Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year-end Odds and Ends

You may have noticed that the blog postings have dropped off the past couple months or so. Sorry about that. I've been kind of busy, and I guess I should catch you up.

Don't worry - there's been nothing earth shattering, but life has kept me occupied. Some of the "busy-ness" of which I am most proud are several articles which I have written for other places on the internet. Yes, I know, this is kind of like feeding everyone else but yourself, but it made me happy anyway.

One article was for A Girl & A Gun Club, here

And two more articles were for Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO), which is a project of the Second Amendment Foundation.  Here And Here

In fact, why don't I just give you the whole list that I've written for DRGO,  Here

Other things I've been up to are:
Cooking-up some ducks I shot for Thanksgiving

Quartet- ing for Christmas (times 3 separate events, plus a National Anthem) - insert video link

Various sewing projects for new additions to the human race ( photos)

I'm also starting the learning process for becoming an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor,
And I'm looking into obtaining a provisional patent for a gun-carrying idea,
And of course - working my actual "day job".

Whew! Hope you had a great 2016, and here's to an even more interesting 2017!
P.S. I've discovered that they are no longer offering updates or support for the Blogger app on iPad. It is getting wonkier and wonkier, and using Safari is not helping much either. If I have to switch to Wordpress in order to maintain my sanity, i'll definitely let you know.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Santa and Behavior

I'm going to rant for a second this morning. Some of you aren't going to like it, but I think it needs to be said. I'm veering off the firearms topic and into seasonal business for a change.

I'm talking about the Santa stuff, and "proving" to your children that he's "real". I mean seriously? If your kids are smart enough to question the (admittedly well-intentioned) lies that you have been telling them, then isn't it time to fess up and break it to them gently - not double-down on the deceit?? Placing "footprints" on the carpet, or producing photoshopped images of your living room as "proof", in order to shore up your ruse for skeptical children seems cruel to me -  even counter-productive. You WANT your children to develop analytical minds, and question what seems illogical. That's a sign of burgeoning maturity and brain development. Intentionally trying to thwart that process just so that you can have your "tee-he, isn't that cute" moment for one more year is selfish and stupid in my book.

I have a problem with the whole "Santa-cam" and Elf on a Shelf business too. So, you are basically admitting that YOU are not the authority figure in your family - some imaginary bribery fairy is? I don't get that. To me, that means you have abdicated control and responsibility because you want to be your child's friend instead of the parent. In my mind that makes you just as bad as the morons who threaten their kids with "The doctor is going to give you a shot if you don't behave" ... Seriously??!!

YOU need to be the authority figure in your child's life. YOU, and the boundaries that YOU set need to be the reason that they behave. Otherwise, all you are doing is abdicating your own authority, and lowering the bar for your children's moral development.

Yes, we all love the sweet Santa-believing innocence this time of year. But that story should be a story of the spirit of generosity, and thinking of others besides yourself - not a crow bar to leverage good behavior, or a punitive bludgeon against rational thought.
Rant off.

Monday, November 28, 2016

My First Ducks and My Benelli 828U

Last Saturday was a landmark day for me - I checked another accomplishment off my bucket list. That's the day I became a Waterfowl Shooter.

The occasion was made possible by Calibered Events
and M&M Hunting and Sporting Clays

This Ladies Only event took place on the grounds of M&M Hunting and Sporting Clays in New Jersey - about 30 minutes from Philadelphia. Since I wasn't local, I accepted the invitation of my friend Annette     to lodge near her, so that we could drive over together. I'm so glad we decided to do that. I had never done ducks before, and she had never hunted at all before, so we were our own mutual support group. We started our day with breakfast at a local diner so I could get my scrapple fix,
and then we ventured across the big bridge into New Jersey. 

The M&M Facility was huge and gorgeous. We met our event host Ann Marie Foster in the main building, and filled out our one day New Jersey hunting license papers. After a few introductions to the rest of the ladies, and some organizational housekeeping, we split into golf-cart size groups and hit the sporting clays course to warm up our trigger fingers.

We warmed up with 50 shells of sporting clays. The course was well organized , but our method was a bit unorthodox, as we drove around in our golf carts looking for traps that would send us the crossers and incoming shots that we needed to practice on. We did get a few odd looks from other (mostly male) shooters, but how common IS a group of nine women in camo on a shotgun course in New Jersey? The sun, the blue sky, the falling leaves, and the smell of the spent shells made for a PERFECT fall day.

Link to video 

After our clays practice, we ate a large hearty lunch in the main building at M&M, and got to know eachother a little more. The laughs had started already, and we had some visits with our Labrador partners-to-be as well.

Before we knew it, it was time for the donning of rubber boots, and then off to the marsh release area we went. 

I had not planned on duck hunting in shirt sleeves. In fact, I had sewed-up an entire camo fleece outfit to wear under my outer shell for insulation. I had come prepared for twenty degrees and damp. Fortunately, I had thrown a camo wicking shirt in my suitcase as well, which was originally intended to be my baselayer. That shirt ended up being my "only" layer due to the nearly 70 degree weather. I brought the fleece and shell just in case, but they ended up staying in my daypack. Ah well - better to have and not need, than to need and not have. I am never one to look "gift horse" weather in the mouth!

There were several permanent blinds set up, scattered around the pond/marsh area where the shoot took place. We were to rotate as groups between these blinds during our two hour session. We split up into three groups of three women each, with a guide and dog each per blind.

The first two blind locations weren't very productive for our group of three gals, which consisted of myself, Annette, and Lynn.  We kind of felt bad for the dogs (Trigger, Avery, and Hook). They wanted to jump into the water with every shotgun report - even if it was a miss. ( Yeah, sorry guys)  But Annette saved the day with the first birds for our blind.

For me personally, it took awhile to be able to judge distance. Ducks are bigger than clays, and thus looked "closer" because I wasn't used to the size - if that makes sense. (That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it) Thus, I took some shots that were much too far to be useful. But this was a learning experience, and by the time we got to the third blind I was learning to be patient and wait for a closer shot. I also got some repetitive motion experience in standing up, flicking off the safety and shouldering the gun --- and then reversing the motions to sit back down again, when realizing that the shot was too long. Everything can be a learning experience if you let it. (ALSO my story, and I'm sticking to it!)

Despite trying to stay positive, I admit to getting a little discouraged by the time we got to the third blind rotation. I had still not bagged my first duck, despite a couple shots where I felt I "should" have. But persistence and location were the keys- as well as the aforementioned patience - and I ultimately bagged at least six. It was hard to keep track, as we were taking turns, and all the ducks were just in a pile. I took home seven, because a few of the gals didn't want all of theirs, but I know I hit six. 


It was interesting watching the way the ducks flew. Unlike clays, they could purposefully change direction and respond (or not) to the calls of our guides. They also took advantage of the prevailing winds. Some breezed on past out of range, while others banked and headed over to check out the decoys. Some even came straight at us.  I shot one of those incoming overhead ducks successfully. But as it folded, the momentum dropped it nearly on top of my blind mate's head! Fortunately, she had bent down to get a drink, or it might have hit her square in the face. I wish I'd had a GoPro to record that one!

There were other moments of levity - not all of them G-rated. I remember Lynn wondering aloud if the ducks that successfully landed among the decoys were disappointed to discover that they were plastic. I couldn't quite keep a comment to myself about discovering that your blind date was really a blow-up doll. Yeah, Dignity and Decorum - that's me. 

I managed to provide other comic relief as well. Being the paragon of Grace, Beauty, and Charm that I am, I managed to hit my head on the back roof area of the blind a couple times, while I was standing and shooting - Owwww. (Except "Oww" wasn't what I said - Dignity and Decorum, remember?) Between repetitively bonking my head and shooting a box and a half of high brass, I really needed some Ibuprofen by the time I got back to the hotel - LOL

As far as firepower goes, there were only two of us in the entire group using over/under guns. The rest were shooting semi-autos. There were a few times where I thought a third shot from a semi-auto would have been useful to me, but I'm discovering that I feel the same way about my Benelli 828U as I do about my revolver. Knowing I have limited rounds forces me to change my mindset. Instead of blasting away, I have to slow down, concentrate, and make every shot count. I like the discipline that is coming along with that. It's good for me. 

Some people may wonder about a "released" shoot, and whether that was "sporting" enough. Truthfully, I wondered how I would feel about it myself. But in the end, I didn't feel bad about shooting these animals - even as releases. Plenty of the ducks evaded us and reached freedom, and even though they were raised before release, they had lived a better life than the average factory farm chicken. 

I did have a bit of a "moment" though when I crouched down to stroke the feathers of the birds on the ground.  I had a memory flash of watching my dad clean the day's bag limit in our basement as a child. Part of me was a little sad that I didn't get to share this with him. But I've realized that things happen in their own time. That time just wasn't "for" me. I wasn't ready then. But now IS my time, and I'm so thrilled that it is :-)

This was a great experience, and a great way to get my feet wet with waterfowl. It may not have been a completely "wild" setting, but it allowed someone like me - who will never have her own dogs or her own boat or her own decoys - to get a taste of the experience in a positive way.

Thank you Calibered Events and M&M Preserve for the unforgettable opportunity!

  This bottle of feathers and license is going on my keepsake shelf

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The 828U - My Benelli Family Addition

Those of you who read here regularly know that I am on the shotgun learning curve. You also know that I have an affection for Benelli. My love affair started back when I was first looking to get into 3-Gun, and needed my own shotgun. 

A few years after that, while at SHOT Show, I got to shoot the new Benelli ETHOS. Here was a "classic" looking shotgun that worked and felt exactly like my M2 - meaning that I wouldn't have to learn anything new in order to shoot it. By about a year later, I owned an ETHOS of my own, and started learning to shoot sporting clays.
I even shot my first pheasant with that gun!

Now, this year, I've been shooting more clays than ever before, and have been "jonesing"  for an even more classic shotgun style. Watching some of the other shooters with their over and under guns kept reminding me of my father, and the only one of his guns I ever got to shoot.

What I really wanted was a Benelli 828U - the new design Benelli introduced at SHOT 2015.

But I kept telling myself "Maybe next year", and "You don't need another shotgun". Alas, those of you who know this type of craving, know that there is no such thing as "need" - only "must have".

I fought the craving all summer. But then I signed up for a Ladies Duck Hunt,
and the presidential election turned into a circus side-show. My inner rationalization machine kicked into high gear. My craving heart told my budgeting brain all kinds of whining and wheedling tales, trying to pry open my wallet.

"But the hunt is in JERSEY - wouldn't you have to worry less if you didn't take a semi-auto?"

"But the election - won't guns start flying off the shelves if the election goes badly? And then you won't be able to find one when you want it! - Remember 2013??"

"But it would remind you of your Dad..."

I finally caved to the pressure from within, and made the trip to the big box store three weeks ago - because there were no local shops that carried Benelli.

I LOVE this gun. She really IS beautiful - even with the black anodized receiver. My ETHOS has the gorgeous nickel-plate, and the sales guy tried to steer me in that direction this time as well,  but I decided that if I was going hunting, I didn't want the shiny this time. This was actually a tough decision for my inner girl, because I do like pink and shiny so very much. But learning to appreciate the beautiful woodgrain of the 828U is another homage to my father :-)

My 828U came in a hard case, with padded tartan lining, and included a box with 5 crio  chokes, Benelli oil, and various shims for adjusting drop and cast. I couldn't WAIT to try her out!

Three days after my purchase, I took my new prize on her maiden voyage for three rounds of skeet with some friends. I'm even worse at skeet than I am at sporting clays, but the GUN was awesome! This gun is so light, and so well-balanced, that I could hold it with ONE finger! Despite being lightweight, the 828U didn't seem to have any more recoil than my ETHOS or M2! This had been a concern for me, in switching from semi-auto. But the Progressive-Comfort stock did a spectacular job. 

Another reason I love Benellis - and the 828U was no exception - is that the guns FIT me right out of the box. There are multiple shims with which to adjust drop and cast, but I don't seem to need any of them. The length of pull works for me, and the gun mounts easily.

That isn't to say that I don't have some adjusting to do while I'm working to learn a new "platform".  I have to keep reminding myself to angle the action slightly away from me when breaking it open after taking my shots. The ejectors are brisk, and I almost took a couple hulls to the face the first time - LOL!  But that's just me being used to semi-autos. 

The action itself breaks pretty easily despite being new. (Something that I read is NOT common with other new O/U guns) I'm still learning the workings of shotguns, but I understand that this is due to Benelli's modern redesign, using a steel locking plate, and steel breech block in an aluminum receiver, which changes the stress points and takes some of the stiffness out. I'm not a gunsmith, or engineer, so this is how "I" understood the explanation, but maybe I've got things a bit snarled. In any case, these redesigns make the gun light and easy to break open - even for an O/U newb like me.

The aluminum receiver and carbon fiber rib are also part of Benelli's redesign of this classic shotgun style, and what make the gun so lightweight and pleasant for me to carry around. I'm really going to appreciate this the next time I go on a Ladies Pheasant Hunt.

The safety switch on this gun is in a new location for me. The 828U's safety is located at the top of the receiver - for thumb activation - vs the side button on my ETHOS and M2. I actually kind of like it better on top, if truth be told. The motion on top seems more intuitive to me, and I don't have to do anything else with my trigger finger but be mindful of where it is. The barrel selector switch is incorporated into the safety switch, and is marked in an intuitive way so that even "I" can understand it.

In addition to those first three rounds of skeet, I've since shot two rounds of 100 sporting clays each with the 828U  - with no pain or bruises, and no malfunctions whatsoever. I love the way this gun points, and for some reason I like the way it "sounds" - the solid, satisfying "thunk" when I close the action with shells ready to rock --  and the oddly musical "doop" of the ejected hulls. I don't know if that pleasure means I'm channeling my inner 12 year old's memories, or if there is something genetic about shotguns. Either way, I do know that this gun is DEFINITELY a keeper.
Bring on those ducks!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Daddies and Daughters

My personal Facebook page is often dotted with memes that I find funny about children and parenting. I call them "Your Pediatric Moment for (insert day)" 

But today's few lines of Pediatric Moment have turned into a blog post, so here it is...

This is the piece that got my brain rolling.

I've been especially attuned lately to articles like this, as I've had a few patients and a close friend who are new daddies of daughters, and I've noticed how the daddies get sort of lost in the sea of pink.

While I thought this article was adorable, and actually LOL'd at #7 and #19, 
I thought maybe this daddy was leaving out a few important things about daddy-ing daughters.

Little girls' lives don't HAVE to be entirely princesses and sparkly make-up. That's just a cultural thing. If we want to raise the strong daughters that everybody talks about, and break the glass ceiling that this dad mentions, then complete immersion in the sparkle culture of little girlhood may be doing them a disservice.

Don't get me wrong - I still to this day like splashes of pink on my gear. I love my sparkle pistol backstrap too. They help me remember that I don't HAVE to be one of the guys in order to enjoy the activities I do. But what I AM wondering is why does this daddy feel like he has to virtually become a princess himself in order to relate to his daughters? It shouldn't have to be that way. 

Why can't this gender-raising business meet in the middle somehow? I'm not saying raise your kids "gender neutral" - that's just weird and confusing IMO - but share with your opposite sex kids what it is that YOU are good at and enjoy, instead of solely immersing yourself in whatever the current culture says your kid should like.

Nobody bats an eye when a little boy helps his mom bake cookies. So, why aren't there more dads sharing basic repair knowledge with their daughters, for instance? Our young adult population is marrying later and later, so most of them are living on their own for quite a stretch of time. Thus, girls need to learn some basic home repairs just as badly as boys need to learn to cook a meal.

I think our culture is losing something special by slowly denigrating that which has been considered traditionally "masculine". As sweet as it is that today's men are secure enough in themselves to do the princess thing with their daughters, it is equally important for them to introduce their daughters to the flip side of the coin. Daddies have an important masculine role to play in teaching their daughters about the world. Life will not be sparkles and tea parties for these girls forever. They need to be equipped early with real life skills that do not involve pouring imaginary tea for teddy bears.

So, Daddies - here are my words of advice for you ...
While you are wearing your pink tutu, don't forget to teach her about screw drivers and Allen wrenches. While you are building the Dollhouse - get her to help you, and teach her a few construction terms. When Barbie goes on a date - send GI Joe with her to show her how to watch out for suspicious behavior, and how to avoid that T. rex lurking in the bushes over there. 

When she's old enough - teach her to fish. Doesn't matter if it's a princess fishing rod, the skills are the same. (Though fishing never really caught on with me, I have a few special memories of my dad teaching me to tie my own flies. I still remember the smell of head cement) Teach her how to turn a wrench. Teach her how to shoot guns. Teach her how to shoot a bow like Princess Merida. Teach her how to defend herself when that boy gets grabby.  And teach her resilience of spirit. Help her to hop back up, brush off that boo-boo, and get back on the monkey bars.  

As tempting as it is to let her wrap you around her little finger, part of a Daddy's job IMO is also to be the one who says "No". You aren't doing her any favors by caving to her every whim and tear. That only teaches her that she can manipulate men with her emotions. You don't have to be a complete hardass - but there's nothing wrong with being firm, and teaching respect. 

I suppose that my bottom-line message is this - Being a daddy of daughters doesn't mean that you have to allow yourself to be wholly assimilated into the Sparkle Collective. Crossing over into that world can be sweet and fun, but you ALSO have many very important things to share with your daughter just by being yourself, and introducing her to "your" world as well. Hang in There!

This poor GI Joe was found "as is" in a box of Barbies in my basement this AM.
He's been languishing that way for at least ten years ... Or maybe he has daughters now :-)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Weekend with The Cornered Cat

"The most dangerous place I ever stood was between a cornered cat and an open door."  

"If you have to fight, fight like a cornered cat."

These are the motto and premise behind the self-defense philosophy of Kathy Jackson - otherwise known as The Cornered Cat

I recently had the privilege of attending one of Kathy's weekend firearm self-defense classes. My skills - and more importantly, my mindset - are markedly the better for the experience. Additionally, my personal bar of expectations has been reset for quality of instruction.

Throughout the weekend, the emphasis was placed firmly on the goal of defending yourself and getting to safety - not "revenge", and not being a "badass". It was about doing what you HAVE to do in order to keep yourself safe, so that you can go home to your family and sleep in your own bed. It was serious business. But it was also a fun time, and a great learning experience.

This class had a whole different focus than other firearms courses I have taken. Babes with Bullets is more "intro to guns", and "match"-type training.  Gunsite is more "Sheepdog"/Law enforcement-type training. They are all good courses, and all teach safe gun handling skills. But The Cornered Cat taught me more about "living with a gun" than my previous training had.

Our weekend of education and fun was held at the New Holland Rifle and Pistol Club , which is located smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania Amish Country. Dodging Amish horse carts and pedestrians (with and without push scooters), on two-lane rural roads is always an adventure. But with such challenges came other pleasures - like shoo-fly pie, scrapple, and quilting fabric shops. I got to feed several of my addictions on a single excursion - I win! My waistline and wallet however, did not :-)

Our staff for the weekend included:

Kathy Jackson - Lead Instructor and President of The Cornered Cat.

Don Stahlnecker - Instructor at the Firearms Academy of Seattle.
Don taught the handgun retention workshop Friday evening, and acted as valuable assistant instructor and all-around "token man" for the otherwise "Ladies Weekend".


Annette Evans - Sponsored Shooter, Match Director, Assistant Instructor,  and our wonderful club hostess for the weekend.

I should state first off, that Kathy Jackson's style is decidedly NOT "Tacti-cool". I was extremely happy about this, as there is an awful lot of Coyote Brown/Flat Dark Earth "posturing" out there in the firearms teaching world. It's not "impossible" for me to learn in that type of environment (I did attend a Gunsite 250 pistol class the other year), but it does take a good bit more concentration for me to remain "in character" as "one of the guys", and not let my girly side slip. Trying to maintain that facade though, takes mental energy that could otherwise be devoted to absorbing and storing more information during class. Thankfully, such distractions were not a factor in this Cornered Cat course.

Because of all this, I purposely wore jeans for the range work, and not tactical pants or my usual range clothing. I did that because I wanted to learn, and test my performance in the "real world". I've accumulated a fair amount of experience on the competition range these past few years. But my remaining discomforts with concealed carry stem from the fact that it ISN'T the range.

When I carry, I'm not carrying my full-size match gun, Velcro belt, and multiple spare magazines - with tactical cargo pockets to hold everything else. I'm in jeans and a sweater, with a normal-looking (though heavier/reinforced) belt, a compact/micro pistol in a concealable holster, and normal pockets (if I'm lucky enough to even HAVE pockets. Women's pants - ARGH). Thus, it doesn't do me much good to take a carry class with my range gear. Because then I still have to go home and figure out how to use what I've got when I "really" carry. 

To that end, Kathy encouraged us to bring the gun we "really" carry. So I brought my Glock 43, and Crossbreed Minituck IWB holster. I brought the Glock 42 as well, in case of malfunction, but I really wanted to run the 43 hard and see how well we performed together. Turns out, we are a pretty good team :-)

Soooo, I showed up to class all weekend in my regular jeans. I also left my phone on my belt, and my wallet in my usual pocket -- all the things that I usually DON'T do at a match -- because I wasn't shooting a match -- I was learning how to save my own life in the real world, with my real gun and gear. This class was the closest I've yet come to how things actually work when I carry a gun in my real life.

Despite misty, rainy weather we had two productive days in the classroom and on the range. Plus  - we had a bonus evening handgun retention workshop to start us off on Friday evening.

     A sampling of our weekend weather

None of what our class of approximately ten women was taught required us to be anything other than what we already were - average women who wanted to learn more about how to defend ourselves with a firearm, if our lives depended on it.

The retention drills did not require us to be martial arts masters. We were taught simple ways to react if an attacker attempted to grab a firearm away from us.

    Kathy and Don demonstrate retention techniques with a non-firing "training" pistol

The range work did not require us to be SWAT team members. We were taught SAFE manipulation of the firearm, holster, and surrounding clothing; and consistent, reliable grip and trigger press. The instructor staff monitored us for safety at all times, and provided immediate feedback, encouragement, and problem-solving when needed.

I cannot say enough good things about the level of safety that was emphasized and maintained throughout this course. I had a bad class experience elsewhere in the past, but THIS class never made me feel less than completely comfortable and safe.

Yes, the range work was safe and serious. But that's not to say that it wasn't also fun. We did have our share of laughs and moments of levity. Let's just say that I'll never hear a particular children's ditty in my head the same way ever again - LOL!

This course was about more than just running the gun - although that was an important and essential component. It also covered the legalities and potential consequences of armed self-defense, including information from the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network.

There was no swagger or chest-thumping here - just serious information about the serious business of making necessary choices in bad situations. This is what Kathy called "counting the cost", and this component really helped my mindset immensely.

We discussed ways to "think like a criminal" to avoid being sized up as a victim in the first place. We discussed ways to de-escalate and avoid a confrontation. We discussed the stages of violent crime, and we discussed ways to talk to the police. All of these things can be useful whether you carry a gun or not. So even those women who may have decided that carrying a gun isn't for them after all - still come away with valuable information and skills.

Kathy Jackson is also particularly adept at finding the thoughts that swirl around inside many women's heads, which hold them back. She then brings those issues out into the daylight and addresses them gently and compassionately. One of those areas is body image issues related to holster choice. Another is many women's inability to say "no", and their compulsion to be "nice" - even in dangerous situations - because that's the way we were brought up as girls.

Something else that Kathy said really hit me between the eyes, and it's something that many of we women struggle with. She said that we have to give ourselves permission to save our own lives - even if it might be at the expense of someone else (i.e. the criminal) - because "I" am worthwhile in my own right, and "my" life is worth defending.
I'm not afraid to admit that this realization brought tears to my eyes. 

This is not something that most of we women ever hear. Most of our lives are about giving up our own comfort and safety in order to serve our children, or our spouses, or our elderly parents. Nobody ever talks about our own lives being valuable. But for some of us, this realization/acceptance is key to overcoming our misgivings about carrying a deadly weapon - and using it if we HAVE to.

As part of the "living with a gun" lessons, Kathy discussed the essential elements of a safe holster, and brought many examples of different styles of holsters for the class to examine. She also offered us the opportunity to show-n-tell our own gear. This was an awesome side-element to the class. We women aren't built like men, and even amongst ourselves have many different shapes and needs when considering location of carry, and style of holster. What our husbands, or sons, or gun shop dealers use may not work for "us". There are SO many options available that do not involve an off-body purse. I've already had a little experience at this, and still, I personally wrote down the names of several companies whose products I want to investigate further. 

By the end of this course, I was much more comfortable with several aspects of gun-carrying and self-defense than I have ever been before. I have been making a slow, steady progression of comfort level, and Kathy Jackson, with her Cornered Cat Class, successfully broke down several of my remaining mental barriers.

I can heartily recommend a Cornered Cat Class to any woman (or man - Kathy doesn't only teach women) who is looking for safe and supportive, but no-nonsense, EXPERT firearms and personal safety instruction.

I just cannot say enough good things.

    My class gear - Glock 43, TTI basepad, Crossbreed Minituck,
    And a souvenir of a wonderful learning experience.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

We Remember

Today is the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks upon the people of the United States of America.

On 9/11 I was in my first month of medical school at the age of 38. I was in the "blue room" with my classmates, studying and killing time between Biochem and Psych. We had those IBM laptops that everybody had, because they were required by the School of Medicine, and people were checking out the news on the Internet. Someone in the room suddenly announced that a plane had crashed into the WTC. I was not worried - I was thinking a little Cessna or something had gotten off course. Then all the news servers got overloaded and it was hard to get online for updates. All the immediate smartphone video that is a thing now didn't really exist yet then,  so we were dependent upon network news sources. 

The rumors flew, and we traded info from whoever was able to get a connection. On the way to Psych someone said that a tower had fallen, and I remember thinking "That's impossible - sheesh some people will believe anything they hear". 

When we got to Psych, it was in one of the new (at the time) tech enabled lecture rooms, and our professor had the news playing up on the big projector screen. There it was in all of it's horrible reality - the fire, the smoke, the panic and destruction - played in near-continuous loop. Then, info began trickling in about the Pentagon, and Shanksville. 

Our professor told us that class was cancelled, but he would keep the screen and connection up for those of us who wished to remain and watch, or talk. I stayed for awhile, but then went to pick up my youngest daughter from daycare, and went home to watch the news, and wait for my older two children to get off the school bus. I had heard that some parents were in a panic and were rushing to get their kids out of school, and I remember thinking "Why?" 
At the time, I really didn't have any mindset about being under attack. In my mind of the time, it was really more like a set of natural disasters (though man-made).
Obviously, I don't think that way anymore. The world changed that day, and hasn't been the same since.

Since then, I have been honored to know many people who were personally impacted by those events - Police Officers, an Air Marshal, Firefighters, and many members of our Armed Forces who were called to duty. Many of them bear personal injuries, and many of them lost friends in those ensuing years, and many of them still struggle.

Though I shall never forget, and have visited at least one of the National Memorials, I am choosing to act positively in Remembrance. I encourage you to do so as well.
Exercise the rights that you enjoy as as American. Do not take for granted that which has been given to you - earned for you - through centuries of struggle and blood.

Exercise your Right to Vote.
Exercise your Right to Bear Arms.
Exercise your Freedom to Worship as you please.
Exercise your Right to Peaceably Assemble.
Exercise your Right to Speak Out - with voice or in print.
And just as importantly...
Support those same Rights for Others - even if what they believe and say is different.

Because it is that Give and Take - that tension between ideas - which has shaped our country.  That tension is often painful. But it is necessary in order to inform intelligent decisions, and mold a country as great as ours - out of so many different people.

DO something with your Freedom today.
We Remember.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sex, Guns, and Yoga Pants

I am probably making mountains out of mole hills here, but I am going to drag out the soapbox about a pet peeve of mine, because it has reared its head again this week.

The peeve is the sexualization of women with guns. I've written about it before here, 
 and here,

And yes, I freely admit that I am a cranky old broad. But I am going to have my say once again.

I'm not going to provide a link, or even mention their name, because I don't want to give them any more attention, but a Facebook link showed up this week from a particular purveyor of tactical wear (NOT the manufacturer of said pants), touting "11 Reasons Why Your Girlfriend Needs Tactical Yoga Pants". The article proceeded to show mainly buttock photos of women (mainly NOT wearing the actual product mentioned), accompanied by double-entendre type captions.

Now, I'm not an idiot. I know that sex sells product. I know that men look at women's buttocks. I get it. But I also think that this particular post/"article" is disrespectful of women shooters, objectifies them, and ignores their actual skills by reducing them to mere jiggle.

I didn't like it, and I made no secret of it. Thus I posted a rant on Facebook, stating that BS like this sets women shooters back.
I was asked whether I meant that it was the article or the pants that would set women back. 

This was my reply, 

"In a way, both. That will not be a popular view, and I acknowledge that. Mainly I am steamed about the article and how it objectifies women shooters and reduces them to nothing but ass-jiggle. 

You are not of my generation, so you cannot appreciate the many years that women my age have struggled to be taken seriously in their careers and in the world at large - nevermind the shooting sports. This is what colors my worldview.

To finally start to be accepted into something as male-dominated as the shooting sports is something that is very special to me, and was something that was not available to me when I was your age.  Anything that threatens that, concerns me immensely. 

Thus we come to the pants themselves. Admittedly they are not for me, and I have said as much. But the beauty of women's progress is that we now have more choices than we used to. So if some women like them, and have the body for them, then fine - isn't having free will a wonderful thing? With that said though -- would you wear a bikini to a job interview and then complain that you were not taken seriously or were stared at? 

For me, and many women like me out in the Podunk trenches of the shooting world, and NOT in professional sponsored shooting circles, just showing up to a match is a bit like a job interview. I still encounter men nearly every weekend who do not know me, and have no idea what my shooting skills are like. I have to prove to them that I know what I'm doing. Wearing those pants would make me a target of unwelcome attention and skepticism, even over and above what I would already encounter simply by my gender. Like it or not, there would be male shooters who would not take me seriously, and there might even be sexual comments - especially if I were a 20-something. 

In the world that I grew up in, you dressed appropriately for the job at hand, and to be functional, and to project an aura that you knew what you were doing. In my opinion, those pants don't project that aura. They project "look at me, and check out my ass". Some women shooters (such as Janna or Lena ) are bad-ass enough to get away with it. Alas, most of us are not. 
My opinion."

SO - Some "old broad" reminders and clarifications for the young gals out there, which might give you some insight into my perspective on this.

- When I was in early grade school, girls were not even ALLOWED to wear pants of any kind to school. Digest that for a minute.

- Title IX - regarding educational and athletic opportunities for girls and women - was passed in 1972. I was in 4th grade. It didn't really get rolling until years afterward.

- Women were not fully integrated into the armed forces and accepted into the U.S. Military Academies until I was almost in high school.

The freedoms and opportunities some of you young gals take for granted now, are fairly recently acquired. I remember when we didn't have them, and this colors my perceptions of what is appropriate dress and behavior in order to earn respect - and what is not.

I'm pretty sure that none of the legends of women's shooting sports who blazed trails for us, did that by showing off their asses.  I'm also pretty sure that Kim Rhode didn't win any of her Olympic medals that way either.

I don't have any sponsors - particularly the manufacturer of said "pants", or the company which posted the offending article -  so I am free to tell you exactly what I think. And it is this...

Do you have the freedom to wear whatever you want to the range? Abso-fricken-lutely. I am in no way advocating wearing a burka to your next match. But choose wisely. The image that you present may reflect not only upon you, but on other women shooters as well. You may be one of the few competent and accomplished female shooters that some men (especially men at local matches) have seen in the first person. You may have to "earn" their respect, as I have had to do. If you WANT your skills to be overshadowed by your "assets" then that is your choice. But just be aware that the type of attention you receive may be adjusted accordingly,  and the article I spoke of reflects that. 
For the record, I will NEVER purchase anything from the company that posted that piece of trash.

Are the authors of the article jackasses? Damn Skippy they are. Perhaps I shouldn't even dignify such crap with this rant, but I'm using it as an opportunity to remind young women on the range that the image you project is important. Don't give them any ammunition.

Men look at women - it's just biology - and in other more appropriate contexts, we women LIKE to be looked at. But especially on the range, men's attention will be drawn to what you CHOOSE to highlight - your marksmanship? Or your body? Choose wisely.

This has been the two cents contribution of your resident Cranky Old Broad. Oh, and "Get off my lawn" :-)

   Gym Wear? Or Range Wear? (Not the pants in question)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Ruger LCR Part 2: The Carrying

This post will be fairly quick and photo heavy.
It's just an update to my previous post where I discussed range-testing my new carry revolver.

My incentive for wanting to try a snub-nose revolver for carry was the neighborhood dogs, which I have discussed in two previous posts. Given the HOA's pearl-clutching response to my revelation that I have a carry permit, I wanted what I did carry to be as unobtrusive as possible. 

Thus, up until 2 weeks ago, I was carrying my Ruger LCP on my walks - a semi-auto micro pistol which I have had for years but do not like - simply because of it's small size and unobtrusiveness under yoga tights. I soon discovered another reason to dislike the gun - it gets very slippery with sweat, even in kydex on a bellyband, thus making it tricky to clear safely when I get back home. The slide is small and stiff, and the slide catch is difficult to engage under the best of conditions. These are compounded when the gun is slick with sweat after my walk. I felt like it was a home basement accident waiting to happen.

I thought that a revolver - the LCR - might be a better solution. So far, despite the LCR's not being a "fun" gun to shoot, it has met that challenge. I jury rigged a Velcro attachment for an IWB holster to use on my old model Crossbreed bellyband. (I haven't tried it with the new model bellyband yet, nor have I ponied up the cash for an actual purpose-designed Velcro holster for the revolver yet) I have been walking with this revolver rig under my tights for about 2 weeks now.

    My beauty-ous IWB purple holster from GunGoddess 

    Do not try this jury rig at home, kiddies. I am assuming my own risk for experimenting, but I    make no warranties or recommendations.

Though the revolver is slightly bulkier than the single stack micro pistol, it still conceals well under a T-shirt - especially with wearing my phone and pepper spray on the outside opposite, which draws the eye away from any bulges.

The grip of the LCR is rubberized, which helps with hand traction in the sweat department; and clearing the gun after I'm finished has proven to be much less anxiety-provoking. Though it only carries 5 rounds, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for more piece of mind. Especially when you consider that the LCP only holds 6+1, and I had started to carry it without one in the chamber, due to my concerns for clearing the durn thing. I'd rather have 5 rounds confidently ready to go, than 6 or 7 rounds that I'm worried about having to "mess" with. You may argue with me about that, but life is about making individual choices and compromises.

Later on, I may try my G42 with this rig, as that is much easier to rack, but for now, I'm a snubbie revolver gal when I exercise. :-)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


"The women of this country learned long ago, those without swords can still die upon them."

~Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan
  JRR Tolkien

The concept of women learning the art of weaponry for defense of self, home, and family is not a new one - despite what today's helpless liberals would have you believe. From the Shieldmaidens of Norse and Germanic Folklore upon whom Tolkien based his character, to the hardy pioneer women of the American West, to today's "Porcupines"  and "Cornered Cats"  women have ALWAYS had need of a means to defend themselves.

It is only within the relatively recent past that liberalism has poo-pooed the very existence of evil, and the capacity of the human heart to contain it. Criminals and murders are only reacting to their awful social environments, they claim, and if we just love them and rehabilitate them enough, there will be no more crime. Therefore, in the world view of these social elites, defending oneself with deadly force from an attack is nearly a worse crime than the one being perpetrated upon you - because you are daring to act as "judge and jury" upon the poor downtrodden and disenfranchised individual who chose you as victim.

Furthermore, they claim that we women - pitiful, weak wretches that we are - are simply incapable of handling weapons safely and employing them effectively. Thus, they patronizingly pronounce that we shouldn't be permitted to have them at all. I'm not even going to bother posting links to examples, because we've all heard them.

To add insult to injury, many of those voices telling women that they are incapable of self-defense are other women - liberal "feminists" to be exact. Unfortunately, these people also equate teaching self-defense with "victim-blaming", and they heap derision upon men who try to enlighten us about such skills as "Man-splainers".

I'm frankly tired of the crap. Allow me state this unequivocally :

Gals, you need to "woman-up". Learn to be responsible for your own self. The guy who tries to attack you doesn't care if you are a good person or not. In fact, broadcasting being a "good person" with your body language can make you a target. Your husband/ boyfriend/father, and even the police won't necessarily be there to help you when you need them. Being a true "feminist" means "owning" your own self and your own safety.

Be aware of your surroundings
Don't drink yourself into helplessness at bars and frat parties
Take responsibility for the security of your home or apartment
Take a self- defense class or a Refuse To be a Victim class
Consider buying a weapon
But if you do  - GET TRAINING and PRACTICE

Don't be a Damsel - BE A SHIELDMAIDEN

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Ruger LCR

What follows comes with the usual caveats - I am NOT an expert, or an instructor. I'm just sharing what my personal experiences are, while I travel along the learning curve like everybody else.

As you may recall, I started playing around with shooting an L-frame revolver in IDPA last year, just for the giggles of learning something new. I even carried the gun a time or two with .357 defensive rounds as a "woods/hike gun". I discovered that I LIKE revolver. It's a challenge, and it tweaks my inner history nut.

So, this spring when I started having some neighborhood dog problems, I wondered how I would do with a snub-nose revolver as a defensive gun. (My other concealed guns are all semi-auto). I understood the drawbacks of having only 5 rounds available, but I just wanted to try it and see.

I ended up buying myself a Ruger LCR for an early birthday present, and I bought an IWB holster from to go with it. I've also been playing around with how to mount that kydex on an elastic bellyband to wear under yoga tights when I go exercise walking. That part will be fodder for another post, once I make sure that it works well.

Though I had put a handful of shots downrange with the Ruger during the week I bought it, I was waiting for the holster to arrive so I could really blow the bugs out. Today was the day.

I used a standard IDPA target at about 7 yards/Tuller distance, shooting Armscor 158gr .38 special. The first few shots ran high. Turns out that this was a pretty consistent thing. The only time my shots got lower was when I was rapid firing, and I'm assuming, dipping the muzzle with the trigger pull. All shots remained on target (except the ten that I later launched at the fifty-yard steel just for giggles), but many did not land in the -0 ring. That's the first thing I discovered with this gun.

The second thing I discovered was that this gun is NOT a whole ton of fun to shoot (unlike my full-size revolver). This thing "hurts" to shoot after awhile, and I wasn't even using +P. I had planned to blow through 2 whole boxes of ammo, but I stopped at 75 rounds, because I'm not a masochist. Strong hand only was even worse - and I have fairly large hands for a woman.

The third thing I discovered about this gun is that it doesn't like to be short stroked (I think that's the proper term). I'm used to just letting the trigger out enough to reset on my semi-autos. My full size revolver doesn't really "let" me do that, so it hasn't been a problem. But this trigger, although it felt overall lighter in the store than other snubbies (which is one of the reasons I bought it), also kind of "allows" the short stroke, and then skips a chamber (at least that's what I think was happening). I don't think that would be a good thing in a defensive situation. I'll have to pick some revolver friends' brains about it to see if this can be adjusted, or if it is the nature of the beast.

So, I've learned some things. I can see where frame size and frame weight make a big difference. Maybe the heavier snubbies with heavier triggers might mitigate some of what I was experiencing - not sure. I knew the frame size issue to be true with semi-autos, but my Glock 43 is still manageable. Granted 9mm is not .38 special, but the differences seemed more pronounced with revolver.

I can definitely say that the Ruger LCR (at least in my experience) is NOT a gun for beginners. This is in reply to the old-timers (always men) who push "the little lady" toward  snub nose revolvers for their first handgun. Granted that in an emergency you may not feel the pain, but to be ready for that emergency, you have to PRACTICE. If practice HURTS, then you aren't going to do it. "The little lady" is probably better off starting with a .380 or 9mm semiauto with somewhat larger frame to mitigate perceived recoil for her first gun.

Unless you find some .38 special defensive rounds that feel like bunny farts, the Ruger LCR is not that gun.