Monday, April 27, 2015

Appleseed AAR

I gotta tell you, there is nothing like a cold, rainy day on the range, and I don't mean that in a good way! Yesterday's temps hovered in the low 40s and high 30s; it was raining when I got up at 4:45AM and still raining when I collapsed into bed Sunday evening. It's still raining this morning...I am considering loading Newt and the other pets into an ark.

Still, the Boulder Project Appleseed was a wonderful — and uplifting — event. That particular Appleseed is a relatively small event, less than a dozen people, because of the size of the range. The bigger Colorado Project Appleseeds are at the larger ranges like Colorado Rifle Club.

Saturday, which was beautiful, was in essence a training day, getting everybody on the same page with the positional shooting (standing/kneeling/sitting/prone), the sling and the Appleseed 6 steps to firing the shot (sight alignment, sight picture, respiratory pause, focus, trigger squeeze and follow through). Here's a shocker…you spend a day shooting groups. As I've said repeatedly on the podcast over the years, shooting groups is one of those fundamental activities for all the shooting sports. Groups tell you whether what you're doing as a shooter is working or not.

Here's my soaking wet JP Rifles GMR-13 9mm carbine. Note how I am carefully protecting the Leupold AR MOD 1.5-4X scope with an equally soaking wet towel, no doubt the mark of a true professional!

I ran both Glock 17 and Glock 26 magazines during the event, because I am a gamey so-and-so. Appleseeds are shot at 25 yards. There are 2 stages on the AQT "test" that involve reloads. The first is  a standing to sitting transition. You prepare 2 magazines, one with 2 rounds, the other with 8. On the "fire" command, you drop to a sitting position, load the rifle, fire 2 shots on your left-hand target (which @ 25 yards simulated a standard human-sized silhouette 2 200 yards, second row of targets, below), then reload and fire 3 shots into the left target, 5 into the right. You have 55 seconds to complete the exercise. I loaded the G26 mag with 2, the G17 mag with 8 so I wouldn't confuse mags. The shorter mags are easier to slam into the magazine, especially considering the rain and how wet everything was.  Had I bought 2 G26 mags I might have gone that route.

The other reload stage is same on the magazines, but drop from standing to prone, with 3 targets sized to simulate 300 yard silhouettes (third row down). The shooting sequence is 3-3-4.

As far as other gear, I used a RifleCraft RS-1 sling. It worked so well that the Appleseed instructors were fondling it after the event. Ammo was Wilson Signature Match 9mm 125-gr ammo, which uses the Hornady Action Pistol bullet at 1075 fps. This load is so accurate I plan to build my match reloads around the HAP bullet and see if I can get close to those results. The mat's from Midway, BTW.

The greatest thing about an Appleseed is the instructors are so darn good. Essentially, we worked on finer and finer points, trying to eliminate the so-very-many "short cuts" that open out groups. Much of Saturday's practice runs were on 1-inch square targets, which are not particularly forgiving. They do, however, allow you to see what you're doing wrong. With my recent fascination for long-distance shooting, these kinds of drills are critical to keep drilling down and refining skills.


• The RifleCraft along helped tremendously because it's so simple to use. It is similar in design from Andy's Leather Rhodesian sling or the Glaco Safari Ching sling, both of which I've used extensively, in that there's a preformed adjustable loop at the front of the sling. Unlike a Ching sling, all these slings are 2-pointers. It's easy to slip the RifleCraft loop on your upper support biceps and cinch it down, even over several layers of clothing and rain gear. A sling won't make you a great shooter, but it will give you options. I used a Magpul sling set up with a front loop in the last carbine match I shot. It was much appreciated on the 50 yard head shots!

• I think working with a sling on my standing position has helped me a great deal, mostly because the sling forces you into a good standing position with the support elbow under the gun and the support hand not gripping tightly. Will this standing position work for all situations? Of course not, but it gives you a starting point for exploration. My standing stage (10 rounds in 2 minutes on a simulated 100 yard silhouette) groups steadily tightened up, not to mention the fact that 2 minutes is all the time in the world.

• I think I need to spend a lot more time pondering "rifleman's cadence," meaning that after you've establish your natural point of aim (critical in Appleseed teaching), you can fire an aimed shot at the bottom of each exhale. This works amazingly well...I think it's about teaching yourself how to fire the rifle (much like quickly establishing a natural point of aim). I did a 20-second standing to sitting run, including the reload, and only dropped a few points. Of the 5 shots on the second target, 4 were in the same hole, with the fifth about an inch out.

"Aim small; miss small"...hey, it worked for Mel Gibson and Bradley Cooper, it'll work for you! My focus was on shooting one-hole groups in the center, not just hitting the target.

• In the crappy gray weather, the Leupold's adjustable green "FireDot" was invaluable. I kept it dialed down to a minimum, but it helped me focus very specifically on the crosshairs with the glowing green dot in the middle. In those conditions, I like green a lot more than red. In terms of magnification, I shot the standing and the sitting at 1.5X, 3X on the stand to prone stage, and 4X on the prone. The prone, which is shot on 4 simulated 400 yard targets, allows 5 minutes for a string of 10 shots, 2-2-3-3. Since that stage counts double, there is no excuse not to take the time and get the hits. When I shot the Appleseed with a rimfire a couple of years back for SHOOTING GALLERY, I dialed the 3-9X scope to 9x on the prone and shot groups inside each target.

• Some shooters discovered that "waterproof and fog-proof" scopes were only waterproof if you didn't get them wet and, if you did, they fogged up like summer evenings in San Francisco. This is what you might call a detriment to accuracy. The Leupold had no problems at all.

• Let me offer you a couple of resources that really helped me. The first is BECOMING A RIFLEMAN, which will get you up to speed on the various positions. The second is the ART OF THE RIFLE blog, now on a hiatus. This blog has been amazing in analyzing the various aspects of rifle shooting, and I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing. I would also be remiss not to mention Col. Jeff Cooper's THE ART OF THE RIFLE book, a classic in its own right.

• I think I pretty much dispelled the idea that 9mm carbines won't deliver the goods. To qualify for a "Rifleman" patch, you need to shoot a score of 210 out of a possible 250 points. When I qualified for my first "Rifleman" patch, I eked out 211points with my .22 Spike's/JP AR. With the JP 9mm, my first "trial run" on the AQT target was a 218; on the 2 scoring runs I shot a 222 and a 212, gaining my second "Rifleman" patch. From prone I could consistently shoot one-hole groups in the 1-inch squares at 25 yards.

• Next for me? Some friends are planning to shoot an Appleseed later this summer, and I think I'll join them, this time with my trusty FAL. That ought to give the ole shoulder a workout! At least it's not a G3!

• I love the stories of the American Revolution. They are stories I grew up with and have now fallen into the Memory Hole. With our country coming apart at the seams, I think it's important for all of us to look to the past, to the Founders and their sacrifices, for our inspiration and for our hope. Project Appleseed is, to me, of critical importance because it brings those stories to not only a whole generation who've never heard them, but back to the forefront of our minds as well. And maybe, just maybe, we'll hear the hoof-beats...

For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last, 
In the hour of darkness and peril and need, 
The people will waken and listen to hear 
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, 
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Here's the FAQ or Project Appleseed. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Major "DUH" Moment!

From The Hill this AM:
Hillary’s White House bid energizes gun control supporters 
Gun control advocates have high hopes for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, viewing her as an ally who can finish the push for tightened background checks that has stalled in President Obama’s second term. 
Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, has been a staunch advocate of gun-control proposals such as expanding background checks and banning assault weapons. Last summer, she ripped groups that oppose those ideas as out of step with public opinion. 
“We cannot let a minority of people, and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people, hold a view point that terrorizes the majority of people,” Clinton said during a CNN town hall event.
Not a big surprise, huh? Just thought I'd remind you.

Over at Gun Nuts Media Tim continues his excellent AAR on William Aprill's "Unthinkable" class:
Remember that criminals are perpetually on the hunt. They are looking for those “go/no-go” indicators without the people they are sizing up even being aware of it. Here again, think about it: If I told you that somewhere out in the Wal-Mart parking lot there was a dude sizing you up for a potential criminal assault, would it change your behavior? Absolutely. If you know that there’s someone considering attacking you then you couldn’t help but change your entire demeanor…and that change in demeanor, believe it or not, can be enough to put you in the “no-go” category. You would likely be more deliberate with your steps, you wouldn’t be overloaded with bags, and you would be looking carefully at the surrounding environment instead of having your face buried in your smart phone. These are all signs that attacking you has a lower probability of success and that alone can de-select you in the mind of the bad guy looking for a target. Simply by changing the sort of information you are communicating into the environment you can prevent even being considered as a potential target for an attack. That’s far better than having to pull a gun to stop an attack.
As I mentioned before, Aprill has had a huge effect on my own thinking, and through me what we present on THE BEST DEFENSE. Here's a link to one of Aprill's videos, The 5 Ws of Personal Defense.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Meanwhile, Back at the Script

Finishing up the remaining pieces of the GUN STORIES script this week (Colt cap-and-ball revolvers, a little more on big bore handguns and suppressors from Mitch WerBell forward). Rain will be moving in this afternoon, and I'd like to get one more practice in for the upcoming Appleseed event. Yesterday my Sweetie and I did about an hour of practice, mostly for the prone stage. My Sweetie was able to coach me to much better scores on that stage, my last run dropping a single point. I would love to pick up another "Rifleman" patch, but if we have to shoot in the rain it's going to impact scores.

I'm having some work done on my GUNSITE Scout .308 in anticipation of a couple of hunts where I might be dealing with a longer shot. I'm adding a Timney trigger, replacing the flash hider with a Miculek .308 muzzle brake (yes, Michael Makes More Noise!) and adding an XS Sights full length rail if I want to go to a standard scope. I've never been a huge fan of the Ruger built-in scope mounts (or the Leupold twist-in style for that matter) compared to rails. Here's some interesting thoughts from Richard Mann on the Scout.

I want to try the Burris 2-7X Scout I've used on the lever action BLR Scout on the RGS. I realize I could have gotten a brake and a couple of pounds less weight with the composite stock Scout that came out recently, but I have a lot of rounds through my original Scout, and it is pretty much my favorite rifle.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Another Ruger Winner?

From a press release this AM:
Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. is proud to announce that the Mini-14® Tactical rifle is now available in 300 AAC Blackout. This newest version of the Mini-14 rifle features an optimized gas port that reliably cycles with both supersonic ammunition and subsonic ammunition when a sound suppressor is installed. The rifle weighs approximately 6.75 lbs., features a 16.1", 5/8"-24 threaded barrel with a 1:7 twist rate, and is supplied with two, twenty-round detachable box magazines.
Here are the specs. MSRP is $1019.

This will no doubt trigger a flood of "the Mini-14 is crap" and/or "why should I buy a Mini when I can get an AR?" responses.

I have always had a pretty good opinion of the Mini-14. I bought my first one back in the 181-series days of the late 1970s. No, the little carbine was never a tack-driver and, yes, the group would string when the pencil barrel heated up. OTOH, I can't recall the thing ever failing, except with $10 aftermarket magazines, and it even worked with most of those (yes, it's still interred somewhere in the gun safe).

At the very beginning of 3-Gun, I used the Mini in a number of matches with the first tiny tube Aimpoint red dot affixed with a Rube Goldberg scope mount. I never had any trouble dinging the steel out to 300 yards with it. I've shot one of the 5.56 Minis with the beefed up barrel, and it shot just fine, couple of MOA, at 100 if I remember.

The .300 Black (as does the 7.62 X 39) makes the little gun excellent for deer/hog applications.

AN ASIDE: Yes, we do now live in an AR-centric universe, much more so than when the Mini-14 first appeared on the scene. I don't believe, however, that the Mini-14 fits in the same niche as the AR platform guns. I see the Mini as more of the "truck gun" category, a knock around gun, maybe in line with the Kel-Tec SU-16, the old SKS, the new generation of M1 Carbines or even the AK. I'm not an AK many as I've shot, I've never really had the urge to own one. The MSRP on the Mini-14 is high, but they tend to sell for a few hundred less in the Real World. Besides, it's a Ruger and it'll outlast you. Versatile enough to do a bunch of things, from hunting to plinking to home defense; not tacticool enough to light up anyone's radar.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Force is Weak in That One!

I can't believe it...Marshal Halloway, my partner in DOWN RANGE TV, actually saw a Glock 43 in the wild...and he bought it!

He's still not making much sense, but it appears that as he approached the display case at his local gun store, he felt what has been described as a "pressure" or like a "mental tractor beam pulling at my mind until it screamed." The closer he got to the gun case, the stronger the mental effect.

Artist's rendition of Marshal Halloway's brain at the LGS

According to Marshal, he intended to step to the counter and say, "I'd like to see that Gen Two Single Action Army you guys got in last week." In fact, that's what he thought he said. Instead, witnesses at the gun shop, agreed that what Marshal actually said was, "Must buy Glock 43...must buy Glock 43...sell me Glock 43."

Witnesses also report that the words were spoken in an atonal, almost robotic voice, and the other customers — who were all farther away from the glass case containing the Glock 43 on a cloth-of-gold pedestal and apparently not as affected by the tractor beam — noted a small amount of drool running down Marshal's chin.

According to the gun store owner, Marshal paid approximately 5 pounds of gold coins, 2 handful of pocket change and lint, his truck and a pony for the Glock.

Note bizarre and suggestive placement of "Exploding Heads" cover and Bane CCW Video…coincidence?

This follows report from around the country of people's heads actually exploding upon finding out that Glock 43s were not yet in stock.

Glock has so far had no comment, although unofficial reports of a memo to gun store owners advising their clerks to wear rubber aprons and eye protection when explaining that the G43s were not in stock have not been categorically denied.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Podcast Day!

Which, amazingly, I got finished in time to spend a little time on the range with the JP 9mm carbine. This is important, as I am supposed shooting an Appleseed with it this weekend. At least I'm shooting the standing offhand stage with my best scores ever, 3 points down. I think I can shoot it clean with just a little bit of work on my standing position. My pathetic knees are really hindering me on the second stage, dropping to kneeling or sitting for 10 shots with a reload. I know…suck it up, Michael. That's why a benevolent God made Celebrex. I'll be accelerating the stretching over the rest of the week, and we'll just have to see. My strength has always been the prone positions and if I can turn out a good standing score I might be able to override having to push the kneeling/sitting stage. Or maybe not.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Trigger Warnings!

I'm cooking eggplant parmigiana today for company, so if you're offended by eggplants this is your official "trigger warning." If, for example, if the word "eggplant" triggers upsetting memories of Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper's viciously racist extemporaneous scene in TRUE ROMANCE, or perhaps you still subscribe to the old English belief that eggplants cause insanity, then please, let me deeply and profoundly apologize in advance. I am trying to be more sensitive to the precious snowflakes who, upon hearing even the slightest dissenting viewpoint, seize up, fall on the ground and begin frothing at the mouth and shaking like Little Richard wired up to a hand-cranked generator.

Oh crap, now I need trigger warnings for making an unfortunate reference to people who may suffer seizures, other people who are drawn to or frightened by Little Richard and my insensitive reference to American torture at Abu Ghraib. And crap, if "crap" offends or frightens you. Man, this is hard!

Anyway, I'm planning on using a Mario Batali recipe (trigger warning — frightened by Italians), with some baked ziti on the side. And the Stinking Rose's bagna cauda roast garlic (trigger warning — for people who believe they are or might be vampires). I'll serve wine, and heaven knows who I'm offending with that!

After a week at the Cody Museum, I'm convinced that I actually need to shoot matchlocks and wheellocks, just to get a feel for what that must have been like. I've shot flintlocks and percussion guns, of course, but nothing farther back than a replica Kentucky rifle, if you don't count the hand gonne that set me on fire in England. That was entertaining. Wheellocks are fascinating beasties to me…clockwork guns.

By the way, I wanted to send a shout out to my friend Iain Harrison's RECOIL Magazine website, which is absolutely excellent, If it's not on your regular read list, it certainly should be!