Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gearing up for L3G

​​For all you gentlemen who read this blog, I thought I'd let you know that there is a rumbling building underneath your feet. Right now, as we speak.

That rumbling is the final build up to the Explosion of Female Shooters that will be the Brownell's Lady 3 Gun Pro-Am Challenge in Covington, GA next week.

Even as we speak, OVER TWO HUNDRED women from across the country are gathering their gear, packing their ammo, and checking airline reservations. They are also excitedly posting introductions to a closed Facebook group created just for these competitors.

For most of these women, myself included, this event means so much more than just being a competitor, however. This is about accomplishing personal goals, learning new skills, meeting new friends and drawing attention to the increasing numbers of women entering the shooting sports.

The excitement is already evident on Facebook, as these women introduce and post photos of themselves, share "my first match" and "my worst flub" stories with new shooters, and establish comraderie before they have ever met on a squad. There is even a writer/blogger meet-up being planned. If you have a favorite female gun writer, chances are that she will be shooting and covering this event, so watch for it.

The sponsor support of this event has been overwhelming, and the prize table is stacking up - be jealous, guys. Be VERY jealous! It's THAT big.

So, after you finish cheering for your favorite 3 Gun Pro series Shoot-off competitor this weekend, start watching your newsfeed next week for updates on Lady 3-Gun. It's going to be a BLAST!

Excuse me now, because I have packing to do... :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's a Disease, I Tell You!

I mentioned that I'm signed up for BUG Nationals in a few weeks, right?  As if that didn't involve enough personal insanity, about a month ago, I realized that there might be "stage guns" at this match - where you have to shoot whatever gun is provided at the stage - not necessarily your own gun that you are used to. I had a moment of panic when I realized that one of those stage guns could be a revolver. I know ZERO about revolvers! I was thinking that you might even have to hold it differently to fire one. EEk!

To stave off my panic, I contacted a friend and fellow IDPA-er, who offered to give me a tutorial on his revolvers. Whew - THANK YOU!!!  Turns out that there are "seasoned" (I won't say "older" LOL) retired law enforcement guys out there who basically cut their handgun teeth on revolvers. I had hit the jackpot and didn't even know it!

I learned a ton of new information in the span of less than 2 hours. For instance, did you know that the direction the cylinder rotates depends on the manufacturer? Who knew?  It's not standard. That would be important to know for things like loading up with one empty chamber. What one does with the "release" button also varies by manufacturer.  Do I push it forward? Press on it? lift it up? Pull it back? Also not standard. Geez, I'm glad I asked. And YOU DO have to hold your thumbs a little differently to keep them away from the rotating cylinder, or from overhanging the front of it and getting in the way of the side blast. Also VERY GLAD I asked. I like my thumbs, and would like to keep them LOL!

This part shouldn't matter for the BUG match, since BUG reloads are off the clock, but I was also shown briefly how to do reloads with different speedloaders. Wow, that's a whole other set of motor skills right there! Strong hand reload with gun in weak hand is completely backwards from what I'm used to with semi auto pistols. The speed loaders didn't work the same way as each other either. One required a twist, and the other required a push. Much as I like my thumbs, I felt like I had grown ten of them that day LOL. More than one round met the dirt at my feet that morning while I fumbled around.

But, I at least learned the basics, and got a feel for the double action trigger and single action trigger, and managed to keep my shots within a reasonable diameter for a first time with the platform. I picked some brains about types of revolvers and learned what terms like "J-frame", "K-frame", and "L-Frame" meant. I also did a little brain picking and research about what kinds of revolvers might be good ones to learn on. 

I was intrigued - can you tell? LOL. Not that I had a concrete plan or anything. On the contrary, my reasonable budget-brain kept reminding me how much I had just spent on my daughter's Homecoming dress, and how much her senior portraits were going to be, and how much I had just spent on ammo, and how much the travel and hotels for Lady 3-Gun and BUG Nationals were going to be. I was NOT shopping. I was just learning new information -- honest.

And that was the gawd's honest truth ... right up until Tuesday. LOL

Tuesday was my day off. I had gone innocently enough, down to my local gun shop to pick up a couple extra magazines, and as usual there was a bit of a wait, because the owner was there by himself. As I waited, I wandered around and glanced into the glass cases. 

There, reclining sedately  in the "Used" case, was a revolver labeled - Smith & Wesson 686 SSR Pro. It called to me softly in its loneliness. "I'm what you were looking for", it whispered. I peered into the case, my nose nearly leaving a print on the glass. Hmmmm...

So after I lost my filter on the know-it-all guy in line ( as I confessed on Facebook) I asked the owner if I could check out that used revolver over there. Now remember, I know virtually nothing about revolvers, only the little bit I gleaned from brain-picking smarter people than myself. Thanks to the tutorial I had been given, I at least knew how to open the cylinder without looking like an idiot. The gun was in really good shape, and didn't look like it had a lot of wear ( as determined by a few strategic texts back and forth LOL) My good sense prevailed however, and I walked out of the store with only the purchases I had come for. After all, I told myself, I SHOULD have been practicing shotgun reloads with Lady 3 Gun coming up - not looking at revolvers.

But then I went to lunch. As I ate my bagel sandwich, I did some Googling on my phone. The Google gods told  me more about the model 686 Pro, gave me product reviews, and what prices would be like "new". Holy cow, that was a really good price for a lightly used version of that model. I kinda wished I hadn't looked that up - LOL. 

I pondered, and I hemmed and hawed a bit ... and ended up back at the gun shop after lunch.
My prize even came with the original case - though I'll have to contact S&W to see if they can email me an owner's manual. I got a box of .38 special and a box of .357 to try out, and the shop owner even threw in a speed loader for free. I tried to tell myself that it wasn't an impulse buy - that it was a great gun to learn on, which would still be good enough that I could try shooting SSR in a match if I wanted to try that,  and I was never going to find such a gun again at such a price. But it was still an impulse buy. It was a WISE impulse buy, but an impulse buy nonetheless. LOL

I got the new baby home and proceeded almost immediately to the range to try it out. I'm impatient like that. I dragged out a target and stand leftover from the Halloween-themed IDPA match last weekend, and set about putting some rounds downrange out of my new ( to me) revolver. The first 24 rounds all made it into the -0 ring at ten yards. I didn't think that was too bad considering it was a set of unfamiliar sights and an unfamiliar trigger pull. I'm told that revolvers are more accurate at distance than semi-autos, so next time I'll get a little more adventurous distance-wise, but for a first foray, I was happy. The wind picked up, and Frank the target was having trouble staying upright, so I quit at a half box of ammo.... for now.....

I didn't get to try out any .357 that afternoon, as the shop guy accidentally grabbed the wrong box, and I didn't know any better. Turns out the .357Sig I was given is not the same as .357Magnum. I opened that box and pulled out rounds that had "shoulders" like a rifle round. I knew they didn't look right and they didn't fit the chambers either. That's another "Who knew? " for my list. I'm always learning something. I guess it's kinda like 9mm Luger is not the same as 9mm Makarov, which is not the same as 9mm Short. It's enough to make a newbie's head spin. But, that's fodder for another blog post another day.

So, it looks like I've got more gear to shop for - speed loaders, holster, the "holders" for the speed loaders.... Like I "need" an excuse to shop. LOL - it's a good thing I'm going to SHOT Show in a few months!

I kinda felt a little guilty that I got "another" gun to learn on, when I haven't even mastered the guns I already have. I told a friend that I might need an "intervention" - and that maybe I had GADD - gun attention deficit disorder - since I couldn't seem to stay focused on one platform. He just laughed and assured me that even if that were so, "It was a good disease to have" :-)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Taking Suggestions - What do you think?

To quote Monty Python, "And now for something completely different..."

Here is something that I'll need you readers' help with. In case you haven't noticed, this blog is all about "me". It's basically a public journal, and I write whatever strikes my fancy. There's a bit of beautiful freedom in that, but I realize that it can also get boring for people.

Since I'm not much of an "expert" at anything gun related, (I rather think half the appeal is that I write from the perspective of a relative "noob")  I can't really throw the doors completely open to suggestions for subject matter. I'm limited to what I already have experience with. BUT...

The 2015 SHOT Show is coming. As with last year, I'm going on my own dime - simply because as a blogger, I can. I want to see what there is that is new and interesting. So, I'm asking - what do you want me to look at? What do you want to hear about?

The only caveat is that they have changed the rules this year for Media Day at the Range. This year, media has to be "invited" by an exhibitor. Since I have no sponsors or advertisers, I will not be getting an invitation. Thus, I won't be able to shoot anything new and exciting, like I did with the Glock 42 and Benelli ETHOS last year. 

Oh well. I'm a little disappointed, but honestly I'm probably better off, for now, to be able to write without "strings". Also, this way no one can claim that I have some sort of medical conflict of interest, or that I am somehow "in the pocket of the [dreaded] gun industry". I write about what I like, not what I'm told.

But, other that actually pulling the trigger on Media Day, I'm open to suggestions as to what you would like to see or hear about while I'm there. This would actually help me immensely. With acres of aisles and products, it is almost impossible to see everything. Helping me narrow down the ground to be covered would save me from wandering aimlessly LOL.

So there you have it - an invitation to tell me what you want. Feel free to post suggestions here or on the Facebook page. You've got from now 'til mid January when I get on the plane :-)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Because I Knew You

"I've heard it said

That people come into our lives

For a reason

Bringing something we must learn

And we are led to those

Who help us most to grow

If we let them

And we help them in return

Well I don't know if I believe that's true

But I know I'm who I am today

Because I knew you"

(For Good, from the Broadway Musical Wicked)​

I'm a lyrics person. Probably because I sing. Lyrics are poetry, and they often "speak" to me. That's why I have quoted the above for you - because they spoke to me this weekend in the car. I was driving at sunrise from one touchstone in my life to another, and this song popped up on my playlist. I teared up while I was driving, because it was SO TRUE.  

One could argue that I was just mid-life hormonal and tired at the time, (Lord knows that happens to me often enough LOL), but I felt the impact of those words right then, for where I was right at that moment, and doing exactly what I was doing.

What I was doing, was driving to my second shooting match of the weekend - with a quartet singing engagement sandwiched in between.  

In a 24 hour span, I had shot my G42 BUG gun in my last IDPA club match of the season (and didn't do too awful bad, either), then ran home, showered, changed clothes, grabbed my gear and drove an hour and half north to meet my quartet gals for a singing engagement. I then stayed overnight in the hotel we performed in, got up at 6AM, donned my range gear, set the phone GPS and drove to a Level II USPSA match at sunrise the next morning. Welcome to my life :-)

When the alarm went off at 6AM I still had raccoon eyes from the stage make-up the night before. I don't wear make-up too often, and I'm apparently bad at getting it back off again. I didn't even really like the eye shadow colors, but that was what the chorus we were singing with was wearing, and our Bass is a member of that chorus. (That's Bass - as in voice part, not Bass as in fishing - just thought I should clarify that for this readership LOL!) Our quartet was singing as a part of the yearly show/fundraiser that this chorus puts on. 

My quartet mates are my surrogate sisters. I don't have any sisters of my own, and my sis's-in-law are so far away that I'm lucky I get to see them once a year. So my Tenor, my Baritone, and my Bass (I sing Lead) are the sisters I never had. I would do almost anything for my quartet sisters - including wearing icky eye shadow, and paying for my own hotel room so as not to make anyone uncomfortable with the gun and gear in the room. (Maybe one of these days I'll try to take my singing sisters to the range, but I haven't pushed it yet)

My quartet sisters put up with my grumpy moods, and my flat notes. They put up with my work schedule and my stage nerves. (That's performance stage, not shooting stage - just another clarification LOL) We are all control freaks in our own ways, so we all "get" that, and realize that sometimes you just can't stop yourself. I have learned so much from them about harmony - both in music and in life.

There are also people who have come into my life, and taught me something, but didn't stay. Two people in particular were on my first medical service trip to Guatemala in 2000. It was they who "led" me into medicine by their example. I was lab tech at the time. Now I'm a physician - because I knew them - however briefly.

My shooting life (dare I say "passion"? LOL), continues to evolve with virtually each new person I meet. The seeds were originally planted by one person, who has continued to provide much needed fertilizer along the way (and I mean that in the most flattering way possible LOL), but the pruning, and weeding and cultivating of my shooting life have been performed by many people - all of whom have taught me something, or many things. Even this blog came about by chance squadding and conversation. That's how my life seems to work.

I now have a much valued shooting sister- and even brother-hood. I now have friends and  acquaintances  all over the country. I run into people at one match, that I met at another match. I run into people from one discipline that I met in another. I am admittedly bad with names, and am better with faces, but if I see you in the grocery store or even at a match dinner, and you aren't wearing your hat, glasses and ear pro, I may not recognize you immediately. Please don't take it personally - I am still immensely grateful for what I learned from you - even if my brain is temporarily displaying the "Processing - Please Wait" icon -LOL!

Despite the busy schedule, I really had a fantastic weekend. My club put on a really cute and fun Halloween-themed IDPA match. There were zombies attacking your car. There were undead rising from their graves. There were werewolves to be subdued, floating ghosties to dodge, and there was even a flying witch on a zipline. The gun fairies put in a lot of thought and hard work. I had a blast.

The chorus show went really well, and I enjoyed myself. I messed up some notes early on, but our renditions of "Mr Sandman" and "Weekend in New England" went well and our quartet was welcomed and well-received. (Note to self - In the future, don't attempt bell chords immediately after a heavy meal - Uuurp)

The Tri-State Match was a great time, and I had a good squad. I even got to shoot with a new Babes With Bullets Alum- it was her third whole match ever. (Go Girl!)  We traded cameras and video'd eachother. There were only 8 women shooting out of 120- some participants, and three of them were on our squad. How boring all the other squads must have been - LOL!

The most memorable stage for me was the Evil Clown stage. There were steel poppers which activated the clown's eyes to drop down and reveal targets behind (for a whole 1.5 seconds or something), before one had to go prone to shoot through the clown's mouth to get the other targets behind. I had the dubious distinction of being the only shooter that day to get the clown smack in the eyeball, because I was too slow! You mean that wasn't a bullseye???! ;-) So after the match was over, someone recorded the evidence for me.

There are a few videos posted to the Facebook page too, if you like motion over stills :-) 

I won't say anything about my scores, other than there were four DQ's and none of them were me. I also wasn't last. So, therefore, I win! :-D  Also, just for the sympathy vote, I should tell you that I lost my front fiberoptic rod somewhere during my 6th stage. You mean people should carry replacements for those??? Who knew??? I kept on going using the front "hole" though, and finished the match. One of my male stage mates gave me props for "powering through" LOL! One of the squad RO's even told me what to do to replace it. (though I still have to Youtube it - I do better with visual demonstrations)

It really was a great weekend. I learned some new things (like about fiberoptic rods, and heavy meals) had lots of laughs, and made some new friends. Even the sunrise on the way to the match made my day special.

All of which brings me back to sitting in my car and tearing up at that song. It made me realize  that where I was, right then, was a result of all of the people who had influenced my life up to that moment. I didn't live in isolation. I realized how indebted I am to all of the people who changed my life. So, THANK YOU - all of you. 
"Because I knew you ... I have been changed for good."