Thursday, July 6, 2017

Gear Review : Voodoo Tactical Mini Tobago Backpack


I have been eyeing this bag ever since I saw it at SHOT Show in January. I finally got my hands on one, and wanted to give you a review, so here we go.

I ordered this backpack from GunGoddess.

The checkout process was easy and painless - I even used some of my rewards points, so I got it for 20% off and free shipping! The box arrived on my front porch in two days, and boy was I excited!

I first have to say that there is nothing "Mini" about the Mini Tobago. This is not a tiny bag. It's still definitely a daypack, and not a weekend pack, but there are plentiful pockets, and zippered compartments to keep all kinds of gear organized.

I ordered the version that was gray with pink stitching, and it is much prettier in person than the photos online. I have a Voodoo Tactical bright pink range bag, and although I love that bag and have gotten lots of use from it, this backpack is beautiful in a more subdued and subtle way. It's still a little feminine, but it just doesn't scream about it, like the hot pink bag does.

This bag does have plenty of features that scream "badass" though - LOL - like accommodating a hydration system (which I don't currently have, but have been meaning to investigate). The bag itself is made of heavy pack cloth (unlike the stinky vinyl type cheapo bags out there). There are heavy duty zippers with paracord pulls, multiple exterior pockets, and the pack is covered all over with webbing so you can attach exterior accessory pockets/bags if you wish. I may eventually do that with my trauma kit to make it more easily accessible.

There are mesh zippered interior pockets, and two of what I call "administrative panels", (I'm not sure what you really call them.) You know - the place that has all the pen sleeves, and mini flapped or zipper pockets so you don't lose your chapstick and your cough drops and your keys? Yeah that. There's TWO of them. There is no dedicated key clip, but my keys are on a carabiner, so they were easily clipped to one of the several paracord interior zipper pulls, for ease of access. The exterior pockets and main compartment also have drain grommets at the bottom of each. I HOPE I don't ever need those, but for those who do - this bag is prepared.

I hadn't originally planned on using this backpack as a range bag, but since I had an IDPA match the day after the pack arrived, I thought I would give it a test run that way anyhow, just to see.

Pictured is the gear I took to the match. As you can see in the photos, just the bottom front pocket compartments held 4 magazines and 200 rounds of 9mm ammo. Granted, it was those little compact boxes of Sellier & Bellot, but 200 rounds is 200 rounds. The upper front compartment was roomy enough for my knife, a pen, my Surefire flashlight, sunscreen, hand wipes, a rain poncho, plus unused space. The main compartment held my pistol case, trauma kit, eye and ear pro, holster, and mag pouches. There was a still some room to spare there as well. The side pockets held my belt, snacks, and a water bottle. Actually, after I took the photo, I decided that since I was going to wear the belt anyway, I'd replace it in the side pouch with a second water bottle.

Though as I mentioned before, I was not originally planning to use this pack as a range bag, it nonetheless proved its storage capacity and weight-bearing capacity for me during this test. I usually struggle a bit with managing the weight and awkwardness of my heavy range bag - even with a shoulder strap. With this pack, between the top handle and the shoulder straps, lugging my gear around turned out not to be "lugging" at all. My shoulder didn't hurt, and I didn't have to hold my hip at an odd angle to balance the load, like I do for my regular range bag. The weight rested easily on my shoulders via the heavily padded shoulder straps. The area of the pack that rests against one's lower back was also heavily padded. I had zero discomfort handling this pack all day. I'm even thinking this might become my new SHOT Show bag.

For a second test, I decided to take this bag for a day outing on a tour boat. The pack accommodated a soft insulated cooler - containing my shrimp, pasta salad, homemade bread, and wine slushie (I was treating myself for Independence Day), a shemaugh and bandana (for tablecloth and napkin),  and extra water bottles, with room to spare. 

For a third test, I  took this pack for a state park trail hike, and then a lake beach stop. The pack easily held two water bottles, my lunch, park maps, beach blanket, etc. As well as the knife, flashlight, hand wipes and other miscellaneous "be prepared" supplies that I left in the pack from the last range trip. The padded shoulder straps were quite comfortable during my hike, and the adjustable chest strap/buckle ensured that the straps didn't slip around.

My final analysis is that the Voodoo Tactical Mini Tobago Pack has proven itself to be a great all-around, multi-purpose day pack. It is sturdy and roomy, without being so oversized as to be unwieldy for grab-and-go use. But it also has the features of a much larger "tactical" pack, making it capable and organized where other daypacks fail. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

On Female "Protestors"

The internet is ablaze this weekend with leftist indignation over video of a female "protester" being punched in the face during a confrontation in California. If you happen to be one of the indignant, allow me to acquaint you with the adage, "Play stupid games, win stupid prizes."

This woman willingly attended a gathering where she was actively seeking confrontation. According to internet screen captures of her page, she states that she wanted to "bring back 100 nazi scalps". In addition, one does not generally wear a bandana to cover one's face if one has peaceful intentions. 

The video shows her jumping forward into the confrontation, (not backing up or leaving the area), whereupon she is punched in the face by a male in a blue shirt. The video does not show what led up to that confrontation, but some reports say she was throwing M-80 fireworks at people.

Forgive me if I cannot generate any crocodile tears here. To use another adage, "Everybody wants to be a badass, until it's time to do badass shit." This chick dressed herself all in black, to include fingerless black gloves, so she could look all badass and posture on her social media page. But when it came down to it, she cried because she got punched. 

There is a lesson here for "feminists", of whatever wave you identify with. This is what "equality" looks like. In a street fight, you don't get spotted any points on the physical testing like you do in the military. You don't get to fight only other women. Nobody is letting you do girly push-ups. You get punched. In. The. Face.

This has nothing to do with "self-defense". Real self-defense (especially for women) involves a very healthy dollop of:


Avoiding confrontation, de-escalation, and the like are mainstays of personal defense training. This chick did none of those things, and she got exactly what she was looking for. She is actually lucky that nobody used those dreds as a handle with which to fling her around and break her neck.

I fear that stupidity like this is only the beginning.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

CMMG "Converts" Me to .22LR

I should preface this post by pointing out that I am by nature a "multi-use" kind of gal. I built as much flexibility into my home as possible - like folding doors to hide kid mess when guests come. I love sofa-beds to pull out when guests come, I also have a handcrafted kitchen "stool" that folds open into an ironing board. I have a day pack that folds down into its own pocket. I appreciate items that are versatile, reversible, reusable, and reliable.

Thus, it was with great interest that I read about the CMMG 5.56/.223 to .22LR Rifle Conversion Kit.

This is a drop-in bolt adapter (no tools or gunsmithing experience needed!!), which comes packaged with a special .22LR magazine designed to fit a standard AR mag well. Being the "multi-use" kind of gal that I described above, I was intrigued by the possibility of being able to expand the uses for my existing AR15 rifles, so I decided to  see if CMMG would let me try one out. 

The CMMG Conversion kit arrived on my front porch by UPS. The kit is only "gun parts", so I didn't need an FFL or any kind of "expert/pro" stuff to be able to try it.

The packaging and directions were pretty self-explanatory. All I did was make sure my AR was relatively clean, lube up the adapter well with a sample of Lucas Oil Extreme Duty , pop the rear AR pin, slide out the existing bolt carrier group, slide the adapter in, and close the gun back up. That was it - yes really.

I also needed to find some .22LR Ammo, as I'd never shot this caliber before. Thanks to Greg at Second Amendment Sports and Defense  for the help selecting various kinds of ammo to try. For my testing purposes, I ran:

Remington 22 Golden Bullet - plated round nose, 40 gr, 1255 fps
Remington 22 Golden Bullet - plated hollow point, 36 gr , 1280 fps (bucket o'bullets)
CCI Mini-mag 22LR - plated round nose, 40 gr, 1235 fps
Winchester 222 Rounds - plated hollow point, 36 gr, 1280 fps
Winchester SuperX - plated hollow point, 40 gr, 1280 fps

My only criteria for selecting ammo was that 1) I didn't go with low velocity rounds, as I understand that they don't cycle the bolt well, and 2) I stuck with plated bullets, as .22LR is inherently "dirty" as it is, and I didn't want to deal with lead-fouling on top of that.

So with ammo, and my gun with new adapter in hand, I loaded up the car, and headed to the range. I am spoiled, in that my gun club is only 2 miles from my house, and there is rarely anybody there before noon on weekends, or during the day on weekdays. I had ALL the ranges to myself to do with as I pleased!

I started with sighting-in the older red dot that I had dug out of storage for this trial. I got my zero on paper at 25 yards, and then started plinking away.  The sound of the ringing steel at the 50-yard berm was very satisfying. I was hitting it easily both at the bench and offhand. Then I moved over to the bays and the plate rack.

The 25-yard plate rack was giggle-inducing with this set-up. I'm not kidding. Shooting rapid strings on that rack with .22LR was more fun than middle-aged women should be allowed to have all by themselves! I ran that thing over, and over... and over. It didn't matter what kind of ammo I used either. The CMMG conversion adapter cycled all of my choices equally well.

During this first session, the only hang-up I experienced was around the 150 round mark. The adapter bolt itself ran like butter, but the magazine spring started hanging up for some reason. When I got home, I took it apart to clean and inspect it. I didn't find any spring kinks, or burrs on the follower, so I reassembled it and took it back out the following day for another 75 - 100 rounds. It ran fine then, and has continued running fine ever since. It must have been just a fluke, but I wanted to mention it anyway. 

      ( After the initial hang-up, the magazine ran fine)

Those were the first and second test sessions. For the third session, I again had the range to myself, so I went "longer" this time. I decided to test the CMMG conversion kit, and my older eyesight, with the non-magnified red dot, on 6-inch hanging steel at the 100-yard berm. This was a little more challenging. Even so, I was still getting good hits. This was a pleasant surprise to me, as I knew that my 1 in 7 twist AR barrel was not ideal for .22LR distance accuracy. I even videoed some of this session. (gotta love a freestanding iPad) 
Given all of the above, I was completely tickled at the sound of ringing steel at this distance with "only" a conversion kit.

(This video screen shot shows the open CCMG bolt and a smudge of ejected brass)

Now, a little about the equipment I was using. It is important for me to note that this Smith & Wesson M&P15 was my first "evil black rifle". I had carefully researched the purchase about six years ago, and used it as my learning tool for the AR platform. This was the gun that I learned to field strip on my living room floor - on an old mattress pad, so I could find all the little pieces. This is the gun that I hit my first 200 yard target with, and learned to shoot 3-Gun with. 

The gun has sentimental value - we were bonded, she and I. But she had been hanging around as a neglected safe-orphan ever since I won another rifle, tricked out specifically for 3-Gun, in a raffle a couple years ago. I had started to revamp her a little last year with a prize-table stock, and new trigger, but she was still kind of superfluous, and looking for a "purpose".

This clever little CMMG adapter has allowed me to give new life to my old AR friend. She isn't a safe-orphan anymore. She is now a ridiculously fun little plinker, which will get much more use in monthly steel matches than the other gun does in thrice yearly 3-Gun. And shooting .22LR in club Steel/Rimfire Challenge is a lot more affordable than shooting 5.56 in 3-Gun. If I wanted to, I could even swap the adapter over to my 3-Gun rifle for some cheaper practice, and then swap it back for Rimfire Challenge.

The Tru-Glo red dot sight which I mounted, was given to me "used", by a friend a few years ago, for use on a deer rifle. But once I discovered that my older eyes really needed a scope for those distances, the red dot began also sitting around, neglected, in my safe. Now, it too has found new plinking life! For me, the red dot is the perfect optic for the short distance, rapid target acquisition that I need with steel matches.

The best part with all of this is that I didn't have to buy a whole new gun! The CMMG conversion kit gave me good accuracy at the distances I was interested in - 25 to 50 yards. Even using an unmagnified red dot with older eyes, it was quite acceptable out to 100 yards - with my pretty standard AR set-up - even though my barrel twist rate is 1 in 7". Usual barrel twist for .22LR is 1 in 16".

In the future, if I should decide that I want a more accurate, dedicated .22LR upper for say - varmints, then CMMG makes all of the parts necessary to complete my conversion to the .22LR dark side. I was told by a design engineer at SHOT, that the adapter bolt can, with the easy tweak of removing the chamber adapter, be used as a dedicated bolt for a dedicated .22LR upper, with just the addition of barrel collar, and a CMMG .22LR barrel. They even sell the collar and barrel together as a set for this very purpose!

That sounds quite economical to me, as I STILL wouldn't have to buy a whole new gun! (Not, that I don't LIKE buying guns, but sometimes a piecemeal approach is a little more budget-friendly, and many gals shoot within a tight budget.) To top it off, CMMG provides a lifetime quality guarantee.

I think this set-up would be "perfect" for a variety of women (and men too, of course), such as:

-Recoil-sensitive women (or even juniors) who might be interested in getting started in rifle shooting, but who are reluctant to make an investment in an entire firearm until they are sure they are comfortable. These women would be able to drop the CMMG .22LR conversion kit into a friend's or spouse's AR15, in order to get a feel for the platform in a lighter-recoil setting.

-Budget-minded women who already own an AR- style rifle, but who want to practice "on the cheap." .22LR ammo is much less expensive for practice than .223/5.56. The unit would pay for itself after only a few sessions of practice, while allowing such women to reinforce habits with their own familiar rifle.

-Practical women (such as myself) who want to expand our horizons into other areas of competition (such as Rimfire Challenge), but still squeeze as much use as possible out of the guns we already own.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with this little conversion kit.
The bolt adapter itself had zero issues, right out of the box. It ran flawlessly through hundreds of rounds - from sighting in the red dot optic, to ringing 50-yard, and then 100-yard steel, to rapid strings on the 25-yard plate rack. 
I LOVE this CMMG conversion kitIt's a keeper! 

Now I just need to go buy some more magazines, so I can shoot a club steel match next month!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Affirmation and Tears

This is another "personal" post. It has nothing to do with firearms, but I wanted to share it anyway...

I received a wonderful reminder and affirmation today of "why" I wanted to be a doctor. 

I really, really needed it. Because lately I've begun to wonder and forget. 

Too often in medicine we get bogged down in paperwork, and EMR, and in meeting "quality measures" and "meaningful use", and otherwise having to justify everything we do - to bureaucrats who don't understand anything about it, and who are rarely satisfied.

It seems like some days there is a never-ending stream of negatives and complaints. Physicians are "rated" like restaurants - despite part of the job necessitating being the bearer of bad news, and telling people things they don't want to hear - in the interests of their own, or their child's health.

Doctors are people too. We are not vending machines, into which you insert your insurance card and we then spit out meds and a school or work excuse. We get worn down from trying to practice good medicine, while being judged like contestants in a beauty contest.

Sometimes we wonder if we're doing any good at all in an uphill battle. We lose sight of the good outcomes - because it is our "job" to make people better. We sometimes only remember the things we were helpless to fix or prevent. 

But then there was today - when a family kindly and graciously reminded me of an event that happened several years ago. I was so overwhelmed by the gesture, and their kindness, that I literally sobbed. I'm still tearing-up as I write this. 

Only this morning I had had a flash of wondering if I was truly doing any good in the world. I know I'm not alone in this. Many docs - especially in primary care - burn out long before their careers are over. 

This gesture of kindness and thanks - for something which was far enough in the past that it had dropped off my radar - gave me back a glimmer of the idealism with which I had started down this road. It also reminded me too, that there are real, and appreciative people and families behind all of the paperwork and stress - it's just sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees.

So, I'm going to ask you today to try to remember that your doc is a human being. A word of appreciation or encouragement once in awhile can go a long way. 

Who knows - you might just refill their running-on-empty tank, and make them cry - because you let them know that they really are doing  a little good in the world after all. :-)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Legacy of the Hand-Written Word

I've started hand-writing letters to my mother.

She's in assisted living, and has good days and bad days. And when I call on the phone, if it's a bad day, I may only get a minute and a half of conversation before the call is over. Yesterday, I called and there was commotion in the hallway so she mostly couldn't hear me. She was frustrated and so was I. 

So I sat down and wrote her a letter instead. I figured she could read it at her leisure, and even read it over and over if she wanted, and it would give her something tangible to remember that I HAD thought of her. A phone call can be forgotten within a few minutes, when one has a bit of creeping dementia. But a letter on the side table remains lying there as a reminder.

It's that tangible quality of an actual paper letter that makes it special, and I think we have lost something important in that, with the advance of the electronic age.  Mom sort of barely learned to use email about a year before dad died. After he died, she gave it up quickly, because the computer pretty much baffled and frustrated her. 

Thus, for the last ten years, we have relied on the telephone. It was at times frustrating that I couldn't just email a photograph or a quick line, saying that I was thinking about her. I was jealous of friends whose mothers not only used Facebook, but who also knew how to text. But Mom is who she is, and I wasn't going to be able to change that. So we muddled through. 

After a while, she stopped initiating calls herself. So the onus was on me and my brothers to do the calling. Now, because she can't always reach the phone, or figure out what button to push to talk, it requires two phone calls - the first to the nursing desk, so that someone can go make sure that she has the phone and can push the button. It gets more and more frustrating.

But a letter can be read over and over. I can write it whenever the mood strikes me, and she can read it whenever the mood strikes HER. I don't have to worry that it's too late, or too early, or it's meal time, or if she's getting rehab when I call. Although I'll still keep "trying" to call.

It's also important to me that I hand write the letter. I have legible handwriting, and I try to write pretty big for her. I think a typed and printed letter is too impersonal - it may as well be from an insurance company as from a loved one.

This was brought home to me this week as I was going through some things of mom's as we moved her belongings out of her apartment. I found some things in my father's handwriting, and though he's been gone for ten years, his handwriting reminded me of the letters I would get from him when I was in college. His handwriting was NOT so legible, but the deciphering was half the fun. The handwriting brought a little of him back to me.

I worry that the next generation will have virtually nothing to remember "us" by, as emails become buried in anonymous servers, email accounts change,  and their very intangible nature renders them virtually nonexistent. In contrast, I still have a handful of letters written to me by my great-grandmother when I was a child. Granted they can't be "forwarded" and "CC'd" into the millions of copies as emails can, but they have their own concrete existence. They don't require electricity or battery power, and a machine to read. They only require eyes and literacy.

Those letters aren't lost to me as hundreds of my father's photographs are. He played around with amateur photography in his short retirement, and he saved most of them to floppies and Zip drives. I "think" I have hard copies of most of the important ones, but the technology has marched on, and it would be a hassle and expense to get anything retrieved now. He also wrote a few essays, and if he had not had the foresight to print out and file paper copies of those essays, they would be lost as well.

Because of this, I've decided that I should print out a copy of each blog post to file for posterity. Not that any of it is great literature, but because it will be something tangible for me to show for my efforts. Maybe the current internet technology will be transferable to the next age, and accessible to my great-grandchildren. But I have my doubts. So I'm going to put at least one copy on paper, and file it away.

One last point about the letter-writing. I encountered something with hand-writing a letter, that I had forgotten about with the ease of editing electronic type. I made mistakes and misspellings, which I had to cross out or write over. I think there's a bit of humanity in that. With paper and pen, we can't erase our mistakes as if they never existed. We either have to live with the blots and imperfection, or start over. And starting over isn't always feasible. That's a bit of a metaphor about life, I think.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Changing the Rules for Tools - from Klecker

I know I usually come back from SHOT Show with a list of guns I want to buy, but this year was different. 

This year I found a NEW favorite thing, and it's NOT a gun! Believe it or not - it's a phone case. But it's not the case itself that makes me so excited. It's what the case holds that makes me happy. This phone case holds .... tools!

This set-up is from Klecker Knives and Tools - Stowaway Tools
I have Katelyn Kinsey and Amanda DeDona from Klecker to thank for this discovery, as I would usually not stop by a knife booth. I just don't "know" knives, and I tend to stick with what I know. But I was introduced to these ladies and their product by Janette Palmer at the Ladies of the Industry Meet and Greet. Networking for the win!

Klecker makes a wide variety of mini tools to fit into a folding keybar case, or on a carabiner. I've had pocket multitools before - but it's the phone option which makes this all so revolutionary for me. 

I haven't carried a purse for years. I have a little zipper wallet which goes in my front pocket, and my phone is in a case on my belt. Keys are on a carabiner on a belt loop and tucked into a pocket. I'm pretty low maintenance, so that's why this particular product is so exciting for me.

These tools (up to four at a time) take up no more room than my traditional phone case already does, and my phone never leaves my body while I am awake, so I am more prepared for emergencies now - without any extra hassle. 

Now, when I talk about "emergencies", I'm not talking about a knife fight, (although a penknife IS one of the options). 

I'm talking about a combination screwdriver, wrench, pry tool,and bottle opener - called the Griffin Stowaway Tool - for when your picnic (or hotel room) includes loose screws and beer bottles.

I'm talking about mini-pliers - for when you just can't pull that durn thing out of there with your finger tips.

I'm talking about about scissors - for when that neck tag in your new shirt is driving you absolutely batty at the office.

And the piece de resistance - real tweezers! I'm telling you - Leatherman tweezers are wholly inadequate for use by a middle-age female. I've tried them - they stink. But THESE ---- THESE are real, beveled, functional tweezers!  

I don't know about you, but I hate finding that stray chin hair in the car visor mirror that was invisible in the bathroom. Same thing with the gray eyebrow hairs that only seem to show up in broad daylight, and not while I'm at the vanity. That makes these tweezers my new best friend - I'm not kidding. And they are always on my hip - not buried somewhere in a 20 pound purse! Of course the gentlemen could use them for splinters and such, but I know what MY priorities are :-)

You aren't limited to the tool options I chose, either. There are fifteen different choices to accommodate your particular needs - including key blanks.

For instance, I really didn't think I needed a knife if I had scissors. So without the small folding blade, my phone breezed through TSA at the airport in Vegas without a second look. 

I'm one of those people who forget to take a penknife off of a keychain in a travel bag , and bye bye- there it goes. With this, you can still have other tools without a knife, instead of it being a mandatory package deal, and then you don't have to worry about forgetting that you have a blade, and getting in trouble. For me, that was fantastic!!

The phone case comes with a plastic backer to stick on your phone to protect it from getting scratched when you insert the tools. There are several colors to choose from, and there are several colors of tool caps to choose from as well. I went with contrasting colors just to keep life interesting. The case is currently only available for the iPhone 6, 6s, and 7 (not plus), but I imagine that they will probably expand those options if there is enough demand.

I've been using this set-up for about two weeks now and I LOVE it. I may even branch out into the key bar to simplify my keychain too. Klecker gets my vote for most awesome new product of SHOT 2017!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lessons on the 2A at SHOT

I have to share an interesting experience I had while at SHOT Show last week. 

It was on Friday, so the Inauguration festivities were streaming on a big screen in the press room. There were round tables set up throughout the room all week, so you usually got the benefit of sharing a table with some other people, and I've been able to meet some interesting members of the outdoor media that way.

While watching the newsfeed, a friend and I were having a discussion about the new president and our feelings and expectations for what might happen next. After my friend left, another fellow at the table asked if he might ask me some questions. Turns out he was from Australia (SHOT brings people from all over the globe), and he was curious about some of what my friend and I had spoken about.

Since I mentioned how hostile Hillary had been to the 2A, one the things he was curious about was what my feelings were on the 2nd Amendment and what the Founders had intended. He asked whether I really thought that it was meant to be a defense against a tyrannical government. And I think my response surprised him. I explained the that 2A was "absolutely" a check on out-of-control government, and that in essence, the 2A is the "Escape Clause" of the Constitution. 

Nobody likes to think much about that now, but the Founders had just been through a bloody revolution in order to secure their citizen freedoms from a too powerful government. Although nobody WANTED to go through it again, they were determined that they would if they had to. Retaining the means for defending themselves from a government run amok - revolution- in the hands of The People, was EXACTLY what the Founders meant with the 2A. This form of government was a grand experiment at the time, and some people even wanted to make George Washington "king" - because they had no experience outside of a monarchy. The Founders were deathly afraid of powerful central government, and wanted The People to retain the power to say "NOPE", if things got out of hand.

Obviously, nobody today wants to have to invoke the "Escape Clause" or pull the "Kill Switch" as it were - because it would mean complete disaster. But that option exists for a reason, and that reason is one of the bedrock foundations of the country - the right of free men and women to decide how they are governed.

I also explained that this is exactly why the supposed arguments about "muskets" vs  modern rifles is completely invalid. The Founders wanted The People to have the same "arms" ( i.e. Hand carried weapons) as any standing army (which the Founders also opposed).

I also explained that people in Australia probably don't understand this, because they had a peaceful separation from the mother country, and still honor the queen. We had years of bloody war instead. So, our perspectives are completely different. I told him that I am actually a direct descendant of people who have been in the country since the French and Indian War, and I also have several ancestors who fought in the Revolution. Those people understood very well the need for personal arms, the reality of bloody conflict, and the importance of keeping a reign on government. 

The fellow also asked if it is possible to "change" the Constitution. I replied "yes", but that it is a big deal and an arduous process - this was also an intentional design by the Founders. But I went on to point out that this didn't stop people like Hillary from trying to use the "reasonable restrictions" idea to slowly drip, drip drip our rights away.

I'm glad I've read some history, and it was a privilege to share it with someone who has no experience of that in his own country. I also explained that I have some friends who have emigrated from behind the (former) Iron curtain, who are some of the staunchest defenders of the 2A I have ever met - because they've come from where there WERE no such freedoms.

The fellow then explained to me, that in Australia there is no constitutional guarantee for the freedom of the people to bear arms, and all it took was a single mass shooting for most of their firearm freedoms to disappear. He said that in Australia you can't even keep a baseball bat by your door for the purposes of self-defense without fear of prosecution for harming a criminal who breaks into your home. It sounds as if criminals have more rights than homeowners do there, which is obviously complete craziness from "our" point of view.

This exchange was a rare and interesting privilege for me  - to be able to see the whole thing through someone else's eyes, who hasn't had the benefit of the Founders' foresight. I am glad for the experience, and it makes me even more "Proud to be an American".

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Range Day 2017

Apologies for not being as on-the-ball as I have other years. Normally, I'd have had two blog posts up by now. For some reason this year has me more tired and brain dead than other years. I have been posting a few short updates and photos on the Facebook page, so if you don't already follow that, you can do so here.

Or, the pen name page

Range Day was an adventure as always. 

Among the firearms I got to shoot were:

Hudson H9

Colt Cobra Revolver

Honor Defense subcompact

Kimber revolver additions

M&P 2.0

Several Glocks

Springfield Armory - everything they brought, from the Saint to the XD's

Stoeger MK3

Shooting other people's guns with other people's ammo is always exhilarating :-)

I "could" have shot many more than that, but not everything always interests me, and I've had to learn to pick and choose with my time. My favorite of the day was the new iteration of the Colt Cobra revolver. (Pics)

I personally liked this revolver much better than the Kimbers that have come out in the last year. Both are 6-shot short-barreled revolvers, but the Colt's trigger felt much better, it had a better natural aim for me, (I believe that Colt has worked a bit on grip angle), and the price point was a couple hundred dollars less expensive. It is currently only available in .38. I'm assuming the .357 model will be in the pipe. I usually come out of SHOT every year with at least one gun on my shopping list, and the Colt Cobra has won that contest for me. It should be in stores by summer.

One of the other memorable guns I shot was the Hudson H9. This is a new company, working on an all-new design. The H9 is a bit of a mash-up between a 1911, and a double-stack polymer gun. The frame and grip angle are basically 1911, but they have moved the recoil spring much lower in order to bring the grip more in line with the barrel. This is the reason that the outline looks like it has a built in laser or something. ( it doesn't). ( pic)

For me personally, the H9 was just "okay", and rather "Meh". Yeah, it was interesting and new, but 1911's tend to not point naturally for me, and this one was no exception. I had to look around to find the front sight. Having done that though, the trigger had a nice feel, and the gun was accurate. I think the H9 might bring to solid 1911 fans, the option for double-stack striker fire in a package they are familiar with, but it's not something that I personally plan to plunk down money for.

I also had the opportunity to shoot the M&P 2.0 pistol from Smith & Wesson. I have shot my existing M&P9 in matches for several years, so I am familiar with the existing design. They ARE keeping this design, by the way. The 2.0 is just a new addition to the line. The main things with the 2.0 are that the grip is much more textured than the previous design, it comes with four (instead of three) back straps, and the trigger is much better out of the box. You might not need to replace this one, as most people do with the stock triggers on the existing model.

Now, on to the rest of the week...

Lots more photos and comments posted on the Facebook page, listed at the top of this post.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Instructor Training Part 3 - The Finale

Say hello to a newly minted NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor!

I finished the course work this past weekend, and it was an interesting experience.

The BIT portion (Basic Instructor Training) was on Friday night. This is apparently a standard start to all Instructor Training, no matter what discipline ( pistol, rifle, shotgun, etc). That lasted about 4 hours.

Then, Saturday was the meat of the deal, with group activities, role-playing being a teacher/leader in front of a group, and a ton of information that we would need to be competent instructors. This lasted about another 9 hours or so. We had a good group of six student/candidates, so we had a fun time of it, in addition to learning the essentials. 

My only frustration was that because ( I think) the materials have recently been changed, what was on the power points didn't necessarily match up with the order that things appeared in our hand outs. Being a control freak, this made me crazy at times. From med school and residency, I am programmed to follow along on the power points with my handouts, step-by-step, and make corresponding notes as I go along. This bit of disorganization was frustrating for me. But - improvise, adapt and overcome, as they say.

There was also  a range qualification. I am happy to say that I passed this with flying colors. I used my Gen3 Glock19, because it was my first gun, and I thought it might be good to qualify with it for sentimental reasons. I "may" have even shot the best out of the group, but I'm not positive. I had some worries about my performance going in (pre-match jitters), but those worries dissipated when my first set of five shots produced a single ragged hole in the target! :-) I was very proud of myself, especially considering that  we did our shooting outside, when it was 15 degrees F. Brrrr. 

So, it was an interesting experience despite my inner control freak twitching from time to time, and I now have an NRA diploma in my office right next to the medical diplomas. I hope the wall doesn't burst into flames.

I don't think I'll be offering classes anytime soon yet. But I'd consider assisting someone else here and there 'til I get a better feel for things in the meantime.

My next immediate focus is SHOT Show. I leave on Sunday. 

I'll try to post new updates every day, both here and on the Facebook page.

Stay tuned!