Saturday, July 26, 2014

3Gun Progress

The last time I wrote about 3Gun, it was Fall of 2013, so I thought it might be time for an update. 

At that time, I wrote about my first ever experience at a 3Gun match, which was the 2013 AR15/Rockcastle Pro-Am. I had the immense good fortune to have both Randi Rogers AND Lena Miculek as squad coaches during that match. It was a tremendous experience. I even met the only goals that I had for my first match, and those were: 1) Be safe, 2) Have Fun, and 3) Maybe it would be nice to not come in last. But I wasn't even counting on that last one.

Since then, I've made some progress. I've gotten some thumb-saving shotgun mods from Jeff Cockrum , got a new rifle scope to suit my older eyes, and I've gotten signed up for Brownell's Lady 3 Gun.  I also started searching for local matches to try out on my own, sans pro coaches. To my dismay, I've learned that "local" is a relative term. While I have a wealth of pistol matches to choose from within a 1.5 hour drive, 3Gun matches are much fewer and farther between in this part of the country. So far, I have found only two monthly 3Gun Nation club matches within a 3.5 hour radius. The rest are 5 plus hours one way. ARGH.

Nonetheless, I've managed to scrape together the motivation to attend two matches at the Beckley, WV club so far this summer.  It makes a really long day to have a 7 hour round trip in the car, with 6 hours of shooting sandwiched in the middle. Managing to get up for work the next morning is a definite challenge. (Ibuprofen is your friend - LOL). But it has been totally worth it.

So far, I have found nothing but encouragement and support at this club match. While there are women all over the place helping to run the show, I have been one of only two females actually shooting at the matches I have attended. That in and of itself is nothing new, but what is new is being the only "adult" female shooter. The other girl is literally a girl. (I confess that though I like to think of myself as still a girl, my joints the morning after a match tell me otherwise-LOL) This teenager is apparently quite a shot, and is hoping to become a sponsored shooter. I admire her drive, and I believe we will be seeing Brittany at the Brownell's Lady 3 Gun, so watch out for her!

So, as I mentioned, getting my second and now third match under my belt has been a great experience. I'm not "as" nervous anymore, and I'm getting more organized with my gear. (Though I miss having Randi Rogers there checking my belt to see that I have everything I need - LOL). Gear-wise, I'm adding new things all the time. I just got my Carbon Arms pinwheels   and am starting to get the hang of those.

                                     Does, my belt look okay, Randi?

I also just ordered a hard-sided 3Gun case from Patriot cases with my Lady3Gun discount. I feel better crossing state lines with a hard, lockable case that I can cable-lock to the inside of my car. It hasn't arrived yet, but when it does, I'll post pics either here or on the Boostershots Facebook page. (If you "like" me by the way, I do post random pics and such more often there.)

I've found that it has been a challenge to make sure I even HAVE all my gear loaded in the car at 4:30 in the morning. I'm a minimalist kinda gal, who doesn't even carry a purse much anymore, so this is a serious load of STUFF to get organized. At the last match, I had a harrowing 5 minutes of panic and swear words when I thought I had forgotten my pistol holster and mag pouches. I finally found them tucked into my soft rifle case, but wouldn't that have been a kicker - drive 7 hours round trip and pay a $25 match fee only to find out you can't actually shoot the match? Facepalm. I need to come up with a system.

Having to do this on my own now, means (obviously) that I've learned some things. One of the hardest first lessons was that one should tighten up one's magazine pouches fairly firmly, lest one have one's spare pistol magazine fall out on the run (okay, slow jog) to the plate rack from the shotgun bay. Otherwise, one might be left standing there pawing blindly at an empty mag pouch and be forced to leave plates standing. Did this happen to me? I'm not sayin',  but I'm just sayin'  - D'oh! :-)

Another lesson was that Texas stars are hateful instruments of torture no matter what I'm shooting at them. Pistol, shotgun, it doesn't matter. Apparently even a shotgun blast is not a sure bet, and one still must aim carefully. LOL!

Another thing I learned is that during a mandatory rifle mag change, if you struggle enough trying to get your "new" mag to stay seated, but it keeps falling out, that the RO may take pity on you and tell you to just put your first mag back in again. LOL!

I also learned that in addition to loving the sound of the "ting" as my pistol rounds hit steel, I really love the delayed "thwack" that means I hit a long-range rifle target. It is very personally satisfying. Too bad I can't stick around to savor it, and have to run off to the next target array. Maybe somebody should come up with a recording of Mood Music for Shooters. Instead of breathy pan flutes, it would be the sounds of steel and long distance target hits interspersed with RO's shouting "HIT!". That would give me the warm fuzzies :-)

Besides all that, I've also learned that seeing multiple law enforcement vehicles from multiple entities parked at a match, does not necessarily mean bad news. At this particular club, it just means that the deputies and troopers are there to play, too. There is even a West Virginia Troopers Association LE - Only match at this club in the Fall. 

It was actually strangely reassuring to see all those cruisers for the first time, at the end of that long, steep, windy, dirt road in the middle of nowhere. I felt like, even if I was in the wrong place, at least the cavalry was already there - LOL! Did I mention that the club sells a T-shirt that proclaims "I Survived the Road to Beckley, WV Gun Club" ?  You can bet I bought it!

Even though I'm getting more experience now, my goals haven't really changed. I still just wanna be safe and have fun. I've discovered that not making an idiot out of myself is a minor goal that often must be sacrificed in order to learn something, so I'm okay with that. It's the facepalm moments that make you remember a lesson.

The bottom line is that I have fun, and that's really all that matters to me. I may not be "good". I may finish 4th from the bottom. But I drove 7 hours in order to participate. I found the place, past where the blacktop ends, driving BY MYSELF (Just me and my Subaru) early on a Sunday morning. I DID it. Twice even. That alone is a success to me. Every new detail I learn, every fistbump I get from someone I just met, every new skill that I pick up, is a personal victory. And for me, that is enough.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Some Talk About Glock

I've written before about how much I love my Glock 42. It conceals easily, it fits my hand well, and it shoots like a Glock. I've shot it in 2 BUG matches so far, and I recently, in a moment of insanity, signed up for IDPA BUG Nationals in November. I LOVE this gun.

So you can imagine my dismay when last week at a BUG match, I had a series of malfunctions that just kept getting worse. The trigger wouldn't pull. At first, I thought I had just not racked the slide properly when I was making ready. A re-rack cleared it, I blamed myself and kept on going. But it happened again at the next stage, and then twice more on the next stage. I then assumed that it was my ammo, even though it was the exact same ammo I used at the last BUG match without a hitch. But when I got home and cleaned the gun, I realized that the problem persisted even during dry fire. The trigger just wasn't resetting.

Not being a gunsmith, I didn't have a clue, so I had a Glock armorer friend take a quick look. He confirmed for me that he thought it should go back to Glock since it was under warranty. I contacted my Glock dealer, and he provided me with the contact number.

The process could not have been easier. I called Glock customer service at a few minutes after 9AM. I was asked a few questions about what the issue was, and was promptly emailed not only a form to fill out, but also a prepaid Fed Ex shipping label. Since it was my day off, I had my packaged gun to Fed Ex by 1pm, and that was it.

The Fed Ex return package note was back on my front door today (only a week later). The return paperwork doesn't say what the issue was, but the pistol now dry fires fine. The paperwork does say however, that they replaced my magazines. I looked, and the part number is indeed different on these new magazines, with a "01" now added underneath. A redesign. Interesting.

I'll know for sure that the issue is resolved after I get to the range later in the week, but at least so far, I have been very impressed with Glock and their prompt customer service and response.

They have just reinforced my existing customer loyalty.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Confidence Crushers

​​Ladies, I'm going to ask a favor of you. After you read this, if it rings true for you, would you please pass it on to your significant other, brothers, and other male shooting friends? Because I think it needs to be said.

I run into this almost every shooting match. Most folks are very welcoming, and this makes shooting with them a really great time, which is why I keep coming back. In fact, there is a pack of regulars at my own club that I LOVE shooting with, and I almost never run into this issue with them. But at other clubs there often seems to be a tiny subset of guys who insist on not just shooting their own match, but mine as well. (At least in my experience it's always guys - sorry, it just is).

Look, I know that I'm a low-intermediate shooter. I know that my technique isn't perfect. I know that there is a lot for me to learn. But if I didn't ASK for you to "teach" me, then please don't. Like a lot of women who have started in the shooting sports in the past few years, my confidence can still be a bit on the fragile side. It's not that I don't want to get better, but if your delivery of unsolicited advice is angled in the wrong way, it can be a confidence crusher. I've been at this long enough, that I'm learning to just smile, nod, ignore these fellows, and move on. But some women - especially beginner women - may not be able to do that. This is a really good way to Crush and LOSE a Novice/D level shooter - and even some Marksman /C level shooters like me.

Now, being unsafe or doing something against the rules is an ENTIRELY different kettle of fish, and does need to be dealt with immediately. But if what you want to say has more to do with how "you" would game that stage, then please choose your words carefully, or better yet, keep your opinion to yourself unless that shooter asks for your advice.

Guys, it's not that your advice isn't well-meant. I'm sure it is. And I know that you are a much better shooter than I am. But as I mentioned above, the devil can be in the delivery. There is some truth to the Mars/Venus thing. What you "say", is not always what we women "hear". You may think that you are simply pointing out that I could have saved two-tenths of a second if I had done thus-and-such. But what I heard is that my performance wasn't good enough. I heard "What are you doing? Why did you do THAT?" I was happy with what I had done - I hit all the targets, didn't drop my magazines, and didn't fall down. I was having FUN -- and then you pulled the rug out from underneath me. You blew all of my confidence right out of the water. You took what had been a personal victory in even showing up and participating -- and turned it into a defeat. And that's really a shame. Because it happens to women ALL. THE. TIME.

When you do that, you are taking MY goals for MY match (however modest they may seem to you), and substituting YOUR goals for MY match. Do you see that? Does that make sense?

Again, if you are asked for advice, then that's different. But also bear in mind that even if they ask you, a D or C level shooter may not have the skills to do what you are telling them to do. For example, making up a shot in that two-tenths of a second and making sure that it's an A hit, and not a D hit, is not something that I can probably accomplish at this point. Thus, offering that advice may not be helpful and may only discourage me. With my middle-aged eyes, I'm not even sure that I could "see" that dropped shot in two-tenths of a second, let alone make it up. LOL! I'm not being defeatist - just realistic :-) And the thing is - I'm okay with that, so why can't you be too?

All of this surely doesn't apply to every female shooter either. If she is clearly a go-getter, and hungry for a plaque and a title, then by all means offer her as much advice as she can handle. But still let HER decide how much that is, okay?

Please by all means be generous with praise. Be encouraging. Be welcoming. Tell her you hope that she will be back next month -- but please be sparing with unsolicited criticism, however "constructive" you think it may be. If you absolutely can't help yourself, please at least be careful of your delivery - be sure to begin with praise and end with praise, and slide your advice somewhere inside that sandwich of positives. Keeping that new shooter coming back may depend on YOU!

Thanks so much for all of your support! See you on the range!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 4th Queens and Skunks

How did you celebrate Independence Day?

Personally, I started it off by exercising my Second Amendment rights at the gun club.

And I ended it by packing an insulated bag and taking a grilled burger and some sides to a relative in the hospital. The hospital served potroast on the 4th of July. Seriously? C'mon people, that's almost communist. LOL

But in between those events, I attended that Great American Institution - the 4th of July Parade down Main Street. ( in our case, it is technically High Street, but who's counting?)

I admit had a bit of a moment when I saw the color guard coming. I remembered that I had ancestors who fought in the Revolution (and even the French and Indian War). I am fortunate that my Great-grandmother compiled some incredible family history during a time when geneaology involved hand written letters to archives, courthouses and historical societies. Because of her efforts, I am lucky enough to know the names of some of these men who were part of our nation's history. Unlike my Great-grandmother, nowadays all people have to do is click the leaf on your family tree, or so the TV ad goes. But I digress. 

I had a moment, and even got a little teary-eyed (it's good I had dark sunglasses on), because I remembered my ancestors, and that it was because of their blood and sacrifice that I was even standing there (well, sitting there on the curb, actually). They gave me not only my DNA, but also my Country. I wondered what their aspirations for this nation were, and if we had lived up to them. I also wondered what they would think of this parade, and of me.

After the color guard, there came the usual array of political candidates, fair queens, kids on bicycles and Shriners in clown suits. Police and fire trucks ran their sirens, and classic cars threw the obligatory candy. 

By the way, how wierd is that? At what other time do you allow your child to EAT something she picked up out of the street ... that was thrown there by STRANGERS??? 

Parades make us lose all of our usual boundaries. We wave at strangers and we sit on the curb in the public street. When you are shopping on Main Street at any other time, do you just stop and sit on the curb when you're tired? I bet not. You might be mistaken for a vagrant if you did. Parades are different. It's just strange.

Strange as it is, all of those things are pretty standard Americana. You probably have them in your parades too. But does your parade have buckskin clad guys that fire muskets into the air, and wander down the sidelines with a caged fake skunk that squirts people? Yeah, I thought not. I got squirted by the spraying skunk of freedom, and you didn't - so there! LOL

I'm sure there were parades in my ancestor's time, but I doubt they had squirting mechanical skunks. There might have been buckskins though.

I surely doubt however, that there were fair queens in their time. That would be not only unseemly for the gentler sex to prance about in public​, but it would also be glorifying the monarchy. Which brings us back around to the real reason that we celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July. 

The reason we celebrate, is because men like John Peter Hoffman, Peter Heimbach, Leonard Fischer, George Buffington, and Peter Schoffstall fought to get this new independent country started. They assisted at the birth of this grand experiement. These men weren't great orators or signers of the Declaration. They were ordinary citizens and dirt farmers who answered the call with their family muskets in hand. They fought for an idea -- that they owed their allegiance not to any monarch or church leader, but to ideals of self-governance and freedom. 

They risked their lives, their property, and the hangman's noose for treason. They risked all - for the freedoms that we now enjoy and take for granted every day.  Therefore, Cherish those freedoms. Guard them closely. Exercise them - for a freedom unexercised is a freedom unappreciated. Nourish them. And finally, pass them on to your children undiminished, so that they can thank YOU when it is their turn to be squirted by the spraying skunk of freedom.