Friday, September 12, 2008

Texas Star behind No-Shoot Targets: A Bad Thing

Texas Star behind No-Shoot Targets

Generally speaking, this stage truly sucks.

(Sorry, I can't embed the video here ... the owner has forbidden it. And for good reason. Just ... click on the link to watch the video.)

Essentially, here is a stage where the Texas Star (rotating array with five small plates) is mostly obscured behind three No-Shoot Penalty Targets.

This is really, really Bad Stage Design.


Using no-shoot penalty targets to mask ANY moving target will inevitably, if enough competitors shoot at it, result in a mandatory reshoot ... at the competitor's option.

Because 'all stages must present the same shooting problem to every competitor', and because 'all targets are considered impenetrable', if you shoot at a target which disappears when hit (such as the plates on a Texas Star target array), it is possible to game the stage by knocking down a plate when it is obscured by the No-Shoot.

If this happens, the competitor is obliged to reshoot the stage, due to 'range equipment failure'. Specifically, you are legally (de jure) unable, but practically (de facto) able to do this thing, and there is nothing the Range Officer can do to stop you.

[There are considerations of "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" here, but it is excruciatingly hard to prove in such a situation; if I was on the Arbitration Committee, I would find for the competitor and require the clueless Match Director to throw the stage out.]

Here's the point:

If you are a Match Director, responsible for vetting the stage designs used in a match, you should never EVER allow any kind of physically penetrable barrier to be positioned between the competitor and a moving target. Especially if the moving target is a steel target, which is not available for re-engagement after first being hit. It may lead to a controversial scoring call when the Range Officer judges that the steel has been knocked down by a shot which passes through and (impenetrable) target or prop, and is then not available for subsequent re-engagement in a 'legal' aspect.

I have deliberately avoided citing rules here, but if you care to research them you should first look at:

  • 4.1.4 - use of hard or soft cover
  • & 4.3.6 (especially "Range Equipment Failure"
  • 9.1.5 & 9.1.6 - "impenetrable"
  • 10.6.1 - Unsportsmanlike Conduct

UPDATE: 13-Sep-2008
I have removed some incomprehensible sentences and some more nonsensical paragraphs. I would have removed more, but I thought I should leave something behind to justify the existence of the title.

Darn Computers!

The Texas Geek Squad (no relation) demonstrates the best way to deal with your recalcitrant computer.


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This is the complete content of an email I received today.

  1. The content of the actual video (see below) is original, flimed and edited by me, except;
  2. The background music (Bachman Turner Overdrive, "Blown") is credited at the end of the video
This is the SECOND 'warning' I've received from YouTube regarding the content of videos I have posted. The first was similar, with credit for a Little Richard song.

Note that I bought the CD from which I untimely ripped the music for my private usage. Apparently, this usage was insufficiently 'private'.

Henceforth I will not credit dubbed music using the "Credits at the end of the video" option of Windows Movie Maker. If you are creating videos for public posting, I encourage you also to eschew such an attempt to give credit to the original musical artist.

The Music Nazi's are among us. Run!

"For the love of God, Montresor!"


(See the entire library of videos from Jerry the Geek on YouTube here.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Who Was Behind 9/11?

International Poll: No Consensus On Who Was Behind 9/11 - World Public Opinion

On September 11, 2001, 19 young men from foreign countries effected the horrific Attack on America.

The attackers, three groups of 5 and one group of 4, hijacked American planes which had taken off from American airports, and flew them into iconic American buildings. The sole exception was the group which attempted to hijack Flight 93, which was overcome by a counter-attack by passengers on the plane.

That airplane augured into a field near Shanksville, PA. Its target was never definitively identified, although some suggested that it was intended to destroy a Federal Building in Washington, D.C. -- perhaps either the White House or the Capital Building.

We will never know for certain, but one thing is sure: the successful attacks turned the Twin Towers in New York City into smouldering grey heaps of rubble and billowing clouds of concrete dust; and one quadrant of The Pentagon into a funeral pyre.

On this, the 7th anniversary of the vicious and cowardly surprise attack, we know only a few certifiable facts. Primary among these facts is the identity of the perpetrators, who were all fanatics of the radical Wahhabi [cf] sect of the Muslim religion, and their motivation was to deal a blow to the United States of America, which they considered "The Great Satan". (And you can believe as much of Wikipedea as you like.)

But a recent poll by suggest that not all -- in fact, not even half -- of the World Community accepts this interpretation of events as fact.

A new poll of 17 nations finds that majorities in only nine of them believe that al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

In no country does a majority agree on another possible perpetrator, but in most countries significant minorities cite the US government itself and, in a few countries, Israel. These responses were given spontaneously to an open-ended question that did not offer response options.

On average, 46 percent say that al Qaeda was behind the attacks while 15 percent say the US government, seven percent Israel, and seven percent some other perpetrator. One in four say they do not know.

Given the extraordinary impact the 9/11 attacks have had on world affairs, it is remarkable that seven years later there is no international consensus about who was behind them," comments Steven Kull, director of

In fact, in some countries less than a third of the polled residents believe that Islamists were behind the attack.

Some do believe that Al Queda was the villain. A large number believe that the United States Government deliberately destroyed its own public buildings for a variety of nefarious reasons (which do not explain the failure of Flight 93 to cause destruction to the American infrastructure).

A significant number think that Israel was the author of the American Tragedy, presumably to encourage Americans to 'hate' Islaam.

A varying percentage of polled respondents said they "Don't Know' (DK), and a smaller fraction suggested that "other" agencies were to blame.

On this sad day, there remains (in Europe and the Middle East) a large number of people who think the United States Government has pursued some arcane agenda and slaughtered almost 3,000 (and it could easily been ten times as many fatalities) of its own citizens for the sole purpose of discrediting Islam.

And even more people, world-wide, are unconvinced by the evidence of the religion of the authors ... they just "Don't Know" (DK) if that's significant.

H/T: Geek with a .45 -- see the comments section

Picture Gallery Temporarily Not Available

"Jerry the Geek's Video Shooting Gallery" (see link on sidebar) was yesterday temporarily unavailable.

This had been identified as a "Broken Link".

WebMaster Brian B. worked hard to restore the service last night and it is once more available. That's a great big WHEW! for me, because I have a ton of articles which link to photos and videos.

However, I can no longer add new content to the website. Brian's hosting provider has announced that he will have to find a new host; Brian will no longer be able to host the gallery.

I'll have to establish some other method of storing online files for your access. I haven't had time to begin making other arrangements, and it may take a while before the situation is corrected.

For now, the best I can do is post videos directly to Blogger, and to YouTube (from where I can embed them in posts).

Thank you, Brian, for your three years of patience and support, and for restoring access to existing files on this photo gallery. I still have the originals of everything I've stored there, and even though it is impossible to move comments and format to whatever new resource I find I hope eventually to find a new home for it. Brian will be happy, because that will allow him to re-use the 5GB+ of storage space which he has so generously donated to this project.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

BobALoo in Paradise

At the 2008 Croc Match, I wandered onto Bay 5 (stage: "Paradise Island") just in time to watch Grand Master Yong Lee shoot an absolutely brilliant stage in Production (9.2 stage points ahead of 2nd Prod Chuck Anderson, also a GM in Prod). I didn't have my camera ready, darnit!

When he came off the stage I talked to Yong Lee and expressed my disappointment at not having captured his run. (In fact, I missed his every stage performance for the match.)

Bob "Bob-A-Loo" Loo was "In The Hole" to shoot the stage, and Yong suggested that I film him. That sounded like a good idea, so I did. I've squaded withBob-A-Loo in a couple of Crazy Croc and Section matches, and I have always enjoyed watching him shoot.

The YouTube video (see here, and see below) demonstrates the importance of pace, confidence, accuracy and rhythm in shooting, especially in these high-round-count stages. Watch his reloads.

I think what we can best learn from this video is the importance of having a certain sense of urgency, without becoming frantic. Too many shooters concentrate on pushing themselves to 'go fast'. Bob is one of those excellent shooters who, in Brian Enos terms, 'focus' on what they are doing.

When I watch Yong Lee shoot, I'm reminded of a prize-fighter: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Bob's technique is subtly but significantly different: he's a ballroom dancer, who flows from place to place and is never off-balance.

When I grow up, I hope I can shoot like Bob-A-Loo.


[PS: excuse the frenetic background music, "Robin's Egg Blues", by Neal Hefty -- from the Television Series "BATMAN". I thought it captured the rhythm of the shooting, not the rhythm of the movement, and would work better with the soundtrack. Also, some of the change-ups choreographed well with the action.]

Monday, September 08, 2008

USPSA Nationals

USPSA National Underway in Tulsa, Oklahoma

EDITOR'S NOTE: The USPSA Nationals are underway this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Throughout the week, we'll be updating you on the competition. As of deadline last evening, here's the recap of scoring to this point. All scoring incidentally, is in match points. Like all matches, the scores and leaders will change until the final shots are fired.

Production Top Five
Mike Hughes 677.6331
Bradley Hoit 671.9080
Robert Romero 664.0826
Kevin Insco 618.4581
BJ Norris 612.0388

Limited Top Five
Jay Mackey Sr. 812.6919
Matthew Cheely 795.4906
Jay Mackey Jr. 742.9048
Ron Avery 603.8836
Keith Garcia 581.1825

Revolver Top Five
Ricardo Lopez 668.8645
Jerry Miculek 490.0000
Cliff Walsh 404.3729
Allison Verico 387.4486

From The Shooting Wire

Tim Holm Update

Tim Holm is an Oregon IPSC competitor (and Salem, Oregon, Police Department Law Enforcement Officer) who was gravely injured in a motorcycle accident six weeks ago. The following is an email from a representative of Tim's Department to Mike McCarter, reporting on Tim's condition:

Morning Mike,
I was able to get up to Portland Friday evening and spend some time with Tim and Karen. Tim's spirits are really good. He's in a motorized wheel chair and Tim can zip around on it quite well. He's been out and about learning to maneuver it on the sidewalks and was talking of a trip to PGE Park with others to catch a ball game.

Tim is continuing his physical and occupational therapy sessions and they have gotten him into weight training.

Tim has really improved his arm strength, control and range of motion. He is still working on the fine motor coordination in using his fingers, but it is coming along slowly.

When I got up there Friday, Tim had just finished an afternoon workout, during which he spent 20 minutes on a recumbent bicycle which straps in his feet and has power to the wheel to assist with the leg motion. Tim said he was able to feel his feet and leg muscles from the exercise, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that with the workouts, that it is helping his spinal cord recover and send control signals.

Tim's attitude is really up, we talked a lot of getting back to a point where he'll be able to shoot and this is one of Tim's big motivational tools.

Overall, Tim is busting his tail to do everything he can to get back to where he was. Time will tell. Its really good to see him bucking up to the challenges as opposed to just sitting around.

But you and I both know Tim and that's not the type of person he is.

Take Care,

Lt. Jim Anglemier
Community Response Section
Dept. Range Master
Salem Police Dept.

Those of us who know Tim from his ISPC competition are looking forward to his full recovery. He has been an aggressive competitor, and with God's help will be again.

We'll keep you informed.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

John and Yawn

I was filming the 2008 Croc Match last weekend when Mac walked up and said (soto voce') "I want to talk to you.

He has done this to me before, Mac has. The last 'major' time, he smooth-talked me into running for Competition Director for the Columbia Cascade Section. I said yes then, and I found it to be a very rewarding experience but ... it was very difficult.

Imagine, then, my relief when all he wanted was for me to take over the "Introduction to USPSA" class at ARPC, scheduled for the next Saturday. (Yesterday.) I've done this 3 or four times and enjoyed it, so it was easy to say yes. Especially when he mentioned that he hadn't any students signed up.

During the week, I decided that I could use the range-time for practice, so I emailed a member of my first Intro class, Yawn, and asked if he wanted to go practice with me next Saturday and, oh yes, there's an Intro class scheduled so in the unlikely event that a student actually appears, we'll have to do some instructions. "Hey, it's an opportunity to give back to the sport and besides, it might be fun" I said.

Yawn (real name: Jan, but pronounced 'Yawn') eagerly accepted my invitation and pledged to meet me at the range at 1pm on Saturday. Mission accomplished, as President Bush would say (slightly before actual completion of the mission, but who's counting?)

Saturday came, and I had an errand to run so I didn't actually get to the range until 1:05pm. I walked into Matlock's "Defensive Pistol" class in bay 1 and asked him if any students had showed up for the Intro to USPSA class.

"Well, yes" Matlock said. "But I didn't see an instructor, so I sent him home. Sorry."

Then one of Matlock's students mentioned that they guy in question was seen walking toward Bay 5, where my class was scheduled, so I checked it out. There I found Yawn chatting with a man who turned out to be the student. The class was on, and I hadn't lost a student.

This made my day, because I am loath to lose a potential USPSA competitor.

We introduced ourselves. The student was an ARPC member, his name was John, and not only had he Brought A Pistol for training, but he had actually downloaded, and completed, the on-line workbook developed by Mac to prepare students for the class.

A bit of confusion ensued. I don't have keys for the North Range clubhouse, or for the Equipment Locker there (staplers, timers, tape, targets) or for the Prop Room (target stands, 'sticks' to hold the targets, steel targets, etc.).

Everybody who had keys to props and supplies was engrossed in training their own classes, so Yawn, John and I spent the first hour talking about the priorities, (Safety, then rules, then practices and procedures, then fun) of USPSA competition.

As we went through the classroom segment of the course, I discovered that John didn't bring a holster, or magazine carriers. His belt was a Navy-type web belt which I'm sure that anyone who has experience with the Military recognizes as a 1" belt of woven canvas with a sliding brass buckle; adequate to hold your pants up, but not to hold a holster and magazine carriers ... none of which John had, anyway.

About that time we managed to get a set of keys to the Club House and Props Locker, so we could set up most of a standard set of props for training:
  • Three IPSC (cardboard) targets
  • a Pepper Popper and stand
  • a U.S. Popper and stand
  • Three targets stands
  • Six sticks to hold the popper
  • Timer
  • Stapler
  • Masking tape (to tape holes in the cardboard targets)

Since John had neither a holster or magazine carriers, we started out trying to run him through elementary scenarios by starting him with his Glock 23 at 'low ready'. Yawn had a couple of double-stack magazine carriers which would hold John's 13-round magazines, of which he had two. I contributed a Bianchi belt which was wide enough and rigid enough to hold he magazine carriers. So John wasn't entirely without resources, even though he didn't have the inner belt which would attach his equipment to the belt-loops of his trousers.

However, after a couple of runs, it became clear that we weren't providing a realistic training scenario.

"John" I said, "This isn't working for you. The most important parts of this training is to show you how the range commands work, and how you can safely draw from the holster and safely return your pistol to the holster. Also, without that part of the training, the Range Commands just don't make any sense."

Fortunately, I had brought The Beloved Kimber, some magazine carriers and magazines, and a couple hundred rounds of ammunition. We loaded the Bianchi belt with appropriate gear, and introduced him to the 1911.

Unfortunately, John had never shot a pistol with a manual safety, so we spent a lot of time teaching him how to engage and dis-engage a manual safety. This didn't help him to learn how to shoot HIS pistol in competition, but at least it introduced him to some concepts which may have led to a better understanding of why the USPSA competition rules are so complex. Basically, it may have helped him to realize that the USPSA rules of competition must include all equipment designs even though they may not be directly applicable to the pistol he intends to use for future competition.

One thing that was difficult to learn was the way to load a magazine.

We taught him to place reload magazines 'bullet forward' in the magazine carrier, and how to use his fore-finger to guide the magazine into the grip magazine cavity. Because John had never had to reload from a belt-mounted magazine carrier, he had somehow got into the habit of reversing the magazine prior to a reload. As a result, the magazine was often presented to the pistol upside down: magazine baseplate (and basepad) first, bullets facing backwards. This was very confusing to John, and always frustrating. But he never failed to recognize his error, and correct it immediatelyl.

"It's just a matter of practice. When you get your magazine carriers and holster, you need to practice this at home" we said. Then we gave him the basics of dry-fire at home:

  • Make sure that your magazines and pistol are unloaded before you start practicing.
  • Make sure that there is NO ammunition in the same room.
  • If anything interrupts your practice, check again to insure that there is no ammunition loaded or available.
  • Always choose a safe backstop (eg: a brick wall) as the aiming point for dry-fire or reloading practice.
  • Safety first. Always.

We tried to watch for a consistent grip. John hasn't yet had sufficient shooting experience to realize that he had to grip the pistol the same way every time. We tried a variety of grips, including strong-thumb-over-weak-thumb, weak-thumb-over-strong-thumb. We didn't try to teach him to rid the safety, because he was expecting to compete with a no-manual-safety Glock. Mostly, we were attempting to show the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives. John never did settle on the best way to shoot.

We also noticed that he was putting his trigger finger as far as possible into the trigger guard. He was pulling the trigger with the part of his finger between the first and second joints.We strongly suggested that he put the pad of his finger tip on the trigger, and practice pulling the trigger straight back toward his dominant eye. (We didn't have time to test for eye-dominance.)

John had used his Glock before, and was comfortable with it. But the 1911 was very confusing, due to the manual safety. Yawn was very supportive: "My safe-action pistol is easy to learn, but any time I have to use a pistol with a manual safety I have to say to myself: 'Whoa! This is weird! I need to spend some time thinking about the extra things I have to do."

Eventually, we managed to work through the points on safe reloads, movement with pistol (not firing on the move), engaging steel targets vs engaging cardboard targets, and the range commands.

To finish out the lesson, we went back to his Glock and had him engage the same targets in the same Course Of Fire without the holster, just to accustom him to the usual practices using a pistol with which he was accustomed.

The training session lasted 3 hours, instead of the usual 2 hours which was scheduled. It has been my experience, now repeated three times, that it is impossible to give a thorough training session to a student who is not familiar with his pistol (or who has not the equipment to work with holster and magazine-carrier exercises) in under three hours.

Further observations:

  • Even students who have observed USPSA matches may not realize that training and competiton will require a legal holster, at least two magazine carriers, at least two (preferably three) magazines, and a rudimentary understanding of how to reload the pistol they have.
  • Many students don't understand how their pistol works. This includes controls (magazine release, manual safety if present.)
  • Basic gun-handling skills, especially those involving range safety, are commonly lacking.
  • The concept of consistent grip, trigger control, and how these factors affect point of impact are often poorly understood ... if even identified.
Again, and as has been mentioned in previous articles on the subject of Training for USPSA competition, I find myself spending more time on basic gun-handling skills than on actual skills relating to USPSA competition.

I believe that any "Introduction to USPSA competition" should be prefaced by "Introduction to Gun Handling Skills" classes. Yesterday, I spent three hours teaching a class which was short on Competition skills, but predominated by Basic Gun Handling skills. This is no reflection on the student, John. Instead, it indicates a need for more basic training.

I will be lobbying for this kind of training before the "Intro to USPSA"class at ARPC in the future.
UPDATE: 15-SEP-2008

I talked with Mac last weekend. Mac is the "Executive Director" at ARPC. He is also the Director of Practical Shooting. (That is, he runs the IPSC/USPSA matches, designs the stages, sees to the stages being set up before the match and tearing them down, arranges for Statisticians, and generally runs the whole show. Including the "Introduction to USPSA" class.)

We agreed that USPSA competition is a significant challenge, and that people who sign up for the class should already be familiar with their handguns, and should have a certain level of gun-handling skills.

ARPC already has an all-day "NRA Basic Pistol" class which teaches these skills.

And since Mac is the man who answers the phone when people call to sign up for a class, he has an opportunity to question each applicant before he permits them to sign up for the USPSA class.

In the future, he will determine the experience level of USPSA class candidates, and direct to the NRA Basic Pistol those callers who cannot convince him that they are experientially qualified for the USPSA class.

This helps in four ways:
  1. People who aren't familiar with their pistols, or basic skills, will be trained before they enter competition;
  2. Valuable INTRO TO USPSA class time will not be spent teaching basic skills, which can result in important USPSA lessons being skipped (hasn't happened yet, but it could);
  3. If qualified people are not available for a given monthly class, it may be canceled;
  4. The instructor (that would be me) who shows up at the range for practice, need not scurry around looking for keys to the prop room and the supply cabinet at the lat minute, when an unscheduled student presents himself/herself.
Also, an important fifth helpful result is that the instructor (that will still be me) will not be unpleasantly surprised when students do unsafe things.

I tire quickly at seeing a supposedly unloaded pistol pointed at my belly.

This is a good and workable solution which many USPSA certification instructors may find disconcerting. I recommend it.
It has the Geek Seal of Approval.