Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Weekend with New Shooters

I spent Friday night on a date with my wife and some others shooting. My wife was disappointed that none of the younger couples we invited were able to come. They have all expressed interest, but just had things come up.

Anyway, on this outing there was 1 true new shooter (never shot a gun before) that had attended the class at our church I wrote about before. Her husband was with her and he had shot bolt action .22s in Boy Scouts 25 years ago. Another older lady came along on the recommendation of another friend. She described to me how she had shot a rifle long before I was born.

We went over the 4 safety rules as a refresher for everyone and had our targets all set up (5 yds, 10 yds, 25 yds, 50 yds, 100 yds, and one 12inch skillet at 200 yds). My wife helped the two women get started on the .22 pistols and I helped the other man get started with the .22 rifle. The first thought I had was how some things in shooting I take for granted. After showing him how to load the rifle and chamber a round, I took aim and fired at the 25 yd target (we were using paper plates). I hit about a 1/4 inch off of center. Pretty good I thought since I was standing and didn't take a lot of time to aim.

Then I handed him the rifle so he could get comfortable with it. After a few seconds of standing and trying to hold the scope steady on the target he said he couldn't keep it still and wanted to know why it kept moving all over. I explained that it was because he was human and breathed and suggested that he sit at the bench to get some more support. That worked for him. After the first shot he wanted to know what he needed to do to get the shell out. I explained again that it was automatically ejected. "Cool, so I don't have to chamber a round each time?" Yep, that is the beauty of semi-automatics.

He shot more and we progressed up the line of rifles: 9mm carbine to Mosin-Nagant. We ended up having a dueling match, him with the Mosin-Nagant and me with the AK, trying to hit the skillet out at 200 yds. When we retrieved it at the end of the night, there were three holes in. I am pretty sure that one of them was me shooting the Mosin Nagant with iron sights (the sight post completely covers the skillet at 200 yds) earlier since one of the other guys there was watching and said that the skillet moved after I took a shot. The other two holes it is kind of hard to tell who hit it, 7.62 makes the same size hole. I did actually try to pay attention to the fireball from the Mosin-Nagant when I was shooting it. My wife took video and using the slow mode, it is rather impression, about 1foot high and 2 feet long. The one thing I didn't do that I wanted to was save a few rounds to fire off at sunset to really see the fireball. Oh well, I guess I'll have to remember next time.

The Saiga-12 was used to make confetti out of a box of paper and a couple of phone books. I am not sure if this is the quickest way to make confetti, but it sure is a fun way to. I think that the others shot about 15 shells at it, while I shot the remaining 60. Did I mention that I like the Saiga-12?

For handguns, we had a good mix: 22, 9mm, 357 and 44 Magnums. The old lady who came by herself latched on to the 22 revolver. My wife made the observation that a lot of the older ladies the last time we went liked the revolver as well. Maybe its a generational thing? Later my wife admitted she didn't care for the revolver at all, because you are constantly loading AND unloading. She would rather just shoot. Hmmm....maybe I could use this as a way to get a drum magazine. I hear that there is one for a 10/22 that is a 50 round capacity. Or I could get a Glock with the 33 round magazine. That might make her happy. The next time someone asks why anyone would need a 50 round drum, just think of my wife, the new poster girl for truly high-capacity magazines: "Because when I go shooting, I want to shoot, not load and unload."

While there weren't as many people as last time, it was still a great trip because I got to shoot more of the lead down range. For those that we talked to and missed out, we'll try to arrange for another trip in the future.

Friday, June 19, 2009

If I were President

My wife beat me to it : I had post similar to this planned kept putting it off.

To put a few numbers to it, I would propose a federal budget of about $800 billion. Roughly $600 billion for the defense department and the other $200 billion for the other legitimate functions of government (coining money, maintaining relations with other countries - you know, the ones actually spelled out in the constitution).

Unfortunately, the only way I see this ever happening is if it happened at once, no weaning, just a complete cut off of all of the other crap. Sure it would be painful, probably 3-5 years of misery for our country as everything was restructured and people got used to not calling Uncle Sam for all of their problems.

Let me elaborate on that. Uncle Sam is a perfect symbol of what our country should be. Notice it isn't Daddy or Mommy Sam, it is Uncle Sam. Uncles are great. They can take an interest in you, help you out on rare occasions, but in the end both you and they know, they are not responsible for you. You would never think of asking them to provide for your college education, although you might ask to come visit for Thanksgiving dinner. You might take a vacation to go fishing with them, but they expect you to pay for your half of the bait. And they may have that sportscar you've always dreamed of, which when you ask to take it for a ride (if they have two cents worth of brains) will laugh in your face and say "Fat chance." Uncle Sam needs to be more like that.

I thought about being President when I was younger. Not anymore.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Worried About China Buying Our Debt? I'm Not.

Some friends at work have expressed concern (and I have seen it all over the news) about China not wanting to buy anymore of our debt. Somehow they have a strangle hold on us. I don't see it that way. Let me go over some ways to look at it.

First what is the National debt? Well, it is the US Treasuries (Bonds, Notes, and Bills). I own tens of thousands of dollars of the national debt through my US Treasury purchases. So while as an American I am responsible for a chunk of it, I basically owe it to myself. Everyone can own a piece of the US debt.

Owning the US debt is not the most profitable investment to make, but it is by far the safest. The US has never defaulted on its debt payments. Some people are scared that will happen. I'm not. China and Japan (and others throughout the world) have been buying the US debt for a long time. They recognize that it is a safe place to keep their money. So what if China decided to turn in all of their treasuries one day? Well, that might collapse the American economy. Bad for us right? Yeah, but it would also collapse the world economy, including China's.

Most people don't recognize the power that the US holds. Sure we have the military might to project power, take over countries, etc. ... but this is nothing compared to the economic power that we wield. Over the past 50 years, the industrial revolution has been taken over by the information age and technology revolution. The US has decreased the number of manufacturing jobs (coincidentally, so has the rest of the world) as factories are automated and some places are found that are cheaper to make stuff in.

In spite of this decline, the amount of consumption in America has increased steadily. We consume more than 25% of the world's resources. Since we don't have or make them all here, we import them from everywhere else. The US is one of the top 5 trading partners for nearly every country on earth (as measured by number of imports and exports), and in many cases the #1 importer of a countries products. If the US consumer (read me and you) don't have money to buy silk flowers and t-shirts from China, who else do they have to sell them to. No one.

So destroying the American economy, destroys the world economy. We will come out of it much better than most of the rest of the world, because of our natural resources and our human resources, but it won't be pleasant. China, Japan, and the rest of the world understand this. Which is why they buy American debt as a safe investment, not as a means to control us. And you should too. We have completely left the time when a country was "self-sufficient." We are dependent on others for our resources (so we might as well buy up all the foreign oil that we can now when prices are cheap).

This does not mean that I believe the US should rack up as much debt as possible. However, that decision has already been made, so if there is US debt to buy, I'll take a share of it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Who reads this from Germany?

Sitemeter is great. You find all sorts of information from what people search under to find you, to how long they spend on your site. One question has me curious though. Who in Germany keeps reading?

I had a relative over there for a while that I figured it must be, but he has since moved back to the states and I still see hits from Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz. This is actually probably one of the most regularly occuring places on the Sitemeter statistics. If it was something closer to home, then I might chalk it up to multiple people. However I am firmly convinced this is a single person.

So, Mr. Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz, you have been picked as the new blog-famous person of My Reputo. I know it probably doesn't mean much, but what the heck, I'll give you the title anyway. Furthermore, besides where your ISP is located, I know nothing about you.

You could be a hacker from Hobbs, NM that is just using Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz as a feignt to throw anyone off your trail.

Or, you might be the Mayor of Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz and just want to keep up on what is going on in the mind of a normal American.

Or you could be a US Serviceman stationed over in Germany that might have known me once and lost contact over the years (os which there are several).

Or you could be a tourist from Italy, that just happened to settle down in Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz for the last month.

Finally, it is entirely possible that you have no connection to me whatsoever (although I did take German in high school) and just found my blog through some other link (I'd put my money on this one).

So, I invite you to email me at myreputo-at-yahoo-dot-com or leave a comment here and tell me what keeps you coming back. Don't worry, I won't reveal your identity if you don't want me to. Seeing your ISP just makes me wonder (whoever in Singapore visited obviously didn't like it enough to come back).

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Having Fun with New Shooters - Part 4: Aftermath

On the way home, one of the ladies that came had to have me list out for her all of the guns she shot (she shot everything that was there) so she could tell her husband and son and make them jealous. I made sure to include a little description they could relate to: this was a gun James Bond used, this was the main Russian battle rifle for 50 years, this gun is illegal in California, etc, etc. She was on cloud nine.

Well, the next day (Sunday) was fun. The women who went shooting were beaming at church telling everyone of their experience. The scared-to-excited lady told me that she had called her sister the night before to tell her how excited she. Her sister was absolutely shocked! She told me that she really wanted to go again.

The women's president had emailed her friends in Wyoming and they responded that this was definitely the coolest church activity they had heard of. The Bishop's wife was exstatic and had told her husband how cool the big guns were. Mother Teresa (who shot the Mosin Nagant and the Saiga-12 as well as the other guns) could say she had fired more kinds of guns than her husband who had been in the army.

The Sunday School teacher's husband had to verify with me that the AK I had was not a full auto. I told him there are a few legal ones out there, and if I could justify the expense I might get myself one. I'll have to follow up to see if she asked for a Mother's Day present.

There was overwhelming positive response and several of the women who hadn't been able to make it expressed a desire to have this activity again so that they can come. Maybe at the end of the summer. The women's organization president told me the concensus was: Shooting guns is fun! Next time we can get the clay thrower out and try to explode things in mid-air (that is always a rush).

I must say that the preparation and teaching was effective. There were a total of 0 injuries that day and no violations of the 4 rules that I saw. At the end we cleaned up the range real well and I gathered a bunch of brass. Best of all, seven new shooters were born (average age about 65).

I am more than happy to take out people who have never been shooting before for free. I'll supply safety equipment, guns, and ammunition. If you live in Eastern Iowa and would like to go, contact me at myreputo-at-yahoo-dot-com and we can set up a time. If you want to learn more about firearms and teaching your children about them, I'd be happy to sit down with you in your home or mine and talk about it. When you follow the rules, shooting guns is fun!

Having Fun with New Shooters - Part 3: At the Range

The Saturday morning for shooting was a nice 55 degrees. We met at the church to drive together. As with the class, the average age of those who showed up was north of 50. We had a total of 4 experienced shooters (including instructors), two shot-some-here-and-theres and 7 brand newbies. I had them recite the four rules of gun safety to make sure that they understood what was important. The range we were going to was a county range that did not have a rangemaster, so I went over the rules of the range.

When we go there, most of the women were not sure what to do. We had the 200 yard range all to ourselves. I passed out hearing and eye protection. The other instructor and I started setting up targets (5, 10, 15, 25 yards) and we unpacked all of the .22 we had brought. We were shooting at paper plates and crackers (although the wind kept blowing the crackers off before they were hit). This took up four shooting stations (two for rifles and two for handguns).

Someone had to be the first shooter and would you believe it, the 70 year old who was afraid of guns volunteered. I started her off with the Bounty Hunter revolver. I loaded one round took aim and fired. Then I helped her do the same thing. She was very nervous and then pulled the trigger. It did the classic 22 bang with next to no recoil. She held the gun steady and asked "Did it go?"


"Is that all there is to it?"


"Well, that's nothing to be scared of. Can I shoot some more?"

"We have 2000 rounds of 22. You can shoot as much as you like." So she loaded up the entire cylinder and went to town. Meanwhile the other instructor started two people on the rifles. We both brought Marlin Model 60's so it made it made it easy. Someone started with the semiautomatic 22. Our plan was to get everyone started with the 22's and then graduate them on up to the big guns.

Through this all, I had put the 9mm handgun on the table. Since all of the 22's were being shot, one lady picked up the 9mm and asked if she could use it. Now think of someone like Mother Teresa in her late 70s. She hasn't ever shot a gun before, and only held one the Thursday before. In fact she wasn't planning on coming shooting on Saturday until some of the other women convinced her it would be fun. Normally with new shooters I like to start out small and build up. But if they want to try something more, I am not opposed to starting higher. I loaded one round, showed her how to rack the slide, took aim and fired. She then did it herself. "Whoa, that has some kick to it." I thought she wouldn't want to do much more of that (again this is Mother Teresa size women with the equivalent demeanor), but she proceeded to load up the entire magazine and go to town.

After about a half hour of shooting, new shooters were getting comfortable with the 22s and the 9mm. So we started bringing out more guns. A 9mm carbine, the AK-47 clone, the SKS, and the Mosin Nagant. They were laid out in so that each station was progressively more powerful. The AK was naturally dubbed the "Terrorist" Gun and not only did everyone have to shoot it, but they had to have their picture taken shooting it. The lady who was originally afraid of guns asked me to help her shoot it. She only weighed about 80 pounds, but was excited now about this fun prospect of shooting guns. "That was fun!" was her response after firing it once.

The Mosin Nagant became the "Ouch" gun. The other instructor that came had never fired one before and he fell in love with it. He had been on a competition team in high school that shot M1 Garands. When I told him how ridiculously cheap you could get a good Mosin Nagant his response was, "I gotta have one."

One of the other experienced shooters brought along his 44 magnum, the "Dirty Harry" gun. That was a great one to shoot as well. Finally, I brought out the Saiga-12. Once again, the bigger the gun, the more zeal with which they wanted to fire it. Mother Teresa took a few shots, my wife took a shot or two. After they had had their fill, I loaded up the 10 round magazine and turned a phone book into mulch.

One of my favorite quotes involved my wife. A few weeks before, when I was preparing for the class, she said that she wanted one of the cute 22 semiautomatics that she had shot when we lived in South Carolina. So I bought her one. Upon arriving home she asked if this was her Mother's Day present. "Sure, if that is what you want it to be." So she told all of the ladies, tongue in cheek, that her husband had bought her a gun for Mother's Day. While at the range, our Sunday School teacher was having a blast with it and said "This is a great Mother's Day present. I am going to have to ask my husband for one."

After three hours of shooting goodness, it was time to clean up. It was unanimous that this had been a great activity and we needed to do it again sometime. I said I would be happy to as long as they pitched in for ammunition next time. The scared-of-guns-to-gun-convert said "We need to do this again when it is warmer so that my tumors don't act up and I can shoot more!"

Having Fun with New Shooters - Part 2: Hands On

After our break, we split up into three smaller groups. At first some of the women were worried that they would only get to shoot the guns for the class they went to. I assured them that they could shoot everything on Saturday.

Each class was focused on the practical application of the four safety rules with respect to each class of firearms: rifles, shotguns, and handguns. Each instructor had a couple samples and after each portion, all of the students had the opportunity to practice the principle.

First was going over the basic parts of the firearm. These were pointed out on the firearm. The trigger was specifically talked about that we wouldn't be touching this until later.

Second, we had a target set up in the corner of the room. We discussed the fourth rule and how we wanted to have the maximum amount of building materials to stop the bullet in case one of the other safety rules was not followed.

Third, was how to check a gun to ensure it was unloaded. This involved a discussion about the first safety rule. I was teaching the handguns class and showed them how to remove the magazine, pull back the slide and check the chamber (twice). I had both a 9mm with a heavy slide and a .22 that had a nice and easy slide. After everyone had checked the guns, we all agreed that they were unloaded but we would still be treating them as loaded. This was the first time several of the women in attendance had held a firearm. The best quote was "I like the 22 a lot better than the 9mm, it is a lot lighter."

Fourth, we discussed how to hold the firearm. This included a discussion of the second rule. Placement of the hand was shown to keep the finger off of the trigger. Stances were also covered and practiced. Each of the students practiced this. During this time, some other meetings in the building were ending and various people from other congregations were walking down the hallway. They were doing doubletakes as they passed the doors to our classrooms and saw the older women of the church practicing grips and stances for handguns, rifles, and shotguns. It probably was not a sight that they expected to see when they went to church that day.

Fifth, we discussed how to load the firearm. I had snapcaps available for this so that we could do realistic practice. We discussed that even though these were not firing ammunition, we still needed to treat the gun as if it were live ammunition (review rule one). Magazines were loaded, and bolts cycled to load a round into the chamber.

Sixth, we reviewed what we had learned so far and how we were now ready to cover the third safety rule and actually pull the trigger. We discussed how to aim using the various sights, and then use a smooth pull of the trigger keeping the target on sight. Each person was then able to practice.

To conclude we did another review of the four safety rules and had a question, answer, touch, and hold session.

Having Fun with New Shooters - Part 1: Safety Class

Back in February, the Bishop at our church and I were talking. Both of our families were out of town and we were baching it for the weekend. The topic eventually turned to guns since he liked guns and I liked guns. During the conversation about caliber, stopping power, and general coolness of firearms, he made a suggestion that there might be some in the women's organization who would like to learn how to shoot. I was all for it.

He talked to the women's organization president and she having grown up with guns herself was very excited. When I talked with her about it later she said, "So we'll get to fire rifles like a 30-06?"

"Even better!" was my reply. "We'll shoot a whole slew of firearms: handguns, rifles, and shotguns."

I was put in charge of writing up a training class that we would do on a Thursday, and then we would go shooting on a Saturday. I was pumped. I envisioned that I would have a general safety class for the first half hour, then break out into smaller groups for some in depth instruction on rifles, shotguns, or handguns, and finally end with a open Q&A forum with all the guns that everyone could touch and practice holding before the shooting outing (can that just be shortened to shootout?). I asked two others to help me teach the breakout classes. My wife named it "High Caliber Women".

Developing a plan was fun. I looked at several resources and finally settled on the following outline. The safety class covered four areas: safety, famous gunners, ammunition, and recoil. The class was held at our church, and we had about 11 women attend. The first thing that suprised me was the average age of those in attendance was somewhere between 50 and 60. I was honestly expecting a much younger crowd. Seven of the 11 had never shot any firearm before and one admitted to being scared of guns her whole life (she was more than 70 years old but still came and as you will see completely conquered her fear). Most importantly, myself and the two instructors brought about thirteen firearms which were displayed on tables for all to see. Any class about firearms that does not actually have firearms as a part of the class is not a class about firearms.

The safety section started with a discussion about firearms and how many accidents (deaths and injuries) occur each year. This was then compared with other common accidents (falls, automobile, poisoning, drowning, fire, bicycles, etc) that occur in the home. The major point to get across is that we are surrounded by things that are involved in accidents, firearms are no different (although they were in most cases orders of magnitude lower than most of the other accidents). My favorite quote was when our Sunday School teacher said, "Looking at those numbers [from the CDC], guns really aren't that dangerous." Compared to your average bathtub, cleaning chemicals, and matches, she was dead on.

We then talked about how we learn and teach children to cope with these "accident" items (helmets, don't play with matches, defensive driving, etc.). We then discussed that we don't try to hide all of these "dangerous" things from our children, but we do teach them and observe them using them properly so that accidents are minimized.

This led us into the four rules of gun safety. These were discussed and demonstrated by one of the other instructors. We didn't go into too much detail since they would be covered again later (and they were posted in at least 6 places for everyone to read). We talked about how each of these rules is used to prevent accidents. (I did have the video of the DEA agent shooting himself in the foot to show a quick violation of all those rules but the computer wasn't agreeing with me.)

For the second part, we talked about some famous gun people including John Moses Browning. The list of people I had were all members of our church and included both good guys (JMB, Samuel Cowley) and bad guys (Butch Cassidy). If anyone else wants to use my outline, this section could include people like Samuel Colt, Mikhail Kalashikov, Ronnie Barrett, etc.

The ammunition section was the only time I pulled out live ammunition. We talked about the different components and I passed around several samples for people to see. I included multiple calibers and various bullet types. In order to keep track of all of the ammunition, I bagged each set of ammuntion and knew how much I brought. After it had all been passed around I counted each bag to make sure all of the ammunition came back to me and then put it in my pocket. We talked briefly about the chemical reaction that occurs to make the bullet go.

Finally, recoil. This was a fun section where we went over each of Newton's laws of motion and how they applied to firing a gun. At the end we reviewed the four safety rules again and then took a break for some snacks.

It is important to note that up to this point that no one besides myself or the other instructor's had handled any of the firearms and then only briefly. They had been able to handle the ammunition. I wanted to get anyone that was apprehensive about guns to be comfortable being surrounded by guns before everyone started handling them. This first portion took about 40 minutes.