Dec 31, 2008

Moron Cleaning Guns (Just Maintain Them, Please!)

Most military-issued firearms are worn out or damaged by excessive and/or improper cleaning. We should stop using the word "clean" and start using "maintain." A properly maintained firearm is NOT white glove clean.

Maintenance means keeping the mechanism functioning and preventing corrosion. Powder fouling ("carbon") does no harm and needs to be removed only so that it doesn't impede function. A use RBC (Rifle Bore Cleaner) or Hoppe's #9, brush the part, leave set for a few minutes and wipe off. This may not remove it all but will get enough carbon to remain functional. That is your goal.

It is counter productive to strip off all the carbon, especially if you are reduced to harsh solvents or unauthorized metallic scrapers. Light lubrication should remain to prevent wear and corrosion. Many lubricants have a mild detergent that will bring tiny amounts of fouling out of the metal's pores. Thus, a wipe of the finger will show residue. This is GOOD! It means there is lubricant protecting the metal.

Proper maintenance should take ten minutes, usually less.

Review the Technical Manual (or read for the first time) and confirm what I've written. If you don't have a TM handy Armalite published a report for AR-15 type rifles but it applies for nearly any military or civilian firearm.

So why are Soldiers and Marines suffering through extended cleaning sessions, stupidly scraping away parts and destroying perfectly good weapons in the process?

Personnel assigned in an armorer slot rarely are actual, trained armorers. Instead, the unit armorer is an NCO of sufficient rank to be entrusted with arms room keys and assigned an extra duty. In the Army, the person may be a 92Y (Unit Supply Specialist) so handling firearms is just another inventory task. And to top it off, even formally trained military armorers are more likely to be parts changers, not gunsmiths or marksmen.

The crime usually goes down like this. PVT Joe Snuffy is tasked to clean weapons. We'll pretend Joe actually bothered to read the TM (Technical Manual) and found that he only needs to brush and/or wipe away any obvious corruption, put a thin wipe of CLP over the metal surfaces and lightly lubricate the moving parts. In ten minutes he's performing a function check and ready for turn in.

SSG Clueless, the supply clerk with vault keys pretending to be the unit armorer, "inspects" the maintained weapon. Not really understanding what to look for he wipes his finger along an internal part and picks up a bit of CLP Joe put there to prevent rust and corrosion. "See here, this weapon is dirty. Clean it again."

This frustrates Joe and rightly so. This private actually glanced at the relevant TM within the past five years instantly making him more qualified than the "armorer." However, Clueless is four pay grades above Joe and in charge of the arms room, so Joe loses.

Joe swabs away on his already maintained weapon. He gets pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and starts into every little nook and cranny to clean everything. Thirty minutes later Clueless rejects it again.

Joe is annoyed and desperate and just wants the ordeal over. Determined to not come back a third time he is ready to strip the damn thing dry. Harsh degreasers, metal picks, solvent tank baths. Who cares if its not in the TM. Clueless won't take it unless it is really "clean."

An hour later Clueless does his white glove treatment. The bone dry, unpreserved, unlubricated parts have had any remaining protective finish scratched away. There is nothing there now but bare metal. Clueless seems content so Joe is happy.

And that is how the Army cleans guns, Joe learns. Years later, Joe reclasses as 92Y, is entrusted with the arms room and ready to pass on the "lessons" SSG Clueless taught him.

Dec 24, 2008

Shooting as a Mainstream Sport

That's my ultimate goal! Hunting and shooting is every bit as challenging as mainstream ball sports. If raw numbers of participants and equipment owners are any indication, hunting and shooting is the mainstream. Unfortunately, this isn't how it plays out in the media.

The sports that do make the mainstream media appeal strongly to the spectator. Ball sports are filmed solely for the benefit of the watcher, not the doer. Consequently, they garner the recognition of millions of fans, not to mention billions of advertiser dollars. Hunters and shooters often quip that their activities appeal only to the participant and not to the spectators. A national champion shooter's only fans are other shooters trying to emulate their skill.

The solution? Find a way to make shooting and hunting appeal to the spectator while providing a proper and interesting challenge to the hunter-shooter.

Take all the elements of shooting skills crucial to a hunter-shooter (field marksmanship) and create a sport that tests those skills in a realistic fashion. Make the system easy and inexpensive enough so a couple of poor kids shooting in an old quarry (with adult supervision, of course) could set up events, but advanced enough to simulate virtually any shooting situation a hunter-shooter might face afield.

The system must emphasize realism. To accomplish this:

  1. Targets should look realistic (like a deer, for example) and/or be of realistic proportions. No tiny bulls-eye's here. The targets must also take proper shot placement (target angle) into account. Some events should feature a target that reacts when hit, but only if hit in the proper place, while other events should have a completely static target, forcing the hunter-shooter to call shots good or bad.
  2. Real world hunting arms, the kind already in the cabinets and cases of millions of real world hunters, are fully competitive. "Match grade" is neither needed nor desired.
  3. Beyond the target, the scoring system must take stress ("buck fever") into account.

Once the basic format is established, create several types of events that appeal to the spectator while providing good sport to the hunter-shooter.

Hunting simulations featuring ever-changing scenarios that allow participants to shoot "freestyle." Hunter-shooters won't know the exact challenge until they're faced with it. How they solve it is up to them. May the better shot win. For small events or individual practice a basic, inexpensive target can be used. Events for "public consumption" feature targets that provide immediate feedback and reset themselves automatically while still providing a proper hunting situation to the participant.

Shooter vs. shooter events, with hunter-shooters engaging reactive targets. This is drag racing with hunting guns. Two arrays of targets in mirror image span the field. Hunter-shooters are paired off and the first to clear his/her array wins the bout. Best two out of three (or three out of five) advances. Depending on the entry list, participants can be paired off and shoot "round robin" or double elimination. A handicapping system allows hunter-shooters of all skill levels to compete as equals. And with two good hunter-shooters going full throttle on reactive targets, the spectator appeal should be obvious.

Finally, create a system that promotes these events nationwide. "USA Today" might not cover us nationally, but the "Smallville Gazette" will locally. Create a fully automated system that alerts the local papers near each club with press releases every time an event is scheduled. If every local paper, radio and/or TV station in the country starts covering shooting sports in their area regularly we have created nation-wide coverage.

That's HunterShooter in a nutshell.

Dec 10, 2008

Cleaning Guns

Myth – “Firearms must be thoroughly cleaned every time they’re fired and must never be stored dirty.”

Fact – Basic maintenance is simple and quick requiring little more than a wipe down and light lubrication.

This myth was a truism at one time. Many decades ago the priming mixture was corrosive and would line the bore with sediment that left unchecked would cause excessive rust and deterioration of the metal. Storing a weapon dirty after firing could destroy it. Some units maintained a 1:3 regimen, cleaning a rifle three times after each trip to the range.

However, since the introduction of non-corrosive primers after World War II this is no longer the case. Powder fouling (“carbon”) doesn’t harm a firearm and won’t cause problems unless left to build up to the point that it physically blocks or stops the mechanism. This rarely happens. For example, some gunsmiths recommend removing the bolt from the carrier of an AR15-series only if there is a problem, not for routine maintenance. Disassembly presented in the TM (Technical Manual) *-10 is the lowest level a basic operator can go if need be. That doesn't mean you must disassemble that far every time.

Visit and read “Technical Note 29, Rifle Cleaning.” ArmaLite, Inc., the company that initially released the AR15/M16 rifle, recommends a “detail cleaning” (complete field strip) once every 1000 rounds and a “combat cleaning” wipe down every 250 rounds. This will change based on environmental conditions, and the fact that Soldiers may carry a weapon daily but shoot it very little. At any rate, the inventors of the M16 insist that it is important to clean properly, not totally, and that most weapons are damaged by over cleaning them.

Most military weapons are damaged by improper and/or excessive cleaning. Most soldiers never shoot enough to wear a firearm out. Just clean it so it works.

Dec 3, 2008

Unskilled and Unaware

"People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it."

The lower the actual skill in a particular area the more likely an incompetent person will overestimate his personal ability and be incapable of accurately assessing another's skill. This study almost perfectly models the problems found in marksmanship.

The solution is to bring more gun owners out to organized events. If you haven't tested your skill in open competition against others you simply do not know where on the skill continuum your abilities lie. Sadly, as this scholarly study points out, without this critical feedback you probably can't accurately judge for yourself.

Dec 1, 2008

In Memoriam - Brent Lantagne

I met Brent while on active duty at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. We shared so many things in common it was as if I had met a new brother I didn't realize I had. In fact, any number of people referred to us as "twins", a comment that pleased me greatly.

Brent was always a "go-to" guy for all aspects of our job. His vast knowledge culminated from nearly two decades experience with the National Guard and Army Reserve on a variety of shooting teams and marksmanship training units. He was instrumental in helping me find my way onto the USAR Shooting Team and was a very patient mentor.

His interests were impressively diverse. Brent was a talented musician and played guitar in a number of bands. After I had stopped playing music in High School, Brent is the reason I took up it up again. He was an immense resource on a variety of topics. My most cherished memories at Shelby are of our long conversations over pots of chicory coffee on the back deck by the creek outside the cabin we shared. He commented that I was one of the few people he could stand to room with. It was an offhand remark made in jest (Brent got along well with everyone) but I took personal pride in it.

Even after business and life separated us physically we remained in constant contact. I logged more cell phone minutes with Brent than any other person. He was always fun to talk with, and more than a great guy; he was truly a stellar human being.

After being named NCOIC of the USAR Service Pistol team and helping me bring my scores up to make that team, I looked forward to future decades of continuing camaraderie. I was thrilled when I learned Brent was attending a training session at my then current duty station. And I was destroyed when I received the phone call that informed me Brent had been killed in a automobile collision and would never complete the trip.

I don't feel Brent is gone. All the qualities that made him great, the helped me and helped the people who knew him be better are still there. So, this is not "goodbye." Rather, it's a "See you soon."

Thank you Brent!

Nov 19, 2008

Levels of Competence in Shooting

Levels of Competence in Shooting

The two best articles I've seen on this subject are from Front Sight and nipponDAZE Here is a synopsis.

There are people who possess firearms, civilian, military and police alike, that either know of their incompetence or refuse to admit to it and refuse to exercise any effort to improve or demonstrate their skills. II gun owners purposely avoid training and participation out of laziness and/or fear. Even when forced the II sometimes cannot be helped much because he simply does not care to learn.

This is worse than Unconscious Incompetence because the UI is merely unaware of something better. The Intentionally Incompetent often are aware but attempt to justify their low skill and non-participation with false reason. A classic example of Intentionally Incompetent gun owners are those who are aware of organized shooting events but refuse to attend or even acknowledge the potential benefits.

Commonly, these individuals delude themselves and others by concocting lies for non-participation:

  • "Competition shooting will get you killed"
  • "Organized shooting isn't real shooting"
  • "Marksmanship for soldiers/police/hunters is different than marksmanship for competition"


The UI does not know that he does not know. The UI represents the majority of all gun owners and includes people (police and military) who carry a gun for a living. The UI is incompetent but does not know he is incompetent because he has had no training or poor training and has not yet experienced a situation exposing his inadequacies. Examples of the UI can be found everywhere.

  • The officer who only practices shooting his weapon a few times per year in order to pass the POST or department mandatory range qualifications is UI.
  • The gun owner who buys a gun and box of ammo, only attends mandatory CCW classes, fires a few shots at the range and then places the gun in his closet, confident he can use it effectively to protect himself is UI.
  • The hunter who only attends mandatory hunter safety and only shoots once a year to sight-in his rifle before going hunting is UI.
  • Most plinkers are UI.
  • Military personnel who only shoot the same course of fire as in Basic training (even with an "Expert" qualification) are still UI.
  • Any gun owner who has never attended an organized shooting event beyond a mandated safety/basic training course is UI.

The next level of competence hits you like a brick because you become suddenly aware that you know little, or previously held notions are incorrect, and that there is so much to learn. This commonly happens when the UI attends his/her first organized shooting event.

If the CI makes the effort to learn, through study, proper training and practice, the CI develops into the CC. The length of time needed to develop from CI to CC is directly related to the quality of the training or events attended and the motivation of the student. Study brings you to the level of theoretical knowledge. You understand the concepts, but to apply them, you have to think about them. In a lot of subjects or skills, you might never move beyond this level. Every decision and action occurs as a result of an intricate thought process and has not yet reached the reflex response level.

When you can do something without thinking about it, you've become unconsciously competent. Your skills operate at the speed of reflex. Riding a bike, driving a car, touch typing and speaking in your native tounge are common skills most people are Unconsciously Competent in. At this level, theoretical knowledge is transformed into practical knowledge. Study might get you to CC, but only proper practice will get you to UC.

The UC has programmed his mind and body (after thousands of repetitions) to react in a fraction of a second with consistent responses that require no perceivable thought process. The UC functions flawlessly even under stressful situations because the UC's extensive training overrides his conscious thought process. As you can imagine, the UC is not common in today's society.

The highest level of competence is the ability to do something without thinking about it, yet retain a level of awareness of how you do it. This level of competence enables you to teach the skill to someone else and is the province of the true Master. Many people who are very good at something cannot explain it to someone less skilled. They are so unconsciously competent, they don't know how they do it. They just do it. The CUC is a UC who can effectively teach others to reach a similar level of skill.

Nov 5, 2008

USAR Shooter Secures CISM Gold

Army Reservist Lt. Col. Rhonda L. Bright competed with Team USA comprised of top marksmen from all military branches and won four medals and the coveted title of Best Nation in the World at the Conseil International du Sport Militaire – called CISM – held this year at the Rodberget Shooting Centre in Boden, Sweden.

The first CISM Gold Medal was awarded to USA’s Women’s Rifle Team Sept. 16. With 17 teams competing in the Women’s 50-Meter Sport Rifle Prone Team Match, the Gold Medal went to LTC Bright along with Sgt. Kelly A. Dove and Spc. Nicole M. Cooper of the Army Marksmanship Unit. Bright scored 596 points, Dove shot 593 points and Cooper got a 586.

A perfect score is this event is 600 with top scores between 590 to 595. Competitors fired 60 shots in 1½ hours at a target with a bull’s eye smaller than a dime. Germany took the Silver Medal and Norway the Bronze.

Oct 29, 2008

Wisdom of a Professional Hunting Guide

How relevant is organized range training to the hunting field? Can matches and classes and other HunterShooter events really help you become a better hunter?

The following was sent to me by a retired professional big game guide.

"I was never a famous name guide, but facts are facts and this is what I experienced.

"Have to believe you are right about the importance of organized shooting. I shoot NRA and CMP Service Rifle. I am not that great a shot, generally shoot in the low end "Expert" range, but I shoot these matches for precisely the reasons you push HunterShooter events: Competition and time constraints make you do funny things, unless you know how to handle the pressure (mostly from experience) and the problems that crop up.

"I routinely invite friends, buddies, and shooting acquaintances to give matches a try. I always offer the use of a rifle and ammo and gear, and am always more than happy to give some pre-match training, etc. I have had exactly TWO people take me up on it. One was a former High Power shooter, now back into it after his feet were rewet, and the other a complete newbie.

"The old saw about 'can't hit a target but I never miss my deer' is pretty old and soggy in my book. I have never taken a competent shot out and had a lousy performance from them in the field. I have taken plenty of 'good game shots' out and had them discover that animals move and there is no bench rest handy. What can a guy say after seeing this type of thing over and over?

"I always preferred guiding prairie goats and muleys. The goaters I like the best, cause to me it was like chess on a giant scale. Outwit, outthink, be where they WILL be and have your hunter set up and ready. Mostly I'd have fellows set up for a 75 to 125 yard shot. Most would guess it to be anywhere to 200 yards and beyond. Never let a client shoot over 200, cause you don't have enough hours in the day to chase the cripples."

Oct 22, 2008

Killer of Kids

Unregulated Access
By Erich Pratt

They are small and easily concealable. But make no mistake about it, this weapon is a deadly killer.

Kids all across the country can buy this weapon cheaply without any legal prohibitions whatsoever.

The industry that manufactures these deadly items is completely unregulated. Their proliferation has resulted in massive head traumas and in the deaths of many children all across the nation.

Much of the carnage has occurred on Saturday nights, which should prompt Congress to examine why teenagers can so easily get their hands on these “Saturday Night Specials.”

Stores like Walmart have marketed these instruments of death to children under the age of 21. Not only are there no laws to discourage this type of irresponsible marketing, there are no laws preventing minors from handling these kinds of weapons at all!

Parents have been known to encourage kids as young as two or three to "play" with these assault weapons, without any parental supervision whatsoever. The greatest travesty occurs around birthdays and Christmas, as some have even been known to negligently give these instruments of death as gifts to their children. Not surprisingly, children take these items to school, resulting in senseless violence all across this country.

All this violence could be easily avoided if reasonable steps were taken to regulate this deadly killer:

Parents who wish to keep these items at home must be responsible enough to lock them up.

Kids under 21 should not be allowed to touch one of these lethal killers unless they have a written note of permission from their parents on their person.

Congress must begin to crack down on the weekend "bazaars" where trading cards that glorify these instruments of death are swapped back and forth by under-aged children.

Parents who wish to buy one of these assault weapons should be registered and fingerprinted with the FBI. After all, no deaths have occurred wherever these weapons have been legally registered.

To be sure, nobody wants to stop the legitimate sport and recreational uses of this weapon. But no one should object to small, incremental steps in order to save children's lives.

These weapons are completely frowned upon in England. Not surprisingly, that country does not record any deaths resulting from this deadly item.

So what is this lethal killer? What is causing so many young people in this country to tragically lose their lives?

It is the football.

Yes, it is that funny-looking pigskin that is sold across counters nationwide, in so many different sizes and colors.

It will come as a shock to many that more children die playing high school football, than they do by firearms at school.

The University of North Carolina conducts yearly surveys to determine the number of high school football fatalities. Likewise, school gun deaths are annually tabulated by the National School Safety Center.

These studies show that twice as many football players (18) died during the most recent school year ending in June, 2000 -- from hits to the head, heat stroke, etc. -- as compared with the nine students who were shot by firearms.

So now what?

Will we start hearing passionate calls to dry up the massive supply of footballs so children will no longer have easy access to them?

Will the media start demonizing the purveyors of death who profit from this deadly killer -- the football manufacturers and the TV executives who make millions of dollars from airing these gladiator forums (otherwise known as football games)?

Will Sen. Chuck Schumer join Hillary Clinton in demanding background checks before the sale and purchase of any football?

Don't count on it.

But one thing is for sure.

Now when your next-door neighbor tries to lecture you about the evils of keeping guns in your home, you can warn them about the real danger to their kids' health.

Ask them to pull their kids off the football team and to support a ban on those ugly pigskins.

Remember, if it just saves one life ...

Erich Pratt is the Director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America, an organization that lobbies in favor of Second Amendment rights.

GOA can be contacted at (703) 321-8585 or on the web at

Hunting Guns and Gear

Is your hunting equipment adequate?

You may be wondering if your equipment is up for the hunt. Is it good enough? Is it accurate enough?

In a word, Yes!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, one that you will probably never see anywhere else. The shooting equipment you own now is fine. Any standard, mundane firearm and ammo right from the shelf is fine. Unless it is actually broken or improperly set up, 99.999% of all current hunting gear will allow any hunter to win HunterShooter events, earn a ‘A’ class rating, and take any big game animal they set out to take.

How can I possibly know this without actually evaluating what you own? Because modern arms and ammunition have plenty of reliability and inherent accuracy, right from the box. And by “modern”, I mean almost anything manufactured within the past 40 years or so.

Most of the best cartridges have been with us for decades or longer. For example, the .30-06 was issued in 1906, a modified version of the original released in 1903. Our current firearms designs are even older. The Mauser bolt action, which serves as the inspiration for most modern bolt actions, was issue gear in 1898. Space-age designs like the AR-15 were invented in the early 1960’s.

The advertisers and writers for gun and hunting magazines like to tempt us with “bigger and better” every month, trying to convince us it is absolutely necessary. The reason? They can’t sell the one thing that is a near guarantee of hunting success: Skill.

The manufacturers can’t bottle field marksmanship ability and put it on a shelf, so they focus on what they can sell. And the manufacturer’s advertisement revenue is the only thing that keeps magazines in business, so they write and promote to appease the hand that feeds them.

Hunter’s and shooters may want newer and fancier equipment, but they almost never need it. I’m not saying that improved accuracy, better sights, a slicked up action and trigger, “better” ammunition and calibers, etc., don’t help at all. But the importance of skill is about 100 times more important than any equipment issue.

Do you honestly expect Mr. Buck to just drop dead because you happen to be toting a brand-spanking-new Super-X rifle, in “Magnum of the month” caliber? Quarry isn’t impressed with the price tag of equipment, or how many “gee, wow” reviews it got in the magazines when some misbegotten hunter flinches the shot, sending the bullet wild, or worse, into a non-vital area.

I created a simple course of fire call "The .30-30 Test" and have found most hunters do not possess the skills to engage targets in the field beyond 150 yards. I call it the .30-30 Test because it demonstrates if a hunter has shooting and handling skills to need anything more than a basic rifle and cartridge invented in 1895.

Bottom line: Can you put a bullet where it counts, when it counts? Solve this issue and the equipment “problem” becomes superfluous.

Oct 15, 2008

Five Stages Of Hunters

Outdoor Writer Denny Vasquez penned an article entitled "The Five Stages Of A Sport Hunter." Many of the topics he discusses can be effectively addressed if organized events for hunters, such as HunterShooter format, were more widely utilized.

The Five Stages Of A Sport Hunter

by Denny Vasquez

As with all things in life, a hunter's prospective of his sport changes as time goes by. According to the Hunter's Education manual used by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, there are Five Stages of a Hunter's life. They are the Shooter Stage, the Limiting Out stage, the Trophy stage, Method stage and the Sportsman stage.

As the sport of hunting itself changes through the years, so do the factors which are used to determine what "successful hunting" is. Add to this the changes that take place in each hunter's life and things can get a bit confusing. Some of the factors that can play a part in what kind of hunter we become are, a hunter's age, hunting companions, role models, personal ethics and years of hunting experience. All of these affect our ideas of "success." Where a hunter may fit into one of the five groups changes as he progresses in his hunting career. Where are you now? Where would you like to be?

Shooter Stage
A hunter that is in the Shooter Stage talks about satisfaction with hunting being closely tied to being able to "get in some shooting." Often the beginning duck hunter will relate he had an excellent day if he got in a lot of shooting. The beginning deer hunter will talk about the number of shooting opportunities. Missing game means little to hunters in this phase. A beginning hunter wants to pull the trigger and test the capability of his firearm. A hunter in this stage may be a dangerous hunting partner.

HunterShooter solution: Every successful hunter has to be a “shooter” sometime. It is essential to test and get some trigger time, otherwise the hunter will never learn his equipment. However, we should NEVER test or "get in some shooting" on live game. Testing and shooting should be done within the safety and controlled conditions of a shooting range where the only thing you can wound or miss is your pride.

A miss on a cardboard or steel target on the relatively controlled conditions of a range is black and white. Only the shooter is to blame. This is better than missing (or wounding) real animals.

This will get the hunter away of the bad consequences of the “Shooter Stage” by properly keeping at a HunterShooter event. They can be a shooter on the range, allowing them to concentrate on being a hunter in the field.

Limiting Out Stage
A hunter that is in the Limiting Out Stage still talks about satisfaction gained from shooting. But what seems more important is measuring success through the killing of game and the number of birds or animals shot. Limiting out, or filling a tag, is the absolute measure. Do not let your desire to limit out be stronger than the need for safe behavior at all times.

HunterShooter solution: Limiting Out is the effort to meet some goal, to “prove” oneself. Meeting a set goal is good, but it may be unrealistic, and possibly unethical, if done to extremes on live game.

The solution? A hunter who feels the need to compete or prove himself should do it in organized competition, not against live game. Want to show you’re the baddest dude with a hunting rifle? Challenge every hunter in your area to a series of man-on-man shoot-offs with everyone putting up an entry fee to participate, winner take all. Limiting out should be done on the range, leaving the hunter to concentrate on hunting when in the field.

Trophy Stage
The satisfaction of a hunter in the Trophy stage is described in terms of selectivity of game. A duck hunter might take only greenheads. A deer hunter looks for one special deer. A hunter might travel far to find a real trophy animal. Shooting opportunity and skills become less important.

HunterShooter solution: Shooting skills should NEVER become less important! A Trophy Stage hunter needs to be even better because they will pass up easier shots to wait for “the trophy,” whatever that has been defined as. This type of hunter will then have more limited chances when the trophy does finally show up.

To satiate the drive to get a trophy, let’s offer a trophy of a different type. Look at the current “world record” trophies, as measured by Boone and Crockett points. They were shot by mediocre marksmen at unimpressive distances (43 to 100 yards) with very common equipment. To anchor such a trophy takes some skill, but even more luck, namely, being at the right place at the right time. There are millions of hunters who could have anchored the same record-setting animals, if they had been there instead.

A trophy is better when you prove that you, and only you, could do what you did. Winning a trophy against all-comers in an event shows that you EARNED that trophy, not by dumb luck, but raw talent.

Method Stage
When a hunter has reached the Method Stage, he has accumulated all the special equipment that he could possibly need. Hunting has become one of the most important things in his life. Satisfaction comes from the method that enables the hunter to take game. Taking game is important, but second to how it is taken. This hunter will study long and hard how best to pick a blind site, lay out decoys, and call in waterfowl. A deer hunter will go one on one with a white-tailed deer, studying sign, tracking, and the life habits of the deer. Often, the hunter will handicap himself by hunting only with black powder firearms or bow and arrow. Bagging game, or limiting, still is understood as being a necessary part of the hunt during this phase.

HunterShooter solution: A hunter that chooses to increase the challenge by limiting himself (using a muzzleloader or bow) needs to be even more skilled with that equipment and knowledgeable to make up for the limitations of the chosen method. This makes practice even more crucial, and such practice is still best done on the range where organized events allow the hunter to thoroughly test and prepare before the hunt.

Sportsman Stage
Finally, as a hunter ages and after many years of hunting, he tends to "mellow out." Satisfaction now can be found in the total hunting experience. Being in the field, enjoying the company of friends and family, and seeing nature outweigh the need for taking game.

HunterShooter solution: Hunting days are limited. In my native Wisconsin we are limited to a nine-day gun season all year. If you aspire to spend more time in the company of fellow hunters, but are limited to 9 days, you need to create other opportunities. Attending HunterShooter events can bridge the time between hunting seasons, and allow the same types of experiences and the company of hunting acquaintances.

Not all sport hunters go through all the stages, or go through them in that particular order. It is also possible for hunters who pursue several species of game to be in different stages with regard to each species. Some hunters feel that role models of good sportsmen, training, or reading books or magazines helped them pass more quickly through some stages.

Can you find one of these categories that fits you? Where are you in your hunting career now? Where would you like to be? We each have to make a decision as to what kind of hunter we want to be, and then be the best that we can.

Oct 8, 2008

Proper Target for Hunters

The Proper Target for Hunters

A target records the shooter's efforts at marksmanship. It catches an arrow or leaves a bullet hole showing you the results. There are many targets on the market for the hunter-shooter to use and we'll take a look at them here.

Bulls-eye and Sight-in Targets

The most basic target is some sort of circle or square, such as traditional bulls-eye and sight-in targets. The idea is to provide an aiming point that is clearly visible with a center that is easy to find. As G. David Tubb puts it, conventional marksmanship matches are shooting contests, not seeing contests.

Advantages: These are great for shooting groups, checking your sight settings and working on your basic marksmanship. Paper targets are usually inexpensive.

Disadvantages: The disadvantage of this target is it doesn't provide an appropriate, real world shape or test the hunter-shooter's ability to find an aiming point on a silhouette. It also doesn't react to a successful shot.

Steel Targets

Steel targets that ring and move with a solid hit are great for working on gun handling drills. There are many configurations, but they provide the same basic benefits.


Steel provide reaction when hit. This is beneficial, rewarding, and fun by providing reaction on a successful shot. There is evidence that a shooter will learn about ten percent faster by using a target that provides PIR (Positive Instant Recognition). With a proper design, you don't have to go down range to check and tape because you either hit or you didn't, and the target resets itself. When constructed of good materials, steel targets have a long service life.


Steel isn't very good for shooting groups, as you don't have clean holes, but rather, chipped paint. It also doesn't help determine where your hits are going beyond hit or miss, unless you repaint every few shots. Steel targets can be costly, especially for center-fire rifles. However, there are manufacturers offering good quality, self-resetting, rifle-grade steel targets for as low as $68 each. See Metal Spinning Targets

Even though you can buy animal-shaped targets, such as Silhouette targets, these don't reward proper shot placement, as the steel rings and/or falls even if you miss the vital zone. There is also a danger of ricochet. To help prevent this, use a steel target that swings back and up when hit. This increases the life of the target (the target doesn’t absorb all the impact of the bullet) and will naturally angle bullet material downward, minimizing the hazard to nil, especially when properly used no closer than 25 yards.

Big Game Targets

With the exception of basic marksmanship and handling drills, hunter-shooters need a target that looks like big game. It only makes sense that you should practice shooting at a target on the range that looks like your target in the field. To be effective, the target must allow accurate simulation of target angle, and a variety of configurations, including distinguishing between buck and doe for identification exercises. The following discusses the different types of targets on the market.

Printed Paper Big Game Targets


This is better than a bulls-eye target simply because it has a picture of a deer, instead of an arbitrary shape (circle, square, etc.) These targets can help teach shot placement by outlining where the vitals should be. Paper targets are one of the least expensive types of big game target.


Paper is flimsy and must be stapled to a backer. The use of archery is totally dependent on the backer, as paper can't catch arrows. By their nature, paper targets are disposable. Of course, they are destroyed if they get wet and you can't depend on them to last for more than one event or session. Even if you could, the printed scoring/vital zone area would be shot out and useless.

Because of the permanently printed vital zone, you can't simulate target angle. The only shot you can practice is broadside. You can't even shoot them on both sides (facing right or left) because they're printed on one side. They can't react to a successful shot like steel targets can.

Paper targets don't provide a true silhouette. The silhouette is the target paper, which is square or rectangular in shape. That means you can't use them effectively for spotting exercises, like a roving range or field exercise. Unless the target is used with some kind of organized shooting system, one that rewards ethical behavior and simulates buck fever, this is just another target.

Printed Corrugated board (cardboard) Targets


Cardboard big game targets are die-cut out of corrugated board. This is a durable, lightweight, and affordable material, one reason why every shipping company (UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc.) requires its use in packaging containers. The material is two heavy sheets of Kraft paper sandwiching a fluted sheet and glued together. Corrugated targets can stand up by themselves, secured with lath (furring strips) and staples.

These targets are surprisingly durable and will stand up to a lot of shots, at least a couple hundred, before becoming unusable. You can paste over holes with packaging tape or pasters and the target will hold up for a long time. Good cardboard targets are cut into silhouettes, meaning that you have the actual physical shape of an animal, not a square.

While a bit more expensive than some paper targets, corrugated targets are fairly inexpensive, and their advantages over paper more than make up for the extra cost. A reasonable price is around two dollars per target, including accessories (such as setting up buck and doe targets.)


Given enough time, rain will kill cardboard targets. They hold up better than paper in the rain, for a while, but eventually they turn to muck. Cardboard targets can be treated to make them more water resistant and a reputable manufacturer will provide details for making your target more water resistant.

The permanently printed surface is a bigger problem. Like paper, you can't simulate target angle and your only shot is standing broadside. Normally, the printing is on one side only so you can't even turn the target around and are forced to shoot at a silhouette facing to the right (or left) all the time.

With enough shots, the printed score rings/vital zone will be rendered unreadable. The target is likely still in decent shape, but you can't use it because the printed scoring rings are obliterated. Like paper, the target can't react to a successful shot, can't catch arrows by itself, and needs to be part of a shooting system simulating buck fever and rewarding good hunting habits to be fully effective.

Foam 3-D Targets


3-D targets are the most realistic looking big game target available and are the kind most often used in 3-D archery matches. They are painted and shaped to look like a real deer. In fact, many can double as decoys as well. These targets are very durable and impervious to rain. Many clubs leave their targets set outside all year long. You usually don't need a target stand as you can just plug them into the ground.


These targets are great for archers but worthless for gun hunters. Only bow hunters can use them. These targets are rather costly. The "cheap" 3-D targets start at around $100. Good Whitetail targets run around $150 and anything exotic can cost $350 or more. While they are very durable, they won't last forever. The vital zone must be replaced periodically and this alone can cost around $15-20.

3-D targets are not flexible. If you want a silhouette that faces differently or if you want to simulate a different type of shot, say, a shot at a bedded deer, you have to buy a whole new target. And these targets use an embossed score rings/vital zone that suffers from the same problems as the printed targets: You can't simulate target angle and, with use, the score rings become less legible and must be replaced. If you don't utilize an effective shooting system, this is just another (expensive) bulls-eye. And of course, the target can't be made to react to a successful shot.

Oct 1, 2008

Reality of Hunting World Records

The Reality of Hunting World Records

In the past I've discussed my SHOT Show observations and how the gun industry is failing to promote itself, as witnessed by what programs the big players are (and are not) putting emphasis on.

If you missed it, here’s a one-sentence synopsis: The folks who work with actual end users (i.e. rank-and-file gun owners and hunters) realize the way to recruit, retain, and develop a positive community presence is by hosting and promoting quality events but big companies would rather focus on the gizmos that they sell, even though this will have no effect for successfully promoting shooting, or successfully marketing their products in the long run.

I recently had an illuminating discussion with a person who has never hunted or even fired a gun before. When he asked what I do, I told him about HunterShooter, about how I’m working to form an organization that establishes marksmanship events for hunters and promotes the winners as champions, just like the NFL establishes football contests and promotes their champions.

His response was priceless:
“You mean they [hunters] don’t do that already?”

He isn’t the first non-shooter to make such a comment to me. It’s been my experience that people with no shooting background who don’t harbor bias towards hunting or gun ownership assume that hunters must have an organized way to test skills and advance their champions, but because these non-shooters aren’t personally involved, they just haven’t heard about it.

It is a reasonable assumption. Kids with skateboards do this much. Witness the rise of the so-called X-Games. Certainly an institution as large and established as hunting does the same thing with their marksmen. With big game seasons lasting a few short weeks surely dedicated hunters must do something hunting related during all that down time.

You would think…

Apparently, if the large gun organizations, publishers, and companies have their way, this off time activity should be absorbing the over-priced advertising and ‘articles’ they sell to the manufacturers trying to convince us that we need to replace the perfectly good shooting gear we currently own with a newer new if we want to be successful on the range or in the field.

The problem is this doesn’t fix any of the big problems. Take the Remington case as reported by CBS. Is the problem a ‘defective’ trigger unit that has been in production for decades and is good enough for target grade rifles, such as the 40-X? Or is it poor operator maintenance and the sloppy gun handling displayed by box-a-year hunters? What’s worse, even in the hands of a more competent hunter ‘better’ equipment still helps little.

Let’s look at some of the world record trophies and how they were harvested.

Milo Hanson Buck
Rifle Used: .308 Winchester Model 88 Lever Action
Scope Used: K-4 Weaver
Bullets Used: Winchester 150-grain Pointed Soft-Points
Distance of Shot: 100 yards

Ed Koberstein Buck
Rifle Used: Remington - Model 700 BDL - 270 Caliber
Bullets Used: Hornady 130 GR Spire Point
Distance of Shot: 43 yards

Ed Broder Buck
Rifle Used: Winchester 32 Special
Distance of Shot: under 100 yards

I’m not a trophy hunter and don’t place much value on the trophy rating systems such as Boone and Crockett points (see below) but these animals are as good as a hunter has a right to expect. The ‘world records’ were taken at close to moderate range with typically boring equipment. Nobody in his or her right mind could argue that using ‘better’ equipment would have made any difference.

What should we focus on? Organizations like Boone and Crockett do our community a valuable service. I’m not trying to imply they do a poor job on the whole, only that there are a few crucial topics that need to be considered but have been missed.

The inherent flaw in the Boone and Crockett rating system is B&C points are awarded based on measurements of an animal harvested in fair chase and NOT based on the skill of the hunter. From the accounts of ‘World Class Records' it is pretty obvious that the ‘world record holders’ were/are mediocre riflemen. They were up to the challenge presented at the moment of truth, and that is certainly commendable, but the challenge presented was of less-than-heroic proportions.

  • Koberstein waited all of 10 minutes before the hunting gods bequeathed upon him a ‘world record’ within rock-throwing distance.
  • Hanson and his friends fired well over a half dozen misses at what should have been reasonable distances before anchoring the animal.

I give these guys credit for admitting that their harvests were thoroughly unimpressive, but I have to resist gagging when the title of ‘world record’ is attached to them. It’s like claiming the winner of a lottery is a financial genius.

We’re actually living in the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, non-gun owners believe that hunters are organized enough to run tournaments to test their skills, but we don’t on any serious level (yet). On the other hand, even if we were doing so, the idea of marksmanship as a ‘real’ sport is so foreign to most folks, including many gun owners and hunters, that they dismiss the concept as silly. More than one sports “journalist” has made some mindless remark about how shooting isn’t a real sport. Gun owners stand appalled, whining about the anti-gun media, and then do nothing to change the public’s perception.

Sep 24, 2008

Why We Do NOT Need New Military Rifles

The levels of foolishness reached a new high when I found this gem, written in complete seriousness by a self-important commentator:

Now I really have no room to talk about combat or shooting in general because I am not fighting for my country nor have attended any [organized shooting events] (yet), but it should not be necessary to shoot someone more than once to put them out of the fight.

In my personal opinion I think that the military needs a new rifle.

There has been a push in many circles, military and civilian, to replace the 5.56x45mm cartridge used by the United States and throughout NATO and/or replace the AR15/M16 platform. The intelligence of such an opinion can be summed up by this commentator. At least this guy is honest enough to admit that such a notion is backed by people who do not know any better.

Let's discuss why replacing the M16-series and the 5.56x45mm cartridge makes little sense. We'll begin by looking at the rifle.

The "magic" gas piston. The M16/AR15 utilizes direct gas impingement, meaning that gas pressure is forced down a tube directly into the bolt carrier with no intervening piston. The beauty of this system is that it is simple and light weight. The claimed disadvantage, and a primary claim for replacement, is that fouling is deposited directly into the bolt carrier, thus the common complaint that the M16 "craps where it eats."

This mythical "problem" exists in the minds of undertrained marksmen, usually soldiers who have been inadvertantly taught to destroy firearms under a misguided premise of cleaning them.

All firearms burn propellant. Fouling ("carbon") is destined to build up no matter the design. All gas operated systems utilize gas pressure to operate the mechanism and this fouling will accumulate somewhere. Keep this in mind the next time you maintain a M240 or M249 and inspect the gas regulator and piston.

In my experience this makes the M16/AR15 easier to maintain because the area of build up, directly behind the gas rings on the bolt inside the carrier, can be kept lubricated and the fouling easily wiped off. Many piston designs advise the operator to avoid lubricating that primary area of fouling. Carbon is baked on and must be scraped to remove. Keep the rear of the bolt behind the gas rings in your M16 moistened with CLP or other proper lubricant like you're supposed to and this fouling is easily wiped away.

The misinformed will opine that this isn't possible in a desert environment, yet, as many vets have found out, CLP works just fine in the sand. The key is regular maintenance, something you'll need to do no matter the lubricant choice.

Instead of replacing perfectly-good rifles, a better fix would be to upgrade existing M16A4s with free float tubes. This is a parts-swap utilizing current rifles. Start by outfitting those rifles issued to qualified Squad Designated Marksmen (SDM). The inherent accuracy of rack-grade M16s is sufficient for all but the best Soldier-Marksmen. The problem of holding a zero due to the fact that the hand guard contacts the barrel would be eliminated (funny that those crying for a new rifle never mention this fact, but only a true marksmen would notice such an issue.)

The true ridiculousness of those requesting new rifles is the fact that most of the suggested replacements are chambered in the same cartridge! Replacing the current-issue 5.56mm rifle with another 5.56mm rifle does nothing!

What about the cartridge? Maybe we should go to a 6.Xmm something or other. Failures to stop in the field are a common complaint here.

The sad, unspoken truth is that most members of the military are lousy marksmen. Placement is more important than anything equipment related and a trip to any military range will demonstrate this isn't being sufficiently addressed. DOD personnel, regardless of their branch, rarely have the markmanship chops for cartridge choice to ever matter.

Add in the fact that the logistics of changing chamberings are nightmarish and any sensible person has to wonder what the point is. A more realistic improvement would be to make heavy 5.56mm projectiles standard issue. All our current 5.56 chambered weapons sport 1:7 twists and will stablize them. This gives performance that approaches typical 6.8mm loadings and current ammunition is still useable.

Consider that the Mk262 cartridge launches a 77 grain bullet with a high ballistic coefficient at around 2800 feet per second. The 6.8x43mm SPC starts a 115 grain bullet out at around 2500 fps from the same length of barrel. One can demonstrate that the 6.8 is better and it has merit, however, once the logistical costs and issues and weighed in, it makes no sense to do so just to gain 35 grains of bullet (and lose around 250 fps.)

The only real reasons to change rifles and ammunition are:

  • Create a new contract for a different supplier.
  • Satisfy gun magazines by providing filler content

None of these things improve issue equipment that is already more that satisfactory. Learn how to shoot what you have instead of asking for new toys!

Sep 13, 2008

Gun Magazines and Promotion

I still thumb through the slicks because they are one of the first conduits of info for the new gun owner. Let's face it, most newbies don't start their shooting "career" by attending a $1000, 4 day class at a top-notch shooting school. If they're anything like every gun owner I've ever met, these folks are just testing the waters to see what's out there. A few dollars invested at a newsstand on a magazine that catches their eye is a cheap and safe way to start.

Most gun owners have at least two things in common:
  1. They all have purchased guns (of course!)
  2. They all have read through various gun/hunting magazines at least on occasion.
If we can consistently get a better class of info in these common sources of info, at the points of purchase and at the newsstands, we can get a better class of marksman.

We need a better way to pass along good, proven information. Too many self-important Unconsciously Incompetent hucksters float around the gun scene. That's why I'm big on organized shooting and befuddled as to why so many gun owners seem opposed to it. Of course, it is difficult to maintain a delusion of competence if you allow someone to observe and score your attempt.

If you want to pass on the idea that shooting and hunting is good, you need to give people an opportunity to see for themselves. Not just gun owners, ALL people.

"Take a kid hunting." Good idea. What if it were spring or summer? If someone approached me interested in deer hunting, I'd have to tell them to wait until late November. But I can take them to a HunterShooter event this weekend, or just go to the range and shoot some Scenarios today.

And what about non-gun owners? Some people just aren't interested in shooting, just like I'm not interested in golf.

How can we demonstrate that shooting is worthy activity pursued by skilled practitioners, and eliminate the "Bubba" image? Ask Bill France, who took a bunch of redneck moonshiners with fast cars and organized races for them. We call it NASCAR today.

Sep 10, 2008

How and When to Adjust Your Rifle Zero

Myth – “Even though the group isn’t centered I don’t want to adjust the sights because I already have a zero.”

Fact – A zero is only as good as the placement of each correctly called shot.

FM 3-22.9, Page 5-21
“KD Zeroing. The 300-meter target can be used at 300 meters to confirm weapon
zero or to refine the zero obtained on the 25-meter range. The zero on this target is more valid than the zero obtained on the 25-meter range . . . Soldiers should fire two 5 round shot groups to confirm zero or three-round shot groups to refine their zero.”

The term “zero” implies no deviation from the point of aim to the point of impact. Because line of sight is straight and the trajectory is not zero is used in reference to a number of different things:

* Mechanical – physically centering the sights
* No Wind – windage setting for a given lot of ammo, disregarding environment
* True – specific sight setting for a specific shot in a specific environment
* Battle (BZO) – no wind setting that allows the shooter to ignore the distance to a target of a certain size just beyond the distance zeroed for.

Differences in environment (temperature, air resistance, altitude), ammunition lots and other factors can yield a zero change. Provided you fired and called a good group, never be afraid to make adjustments. This assumes you can accurately call each shot . . .

Sep 3, 2008

Promoting Shooting

HunterShooter has been in a state of metamorphosis since its inception. Originally, I was looking to create a tiny (about 2000-3000 folks), somewhat elite group of shottists focused on field marksmanship.

Membership would be open to anyone, but the only hunters likely to be interested are those with similar interests. Member and club information was managed in a simple desktop database application and through a 10-20 page quarterly newsletter. The complete information to actually participate and setup events was published in a 108 page Instruction Manual.

I soon learned a few things the hard way.

In order to sign up 2000 folks as active, card-carrying members I’d have to figure out a way to get the word out several times to at least a quarter million potentially interested people.

Consider the NRA, with a $100 million annual budget, 130 years of experience and four million members. They haven’t figured out a way to create a shooting event that attracts more than 50,000 participants, a scant 1.25% of the members who pay to receive NRA literature.

The gun industry as a whole has little intention of doing anything to motivate the majority of end users (gun owners) to become skilled, or just competent, with their firearms. Of the 130+ publishers and shooting/hunting companies and organizations I’ve contacted with the notion of organized shooting events for big game hunters, I can count on one hand the number who even bothered responding (and I wasn’t even begging for money!)

Admittedly, this operation is small potatoes right now, but there isn’t any interest to do this anywhere else. The problem isn’t that they won’t promote HunterShooter; the problem is they won’t promote anything that will motivate the rank-and-file venison fetcher to get more range time in.

In an attempt to rectify this situation, I penned a couple articles and submitted to American Hunter and American Rifleman magazines. The articles were to inform the NRA membership about NRA programs that can help hunters, namely Sporting Rifle and the Marksmanship Qualification Program. I made no mention of HunterShooter or any non-NRA program.

However, despite the fact I'm a Life Member, the editor rejected the queries because
"Unfortunately, that subject just doesn't fit in well with the mix of articles we are planning for the next year's issues of the magazine, so we can't encourage you to try it for us.”
It isn’t my lousy skills as a writer that were rejected, because the editors never looked at the manuscript. They rejected the notion of promoting their own programs to the big game hunters among their membership because “…that subject just doesn't fit in well…”


I’ve been running things in a “monkey see, monkey do" fashion, modeling this program after all other shooting programs and that was a huge mistake. History has proven that even the best shooting programs are dismal failures. A bold statement? Consider that organized marksmanship outdates baseball and football and compare which entity is a failure or success.

Some time ago I went to attend a High Power match. I had never been to this particular range before, so when I arrived in a nearby town I stopped at a gas station for directions. Not a single person living and working ten miles from that range had even heard of it, including a thirty-something who told me, “Look, buddy, I’ve lived in this town all my life and I don’t know where you’re talking about.” This wasn’t the first or last time I’ve experienced this.

Anti-Gun attitudes are a symptom of the gun industry's inability to promote events. Gun owners remain largely unaware of shooting opportunities.

Sep 1, 2008

Shoot, Your're On TV!

Can shooting get televised coverage? How much spectator interest can shooting possibly generate?

Consider the Biathlon in the 2002 Winter Olympics. It was televised. In fact, MSNBC was so anti-gun they had an actual champion shooter (Josh Thompson) do their coverage, featured Magdalena Forsberg in an
"Athlete's Voice" segment and had a PDF brochure of Biathlon training centers, among other articles, all positive.

Both men's and women's biathlon races earned airtime. One biathlete competitor informed me that he felt, "...the coverage was good and the races were fantastic."

The Today Show featured a segment with anchorman Matt Lauer receiving instruction on Biathlon. The piece had him learning to both ski and shoot. At the end he stated, on national television, that the sport
deserves more media attention in the US.

Then there was Yahoo!'s coverage on the "emerging" sport of biathlon.
Best quotes:
"There might be no other Winter Olympic sport as thoroughly pragmatic as biathlon."

"Biathlon is the most watched winter sport in Europe on television..." [Having visited Europe months prior to the 2002 Olympics I learned that finding a Biathlon on 'EuroSport' was as easy as finding football or
basketball on ESPN]

Why are shooting sports, like Biathlon, ignored by the American mainstream media?

"... you come home to America to compete, and people aren't quite sure what the two sports are, or often they think it's three different sports,'' said Rachel Steer, the top-ranked U.S. woman, from Anchorage, Alaska

According to this Olympian, the real problem in promoting shooting as a mainstream activity is the lack of public demand and knowledge of the events. So if a televised gun game can be popular in anti-gun Europe,
why aren't American gun organizations and owners demanding it over here?

I could find no anti-gun bias in MSNBC or Yahoo's Biathlon coverage. During this same time period there was no apparent Biathlon coverage at from the NRA. In fact the "Top Sports Stories of the Day" reported on their website during this time featured such venues as Figure Skating and NCCA basketball.

Why should the NRA care? Biathlon is a shooting sport that earned some positive coverage nationwide in the "anti-gun" media. Why didn't they capitalize on it? You would think the NRA should appear at least as supportive of Biathlon as NBC is...

I am NOT saying NBC is now the gun owner's best friend and that we should stop supporting the NRA. But it demonstrates that shooters can get positive coverage in a hostile medium.

I wanted to be sure these media outlets knew at least somebody appreciated their efforts, so I sent them this:

Subject: Olympic Biathlon

Great Job!

Your coverage of the Biathlon at the 2002 Winter Olympics was quite good.

As a marksman, I find that coverage of shooting events is lacking. On behalf of the 80 million law-abiding gun owners in the United States, thank you!

Fast X,
John M. Buol Jr.
Director, Hunter's Shooting Association

A small, token gesture I know. But I wonder how many gun owners bothered to send any feedback to these outlets about this positive shooting event? Probably too busy complaining about how they're so biased and never support us.

Lesson (hopefully) Learned: The media WILL show shooting in a positive light, IF the story is big enough and presented properly and enough people show that they really care about it. What the gun industry needs
to work on is creating more shooting events of "Olympic proportions" backed by enough enthusiastic participants and fans.

Aug 27, 2008

Marksmanship Television

Here is a classic from the late Jeff Cooper.

As hunting season approaches, it is well to remember that it is not necessary to conduct all your rifle practice on the range. All sorts of things may be simulated at home, especially including the acquisition of position, bolt work, and the use of the sling.

One particularly good drill is to sit before the televisor with the rifle across your lap and to use the commercials for dry practice. Anytime a zero or an 'O' appears on the screen it is up to you to pick it up in your sights, press off a perfectly delivered simulation, snap the bolt and hit it again before it leaves the screen.

This is a very effective way to balance speed against precision, since you must not squeeze off a miss, but you do not know how long that zero is going to stay on the screen. I do not watch a lot of television, but I try to get in a couple of weeks of this every time before I go hunting.

Aug 20, 2008

Bench Rests and Hunting Rifles

Ever since I've been away on active duty I've spent more time shooting on public ranges then at home. Seeing the general gun owning public, as opposed to organized event participants, has been, um, illuminating.

This clueless obsession with the bench rest is depressing. A High Power shooter competes with a sub-MoA rifle, uses iron sights, shoots out to 600 yards and probably never bothers with a bench rest. I've seen countless hunters, who probably don't know what MoA is and will never shoot past 200 yards, never shoot on a range from any position off the bench.

I'll shut up and let Jeff Cooper take it from here:

Having nothing to lose, I am going to climb out on a loose limb and make a horrifying statement.

To wit: group size is spinach. Well, wash my mouth out with soap!

To a large number of smallarms enthusiasts in the world, group size is everything. If that is the way they want it, that is all right with me, but I must say that these people are devoting a great deal of attention to an essentially trivial matter. Certainly a very accurate rifle - or pistol - is a satisfying instrument to own and use. Whether it makes any difference in practical application is another matter.

Consider for a moment that group size is normally measured by group diameter from the impact centers of the two widest shots in the group. Consider further that even if that is a good measure, group radius is of considerably more interest, since group radius measures the distance between the theoretical point of aim and the worst shot in the group. And let us further consider that in any given group the majority of hits is likely to be located in the center of the group, so we can further cut down the "range probable error" to one-quarter of group diameter. In no case do we know of a man who can shoot well enough to appreciate that.

I was told recently by a colleague that he was attempting to do some head-size groups at 500 meters coming up summer. I responded that I had once shot an ornamental 500-meter group with an SSG, using 1962 Lake City Match ammunition, but that since I had shot it from a bench it did not really count.

I did not wish to hurt his feelings, but I do wish to point out that what the shooter can do from a bench is no measure of how he can shoot.

Aug 16, 2008

Keith Sanderson, Top American Rapid Fire Shooter

Keith Sanderson finished third during the first Qual event, first on the second Qual and was fifth in the final. The margin of victory was so fine that after 60 rounds fired, plus the shoot-off, less than four points separated the top five finishers.

Aug 13, 2008


From the Department of Optimism:
That which does not kill me only prolongs the inevitable

Aug 9, 2008

Olympics and Shooting

Olympic Shooting

The 2008 Olympics are upon us!

Be sure to keep up with the shooting events as they unfold. Just as important, learn more about the International disciplines and the history of the Modern Olympiad. The Olympics were founded by a Firearm User, champion marksman Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

Results and information is available at:

Aug 6, 2008

Firearms in Circulation

There was a "shocking" report about how only "10% of Americans own 80% of the guns in circulation".

I saw this broadcast and the only thing I could think was, "so what?" Pareto's Law would suggest something like that. Why are they surprised? It's a normal distribution.

As with any activity, the truly active are in a minority. How many guitars are in circulation? I bet the vast majority of guitar owners own one. Yet, a professional musician may own dozens or over a hundred. I'm sure "10% of Americans own 80% of the guitars in circulation" too.

The majority of gun owners are not active shooters. Perhaps they bought a rifle for the occasional deer hunt or for "self-defense" (but never bothered to learn how.)

If the media is whining because the active shooter/gun owner is a minority we need to remember that the active anti-gunner is a vastly smaller group. The large majority of Americans don't have a strong opinion and sit the fence. They don't join HCI or NRA.

If we accept the fact that there are 200 million guns in circulation, and also that about half of the households own at least one, and that number has been set at 80 million by various sources, we have a pretty simple equation. Eight million houses own 160 million guns. On its face that leaves 72 million houses that must be sharing the remaining 40 million guns. And that even leaves out the Republic of Texas, which is rumored to possess 1/3rd of all guns!

Logic, math, and facts have never been a deterrent to CBS or any other media outlet. The part that shocks me is that eight million/160 million thing. That's only 20 per household.

Sure wish the experts would give a breakdown of the 20. Couple of shotguns? A few 22 rimfires and a centerfire or two? Maybe a lever action woods rifle, a couple of open sighted 30s, and a few long range scoped magnums? 3 or 4 pistols, and the same number of revolvers? Add in a couple of hand me down heirlooms and you've got a well rounded household.

Consider the guitarist with a couple of acoustics, a Stratocaster or Tele for style, a pair of Les Pauls in his two favorite colors, a Jackson and Ibanez with modern "shredder" design, seven or eight string for variety, perhaps a BC Rich or Dean for something wild and a bass guitar for the low end and we're well rounded there, too.

Wonder if a "shocking" story of guitar economics is in the works, too?

Jul 30, 2008

Competition Shooting is Great Training

Myth – “Competitive shooting isn’t ‘real’ shooting.”

Fact – Weapons only put projectiles where and how their pointed and don’t care what they’re pointed at.

Official Army policy (Army Regulation 350-66, see below) is that competitive shooting is useful, provides great training, and should be encouraged at all levels.

A firearm is a chemically-operated, mechanical projectile launcher. Given proper functioning, projectiles only begin their launch when triggered to do so and follow a path directed by line of bore. It can’t think or feel and only responds to the skill and technique of the operator regardless of the target shot at. If you can’t hit a target on a range you won’t magically gain the ability to hit it anywhere else.

Any range that isn’t “two way” is a simulation. The quality and significance of the simulation is as good as the course designer makes it. Any simulation is inherently abstract and relevance is very subjective so it will never be perfect for all people and situations. This is true of any course and isn’t a problem with competition shooting, per se. Participants can either step up and accept the challenge as presented, or step up and design something else.

The stress of the simulation is as intense as the participants can be pressured with it. Qualification attempts to only filter out the worst performers, ensuring that everyone is “qualified” (at least that’s what the training records claim.) “Qualified” can entail a whole range of skill levels. If the goal is get everyone qualified then the standards have to be adjusted so that everyone can.

Competition, on the other hand, attempts to filter out the best performers. Nobody cares what an adequate performance is because the goal of competition is to find what the best possible performance can be. The stress of qualification is to be good enough. The stress of competition is to be the best possible.

In order to have any meaning we have to measure performance by devising a way to reduce it to numbers such as points earned, elapsed time, etc. Any course can be created or adjusted in order to emphasize and reward a desired performance.

Army Regulation 350-66
Chapter 2 General Competitive Marksmanship Policy 2–1. Small arms marksmanship

Participation in military and civilian-sponsored small arms marksmanship competitions offers soldiers the opportunity to refine their marksmanship skills, compete against other military and civilian marksmen, and earn superior marksmanship awards in addition to the Army basic marksmanship awards available through annual qualification standards.

a. Army personnel should be provided opportunities to prepare for and participate in small arms marksmanship competition. These preparations, which include those for international competitions, are classified as training.

b. Authority for planning, directing, conducting, supervising, and publicizing competitive marksmanship activities within the Army is delegated to the lowest possible command element. Plans for competitive marksmanship activities will include provisions to publicize excellence in marksmanship, both internally and externally.

c. Competitive marksmanship match programs must include Excellence in Competition (EIC) matches. In addition, the program of matches will include a National match course individual rifle and pistol EIC match provided adequate facilities are available. Credit toward the Distinguished Designation Badge may be earned.
d. Match programs should emphasize and encourage the following:

  1. A variety of shooting styles, distances, and timing of firing with as many weapons and weapon systems as possible.
  2. Training of experienced competitive marksmen.
  3. Development of shooter/instructors.
  4. Off-duty competitive marksmanship activities.

e. MACOM participation in international level competitions is authorized and encouraged.

Jul 28, 2008

Orange and Red Dots on Bullseye Targets

What is the deal with orange and red dots on bullseye-type targets sold at sporting goods stores?

To the competitors here: What do the rules say about placing red dots on your official NRA target's bulls eye? Is this OK, or is it an infraction of the rules?

NRA Rule 4.1 "Targets"
"...They may not be modified by the user or the Manufacturer, except with specific written permission from NRA Competitions Division."

Personally, I've always found the color and dot "enhancements" to be annoying and the mark of cluelessness. The design can't be used for official score, and provides no additional benefit.

Using plain black bullseyes, good Service Rifle (iron sight) shooters can consistently shoot sub-2 MOA groups from position at over 1/3 mile. How much more precision can you expect?

The REAL disadvantage of bullseye targets is that they can require unrealistic zeros. A Sporting Rifle shooter using the SR-3 target with a 6 o'clock hold would be zeroed 9.5 inches high at 200 yards (!!!) Substitute the SR target on same Course of Fire and you have to re-zero to 7.5 inches high at 200; use the SR-1 at 100 yards and you re-zero to just over three inches high at 100.

On the other hand, anyone choosing a "Navy" (center) hold would have to zero to dead-on at 200 (not bad) and re-zero to dead-on at 100 to use the SR-1 (not as good).

How does any of this help me establish a working zero while working on basic field shooting positions? Apparently, nobody at the NRA knows how to create a CoF for big game hunters...

A more realistic target would use the same aimpoint for irons and optics AND would encourage a real-world zero. For rifle hunters, a 100 yard target should establish PoI at about 2 inches high for any sight system and be dead on at a useable and appropriate distance for most cartridges.

Jul 23, 2008

Point Shooting vs. Sight Shooting Debates

Point Shooting vs. Sight Shooting Debates
By: Robin Brown with John Veit

Discussions on Sight Shooting Vs Point Shooting surface now and again on the internet. And as soon as they do, they often become loud and noisy affairs that turn into verbal arguments.

Sides are taken quickly, and the proponents and opponents, start to rapidly exchange thoughts and words in a way that would make a machine gun instructor proud. Subsequent exchanges go on and on, and with heated ideological clashes to boot.

Recently, a voice of reason and logic has been heard above the din and smoke of the verbal battles. It is the voice of an unflappable, plain talking, long time trainer and shooter. He is an old marine who is a proponent of Sight Shooting as well as Point Shooting. His name is Robin Brown.

Unlike most of the current gun thread pundits, Brownie, as he is called, has the ability to sense or anticipate the slings and arrows being thrown and meet them with calm no nonsense responses, time after time.

A standard refrain heard from the "Sights only Shooters" is that Sight Shooting may degrade into Point Shooting under stress, but Point Shooting can’t evolve to good sighted shooting. Another is that training in both Sight Shooting and Point Shooting, violates the KISS principal and can result in confusion, muddled thinking, and disaster for the operator in a real life threat situation.

Well, Brownie certainly will agree that those are points well made.

He answers that mindset with the following.

Years ago, men were told to put the front sight into the rear sights notch and with them properly aligned they would hit their intended target. And that anything but that, would result in poorer results where accuracy was concerned. Bullseye shooters still use that method where precision shooting is necessary.

With time, men learned that they could get good hits making use of just the front sight, and that they did not have to take the time to make sure the front sight was aligned in the rear sight. This loosely became known as the Front Sight Press method. Then we were told it was not necessary to align the sights perfectly to make good hits in a combative situation.

The result was two methods of survival shooting. The complete reliance on BOTH sights being aligned properly. And the use of just the front sight, which morphed into the Front Sight Press methodology. It reduced the lag time of full sight verification when time was critical and a precise shot was not required to stop the threat.

If the threat is 20 feet away, standing behind a barricade, giving us only a portion of his head and hand as a target, we would need to make use of perfect sight alignment given the size of the target presented
and the accuracy needed to hit that small target.

If the threat is 20 feet away and out in the open, would we still wait for verification of a perfect bulls eye shooters sight alignment?

I think most would go to the Front Sight Press method with its front sight only requirement when the threat presents a bigger target at the same distance and we do not need a bulls eye shooters precision shot to solve the problem at hand. And most would be able to transition from one to the other quite easily as the situation demanded.

They would probably agree they could determine on the fly and under stress what was necessary to solve these two different situations.

Were people getting their thought processes muddied by learning two different ways to get hits then? Maybe, but men still learned and practiced BOTH methods.

They could use the sights to make a precision bulls eye type shot and they also would be able to utilize just the front sight to make shots that did not need that type of precision or accuracy, thus taking less time for sight alignment and probably solving the problem in a shorter time frame.

That hasn't caused a major issue between the two solutions to my knowledge. It certainly is not in keeping with the KISS principle as suggested by some who would have us believe that only one sighting method should be trained, in their attempts to convince others that Point Shooting will muddy the thought process under stress.

Sighted and Point Shooting methodologies present two survival shooting options for a defender and allows the defender to chose one or the other while in a high stress life or death situation depending on time, accuracy and distance requirements.

With Front Sight Press, less verification of sight alignment is needed before shooting, so one can usually get the shot off sooner with it and less time will be spent getting on target as a rule.

Most defensive tactics instructors also recognize that one can go to perfect sight alignment, or to Front Sight Press based on time, distance, and accuracy considerations.

The thinking behind the achnowledgement and acceptance that the Front Sight Press method is an effective combat tool, though less accurate than bulls eye shooting, is equally applicable when weighing the relative merits of selecting Point Shooting or Front Sight Press.

And there is a bit of irony in that, as some of the most vocal advocates of Front Sight Press, have been very vocal against any of the known Point Shooting methods to solve time, accuracy and distance problems.

Effective Point Shooting, just like Front Sight Press, is dependant on the time available, the distance to the threat, and how much accuracy is actually needed to solve any given situation.

Point Shooting takes survival shooting even further along the road of change because it does not rely on the use of the sights for delivering effective, controlled fire in close quarters defensive situations.

Point Shooting, just like its counterparts, requires both training and practice to achieve a proficiency level that also can be range tested via targets.

Where Point Shooting really shines, is in situations where the full bulls eye sight picture and the front sight press method can not be used as effectively [quickly], such as in close quarters force on force situations. As such, it is fast becoming a beacon that is lighting the way to the future of survival shooting because most defensive handgun shooting occurs at close quarters distances.

Shooting without the use of the sights, is not new by any means. It has lots of aliases like Quick Fire that was developed by the military; Reflexive Fire which also was developed by the military and from previous systems that Were adopted in the 60's; and FAS (Fairbairn/Applegate/Sykes), which was developed specifically for police in China in the early 1900's and for men who went in harms way during WWII.

There also is Quick Kill with a pistol or revolver which was developed by Lucky McDaniels in the 50's and adopted by the US Army for their rifle training programs in the 60's. The Army did not adopt the Quick Kill with a pistol or revolver technique due to the small numbers of soldiers who needed to be trained in pistol craft at that time.

Each has their pluses and minuses, and have a place in the overall picture of self-defense. They are very effective under a variety of conditions and particularly those, in which an operator may not be able to see or use the sight/s.

It has taken time to bring it to the fore. That has come to pass because of the adoption of car cams that capture what really happens on the street in gunfight situations, the perseverance and patience on the part of advocates, and the fairly recent realization by force on force participants using airsoft pistols that what they were taught and practiced in the past, can and will likely fall apart in a threat situation where close quarters and dynamic movement of the participants is the norm.

The thought that only one technique should be trained exclusively is at odds with history and mans ability to use what is known to his best advantage.

Statements are often heard that Point Shooting should not be taught beyond bad breath distances. This normally comes from instructors who are offering words of due caution, but who also obviously lack formal training and knowledge of any of the Point Shooting systems, and the fact that Point Shooting has been proven effective in battle long ago.

Some police are required to shoot "point shoulder" at the three yard line on a static range that makes no use of sights. However, most of those who are asked to qualify thusly are not trained in how to effectively employ it. They are only told to "do it" by trainers who themselves, probably do not have a thorough understanding of what is required and needs to be done for it to be as effective as it can be.

The result is a mindset that Point Shooting was tried, but it just isn't that effective. That is an understandable conclusion and one that flows from a training shortfall, not a method that is inadequate for the task at hand.

More and more people are learning that Point Shooting is a viable and effective survival shooting tool. At a minimum, they need an understanding of what it is and how to use it effectively through training. A working knowledge of Point Shooting is available to the public and Law Enforcement Officers through several sources who actually trained with the masters who are no longer with us.

The authors advocate training in both Sight and Point Shooting, not one over the other.