Thursday, April 24, 2014

To Carry, or Not To Carry. That is the Question

My day off this week found me erranding, of all places, to the county sheriff's office to renew my concealed carry permit. I'm glad I called first, because it turns out that the office had moved since the last time I was there five years ago. (I suppose it's a good thing that I didn't know this, as it means that I don't usually have reason to hang out at the sheriff's office! LOL)  

I confess that I have had the permit for five years, yet can count on one hand the occasions where I have actually carried a concealed pistol. I admit that this is something that is still a bit of a "work in progress" for me, for various reasons. 

I feel like I'm making a secret traitorous confession here, because honestly, I'm a little uncomfortable with carrying. I figure I must not be alone, so that's why I'm coming out of the closet (or should I be coming out of the gun safe instead? LOL).  I'd like to tell you about it, because I hope to find some solutions for myself, (and maybe help some other hesitant women like myself along the way).

As I said, I've had the permit to carry concealed for five years. I originally applied for the permit just so I would have a paper trail to back me up if I was ever stopped while travelling to and from the range and out-of-state matches. (No paranoia on my part...LOL) I have actually carried a pistol several times - but it has been less than five times in the five years that I've had the permit. Mostly, those occasions have been when I was alone at the deer camp, where there is no cell service, and the nearest state police barracks is probably 20 miles away.

It's not that I'm uncomfortable with firearms. If you are masochistic enough to be a regular reader of this blog, you know that I've spent the best part of the past five years continually challenging myself with guns - first pistol, and now rifle and shotgun. I'm not anywhere close to being an expert, but I consider myself to be at least competent. I have reached low-level C class in USPSA Production Pistol, and mid-level Markman in Stock Service Pistol in IDPA. A friend who is a former cop informs me that at my level, I shoot better than many police officers currently on duty - at least as far as accuracy goes. That's actually kind of sad, but it at least reassures me that I AM competent. 

Honestly, I think the main problem is that I am a control freak. I want to control for every variable. I want to feel prepared for every eventuality. But in the real world that just isn't going to happen. I am a methodical person, and a creature of habit. But those methodical firearms habits that have heretofore made me feel in control, are now coming back to bite me, because I have become conditioned to the "cold range" match mentality. I realize that I am so conditioned, that it is now difficult for me to function outside of those controlled parameters. I am so used to only loading the firearm when I am on the firing line and ready to shoot, that it feels really "wrong" to do it anywhere else. 

How do I "load and make ready" in the real world? Where is the "180" in my day-to-day life? Where is the "backstop" in the grocery store parking lot? Where is the "safe area" to unholster my gun in the ladies room? These are the things that cause me to hesitate about daily carry. It really is "paralysis by analysis" - there are so many variables to account for that I don't know what to do.

I suppose that I need to invest in some good self-defense training. I don't think my match training will help me much with this part. Much as I love pistol matches, the reality is that I won't be taking on 5 cardboard thugs at an ATM in the real world. I would more likely be fending off a single attacker in a dark parking lot, or a home invader in my bedroom. And that attacker will not be standing still on wooden stakes, waiting for me to shoot him. In the dreaded event that such a thing happens, I also will not have my match pistol and six magazines on my belt. Therefore, I think I need to get some training with my actual carry gun and the two small magazines it came with.

Even after I get all that taken care of, there is still the matter of where and how to carry. There are so many barriers to carrying in the real world - from my clothing, to my child's school (even just the school parking lot is off limits). Then there is the post office, the mall, even my hospital. So even if I choose to carry regularly, there are going to be an awful lot of times where the gun bides its time locked in my car -- if it is permitted to be "there" either. It makes me wonder if this is worth all the hassle.

I suppose that means that I don't feel threatened enough - that I don't have enough fear/concern for my safety to drive me to overcome the barriers. That's probably true. I also recognize that this is a subjective (and deceptive) feeling -- just because I "feel" safe, doesn't me that I "am" safe. And human nature dictates that often one continues to blithely feel safe - right up until the point that you aren't. Whereupon, it's too late. 

But I don't want it to be all about fear. I really want it to be about being prepared. I want it to be about the very same reasons that I carry a trauma kit in my car and also in my range bag. Because you never know. I was called upon last year to actually use my trauma kit. I never in a million years thought I would need those pressure dressings when I bought them. Yet, need them I did. Life does that to you. I'm not an ER or trauma doc - but I was the one who was there. 

I think it's the same thing with carrying a gun. I'm not a cop, and I'm not Rambo - but what if I'm the only one who's there? 

If I do decide to carry a concealed hangun regularly, I want it to be not just about "carrying" it. I want to be prepared for handling what happens if I am called upon to actually USE it. 

Thus begins my next training journey... Wanna come along for the ride? :-)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gun Fairies

Gun Fairies

You may scoff - but I am a believer. They may not wear fluffy pink wings and tiaras, but Gun Fairies definitely exist. This species of fairy might have a beer gut or sport a beard, they might have plumber's crack instead of a tutu, they might drive an F250 instead of flying around with little wings, and they may leave a trail of cigar ash instead of pixie dust, but the wonders they perform are still amazing to behold. And unlike Tinkerbelle, these fairies are mostly male.

Specifically, I'm talking about the Handymen who have made all of our local gun clubs flourish for the past 25, 50, or even 100 years.

That isn't to say that we women haven't had a hand in any of it. That simply isn't true. But the social realities of the past 25, 50, or 100 years have dictated that the role that women may have played in their local sportsMEN's clubs (there's that word again) was minimal and supportive -- if they were permitted to participate at all. That reality is changing now, and we have female RO's, female match directors, and female club presidents. But for most of club history that wasn't the case, and it illustrates "why" I'm here to talk about men for a change. 

One only has to look around carefully during a local pistol match, shotgun event, or even just your personal plinking trip, to recognize all of the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes -- probably for decades -- at whatever local club you happen to be that day. Who raised the money to buy the land in the first place in 1920, or 1950, or 1970? Who had that foresight? Who put up the clubhouse? That goes all the way down to who drove the front-end loader that put that block in last year? Who built those new benches in their garage last winter? For that matter, who hauls all those hundreds of boxes of clays that show up in bulk every season, and have to be put away?

 Have you ever taken a really close look at the stage props at your pistol matches? Sure, some were probably purchased, but those target stands made out of 2x4's were probably built in some guy's basement. That mailbox and old car frame had to be hauled here by some other enterprising club member with a pick-up. How about those moving targets? Those masterpieces of Rube Goldberg physics were likely planned out carefully in some guy's garage, and took many weekends worth of effort to perfect.

All this infrastructure and all these props didn't just appear with a sprinkling of pixie dust from the Gun Fairies. They represent hundreds, if not thousands of accumulated hours of donated time. Time donated mostly by men - men who are accountants, and machinists, and carpenters, and welders, and cops, and engineers, and garage tinkerers, and maybe even heavy equipment operators by day. Your club wasn't just built with money. It was built with time and sweat, too.

So Ladies - we owe a lot to our local Gun Fairies. Don't forget to say thanks to the club members who put on a match for you. If you haven't already done so, pull up your big-girl panties with the tutu attached, and pitch in. You are needed. Help set-up or tear down a match, become a Safety Officer, or even just show-up to pick-up trash and debris on work days in the Spring. Maybe you aren't a welder, machinist or carpenter, but if you can hold a paint brush, or pound a nail, you can probably help. If you have talents - share them with your club. It doesn't happen on its own - someone needs to do it.  And don't forget to spread some compliments around - "Hey, that's a cool prop, did someone build that themselves?", "That is a fine new retaining wall they put in last fall", or even just "Thanks for doing that".

... and I'm talking to myself just as much as I'm talking to all of you. I need to start being a Gun Fairy too. Now, where's my cigar... :-)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Redneck Solutions

​​You may have read a few posts back about my issues with getting the new scope set up to match up with my vision. In the process, I also discovered that part of the problem was my cheek weld ( or lack thereof ) with the new set-up.  I didn't recall that my previous set-up was quite so "high". But then I realized that this is a higher power scope, and is thus a little bigger diameter, and thus must sit up a little higher to clear the rail. ( Do I have that correctly analyzed, you experts out there?)

I confirmed on Saturday that this was at least part of the issue, as I still wasn't getting much consistency. It all depended on where I held my head whether I could see through the scope, or had a black "ring", or saw only all black.

I knew that there are things called "cheek risers" that can raise up where your face hits on the stock, but I wasn't positive that this was the problem, nor did I want to spend a lot of money only to find out that it wasn't.

Enter Dr. LateBloomer's Redneck Solution. ( I should trademark that - LOL)


One roll of pink Duct tape

3/8ths inch poly pipe insulation - 6 feet for 97 cents at the hardware store

Viola! A temporary cheek riser, that actually worked quite well.
(Also visible in the photo is another Redneck Solution - the detergent bottle chamber flag that I posted about around Christmas time.)

The riser helped quite a bit when I went back to the range on Sunday. I realize that this is only a temporary fix, but with 6 feet of pipe insulation, I've got enough to make replacements for a couple years even, until I actually buy a real cheek riser. The only caveat is that because I am short-armed, the charging handle won't clear the riser in the position I need on the adjustable stock. Thus, if I have a jam, I'll have to move the stock position first, before using the charging handle to clear the jam.

This being a "unique snowflake" can be a real pain in the patoot! LOL

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Guns and Babies

A random comment I made yesterday about packing for a trip to the range, got me to thinking about the similarities between having children and having guns.

So here, for no particular reason, are Dr. LateBloomer's Top Ten Reasons that Guns are like Babies:

10. They are expensive
9. You should never leave them unattended
8. It can be dangerous to feed them the wrong thing
7. They require a lot of ancillary equipment
6. Diaper bags /Range bags always contain cleaning supplies, snacks and drinks - at a minimum
5. They both sometimes require a stroller just to get around with all their gear
4. They make a lot of noise
3. It involves a lot of paperwork when they change hands, and "losing" one is frowned upon
2. It is a constant job to keep their orifices clean
... and...

1. There are entire government agencies dedicated to keeping track of them

Feel free to comment and add your own! :-)

Monday, April 7, 2014


It's April !!!
My shooting season started this past weekend! I was so excited, because I've mostly been cooped up all winter, and I was so ready to get out and shoot.

This made me think of a few things that maybe I ought to explain to my non-shooting friends that they apparently don't get.

I'll start out by giving you an example of how badly firearms enthusiasts - and the shooting sports in general - are misunderstood by non-firearms people.
A month or two ago, in the throes of yucky winter weather, I made a comment on my personal Facebook page about how I had the winter blahs and was comforting myself by putting the dates for upcoming spring shooting matches in my phone calendar.  Someone I know then took the opportunity to make a snarky comment about how "depression" and firearms don't mix.  I subsequently deleted the comment and messaged this person that the comment wasn't funny. I pointed out that the winter blahs do not equal clinical depression, and that shooting sports were my bright spot to look forward to in the spring, not a means to create my own "end" as he was apparently implying. I don't think he's on my Facebook anymore.

This may have been an innocent misunderstanding, but it illustrates how wide the gulf is between "Gunners" and "Anti-gunners". Non-firearms people apparently don't understand that the shooting sports are a healthy outlet. For those who don't understand, there are only negatives.

But for me, firearms are a tool that I use in a sport. These tools and associated activities provide me with positive social outlets:

I looked forward all winter to going to Spring USPSA and IDPA shooting matches and catching up with old friends - and to making new ones, too.

For me, the spring matches are a good excuse to get out in the fresh air, and get some sunshine and radiant heat after a long winter. Sometimes there is rain and cold, and even a late snow ...

                                                      (From April 2011 or 2012 match)

 ... but when you are sharing it with friends and have camaraderie, it's not so bad. LOL

These matches are also good mental exercise for me. Deciding in what order to shoot the targets, counting rounds, and planning where I'm going to change magazines, deciding in a split second if I need to take an extra shot or not, making sure I'm behind cover in IDPA,  not to mention the ingrained mental safety measures like minding the 180 ... all these things help keep the cobwebs in my brain from accumulating.

As out of shape as I am, these matches are also good incentive to get out there and get back into some semblance of athletic activity. The squatting at low windows makes the middle-age stiff winter knees complain. It is a good sign that I've been too sedentary all winter, and need to do something about it.

All of this is good stuff. Where are the negatives? I can't see any. So I will continue to try to educate the naysayers, and encourage the newcomers by setting a good example. I've got my first IDPA and USPSA matches of "my" season under my belt, and am hoping to get to a 3 hrs away 3-Gun match next weekend. I'm excited!

Happy Spring Everybody!!!!