May 27, 2008

Million Mom March

I spent some time chatting with my mom about the "Million" Mom March (MMM) and came up with a new motto: "Never Underestimate the Power of Ignorance En Masse." Please note there is a big difference between ignorance and raw stupidity. Everyone is ignorant about something. The MMMers area of ignorance happens to revolve around firearms.

The group certainly deserves credit for standing up and making an effort, especially in this Age of Spectators. The problem is the effort made is pure knee-jerk reaction and ignores the fact that both the FBI and National Safety Council have reported a decline of shootings and negligent discharges (erroneously referred to as "accidents") nationwide. It's also been found more kids are killed participating in high school football than in all the school shootings combined. Never mind all that. We need to "do something."

Fanaticism has been defined as the redoubling of one's efforts long after losing sight of the original goal. These well-meaning but misguided moms take fanaticism to a whole new level. Hint: It's impossible to define a goal when you can't even handle the vocabulary. If a person doesn't know the difference between a bullet and a cartridge or can't define the difference between a clip and a magazine, do they have any business telling America about this technology? You'd expect a computer expert to be able to distinguish between hardware and software, or RAM and ROM. Should this issue be any different?

I suppose the gun prohibitionists feel themselves to be above the language of "those gun nuts." And therein lies the heart of the problem, emotions ruling over logic. Wanting to prevent the tragedy that took a loved one is noble but can't be effective unless backed by sufficient knowledge. If I had a family member who lost an appendage in a circular saw incident I am not automatically qualified as an expert on carpentry tools.

People who lack the self-discipline to get basic terminology straight shouldn't waste the public's time trying to influence policy. Ignorance is a curable disease. Go to the library and medicate thyself. "Read two of these and call me in the morning."


May 25, 2008

Army Times: Weapons Training and Qualification Overhauled

Army Times recently reported about an attempt at improving current Army rifle qualification lead by a new organization staffed by former special operations personnel calling themselves the Asymmetric Warfare Group.

Members of the Small Arms Readiness Group met with JP (John Porter) of the AWG and discussed their training.

Overall, their training seems quite good and it is apparent that someone in the know is involved.

However there were a few concerns. For starters, they seem intentionally vague on a number of technical issues and rely on the strength of their "operator" backgrounds to sway the right people into accepting their program.

Some examples:

  • JP pointed out that AMU was their customer unit three times and was completely sold on the AWG's course, until we mentioned that we had already met with them earlier and then the story was that the AMU was co-consulting with them.
  • The phrase "Outcome Based Training/Methodology" was pushed. When I wanted specifics and requested a POI he said that they don't have one and teach "off the top of our heads."
  • When asked "What measured outcome are you basing your training on?" one AWG instructor sort of skirted the issue and said I could have a CD with "all the material you need." That CD contained class overviews, handouts and some courses of fire but I have not yet found any defined standards/outcomes other than that Army Times article.

Most of their big ideas concerning shooting have existed in various circles for years, especially in the competition world. In fact, their targetry consists of steel and cardboard IPSC/USPSA competition targets and LaRue self-resetting steel (similar to Pepper Poppers.)

I could find nothing suspect about their material or methods, however, Big Army could have asked any well-run competition shooting team for this info twenty years ago and had the same answers. Too bad nobody wants to listen to us mere competition shooters. So now, former SF/Delta types have repackaged this same body of information initially created by competitive marksmen, created a slick (but sparse) pamphlet about it, and make news in Army Times.

The good news to those of us involved in organized shooting is this:

Competition shooters make a difference!


Quite often we don't receive credit, as this case clearly demonstrates, but the important thing is that the good info eventually filters down.

You can bypass this filter and get your experience directly from the original source. Get involved in organized shooting today!

May 23, 2008

Organized Shooting

Military, Law Enforcement and many civilian courses (safety training, NRA courses, Hunter’s Education, CCW, etc.) are designed for the lowest common denominator. The purpose of these programs and courses of fire is to qualify large numbers of people to meet a minimum standard, not to teach the best possible skills.

Qualifications attempt to only filter out the worst performers, ensuring that everyone passes and has been trained (at least that’s what the 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.

Organized shooting, especially competition attempts to filter out the best performers. Nobody cares what an adequate performance is because the goal of organized shooting 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.

The only solution: Get involved in organized shooting. You don’t necessarily have to shoot competition, but you MUST participate in some sort of event that demands more than a mere qualification.

If you are an instructor qualifying is not good enough!

May 21, 2008

Shoot or Sterilize: New York Deer Boom

Shoot or sterilize? The New York Deer Boom

The deer herd in NY is reaching high levels and the hunters aren't keeping it in check. The problem is so bad that officials are considering alternative methods, such as deer contraception. This problem has happened in my native Wisconsin as well.

The real enemy to animal habitat is urban development. I wonder how many anti-hunting animal rightists are willing to give up their house or apartment for the good of the animals. “Save the planet. Kill yourself.”

Unless we are willing to ban human population growth in this country, hunting is the most effective and least expensive means of controlling deer populations. Hunters should be tasked with culling the herd. This provides revenue for the Fish and Wildlife department and is beneficial to the hunter.

But the reason New York is having this is because hunters haven't done enough. If the New York hunters were completely effective, officials wouldn't be discussing alternatives.

The solution to anything is found by correcting the problems. So what's the problem? Quoting from the article,
"Hunting activity fell 18 percent in the Northeast from 1980-1995, according to federal figures ... A common lament from hunters is that young people are more interested in video games than the outdoors."

The solution to this problem should be obvious: Make hunting appealing, exciting and available all year long. Anyone who has studied basic marketing knows and understands the “rule of seven.” It takes at least seven exposures to a given product before the person is persuaded to buy, assuming they are inclined to buy at all. Two-thirds of the time the prospect likely isn’t paying attention. So 21 or more exposures may be necessary to push someone to buy.

One of our main problems in promoting hunting is the fact that hunting seasons are only a few days a year. Using two states as examples, Wisconsin has a nine-day season and Illinois has six days. In these two states there are over 355 days of NON-hunting days each year. Consider what would happen to the National Football League if the football season were limited to a single 9-day season by the government? What if video games could only be played 9 days all year?

We can understand why seasons were established, so let’s substitute hunting-type events for the non-season days. If hunters started running weekly or monthly events all year long we could compete with other activities.

Problem number two is the skill and fitness levels of our hunters.
"I'm afraid hunters are getting older,' said Charles Mowatt, who encourages hunting on his woods in Cattaraugus County. '[Hunters] don't get out of their cars that far any more and if they're like me, they don't shoot so straight."

Solution: We need to give hunters a reason to push to excel beyond the hunting season. Competition is an excellent motivator, as any serious athlete will attest. Providing a sporting contest for the hunter, giving them a reason to want to exceed standards.

Current hunters aren't skilled enough and they aren't building their ranks. We need to fix that. And we can. We've had organized hunter education in this country for over five decades, but we're in a slump. It is time for a change.

May 18, 2008

Gun Owner Letter Campaign

Enough well-written letters can change public policy.

The original name of the first space shuttle was the Constitution in honor of the U.S. Constitution's Bicentennial.

However, the name of OV-101 (the official designation of the first Space Shuttle Orbiter) was changed to Enterprise after then-President Gerald Ford received 100,000 letters from Star Trek fans.

You can confirm that fact directly from NASA.

There are an estimated 80 million gun owners in the United States. If even one percent bothered to write in it would yield a letter campaign eight times as massive.

May 17, 2008

Shooting Sports on TV

Shooting Sports 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..."


It is true! I 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? Let's ask Rachel Steer, a top-ranked U.S. biathlete from Anchorage, Alaska:

"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."

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 challenged anyone to find an anti-gun bias toward shooting in MSNBC or Yahoo's Biathlon coverage, and nobody reported anything. During this same time period there was no Biathlon coverage at www.mynra.com from the NRA. In fact the "Top Sports Stories of the Day" reported on their website featured 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 would be 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. This demonstrates that shooters can get positive coverage in a hostile medium. And I have to chuckle when the NRA hits me up for a donation so they can fight the anti-gun media when a national mass media outlet did more to promote shooting in a major venue then the NRA did.

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, HunterShooter


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 will 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.

May 16, 2008

Gun Writer Gems

Any of you fine people who actually take the time to read what I have to say (and I thank every one of you!) know that I’m, uh, not so enamored with the material published by and for the gun industry.


In an interview on Tom Gresham’s "Gun Talk" radio program the former editor of prominent, national gun magazine admitted editors are hired because they are qualified editors (obviously), but often times they have little knowledge of shooting. They have mastered PhotoShop and QuarkXpress and the written word. They know how to churn out copy and put it to bed to meet deadlines. But they can’t clean an SR or Bill Drill and probably don’t even know what it means to do so. That is who decides what information gets published every month.


I’d like to point out that I’m merely playing devil’s advocate and only want to see better, more relevant, more realistic information. As much as I like to poke fun at the dubious craft of gun writer, all I really want is what is best for the readers and the development of their skill.


Hey, I’m a fan of this stuff and have been for many years. I bought it all and it wasn’t until I went down the path less traveled did I start to realize we weren’t getting the whole picture. Still once in a while some interesting bits slip by the editors and good stuff manages to get published. Just to show that I’m not some grump that can only see the bad, I’m dedicating this article to some of the kernels of good wisdom I’ve read recently.


Rifle Shooter April 2001

Custom Clunkers, by Terry Wieland

“A professional hunter once told Robert Ruark he was not interested in whether a man could hit a lemon at 300 yards. He wanted to know how good a shot he was on a lion at ten yards, coming fast.”


NAHC April/May 2001

Becoming a better rifleman by Wayne van Zwoll

“More and more, I’ve come to refine my zero from a sling-assisted sit, a position that I use a lot while hunting. It won’t give minute-of-angle groups, but I’d rather see a 6-inch cluster around my point of aim at 200 yards than a tight clump in the wrong place.”


American Handgunner March/April 2001

Better Shooting by Dave Arnold

“Experts don’t cheat themselves. Average shooters tend to forget their bad performances and assess themselves only on their best performances. The lament heard over and over at matches is “I shot so much better in practice!” No, you occasionally shot better in practice. What counts is what you can do on demand.

“I’ll let you in on little secret - the experts shoot better in practice also. I’ve marveled at the ability of top shooters in matches, but I’ve seen them do things in practice sessions that left me bug eyed. But they know than an occasional off-scale performance isn’t a true measure of ability. They keep track of all scores, good and bad, and assess themselves honestly.”


Rifle Shooter October 1999

Awesome Accuracy by Craig Boddington

Despite writing a YAAA (Yet Another Accuracy Article), Boddington penned this following gem:

“It takes two to tango. The best rifle in the world must still be shot well. Always examine your technique and make absolutely sure you aren’t the limiting factor!”


Even when using a bench rest, the shooter’s technique is still an issue. I suspect the single component that is the greatest cause of rifle inaccuracy is a loose nut behind the trigger. Don’t be a loose nut. If you shoot from a bench (if you still insist) the rifle remains the second area of importance in the accuracy equation."

May 13, 2008

VentureOne - Next Cool Bike Car

While I'm on a cool car kick, here's the VentureOne. It's a hybrid motorcycle that rides like a car.



Top Speed: 110 MPH
0-60: 6.9 seconds
Fuel Economy: about 100 mpg

Plus, the sensation of "flying" in a cockpit.

May 10, 2008

Tesla Motors Roadster on Jay Leno

Jay Leno had a segment on his website about the 2008 Tesla Roadster.



Motor 248hp peak (185kW), redline 13,000 rpm
Acceleration: 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds
Top Speed: 125 mph
Range : 220 miles
Battery Life: 100,000 miles
Full Charge About 3.5 hours
135 Miles per Gallon!

The sticker price is, uh, "shocking" but this is the ultimate sports car if you can afford it.

May 9, 2008

Rifle Clubs Grow in Popularity

Gun, rifle clubs grow in popularity

By Lindsay Wettach

of the Monroe Times


Dedicated hunters are faced with a serious issue when the hunting season in Wisconsin comes to a close.In the past, most hunters cleaned their guns for the last time and put them away for the winter. But there's an option hunters could exercise to continue to use their guns: becoming a member of an area gun and rifle club.


Many gun and rifle clubs are established to help inexperienced hunters develop hunting skills in the off season and experienced hunters improve reactions and accuracy. The Green County Rifle Club currently offers many sight-in days for hunters which are open to all interest parties and furnish all targets and spotting scopes.

The club is now looking to develop itself and boost active membership. The club's next big step is to become associated with HunterShooter, a group which provides clubs an opportunity to broaden their current capabilities for hunters.


John Buol Jr., a Belleville native, is HunterShooter's founder and director. HunterShooter is a national group which bases itself on real-life hunting situations, complete with life-size targets and competitive scoring. "Organized events like this keeps hunters in practice," Buol said. "Green County is one of the first clubs to run matches on a month-to-month basis.


"It's great to see hunters taking the responsibility to have their sons and daughters become responsible and safe hunters by learning the basics of hunting," Buol added. "For hunters wanting to keep their skills sharp this is a great way to stay in practice and on top of their game."


But overall, Buol hopes HunterShooter helps rifle clubs develop updated ranges for all to enjoy…

May 7, 2008

Vision and Shooting

Myth – “I used to be able to shoot good, but now my eyes are bad.” and/or “I wear glasses so I can’t learn to shoot well.”

Fact – Anyone who can see well enough to read and safely drive an automobile can see well enough to shoot good scores.


Anyone can learn to shoot at a high level as long as he has one functioning eye able to sufficiently resolve sight alignment, even if optical correction is required.

As humans age the muscle with control the eyes may weaken. The vision is probably fine, but the muscles that help adjust and control focus weaken, requiring reading glasses or bifocals, even for people who never previously needed spectacles before. The only hindrance to shooting is that most prescription lenses are ground to focus at a “normal” distance that will aid the wearer in typical tasks such as reading. Lenses can be set up to focus at some other specific distance, such as a front sight on a rifle or pistol.

Visit CustomSightPicture.com for an example.

May 5, 2008

Hunter’s Guide to Accurate Shooting

The Hunter’s Guide to Accurate Shooting
How to Hit what You’re Aiming At in Any Situation
by Wayne Van Zwoll

Review by John M. Buol Jr.

This glass is 1/4 full.

“Books about guns abound. Books about shooting do not. … This book is mainly for hunters who want to shoot better.”
So opens Mr. Van Zwoll’s 2002 attempt to rectify this situation.

Though few seem to realize it, the gun and hunting world desperately needs decent material on marksmanship. Competition shooters have it wired but these active and talented represent less than one percent of the gun industry.

This book addresses a good part of that unattended 99 percent and makes me optimistic, thus I see this glass as full. However, it’s only a quarter, not half, full.

Wayne Van Zwoll has the credentials with solid shooting experience and a track record respectable enough to be considered for an Olympic team many years ago. He’s also a good writer and active in the gun industry as a regular contributor to the gun press.

This guy should know better.

After railing against “gun books” and their lack of shooting material in the preface, Van Zwoll spends the majority of the first 200 pages of this 322 page tome discussing exactly the same thing as every other gun book, starting with a condensed history of gun development (A Shooter’s Slice of History) and continuing with an overview of what equipment you should buy (Equipped for the Shot, Aiming.)

This is all interesting, but not on topic. The title promised to help teach us how to hit what we’re aiming at, remember? There are a handful of interesting morsels.

Examples:

Page 135 discusses that the shooting standard for Civil War era Berdan’s Sharpshooters was a 10 shot group at 200 yards with a radius from the bullseye no more than 5 inches.

Page 142-143 discusses why over-magnification is unnecessary and that iron sights can be shot just as accurately as optics:
“In prone competition, iron sight scores commonly come close to matching those shot with scopes. It’s no trick to shoot groups under half an inch at 50 meters, and in favorable weather the better shooters punch quarter-inch one-holers. So it seems odd to me that hunters insist on setting variables at 8x to 10x to shoot animals the size of a Honda Gold Wing.”

The chapter on zeroing was useful, but this is rather elementary. Van Zwoll also betrays his air of experience somewhat by showing how long he’s been out of the game

p. 144, “If National Match shooters can lob .30-06 bullets into the V-ring at 600 yards …”
High Power switched to the decimal target decades ago and High Power shooters are mostly using .223 (Service Rifle) and 6mm or 6.5mm (Match Rifle) cartridges. A few folks still shoot .308 but the only people shooting .30-06 are those shooting the John C. Garand match and that is done at 200 yards.

In discussing slings, he’s aware of the useful CW sling (p. 227), but not it’s improvement, the Ching. Eric Ching improved the CW while on the Gunsite staff and made it a production item and managed several reviews internationally by 1991, a full 11 years before this book went to print.

Is this information too hard to find? Entering “scout rifle” into Google seven of the first ten pages of the search, including the very first four sites listed, include detailed “5 W’s” information on the design, including manufacturers. Eric Ching built a web site describing his invention before 1996. And gun writers criticize the media for sloppy reporting . . .

Still, Mr. Van Zwoll is one of the gun writers truly skillful enough to write such a book. And the shooting advice given was good.

May 3, 2008

M240 Article in Guns and Ammo Magazine

I had another article published, this time in Guns and Ammo magazine about the M240B/G (FN MAG 58) machine gun.