Monday, December 28, 2015

Rocking the Boat

I took a firearms class yesterday.
It wasn't an entirely good experience, and I'd like to tell you why.

I took a women's "CCW" class with the intent of brushing up some basics and working the bugs out of my Glock 43 and TTI basepads. I had attended Gunsite's 250 pistol class last year, but that is the only other carry or self-defense class I've been to, and I wanted to work on those type of skills.

It wasn't that I didn't learn anything yesterday. I did learn some drills that will be useful to me, and I learned that I do like the extended TTI basepads with my Glock 43.
But I also learned that I need to speak up and be forceful when I feel that circumstances or methods are unsafe.

There were only two other women there besides myself (the instructor was male). One gal was a true novice, and the other woman was supposed to be a basic pistol instructor herself. 

I tried to be open-minded at first. After all, I realized that I am still a square-range kind of gal trying to get a handle on the carry-world. I realized that things on this range might be "looser" than the tight match range rules I'm used to.

But there were what I felt to be safety issues, such as allowing gun handling behind the line while others were ON the line, and not enforcing holstering before turning and leaving the line.

Even the gal who was supposed to be a basic pistol instructor was guilty of this. If an "instructor" muzzle sweeps me leaving the line, I gotta wonder who and what she is teaching. Even the most basic of "basic pistol" instructors should know this. I don't care if the slide is locked back - don't wave it in my direction. You have a holster - please use it. But she wasn't corrected in this by the class instructor either.

Even so, I didn't say anything. I brushed it off as me being a control freak, and didn't think it was "my place" as a student to point out safety concerns. I realize now that I should have said something - or simply left - but I was guilty of the usual female inclination toward wanting to be polite, not wanting to rock the boat, and not trusting my own gut about what was safe and what was not.

But I'd had enough when the instructor asked us to point the guns at him for a force-on-force exercise. I don't care if he "checked" our guns first, it still violated the first two rules of gun safety, and I refused. I did it politely, but I refused.  I offered instead to remove my slide and just use the grip of the pistol for the exercise. He allowed me to do this, but the other two gals - including the supposed instructor gal - complied with his request and used their fully functional firearms in the exercise. I'm sorry, but this is just flat wrong. That kind of exercise is what blue guns and training barrels are for. I don't honestly even care if that's what the "operators" do - because we were NOT "operators". And now a novice shooter and a low level "instructor" will both think that it's okay to point a gun at someone if they tell you to - because they have been shown this unsafe behavior in a class.

When I got home, I contacted a friend who has 30 years in the Firearms Industry and he confirmed for me that this was not "Big Boy Rules", this was simply unsafe. 

I won't be naming names or places, because when I emailed my concerns, the instructor thanked me for my feedback. He seemed like a good guy, and I'm not trying to be punitive. Maybe his "style" works for combat pistol or something. But I won't be taking another class from him, because it doesn't work for ME. And I'd like folks to learn from my experience. If it feels unsafe - it probably is. If it bothers you - don't do it. I should have never been afraid to speak up.

As my friend advised me, "Where safety is concerned -- ROCK the BOAT."

Lesson learned - fortunately not the "hard" way.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

You Were Near a Gun Today!

My dear fellow shoppers...
You were near a gun today.

And yet you remained safe. And none the wiser.
Because I am a concealed firearm carrier going about my merry business.

I was the woman who helped you get the cart loose from the stack at the grocery store. 

I was the one wearing Christmas earrings, who smiled and let you go ahead of me in line. 

I was the shopper who dropped a bill in the kettle on my way out of the store. 

I was the gal in the cute jacket pumping gas next to you at the convenience store. 

All of these happened with a pistol on my hip.

You weren't afraid were you? Because you didn't know. 
Are you scared now that you do know? If you are, why? 
Was I unkind? Was I threatening? Was I scary looking? 

I don't think I was any of those things, because you smiled back at me. You thanked me, and wished me a Merry Christmas. 

Why should you be afraid of me (or insult me or denigrate me) because of an object I legally carry with me for my own (and possibly your) defense?

If your child had a seizure in the coffee aisle, I would be there to help you - because I've had training.

If your car battery were dead in the parking lot, I would be able to help you with that as well - because I have tools like jumper cables.

And if, God Forbid, we were both barricaded in a mall bathroom to escape a maniac, I would hopefully be able to give us both options for survival - because I have a tool and the training to use it.

Think about that. Don't judge from ignorance.

Merry Christmas from the lady in the holly berry earrings.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

TTI and Glock43

Now that my first crossbow season is about over, I'm starting to turn back to firearms again, and have decided to focus on my carry guns for a little while.

As I've written before, the Glock 42 is my favorite carry gun - it fits into my life and my clothes, and I am comfortable shooting it, as I have put 1000+ BUG match rounds through it.

I've shot the Glock 43 in only a couple club BUG matches so far, but besides that, I haven't really given it a work out or tried to make it "mine" yet. I'm trying to change that.

I've mentioned before that the 43 has considerably more muzzle flip than the 42. I get better performance if I exclusively use the pinky extension magazines from Glock, for more grip leverage. But I wanted to play with that some more.

To that end, I ordered  a pair of Taran Tactical Innovations +2 base plates for it this week. TTI calls these "purple", but they're really more of a magenta.
It's a company founded by a man, not quilters, so I really can't criticize. Most men can't function out of the basic ROYGBIV colors of the rainbow anyway. But bottom line is I like the color pink/magenta/purple/whatever, so it worked for me.

As part of giving the 43 the maximum opportunity to work for me, I am also taking a refresher self-defense work shop after Christmas with this gun. I wanted to both play with the increased capacity, and see if the slightly longer grip surface of the TTI base plates helps me better control the muzzle flip. 

The metallic pink/magenta/purple goodness arrived on Friday. A quibble with TTI - there were ZERO instructions. Thank goodness for YouTube searches. Note to companies like this - PLEASE do not assume that all of your customers are going to be handymen or the naturally mechanically inclined. I'm not a complete moron - Lord knows I made it through med school - but a couple of diagrams or sentences worth of instruction would have been helpful.

Then,  I was stymied by my inability to budge the stubborn Glock original  base plates. Back to YouTube I went, wherein I learned that one fellow accomplished this with a quite large appearing pipe wrench or something. Note to Glock - You know I am already a fan girl, you know I love you. BUT-you people are from Austria - aren't you supposed to be like the Germans and the Swiss - all practical and efficient? WHAT is either practical or efficient about needing three hands, a screwdriver and a foot long wrench in order to remove a one inch baseplate from a three inch magazine?? ARGH

 I do have a basic household tool box, but I lack a set of big enough pliers or vice grips to squeeze the little tabbies out of the way. There is also no "Mister" LateBloomer whose workshop I can raid. Fortunately a friend texted me a photo of the kind of wrench/pliers he uses for Glocks. This was much smaller than a foot long, and could be had at the hardware store for NOT a small fortune, thank goodness.

So instead of this installation being a quick Friday evening project, it turned into a Big Production TM, and I had to wait until the morning until the hardware store opened. I also didn't really want to be wandering around Walmart at 11pm in my yoga pants and sweatshirt - that's when the "People of Walmart" come out. (Never mind that this would make yours truly a "People" too - don't even go there - it's called budgeting and living within my means, mkay? And I have NEVER worn my tutu in public) LOL
But I digress.

Saturday morning dawned, and I headed to Lowe's. The roads were icy for the first time all year, so I also picked up 80 lbs of driveway salt while I was there. I wandered around the pliers and wrenches until I found something that matched the photo my friend had texted me. I was dying for a sales guy to ask if he could help me find something. I desperately wanted to gauge the reaction to my reply that I was looking for something to work on handgun magazines with, but no joy. (I know, I'm easily entertained)

Bottom line, I found the exact tool I needed for about 12 bucks, did some Xmas shopping and proceeded home to finish my project - which went much smoother from there out. Here are the finished results.

I had about an hour of daylight left when I decided to range test the final product. I am very pleased so far. The Glock 43 felt much more stable in my hand with the extended basepads. The only disappointment so far is that with the new springs I can only get seven rounds in the magazine instead of eight (for +2). I'm going to store them compressed for awhile and see if that softens things up.

The defense class is in a week, so I'll let you know how that goes with the modifications.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Ignorance of Government Officials

Warning - News rant

I've already ranted this week on my personal Facebook account, so forgive me if some of you have heard this before. But I figured why let a good rant go to waste when I've got blog space to fill LOL.

The first phase of my rant centers around some comments by the president's press secretary this week.

Using words like "tragic"  and "ironic", he bemoans the fact that Americans have exercised their Constitutionally protected civil rights in recent weeks. Yes Really. 

In what upside-down world would someone - from the pulpit of the White House no less - berate and denigrate citizens who are exercising their right to vote, or their right to worship, or their right to trial by jury? Oh that's right, when one is talking about guns, all bets are off. It is perfectly okay to berate, denigrate, restrict, stereotype, scold, and slander firearms owners -- because somehow the Second Amendment is a dirty second-class Amendment which not only must sit at the back of the civil rights bus, but which some wish to kick off the bus entirely.

To compound his already insulting remarks, the press secretary then when on to demonstrate his ignorance of existing federal firearms law. He mentions that he thinks that Black Friday firearms sales were so high because people were buying gifts FOR friends and loved ones. 

The press secretary has apparently never heard the words "Straw Purchase". He is apparently appallingly ignorant of the fact that purchasing a firearm and going through the NICS system with the intent of supplying said firearm to someone else is Illegal. Even a purchase as a "gift" is skating over the thin ice of illegality.

There just isn't a facepalm big enough for ignorance like this - especially coming from someone in a position of national "authority", who is ostensibly speaking "for" the president about matters involving the civil rights of millions of Americans.

Then, to make matters worse, this report appeared in my newsfeed.

In this little gem, the actual Director of the actual FBI demonstrates that he has no idea how federal law governs internet sales of firearms. He apparently thinks that it just gets shipped to your home. Here is a high ranking official in federal law enforcement, who has no freaking clue about federal law requiring a firearm to be shipped to an FFL dealer, who must then fill out federal paperwork, and run a federal NICS before you can take that firearm home. 

The press secretary's ignorance is bad enough, but this guy is IN law enforcement. This guy presumably carries a firearm as a federal law enforcement officer. In fact, he can carry in places that I cannot. Yet it is me, the mere citizen and lowly pediatrician who knows and follow the law, of which this FBI Director is astonishingly ignorant.

Things like this make me very, very cranky.
I need to go do something happy instead - like roll shotgun shells in glitter for my Christmas tree :-)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Unburdening Myself about Immigrants and Islam

This latest terrorist attack in California has shaken me - I admit it.
Not so much because it makes me afraid of being attacked, but because I am afraid of what it means for the country - and for my own heart and soul.

This one is different. This wasn't a terrorist attack upon strangers in Paris. This wasn't even a terrorist attack upon strangers in Boston of the U S of A. This was cold-blooded murder of co-workers and peers who threw you a shower and bought you gifts for your baby. This was the slaughter of people who opened their hearts and lives to you, and with whom you shared office space and a holiday gathering only minutes before you murdered them.

This strikes at the heart of what I think of when I think - "America". If the news interviews are any indication, this office gathering was full of people from many other places in the world, who chose to make this country their home, and to become Americans. From some of their accents, they were "first generation". They lived and worked together, and seemingly got along well together. 

Except for the fellow who was born and raised here, and the wife he imported. That imported bride (who passed the government's "vetting", by the way), now seems to have been the catalyst and driving force. 
By all appearances they were living the American Dream - freedom of worship, a good education, a good job, co-workers who cared... 

At what point does all of that opportunity, trust, and multicultural inclusion translate into mass murder? Where did the short-circuit happen? 

Certainly this guy and his wife wouldn't be the first Muslims in this country to turn to the insidious message of hate. The Army psychiatrist, and the Boston Bombers come immediately to mind. (And no, I'm not even going to even speak their names) Clearly living in America didn't work any magic for them. But why didn't it? What was different for them? And why didn't their religious communities and families recognize it?

Being in medicine, I have many friends and associates who are first or second generation immigrants, who have made a life here and become Americans. So, what works for THEM that didn't work for these others? I don't know - I wish I did.  But it does now make me worry about the continuous new influx of immigrants - and God help me - yes, Muslim immigrants. I HATE that I feel that. I don't want that suspicion taking root in my heart - I don't like it - but I'm struggling with what to do about it.

I learned religious tolerance early on. My mother converted to Catholicism from Lutheranism when she married my Dad. My Dad had lifelong Jewish friends from Dental School. I learned about the Pillars of Islam, and the Bhagavad Gita, and the life of the Buddha from - of all sources - Sister Mary Lilliose in World Cultures class in high school.  I'm about as religiously open-minded as they come. So, these new seeds of suspicion that are trying to germinate, have me in despair for myself.

I don't consider myself anti-Muslim, or even anti-immigrant (as long as everybody got here legally). As is often said, we are all immigrants to this country if you go back far enough. Though I kept my Irish married name when I divorced, I am Pennsylvania German to the core. There are German ancestors from nearly every branch of my tree who arrived in PA before the Revolution. Then there are a sprinkling of English who intermarried, and then more Germans who arrived and set up farms before the Civil War. 

But my people became Americans almost as soon as they arrived. They fought in the French and Indian War, and in the Revolution, and in the Civil War - because THIS was their country. Yes, some of them held on to traditions and language. My maternal grandfather could still speak a little "Pennsylvania Dutch"  - the German dialect that was passed down in his family, and which was still spoken in the streets and markets of rural PA when he was a boy. But they were Americans, without a doubt.

So, I wonder what is happening now? What made this couple turn against the very people who had welcomed and accepted them? I'm not sure which was more shocking to me - that the man was born and raised here and wasn't himself an immigrant - or that he and his wife would abandon their own infant to go perform their butchery.

None of it makes sense to me. I am struggling to not let the rot of suspicion and religious discrimination get to my soul. It makes me worry for myself, and for my country. Because this attack wasn't from Muslims who were strangers. This one is harder - because this one came from Muslims who were coworkers and apparent friends. This attack was more insidious than Fort Hood or Boston, because it may now cause people to become suspicious of those muslims they already know, and previously trusted. I hope I'm wrong.

This is the kind of betrayal which can harden people's hearts and destroy communities.
IF we let it.

I'm struggling not to feed that particular wolf.
But not at least admitting the struggle, and not talking about it only makes things worse. We NEED to have this same conversation as a country. We NEED to talk to eachother and our Muslim friends and neighbors. We need to admit to our fears. We NEED to agree to support eachother, and to help eachother understand, and to work with the Muslim community to keep this from happening again.

The national conversation needs to happen. The president with his platitudes and mocking scorn of real concerns,  and the attorney general with her threats  - can both go pound sand. 
We need to talk.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Zombies. They're everywhere in popular culture. They're in movies, and TV shows, and books. They're on Mythbusters, and they're on the range.

Okay, I admit it - this craze has pretty much passed me by. I'm just not all that interested. Yeah, it's fun to joke about the Zombie Apocalypse, or use it as a preparation metaphor for virtually any disaster - see the CDC   

But other than that, the phenomenon has just not grabbed me like it seems to have with the rest of the population. So, I've been pondering what the fascination is. 

I read this article recently, which makes some sense, but I don't think it delves far enough.

The article pretty much stops at the politico-social situation currently. But I think there is more to it than that. I think that our feel-good society has gotten to the point where it isn't socially acceptable to have "enemies" anymore. You are supposed to love and understand everyone, and excuse their awful behavior, because "compassion", or because "repressed", or because "underprivileged". I think that zombies have become this generation's "Nazis" - the guaranteed enemy that nobody minds if you hate, and nobody minds if you kill -- Because there isn't anyone else left. Zombies are the last bastion of Acceptable Bad Guys.

When I was a kid we played Good Guys vs Bad Guys all the time. These were pre-Offense-at-Anything days, so sometimes the Bad Guys were western outlaws, sometimes they were Indians, sometimes they were Nazis or Japanese, and sometimes they were even "guards at the orphanage". (Yeah, that one was basically a kid mash-up of "Annie" and "Hogan's Heroes" that a couple childhood friends and I used to play LOL.) I fear that modern sheltered kids don't even play let's pretend games like this anymore, but that's a whole other topic.

But the point is, there were always Bad Guys in some form or other who had to be vanquished or escaped from. Nowadays though, you can't have "Bad Guys" without being accused of being racist, or classist, or sexist, or culturally insensitive, or offending someone in some way. The Nazis have been sort of the last to go - probably because they are white European types, and it's still ok to hate them. Oh, and Confederates - those are white guys who it's still ok to hate, too. 

Other previous groups our country has been at war with, like the Native American tribes, the Japanese, the North Koreans, the Red Chinese, the North Vietnamese, and more recently Middle Eastern Extremists (of an unnamed religion), all fall under the "racist" umbrella as even fantasy-game bad guys. It is just not socially acceptable to portray these groups as enemies or Bad Guys - even in a game or fiction.

This apparently extends to humans of any type - even cardboard humans. A few years ago I showed a non-shooter friend a video of me shooting an IDPA stage. Her response - "So you shoot people?" - took me aback for a minute. She was communicating her disapproval of using a cardboard cutout of vaguely humanoid proportions, and was equating that with shooting actual people. It took me awhile to formulate an appropriate response, but I replied that - Yes, in a way, I shoot "people". Not because I have murder in my heart, but because if I should ever have need to defend myself, it will likely not be from "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!", but from predators of my own species. Thus, the cardboard cutouts are of vaguely human geometry. 

Yup - Society has gotten to the point that you can be socially ostracized for showing aggression even to cardboard of human-ish resemblance.

But, enter Zombies.
Zombies are not people anymore. Maybe they used to be your neighbors, and maybe they still look roughly human, but now they want to eat you. They are dead (okay, UNdead), and rotting and ugly, and thus not pleasing to the eye like a human enemy, so there is little chance that you might be squeamish when pulling the trigger. You don't have to work to psychologically "dehumanize" your enemy, because they are already sort of un-human. Literal disgust for your enemy is perfectly ok, and even expected. (Wouldn't you be disgusted by rotting flesh?) It is also difficult to re-kill a zombie, so employing methods which would otherwise be considered gruesome are perfectly ok. Think heads shots, chainsaw, etc.

In short, zombies are humans that are socially acceptable enemies. (That is, until some "Respect the Undead" group comes along). People who wouldn't otherwise consider themselves aggressive or bloodthirsty really get off when it comes to zombies. To me, it is evidence that there is some heavy-duty psychological repression and dissonance going on.  It may be just harmless fantasy for most. But some people scare me, in that they work to disarm their fellow citizens against REAL dangers, and yet gain gratification from employing fantasy weapons against fantasy enemies. 

It is as if these folks pretend to have no connection at all to their very human and normal urges to protect or defend, because even defensive "aggression" is discouraged and suppressed in our society. Kids at school are punished for defending themselves against a violent bully. You can be ostracized as a weirdo if you recognize and prepare yourself for genuine dangers like sexual assault or home invasion, or you are concerned about the influx of potential bad actors into the country,  yet those who upbraid you for preparing for the real world, then turn around and cheer their favorite zombie hunter characters on TV or practice their head shots on video games. 

I'm thinking that this isn't particularly healthy - for either the individual or the country.
But what do I know. I'm just a grumpy old gal who used to play "Orphanage".

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Magazines and Pedicures

Being surrounded by so many wonderful online women shooting friends, I sometimes forget that we are still an oddity in some circles.

I was wandering around a local gun show this morning, and found some Glock43 magazines WITH the pinky extension. I'd been looking for these off/on for a couple months, so I grabbed all three on the display.

As my card was being swiped, one of the fellows at the booth asked if they were stocking stuffers. 
"No, they're for me", I informed him. "I find the 43 a little too snappy to go without the extension, and I need several of them to shoot BUG matches."

I think he was a little taken aback. 

Then he said they had a Shield if I wanted to see it. I thanked him but declined, and then added that I did see that S&W has come out with a ported Performance Center version of that gun now though, that I might be interested in later.

He paused a little,  taken aback again, I think.

Still trying, he then offered that they had an Ammo sale for Pre-Black Friday, if I needed more 9mm, at only x dollars a box. Again, I thanked him, but declined, explaining that I usually buy my Ammo online, a thousand rounds at a time.

I don't think he knew how to process all of that - especially coming from a woman who was acting alone (without husband in tow). I smiled, signed for my purchase and left.

I'm starting to take what I do for granted - especially considering all the shooting gal pals I now have - scattered across the country though they may be. I forget what sometimes rare birds we still are. I think this poor man thought he was seeing pink elephants or something - LOL. It gave me a bit of a giggle.

And yes, those magazines were a bit of a splurge, considering my new "kid-in-college" efforts at frugality. But I rationalized that I had "paid" for them by foregoing a pedicure these past 4 months.
Don't try to understand that, guys. It's a girl thing - just go with it ;-)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Blind Date ... or ... Waiting for Ashley Longworth

In case nobody's noticed, my driving goal this fall has been to learn crossbow hunting, and take my first deer.
No, don't get excited - I'm still waiting.


I've only ever been rifle hunting for deer before, and only about 4 seasons, and unsuccessfully at that. You can read about my last attempt about 2 years ago, here.

I just wanted to give an update since I haven't had much to write about lately except politics, and too much of that puts me in a bad mood.

After about three times this Autumn, being "guided" by a local archery friend on private property, I struck out on my own yesterday morning on public land. So I've kicked over another personal boundary - I went deer hunting by myself. 

That doesn't mean that I knew what I was doing, but I got up at 4:30 of my own accord, and struck out into pitch dark state Wildlife Management Area - alone. It was rather intimidating. I'm not a fan of the dark, and I didn't want to use a flashlight for fear of advertising my presence. But I overcame my apprehension, and DID it. That in and of itself is an accomplishment for me (I know it's small, but I'm all about baby steps)

I haven't taken my deer yet, but I've at least learned a few things. Here are a few observations from my first four experiences crossbow hunting.

-Squirrels live to fake me out - I think it's in the Squirrel Union Contract. I bet they have meeting halls up the big oaks where they drink acorn beer and laugh at me.

-Chipmunks make an awful lot of leaf noise for being so small. I think they would have unions like squirrels, except they're too high on bath salts to have a meeting.

-Woodpeckers are weird - they chase each other around tree trunks, and then batter their heads into the wood for entertainment. Maybe they borrowed the bath salts from the chipmunks.

-Camo can have a downside if a deer at a dead run doesn't see you. Let's just say I nearly added a real-life verse to "Grandma got run over by a (rein)deer"!

-The funnel-like device designed to help women answer the call of nature is not helpful if it makes you "scent mark" more of your own self than the leaves on the ground. I'll stick with the tried and true that has worked for me for 50-plus years, thanks anyway.

-Your designated "spot" doesn't look the same at O-dark-thirty AM. How many times can you walk past a place before you recognize it? HELLO, Everybody in the area - I'M HERE! D'oh.

And okay, so it wasn't really a "blind" I was using yesterday either, so much as a semi-concealed spot on a stool. I'm not very good at this and I'm still learning. But the deer I was expecting to show up for this solo "date" never did appear. It reminded me of being stood up for a blind date. ("Blind" date - get it? Okay, never mind) How many hours does one wait before giving up? After 3 hours I started bargaining with myself. Give it another hour, and then you can go have bacon and eggs, I told my rumbly tumbly. I might as well have just left at that point, because the 40 more minutes I stuck it out were wiggly, and fidgety, and therefore, I'm sure, useless to my cause. Ah well.

During the 40 minute fidget-phase, my mind started to wander and I started thinking about the old TV show "The Waltons". It occurred to me that I was pretty much Miss Emily Baldwin - pitifully waiting - but ever hopeful - for her long lost beau Ashley Longworth. Except this was a "beau" I wanted to kill and eat. Kinda puts a bit of a Black Widow/ Hannibal Lecter twist on the Waltons' theme, doesn't it LOL!

So, I gave up waiting for my first deer yesterday, but I'll be back out again in a few days. (And without the funnel device - that went in the garbage) I admit that I'm getting a little discouraged. Taking one's first deer is a milestone that 12-yr olds easily achieve, yet this 52-year old hasn't managed it yet. And to top it off, when I got home, Facebook announced that a former classmate's 7-yr old had taken a Bear, of all things.  *sigh* This being a LateBloomer can be a bit hard on the ego, LOL.

But all in all, it was still a pleasant little sit in the woods, and was probably healthier for me than a similar sit on the couch on a Saturday morning. So there's that - LOL.  I choose to believe that my deer is out there somewhere.

Just call me Miss Emily. 
And now I'm going to go have a slug of "The Recipe" :-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Concealed Carry Options

For my 100th post, I'm going to show you the new concealed carry options I've gotten for myself.

The usual caveats apply - I am not a firearms "expert", I am not an instructor, and I am not a self-defense expert. I'm just Jane Q Public, learning my way through this like everybody else. I know what MY needs/problems/concerns are, and I know what I like and what I don't like. You will obviously need to find what works for "you", but I hope this might give you some more ideas to look at.

Following, are two options I found while poking around the NRAAM this past spring. These options fit my Glock 42. It is still my favorite gun, and at the time, I didn't have a 43 yet, as it had only been released that weekend. During that event I was carrying my Glock 42 in my Ava IWB holster from Flashbang.

I have looked at (and even bought) other bellybands in the past, but I was just not satisfied with them. The main reason for this is that I am completely paranoid about retention. I just could not be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that the gun was not going to squish up out of the elastic. I do not have a young toothpick body type, and rolls of flesh tend to appear when I sit down, bend over, and perform the various routines of everyday life. That's just the reality, and I did not want one of these random rolls to force the gun to slide upwards out of its designated pocket in the elastic. I also did not want to deal with any retention straps or anything else getting in the way of my grip and draw in an emergency.  Plus, all of my match holsters are kydex. It's what I know. It's what I trust, and I know it works for me. I like the positive "click" sound, reassuring me that the gun is properly seated, and I like that kydex stays open and ready for reholstering.

So, imagine my delight when I saw at the Crossbreed booth, a bellyband WITH a Velcro-backed kydex holster. I ordered the size large band, so that I had the option of wearing it at hip level, and ordered the separate kydex holster, sized for my Glock 42.

Unlike other belly bands which have lingerie-type hooks and eyes (which I find tedious), this band is almost infinitely adjustable with wide swaths of velcro. I have worn this rig all day, driving the car, shopping for groceries, cooking, and lounging on the couch, and like it VERY much. I find it very comfortable. The only drawback I can find so far is that you can occasionally hear the Velcro noise. That seemed to occur more with yoga pants though, than with jeans, and may have only been noticeable to "me".

One huge advantage for me has been the kydex retention, while also not requiring a belt. I do often wear a belt anyway, but they are sometimes dressier belts which are not enhanced by the obvious outside clips of an IWB holster. And some days are just yoga pant days (not that I actually DO yoga or anything - I'm just a lazy comfort freak LOL) 

The other big "plus" to this rig, is that it stays on me when I (as we women do) need to drop trou to take care of business. No need for a gun peg in the bathroom, (like I saw at Gunsite), and no worries about the gun showing below the bathroom stall door as it can do with an IWB holster. Also no chance of leaving the gun behind in the bathroom, as you hear about in the news from time to time. The gun stays in the holster, which stays attached to the bellyband, which stays right where it is, around my waist.

Obviously your mileage may vary if you carry a larger gun, but for my G42 and my needs, I am a new fan. I think I found my new favorite carry method!

The second option I found, is a fallback for when a baggy outer layer to cover the grip of the gun is not viable - as with lightweight and sheerer summer fabrics. I also found this option at the NRAAM - this time at the Tuff Products booth.

Although this "looks" like purse carry, it's not. It's more of a holster pouch, which has the stability of a belt clip. The model I bought, is an iridescent red rip stop nylon, which does not scream "gun", like I feel the black and coyote versions do. And with my addition of a cross-body shoulder strap, the bag "camouflages" nicely as a small cross body purse. Ta-da! Gun hiding in plain sight. This bag has zippers up both sides, and Velcro at the top, with a grab and "rip" handle. You pull vigorously down on the handle, and whole thing peels down, exposing the gun.

I'm not a fan of the Velcro elastic loop that came with the bag, which was supposed to hold the gun inside (see my retention and control issues above). But, by happy coincidence, the kydex holster with Velcro backing which goes on my Crossbreed bellyband, also adheres nicely inside this bag.

I like the belt clip that is attached to the back of the bag. This gives me more stability and retention than say a fanny pack or a carry purse, and makes it more like an on-body holster. As you can see, comparing the photos, the addition of the strap makes the bag a little less "obvious". The belt clip worked with yoga pants too, and the strap gave it a little more support when wearing with belt-less pants.

I haven't yet become a dedicated EVERY day carrier - mostly because of convenience and clothing issues. My paranoia about control and retention have added to my "barriers" and frustration. I am hoping the addition of these two options for me will help change that situation for the better. And I hope by sharing these options, that it may help someone else's search as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Brutal Reality vs Smug Isolation

I'm going to go on a bit of a mental journey today. It does all fit together eventually, and does have a point, (sort of). So bear with me. These are some new realizations for me, and getting them down on paper (pixels?) helps me hash them out for myself.  So this is less of a declarative post, than a personal intellectual exercise. Or perhaps it's all gibberish, and I'm just flattering myself - LOL Here we go ...

In case you missed it about a month ago, I went hunting for the first time. It was challenging, and also empowering and enlightening, because it was a successful hunt for me. I killed three game birds that day, for the purpose of eating them. This is something that I hadn't done before, but it was something that I had wanted to do for a long time. I wanted to have that experience, and to understand the most basic reality of human existence - killing for food. 

This experience got me to thinking about other realities in life. Yes, I killed another creature. I took a life. But when it comes down to it, this is what human existence is all about. Unless one practices Jainism, and sweeps even insects from one's path lest they be crushed underfoot, we human beings take life. It's part of our existence at the top of the food chain, and also part of life amongst the predators of our own species. Yet the majority of people refuse to acknowledge this fundamental fact of life.

Besides the standard spiders in the house and bugs on the windshield, most Americans are isolated from the actual act of killing. They let the exterminator take care of the mice in the attic, and don't even want to know where their steak or chicken comes from. Their meat arrives in front of them as non-descript slabs of protein, on trays in the supermarket. And if those slabs have already been flash frozen and bulk packaged into bags, there isn't even any blood. People don't even have to get their hands dirty.

And yet those people with "clean hands" often have the nerve to be smug - smug and particular about "how" that slab of protein was killed or caught - while they sit on their hands, waiting to be fed.  They can even be smug and particular about what kind of life their food lead while it was on the hoof or wing. (feed lot or free range, "cage free", etc) Yet the actual bloody business of the killing and cleaning/butchering, is something that most of those people don't want anything to do with. They are isolated from the brutal reality of obtaining the food they need to survive.

It's the same way with the reality of death in general. People mostly don't die at home anymore, they die in the hospital. Families neither care for their loved ones in their last moments, nor do they prepare the bodies for burial at home. We have entire medical and funerary industries to take care of that bit of unpleasantness for us. 

Thus, most people in our society are completely isolated from the brutal physical reality of death in all of its forms - both human and across species.

Most Americans are protected from the day-to-day brutal reality of defense of home and hearth as well. No one here in the US has to personally protect their village and crops from invasion anymore. Nor must they worry about being murdered in their beds by marauding bands from neighboring tribes. We have a military to do that "for" us. We are isolated from that brutality - at least in this country - and at least for most of the last 150 years. 

But then there is random evil. Not accidents, not invasions, not natural disasters, but true evil - generated in the human heart, and carried out by individual human beings who we thought were like us - simply for evil intent. Like providing our food, and dealing with our defense and our dead, we have "farmed out" defense from this type of criminal evil to others as well.  By making laws and hiring police, people have attempted to insulate themselves from this form of brutal reality too. They might even naively think that because they haven't personally experienced it, that evil doesn't still exist. Or they might - like the cleaned-handed meat-eaters mentioned above - become smug and particular. They might think they shouldn't HAVE to lift a finger to defend themselves or to even make smart choices - that's "victim-blaming" they whine. And yet they feel they have the right to dictate how the police and others, who are less insulated than they, DO make choices to defend both themselves and other citizens.

These types of people have become so successful at insulating themselves from the uncomfortable, brutal realities of the world, that when presented with danger or actual evil,  they find themselves completely unable to function or confront it. They have stripped themselves of every tool and skill that humanity used to have at its disposal to deal with danger and defense. They have nothing left but impotently attempting to reason with a bear.

This is where many Americans have brought themselves. And it is not only ineffective, it is pathetically childish and irrational.

These are the kinds of people who are so divorced from reality, that they think that a bear "cares" what you have to say to it. These kinds of people think we should use "contraception" to control deer populations. These are the kinds of people who thought that Officer Wilson should have let Michael Brown beat him to death. These are the kinds of people who think that a Gun Free Zone sign protects our children. These are the people who think that evil responds to pleas for mercy. It is  beyond childish and irrational - it's  a fantasy world.

These are people who live in a very tiny, insulated bubble of perceived security. They cannot conceive of personally shedding animal blood even to save themselves from starvation - let alone shedding human blood to save themselves from a mass murderer. They are helpless and impotent when faced with brutal reality. Yet, to help assuage their own feelings of impotence, they want to dictate to those who DO have those skills. They want to make everyone as helpless and dependent as they are. I know there is a psychiatric term for this, but it's escaping me at the moment.

Then there are the people who emotionally transfer their fear of a situation into fear of an inanimate object. Often the two of these mental short-circuits go hand-in-hand --skipping merrily down the path to fantasyland. These helpless, impotent people, apparently are unable to acknowledge human will, and the capacity for evil in the human heart, because they instead ascribe that will, and capacity for evil to the inanimate object - which is the firearm.

In order to make themselves feel more secure and "in control" - even though they are actually impotent - these types of people attempt to exert control over evil by exerting control over what they fear. And thus, we have gun-grabbers.

We have created in this country, such a good and secure society, that it is now being threatened because of that very security. Our present societal safety and isolation from brutal reality has now bred contempt for the very methods and means which provided that security. 

As a physician, I need to point out that this is not unlike the vaccine situation currently. Vaccines have been so successful at shielding people from the previous horrors of polio, diphtheria , pertussis, etc, that some people now attack the very vaccines which enabled them to survive their own childhood. They have no concept of what existed before, and no concept of accepting tiny risk in order to avoid tremendous risk.

Not only do we now have antivaxxers, but thanks to general societal affluence and "food security", we now have people who are annoyed by the noises and smells coming from the farm adjacent to their new subdivision. (God forbid you should have to smell the manure that comes from the cattle which provide your meat and milk.) 

We now have people who protest against hunting not only deer, but also the coyotes and cougars which kill livestock - and your little dog too. We now have people who believe that the Police are the violence problem. These people throw armed, on-duty, uniformed police officers out of their restaurants - because of their irrational fear of "guns". To them, it doesn't matter WHO is using the gun, it is the gun itself which is the root evil.

By extension of that, we now have people who want to control and get rid of the very right to firearms which created this secure society in the first place. It's another symptom of this same disease that I've been describing - the disease of Smug, Clean-handed Isolation.

This disease turns grown adults into irrational, dependent, children. And they want to turn "you" into one too - because they are threatened by people who are not insecure and dependent like they are.  Even though they are actually powerless and impotent, they want to feel as if they have "done something" to assuage their own fears. Thus instead of stepping up to take responsibility for their own defense, they work to make you as powerless as they are.

These are the kinds of people we are up against as gun-owners - the irrational, the impotent, and the fearful. And the galling thing, is that all the while they work to make "you" powerless, they sit happily in their Smug Isolation - sitting primly on their clean hands, waiting for "someone" to feed and protect them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fabulously Adequate

I have a new mantra. "Fabulously Adequate".
Sounds rather oxymoronic, doesn't it? See also Gloriously Middling, and Outrageously Average. Yet these are all true, and all ME.

I experienced the revelation of this new term, thanks to an article I stumbled across on the interwebs yesterday. You know - the kind of thing where Facebook tells you that a friend "liked" or "commented on" an article posted on the page of a third person whom you don't even know?  It might even have been originally shared from yet another party whom you don't know? And might even be of suspicious origin? Yet somehow it falls under YOUR eye? Yes, that kind of article. It might be legitimately scientific, or it might not. I don't even honestly care if it came originally from the website of lesbian goat herding nuns on Harley's - because I learned something from it.
Here is the article - read it all the way through.

Imposter Syndrome. Sooner or later they're going to figure out that I don't know what I'm doing. Yup. Every. Damn. Day. LOL.

Even in medicine - where I am supposed to be highly trained - it happens. In fact I dare all but the most narcissistic surgeons to claim that this never happens to them as physicians. I think professional humility is a good thing. I recognize that I don't work in a cutting edge academic facility. I don't "save lives" every day. I'm a small town, general pediatrician. I can work at being the best that I can be at what I do, and serve my patients to the best of my ability, but even with that, I am Fabulously Adequate. To strive for anything else would drive me insane - or to the depths of despair at my ineptitude at being "The Best".

When I was a medical student, a wise eye surgeon told me that "The Enemy of 'Good' is 'Perfect'."  Meaning that you have to be able to accept that a good job is "good enough", because with eye surgery, as with many things in life, you can ruin a good thing by trying to tweak it into perfection. I tried to take that advice to heart, and this article just brought all that back for me.

So I have a new mantra for my Shooting ... And my Singing ... And my Sewing ... And now also my "Writing". 

Which brings me to my plans for the weekend.  I'll be attending my second Brownell's Lady 3-Gun Match in Clinton, SC. This will be only my 6th 3-Gun match ever, and due to life throwing me curveballs, my ONLY 3-Gun match for the season. I had plans for several others, including the War Sport Team Challenge, and a 3-Gun Nation Regional match, but surgery this summer got in the way. Life happens. Work happens too, which is why I wasn't sure until last week that I'd be going to this match either.

I haven't had time to pattern my M2 (nor do I really know how to do that anyway), but I've got birdshot, and slugs, and I've got buckshot. I haven't had time to re-sight-in my Adams Arms rifle, but it worked fine at 200 yards a couple months ago.

I've at least shot my M&P 9 recently, so there's that.

So, I'm not terribly prepared, but I'm driving to South Carolina to mix and mingle with awesome women, and shoot guns. That is a good enough goal in and of itself for this year, as far as I am concerned. I'm going to have a blast, and I'm going to be Fabulously Adequate! :-D
See you there!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


If you remember this post from last January, you know that I've gotten a bug this year to attempt bird hunting. I even bid on, and won my Benelli ETHOS at the Women's Outdoor and Shooting Industry Dinner at the 2015 SHOT Show, with this goal in mind. I started shooting sporting clays this year, with this goal in mind as well. But I still didn't have a lot of hope for actual bird hunting. When one has no land, no dog, and no skills, one's options are limited.

Nonetheless, my opportunity to take the next step did present itself -- in the form of a Facebook post, which announced that there were still slots available for a September Ladies Upland Hunt by Calibered Events The hunt was for women only, and was to take place on the grounds of an outfitter, who would provide guides and pointers. BINGO! This was exactly what I had been looking for! And it was practically in my back  yard -- no airfare needed! After first making sure that this event would be suitable for novices, I signed up.

I was the last woman to arrive at the gorgeous rental vacation home on Friday evening. There were seven of us, plus our Calibered Events host, Ann Marie Foster. I was a little nervous meeting new people, but soon realized that I was in the midst of an excellent company of like-minded women. All had firearms experience, and some had hunting experience - including veterans of the same event last year - but I wasn't the only novice. Whew!

      My room had a bit of a view. This was not your grandfather's hunting cabin.

When a group of women get together, there is usually wine and food involved, and this event was no exception. But when women HUNTERS get together, it ups the ante. Besides the requisite homemade dip and salsa, there was Sweet Lebanon-style deer bologna, and grilled dove breast rumaki. The ice was broken, and I was hooked before I even got started! :-) 

Saturday hunt morning dawned dark and cloudy. We had a panoramic view over the lake from our mountaintop digs, as we ate our breakfast quiche. (Yes, we had quiche - Ann Marie took good care of us) But the view wasn't encouraging. The sun peeked up over the mountains, and then promptly disappeared into rain. But as the saying goes, "There is no bad weather, only bad gear". We had come prepared, so we loaded up and headed to On-Point Outfitters to start the day's adventure. 

      Our breakfast view

It quickly became apparent that this was going to be a completely different shooting experience for me. Shooting matches on a formal range, involve only one person loaded and firing at a time. In upland hunting, everyone in your party is loaded and ready, and walking abreast of you in fairly close proximity. There's a fair amount of trust involved with that. I give the guides a lot of credit in that department, as they do this with complete strangers all the time. That's probably why we were invited to shoot a round of 5-stand first. It helped us get warmed-up, but I think it also helped the guides get a feel for our gun-handling and safety, before we went out.

    Warming up with 5-stand

After the warm-up at 5-stand, we were ready to head out and hunt. We broke up into two groups - one of four shooters, and one of three shooters. Ann Marie, our host, had to limit herself to camera duty, due to recent surgery, but that meant that she got some fantastic photos to record the event.

I was in the group of three - with Deb and Margaret. Our guide was Brett, who brought his English pointers Daisy and Mitch. Mitch was the younger, greener dog, at 2 years old, and he was wearing a bell. Daisy, was the old hand, and she was wearing an electronic beeping collar. Daisy was seven, and reportedly starting to feel her age a little. I felt her pain, and thought that it was kind of fitting for Daisy to introduce me to upland hunting at age 52 :-)

    Our guide Brett, working Daisy (or was it vice versa?)

By the time we set out into the fields, the rain had settled down into a light drizzle/mist. The temperature was still up though, so I was comfortable in just my base layer top and my father's upland vest, which I wore in his honor. The dogs were quite literally vibrating with anticipation. My heart was doing an identical dance - just internally.

We were hunting released pheasants and chukars. Sometimes the chukars ran, instead of flying, and sometimes they just hunkered down and seemed to hold their breath (or maybe that was me holding my breath). The pheasants ran some too, judging by the way the dogs pointed, and then moved a bit and pointed again. But the pheasants didn't seem as inclined to use their feet as the chukars did.

It was fascinating to watch the dogs work. It was "work", but they sure seemed to be having fun. The way they bounded through the fields and over the grass hummocks, it was a wonder they could smell anything - but they clearly did. When they froze into the pointing posture, it got REALLY exciting. Mitch, the younger dog, had to be "whoa'd" a few times - he was so eager. 

The flush was exciting and explosive. The birds just burst violently out from their hiding places and you didn't know which direction they would fly. The chukars almost seemed to hover in front of you for a second or so - too close to shoot - before they chose a direction with which to leave - expeditiously.

The pheasant "profile" as they flew was so familiar from the photos and paintings I've seen over the years, (and also from the mounts my dad had when I was a child), that it was a real "connection" to finally see it in person. And then to see that silhouette over the bead of my gun ... it was thrilling and amazing. I still have a picture in my head of one pheasant who got away. After he made his successful escape over our heads and behind, he spread his wings further, and just "glided" - it was very cool. He also wasn't the only one who got away. There was one I had a perfect bead on - but I had forgotten to push my safety off. I squeezed the trigger ... and nothing happened (insert dirty words) LOL! I also had several misses, as did the gals with me. But it was all a learning experience, and a fascinating one at that.

Not only did Daisy and Mitch find and point the birds, they also retrieved them for us. In fact, in this photo of my first bird ever, Daisy still has a mouthful of feathers. She was a good girl, and clearly enjoyed her job!

       My first bird (Photos courtesy of Ann Marie Foster)

After a couple hours of field walking amongst the grasses and sorghum, we had a break for lunch back at the kennel building, and the dogs got a rest as well. I picked Brett's brain about dogs and behaviors and training, and it revived all kinds of memories from my childhood. After filling up on sloppy joes and chicken soup and brownies, we headed back out for another couple hours.

In the end, everyone in our party bagged something. I was really glad that no one went home empty-handed. Though I had arrived fully-prepared to be that person, and just have an inspiring experience, I actually brought home two pheasants and a chukar. I had a bit of a "moment" with my first bird. I had to take a minute to talk to the man whose vest I was wearing, and ask if he had seen me take that bird after all these years. I think he did, and I'm thrilled.

On-Point cleaned the birds for us, and saved the tail feathers. I asked if I could watch though. I wanted to see the process from beginning to end. It was interesting, and it didn't bother me at all - I had watched my dad clean birds in the basement when I was a kid, and I have vague memories of helping the neighbors chop the heads off chickens when I was seven or eight. Meat comes from animals - that's the way life works - and I wanted to enjoy the entire process from Field to Fork.

On our drive back to the vacation house, we stopped at a local gift shop. Why not, right? There we were, all eight of us, trooping into the tourist enclave gift shop, dressed in our field boots, wet brush pants, camo, and orange hats. We browsed amongst the prints, and ceramics, sampled dip mixes and drew some interested looks. We couldn't have appeared more incongruous if we tried. But that is the cool thing I am discovering about women hunters - we are all about incongruity. You don't have to surrender your femininity to hunt. It's not an either/or proposition, and I LOVED that.

I owe a huge thank you to Ann Marie Foster of Calibered Events, for setting up this memorable event, and another giant thank you to On-Point Outfitters for providing a wonderful first experience. Huge hugs and thank yous  go, of course, to Deb, Margaret, Christy, Kate, Audrey and Lori. I couldn't have asked for a more fun and supportive group of women with whom to do this.
This was a life-changing experience, and I will be back.
I'm a Wingshooter!

   (Photo courtesy of Ann Marie Foster)