Saturday, May 21, 2005

AFTEC Extractor - Revisited

Almost six weeks ago (April 10, 2005) I wrote that I had broken my extractor and subsequently replaced it with an AFTEC extractor. I made several comments about the construction and installation of the part, and stated that I was very satisfied with its performance.

Unfortunately, I also cited some Internet rumors which suggested that installation of the AFTEC extractor required some gunsmithing. I thought I had made it clear that my experiences completely contradicted these statements

Specifically, in response to reports that installation required one to drill out the extractor channel before the AFTEC extractor would fit, I commented:

Either this description is VERY much out of date, or it is patent bullshit. I prefer to believe that this installation process is based on a very EARLY model of the Aftec extractor.

My experience was less traumatic. The Aftec dropped right in. The extractor channel didn't require any modification, and even the perennially Gunsmithing-Incompetent Geek was able to install the After-Market part without opening the dusty Dremel Tool box.
Someone read this article a couple of days ago, and apparently read the original rumor but missed my refutation.

It seems appropriate to say it again, for the third time: no modifications to the gun were required to install the AFTEC extractor. It was so simple, even a Geek can do it!

The original article was written after completion of a single IPSC match, which involved shooting less than 200 rounds. (Yes, I was so confident in the quality of the merchandise that I took it to a match without fully testing it in my STI pistol.)

Having competed in several more IPSC matches since installing the AFTEC extractor, it is perhaps appropriate that I reinforce my original short-term impression.

The AFTEC extractor performed flawlessly, under less-than-perfect conditions, and I am entirely satisfied with it in all respects. I would recommend it to my dearest friend. In fact, I may buy her (SWMBO) an AFTEC extractor for her very own, if/when the stock STI extractor (which is, after all, a point-failure part) gives out on her. However, she has only been using that extractor for 4 or 5 years, so we haven't had to replace it yet.

One interesting aspect of the AFTEC extractor: you can buy it for either the .38 Super (as I did) or for the .38 Super Comp cartridge. The difference in the cartridges is that the Super is a 'rimless' case, and the Super Comp is a 'rimmed' case. This is a matter of a few thousandths of an inch in rim diameter.

Rumors seem to abound in reference to the .38 Super/Comp designs of this extractor; I have heard several of them, and the most prevelant may be that the extractor designs are identical. If you are using Super cases, you only install one of the springs; if you are using Super Comp cases, you install both of them.

I'm using the 'rimless' Super case, and I installed both springs. So far, this has not caused a problem. Extraction of the rimless case has been reliable and consistant, although I note that extraction of the cases has been more powerful. By this, I mean that the cases are extracted so emphatically that they land farther from my shooting position than they did when using the stock non-AFTEC extractor. (This is, of course, merely anecdotal evidence.)

This weekend, I intend to go to the range and run some Super Comp brass through my AFTEC-equuiped STI.

I'll let you know in a day or two if I experience any problems.

(Sure hope Chuck Bradley hurries up with my back-order of a backup ejector; I have a Points Match coming up!)

UPDATE: 22-MAY-2005

I said I was going to do it, and I done it, and here's what happened.

Saturday SWMBO and I went to the range for a bit of practicing. I took along a hodge-podge of ammunition, including ammunition .38 Super, .38 Super Comp, and .38 Super AP. (I haven't yet found an Internet website which defines the manufacturer of brass headstamped "AP"; if I do, I'll say so here. In the meantime, accept that it's .38 super 'rimless' ammunition which isn't headstamped "COMP".) *

Anyway, I shot a variety of both rimmed and rimless ammunition through an STI racegun with the AFTEC extractor installed. It didn't seem to care what the rim diameter was, it worked with 100% extractor reliability all the time, every time.

This is much superior to my experience with other types of extractor. After about 100 rounds of mixed ammunition, I experienced no problems with reliable extraction of expended brass.

Today, I went to the range again to practice a specific stage. At one time, I shot about 60 rounds from a 4' x 4' shooting box. When I was done, I picked up my brass. I found 56 of the 60 pieces of brass within a 2' circle, about 5' from the shooting position. The other 4 rounds were found within a few feet of that circle; apparently, they hit a rock (the shooting bay was surfaced with large gravel) just right to cause them to bounce farther away.

I continue to be impressed by this extractor. In the past, when I found .38 Super Comp brass in my rangebag, I gave it away to friends who were shooting that cartridge. Often, I didn't find it until after I had reloaded it. Now I can keep it, and use it indiscriminantly. This greatly increases my options to use ALL of the range brass which is returned to me. I may not be able to use enough salvaged range brass to recover the cost of the extractor, but it certainly helps by reducing the amount of money I spend buying new brass. (I just bought 2,000 rounds of new Winchester .38 super brass, to use during the 2005 competitive season. This cost me $205, including shipping costs. The cost of brass is not an unimportant consideration.)

* UPDATE: May 31, 2005

Friend "SAM38" sent me the following information about the .38 Super AP headstamped brass:
The AP stands for Armscor Precision. You are correct in saying that it
is a flavor of .38 Super rimless. It is made in the Philippines and
is a lot cheaper than other rimless brands
Thank you, Sam, for relieving my ignorance.

Note that I have also received other information to the effect that Armscor makes both rimless and 'semi-rimless' brass in that caliber, but that you can't necessarily tell the difference from the headstamp. I don't know if that helps. I don't even know what "semi-rimless" means!

UPDATE: December 11, 2005
I continue to get a lot of 'hits' from folks who reach this website because they have searched the Internet for the keywords "Aftec Extractor".

If you are her because of such a search, and you have read down to this part of the article, I would appreciate your feedback. Did this article answer some or any of your questions? What were the questions, and what questions were not answered.
You can respond either in a COMMENT to this article, or you can write to me directly (see the implied email address at the bottom of this page)

Jerry the Geek, who LOVES his Aftec Extractor.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

YOB Meat II: "Why can't we be more like the Brits?"

Oh dear! I seem to have touched upon a sensative subject for the Brits!
It seems that YOBs are a serious crime-prevention problem, so they have devised a special punishment for them: The "ASBO". This is an "Anti Social Behavior Order", which might be called a "Restraining Order" in the USA.

Asbowatch VI: In the summertime:

One shopping mall has determined that their greatest anti-social problem is YOBS, who typically wear hooded sweatshirts or billed caps. So they have established a policy to forbid entry to people who are wearing these EEEVIL Clothing Accessories. ("Guns don't kill people; caps kill people. Oops! Wait a minute ... guns kill people too!")

If you show up at this mall wearing a cap, you will be subject to ... an ASBO!

Unfortunately, the YOBs laugh at this.

However, elderly people receive ASBOs also, for almost any reason (including feeding the pigeons ... I swear I am not making this up!) While the ASBO may not deter YOBS, it has the effect of restricting anti-social behavior among the elderly of England. Other anti-social behaviors cited in the article include sunbathing in a thong bikini (if you're a 60 year old male) and throwing rubarb at your sibling.

("Hat" tip to Kevin Baker of The Smallest Minority)

YOBs are so common in England, they even have their own comic strip:

It's a little bit of "Sound of Music", British style: "How do you solve a problem like Maria", but without the music and with more Nazi's:

Home Office minister launches war on 'culture of disrespect'

Teenage yobs are to be forced to wear US-style uniforms as they carry out community service punishments under plans for a new high-visibility crackdown on public disorder.

The move, echoing American chain gangs whose members wear orange jackets to shame them publicly, will be highly controversial and could risk reprisals.

But Home Office minister Hazel Blears argues justice must be seen to be done in the battle against what the government calls a 'culture of disrespect' - ranging from swearing, spitting and neglectful parenting to petty crime and violence.

In her first interview as the new minister for antisocial behaviour, Blears also suggested parents should enforce sensible bedtimes for children and restore 'structure' to family life, such as eating meals together. They should also be alert to what children wear following debate over teenagers wearing 'hoodies' to avoid CCTV identification.

Minister for Antisocial Behavior? My, the brits are really getting tough on crime, aren't they?

But some members of government don't expect these extraordinary measures to have much effect on the "YOB Problem":

... (Conservative Party "Shadow Home Secretary") Mr Davis said: "Labour have been in power for eight years and what have they done? They have permitted 24 hour drinking, let over one hundred thousand prisoners out of jail early, whilst at the same time making the life of a police constable on the beat more and more difficult."

He told "An idea like this may well make a minor contribution to public confidence, but it will not make up for eight years of neglect of law and order."
Did I say something about "Music" and "Yobs"?

The Beautiful South serenades the English in all their shabby splendor; Black Box Recorder finds the sad side of sadism

It's a concept which clearly applies:

But wait! The government is going to save you!

(the link may not work ... the article is a week old, and no longer available except through a search)

Promoting respect towards others and clamping down on yobbish behaviour will be the key theme of a third term Labour government, Tony Blair said today.

The prime minister said it had been made clear to him during the campaign that people had real concerns about behaviour on the streets and in classrooms.

Promising a "bold programme" for the new parliament, Mr Blair said people were "fed up with street corner thugs" and respect for others would be a central plank of this parliament.

He said there were "root causes" of yobbish behaviour and binge drinking - including poor parenting - and parents should back teachers, not children, if they were reprimanded at school.

Mr Blair said that Labour would "sit down with head teachers" to make sure they had all the powers they needed in the classroom to deal with problem children.

Yeah, right.

He also lent his support to Bluewater shopping centre's decision to ban individuals who wear clothing that deliberately obscures their face, such as a hooded top and a baseball cap, saying: "I actually agree with it".

I actually am impressed. Okay, so perhaps not 'actually'.

One of the key things was to make "people feel safe and in control" and ensure a "modern society free from prejudice but not free from rules, he added.

It was important that "decent law abiding people aren't put in fear and frightened of going down to the shop", he said.
That sounds good. What are you 'actually' going to do about it?

Mr Blair was scathing of the European parliament's decision yesterday to vote for the removal of the 48-hour working week opt out saying that Europe "simply cannot afford to give up our flexibility" in the global economic market.

He had "no intention whatsoever" of abandoning the opt-out, adding that he believed the UK had a blocking minority on the council of ministers.
Wait a minute here, Tony. You've already pledged to give more authority to the teachers, but you didn't say anything about giving more power to the parents to bring their yobbish kids under control. Now you're arguing to defend the 48-hour working week?

Has it occurred to you that the people who have to work 48-weeks are the ones who aren't at home six days out of every week are the parents who can't control their kids?

Maybe you should rethink your position. What's more important? Six-day workweeks, or getting your Yobs under control?

Never mind, I think we get the idea.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Yob Meat

I have limited myself to no more than one Geek BlogMeat post per month, because I thought it was a cop-out; blogging without purpose, as it were, and everybody does it when they feel guilty about not blogging and need an material to blog about even if they have nothing original to say.

But I really LOVE posting blogmeat, because you find so many really INTERESTING things on the Net. It's difficult to resist the temptation to share.

I have decided that if I don't call it "BlogMeat", I can post it anyway. The alternatives are to write more terribly revealing personal diary stuff (done that), write more about RKBA issues (I wrote an entire RKBA article last week about the REASON article on Gun Control, but it's way too long!) , blog another IPSC match (did that 2 days ago), not write about ANYTHING, or do ... this. News - UK - Teacher who fired airgun to ward off gang of yobs loses her job

I don't know what "Yobs" are, but I presume that they are goons, Juvenile Delinquents (we use to call them JDs), gangsters, or street predators ... based on the context in which the term is used in the cited article.

Here's a definition from my online dictionary:

yob (yŏb) pronunciation
n. Chiefly British Slang.

A rowdy, aggressive, or violent young man.

[Alteration of BOY (spelled backward).]

Basically, a teacher in Urmston, Manchester (apparently, in Northern England) felt threatened by a group of 'youngsters' who were hanging around outside her home, and fired an 'air pistol' into the ground to drive them off.

She was arrested, imprisoned, and later fired.


Here's a cut from the article, and if you don't understand the logic ... neither do I:

Linda Walker, 48, a teacher with 25 years’ service, was dismissed from her £30,000-a-year job after a five-hour disciplinary hearing with senior education officials.

The mother of two, who has received widespread support for her stance against vandals, emerged from the meeting with her career in tatters but vowed to fight her dismissal with an appeal.

Walker, who taught children with behavioural problems at New Park High School in Eccles, Salford, was jailed in March for firing an air pistol at the pavement during a stand-off with youngsters outside her house in Urmston, Manchester. She had been suspended from teaching since August last year.

Walker attended yesterday’s hearing, which was held in private, with officials from Salford’s education department, accompanied by Cliff Anderson, a regional co-ordinator for her union, the NASUWT.

After the hearing, Mr Anderson said: "It is with regret that we announce Mrs Walker has been dismissed from her post.

"With the support of the NASUWT, she intends to appeal. In the interests of ensuring that appeal is not prejudiced, Mrs Walker and the NASUWT will not be making any further comment at this stage."

It is understood the council argued that by having a criminal conviction, Walker had de facto committed gross misconduct and was unfit to be a teacher.

You gotta ask yourself: do you feel lucky?

If you do, and you're in the UK ... think again. There is NO excuse for refusing to be a victim and, after the government is through with you, your employer takes another thousand cuts.

Think your Union can help?
Think again.
They take your union dues, and when you really need them, they leave you swinging in the wind.

Makes you wonder, though. If she was a teacher for 25 of her 48 years, and the 'council' thought you were a fit teacher, what does this little lesson in respect for the sanctity of her home make her an 'unfit' teacher?


Remember MAD Magazine? Are you willing to admit that you use to hang around the Safeway store every month, waiting for the next issue to come out?

Remember "Spy VS Spy"? They've still got it, even though the guy who use to write it died last year, in a Game. According to this website, they are still "written and illustrated by The Usual Gang of Idiots".

What's not to like about this?

Fonda Film Banned from Kentucky Theaters

Maybe ... this?

Buy This!

Note to self: Do NOT try to carjack an Oakland Cop!

And finally, just so you don't think I think that America is any better about a woman trying to defend herself with a gun, this from Richmond, Virginia:

Woman gets prison term in fatal shooting

Floyd Jamal Whitaker Jr.'s departure on Sept. 29 from the home he had shared with Carolyn Taylor did not go smoothly.

He had made several trips to his car with boxes of belongings from the house in the 1300 block of Enfield Avenue.

But Taylor, 33, told police that he had choked her during one of his trips back to the dwelling, and she had locked the door behind him and put a .22-caliber pistol in her pocket.

When Whitaker, 28, kicked in the door and choked her again, she fired a shot downward to get him away from her, she said. The bullet lodged in Whitaker's pelvis, and he bled to death from what appeared at first to be a superficial wound.

Taylor pleaded guilty in January to involuntary manslaughter, and Richmond Circuit Judge Richard D. Taylor sentenced her yesterday to serve three years and four months in prison.

Before she was sentenced, Carolyn Taylor apologized to Whitaker's family and added, "I never meant for him to die. . . . The gun that I had took his life, but I feel that it might have saved my life."

Whitaker's parents testified that his departure from the home was part of an effort to get his life on track. "It's like a part of me left," Lloyd Whitaker Sr. told the judge. "He should have been allowed to leave as he was preparing to do and we wouldn't be here."

Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Diane Abato told the judge that Taylor could have left the apartment or called police to keep the confrontation from escalating.

"But as so often happens in this city, people arm themselves and think that solves the problem," she said.

(Emphasis added)

This is probably going to sound ignorant to some of you, but I was brought up to believe that choking a person is a good indication that you intend to kill them. Kicking down a locked door is an indicator of intended violence. And trying to choke a person twice goes beyond 'being momentarily carried away with the emotion of the moment.'

If I was Carolyn Taylor, I would think my options were few, and the best one was 'one of us is going to die, and it ain't gonna be me'. I suppose it was 'nice' that she didn't 'intend' to kill Ol' Pretty boy, but you have to admit ... she didn't have to worry about him choking him to death any more, and whatever the final result you have to remember the old adage:

"It is better to be tried by twelve than buried by six"

Hmmm ... let me think ....


Seems to me, arming herself DID solve the problem.

What do YOU think?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Tales of The Dark Side: Grumpy Old Men

My Father had a 'shooting buddy' named Charley Bowles.

(I can use his name here, because he's dead. His wife, the charming Lillian who I had a sophomoric crush on during high school, is dead. His son, much older than me and who I never met but always considered a wimp because his wimpy photograph which was prominently displayed in the Bowles home looked like the greasy slick-black-hair photo of a wimp ... he's dead too. So is my father, but that's another story and I don't want to talk about it because I miss him every damned day. Anyway, nobody cares any more and if the truth be told between the Marlboros and the Jamisons and the late-nites typing on a computer, I live an unhealthy lifestyle so I probably won't be around long enough to worry about any suits who want to sue me.)

Where was I?

Oh, right. I was being morbid.

Charley was not an easy guy to be around. Long-story-short, he was the most amazingly negative person with whom it was ever my displeasure to have to share the front seat of a '49 Chevy pickup at 5am of a Saturday morning on the way to the hunting grounds. And he had early morning gas, probably due to his unhealthy diet, but this is a subject about which I have lately learned to be MUCH more tolerant of so I don't hold that against him, as much as I would like to.

If we had been Neanderthals, and didn't have Chevy pickups yet, and I had been bigger and stronger and as agressive in spirit as I was in my mind, I might have done the world a favor and brained ol' Charley with a rock I had picked up as we were crossing the veldt on the way to the hunting ground some dark and dreary morning. Guess I was just born too late.

But since I was born in the Dawn of Technology, the story turns out a whole lot different. Charley lived long enough to get too old to hunt, took up golf, lost most of his vision when he took a golf-ball in the right eye when some golf-idiot was too lazy to yell FORE! or Charley was too deaf to hear it, and he died ten years later in his sleep.

Some stories just refuse to offer a happy ending.

So let's ignore the ending, and strike right into the middle of the story. That's the only part I really care about anyway, 'cause I don't think about Charley more than twice a year, and even then I either spit on his memory or give thanks to God for him

I gotta tell you, that last one really hurts.

Charley was the original Grumpy Old Man.

You think I am prejudiced? Get this: Charley was the math teacher at Helen McCune Junior High School in Pendleton, Oregon. He was my 7th grade math teacher, and he was famous as The Punisher. He had this flat-board paddle that he kept on the floor beneath his desk, and if you acted up in his class -- he would grab his paddle in his right hand and your right ear in his left hand (it's an anatomical thing) and march you into the hall and POW! POW! POW! lay right into you. None of this "we're going to talk to the Principal" stuff. No privacy. He loved to give it to you just outside the door to the classroom, so all of your pals could hear you squeal like a pig.

Yeah, he nailed me one lazy late-spring day. I don't remember why he paddled me; I was probably smarting off in class but it doesn't matter. My butt still stings. It was a "bum rap" by any interpretation of the term.

He was so good at beating up spanking little kids juvenile delinquents, the principal unofficially appointed him Unofficial Child Abuser Disciplinarian of Helen McCune Junior High School, and sent all of the miscreants up to his classroom on the second floor when they needed a good spanking for the good of their immortal souls. I can't tell you how many times he was interrrupted in class to go outside and whallop some 80-pound weakling. But I can tell you that he always had a look of satisfaction on his face when he came back into the class as the whimpering victim retreated painfully down the hall.

He took The Paddle down to the woodworking classroom in the school basement and drilled holes in it. Thankfully, I was into the 8th grade by then and not immediately available for his 'test drives'. I was in the First Year Algebra Class of Mister Requa, who only threw books at kids who seemed inattentive in class. Kewl, I could learn to dodge algebra textbooks. Mr. Requa was a wimp compared to Mister Charley Bowles.

About the time I as in about the 9th or 10th grade, I was really getting into hunting. I had gone on my first deer hunt when I was 13, and was three-for-three on Western Blacktail Deer. I hadn't been exposed *(yet)* to the exquisite agony of hunting Elk in the snow with a party of 50-year-0ld drunks who partied all night and farted in the trailer, so I still thought hunting was a great way to spend a day. Me, the rifle, the mountain tops, the dawn patrol, the wily deer .... life was SWEET!

The rest of the year, we hunted ... jack rabbits.

Jack rabbits made deer look like easy prey, because when Deer run they only bounced every three or four paces and they didn't bounce that high (unless a barbed-wire fence was in their way.) Jack Rabbits bounce whenever they feel like it, and they feel like it often. Nailing a running slash bouncing slash totally dash unpredictable jack rabbit was the greatest sport in the world, the best possible training for hunting. If you could hit a running jack one time out of three, you were God with a thirty ought six!

Deer were flighty. Jacks were tough. We didn't hunt Jacks with a .22, because they could be two counties over before they realized they were dead. You had to hit them with a center-fire cartridge, splay their insides all over every sagebrush in the quarter-Section, and still they would be squealing pitiously when you walked up to them with their entire midsection missing and you wondered how they could still be alive.

Some people chose to stomp not-yet-dead Jack's head with their boot heel to finish them off. Me, I kicked 'em in the head. I'm not entirely sure yet whether that was more effective in 'putting them out of their misery', but they ended up behind the sagebrush and stopped that annoying whimpering squeal they made when they were hurt real bad.

It reminded me too much of the hallway outside Mister Bowles's seventh grade mathematics room at Helen McCune Junior High School. I didn't like that. Didn't like the way it made me feel.

It made me feel bad.

It took me several years to realize that this means I wasn't Mister Bowles, Junior.

One brisk winter morning, when I was 15 or 16, Pop (I always called my father "Pop", 'cause I liked him) and I were hunting Jack in the desert/sagebrush country near Umatilla, Oregon, on the breaks of the Columbia river. There was a bite to the air, scattered unmelted snowdrifts on the ground, the sagebrush looked sparkley frozen where Jack Frost had applied his second coat of varnish, there were icicles dripping from the rusted barbs of the wire fences separating BLM grazing grounds, and Jack was feelin' lazy. Jack wasn't running today. He was moping in his warren with his pregnant lady, getting lucky (Lady Jacquiline was alway pregnant, had just birthed a litter or was about to birth a litter ... much like the girls in Pendleton High School, but do you think I ever got lucky?), but that didn't slow down her running/bouncing gait if she was out & about and who could tell the master from the missus when they were cruising the foxweed patches?)

The third party of our little impromptu hunt was Mister Bowles (I always called him "Mister Bowles, instead of "Charley" like Pop did, because I didn't like him. I mean I didn't like Mister Bowles, not that I didn't like Pop.)

We had gone on a sweep around 11 o'clock, three abreast with Pop in the middle. I don't know why Pop always put himself in the middle between me and Mister Bowles, who I still sub-vocally referred to as "Mister Bowels" as all the rest of the kids did who had either experienced or witnessed his 'special attention'. But we had made 3 or 4 cloverleaf hunts, with little success, and met back by the bitchin' 49 Chevy Pickup that Pop used for a hunting truck, and talked it over whether to make another sweep or give it up for the day.

It was cold -- bitter cold -- and I was all about hot chocolate and giving Jack a little time to settle down before we went out to hunt some more.

The grown-ups had enjoyed the day, weren't disappointed by the lack of rabbits, but were tired and cold, and (probably with the wisdom of experience) would just as soon have called it a day. Lucky me, they went along with the Hot-Drink Party Ticket and acceded to an early lunch. We could decide later whether to hunt some more, or to pack it in. These essential manly decisions were always best decided with coffee or chocolate steaming up their bifocals, and so they yielded to my adolescent agenda.

Get the picture in your head.

We're standing around, loaded rifles cradled in the crooks of our arms, ten feet from the truck. We decide to take a break rather than just bag it, so we haven't unloaded yet (as we usually do just before we cross the last fence before the truck.)

As I'm starting to fiddle with the bolt of my .30-06 that Pop made me from a sporterized 1903-A3 springfield, Mister Bowles pontificates:

Boy, point that gun another direction. You've got it pointed right at your father's leg.
Painfully pulling my head out of my ass, I look around and realize ... the sumbitch is right. It pains me to admit it, but he's right.

Swinging the rifle from the left ( where it was pointing at Pop's leg) to the right (cheerfully ACROSS Mister Bowles' leg .. the sumbitch), I achieve a pointing direction which is so safe, it ought to even satisfy the anal retentive (why did nobody every teach me that phrase when Mister Bowles was alive? It applies so perfectly to the sumbitch!) I tap the bolt to unload the chambered cartridge.

If you know the 1903-A3, you can see what happens next.

Realizing that it's nearly impossible to raise the bold on an 'A3 with the safety on, I flip the safety from SAFE to OFF.

The rifle goes BA-LOOOWEY!

Birds take wing in the bush.
My face is white.
Pop's face is white.
Mister Bowles' face is red.

Nobody speaks for the longest ten seconds in the history of human civilization. I wait for Mister Bowles to say ... "Well!"

Or "I told you so!"

Or even "If you hadn't moved your muzzle, you would have blown your father's laig clean off, you miserable little termite!"

I would have welcomed any of these punctuations, but he didn't say ANYTHING.

Not then.
Not later.
Not ever.

I waited for 20 years, until Mister Bowles dies, for him to say "I told you so!"
I waited another 15 years, until Pop dies, for him to say ... well, almost anything. Except for the one thing Pop said to end that eternal ten seconds.

"Well, it could have happened to anyone."

That's all he said. That's all anyone said. Ever.

My God, I didn't want to be forgiven. I didn't want Mister Bowles to be right, but he was. I had pictures in my mind of blowing Pop's leg off, and him dying before we could get him to somebody who could help because I SURE didn't know what to do to keep him from bleeding out in the sand and the foxgrass in the middle of that lonely, rusty bobwire-rimmed sagebrush patch. Short of actually having shot somebody, being forgiven so EASILY was the only thing I could think of that would be worse than that Mister Bowles was right, and I was wrong.

The grumpy old man I loathed had saved the life of the man I loved, and only incidently saved me from a life of self loathing.


Now I am a grumpy old man.

I look around me, and I see things. I see them so clearly, I wonder that those around me don't recoil in repugnance at the wrongs they see. I wonder how I can see things so clearly, when I would not have noticed the 'wrong-ness' only a few years before. Maybe I've become more observant. Maybe I've become less tolerant.

I am a grumpy old man, and while I know that I may sometimes infuriate those who fall under my baleful eye, I can't avoid the calling.

Grumpy old men.

They may not know the right thing to do.

They probably know all too well what is the WRONG thing to do.

I'm not really old. I couldn't possibly be a Grumpy Old Man already.
Could I?

God forgive us.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

IPSC in Oregon: Albany in May

The Lonely Silver Rain is passing, and here in Oregon we are now looking forward to The Dreadful Lemon Sky.

Or, in less colorful and less 'Travis McGee' terms: Autumn, Winter and Spring (all of which are lonely and rainy) are passing. We now face the prospect of dry, hot days which bring dehydration and sunburn -- as difficult as it may be to imagine, for those of us who are familiar with the rainy climate in Oregon. Will Geer said, in "Jeremiah Johnson":
March is a wet and muddy month. Some folks like it. Farmers, mostly.
IPSC shooters don't have much truck with March. Also, November, December, January and February. April Showers are oppressive in Oregon, and even May and June can bring surprisingly fierce downpours in a minute-by-minute changing environment. There's a saying here: "If you don't like the weather ... wait five minutes".

However, Saturday (May 14, 2005) fooled the weathermen (no great challenge to the weather; magnificent challenge to the weathermen) and instead of the predicted 'occasional showers' we saw the sun!

My ex-best-friend, who married my ex-wife, claimed "I once spent an entire summer in Oregon. It was one of the most pleasant weeks in my life." Well, he's from California; he's inclined to treat an actual CLIMATE with disdain. I feel the same way about San Francisco.

Still, we had a scheduled match and we came dressed for cold and rain. What we got was sun and heat, albeit high humidity. Reminded me in some ways of Alabama in the summer, except the air didn't quite taste like wet cotton, the soil wasn't red clay, and there was so much GREEN in every background that it fair took your breath away.

In May, the Irish envy us our Emerald Valley.

And they can't have all the shooting of pistols that we do.

The Albany Rifle & Pistol Club has one of the finest IPSC ranges in the world, and it was revealed to us as the gossamer background to a 10-stage, 250+ round match which challenged us to shoot & scoot at every opportunity ... and there were many opportunities in the Mac McCarter-designed match for the would-be Hoser in each of us.

One representative stage was the "Zig Zag". Run a PacMan-looking course from one close up and personal 6-round array to the next, and finish up on the tough but delightful Texas Star target.

Here's what it looks like at the start:

Al @ STAND BY Posted by Hello

I took a lot of pictures on this stage, and I hope they don't load too slowly for those of us who are viewing through the narrow bottleneck of a modem. (Click on the pictures to see them in large format.) This picture shows the lush green background which is typical of ALL of the stages at ARPC, and also reveals why the stage is named "Zig Zag".

Here's what it looks like at the first turn:

Al running the Zig Zag Posted by Hello

The competitor (Al, who REALLY doesn't like a full-face photo but consented to being photographed, as have all those who are depicted here) has engaged three IPSC targets behind hard-cover and is charging hard for the next shooting position.

Big Dog can MOVE! Posted by Hello

Changing from Al to "Big Dog", we see him cross-stepping as he engages the 3rd and final target on the second array. He's leaning into the turn, but stupidly I stopped the motor-driven camera after 3 exposures ... the last exposure would have shown him moving toward the third array but picking up the last shot one-handed as he pushed off from his strong foot. Another great moment in IPSC Action pictures lost because the photographer failed to sense the balance between position and momentum.

The "Groin-Pull Run" Posted by Hello

Moving from the 2nd to the 3rd array, we see yet another competitor in action. Bob is concerned with the possibility that one of his spare magazines might be dislodged by the bouncing action of a full-speed run, so he's protecting them with his weak hand. It looks awkward, perhaps, but Bob fulfilled the requirement that belt-carried equipment be retained during moments of strenuous, even violent activity.

Whatever works to get you through the stage. Note that no groin muscles were pulled during filming of this stage.

Mark on the Star Posted by Hello

Still another competitor, "Mark II", is engaging the Texas Star target. This consists of five 8" steel plates mounted in a pentagram arrangements, the arms of which pivot on a bearing race.

Here's a better picture of the Texas Star:
Star! Posted by Hello

Oops! Sorry, wrong sport (Tennis), wrong star (Anna Kournakova). Even wrong state (Russia). Certainly not a target. (Note: the link is heavy broadband)

But you get the idea ... a lot of points of interest going on, hard to keep track of what's moving where.

Let's try again:

target? Posted by Hello

Mmmmm ... no. Wrong state (China), the only stars are on his epaulets. And it's showing people where it should show targets. Well, that's something for China to work out.

I can't find a still photo of a Texas Star in my library. You'll have to be content with the photo without a large-format option, but it gives you a sense of the size of the target. (Note: the guy holding the target is not an optional accessory. He's Terry Ashton, the wicked man who invented the target.)

You can see a video of somebody shooting the Texas Star here. (Thanx to KR Training for the link; look under "2001" and "Shooting the Texas Star MPEG MOVIE". It takes about 3 minutes to download using a 56 baud modem.)

While we're waiting for this (and Anna's!) movie to download, let's go back to Albany and see the other photos I've provide here.

We left Mark blasting moving steel targets. That completes the series of photos for the Zig Zag stage, but here are a couple of other interesting photos, and a little bit more about another stage in the match.

Brassing Posted by Hello

One if the important functions of most IPSC matches is "Brassing". That is, recovering the expended brass which has been left on the ground after an IPSC competitor has completed a stage. Practical Pistol ("IPSC") competition can be an expensive hobby. Most participants seek to minimize the expense of competing by reloading their own ammunition. In fact, some 'wildcat' cartridges (and I specifically include the .38 Super, .38 Super Comp, and "Major Nine" ... 9x19 loaded to Major Power factor) are not commercially available, or at least not in a load suitable for making the compensator of an Open Gun work to maximum efficiency. Thus you will see, at most IPSC matches, grown men looking like chickens in a farmyard. The bobbing and pecking motions become stylized: anyone who is self-conscious about their dignity is advised to buy new brass after each match.

I know for a fact that some ladies (of course, I don't include SWMBO in this category) have on their computer a personal file folder consisting only of grown men stooping to retrieve brass. I believe these photographs are designated "Butt Shots". Probably, these ladies are amazed at the diligence by which men are willing to stoop to save a penny.

The RO:
"Mr. IPSC" Posted by Hello

No dissertation on IPSC competition is complete without including a paen to the Range Officer. These volunteers, stalwart and steely eyed, labor each weekend to ensure that IPSC competition is conducted under conditions of the maximum safety. While they are tasked at ensuring that the competitor has an enjoyable shoot-the-cardboard experience, they must also be knowledgeable about the rules of competition and be willing to sacrifice their meager rest-periods between shooters for the greater good of us all.

Such a Range Officer is "Norm". He has, as has every RO, spent at least one weekend for special training (provided by the NROI) to teach and then test, finally to certify, his ability to fairly and objectively evaluate the performance of every IPSC competitor. He accepts his responsibility to 'make the hard calls' .

I offer this photo only to exemplilfy the steely eyed stalwartness which goes into the making of an RO. I believe Troy M. was his NROI trainer: Acolades to Troy, and to all USPSA Instructors.

Steely eyedness is not the sole purvue of Range Officers. Many competitors are RO's, and they maintain their steely eyes even when they function as competitors rather than as Range Officers. One good example is "The Fish":

Fish @ LAMR Posted by Hello

Finally, we move completely off the ZIG ZAG stage to show yet another shooting challenge:

The "Tightrope" stage. (No, I have no idea where the stage name came from.)

Norm on "tightrope" Posted by Hello

It's difficult to see the plethora of a target-rich environment, but the concentration of the competitor (Norm) and the volunteerism-generated dedication of the Range Officer (Fish) are obvious.
Most of the stages in this Level I match were about 24 rounds. This one required 22 rounds, forcing competitors in every division to carefully hoard rounds and to know when and where to change magazines ... which may range from 7 to 27 rounds in their magazine. There was at least one user of a 6-round revolver, which was even more challenging.

IPSC competition offers unique challenges for every competitor. It can be expensive, although it is similarly possible to compete using minimally expensive equipment. Why do these men and women do it?

It's fun. You get to get outside and play silly games with your friends. You can make rude noises and noxious odors shooting pistols (note: do NOt brass behind The Geek or O'Shea, as they have historically exuded noxious odors not directly connected with their choice of gunpowder, when Brassing.)

If your name is Troy, or Will, you may have been a casual observer at this IPSC match. We were glad to see you, we're happy that you came by to watch us play, and we hope that you come back with a pistol and a couple of hundred rounds of ammunition to join us at play.

If you are neither of these people, perhaps you will be a guest at a future match and are equally receptive to our enthusiasm and our willingness to accept new members in USPSA competition.

When you've found a fun game to play, you want EVERYONE to join you here in the bright sunshine to enjoy shooting, to make new friends, and to enjoy their company. Being competitive is important in that it adds to the richness of the experience; we want to be compete because it adds richness to the experience. We are not competing primarily because we all think we can beat everyone who shows up at the match.

It's a GAME, Folks!

(UPDATE: May 16, 2005)
Corrected typos and awkward sentence structures. Added some links.

120 rounds

Last week was fairly exciting for the MSM (Main Stream Media) in terms of criticizing police effectiveness in a 'shooting situation".

Moby SUV

On May 9, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) in Compton attempted to shoot Moby Dick (a white SUV) which had been chased "at speeds approaching 35 mph", driven by a man who they considered a suspect in an earlier drive-by shooting. When the SUV appeared to be menacing the 10 patrolmen, they fired as many as 120 handgun rounds (according to early reports) at the Evil SUV. The results were:
  • the SUV was well and thoroughly ventilated.
  • the driver of the SUV was hit four times, in 'the extremities' (hand, arm, shoulder)
  • One deputy was hit by a bullet and knocked down; fortunately the bullet failed to penetrate his bullet-proof vest
  • several rounds hit houses in the immediate vicinity
  • Neighborhood residents stated "it sounded like a war!"
  • An investigation is being conducted to determine whether the police over-reacted.

Assault Buffalos

Then on May 10, police in Colorado Springs were called to deal with five Buffalo (I swear I am not making this up!) which had escaped from a truck delivering those, and several other buffalo ("American Bison") to a meat-packing company loading dock.

Finding these unregistered ungulates peacefully grazing in the carefully groomed back yard of a private residence, Police evacuated nearby homes and called for a truck into which they could herd the recalcitrant ruminants. That scheme failed, as the truck was unable to negotiate the alley.

Then the police attempted to herd the herd toward the truck anyway. The buffalo resisted arrest, and first one, then another ... in the end, all five buffalo charged the police.

The police, responding according (one presumes) to well-defined departmental policy for dealing with the common situation of being attacked by half-ton homocide-bent herbivores, opened fire with rifles. Not handguns -- rifles. Two will get you ten that if the police could lay their hands on a howitzer, they would have been screaming into their two-way radios "FIRE FOR EFFECT!!!"

Having no artillary available, they did the best they could with .223 caliber rifles.

Here are some direct quotes:

When one (bison) made a run for it, charging at the fence along West Colorado Avenue, police opened fire.

It took many hits to bring the animal down. (Colorado Springs police Lt. Larry) Laxson said the buffaloes took several shots in the head and “didn’t even flinch.”

Police had decided that if any of the others came within 30 feet of them, the animals would be shot. Laxson said the other buffaloes eventually charged as well — one after another — and were killed.

“It was not a good ending. We did whatever we could to try to capture the animals without killing them,” Laxson said.

By the time the shooting stopped about 1:15 p.m., as many as 120 rounds had been fired, a few of which hit the empty houses and a nearby parked car.

Laxson said police were unable to locate equipment to tranquilize the animals, and they doubted Tasers would puncture their thick hides. G&C employees tried to back a trailer up to the yard, but they couldn’t maneuver in the narrow alley.

“We have an obligation to protect public life and property,” Laxson said. “We didn’t make the decision to kill them until it was absolutely necessary to do so.”

The incident jarred many in the neighborhood.

“I thought they went overboard, and I thought my life was in danger,” said Karl Remisch, who was visiting the house next door when the shooting started. “They just opened up and it sounded like World War II.”
On May 11, the city manager (Loren Kramer) ordered an investigation into the killing of the five buffaloes...".


  • The images of the buffaloes being hit by dozens of bullets before dropping were captured by television cameras and outraged some in the community.
  • Calls also poured in to police, some angry, some offering to provide better firepower next time buffaloes get loose.
  • City Councilman Larry Small doesn’t want a next time. He asked for a police inquiry at a council meeting Tuesday, and other members agreed. (It was the second escape of buffaloes from the plant since December 2003.)
  • Small doesn’t think police were at fault, though he wants to know why they didn’t have heavier weapons to kill them more efficiently.
  • He also questioned why Colorado Division of Wildlife policy prohibited the agency from providing tranquilizers.
  • But Rob Lamb, transportation director for Booth and Sons Trucking in Lucerne, said the driver backed up the trailer properly and had unloaded the animals.
    He said he left a gap in the chute to walk out of, and the buffaloes were frightened by a G&C employee and ran through the gap. He questioned the need to shoot the buffaloes.“We’ve always been able to walk them back into the pen, that’s what we did,” Lamb said.

On the one hand, residents thought there was too much shooting by the police.

On the other hand, residents thought the police weren't using enough gun.

The City Councilman (Small), among other opinions, thought that there was some legal reason why the police were unable to use tranquilizers. (The information from the articles suggests another reason ... they couldn't FIND tranquilizers powerful enough to stop a charging 900-pound buffalo, or equipment to deliver them. Not surprising, in a small city where stopping a charging buffalo may not have been part of the job description of the city police.)

And finally, the director (with the improbable name of Lamb ... that's just TOO precious to have been a made-up name!) of the trucking company that was responsible for the accidental release of the buffalo suggests that the police were not competent in the proper management of wild animals.
Well, that may be true; so where were the company representatives who WERE supposedly competent in that field of expertise, when the wild animals for which they were responsible were escaping?


We may permit ourselves to draw a few conclusions about this episode:

  1. The LASD should identify the Colorado Springs Police Officers, and offer them jobs as tactical officers or at least as patrol deputies. They may be undergunned, but they can take down a Raging Bull!
  2. Police and sheriff's departments across the land might spend a little of the time previously spend planning for the 'minimal use of force' and think about planning for 'maximum force levels' which could be called for in special circumstances.
  3. Use enough gun? Hey, what's wrong with the Barrett .5o Caliber BMG? I betcha THAT would have taken down a charging buffalo in less than 120 rounds.
  4. Sorry, but Colorado Springs probably doesn't have any BMGs. In Leftist Colorado, they're lucky they have M-15's. And those Evil Assault Weapons are only good for killing people. It says so right here! (Apparently, they're almost right!)
  5. If the buffalo had magically appeared in Los Angeles County (which DOES have BMGs), chances are that their Barret's rifles wouldn't have been in working order. Since Los Angeles declared the BMG "The Evil Gun", Ronnie Barret has refused to sell to any LA department, or to service the BMGs they already have.
Here's The Word from Geekistan:
The LASD showed deplorable gun-handling skills in Compton. They found themselves in a near-blue-on-blue situation by setting up a 'quick ambush' on both sides of a target. Even Robert DeNiro knows better than to do that!

Their deputies should be flagellated by their tactical officers because nobody can accept that this is the way they have been trained; their tactical officers should be flagellated by the Sheriff because nobody can accept that these tactics have been trained 'out of them'; and the Sheriff should be flagellated by the people who elected him, because he obviously hasn't insisted on proper training for his deputies.

On the other hand, the police officers in Colorado Springs should be praised and feted for handling, under terrible conditions and in the best manner available given the pathetically underpowered equipment available to them, a situation for which they couldn't have been expected to be trained.

The trucking company which negligently released the buffalo in Colorado Springs should shut up and take his lumps for providing inadequate security to prevent an incident which has already occurred once and for which they SHOULD have been prepared 'this time'.

There's plenty of blame to go around. Pointing the finger at the cops-on-the-ground in either Los Angeles or Colorado Springs is not only counter productive, but also cheap, too easy, a cop-out (sorry!) and entirely too cheezy for words.

Here are two final thoughts, both from Theodore Rosevelt:

For the cops on the ground:

In life, as in a football game, the principle to follow is: hit the line hard. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

and for the politicians and bureaucrates:

I want to see you shoot the way you shout.

(UPDATE: 16-MAY-2005)
Corrected typographical errors ... well, most of them ... and awkward sentence structure.
Added some links, and the Roosevelt Quotes. (I hope to add an even more applicable Rooseveltianism soon -- when I can find the exact text.)