Thursday, January 16, 2014

My SHOT Show Top Ten 2014

Since I spent the entire last post gushing about one single thing, I thought I should at least make an effort to talk about all of the other things I've seen and people I've met here.

This SHOT Show experience has just been overwhelming. I read in a press release that there are something like 12 MILES of booth aisles to walk. There are manufacturers here of everything from knives to "aerial gunnery", radios to duck calls, and purses to ghillie suits. Oh yeah, and guns. Real guns, training/"inert" guns, laser guns, Tazer guns, long guns, short guns, colored guns and black guns.

So, I think in order to keep my whirling thoughts organized, I will simply offer my personal SHOT Show Top Ten. But since I don't think I can rank them, here they are in no particular order... ​

1. Watching the 3Gun Nation Shoot-off and cheering on my favorite Pro Lady 3-Gunners. I couldn't pick "one" to cheer for, because they had all been my mentors and coaches at one point or other. Dianna Leidorff, Randi Rogers, Kay Miculek, and Lena Miculek are very talented women and great people. I'm proud to be able to say that I know them. It was also a ton of fun to meet up with our group of "Babes" to watch the match and do the cheering. It's an honor to be associated with you ladies!

2. Being physically present for the official announcement of the 1st Annual Brownells Lady 3-Gun Pro-Am Challenge Match. ( ) This is the first national ALL-FEMALE 3-Gun match, and I am tickled about it! This represents a pile of plotting and planning by several talented people, and I admire them greatly for it. I will be there at this event if it kills me!

3. Being able to attend Media Day at the Range. It was a great experience. In addition to drooling over the ETHOS, I also had an opportunity to shoot the new Glock G42, which is Glock's .380 cal entry into the pocket gun market. Now, I am no gun expert, and I have no business doing a review. (If you'll notice with the ETHOS, I only talked about why I liked it from a subjective personal standpoint, not as a gunsmith or as anyone with anything resembling expertise) But with that in mind, I also really liked the G42. I have struggled to find a carry gun that I am comfortable shooting, and that I don't have to dress "around". I currently have a Ruger LCP, and although it's concealable, it is also swallowed by my large-ish hands. I find it "snappy" to shoot, I don't like the feel of the slide when I'm racking it, or the all-day-long trigger pull either. The M&P .380's that I've handled felt the same way.

Since I started my shooting journey with a Glock 19, I'm familiar with how Glocks handle. The G42 seemed to me to have a slightly stiffer trigger pull than my G19, but it still felt like a Glock - not like I had to hitch ole Bessie up to the plow to get it to fire, as I do with my LCP. Unlike the Glock 26, the G42 is single stack, so it's flatter and easier to conceal.I also liked that it had REAL sights - not a rudimentary nubbin that I have to put nail polish on to be able to find. In short, the G42 - although small - still felt like a "real gun" to me. The two magazines that I got to test fire on Media Day gave me a pretty good feel for this pistol. I hit the steel plate at 15-20 yards every time but one, and that one I "anticipated" and dipped the muzzle - my fault, not the firearm's. So it's pretty accurate for a pocket gun. In addition, there was enough frame to the gun that it didn't sting my hand, and I found it comfortable to shoot. I think this may be the perfect Goldilocks "just right" that I've been looking for, and I'm going to go shopping for this gun as soon as I get home.

4. Attending a seminar by Audiologist and retired Air Force Colonel Theresa Y. Schulz on the effects of shooting sports on hearing, and the proper (emphasis on Proper) use of hearing protection. She even had some cute visual aids to illustrate the damage to the stereocilia in the human ear caused by differing types of noise.

5. Finding Elvex eye protection. Is it a reflection on my two "X" chromosomes that my head was turned by leopard print ballistic-rated glasses? I'm not sure if these glasses really fit my personality or not, but I loved them for the effect. If there is such a thing as a cross between Range badass and Hollywood starlet, these would be it.

6. Getting to handle and shoot the new Springfield Armory Range Officer 1911 pistol in 9mm. I'm not really familiar with the 1911 platform, honestly. My main experience so far has been with the polymer striker-fired pistols. But, being me, I'm always fascinated with gaining new skills, and a 1911 is something I've wanted to try. The Range Officer, in traditional .45 ACP, has been out for several years, and was designed to be an out-of-the box entry level match pistol. Putting the same gun out in the more economical 9mm caliber is what is new this year. I liked this gun too. The grip safety and external thumb safety are something that I would need to get used to, but I liked how it shot. At Media Day they had steel targets set up that had a little metal flapper at center mass. After I got used to the feel of the gun, the whole second magazine went through that little flapper. I think I surprised the guy with the European accent behind me. While we were waiting our turn we had had a little conversation about how he felt that polymer striker pistols were just machines, but that the 1911 was a work of art. Since I was new to the platform, he graciously pointed out a few things about the gun to me. By the time I finished the second magazine, he was cheering me on.

7. Having Annie Foster from Colt Competition, (and my squadmate from the AR-15/Rockcastle Match) take time out of her busy day to give me some pointers on what I ought to have in a rifle if I continue down this 3-Gun path. I already feel smarter for having talked to her.

8. The Press room on site. I'm sure everybody else gets tired and thirsty too, but it has been great to have access to a place I can sit down, type a post into my iPad, and have a cup of coffee or a coke while I'm doing it. I may "feel" like a fraud as press, but I'm doing my darndest to earn the right to be here. This is my second blog post onsite, and I've made several Facebook posts to match. I'm really trying hard here, guys...

9. Getting an autographed copy of Julie Golob's book, Shoot, ​from Julie herself.

10. The people. Despite the huge crowd of 65,000 of my closest friends sharing winter viruses, I feel like everyone here is on the same team. Maybe that's naive - no group that large gets along that well. But I have encountered no one who has been less than friendly to me. (Okay -- at least so far) I've made several acquaintences in the press room and on the Media Day Shuttle bus as well, and I have been offered tips and encouragement at every turn.

All in all, this has been a tremendous experience. I've learned a lot, and I hope to be allowed to do it again next year. Maybe by then I'll actually have a clue! LOL​

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

SHOT Show Media Day at the Range

Since I am a brand new blogger, obviously, I am also brand new at being "media". Honestly I feel a bit like a fraud, but having been accepted by the Women's Outdoor Media Association, and accepted by the NSSF SHOT Show as internet media, I guess I'll take their word for it. LOL - no self-esteem issues here. I also need to apologize in advance for the formatting of this post. This is my first attempt at blogging from my ipad mini with a bluetooth keyboard, from the media room at SHOT. It's not the same as my laptop at home on my kitchen table, blogging in my pajamas -- LOL I think everyone here is glad that I'm not in my pajamas with bedhead!

So since I am officially "media", here is my official media report on SHOT Show's Media/Industry Day at the range.

First of all, I guess I need to explain to my non-shooting friends what this is, and why it's a big deal. NSSF is the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is "the" trade association for America's firearms industry. According to their website, their mission is: "To promote, protect, and preserve hunting and the shooting sports". NSSF sponsors a yearly industry trade show called SHOT - for "Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade" Show, which is an event restricted to trade and media only and is not open to the general public. It is reportedly the largest trade show of its kind in the world, and according to SHOT's website, it attracts over 63,000 industry professionals. So, you can see why for me as a beginning blogger, this is a big deal for me to be permitted to attend as "media".

Traditionally, the day before the Show officially opens, a local shooting range is set up where manufacturers of all kinds have booths and displays allowing media a hands-on look at new products coming to market this year. What that means is that "I" - the mild-mannered pediatrician - got to shoot cool new stuff !!!!

Of all that cool new stuff, I have to say that my favorite was the new Benelli ETHOS Shotgun. I had seen pictures of it posted online a few days before SHOT, and boy did the pictures look pretty. I had made a note to myself to check out this shotgun at the Benelli booth on the show floor, but being a neophyte, I had no idea that I would actually get to shoot it. That is, until I walked under the Benelli canopy at Media Day at the Range, and shook hands with Mike Leeds. Life seems decidedly unfair that more experienced shooters than I, did not get the opportunity I did - based on a blog. But - life isn't fair - and yay for me! LOL

Let me say first of all, that the ETHOS is as pretty in person as it was online. That may sounds strange to talk about a gun as "pretty", but there it is. My Benelli M2, while it has nice clean lines, is easy for me to handle, and I LOVE it -- is not "pretty". It is black machinery that I have dressed up with a pink bolt handle and release button.

The ETHOS, on the other hand, looks more like my father's shotguns that I remember - beautiful walnut woodgrain and engraving on the nickle-plating. It has more of that "classic", "traditional" look that I always used to associate with shotguns. Remember when I posted about the little bit of skeet I got started in, and how out-of-place my tactical black, extended magazine tube 3-gun shotgun was? Well, this ETHOS may be my perfect solution, not only because it pleases my inner sense of tradition, but also -- because it shoots like a Benelli.

I often have problems with length of pull with a gun out of the box, but the ETHOS was pretty comfortable coming right off the table. I would probably put a lower profile recoil pad on it to give me just a little bit more room to get it to my shoulder, but it felt pretty natural right off the bat. It was also VERY lightweight. I almost couldn't believe that a walnut shotgun could BE that light. I'm a fairly robust woman, and I noticed the difference, so women of a slighter build than I will probably really appreciate the difference.

Now, as far as test-firing, I need to remind you that I am a neophyte with clays, and have no upland game experience at all, but this was a SWEET gun to shoot! The clays were almost a joy to break!LOL

I'm still new enough, that I won't pretend to understand all the technicalities of what they did to make it feel that sweet. (I don't have to understand how a fuel-injector works in order to enjoy driving my car, after all - HA!) But they managed to incorporate their inertia-drive and recoil reduction system into that European Walnut stock. The only wooden stock gun I own is my 30-30 deer rifle, and although it's manageable, it pounds me pretty good. This ETHOS on the other hand, was not only beautiful, but it gave me very little felt recoil at all. I think there may have even been less recoil than in my M2.

The Benelli guys let me run a couple big fistfuls of shells through the ETHOS, and I only stopped because I was afraid I was being a booth hog. I could have stayed there all day. That is how you know you have me hooked. I was there so long that they took pictures "for" me LOL!

So here are some generously provided photos of yours truly busting clays with what I think is going to be my birthday present to "me" this year. Yay Me!!

Thanks to Mike Leeds of Benelli for taking these awesome "clays AND shells in the air" photos for me!

(Post edited to add photos, now that I figured out the formatting snafu)
But you can still see them on my Facebook page at Boostershots by Dr. Latebloomer.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hot Tamales vs Fried Green Tomatoes

I've  seen some discussion lately over the "image" of women in shooting, and I thought I'd throw in my two cents.  Since I don't have any advertisers or sponsors to tick off, and I already have a well-paying day job, I'm going to tell you exactly what I think. I'm still new to this game, but it seems like the shooting world is at times one of the last bastions of the pin-up girl.

Now, I'm no prude, and I know that sex sells. But I'm going to tell you unabashedly that sex doesn't sell to ME.

In fact, last year when I ordered a new set of sights for my new pistol, the company (who shall not be named) sent along a company sticker logo that included the cartoon image of a woman in a very short dress, bending over at the waist so that her head was at the level of her ankles, with her garterbelt showing. Oh yeah, and she was holding a pistol. Ummmm, guys? Hello? It's the 21st century, and I'm a middle aged female physician. Did you HONESTLY think a sticker like that was going to encourage me to order your products again? Talk about not knowing your customers. If that sight was not already in my hand and hadn't come well recommended, it would have gotten packed back up and sent right back to them with that sticker on the outside of the package. I did email customer service about it, and I doubt I will order from them again.

Then there are the "calendar girls". Now, I understand that a certain percentage of the male customer base is going to drool over calendar girls. And honestly, as long as the models are women who actually KNOW firearms, I have less of a problem with it. If you are fit, and comfortable with men staring at your boobage, and can keep your durn finger off the trigger, and that is what you want to do, then that is your choice. Ain't America Grand. But don't pretend that you are selling firearms - you're selling your "assets". I don't look at a "Firemen of New York" calendar and think "Damn, I want a turnout coat like that."

I have nothing against these "hot tamales" of any gender raising money for a good cause. Fantasy is fine -- but don't fool yourself into thinking that they represent "me" as a woman in the shooting world. Nor, I dare to venture, do they represent the majority of women already in, and now entering the shooting sports.

Am I jealous? Umm, I don't think so. I'm a successful physician, budding shooter, and wannabe writer. I'm much more concerned with what I've accomplished in my life than what someone else thinks of my mammary tissue. Would I love to look like them? Sure, maybe in another life. But beauty fades, and boobs fall. Actual skill however, can last forever.

I'm reminded of the scene from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, where the Kathy Bates character retorts to the obnoxious young things who just dissed her, "Face it girls, I'm older and I have more insurance." In this case, I'd like to remind the firearms industry , "Face it fellas, I'm older and I have more disposable income."  Firearms and recreational shooting aren't exactly cheap. It is women in my age bracket who have the money to spend on 1000's of rounds of ammo at a time, and a new shotgun - not the 22 year-old bikini babes. This year, just for giggles, I tried to figure out roughly how much money I've spent on firearms, ammo and accessories since entering the sport less than 5 years ago. And you know what I came up with? I'm in the 5-figure range now. Of my own money. And I'm just one woman.

It isn't the "assets" of the calendar girls that induce other women to take up shooting - it's women like me who come back with our friends and daughters and co-workers because we had such a good time, and felt so welcome on your range and in your shooting classes. I think that the industry ignores that at their peril.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cultural Competence and Firearms

Disclaimer: The following is a (long-winded, rambling) opinion piece which reflects the views of the author only, and does not necessarily reflect the position of her business partners, her hospital, her state medical society, the institution that trained her, her great-grandmother's hairdresser, or her deceased cat.

Let me start off with a definition - "Cultural Competence". The concept of cultural competence or cultural awareness is a very important one in the field of medicine and patient care. Put simply, it involves being aware of, respectful of, and sensitive to, the culture of the population that one serves. This is an important component of effective patient care, whether one is practicing in Alaska, Puerto Rico, or Appalachia.

As important as this concept is, I'm going to go out on a limb here, and make the assertion that most of the medical community in general and the pediatric community in particular - is lacking in cultural competence when it comes to firearms.

If this statement gives you the vapors, I will refer you to to the official position of the American Academy of Pediatrics as an example, so you can see for yourself.

"Firearms Safety
AAP Policy
In 2012, the Academy reaffirmed its commitment to advocating for the strongest possible firearm
regulations. The absence of guns in homes and communities is the most reliable and effective
measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents. The AAP supports a number of specific measures to reduce the destructive effects of guns in the lives of children and adolescents, including the regulation of the manufacture, sale, purchase, ownership, and use of firearms; a ban assault weapons; and expanded regulations of handguns for civilian use. To prevent gun-related death and injuries, the AAP recommends that pediatricians provide firearm safety counseling to patients and their parents."

Now, I don't know about you, but I live in semi-rural Appalachia. Despite the actions of a certain U.S. senator, most of the people here love their guns. So much so, that the mascot of our state university carries, and regularly fires off, a real, functioning firearm at university sporting events. And yes, he even carries it into elementary schools. And you know what? Nobody bats an eye. Why? Because firearms are a traditional and accepted part of the culture here. It's a part of "my" culture as well. I became a pediatrician before I ever became a gun owner, but it wasn't a big deal because culturally, I was already "there" - I was surrounded from childhood with hunters and firearms owners. There are many, many people here who own many, many types of firearms for many different uses - including for "plinking", for target competition, for skeet/trap/sporting clays, for self-defense, and for putting meat on the table. Firearms are a normal, everyday part of life for people here. As, indeed they are for many millions of other Americans across the country.

We can't all be brushed off as "Bitter Clingers"  or "Ignorant Rednecks" either. Some of us are only "conservative" politically when it comes to the 2nd Amendment. A few of us even voted for the current president. Some of us have multiple advanced degrees. Some of us are in positions of authority. Some of us are in the public eye. Some of us practice law, or medicine, or nursing. Some of us are First Responders. Some of us are school teachers. Some of us even work for the government. And 99.999...% of us will never become criminals or mass-murderers.

So. Having recognized that this culture prevails not only here, but in wide swaths of the country, why in heaven's name does the medical community espouse legislating DISARMAMENT as their selected means of "protecting children"?

Because apparently they are Culturally Tone Deaf.

Now, it's important to understand that most docs, (and pediatricians in particular) didn't get into the business because they are mean, controlling people. On the contrary, they love kids, and want to do everything in their power to help kids grow into healthy, strong, responsible adults.  They are compassionate people - I just think that their compassion is misdirected when it comes to firearms. I understand and share the motive to protect the youngest generation, and I understand that research suggests that the human brain hasn't completely matured until the early 20's -- but including 19-24 year-olds in "child" data? I'm sorry, but a 20 year old gangbanger killed in a shoot-out is not a "child" - he is adult enough to be a criminal. Including data like that in child statistics seems a little intellectually dishonest to me.

Likewise, a 17 or 18 year-old burglar killed by a homeowner is a criminal who shouldn't be included in "child" data either in my opinion. While that 18 year old burglar's death might have been averted, the time period to intervene was years ago when the kid started down the wrong path. An intervention "now" which blames the homeowner for protecting her life, is misplaced to say the least.

Much as I want to reduce child deaths from violence, a 6 year-old child killed in a drive-by shooting is a victim of homicide - which is an awful, and heart-wrenching tragedy, not to mention a crime - but it has nothing at all to do with the firearms at home in "my" gunsafe - or the gunsafes of any of my neighbors.

One only has to look up the data on the CDC search engine for fatal and non-fatal injury statistics by age group and method of injury, 

to see that most "actual" children are at much greater risk of injury and death from their swimming pools and automobiles than they are from firearms accidents. Yet, the AAP does not advocate for the removal of automobiles or swimming pools from the home and community, as they do for firearms. Why is that? This is only my conjecture, but I believe it is because many in the medical community do not acknowledge a legitimate purpose for firearms as they do for automobiles and swimming pools. I believe that they perceive firearms as an "evil" in and of themselves, which if removed, solves the problem. But that view is simplistic and naive in my opinion. Not to mention that it represents bad public health science.

Murder and violence are acts of Human Will that come from within the individual - they aren't embedded within the fibers of the tool. A firearm is a machine which is designed to throw a projectile. Done. End of story. It is the Human Will which determines whether that machine is used to protect/defend life, to compete in a marksmanship contest, to control an animal population, to punch holes in cardboard, to put meat on the table ... or to commit a crime. Reducing "Gun Violence" - as the medical community purports to want to do by advocating disarmament - will not be achieved by targeting people and their inanimate objects who are not the problem and who will never be the problem. In fact, the government's own data show that while firearms ownership continues to rise, that rates of violent crime continue to fall.

I will not confuse correlation with causation here, because I know better than that. But it should at least be observed that even if increased gun ownership can't be credited as the "cause" of falling crime, it seems common sense to admit that the data indicate that it may have had no effect at all, or at least has not made things worse.

The medical community should, in my opinion, be aiming not at the "tool" - which does indeed have legitimate purpose even if they can't admit it - (and is a RIGHT guaranteed by the Constitution, to boot) - but at human behavior, at societal mores, and at cultural values. The problem for "us" as gun-owners is that it is easier to demonize an inanimate object (and the people associated with it) than it is to change human behavior.

As for me, being a physician and also member of my culture means that I tailor my firearms safety message to meet the needs of my community - not the dictates of my professional organization. I do recognize that every village has its idiot. No group is immune from the Yayhoos that makes us all look bad. So we do have to recognize that there are people who store and use their firearms unsafely, and we need to work - through education-  to make them as small a minority as possible.

That is why, when I have the time in an office visit (which isn't as often as I'd like), I talk to my little patients and parents about gun safety. Not disarmament - safety. I don't ask if there are firearms in the home, I simply assume that there are, and go from there. I ask "Does Janie or Johnny know what the rules are for the guns in the house?" I ask this with the same tone of voice and in the same conversation where I talk about bike helmets and seat belts. I have never had a bad reaction from a parent in this regard. I also talk about storage and the Eddie Eagle Rules.

If you see a gun:
Don't Touch.
Leave the Area.
Tell an Adult.

And I reinforce with the kids that there is nothing wrong with learning to shoot and hunt - "Dr. LateBloomer shoots and hunts too", I say - but I want them to be safe and under adult supervision at all times.

I can do that because I have credibility with my patients. They know that I walk the talk. Obviously not every physician can do that without the appearance of political prying. Frankly, with position statements like the one cited above, who can blame patients and parents for being suspicious of such questions? If a physician does not understand the culture in which he or she practices, they risk alienating patients and losing not only personal trust, but credibility for the profession as a whole. Would "you" trust a physician who was working to take away your Constitutional right to vote? Or to exercise free speech? Or to freely assemble and associate? Well, for millions upon millions of gun families, it's the same darn thing.

It occurs to me that maybe in the interests of cross-cultural understanding, we should have a "Take Your Doctor to the Range Day". And no, I'm not going to head up that committee. Sorry folks - I'm just the idea gal - LOL.  But seriously, is that such a wild, outlandish idea? Maybe we in the firearms community "should" have more outreach aimed at the medical community. We docs have to have a certain number of hours of continuing education on a regular basis in order to renew our licenses and credentials - maybe someone (who is not me - Ha!) should come up with a CME module on Firearms Competence. How can you expect a doc who has zero experience with firearms, except what they see on the news and what their national governing body tells them, to have any competence (even with discussing safety) if they haven't had any training? It might go over like a lead balloon, but I think the idea at least bears some consideration.

I  also think it is very important for children to have "positive" firearms role models. That's another reason that I try to talk about it in the office visit. There is so much bad press out there about guns. We need to be good role models of safe practice - because kids often learn more by observing and example that they do by being lectured to. I only have them for a few minutes a year. You have them every single day of their lives. Be a good, safe example.

On the other side of that coin, we must admit, there are also a lot of "bad" examples going on in the movies and on TV and in video games. I think the firearms community needs to work on that. We need to reinforce with our kids that how such-and-such a detective on TV, or so-and-so action hero in the movies holds and uses their gun is NOT the proper way to do it in the real world with real guns. We also need to police our own ranks (see my "yayhoos" comment above). We need to educate each other, engage with each other, and work with each other. Our hobby/passion is already one of the safest out there, but we can still work on corralling and educating the less-safe ones. (And I said "educate" - not "legislate").

Now, having ripped the medical community about understanding gun culture, let's take a moment to talk about our OWN "cultural competence". If your doctor asks you questions you don't want to answer, please remember that he or she at least "thinks" they have your best interests at heart, and they are trying to do their job. Try to give them the benefit of the doubt. It might turn out to be a doc like me - who then turns the conversation to how deer season went,  how bad the ammo situation was this year, and did you see the latest Jerry Miculek video. If you don't trust your doc with that information, you don't have to be nasty. You can take the Fifth (I don't recommend drinking a Fifth - at least not in front of your doctor - Ha!); you can change the subject (Look! A Squirrel!); or you can just lie/obfuscate (What eees theeees "guns" that yoo speak of?).  Lord knows people lie to their doctors all the time about everything from diet to alcohol to sex. Why should guns be any different? (Please do not send nasty grams to my state board saying that I am encouraging lying - I'm being facetious here - people lie all the time with or without my encouragement. You KNOW you don't really eat 5 fruits and vegetable every single day. Personally, I think chocolate should be a vegetable, but I digress.)

We firearms enthusiasts also need to realize that though we are our own "culture", that this culture is not homogeneous. It isn't helpful if we split up into factions over "type" of gun or hobby. The last thing we need as a culture is to dissolve into infighting or apathy because "they're not after 'my' type of gun".  It also isn't always helpful to toss around political labels and epithets. We need the female gun owners, the gay gun owners, the gun owners of all races, the democrat gun owners, the independent gun owners, the duck hunters, the cops, and the doctors to be all under the same tent. Firearms owners and enthusiasts come in all shapes, sizes, religions, and political bents. You may even alienate a potential new range buddy (and thereby create a missed opportunity to swell our ranks) by tossing around labels that don't apply to everybody. Just something to think about...

So there you have it - my blather on culture. Take from it what you like, and toss the rest. It's my two cents and nothing more. I'm not going to make a habit of talking politics here, because I can't stand flame wars. I just want to have a nice, safe, happy little corner of the internet. So, in the words of Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that" :-)

Oh, and Happy New Year!