Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mission complete (almost)

We finally wrapped up our shooting this morning, then had time to grab a quick shower and gather up our gear to catch the Blackhawk bus back to Norfolk. Right now, I'm sitting in the lobby of the Hampton Inn, passing the time until 7:00 when we have a dinner reservation up the road. After that, I'll be staying over with someone local and heading for home first thing in the morning.

This morning, we did a few drills in a shoot house, then Todd set up a stage for us to run the house with our lasers. The winner received their choice of any Crimson Trace laser grips. I came in second, mostly due to a fumbled re-load.

After we finished, we headed off to chow, but again we had a little more time than expected, so Todd said he would reset the house and we could run a new scenario. This time they offered three prizes - Crimson Trace laser grips for 1st, a case of ammo for 2nd, and half a case for 3rd (actually Todd said only 499 rounds - he took one).

I elected to run first, and while I still botched two re-loads, my time held up to be the best of the second run. There was also a 'bad guy' who was mostly obscured by a door when passing through, and some shooters missed it, which cost them a time penalty.

Joe Huffman came in second, and since I don't really have a use for the laser (they're included on the gun I bought) I asked if he'd be interested in a trade. Since he's a re-loader, the trade was amicable for both of us and we walked away happy with our winnings. Now I just have to wait for the gun to get here so I can start burning up some of that ammo!

I hope to get some more thorough reviews up for the products I used after I get back home and things settle down just a bit.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Practicing the fundamentals - over, and over, and over

Shooting accurately is pretty easy. Use a proper grip, focus on your front sight, and squeeze (don't jerk!) the trigger. Getting these things to all come together for every shot is the challenge.

Todd Jarrett has been an excellent teacher. He's very personable and employs a hands on approach. He started the morning by illustrating a proper grip, and marking our hands with a Sharpie so we could quickly see if we were maintaining it or not. Such a simple act made an amazing difference. I never gave much thought to accurately shooting a non-competition pistol, with open sights, from 25 yards and having a meaningful grouping. Today I learned that if you manage to do things they way they should be done, you can do just that. Not perfect, but better than I expected from myself.

Then, it was time to move on to bigger and more challenging things. First, shooting on the move. Then, shooting moving targets. Got that down? Now let's combine the two...and then throw in some barricades and include enough shots that several re-loads are necessary to complete the stage. While I certainly didn't come away with any perfect scores on these set-ups, they were a blast to run.

After thoroughly crudding up our guns for the last two days, we finally got around to cleaning them at the end of the day today. I had never taken down a 1911 style pistol before. It's slightly more complicated that my Sigma, but I'm certain that after seeing it done once, I could now repeat it myself. Of course, when we were all done cleaning them, we still had just a few minutes until we were due for chow. So we promptly began to make them dirty again.

While I agree that the problem mentioned by Joe Huffman shouldn't be solved by telling users "Don't do that", my own habits have (so far) not made this an issue for me. I also agree with Sebastian's assessment of the seeming redundancy of a thumb safety on a DA gun, but hopefully proper technique will help me avoid this issue as well.

Is this the "perfect gun"? No. Do I like it, and believe that it will be both fun and reliable for the way I intend to use it? Absolutely. And since my lovely wife has given me her blessing, I'm like a kid on Christmas Eve, waiting for the day this pistol will be back in my hands, in my own home, where I expect it will remain for quite some time.

Other smaller highlights included the pimped out rides provided to us courtesy of Blackwater, and the thrill of running off rounds by the dozen, only to have more cases of ammo show up on the table.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A full first day, despite limited range time

Today was a full day, even though we only were on the range (shooting) for about an hour and a half. We started off the morning with a stop at Blackhawk USA before leaving Norfolk, where we took in presentations about their various product lines, and a very generous box full of swag.

Among the items were two Serpa holsters (to fit the gun we're shooting this weekend - one with the autolock, and one without), two mag holders, tactical belt, tactical gloves, two shirts, a canteen, a Todd Jarrett shooting tips DVD and a few other misc. items.

After arriving in NC and touring the Blackwater grounds in the bus, we had lunch, dropped our stuff in our rooms and headed off to a safety briefing and introduction to the pistol we were using before finally getting in a bit of shooting before dinner.

After a couple hundred rounds, I'm liking this gun. It probably won't satisfy die-hard SA fanatics, but as someone who currently carries a Sigma DAO, I'd definitely choose this gun over my current daily carry piece. The addition of special lettering commemorating the weekend, fiber-optic front sight, adjustable rear sight, Crimson Trace laser grips and a total of six magazines are going to make this a tough package to pass up. There have been a couple of minor hiccups with these guns on the line, but so far, the one I'm using has performed flawlessly. I hope that continues!

I think I'm on the way to convincing the wife to let me back into the house if I make such a purchase, since I won't need to spend additional $ for accessories and add-ons. We'll see what kind of mood she's in tomorrow when I call. ;)

Tomorrow should be a much more demanding day, with many more hours spent putting bullets down-range (no lead though, we're shooting all frangibles). Here are a couple of pics from today.

Our transportation

Blackhawk USA Headquarters

An armory at Blackwater

Some swag

What I'm shooting

Words to live by

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One step closer

I've arrived at the EconoLodge in Portsmouth, which is just across town from where I'm suppposed to meet everyone tomorrow. Despite only having an advertised 'hotspot' in the lobby, I'm able to get a weak signal in my room, so I don't have to run down there to get connected.

Plans for the evening: rehydrate and chill out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blackwater Preparation

Tonight I'm packing and making sure I'm all set for the weekend. I'll be leaving directly from work tomorrow afternoon and heading to Norfolk, VA where I'm supposed to meet up with everyone else at 9:00 am on Friday.

My hotel (tomo) has wi-fi, but only in the lobby, so I'm not sure if I'll get a quick post in before Friday night or not.

Contrary to earlier reports, we're now being told that wi-fi will be available for us at the lodge. There also telling us that other than evenings after dinner, we'll be quite busy. Keep an eye here for updates throughout the weekend, and be sure to visit the Second Amendment Blog Bash page, where a feed of many participants' blogs will be available together.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hazle Township, round two.

Last night, some fellow members from PAFOA again attended the township supervisors meeting to follow up on last month's meeting.

This month, the solicitor cited Minich v. Jefferson county to support a claim that there could be 'exceptions' to §6120, the state's preemption statute. Their solicitor also claimed that since local schools and daycares use the park on a regular basis, §912 covers the park, and any other place that school children may go. If they're in a museum, §912 extends. Carrying in a McDonald's when field trip bus stops in? You're now breaking the law.

Now clearly, we are not done with these clowns. While we didn't have access to Minich while at the meeting, a review clearly shows that this case supports our arguments, not theirs. We are now beginning to build an overwhelming rebuttal, focusing on many different modes of attack.

Only the print media was there this past meeting, but local TV got wind of it, and are now pursuing further coverage as well. We welcome ANY support and assistance from gun owners in the Hazle Twp area as well as any other organization or entity that may have an interest in helping shed the light of truth on these poor misguided souls.

Cabela's (Hamburg, PA) carry policy clarification

This afternoon, I had a very nice phone conversation with Bruce Biedenharn, store manager at the Hamburg, PA Cabela's.

I reviewed the two recent incidents that I was aware of (one from PAFOA, one from OCDO), and inquired if their carry policy had changed at all since I spoke to him last September. He stated that it has not. At my request, he will be mailing me a letter on Company letterhead stating their policy, and reviewing that policy at all daily employee meetings for the next week, which should cover the large majority, if not all, of their employees.

He apologized for the incidents, and I told him I understood that turnover and a large staff seemed to be the main culprit and that based on my previous conversation with him last year, and the impression he gave me then, his response is exactly what I expected.

For the record:
If a firearm is brought into the store for service, etc., it needs to be unloaded and 'checked' upon entry. However, lawful carry of a firearm for personal defense, open or concealed, is absolutely permitted in the store.

As soon as I receive the letter, I'll scan and post it here as well.

Monday, August 4, 2008

For all Pennsylvanians who care about their privacy rights:

There is a class-action lawsuit underway against PennDot for stealing your identity. We are currently in the beginning stages, trying to get as many plaintiffs on our list as possible before filing this lawsuit.

In the words of Rep. Sam Rohrer, from his press conference:

"Exactly two years ago, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania entered into a $45 million contract with Viisage Technology, self-described as 'the industry leader in instant issue digital driver's licenses.' Viisage, later renamed L-1 Identity Solutions, became responsible for issuing Pennsylvania driver's licenses.

Under the authority of Governor Rendell, Viisage and PennDOT launched a new program in June 2006 known as FaceEXPLORER to be used in conjunction with the issuing of driver's licenses. This program uses an upgraded, high-definition photograph taken at a driver's license center to create a facial recognition template, or 'faceprint,' similar in purpose and uniqueness to a fingerprint. This faceprint is a form of biometrics based on the measurements of a person's unique, personal facial geometry. The faceprint goes beyond such easily recognizable physical features as haircut, glasses or facial hair and into an analysis of one's unique facial structure. Once this personally unique faceprint has been created, it is stored in a database to be used to compare against the faceprint of others. By these means, PennDOT and Viisage hoped to reduce identity fraud and theft. In reality, FaceEXPLORER has been a 'back-door' means to implement the REAL ID Act of 2005 without the consent or knowledge of either the legislature or the people."

Rep. Rohrer goes on to say that

" . . Neither PennDOT nor Viisage has inherent authority nor have they been granted any exception to take biometric information from the citizens of the Commonwealth. . .The actions allowed by Governor Rendell further violates statutory law. . .Significantly, this issue constitutes a major Constitutional violation. . . "

Your biometric faceprint can be picked up by surveillance cameras to track your every move. This has to be stopped. Our biometric data must be destroyed/deleted!

We need to join together. This is a crucial moment that we cannot let slip away.

If you want to be part of this lawsuit, contact Renee' Baumgartner by email at, or call her cell (sparingly) at 717-286-8042.

She is a state co-coordinator of Pennsylvania for Restore the Republic and a member of the Campaign for Liberty in Lancaster County.

Email your: Name, Physical Address, phone number & email address

(This information will be kept strictly with her and the attorney that we retain for the lawsuit. Updates will be available as we move forward.)