Thursday, June 05, 2008

Gun control? How about Dead Fish Control?

Assault with fish lands man in jail

A series of incidents involving a fish and his own private parts landed a Fredericksburg man in jail Sunday, police said.

City police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said the suspect's troubles started Saturday about 8:30 a.m. at the 7-Eleven on Dixon Street.

Three people were at the gas pumps when the suspect entered the store. The witnesses said they noticed the suspect because he was singing very loudly.

A 40-year-old man was looking at the suspect when he came out of the store still being loud. This caught the attention of the suspect, who picked up a rock and hit the man in the neck.

Bledsoe said the man's 32-year-old friend then got out of the car and confronted the suspect about throwing the rock. The suspect grabbed a fish out of his car and hit the friend in the face with it.

The suspect threw a beer bottle onto the vehicle at the gas pump, which belonged to the fish victim's girlfriend. Witnesses said he dropped his pants and flashed his private parts to all three.
As our British Friends would no doubt suggest, this is obvious justification for legal restrictions on the possession and transportation of Dead Fish. (Perhaps, also, "Loud Singing In Public".)

It may also be a clarion call for restrictions on the possession and transportation of Rocks.
Similar restrictions might conceivably be imposed on the possession and transportation of Beer Bottles.

However, we are not yet convinced that it is practical to impose restrictions on the possession and transportation of "Private Parts".

What do you think?

Is there a limit to the listing of inanimate objects which should be restricted because they may lead to anti-social behavior?

[Perhaps the term "inanimate objects" may not be applicable to "private parts", unless you are very old.]

We are all AOL now

Time Warner Cable tries metering Internet use

Remember when your Internet Access was through AOL, and you had to pay by the hour?

Guess what? You thought it (Internet Charges based on traffic/usage) was dead, but like Nosferatu it has risen from the grave to plague you again.

Time Warner Cable is toying with the concept of "metered internet access".

On Thursday, new Time Warner Cable Internet subscribers in Beaumont, Texas, will have monthly allowances for the amount of data they upload and download. Those who go over will be charged $1 per gigabyte, a Time Warner Cable executive told the Associated Press.

Metered billing is an attempt to deal fairly with Internet usage, which is very uneven among Time Warner Cable's subscribers, said Kevin Leddy, Time Warner Cable's executive vice president of advanced technology.

Just 5 percent of the company's subscribers take up half of the capacity on local cable lines, Leddy said. Other cable Internet service providers report a similar distribution.

"We think it's the fairest way to finance the needed investment in the infrastructure," Leddy said.

Metered usage is common overseas, and other U.S. cable providers are looking at ways to rein in heavy users. Most have download caps, but some keep the caps secret so as not to alarm the majority of users, who come nowhere close to the limits. Time Warner Cable appears to be the first major ISP to charge for going over the limit: Other companies warn, then suspend, those who go over.

Phone companies are less concerned about congestion and are unlikely to impose metered usage on DSL customers, because their networks are structured differently.

Time Warner Cable had said in January that it was planning to conduct the trial in Beaumont, but did not give any details. On Monday, Leddy said its tiers will range from $29.95 a month for relatively slow service at 768 kilobits per second and a 5-gigabyte monthly cap to $54.90 per month for fast downloads at 15 megabits per second and a 40-gigabyte cap. Those prices cover the Internet portion of subscription bundles that include video or phone services. Both downloads and uploads will count toward the monthly cap.

I thought it sucked when I was an AOL customer, and I couldn't wait to close my account when I switched to Comcast (whose email service sucks, but that's another story.)

But don't be surprised if you, sometime in the next year or two, discover that your IP (Internet Provider) switches to this new/old billing scheme.

After all, we'll soon be paying state sales taxes on Internet purchases.

Books: Vince Flynn

My friend, The Hobo Brasser, loaned me a book a couple of weeks ago.

So far, this free book has cost me about fifty bucks, and I am fated to spend twice that amount in the next couple of years.

The book was "Consent to Kill", by Vince Flynn. It's a 'thriller' and the main character is Mitch Rapp. (This was the 8th of 9 books in the series ... so far.)

Rapp is described as an "assassin for the CIA". Although the author has no military or governmental experience, he has managed to capture the reader with "insider" information about "secret" stuff, which has been promulgated within the more secretive governmental agencies.

Really. Read the details on Flynn's website. You can believe as much of that as you will.

Getting back to the theme, as soon as I read what turned out to be the 8th of 9 books in the series, I had no choice but to buy as many of the books as I could find in my local Used Books Store.

Last week I went to Borders Book Store, where I bought the books I couldn't find "used": the 7th, and also the 9th in hardbound.

The tenth will be out in October of 2008, and at least four more books are promised in the series.

This is going to cost me, because I unwisely give the first book in the series to SWMBO. She let it sit on her coffee table for a week, while she finished her current Nora Roberts book, and then instead of picking up the J.A. Vance book which was missing from our collection until I went to the Used Book Store, she picked up the Flynn book.

I received an email from her two days ago: she's Hooked on Flynn. Now I have no choice but to buy every Flynn book as it comes out (God grant him a painless death, but soon, for the sake of my pocketbook.)

Wait, it gets worse.

I thought that Lee Child had achieved literary thermodynamic equilibrium, but I've just learned that he has another "Jack Reacher" book out, as of June 3, 2008. The title is "Nothing to Lose", and it was released two days ago.

God help me, I ordered the book tonight.

It should be delivered to me early next week.

Expect Light Blogging from me next week.

Note to The Hobo Brasser: I will not lend this book to you for six months. If you can't wait, either buy your own copy ($14 from Amazon), or amuse yourself by reading the Tom Kratman and Michael Z. Williamson books I sent you last month.

I am that angry that you hooked me on another excellent author. Like I needed the distraction. (What other new authors do you have that I haven't discovered yet?)

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: John Ringo has another book out in August.

Sixty years ago, when I was 3 years old, my mother convince me to let her pull my loose tooth with the promise that she would read me a book. I did, and she did, and it hurt me. At that moment I decided that I would learn to read my own darn books as soon as I could, so I would never again suffer the pain of allowing some other person to determine what books I could read.

Apparently, I didn't learn the lesson as well as I thought I had.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

USPSA Training Continued

Last month I talked about a USPSA New Shooter Certification Class at ARPC where I was privileged to help teach people who wanted to start shooting in USPSA matches, and needed an introductory course to show them what they could expect and (not incidentally) introduce them to the skills needed to safely participate in USPSA competition.

As reported, I found this to be an immensely rewarding activity, and I hope to be allowed to continue to contribute to this worthy endeavor.

I note that the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club will offer another such FREE course next Saturday, the first Saturday of the month.

Today I sent an email to Mike McCarter, locally the USPSA Discipline Director at ARPC, offering to help with the class if there are any students who have requested this training. I haven't received a response yet, so I don't know if I can work the class.

And I probably won't know until the last minute. Last month, you may recall, the schedule said there were six students signed up as of 2 days before the class. On class day, we had 13 students.

Actually, we had 14, but one backed out (although he showed up and 'audited' the class) because his son was taking the Junior training, and they had only one pistol between them.

This is what makes working this class so rewarding.

The people who attend really want to learn. They want to shoot, they want to know the right way to act at matches, and they want to know what they have to know to avoid looking like a bozo at their first match.

More important, they want to be safe.

If you have the experience, and minimal skills as a teacher, this is the easiest class in the world to teach. That's because the students are more highly motivated than one would expect in, for example a Basic Gun-Handling or a Defensive Pistol class.

In those classes, the motivation is usually to achieve some kind of certification in the form of a certificate of completion. (In Oregon, this is needed to qualify for a Concealed Handgun License.)

After they finish their class, the students in these courses can either get their CHL or delude themselves into believing that they know enough about guns to handle them safely and competently under, perhaps, the most stressful circumstances imaginable. Humans are prone to self-delusion, and teaching a man how to handle a gun is like teaching him how to drive a car; he believes that he knows everything there is to know about the subject before he starts the training, and nothing you can do or say will undermine his confidence.

(Women are not this way. They enter the class with the ingrained understanding that they know little or nothing about the subject, and they will not leave until they believe that they have learned something ... and they are more inclined to practice, if it is recommended to them.)

But in the USPSA training, the students are told that their certification is not awarded until they complete one USPSA match safely. They don't have to be fast, they don't have to be accurate, they only have to be safe. And the definition of "safe" is rigidly defined in the most practical terms, so they are aware that a moment's inattention during the class may cause them shame and embarrassment the next weekend, when they are expected to shoot in competition.

The students are trained, by example and explanation, in all the ways to avoid failure. They listen and, if they are not completely brain-dead, they ask for explanations of the points on which the instruction has not been made crystal clear.

They want to know this stuff.

They are intrinsically motivated.

They're not there to go through the motions, they are there to learn and they will learn or they will accuse the instructing staff of not giving them value for the cost of the instruction ... which is free.

Example: last month, at the match which followed the USPSA training class, one student approached me (we were squadded together) and suggested sternly that it would have been very helpful if we had taught them how the scores were entered on the score-sheets. He had me there; we had glossed over the subject during the class. My only defense was to point out that we had 13 students when we had only expected six, we had only one instructor, and we had gone an hour over the alloted 2 hours of instruction attempting to cover all of the most important safety and gun-handling points for every student.

He understood immediately, of course, but that didn't convince him that he had received the best training available. In truth, he was right: it would have been better if we had taught him how the scoring worked. There wasn't sufficient time or staff available to give him all of the information that would have been useful, but still we should have met this (admittedly tertiary) need.

I'm learning on the job about how to teach people about USPSA competition. I consider myself a good teacher, and I think I know everything there is to know about the subject.

I'm wrong on both counts.

No matter how motivated I am to 'produce' highly trained competitors after two hours of range training, I will always fall short of adequacy.

That's why I want to continue to participate in the training of new USPSA competitors. Nobody can be a perfect trainer, but I want to do everything possible to insure that the people who I have trained will inevitably meet the highest standards possible of gun-handling and competitive skills.

This isn't possible, of course. But it's still a worth-while goal.

In the effort, my reach should will always exceed my grasp.

If I can impart that dedication to the people I teach, I've achieved a worthy something.

Last month, I taught 13 students. Of those, 2 have violated a basic safety rule in their first two matches.

I can do better, and I will.

After all, I will be shooting with these folks, and I want them to be safe shooters.
UPDATE: 05-JUN-2008
I received an email from "Mac" today. Yes, some folks have signed up for the USPSA class this weekend, and I will be teaching the class, or assisting.

There's no word on how many people have signed up. It doesn't matter: some won't show up and some other people who have not pre-registered will be there instead. The training is free, regardless of ARPC club membership status.

And that's the way it should be. Nobody is making any money from this. The intent is to provide the training, so new shooters will know what to expect when they show up to compete in their first match. If money is an issue, it may discourage some prospects, and that does not support the primary goal of making New Shooters feel comfortable ... and insuring that they are familiar with range commands, safety rules, and the basics of Gun Handling Skills.

The students will be doing all the shooting. Although I need to practice, I probably won't bother taking my competition pistol with me.

I only hope that nobody points a pistol at me. That happened last month, and it was an un-nerving experience. It's a strange phenomena, but no matter how much you preach "Muzzle Control", folks just don't find it natural to be always aware of the deadly nature of the gun, and how important it is to keep it pointed in a safe direction.[

I suspect it's the consequence of watching to much Television.

Shooting Wire: Cost of Competition

After I had completed yesterday's article on the "Cost of Competition", I wondered if I had come across as having been too whiny. After all, I was focused on my personal expenses and the way that my limited budget was forcing me to make some difficult decisions about what matches I could afford to patronize.

Is it just me? Or is everyone reacting to the exigencies of The New Economy?

Trust Jim Shepherd of "The Shooting Wire" to come to my rescue.

As he describes it, this is not a subject which is not only hurtful to "The Whiny Community". The consequences of inflation, shortage of materials (supply and demand) and "The Fuel Situation" are not only negatively affecting the choices made by shooters. Others ... clubs, ranges, and suppliers are feeling the second-level pinch of lessened supply and consequently lessened demand of their products and services.

(NB: As usual, The Shooting Wire does not provide a permalink to Shepherd's article, and as usual I'll have to quote substantially rather than to supply the link. I apologize for what might otherwise be considered a copyright infringement.)

In fact, not only are the customers, the ranges, the shooting clubs and the vendors suffering from the effects of this economy; even the gun-writers are taking a whipping.

Increasing Prices A Growing Concern

Over the past year, we've incurred the wrath of more than one company by reporting on the growing costs associated with shooting. More specifically, the rapidly rising cost of ammo. Costs of metals used in bullets have risen to the point that some ammunition has doubled in price over the twelve months. Strangely enough, China and its modernization has gotten the majority of the blame in that situation.

Now, as the fuel situation continues to grow worse, it's apparent to everyone that the costs associated with anything delivered by vehicle - unless it's floated downriver via flatboat or hauled via wagon train - is rising. If you think that's an exaggeration, take a look at the produce section of your local grocery. If you want to see the same impact on the shooting sports, look at the cost on what used to be the "cheap" shotgun and rifle shells.

With the 2008 Shooting Sports Summit slightly more than two weeks away, it's just another concern to discuss during the industry's first focused gathering in the past six years.

Yesterday, I spoke with a friend attending a similar session in another sport. According to his statistical information, shooting isn't the only sport looking at a bleak future. Any recreational activity requiring travel or "expendables" (targets and ammunition in shooting) is feeling the pinch. In fact, the golf industry is seeking ways to bring local residents to areas normally dominated by tourists. The tourists, it seems, are staying home in droves. That hurts everyone associated with the tourist - from the bellman to the owner of the five-star restaurant up the street.

In short, it's ugly out there. Unfortunately, "out there" is pretty much synonymous with "everywhere".

For sporting clay shooters, the bite is certainly increasing. Nationwide, prices for shotgun shells have risen - in some locations as much as $4 per box for the heretofore "cheap" shells. Reloading components are more expensive, and every aspect of the sport is looking at cost hikes that are attributed to "fuel adjustment charges".

As Steve McQueen's character ("Vin") famously said in The Magnificent Seven: "We deal in lead, Friend". Lead is heavy, and shipping charges from the mine to the refinery, to the bullet manufacturer, and to the retailer and to the customer are becoming increasingly expensive.

Earlier this year, I thought there might be a little profiteering going one. Today, however, I'm more convinced that everyone - and I mean everyone - is getting hit in the pocketbook by rising energy costs. And I'm not going to hammer the gas companies either. The same price increases that hammer us pound on their people (yes, they are still people) too.

As we look to hold the existing shooting participants in the sport, we're looking at a potential double-whammy: rising costs keeping new prospects from giving shooting a try, and increased costs forcing out the participants who have seen their disposable income shrink to the point that shooting is simply out of the discretionary spending budget. When families are turning to "staycations" rather than "vacations" it's apparent they feel the bite.

At this point, shooting clubs are reporting they are really feeling the bite - especially when they discover that a 12 month supply of clay targets (we're told by purchasers) has more doubled since they last replenished their supplies over a year ago. Some sporting clay clubs are passing the increases on to members. In response, some members are allowing memberships to lapse.

Across the discussion boards in the industry, there are a variety of responses to the price increases. Some clubs are passing on the costs. They say they are losing members. Others say they're still operating, but would "entertain offers" for their machines. Some smaller private clubs are saying they simply can't handle the cost increases and are going to close.

Hopefully, the situation won't get this grim for the rifle and pistol clubs. There, fortunately, the direct costs of many elements fall to the individual members. And if you're like me, you're getting more creative about how you maintain your level of participation.
Yeah. I'm so creative, I'm cutting back my match participation by 50% or even 75%. It's not a deliberate boycott, but the end results are the same.

Shepherd describes how he is, among other means, spending more time with bows than with guns. Then:
Like the rest of you, I'm coping. But it's not always easy.

We're going to be looking at the issues that impact the industry up to- and through - the industry Summit beginning June 23 in Colorado Springs.

Like the rest of the industry, we're looking for answers that will keep all of us involved in the sports we love.

As always, we'll keep you posted.
We're coping, we're looking for answers, and "we'll keep you posted."

Here's an Industry Insider who admits that, in the final analysis, the best he can do is to 'cope'.

This is no reflection on Shepherd ... far from it. It's just an acknowledgment that nobody, no matter how well-established or 'connected' he may be, is able to avoid the consequences of a flailing, if not failing, marketplace.

If Shepherd has no answers, I certainly don't. It's scant comfort that I find myself in the same situation. There is no schadenfreude here, but I do wish that someone, anyone, could offer some encouragement that the market will soon improve.

I need some range time. But my pocketbook won't let me have it.

Whiny? Fretful? Perhaps, but that doesn't mean it's not real.

Dillon Precision Dies

I like Dillon Precision Products, Inc.

I like the equipment they make. I like their 'No-BS' Warranty. And I like their customer service, including their technical help.

I'm a klutz, so I should like Dillon because the folks there take care of me when I screw up their un-screw-up-able machinery.

I've told you before about the problems I have with bending decapping pins. It doesn't matter who makes them, I can bend them. Most frequently, I bend them because small pieces of gravel get stuck inside the .38 Super cases when the brass hits the ground, and they become so lodged that they don't shake out when I tumble the brass.

The result is that what I assume is the normal resistance you feel when you're punching a primer out of a fired case and, at the same time full-length sizing the case, metering powder into the previous case, seating a bullet into the case before that and crimping the case before that ... well, that 'resistance' is sometimes the natural result of a thin pointy thing (the decapping pin) meeting an immovable object (the gravel thing).

It doesn't take much lateral pressure to bend a decapping pin, and the only way to fix it is to replace the pin.

Hence, my problem of the week: I've replaced so many Decapping pins that the threads have been stripped on both the "Decapping Shaft" and the "Retaining Cap". (I had to search the Dillon website to find the nomenclature on their Dillon Die Instructions pdf. You can find it in their online list of manuals.)

After the Decapping die for my .38 Super became unusable, I applied the 'easy fix' of yanking the innards out the Decapping die for my 10mm (they're the same parts) and went on reloading.

Did I take the obvious, basic precaution of ordering replacement parts? That would be reasonable, and sensible, but I did not.

It was only after I had bent so many Decapping pins from that parts group that the threads were stripped on it, too, that I realized I absolutely, positively, needed to get new parts. I couldn't reload any brass that had a firing pin.

(Actually, I reloaded another 500 rounds of new, unprimed Winchester .38 Super brass without the decapping pin. This is not a good idea, because every now and then you will run across new brass where the flash hole, between the primer pocket and the chamber of the case, has not been completely cleared. This can cause imperfect ignition, even insufficient ignition of the powder. This can cause a squib, and a squib can cost you a new barrel. See Evil Bill's Glock KaBOOM! here, and here, and especially here, for a similar result.)

Looking in the Dillon Catalog, and the online Dillon resources, I discovered that you can't find a parts number for the things that go inside a reloading die. Sure, you can order a new die, but I didn't need that.

So I got onto the "Write Dillon" page of their website and sent them an email. I explained my problem:

I have Dillon Carbide Pistol dies for both 10mm/40S&W and 9mm/38 Super. When replacing bent/broken decapping pins, I'm [sic] managed (through my own incompetence) to screw up the threads on the Decapping Shaft and/or the Retaining Cap for these two dies.

I need replacements (a set of 3 ... I'll do it again, I need a spare) for both the Decapping Shaft and the Retaining Cap.

These appear to be the same dimensions for both, and if they are not this may be part of the reason why I have screwed them up.

If they're different, I need one for 10mm/40S&W and two for 9mm/38 super. Most of my current reloading (90%) is .38 super, and replacing the internal parts for this caliber is my priority.

Please tell me how to order replacement parts.
There's a check box where you can specify whether you would like to receive a response by phone or email, and I checked 'email'. Sent the note, and settled back to wait.

It took a couple of days before I got their answer. It was shorter than my request:
No charge part(s) on the way via US mail and will take about 3 to 5 days. All the pistol decap assemblies are the same.

Thank you,

Dillon Precision Products, Inc.
Jeepers! I hadn't expected them to actually send the parts. All I wanted was the parts numbers.

I received the shipment in the mail today, which may have been sitting in my mail box for a couple of days.

They had not only put it all on Warranty, at no charge to me ...
they had not only not charged me for shipping and handling ...
they had not only sent me replacement decapping pins, although I didn't ask for them ...
they actually sent me the two replacements PLUS an extra of everything!

(Click on the image for a full-size picture and to see the bill of lading.

I'm not only astonished, I actually feel guilty. I feel like I've taken advantage of their good and kindly nature.

Darn right I did!

The only thing I can do in response is to thank them in the most material way I can, and that is to offer this advice to you, a potential Dillon customer:

If you're thinking about buying reloading equipment or components, shooting equipment (holsters, belts, eye or ear protection, etc.) go look at what Dillon has before you make your final decision.

You may not find exactly what you're looking for; I don't always, so I don't always buy from Dillon.

But if they have what you need, I encourage you to consider buying from Dillon. They support the sport, they have good stuff, and their warranty and customer service is truly superior to any company with which I have every done business , with the exception of STI.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Cost of Competition

There was a time when I could load .45acp ammunition for about $2.50 a box of 50, or less than five cents a round.

Hard-cast lead bullets, cheap powder and primers, the brass lasted forever and it was easy to pick up 'used brass' from the local indoor shooting range for next to nothing.

When I started shooting .38 super, things got more expensive.

But now, what with the skyrocketing increases in all materials used to reload ammunition, the cost is almost astronomical.

I want to compare the cost of reloading components today with the cost five years ago. These are actual costs (although for convenience I may round off some numbers).

Here's the load I will use as a standard; although it is not actually the load I use, so please do NOT assume that I am providing you with a safe, reliable .38 super load:

Brass: Winchester .38 super, unprimed.
Primer: Winchester or CCI Small Rifle, per 1 brick of 1000 primers.
Powder: Vihta Vourhi Nxxx (never mind the actual details) at about 7 grains per round, or 1000 rounds per 1# container of 7000 grains.
Bullet: Montana Gold 115gr FMJ .355" dia., at 4,000 bullets per case

Note about the BRASS:
I expect to lose about half the brass every time I shoot. I buy them in lots of 1000. The loss to split cases is negligible, but given the loss factor, here's how many times I can expect to reload them.
1: 1000 loaded rounds, half of them are lost;
2: 500 loaded rounds, half of them are lost;
3: 250 loaded rounds, half of them are lost;
4:125 loaded rounds, half of them are lost;
5:70 loaded rounds, half of them are lost;
6: 35 loaded rounds, half of them are lost, and other losses end up with no cases left out of the original lot.

So out of 1000 cases in the original order, I can prorate the cost over less than 2000 loaded rounds. When calculating cost of brass, I'll divide the purchase price of 1000 rounds by 2 to arrive at the cost of brass per 1000 rounds.

Note about the BULLETS: I buy bullets by the case, which is 4,000 bullets. The cost per 1000 rounds is the price of a case of bullets, divided by 4.


2003 cost of reloading:

Here are the approximate costs of components ...

Brass: $72/k loads 2000 rounds, extends to $36/k
Primer: $15/k
Powder: $18/k
Bullet: $185/4k = $46/k

Total: $116/k, $11.60/100, $5.80box, 11.6 cents per round


2008 cost of reloading:

Here are the approximate costs of components ...

Brass: $176/k loads 2000 rounds, extends to $88/k
Primer: $30/k
Powder: $22/k
Bullet: $274/4k = $69/k

Total: $209/k, $20.90/100, $10.45/box, 20.9 cents per round


While normal inflation would not account for this dramatic 56% increase in price (NB: See UPDATE, below), or about 11% per year (an annual inflation rate of 5% hasn't been seen since 1990), the demand on ammunition, components and metals has been most often attributed to the requirements of providing these materials to the military.

Well, I'm as patriotic as the next man. I'm not advocating a military withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan to relieve my own petty economic turmoil.

But the fact is, in recent years I've been increasingly reluctant to compete in "Lost Brass" Matches; that is, matches where the competitor is not allowed to pick up his brass on each stage.

In fact, at this time I have about 800 round of multiply fired brass, 300 rounds of once-fired brass, and about 500 rounds of new brass. It's my habit to keep at least 2,000 cases, and order another 2,000 cases when my on-hand stock of brass falls below this level.

Now, when 2,000 cases of new Winchester brass will cost me $350, and if both SWMBO and I would compete in any Major Match the lost brass would double in price, I can't afford to shoot a 250-round Major Match ... it would cost me $130 for ammunition, plus travel, food and other expenses.

This is leading up to the announcement that I will NOT be shooting the (218 round minimum) 2008 Area 1 match, which has historically been a "Lost Brass" match. The entry form doesn't say it is NOT a "Lost Brass" match, so one can only assume that it is. The entry fee is currently $125.

The cost of ammunition, match fees and gasoline would be on the order of $430 for what is, essentially a local match.

I'm not sure that I could afford to shoot this match even if we were allowed to recover our expended brass, which would only save me about $70 ... but I would appreciate the gesture.
UPDATE: 4-Jun-2008
I just corrected a typo; I had left out a decimal point in the 2003 per-round cost.
Norm the Ungrateful just corrected my calculation on price increase (thank you, Norm). I won't dispute that I badly under-calculated, I was doing the math in my head on the fly. If nobody corrects other calculations I'll be very surprised.

Monday, June 02, 2008

ARPC SS and Plastic Gun Championships

I mentioned last week that the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club would be hosting a couple of "Special" matches on the weekend of May 31 and June 1, 2008.

Single Stack Guns:
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the 12th Annual Oregon Single Stack Championship, because of Family considerations. Also, I haven't seen the front sights of a 1911 since 2003, so it's probably just as well that I didn't compete, although it would have been nice if I had shown up to take some pictures and report on the match. You can see the scores from this match here.

It's absolutely no surprise that Keith T. won the match, and that Chuck A. took 2nd and Rob S. was 3rd ... just as it would have been not surprising if the order of finish was shuffled among them. This is the Triumvirate of Top Finishers in any Oregon match, even though Chuck usually competes in Production Division.

These three men are deadly with any pistol in their hands. Keith and Chuck are LEOs and Rob is a gunslinger of high repute, and is currently expanding into his own gunsmithing business. (I call on Rob to perform maintenance and repairs on the pistols that SWMBO and I use.)

Scroll back a paragraph: note that the top two finishers are LEOs. If you are a devotee of the concept that Cops Can't Shoot, I invite you to consider that 4 of the top 11 competitors earn their living with a badge, a uniform and a pistol.

In fact, the only surprises are the two DQ's in this field of 86 competitors, and the presence of USPSA Area 1 Director Bruce Gary and USPSA Executive Director Dave Thomas. Bruce competes in as many Area 1 Major Matches as he can, but Dave is more often found behind a camera than behind a gun.

Now I'm really disappointed, that I was unable to visit with these two USPSA stalwarts who have given so much to the sport over the years.

As for the DQ's, both are experienced competitors and are not known for unsafe gun-handling; rather the opposite.

Also, please note that there are two Divisions represented in the match: Single Stack and Limited 10. This was not a "pure" Single Stack match, in that Double-Stack shooters are invited to compete. Note also that the top 11 overall finishers were competing in Limited 10 Division. I'm sure this is a meaningful statistic, possibly in that Limited 10 is allowed to use 10-round magazines while Single Stack Division competitors are limited to 8-round magazines. But then, I wasn't there ...

Plastic Guns

This was originally hosted by the ARPC as "The Glock Match", but this year it is a "Plastic Gun Championship". (Match results are available here.)

Again, I was unable to attend due to other obligations, and again I am disappointed that I missed the opportunity to watch an interesting "Special" match.

Not that I would have been able to shoot it. The only "Plastic" gun I own is a Kel-Tec P3-AT in .380 caliber, which is not legal in this kind of Practical Pistol competition. Not only can I NOT see the sights, the sights are minimal at best and it is hardly a competitive pistol ... although it is not a bad little Carry pistol.

The 53 participants competed in four divisions (to my surprise) : Open, Limited, Limited 10 and Production.

The over-all results were a hodge-podge of finishers, and I saw no logical evolution of placement. Some of the competitors who finished high in the match were not who I would have expected, and some who were way down in the order of finish are those whom I would have expected to turn in much higher relative scores.

Twenty-five of the fifty-three competitors were 'category' shooters: 2 Juniors, a scattering of Super Seniors, and mostly Seniors.

Cutting the commentary short (for once), I can only say that the people who chose to compete in this match were obviously highly motivated, and often they were shooting pistols with which they were very familiar.

This was not often the case in the Single Stack Championship Match. Most of the competitors there were not known for regularly using the pistols with which they there competed.

The "Plastic Gun" match, on the other hand, may have been set up with a much more lenient definition of acceptable equipment. (I note that of the top six competitors, four were competing in "Open" division.)


Congratulations to everyone who competed, special attention to those who finished high in the list, and special commiseration to those who ... as I would have ... found themselves overwhelmed by the exceptional quality of competition.

I suspect that next year the competition will be much tougher, as the reputation of these matches attracts even more competitive participants from around the country.

UPDATE: 3-JUN-2008
In my recognition of USPSA luminaries, I completely overlooked Dave Stanford, who signed a USPSA membership card or two for me, and whom I would have loved to finally meet in person. Thanks to Bruce Gary for correcting the oversight in the comments section, and unintentionally giving me one more reason to regret skipping the match.

Also, when I went back and reread the article today, I noticed that I had bemoaned the lack of an appropriate "Plastic Gun" to shoot in the eponymous match. I hadn't realized that the STI Tru-Bore was acceptable to compete in Open Division, even though I did mention in the article that this was one of the available divisions.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Internet Hell

If you're like me, you live and die by the Internet.

On the other hand, if you're a normal person, you may not be aware that access to many websites has, for the last couple of days, been severely curtailed by what seems to be a problem at a single server site.

(I am predisposed to assume that any malfunction of the Internet is the result of a concerted attack, but there is as yet no direct evidence that this is true today. On the other hand, The Principle of Hanlon's Razor suggests that we "Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.')

Or, in the quote from Forrest Gump:
Bumper Sticker Guy: [running after Forrest] Hey man! Hey listen, I was wondering if you might help me. 'Cause I'm in the bumper sticker business and I've been trying to think of a good slogan, and since you've been such a big inspiration to the people around here I thought you might be able to help me jump into - WOAH! Man, you just ran through a big pile of dog shit!
Forrest Gump: It happens.
Bumper Sticker guy: What, shit?
Forrest Gump: Sometimes.

[Ed: "Shit Happens"]
Here's the dialogue from the Unofficial IPSC List, bemoaning the fact that it is currently (as of this time) impossible to enter the Brian Enos website and forum:
R** B***** posted some information on the USPSA forums - apparently a datacenter had an electrical fire, and one of the [thousands of] sites they hosted is the benos forums. Last info I saw said that they estimated it would be back up mid-day today (Sunday)

At 05:08 AM 6/1/2008, B**** Po***** wrote:
>There are more and more sites east of me that I can no longer reach... I wasn't too worried, it's just the internet.... NOW I CAN'T REACH BE [sic -- "ME"?] !!!! Something has gotta be done!
Another possible resource is the Kim Komando Show; specifically from her weekly newsletter (dated Saturday, May 31, 2008):

You might already have heard about the Internet's problems. One of the Internet's main lines is not moving data properly.

I'm writing this on Friday evening. The Internet has been working sporadically all day for us. My director of IT, Ray, compares it to a highway that's partially closed. Traffic is moving, but it is slow. All you can do is grin and bear it.

If you received this newsletter early Saturday, you might be OK. If not, now you know why. If you can't get into my site (or another site), try later.

My experience it that the situation is inadequately described by "Traffic is moving, but it is slow."

When I signed on at 5:30 pm on Sunday, I discovered that my weblog comments (hosted by Haloscan) were not available. A half-hour later, they appeared.In the meantime, I attempted to enter an order to which is an online vendor of computer stuff. Things went just fine until I attempted to verify my order and confirm my VISA card, at which time I received a warning that the URL was "not available". (An hour later, I could confirm my "check-out" of my "cart", which should be familiar terminology to those of you who order goods online, although the quantities had been modified ... I'm still waiting for the order to be posted online so I can correct the order via telephone.)

Going further back, on Tuesday I received an email from, which is an online service which tracks traffic on my blog. The email stated that my recurring (monthly) billing was interrupted because my VISA card expiration date of record indicated that the card had expired. I replied via email that "My VISA card is not expired" and suggested that the email was a "Phishing Expedition". A reply from the vendor assured me that the original email was legitimate. Eventually, I had to re-enter all of my billing information to resume the service.

Again in the meantime, I received an email from the same service to the effect that PayPal service had been "interrupted", and it was no longer reliable: payments from PayPal had been double-entered, then all payments later deleted from the account, and charges were either missing, doubled, or otherwise found to be erroneous. These emails were sent both Wednesday and Thursday. No, they were not duplicated, but it indicated a great deal of uncertainty about the reliability of on-line financial transactions.

Finally, after 6pm today (Sunday, June 1, 2008), I found that accessing my blog was delayed to the point of non-accessibility. I cannot, as of this moment, access my Haloscan account ... although it was readily accessible an hour ago.

IF you are experiencing similar incidents of "Internet Hell", my only advice is to mirror Randy Cassingham's "This Is True" website (you may choose to subscribe, it's worth the price of admission" and get a bunch of "Get Out Of Hell Free" cards.

As nearly as I can tell, nobody has any better ideas.

Watch this space.
If you can't see it, the problem has not yet been resolved.