Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dead Pools & Carry Pieces

Well, if you chose James Brown, Gerald Ford and Saddam Husseim for your three Dead Pool selections, you got a little extra spending cash for the New Year. Me, I always put Rosie O'Donnell in my Dead Pool,, but I guess that's just wishful thinking.

I've been thinking about trying a little carry gun experiment in 2007, maybe filming the experiment for my new Internet video project you'll be seeing later on. My idea is to pick a handgun at random out of the vault, then spend a month using that gun as my regular carry gun. I'd practice with it, maybe compete with it. then carry it as much as possible. There are a couple of benefits I think I might get from this exercise:
1) I become a better all-around shooter, which is an on-going goal. It's harder to be a good all-around shooter than it used to be, as there's much les "walking around the woods and plinking" then the Old Days, plus the increased specialization of competition and training.

2) I'll have a better sense of other people's problems when I address concealed carry issues. I've been carrying a gun for a long time, and I suspect there are problems I've just plain forgotten .

3) I believe (and keep in mind that I am occasionally full of shit) that such an exercise will help me see the commonalities rather than the differences in firearms platforms. We spend a lot of time explaining how guns, or techniques, are different (analysis) and virtually no time on how they're the same (synthesis)...yeah, it's hard to do a magazine article on how THIS YEAR'S NEW BLASTER is just like LAST YEAR's OLD BLASTER, but hey...
Anyway, it should be interesting. I'm looking forward to firing the new SIGARMS 220 Compact that'll be introduced at SHOT (whoops...did I say that outloud?). I suspect it will be one of the few .45 carry guns that could seduce me away from my P225 9mm!


I need a NAME for my upcoming Internet video product! Since it WILL NOT be affiliated with The Outdoor Channel, I can't use any variation of SHOOTING GALLERY, The name should be one or two words, neither of which can be either "c$%%&^ker" or "Shooting USA." I'd probably pass on "Guns & Ammo," too.

Whoever thinks of a cool phrase I can use and illustrate (think of the opening of SG and COWBOYS), I'll bring you something nice back from SHOT — unfortunately not one of those hot Russian chicks from the E.A.A. booth, however. I guarantee that you'll be VERY happy, though!

Post your ideas in the Comments, or email me at!

Put your little thinking caps on, boys and girls! Have fun and win prizes!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Snow Up The Patootie!

The view from my front porch this AM That little speck in the center is my hapless Element, with the snow over the hood. You can just see rear view mirrors...

The next War Will be Fought With Bic Pen Crossbows

And, yes, so you can be ready when the SHTF, here's how you can make yours! BTW, the Inscrutables site has a lot of cool office weapons you can make, proving a lot of software developers have way too much time on their hands.

BTW, I watched Red Dawn again last night...I haven't seen it all the way through in ages and ages, and I'd forgotten that it's a pretty good movie. I remember talking to director John Milius before the film and him telling me how he was stopped by the Feds while trailering his home-built Russian Hind helicopter gunship through LA. The testy Feds wanted to know where Mr. Milius might have come by a semisecret Russian attack helicopter. "I made it myself!" the irrepressible Milius said. You know...Leah Thompson was hot with an AK!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Eating Yummy Crow for the New Year

Remember how just about every time you see me on SHOOTING GALLERY, I’m blathering about how training has to be fluid, an evolving, changing medium, if it is going to mean anything in the Real World?

Well, it stands to reason that if my blatherings are even remotely connected to the truth, and I do a lot of training every year, I must have a host of preconceived notions biting the dust all the time. Yeah, well, painful though it is to Mr. Know-It-All Gun Guy, that’s true. So just for concise reading, I decided to gather up all the crow I’ve been eating in 2006 and lay it out here for a feast!

TACTICAL RELOADS — Lord knows I’ve hammered these things enough! For those of you who still looking for a parking place, in a tactical reload, the expended magazine still holding live rounds (or the live rounds themselves in the case of a revolver) is retained after the full magazine is inserted. I have argued that the technique, originally designed for “topping up” your gun during a lull in the action or before moving into a more dangerous arena, had been incorrectly taught as a timed event and was inherently clumsier than the more typical “speed” reload — drop mag (or empty rounds), insert new mag or rounds and rock on. I argued persuasively (I thought, anyway) that the tactical reload should be reserved for it’s original mission…during lulls.

Everything I said was and is true…however, my mental musings have been trumped by the Real World. I said I couldn’t imagine a situation in which you would want to risk taking your eyes off the danger and fumbling a reload instead of just dropping the mag. Imagination failure on my part! In a word, Katrina…let’s say you’re standing in four feet of slimy toxic mud mixed with raw sewage and the occasional dead dog…let’s say you need to reload really really badly…let’s say that you are not carrying the 50 1911 magazines you have back in the shop…can you spell tactical reload?

I failed to see that environmental considerations might mandate a less than optimum reloading technique…I say this after two weeks of blizzards and four feet of snow in my yard.

MIKEY’S LESSON LEARNED: The speed reload is still the primary tool, but practice the tactical reload under time pressure (and Powers-That-Be in IDPA, you might give some thought to including Katrina stages!). Secondly, you might give some consideration to your primary carry weapon…if you’ve got little bitty girly-man hands like me, maybe you need to stay with a single stack semiauto, as single stack magazines are much easier to tactically reload than a big fat (and heavy) double stack.

LANYARD RINGS — Okay, so I thought lanyard rings were for old men and WW1 reinactors! Think (as I didn’t) about those environmental considerations. Katrina, for sure…who wants to fish Betsy the Blaster out of a gumbo of sludge. I’ve also heard from some of our people in the Sandbox, who sure as hell wanted their last ditch piece attached to them as opposed to bounced out of the holster somewhere in the desert.

Finally, there’s my oft-told story from custom zillion-dollar pistolsmith Hamilton Bowen, who tells of another skeptic who changed his mind when he launched his $3K+ acme custom revolver into a roaring Alaskan river.

MIKEY’S LESSON LEARNED: The Mounties knew something after all! If it’s a tough day in the wild or taking a stroll through some urban hell, consider tying a string to your gat, then tying the string to you! My Bowen guns now all have lanyards rings…and they look cool, too!

POINT SHOOTING — Okay, confession time…I had the typical target shooter’s contempt for the concept of “point shooting,” that is, indexed rather than indexed sight aiming. I mean, when I was shooting IPSC back in the day, we had 50 yard targets that we actually had to hit! But through people like Mike Janich and Michael Rayburn — not to mention the basic work of Rex Applegate — I’ve come to see shooting as a continuum as opposed a series of specific techniques. Point shooting is every bit as valid as aimed shooting. And yes, “using your sights” is terminology that covers way too much ground…there is a huge difference between the physical requirements for a “flash” sight picture at 10 yards with a 1911 versus a precise 75-yard shot with a .22 target pistol.

The concept of “aimed fire” is a continuum that starts with a “speed rock,” a shot fired with a physical index as soon as the gun breaks the holster, up through various stages of “point” shooting to various types of aiming that use first the front, then the front and rear sights. Think of it this way — you can fire your gun at any time after it clears the holster, up to and including your final front/rear sight indexed stance. WHERE you choose to fire in that draw sequence coupled with the target’s relationship to you, size, distance, etc., dictates HOW you will aim your gun. Point shooting is aiming. A speed rock is aiming — just ask Tom Cruise!

MIKEY’S LESSON LEARNED: More tools in the ole toolbox is better. Set aside a portion of your range time for close-up indexed point shooting…there are books and videos out there to show you how. Accept that in an up close and personal encounter you are probably not going to see your sights. When you sit in the witness chair in the courtroom, I want you to be able to say, “Of course the shots were aimed! I practice physically indexed shooting on a weekly basis!”

THE WEAVER STANCE — God help me, I will never hear the end of this from Walt Rauch, Ed Head and Mike Dalton, so let me just blurt it out…it is easier to control a heavy recoiling handgun using the classic push/pull Weaver stance as taught by Col. Jeff Cooper than using the widely accepted competition-based isosceles stance.

There! The world didn’t end, did it? How did I reach this conclusion? I spent the year shooting a heap of snubbie .45 ACPs, .44 Maggies and Blasto-Smasho “super-magnum” cartridges. I fell back into the Weaver out of sheer self-defense.

The isosceles is faster and more instinctive to get into, and in many ways less dependent on foot position than the Weaver. It is the natural position you end up in as your move through the continuum described above. But if you’ve got to shoot a whoomper-thumper, the Weaver allows you to get off repeat shots faster. Plus, the Weaver (right and left mirror images) works better off barricades in that you expose less of your precious body parts to the bad guy.

MIKEY’S LESSON LEARNED: Absorb what is useful, you moron! If I wanna crank a 9mm at what passes for warp speed at this late date in my life, I’ll go straight to the straight-arm isosceles. Give me a .454 Ruger Alaskan, and it’s the Weaver and a couple of Advil afterwards.

OH, SO THAT’S WHAT THOSE LONG THINGS ARE! — I am a late-coming convert to carbines, hard to say for a dyed-in-the-wool handgun guy. My old pal and first mentor Jimmy Quenemon was the first person I ever heard say, “The function of a pistol is to fight your way to your rifle.” Of course, he thought the function of the rifle was to fight your way to a block of Semtex, but that’s another story.

Basically, I'm now convinced the 5.56 carbine, as exemplified in the AR platform guns or the Mini-14, is a superior self-defense weapon in a lot of situations I'd previously considered "handgun problems." Under the tuteledge of Ed and Giles Stock at GUNSITE, I think I've finally got a grip on how to run a carbine, and it has totally changed my self-defense parameters.

MIKEY'S LESSON LEARNED: Always be willing to try something new!!! Hell, if I was wrong, it could happen to anybody! I'm refitting an old AR as a dedicated car gun, so the next time I raise my personal alert to Defcon 1, a nice bagged AR and five 30-round mags gets hung behind the passenger seat of the Battle Element. One never knows, does one?

Okay, is that enough crow for the year? I think if I could sum it up, it's that technique is a disease. We need to get to the shooting beyond the techniques...essentially, we need a Jeet Kune Do, Bruce lee's bastard martial arts style, for shooting. I think we're getting there...GUNSITE has become an amazing laboratory for the martial shooting, and people like Mike Janich, Walt Rauch, Ralph Mroz, Kelly McCann and others are pushihng the envelope.

I think 2007 is going to be an exciting year in training!

And I'll bet I'll have even more crow to gnaw down on...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Slotted Spoons and Spatulas

Today I almost succumbed to a primordial guy urge — purchasing one of those little diecast metal model cars to remind fading pathetic men like myself of our misspent youth. My Sweetie and I were in Estes Park with her Mom, looking at t-shirts with slogans like "Got Oxygen?" and "Try Yummie Moose Duds!" when I went past a store consisting entirely of toy metal cars and planes. It triggered some sort of bizarre genetic urge and I found myself helpless not to go inside.

On the first shelf, I found a model 1968 Mercury Cougar XR-7...sigh...I suppose now the sordid story can be told; at least, the statute of limitations has run out. I spent my senior year of high school as sort of a semi-professional street racer, in possession of one of the now-legendary Ford factory racers, a '68 Cougar witha 390 cubic-inch fire-breather with two (count 'em) four-barrel carburators coupled to a progressive linkage; every horsepower accessory known to man on earth (right at 400 happy ponies!); a beefed-up custom suspension that gave the Cougar the handling of a Shelby Cobra and one of the then-new special automatic transmissions with heavy-duty overdrive. Best of all, the custom high performance exhaust was routed up into the rear wheel wells, with only slightly larger pipes exiting out the stock exhaust cutouts in the back of the car....the car was TOTALLY STEALTH...special order British Racing Green with a discrete "GT" emblem on the front quarter panel...nearly impossible to tell from a stock wimpy-ass Cougar.

I came by this moster thanks to a huge dollop of parental guilt and a charter subscription to Car & Driver magazine. My father was making a lot of money, bopping the nice lady down the street, and feeling extra special guilty. One day he announces that he's buyiung my mother a new car, and that it has to be green and have an automatic transmission. Other than that, he says, knock yourself out. So I went to the Ford/Mercury dealership with a handful of Car & Drivers with articles on how Ford would build you a race car if you knew what to ask. The greasy salesguy walked me back to the chief mechanic, who started grinning as soon as I pulled out the Car & Drivers. We agonized for a whole afternoon, pouring over specs while my father talked deals to the salesman. When we finished, the car cost exactly double a new Cougar with virtually no "appearance group" crap — not even special wheels. My father shrugged and did the deal.

When it was delivered, it just set there in the driveway and rumbled like a big vicious cat. "Is there something wrong with it?" my mother asked. No, I said, it's just perfect.

I started out at $5 off the line and $5 at the end of the quarter and pretty much tore through the local poseurs. With the backbreaking acceleration of almost 400 horsepower, I quickly moved up to the local Pony cars and GTOs — Goats, in the vernacular — and upped it to $20 off the line and $20 at the end of the quarter. Nobody could believe that Mr. Nerd Boy (yes, moi!) in the nondescript green "luxury" car was in possession of a Ford factory racer.

The cops waved when they drove past, and I could make a couple of hundred on a good night...

It was like living in the chorus of a Bruce Springsteen song.

Yeah well, I went away to college, bought a crapped out Porsche 356B made out of bondo and faith and motorcrossed the hell out of it. My father, no doubt busily working his way down the block, couldn't be bothered with maintaining the Beast Cougar — as you might imagine, it was touchy. I came home from college one day and it was gone...a blown transmission; he paid $175 to have it hauled off, swear to God. I told him he promised to sell it to me, and he said, "So what?"

Worth maybe $250,000 — there were never many of the factory racers made — now...I like to believe it's in the hands of some collector who appreciates the kind of lunatic specifications an 18-year-old might make.

I pulled back from the abyss and didn't get the model. There being no gun store handy, I went next door and bought two slotted kitchen spoons, a new spatula and a pastry baster.

"Tonight tonight the strip's just right
Out of my way, mister, you best keep..."


This has been around for awhile (I cribbed if rom Denny Lattis on the Sixgunner list), but I thought it was a good post-Christmas pick-me-up!

BTW. successful Christmas menu included:

• Broiled lobster tails, with my olive oil, mashed garlic, pepper and Cajun seasonings. marinade.
Brown rice with scallions from my Sweetie.
• My patented Buckaroo BBQ Baked Beans, made from a secret recipe I stole from several people.
• A cranberry sauce from my Sweetie's Mom.
Delicious fruit salad contributed by said Sweetie's brother.
• Homemade rosemary potato bread fresh from my Sweetie's oven.
• Far too much desert, including a huge variety of cookies, pound cake and a peach-blueberry-raspberry cobbler I tinkered together out of the Mustard's Grill cookbook.

Am now in danger of being harpooned by any passing Japanese whaling ships...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Damn, He Was Good!

So we say goodbye to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, who checked out in an Atlanta hospital today. I saw him many many times, and if they'd passed a collection plate after the show I'd'a emptied my pockets every time.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Day, 2006

It is midnight in the Rocky Mountains, cold and spitting snow. Half a world away, in Baghdad, Christmas 2006 has already passed. Our men and women at arms are on much my mind new friend Sean in Afghanistan; my dear friends Denny and Frank in Baghdad, so many whose names I don't know; some whose names I know and can't say...

As you regular readers know, I'm not much on religion. But on this night of nights — whether we celebrate the beginning of the long climb toward summer or the birth of the Christ-child, whether the words we read are from the King James Version or the Holy Qu'ran — I would hope that we can all take breath and rest tonight, in peace.

So join me in keeping our troops in our thoughts this Christmas Day...they are our families. I am reminded of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's magnificent prayer as Allied troops landed in Europe on D-Day:
In this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor … to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness to their faith.They will need Thy blessings…. They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest — until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violence of war.
For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and for tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice….
And remember those in need, in pain, who would give anything to have American troops standing guard over them today.

As always, on the newest of Christmas Days, I leave you with the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings:
"I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened."

"So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil..."
That I believe.

Peace tonight...

Christmas Eve

I'm watching a CBS Sunday Morning on people who build gigantic dollhouses, including a huge bordello, and I'm thinking that I may have missed a critical turnoff on life's highway. My life would have been much easier if I had decided at an early age to dedicate my life to dollhouses instead of random hardware. I would be able to bring people into my home and shwo then, say, my meticulous recreation of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining, complete with faux blood and a teeny-tiny ax driven through a door.

I'd take people into my basement to show them the work-in-process, a stunning recreation of the Clinton White House. I'd have a little Monica Lewinsky on her knees under Bill's big ole desk while Bubba worked the phones, Hillary in the basement wearing a tall pointy hat and stirring a huge cauldren with little faux hands and legs sticking out of it and child Chelsea upstairs with her therapist, begging to be adopted by Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton, who would be presented as little Goth angels hovering outside the window.

This is why I should never take holidays off the Who once noted, "Sickness will surely take the mind where minds don't usually go..." For good reason. Of course, I don't have any work, except approving SHOOTING GALLERYs and COWBOYS for next season and working on the new webcast product I'll be rolling out in 2007. I want to be able to give you guys more than I can in a 30-minute TV'll be 'way cool! I could go shovel snow, but...

Have a totally calm Christmas Eve, and for those of you like me, who are now considering shopping, remember that lingerie only comes in one color — black — and that the safest bet is to include diamond earrings to take some of the heat off the fur-lined handcuffs. For you women out there, if your guy asked for boxers imprinted with the slogan, "Home of the WHOPPER!" on the front, your Christmas present should be a single plane ticket in your name to Maui..the hell with him. Otherwise, if you've waited this long, get him a box of Godiva chocolates...he'll fawn all over the gift, and you can eat them...Tuesday, he can go to Home Depot and buy his own damn cordless drill!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Season's Greetings!

Let's all sing along now! Follow the bouncing...never mind:

Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo
He loves me, I love you,
Therefore vicariously he loves you
Even if you're a Jew.

Sometimes he's nutty, sometimes he's corny
He can be brown or greenish brown,
But if you eat fibre on Christmas Eve
He might come to your town.

Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo
He loves me, I love you,
He looooovves you!

Here's my special gift for all of you, a link to the original (and incredibly filthy) Spirit of Christmas 5-minute short that became South Park...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Few Notes from the Denver Blizzard

I originally posted this on the High Road, but Overload's comments reminded me that I should post it here as well:

After my fun 11-hour drive to-and-from Denver International Airport in the heart of the worst blizzard in a decade, I thought I might post a few pointers on SHTF scenarios.

Pay attention...we knew what we were going into, thanks to local TV, the Waether Chanel and several weather-related internet sites.

Get specialized training...both my Sweetie and I have been through the BMW Ice Driving School in Montreal; yeah, cars act hinky in ice and snow, but it doesn't mean they're not driveable.

Make sure your clothing is Sweetie and I could have walked out if we had to (it helps to have 3 IditaSport, the Feb ultramarathon in Alaska, experiences...not the first blizzard we've seen).

Have specialized gear...we were ready to go to ground if we had to. Also, make sure your car is ALWAYS topped off with gas. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your vehicle. I passed lots of dead/piled up SUVs who thought their "dedicated 4WD" could do more than it really could.

Don't stint on your lowly 4WD Honda Element is the opposite of macho, but it is equipped with dreadfully expensive Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires and I carry (and used last night) a set of Z-Chains, also expensive and worth every penny.

Make a plan, and execute same...I decided I was going to drive home, and I did. I never let myself get sucked into someone else's plan — going faster or slower, for instance. At times I was down to 1 mph, pretty much what I averaged on foot in one IditaSport, but as long as I had 10 feet of visibility, I could follow tracks.

Real World feedback is critical...through cellphones, we had people feeding us realtime info on routes, closings, etc. off television and the internet. We basically drove a strange twisting route around huge car pileups, iced unclimbable hills, closed interstates, etc.

As they say in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy...DON'T PANIC!!!

Now I'm SNOWED IN AT HOME, but hey, the electricity's still up, and if it goes down, I've got heat, water, food, batteries, beer and ammo. I'll finally get around to watching the last episode of SURVIVOR on my laptop!

And BTW, Sean, my hat is off to you, and you make me proud. Be safe Over There, brother!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Home Again Home Again...THANK HEAVENS!

Okay, te next time I blithely suggest that I am going to drive through a MAJOR BLIZZARD, for heaven's sake, JUST SHOOT ME!

Ut is 8PM...I left at times, visibility was down to a couple of feet with the wind just pounding the Boxcar.

And those of you who might be inclined to dis my poor Honda Element, I'd like to point out that I even manged to get half-way up my driveway (chains help), white the National Guard is out plucking people off the interstates...


There Goes the Sun...

Sam crossed the majestic mountains to the valleys far below.
He talked to his team of huskies as he mushed on through the snow.
With the northern lights a-running wild in the land of the midnight sun,
Yes, Sam McCord was a mighty man in the year of nineteen-one.
Johnny Horton
"North to Alaska"

Well, my Sweetie's Mom is coming in this AM from Florida; unfortunately so is a major upslode blizzard, coming in from New Mexico. It is already seriously snowing, so it looks like we harness up the doggies and flail the Boxcar, my trusty Honda Element, the 60+ miles to Denver International, where they're trying to get the morning flights in. Yee-Haw!

And speaking of yee-haw, I got my defacto Christmas present yesterday — a Hans Vang Remington 870 12 gauge pump, just the thing for when reindeer run amok. This is the same gun that Hans, the best shotgun mechanic on earth, builds for folks like the DEA and various and sundry spooky types. The base gun is a Remington Law Enforcement 870 Police Magnum, which features the smallest number of plastic parts of any blaster out there. The major change to the gun is the superlative Vang-Comp ported barrel — my own experience has unequivocally proven that the Vang-Comp system shrinks the group pattern of buckshot while reducing felt recoil substantially.

The forcing cone has been lengthened, LPA front and rear sights installed, the great Vang-Comp domed safety, a +2 magazine extension and hi-viz magazine follower have been added and the whole gun snugged into a Hogue synthetic stock and finished matt black. Over the years I have shot a lot of "tactical" shotguns, including a bunch of Hans' guns. — this gun is my 100% choice as my personal shotgun! No frills; everything already proven; same as the gun I used in the GUNSITE 260 shotgun class. I'm looking forward to taking this one through Randy Lee's new tactical shotgun class, which I'm hearing good things about.

I'll ry to get some pictures up (and maybe video) when I get back from my snow trek!

Looks like our hapless brothers and sisters across the pond could use a Vang-Comp blaster! This piece from The First Post:
Many country people consider a sawn-off 12-bore to be the most effective and easily available short-range weapon. A farmer at the Suffolk Show told me that, for added impact, he pierces the crimped end of the cartridge and pours in warm wax which sets and creates a mass of lead shot.
Owning a weapon is becoming a habit for rural homeowners who feel unprotected now that so many police stations have closed.
Could we be seeing the first signs of a militant middle class which has had enough and is beginning to arm itself? Perhaps.
For those who cling to the notion that an Englishman's home is his castle, a new weapon will soon be available to help deter intruders. Designed by BowTech in Oregon, USA, the Stryker (left) will be on sale in Europe by mid-January.
It is a precision hunting crossbow complete with a multiple reticule, red dot 1x30 scope nightsight, 175lb draw weight, binary cam technology and the power to skewer a hoodie at 50 metres.
"Skewer a hoodie!" Gotta love that Brit understatement!

Monday, December 18, 2006

OVER THE EDGE & Me [Looooong post...sorry!]

In decades of hanging around writers, and in the course of 20 non-fiction books and one novel myself, I think I've isolated the one thing a writer more than anything else wants — to make a difference.

Yeah, there's no shortage of ego in pages...and I am not without that particular sin...but, ultimately, you believe, or at least hope, that the stones you throw into the pond will create some ripples.

Ironically, I never thought that about OVER THE EDGE. OTE was a whim that became an obsession, my very own personal white whale. Here's the short version for those of you who just tuned in...over beers at a pizza place in Tampa after a day of windsurfing big wind, my friends and I wrote "The List," a.k.a., 13 things that can kill you, on a cocktail napkin.

The List ended up:

1) Windsurf really big air — what the hey...I figured I could do this...
2) The Mammoth Mountain Kamikazee mountain bike downhill — I'd read that based on the sheer number of injuries, the Kamikazee was the most dangerous sporting event in America.
3) Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, featuring the signature swim from Alcatraz to the mainland — I liked the country song, "There's a mile and a quarter of trecherous water that keeps men in Alcatraz..."
4) Jump a kayak off a waterfall — Seemed like a good idea about pitcher #3.
5) Rock climb — Hanging frm ropes...always a good thng!
6) Cave diving — Scuba diving in caves, around pitcher #6, because a friend of mine remembered seeing on television how many people died doing it.
7) Ice climbing — How hard can it be to climb an icicle? Ha!
8) Skydiving — And I lumped "those parachute thingies," wich I later learned were called paragliders or parapentes into that as well.
9) An 85-mile Rollerblade marathon — I thought I'd at least meet cute girls in pain.
10) Scuba diving "really deep" — Ignorance is bliss...I thought I could get to, say, 500 feet down.
11) "Badwater" Run Across Death Valley — Only 120 degrees...hey, I lived in Florida!
12) Iditasport Bike Race on the Iditarod Trail in February — I figured it would balance out Death Valley pretty well.
13) Climb Mt. McKinley — After all, it looked really pretty in the Ansel Adams photograph, whicih was as close as I had come to a Big Mountain.
At closing time, the questions was asked, "So, Michael, what are you going to do with The List?"

"Oh I don't know," I said, perhaps tracking at less than 100%. "I think I'll do everything on the list and write a book about it."

And there you are...5 years later, all the money I had in the world and one 20-year relationship slagged, I finished The List.

The most amazing thing to me is that OTE has gone on without me. The hardback came out in the late 1990s, with te paperback in 2000...every month, without fail, I get e-mails from people for whom my book was a life-changing experience. Some of the stories are touching...a picture from the North Pole, a momento from the Olympics...some are heartrending, people struggling to overcome staggering odds in their personal lives, with OTE as a guidebook. I am, as I have said many times before, both honored and humbled. It is cliched to say it is a dream come true, but that doesn't make it any less of an honest emotion.

From the beginning, I wanted to quantify the concepts I used to complete the challenges I wrote about. This proved to be MUCH harder than I'd forced me to start "peeling away the layers" of my mental onion. It also kept me in the field doing yet MORE stupid stuff, because I am sort of's deeds, not words. Hell, if I am going to give you advice that you may stake your life on, then I am obligated to stake my own life on those ideas. That guarantees that I am the first, and hopefully only, victim of my own mistakes.

I even tually come up with six key points, which I cleverly labeled Six rules for Accomplishing the Impossible:
1) Pick a Summit — We don't live the lives we want to live not because we aim too high, but because we aim too low. We want to run a marathon, so we tell the world we're training for a 5K...and then we don't do that. Summits have power; summits can cause us to engage those amazing evolutionary tools we all possess. Summits are creatures of dreams.

2) Abandon your Comfort Zone — Comforts zones are cozy little cells with padded walls; comfort zones are death in bite-sized easily digestable chunks. We are hard-wired by several million years of evolution to do our best work outside our comfort zones. The odd thing is that once you're out of your comfort zone, it's not so bad. In fact, you get used to it.

3) Understand the Risks — We are TERRIBLE at analyzing risks! And we think we're great at it, which is a classic recipe for disaster. From my earlier post, remember "perceived" versus "actual" and "subjective" versus "objective?" I have seen huge amounts of resource focused on "perceived/objective" risks...essentially preparing for an imagined, completely unlikely eventuality that, if it did happen, you couldn't do anything about it in the first place.

4) Narrow Your Focus — Okay, this is kind of a trick...yes, you have to understand the "big picture," but once you do, forget it and focus on what it is you need to do RIGHT THEN. I go back to the old analogy (used interestingly enough by John Shaw to teach SAS guys how to REALLY shoot) that at birth we are all issued 100 pennies-worth of concentration, and no matter how much we might believe otherwise, we cannot get one penny more! Rather than putting a nickel here and a quarter there, to survive, we have to learn how to be a serial concentrator, taking our pile of pennies and moving it all from task to task.

5) When In Doubt, Go FASTER! — This is one of the most controversial points, because we are trained by our culture that slower is better...."slow and steady"..."tortoise and hare"...etc. It's the wrong worldview. Yes, we plan, and yes, we pay attention to details, but once we start, move dammit! Insteresting new reseach that backs up my thesis that we can make correct decisions with blazing speed. When we say we need more time, often what we are saying is really, "We need more time to cook up a dreally good excuse!"

6) Embrace Chaos — At the edges of the Known Universe, cause and effect become merely "local phenomena." You survival depends on your ability to shift gears, move out of one paradigm into another, real quick. Our current culture places a high value on the question, "Why?" As in, "Gee, I wonder why that didn't work..." as in the closing words of your life. "Why" is only interesting if it can teach you something for the next time, and that implies you'll survive the present encounter, which you can only do by ignoring the "Why." When you're in a chaos system — and Nature, violent attacks, combat, pesky hurricanes, etc. are ALL classic chaos systems — nothing proves anything! "Proof" is a specific scientific term, and it doesn't have a damn thing to do with the Real World. Within a chaos system, events tend to be "singularities," that is, the one-time-only product of known, unkown and unknowable factors and conditions. Remember, cause and effect have gone south here.
Read Bruce Lee's classic text on The Tao of Jeet Kune Do...or Mark Twight's Extreme Alpinism...or Brian Enos' Practical Shooting-Beyond Fundamentals. We triumph not by following the well-worn path, but by abandoning "common sense" and opening ourselves to the maelstrom. Heaven help me, but I'm going to close with a quote from Alannis Morisette: "The moment I stepped off it it/Was the moment I touched down."

Friday, December 15, 2006


For something a little lighter than the previous post, I'd thought I'd let you take a look at this from Google Videos and see why you're not going to get your Spousal Unit that octopus he/she wants for Christmas:

The hole, BTW, in the plastic box is 1-inch in diameter! Let's face it, octopii are cool and dreadfully smart!

A Few Thoughts on Mountains, Winter and Personal Responsibility

Back in the Back-When, I was on the starting line of a race called the IditaSport, a "human-powered" ultramarathon in Alaska on parts of the Iditarod Trail in February. And yes, it was 20 below zero nippy. In the Back-When, the race was barely controlled anarchy whose slogan was "Cowards won't show and the weak will die."

I'd signed up to do 85 miles on snowshoes, having attempted the race on a frozen bicycle a couple of years before, and was carrying the mandated 12+ pounds of survival equipment, including my bulletproof Marmot sleeping bag, a waterproof bivey sack and a Marmot expediiton down jacket, plus a tiny stoves, fuel, matches and enough yummy Power Bars and kibble to keep me alive for three days if I had to go to ground. I'd also signed and had notarized a release that stated the weather could be the worst on the planet; that there was no guarantee of rescue; that my death was a real possibility and that, essentially, I was an idiot for doing this.

On the line with me was one of my mentors in the looney-tunes sports world, an awesome ultraathlete with a resume that would get a "normal" person committed in a sanity hearing. We traveled together for the first mile or so, then my friend called a halt to toss the package of his survival gear into a snowbank. "Too heavy," he said, "Slows me down too much,"

What happens, I asked, if the weather, "goes south?"

"I die," he said, and was off like the proverbial shot.

I have been there, huddled in some flimsy shelter on the side of a mountain while the full fury of Nature vented outside; my thoughts and my prayers go out to the three veteran climbers trapped on Mt. Hood and their families waiting below. It was going to be a speed ascent, up and down quickly...the climbers have now been trapped up there for five days.

I'm not saying this is what happened, but sometimes there's a tendency for experienced climbers to take some of the North American peaks less seriously than they should. We see it all the time here in Colorado, and it's something that my Sweetie and I regularly address in ourselves...a Big Mountain — especially in the winter — demands your respect, or it will kill you. My Sweetie did her expedition training on Mt. Hood, and it is not a cupcake.

Since Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, there has been an on-again, off-again debate in the risk sports communities about the "expectation of rescue." A lot of us made our bones in magazines and books by pushing ourselves to the absolute limits, then writing about it. The consequences of our successes (and, to be blunt, our survival), coupled with a voracious publishing/cable television industry in seach of the Next Big Thing, sent hundreds of people out on their own quests. Not everyone got to come home.

I believe I can honestly say I never went into the wild with an "expectation of rescue." Part of the mental process I went through that enabled me to do the things I did were built around the acceptance of risk, and with that, the acceptance of the chance of my death. I used to teach corporations about the difference between "perceived" and "actual" risks and "subjective" and "objective" risks...while the first couplet is self-evident, the second is less so. "Subjective" risk is a risk over which you have some control; "objective" risk is when God say you're "It."

In short, control what you can control and accept those things you can't.

That's cold comfort when you're in base camp waiting for word from high above. As long as we choose to go into the wild, however, a percentage of us will not make it back. Nature is a pure chaos system, and our best preparations, skills, attitudes, equipment, conditioning and faith may in the end fail us. "Expectation of rescue" is a cruel and false hope. I have seen the certainty of my own death spelled out in red flecks on the snow coughed from my shattered lungs; I have never met anyone who went into the wild and didn't carry the scars from their own quests.

So take a moment today to think about the climbers, Jerry Cooke, Brian Hall and Kelly James, trapped in the thin air in Oregon, and the heroic men and women struggling to reach them.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

You Knew I Couldn't Pass This One Up, Didn't You?

Hermaphroditic deer with seven legs ‘tasty’
Wisconsin hunter bags odd beast with pickup in driveway, eats it

FOND DU LAC, Wis. - Rick Lisko hunts deer with a bow but got his most unusual one driving his truck down his mile-long driveway. The young buck had nub antlers — and seven legs. Lisko said it also had both male and female reproductive organs. "It was definitely a freak of nature," Lisko said. "I guess it's a real rarity.”
John Hoffman of Eden Meat Market skinned the deer for Lisko, who wasn't going to waste the venison from the animal.

"And by the way, I did eat it," Lisko said. "It was tasty."
What worries me is that I was in Wisconsin not that long ago, but I swear I didn't consort with either deer or dear. I'm thinking Mr. Lisko's family better watch him real close fror signs of glowing, "surprise" appendanges popping up or his starting to receive radio signals through fillings in his teeth...oh yeah, I also recommend an alumnum foil hat, just in case!

What Michael Wants for Christmas...and is NOT Going to Get!

Yes, AirScooter is the future of...something. Not sure what, but damn, I'd like to have one! Unfortunately, the family "Secret Santa" pool has a strict $50 limit, the $50,000 tab on this puppy — when it becomes available, which they allege will be soon — probably stresses the envelope a bit much.

The key thing for me is fitting a hard mount on the "handlebars"...I'm thinking something light, like a Krinkov, or one of of those .17 belt-fed machine guns. Then I could drop in on the local radio control airplane event and raise hell!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Renaissance Cowboy

Spent the last couple of days with country music star Royal Wade Kimes, and I have to say I'm tremendously impressed...and not just with his music. I always liked Wade's music...he may be the last country "and western" singer left on earth. His "In My Land" Second Amendment anthem is a really cool song...I may negotiate with him touse a piece of it on the upcoming Michael Bane Blog video show.

But the more you talk to Wade, the more complex and strikingly talented individual surfaces. Once the highest paid songwriter in Nashville, he walked away from one of those "deal of a lifetime instant millionaire" label deals because they wanted him to "tone down the guns." So he starts his own record label, sucks it up and hits the road to become a star his own way. And he does, in spite of zero airplay on commercial radio stations. He wins on his own terms, without compromise.

Oh yeah, he's also an in-demand fine artist with pencil and charcoal, with his original art selling for big bucks and a brisk business in the prints. His first novel, EMINENT DOMAIN AND OLD MAN SMITH is into multiple printings. In his spare time, he designs and manufacturers high-end jewelry. he works with Taylor's and Co. on custom cowboy guns, and he and his band wear guns on stage...which I always though was a pretty good idea in some of the chicken wire honky-tonks I used to hang out in...because he thinks it's the right thing to do.

And hell, he's never even married a movie star or been in rehab! No wonder he's moving to Arkansas.

Good on you, dude! Go to iTunes, search "Royal Wade Kimes" and buy "I Cme to Dance." It's damn country!

Wade also gave me an amazingly cool numbered print of one of his drawings of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate general who pretty much perfected the concepts of mobile guerrilla warfare, rode his horse into the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in then Union-held Memphis, had 30 horses shot out from under him in the Civil War and was reported to have said, "War means fightin', and fightin' means killin'." When I went to high school in Memphis, we learned a lot more about Bedford Forrest than we did about those other history guys, like Washington, Lincoln, etc. BTW, there was a statue of Bedford Forrest on his horse just south of Nashville. In 2002, a bunch of shots were fired at the statue...all the shots hit the horse. That's 31...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Μολών λαβέ, Y'all!

Oh baby baby! All The 300 needs to become a potential lifetime classic is Bruce Willis and a car chase!

See the trailer here (QuickTime).

Μολών λαβέ!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Too Damn Late to Be on the Computer...

You know, I used to be real superstitious about music on the radio when I would cruise into Music City, like I could read in the lyrics what sort of adventure I was heading into. This was back when I was pal'ling around with Waylon Jennings, Tompall Glaser and "Cowboy" Jack Clement, drinking too much and spending what pittance I could coax out of the magazines on pinball machines down on Broadway.

I thought about that tonight, flying in late for two more COWBOYS with Royal Wade Kimes, maytbe the last real cowboy singer on earth, or at least east of the Mississippi. So I turned on the radio and punched the buttons around until I found Mary Gauthier's whiskey version of "Mercy Now," which damn near made me cry and nearly drove me all the way into town and South Broadway, which is a sad tourist shadow of its honky-tonk self. Here's what she sang:
Every living thing could use a little mercy now
Only the hand of grace can end the race
Towards another mushroom cloud
People in power, well
They'll do anything to keep their crown
I love life, and life itself could use some mercy now

Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don't deserve it
But we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance
Dangle 'tween hell and hallowed ground
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
So I didn't go down to South Broadway, although I could truly have used a beer. Even a crappy beer. I told you all my favorite South Broadway story, didn't I...about how I ended up thrown out the door of a strip joint names Skull's Rainbow and almost subsequently almost slain in a SWAT raid on a bar with chicken wire in front of the stage?

I can't remember — perhaps an increasingly common phenomenon these days — so I am inclined to tell you again. Anyway, the short version is me and now-famous and taught in college novelist Nicky Tosches were drinking at Skull's, as his wife was leaving him because he spent way too much time drinking at Skull's. The essence of strip joints is nakked women, but Skull's had a bar that ran along a side wall and faced a mirror so one could drink heavily and not overtly drool at the merchandise. That night, as it happens, was Miss Nude Teenager Night, and Miss NT was finishing up her stint on the pole while Nicky and I, not talking, consumed Pearl Beers. Miss NT finishes up and walks along the back of the bar, headed for the dressing room, There are hoots and cheers like the Super Bowl, but she doesn't look back.

She gets all the way to the door of the dressing room, which has a star on the door, then stops and turns back. The cheers, impossibly, increase in volume. I look in the mirror and I see Miss Nude Teenager is standing right behind me at the bar. She leans forward and places her head on the back of my neck, kissing me. Even in this ratty Hampton Inn three decades later waiting for the sleeping pills to kick in, I can still feel her breath on the back of my neck and smell the mixture of sweat and gardenias.

"Sometimes," Miss Nude Teenager whispers, "it just gets so damn lonely on the road. I'm with you tonight." There is not a sound in the bar; it is as if sound has simply ceased to exist. "I'll be right back," she said, "and we'll go someplace nice." She walks toward the dressing room, her heels the only sound in the bar.

So anyway, Nicky sweeps the Pearl bottles off the bar, grabs me by my necks and belt, carries me through the dead silent strip joint while I'm muttering something like, "Please's Miss Nude Teenager..." and throws me onto the cobblestones outside of Skull's Rainbow. "I can't let you do this to yourself, man," he says, helping me stand up. "You wanna go get a drink?"

Sure, I say. I think my date stood me up. Then the cheap-ass honly-tonk we went to got raided by SWAT, and me and Nicky got braced at the bar by a couple of guys with shotguns and bad attitudes, who failed to appreciate either Nick's or my sense of humor, which resulted in a long stay in a squad car that smelled like puke until a cop we knew showed up and kicked us loose with the final admonition of, "You guys are such complete, total fuck-ups I can't hardly believe it!" We invited him to breakfast, it being dawn and all, but he had to go fill out the paperwork, so Nick and I had biscuits and gravy sans cop and Miss Nude Teenager.

I think we all do need a little mercy now...

Sorry for Light Blogging!

Been to tied up in my own issues to put too much to paper (or is it electrons?). Got one more trip this year, then slide home!

RE: Colt (as mentioned by a commenter), who knows? First, let me relate a quick story...last month I was sitting in the offices of a firearms company CEO B-S'ing when his phone rang. He looked at the number and took the call; when he hung up, he started laughing.

"You're not going to believe this," he said. "That was the [fill in the name of a big, recognizable bank], who are handling Colt. They want to know if I'm ready to write the check, 'cause Colt's finally ready to sell."

"Are you?" I asked.

"Good question," he replied. "There's not much there there."

I'll make some phone calls, but there's nothing in the financial press.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Gun Mags Find New Home

On a day when we're all bracing for a coronal mass ejection from our old pal, the Sun — all you space cadets out there, practice "radiation avoidance!" I mean it! — and Taco Bells across the northeast struggle to contain the e-colichirito epidemic, word comes that the massive Primedia gun mag & television empire — think Guns & Ammo — has found a new home. This from the AP:
NEW YORK — Magazine publisher Primedia Inc. is selling its hunting, fishing and outdoor titles, including Guns & Ammo and Game & Fish, to private equity firm InterMedia Partners LP for $170 million in cash.

The deal announced Thursday includes 17 publications and related Web sites, TV and radio programming and events.
Well, what's really interesting is InterMedia is a part-owner of The Sportsmen's Channel, a competitor to The Outdoor Channel, where most of Primedia's television product resides. Hmmmm and hmmmmm...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Few Words to Live By

While halfway watching television in the hotel tonight, I heard a quote from George Orwell that once meant a lot to me, but somehow sank into the sludge pit that passes for my long-term memory:
During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
It's interesting to me that the quote resurfaced during a time when I'm rehashing what I did and didn't do and, generally, kicking myself in the ass for a long list of perceived failures. I can honestly say, however, that among that long list of failures, not telling the truth isn't one of them.

I am constantly reminded that even though I am probably the least religious person I know, the universe is always throwing out the things one needs, whether one knows one needs them or not. Strange, that.

Speaking of which, I have also received in the last week or so a series of amazing letters from SHOOTING GALLERY viewers — amazing because none of them are death threats, perhaps — rather, they are the kinds of letters a person who presents himself or herself to the public dreams of getting. I try to answer them all, because I do care what you guys think...a lot! Thanks...

On project updates, I've finished a couple of Michael Bane Blog video segments that as soon as I come off the road next week I'll stick the titles on and post 'em. One is on the Detonics CombatMaster, which I'm prepared to go on record saying is the BEST LITTLE BITTY 1911 ON EARTH. I also have a shocking confession to make...when shooting little blasters quickly, or great big blasters slowly, the Weaver stance works better to control recoil that a pure isoceles...oh god, I am going to have to take so much rhino dookey from the guys and girls at GUNSITE! Not to mention Walt Rauch! I'll be elaborating on this more later and in one of the video segments. The key, however, seems to be that while the isoceles allows the gun to return to the same spot after recoil a lot better than the Weaver, the Weaver is better for controlling the gun, that is, forcing the gun to do what you want. Like I said, more later, but I wanted to start warming up the crow...

Beer, the Universe and Everything

Before I drag myself to California to shoot the studio stuff for SHOT SHOW TV tomorrow, a maor trend I've spied...from MSNBC:
Guinness-guzzling camel crashes Irish party

DUBLIN - Staff at an Irish riding school were forced to postpone festivities after Gus the camel chomped his way through 200 mince pies and several cans of Guinness intended for their Christmas party...
...and also from MSNBC:
Hot lead for warm beer

ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis woman shot her husband to death after he gave her a can of warm beer, police said...
Am I the only one who sees something sinsiter going on here? Granted, I watched most of Army of Darkness — "This...this is my BOOMSTICK!" — again last night, but Boy Howdy! Beer fear is spreading. Granted the camel's got good taste, but the woman capped her husband for a can of Stag Beer...I mean, I could buy capping someone over a bottle of, maybe, Alaska Smoked Porter or Anchor's Old Foghorn Barleywine, but Stag? I wouldn't wash Alf the Wonder Beagle in that stuff.

For the Person on Your List Who Has Everything... about his or her very own fatwa?

That's right...your hard-to-buy-for relative or friend can be under their very own death sentence from Islamofacists. You used to have to write novels like The Satanic Verses or draw cartoons deplicting the Prophet to get yourself on the whack list, but I suspect just playing and watching this little ditty (which has been banned from YouTube, BTW) will do the trick just fine!

WARNING: Offensive to religion! Second-grade SOUTH PARK-style trash humor! Catchy tune! Do not play this video! I warned you, dammit! Run! Hide! Cut off your right thumb to avoid clicking mouse! Don't blame me when some dudes with AK-47s show up at your door Christmas morning!!!!

ADDITIONAL GIFT SUGGESTION: Goes well with "Infidel" t-shirt*.

[*Woman not included...]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pre-Christmas El Cheapo Gun Alert...

I notice that the new close-out catalog from wholesaler/blow-'em-out-the-door guys CDNN has a few more Star BMs (read about 'em here and here) for sale at the el cheapo price of $159.00.

These were always okay little guns...essentially Spanish-made Commander-sized 9mm 1911 copies. The real trick items were the aluminum-framed BKMs, which I haven't seen for sale in a coon's age. The mags hold 8 rounds and there are usually a bunch around at different price points. The big joke here is the 9mm Stars generally worked better than most (much more expensive) 1911 9mms...I wouldn't want to run a lot of 9mm +Ps through the a Star, but hey, the same basic gun was issued in 9mm Largo, a hotted up nine, so I few probably wouldn't cause a BM to blow up in your hand. Don't blame me if it does, however. Lots of Star accessories/parts on the internet...check 'em out here.

One other thing of note in the CDNN catalog...they still have a few FN Hi-Powers in the less desirable .40 S&W at $399. As you all know (don'cha?), the FN/HPs are gone baby gone after this batch, with Browning once again doing the heavy-lifting on BHP a tidy eight bills per's all that rich Corinthian leather and walnut dashboard stuff...don't come whining to me about how you meant to get a BHP from FN when they were cheap! The smart people — ie, not me — snapped up the 9mm guns for under $400 like ravening pirhana...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Guess What's Going to be Under Your Tree???

Addendum 1: Do you have any idea how hard it is for cherubs to use digital cameras?

Addendum 2: I have one on order and look forward to taking a carbine class with it ASAP.

Addendum 3: No, I don't know everyone in the firearms industry...yet...I do, however, try to regularly buy drinks for the ones who matter...

If you've been good little doobies, it's going to be SIG 556 carbines, which according to one of my little Santa's helpers, start rolling off the assembly lines in New Hamster and off to dealers this week. Since this particular Santa's helper is also the CEO of SIGARMS, I'm calling this information 100%.

Introduced last year at SHOT, this has been one of the most anticipated carbines in a long time. Other than Colin Farrell in Miami Vice and me — I'm cuter, too — not that many people have had a chance ot put a lot of round through the little SIG subgun blaster, the 552. The 556 is sort of like the subgun's cleaned up little brother. I can't wait to get mine!

BTW, thanks Ron for the heads-up!

Sunday Evening Coming Down...

Ring! Ring! Ring! Ring!

"Hello and good evening sir! Brand D Airlines Bangladore baggage information line! How can we help you?"

"Well, my bag is still missing..."

"Yes sir. We see that you've called several times, and we are sorry for your loss."

"My bag is missing...not dead."

"Of course, sir. We are sorry for the inconvenience, and we will be delivering your bag in the next 12 hours, although we are not required to do so. And it may be longer than 12 hours, in which case we'll return your bag to your origination point..."

"No no...I'm calling to try and help you out!"


"Well, you'll note in the file that there is a declared firearm in my baggage. I don't know if you're aware of this — no reason why you should be — but the law requires me to notify the local police and the Federal Gun Agency if a firearm has been missing for 24 hours. I have no four hours I have to call the Denver Police and notify the Feds, and then it's out of my hands...and it will be ugly for the men at Brand D baggage in Denver! Man, those guys are going to be so busted, homeland security and all..."

"That would be very bad, sir!"

"Those poor men, and it's Christmastime and all..."

"Let me see what I can do, sir..."

[...pause for effect...]

"We have good news, sir!"

I'd never do anything like that, of course, nor would I recommend that you try it. But nonetheless, I'm safely tucked into the No-Tell Motel under I-85 in Georgia, listening to jake-brakes, pondering the pry marks on the door and happily loading magazines. It certainly makes me bubble over with the holiday spirit!

I spent a really cool day learning to shoot Gunfighter style, which in cowboy action shooting parlance means blazing away with a gun in either hand. My instructor was five-time cowboy action shooting world champion, Gunfghter style, Clyde "Easy Rider" Harrison...we had a blast, so to speak, and fired about a billion rounds through a couple of Vaqueros...the guns, not the South American cowboys, you dolts!

My theory is that this is the only way to do weak-hand practice that doesn't feel like dental work. Anyway, you'll see the show! It was definitely Big Fun...

Tomorrow, I'm spending the day at Detonics pondering the vagaries of mini-1911s with the folks who designed the first ones that actually worked, going to the range, then hanging with my buddy Jerry Ahern, who wrote The Survivalist series of novels and now runs Detonics.

Time to put the chair under the doorknob, the garbage can on the chair and make sure my lines of fire are clear! I wonder if reruns of AMERICAN CHOPPER are on?