing 8 minutes. From experience, I wanted a score that would translate to approximately 40 - so I estimated I should get no more than 25 questions correct. I also wanted the time to expire before I answered the final question, so as to make the score seem "more believable."

When I took the online, shortened test, I got the first 25 questions correct in just 5 minutes. I intentionally answered the next four questions incorrectly, though I knew the correct answer to each. And, I did not answer the final question, though I had calculated the correct answer (it was a math problem). If they track specifics, they will see I was on that question for nearly two full minutes, whereas all questions before that one I'd answered in mere seconds each.

Let's see how this one goes!

Shooting etiquette

This post inspired by comments I made here.

Suppose you are out shooting with a friend, and you borrow his rifle to shoot. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as far as proper etiquette is concerned:
  1. Avoid pointing his rifle at him. 
  2. Ask before using his ammo.
  3. If he gives you a whole box, and says "go for it" (or similar), do not feel required to continue to ask if it's OK to shoot the ammo. 
  4. If you like shooting that gun, and are smiling because of it, let him see you smile. 
  5. A real rifleman will not mind if you make adjustments to his sights. A competitive shooter might. A whiny perfectionist who cannot shoot will complain about you adjusting his sights. Know which one your friend is. If in doubt, ask if you can adjust the sights. 
  6. It is generally poor form, after shooting another person's rifle, to denigrate that rifle. 
  7. It is OK, however, to state: "man! That thing has some kick!"
  8. It is always good form to state that the rifle was surprisingly accurate, or similar. 
  9. Do not drop, or otherwise damage the rifle. 
  10. Bring a friend next time. Bring your rifle, too!
Note: almost all of the above will apply to handguns and shotguns - save the sight adjustment part. 

Some things are unexpected

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a friend from Sunday School who also reads this blog. I was surprised to hear him mention "Kentucky Windage" in conversation. The surprise was because I did not figure a casual shooter to remember that sort of term.

When shooting, I occasionally practice Kentucky Windage. Sometimes, if the day is blustery, I will make a sight adjustment and leave it. Of course, if I make a sight adjustment, I log it into my shooting notes, so that I can set it back to the true zero at the end of the day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The "McDojo"

Per reader request, I am going to delve into the concept of the "McDojo." This term was coined about a decade ago. Originally, it had roots stemming from mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu adepts, and was a derogatory term to refer to most traditional martial arts ("TMA's").

Some time back, there was an email distributed in my martial arts organization about McDojos that stirred the pot a bit.

The word "McDojo is a portmanteau of "Dojo" (Japanese for place to study the Way), and "McDonald's" (American epitome of cheap and quick, with the understood concept of suffers in quality). By the strictest definition of the term, a McDojo is a place where anybody might be able to earn a "black belt" in a short time span - most commonly 18-30 months.

There are several ways that one may determine a McDojo:

Rank Issues:
The history of the black belt is one of the main sources of myth and rumor. To make it quick and easy, the whole concept was created bu Jigoro Kano for Judo around the turn of  the 20th Century. Originally, there were only white belts and black belts. Later, degrees of black belt were added, as was the brown belt (an intermediate rank). Later still, other colors were introduced.

Certainly, McDojo's rely on many belts to keep a student's interest and sense of accomplishment. This is not to say that every martial arts school that uses belts is a McDojo. However, if a school uses much more than the standard (white-yellow-orange-green-blue-purple-brown-black), then there is a stronger chance the school is a McDojo.

*Please note that many martial arts schools will have 10 levels below black belt, and 10 degrees of black belt. Schools having more than 10 levels under black belt are the highly suspect schools.

** Many schools do have more rank levels for children, so use this formula:
- If a studio promotes children to black belt, and has more than 10 ranks below black belt, it is absolutely a McDojo. I have yet to see the exception.
- If a studio does not promote children to black belt, it is not likely a McDojo, regardless of how many ranks below black belt there are.
- If a studio promotes children to black belt, but has exactly (or fewer than) 10 ranks below black belt, then move on to other factors to determine whether the school is a McDojo.

*** Particularly - if the quality of the belts or ranks is suspect, that is your chief indicator. 

Most martial arts schools are run commercially, and depend on a profit to survive. There is nothing inherently wrong in this. However, if the commercialization is run at the expense of quality, then we get into the possibility of McDojo tendencies.

Belt tests, uniforms, monthly dues, and even sparring gear and videos are typical expenses associated with the martial arts. All of these are legitimate revenue streams and are not necessarily indicators of a McDojo. "Black Belt Clubs" and similar programs that add no real value, and are irrespective of quality of instruction, are clear indications of a McDojo.

*** Particularly - if the money aspect is more important than the training, that is your chief indicator.

More and more schools are offering training in alternate martial arts. I've seen some that claim to offer an art, but really specialize in another.

For example, there is a McDojo near me that advertises "MMA." They claim to offer wrestling, jiu-jitsu, muay-thai, and kenpo karate. When students come in and sign up asking specifically for jiu-jitsu, this studio will tell the student that they have jiu-jitsu. But when the classes start, they will say "let's work on your stand-up first, when you get good at that, then we'll add grappling."

What happens is that the instructor has no real skill in the alternate arts "taught." Another example: I had a jiu-jitsu student (white belt) that just couldn't get it. He kept wondering (sometimes aloud) why he could never beat me in sparring. He even stated he'd never come close (which was true). The problem was that he had beaten in sparring his previous instructor. How? That instructor had a black belt in Taekwondo, and no rank or significant training in grappling.

Now, all this said, there are legitimate schools with legitimate alternate arts being taught by good, well-trained instructors. These folks are never embarrassed to tell you their exact art, their exact rank in that art, how long they've trained, and who their instructor was. Many will even invite you to contact their instructor for proof. Ultimately, these are the folks that are not afraid to prove things on the mat.

*** Again - if the quality of the instruction (or services paid for) is suspect, then that is your chief indicator.

Some martial artists wish to impress you with their lineages. They want to also impress you with ranks and high ranking belts, and other such fluff.

This one is a tricky topic, as most martial arts have a rank structure. There is no reason to have rank, unless you wish to progress. And there are plenty out there with legitimate, higher ranks.

Ultimately, I suggest that this factor would have to accompany other factors to qualify a place as a McDojo.

*** Again - the quality of what you learn will be your chief indicator.

Martial arts can be practiced for self defense, stress relief, sportive purposes, amateur and professional competition, or just for the fun of it. There are many other reasons, too.

You must decide what you want. If you want real self defense, then your art will have a live practice element. Sports with special equipment and rules are good, but can be more limited in scope.

* To be wary of is any art without a live training component (IE - without sparring), that makes claims of being superior for self defense. Equally to be taken with a grain of salt, is any art that is sportive in nature (IE - Olympic Taekwondo) being pushed heavily for self defense. It's like eating ice cream with a fork - it can be done, but it is not the best way to do it.

** Also to be wary of are arts claiming that they are so dangerous that they cannot be practiced at full speed on resisting opponents. The movements may be dangerous, but unless you ever try to do it on somebody who doesn't want you to do it, you never know if you can get it to work.

*** As always - the quality of how you train will be your chief indicator.

Arts that combine any number of these warning factors are at increased risk of McDojo tendencies. They might be perfectly acceptable for training, but keep in mind what purpose the training serves.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Some thoughts on poker

Let me start by saying I am no expert in poker. Far from it.
I have been playing on a phone mostly, but got my first chance at live competition a couple of weeks ago at a company function.
The only other consideration to keep in mind is that many people who know me will state I am good with numbers. Percentages and probability are things I generally understand. Probability is a major component in poker. My first observation is that the popular fad, "Texas Hold 'em" poker changes the odds a bit, but not the overall scheme.

That said, here are osme things I've learned:

1. Bet with two pair the same as you'd bet with a pair of aces. 
In Texas Hold Em, two pair does not seem to win a lot more hands than a pair of Kings or Aces.

2. When determining whether to look at the "flop," here are some good general guidelines when looking at your own hand:
- A pair of any sort is a good thing.
- A "face card" is a good thing.
- Suited cards that are either successive, or really close, are a good thing. You can play for the straight, flush, and pairs and triples.

3. Ego is a bad thing. 
Never bet with your ego. Be cold, heartless, and extremely calculating when calling bets, raising, or otherwise moving money. Look at what you have, not what might be.

4. Measure the bluff. 
Lots of people like to bluff, thinking they are good at it. Commonly, these people lose hands. Have a slid hand, and get their ego involved, and you will win.

5. Playing conservatively is not a bad thing. 
It guarantees you will win when you want to. A good way to disguise conservative play is to buy into hands, at least to the flop, with some regularity.

6. Beware the flush.
People get so caught up looking for pairs and triples, that they rarely see the flush. If you have suited cards, it only takes three of the same suit on the table to help you win.

7. Beware the straight.
People seem to read a potential straight better than they do a flush. This ability degrades, however, if the successive cards are not next to each other, and if the other players are drunk.

8. Beware the full house. 
If there is a pair on the table, and someone is betting like they have two pair, be mindful that they might have a full house. This is the highest hand you will commonly see - four of a kind and straight flushes are extremely rare. These can beat your flush or straight, so be mindful. But still bet to win if you have a flush or straight.

9. Don't get discouraged with a loss despite a strong hand. 
If you have a full house, but theirs is better, that's just bad luck (and just slightly more likely than four of a kind). Leave the emotion behind on the next game.

10. People's reactions can be easily read. 
Even for a non-emotional, robotic player like me.

So - for all the experts out there - what do you think? I am open to suggestion / criticism.
Naturally we will have to play, and see whose ideas work in practice. :)

Oh, and I'd really like to play with jokers in the deck.