Saturday, February 07, 2009

Intro to USPSA Class: February, 2009

For a limited population (IPSC shooters in Oregon), the harbinger of Spring is not the first Robin we see.

It's the first "Introduction to USPSA" class at Albany Rifle and Pistol Club (Oregon) with more than one student.

Today I was honored to teach the first Intro class in 2009, where we had not one, not two or three but SEVEN (7) students.

Welcome Steve, Terry, Michael, Jim, Sam, Nelson and "Call me either" Andy/Andrew.

(I've given out cards with links to this blogsite so that they could view videos. Since my Video Gallery host has gone out of business, you can see my USPSA Videos here on YouTube.)

We all met at the ARPC range in Bay 4 at 1pm today, and got down to the serious business of learning how to compete in a USPSA match safely, and still have fun.

The first order of business was to try to sort out equipment. There was a 'blip', when Nelson mentioned that the new holster he had ordered for his "M9A1" (Beretta M92) was unusable. Why? He has an accessories rack on the bottom of the pistol. (You know, it allows the shooter to mount a flashlight or other accessories on the pistol.) We tried several 'alternate' holsters, including a USA Universal Holster and an Arredondo holster, but that lump of steel bolted to the dust-cover defeated all attempts to match holster and pistol.

Turning a problem into an opportunity, we decided that Nelson would shoot all of the training stages as if the stage procedures required that the starting position was "with pistol laying flat on the table" rather than to draw from the holster, as the other six students were required. This had the value-added benefit of allowing the students to realize that not all stages included drawing from the holster.

Having managed the administrative pitfalls, we spent the first hour of the training session going over the worksheets which the students had completed, based on the workbook they downloaded from the Internet. (Link not immediately available ... we'll work on that.)

The workbook includes an (open book) test, with the following questions:

  1. What can happen if you handle your handguns at your car?
  2. What do you do when you hear the "Stop" command?
  3. Why do USPSA competitors shoot classifier stages?
  4. What are the three types of stages?
  5. What is the penalty for a miss on a non-disappearing target?
  6. A hit in the "A" zone is worth how many points?
  7. Is eye and ear protection required in shooting a AUSPS match?
  8. Where CAN'T you handle ammunition?
  9. What does DQ mean?
  10. What is an RO?
  11. What is the biggest mistake new shooters make?
  12. At what point do you load your handgun?
  13. When is it okay to move forward on the range after a competitor finishes the stage?
  14. Whose responsibility is it to understand the course of fire?
  15. What is the penalty for hitting a "no-Shoot" target
  16. Where are the two places you can handle your handgun?
  17. What does "Comstock" mean?
  18. What is the goal of this trining program?
  19. Where is your tirgger finger during reloading your handgun?
  20. Does the fastest competitor win the stage?

I won't bother to detail the (four) stages which the students shot. But I will detail the lessons taught by each stage?

  1. Learn to respond appropriately to range commands: "Make Ready", and "If you are finished, unload and show clear", and "If clear, hammer down, holster", and "Range is Clear".
  2. Learn to engage multiple targets, and to perform a mandatory reload.
  3. Learn to engage steel targets, to engage targets from behind a barrier, and to engage targets from varying ports/positions/locations. Includes elements of how to transition from shooting on one side of a Bianchi Barrier to the other side of the Barrier.
  4. Re-enforce all the above skills, and include movement from one "shooting location" to another and consider the wisdom of "reloading on the move" consistent with the assumed skills set of a new shooter. Especially includes the concept of "Inside the box" vs "Not Inside The Box" (defining 'shooting location'.)
As has been seen (from previous experiences) a class size of more than 'a few' new shooters will demonstrate a wide range of gun-handling expertise. Note that a pre-requisite to this class is a demonstrated ability to safely handle a pistol, including reloading and drawing from the holster, or affirmation from an experienced USPSA competitor that the student has and will demonstrate these skills.

But the single "Unifying Field Theory" observed in previous classes has once again been common today: The new USPSA shooter need to deal with self-consciousness, miss-apprehensiveness, and basic stage fright.

I am encouraged when I see this. I recall my own first certification training, and first several matches, as being an excruciatingly painful exercise in stress as a motivating factor of competition.

The students in this class seemed willing to accept the syllabus, even if they privately thought that the first stage was far too simplistic to be of value:

"Upon the signal, draw and fire one shot at one IPSC target. Unload and show clear."

(All stages were "Comstock Scoring", so the students were aware that they could shoot as many times as they wished, but they were expected to actually hit the target with at least one shot."

I mention this 'simplistic' stage particularly because I have found that these minimum requirements perform three basic functions:
  1. There's not too much to remember. Important when the shooter is apprehensive.
  2. It allows the shooter to focus attention on the gun-handling functions which are typical of almost ALL stages, without being too distracted by the "shooting" phase of the exercise.
  3. Reinforcement by the Instructor is immediate. Both the shooter and the observers can encompass the entire sequence in short-term memory, so the lessons to be learned are both fresh in their minds, and the number of talking points are of an acceptable level of complixity.
That is to say, we don't introduce so much 'new experiences' that either the shooter or the observer can loose track of the lessons to be learned.


After having taught this class several times over the past 8 months, I've decided that the four (sometimes, but this time, five) scenarios included in the syllabus suggested by Mike McCarter include as much usable information as is likely to be retained by most students during the time-span of one week.

To complete this certification process, the students understand that they need to complete a 'regular club match' without DQ'ing. Since the next ARPC match is next Saturday, that implies a seven-day retention period. Without specific experiential data, I assume that this is as long as the lessons learned can reliabley be retained.

(Interpretation: if you were in a student in this class you really need to shoot the match next weekend to complete your certification process. Anecdotally, I've found that students who decline to shoot the regular match the next weekend are much less likely to remember the lessons, and are significantly less likely to certify ... which is defined as "able to complete a club match safely, without DQ'ing.")


I'm confident that at least 90% of the students in this class have achieved an understanding of the safety rules, the rules of competition, understanding of how targets are scored, and both the procedures and ettiquette of participating in a USPSA match. During the class, both I and my Assistent Jan ("Yawn") worked hard to provide such other incidental hints and techniques which are not intrinsically part of the basic sylabuss.

We observed the basic tenets of training: Describe what you are teaching, demonstrate it, allow the students to experience the teaching lesson, and then describe what the students have seen during the on-hands phase of the training. We were careful to invite questions, to respond fully to each question, and to high-light incidental sub-lessons during the training.

Examples of sub-lessons:
  • When moving from one side to the other of a barricade, pull your pistol toward your gut to clear the barricade; don't push your pistol into the air, because that may result in a DQ if your pistol barrel breaks the 180 because you are pointing it in the air;
  • During movement from one shooting position to the next, it is mandatory that your finger NOT be on the trigger. It is the responsibility of the shooter to demonstrate a "safe" trigger-finger position; the Range Officer may voice a warning ("Watch your Finger!") if he is not certain that the finger is off the trigger. If he thinks the shooter's finger is on the trigger during movement, or while reloading the RO may DQ the shooter.
In an effort to provide the students with visual experiences which demonstrate safe engagment of targets in real-life situations, I provided every student with a business card referencing this website. Here is the "YouTube" link to videos I've taken and published during the past few years. Note that as of this time there are 116 videos available. Unfortunately, videos which have not been posted to YouTube have been deleted from my Video Gallery.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Mitch Rapp Lives!

Vince Flynn, author of the "Mitch Rapp" series of anti-terrorism thrillers, was intervieeed tonite on a special Hugh Hewitt radio show.

For those of us who are Flynn/Rapp fans, it was all good news.

Flynn announced that there will soon be a movie in production, based on his "Concent to Kill" book.

He also suggested strongly that the studio was interested in a second book as a movie basis, but it was not clear at the time of the broadcast precisely which book would be the vehicle for the second movie.

Flynn was unable to commit to an actor to portray his iconic "Mitch Rapp" character, but he difininately confirmed that Matt Damon would not be a possible candidate.

Media blogs (specifically "Dr. Blogstein") suggests that the starring role will be played by "Jon Hamm", whoever the heck that may be.

My personal choice? Jason Stratham, of "Transporter" fame. Only he could make this scene work, from Transporter I:

You be The Judsge

Taurus International Manufacturing Inc - Taurus Judge 3" Video:

Taurus International has introduced a new version of their popular revolver (3" barrell ... it says here) chambered for either the .45 Long Colt or .410 shotgun Shell in the five-round cylindar.

To dramatize the introduction at the 2009 Shot Show, they have provided a dramatic video. This consists of a 30 second 'scnearion' featuring "The Melon Head Gan", followed by a 3+minute "The Filming Of The Melon Head Gang video".

the video takes a long time to load, Taurus's website obviously has bandwidth issues. I had to reload the video 3 times to view the whole thing, don't expect to see that your response is any better, and response time will probably deteriorate as the website becomes more popular.
Still, it's worth the patience to see the whole thing.

In the slow-motion portions of the video, you can actually see the "Eagle Flight" of .410 rounds meeting the watermelon targets. It's worth the price of admission.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Beam me up, Scotty

The "Numa Numa" song.

It started out as a charmingly candid short home-made video on YouTube ...

... and eventually became a home-made video on CS6, the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Today, it has become this story:

Financial problems may have led to the murder-suicide of a woman and her sailor boyfriend who posted a controversial YouTube video of his shipmates dancing, reported.

Electronics Technician 2nd Class Michael Joseph Missimer was shot and killed Jan. 27 by his 43-year-old live-in girlfriend, who then took her own life, police in Annapolis, Md., said.


While serving aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise, Missimer filmed and edited a five-minute video of his shipmates dancing and spoofing a YouTube clip known as the "Numa Numa video," the Navy Times, reported.

His video, called "Enterprise Numa Numa," has been viewed almost 2 million times on YouTube.

The man in charge of Missimer’s unit told the Navy Times that not everyone liked the spoof, which wasn't made for public distribution.

"He caught a lot of flak about that," Petty Officer John Fallowfield said. “It was just something they pulled together when they had some time on the carrier ... we did this with the understanding it would be in-house."

Police say Clapsaddle called 911 shortly after midnight telling them that when police arrived at her apartment, they'd find two people dead — including her, reported. She abruptly hung up.

More information can be found on the Navy Times website.

Missimer’s shipmates were stunned by the news of his death.

“He was what you’d call the life of the party,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class John Fallowfield, the petty officer in charge at Missimer’s unit. “He always knew how to make you smile and laugh. That’s probably one of the best traits, his sense of humor.”

Fallowfield recalled some Navy leaders were not happy with Missimer’s video, which showed sailors mocking themselves and dancing irreverently.

“He caught a lot of flak about that,” Fallowfield said of the video. “It was just something they pulled together when they had some time on the carrier.”

The video’s widespread distribution caught Missimer off guard.

“You would look at that and think we’re fairly open,” he said in a 2006 phone interview with Navy Times. “[But] we’re all pretty modest people. We did this with the understanding it would be in-house.”

Oddly, this may have been Missimers Five Year Voyage to .... "Explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations in an expanding vast universe."

It's a damn shame that a man with this verve, this joy in life, had to come to such a sordid end.

As Buckaroo Banzai famously said: "No matter where you go, once you get there ... there you are!"

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Il Est Mort

A few months ago I noted that my web host was unable to accept any more updates to my Online Video Gallery. He had changed servers and could no longer spare the space. He did allow it to stay up with the current content, however.

On that same host, I kept a small library of images, and other small files.

Last week I noticed that i was no longer able to connect to that library via my FTP software. I was distracted, so I didn't bother to investigate it at the time.

Tonight I see that the entire website is missing. All of my videos, all of my photos, all of my minor files are just ... no longer there.

As a consequence you may notice some broken links on 'old' articles. Sorry, until I find a new host I probably won't be able to fix them. Even then (whenever I get around to it) the chances are that I won't reload the files and change the link URL.

(However, I have deleted the links to these now-nonexistent webpages from my sidebar.)

Add this to the recent developments on YouTube, which has begun to delete or otherwise render unusable videos which are scored with 'unauthorized' music (even though I bought the CDs from which the music came).

Consequently, the 'old' Cogito Ergo Geek doesn't look much like it use to.

The future of Cogito Ergo Geek is also now questionable. It will take a lot of time and effort, and a bit of money, to recover the resources which were once available, but are now dead, Dead, DEAD!

I'm disappointed because of the untold hours of work which have gone into creating this minor blog. It has been a hobby, an avocation, an outlet and a means of relaxing from the cares of the world for me. For my readers it has been the occasional source of information, amusement, and cheerful ridicule.

At this point I'm wondering whether to continue with this project.

My personal life has changed dramatically since July 27, 2008 (when SWMBO's doctor informed her that she has lung cancer), and I have been contributing at a much slower pace than has been my usual practice for the past four years (since the blog inception in December 15, 2004).

I would rather not discontinue the blog. It would be like losing a child ... a fantasy child, perhaps, but real to me.

My readership has been fairly consistant for the past few years. I rarely register fewer than 200 page-loads a day, averaging between 1500 and 2000 page-loads a week (depending on whether I've found a topic of common interest).

I'm no Kim du Toit; I have a total of just over 200,000 hits, total; Kim would get that many hits in a slow day.

On the other hand, Kim turned in his badge a couple of months ago, so who knows whether it is wise to know when your day as a blog author is over?

For now, I'll continue to write in my desultory manner. (Huh? I just lost my cursor ... is God trying to tell me something? Oh never mind ... it's back.)

Whether I decide to continue blogging, and rebuild the website, or whether I just give it up for a while and go fishing, depends on a lot of factors. Most important, I guess, is whether I can find the initiative to make the effort required to resurrect the website in the manner in which I would prefer ... a full-service blog that talks about shooting-sports issues and only incidentally provides a service to my readers.

In other words, if I can get the gumption to start actively competing in USPSA matches on a regular basis, I'll probably be more inclined to want to continue the writing, too.

I won't know until I survey the past articles, and find out how much content has been rendered useless (due to broken links), whether it's worth the effort to resurrect the old girl.

So ... watch this spot. Whatever I decide, I'll let you know my decision in advance so that, if I decide to discontinue the Blog, you'll have plenty of time to remove the link from your Bookmarks.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

you can't ... you can't defend your home?

Xavier Thoughts: Ryan Frederick's Interrogation

The trial of Ryan Frederick is in progress.

Xavier Thoughts has a video of the initial interrogation of Ryan Frederick immediately after having shot dead a police officer who was "busting through" his door.

A quick recap: Ryan Frederick was at home, alone, in his home when he heard someone "busting through" his door. His dogs were barking, he had discovered a break-in the previous day and was already fearful for his property and his life. When he heard the noise he reacted instinctively to repel what he considered (perhaps rightly) aggressive attackers.

The man who was "busting through" his door was a police officer. Failing to identify the person who had forcefully entered his home without previous warning (remember, Frederick was asleep) he shot and killed that person.

Last September I wrote about this, in what may be a slightly more complete summary.

The police arrested him, and this entry replays the audio record of his initial interview ... while he was still suffering from "Fight or Flight" overload, without benefit of a lawyer, and deeply in the pangs of conscience.

As Xavier states in his article, "It is not easy to listen to Ryan Frederick's interrogation immediately after he shot a police officer. It is, however, informative."

Frederick's mood shifts moment to moment, from fear to grief to aggressive to defensive to explanation to expiation to anguish to trepidation to ... it's difficult to name an emotion which does not appear in this (about two minute, maybe three) video.

A few statements ring clear:
  • Somebody was busting in my door!
  • I thought they were trying to kill me.
  • You can't ... you can't defend your home?
  • "You can't just shoot through a door! (police interrogator)
One sequence which I found particularly revealing was:
  • Frederick: Somebody broke into my house yesterday, and ...
  • Interrogator: What did they steal?
  • Frederick: Nothing!
This is a tragedy on all sides, which is not helped by Frederick's admission that "I smoke marijuana, okay?"

If I had found myself in that position ... If I had discerned that someone broke into my house and didn't steal anything ... I would have reached the inevitable conclusion that the people who entered my home uninvited weren't after My Stuff. I would have assumed that they were after ME!

But hey, I'm just another paranoid gun-nut, right?

There were elements which set up this situation, elements of which the police were aware but Frederick was not. Among these elements was the fact that the police had been told by an informer that Frederick was growing Marijuana for sale, that the informer had illegally entered Frederick's home the previous day looking for evidence of a 'growing operation', and (having found no such verifiable evidence) reported the presence of scales, bags, fertilizer, grow-lights and "a plant" that looked like Marijuana. In fact, the plant was a juvenile ornamental with a leaf structure similar to Marijuana, and all other items were part of his hobby ... growing ornamental plants. (NOT Marijuana.)

One interpretation of the events which seems acceptable (at least, to me) is that Frederick was the victim of an unreliable police reformer with ties to the informal drug culture, that the informer had personal animosity toward Frederick, and that he (the informer) was determined to interpret his findings in the light which would best encourage the police to treat Frederick as a "Major Dealer/Grower".

Testimony has suggested that the police did announce themselves before engaging in an aggressive entry. Ryan's initial interrogation seems (again, to me) reliable in stating that he did not hear an announcement that he was being visited by the police. As he said, "I was asleep ... there was nobody in the house but me and my dogs" and he was awaken by the barking of the dogs.

And he grabbed his gun, and someone "busted through my door", and he thought someone was trying to kill him. So he shot at them.

And hit, and killed, a police officer.


The police confiscated a lot of 'stuff': grow-lamps, scales, small plastic bags, seeds, etc. All things which would logically be expected for the police to find on the premises of a Marijuana Grower.

But they didn't find any Marijuana plants.


I personally find it all to easy to believe that the police, in their zeal, took the unsubstantiated word of an informant (a known felon) and aggressively assaulted the premises of a man who they believed to be a Grower.

Frederick, who probably was asleep when the assault began, reacted as if he was the victim of a Home Invasion. (We hear about that often, and the police cannot seem to do anything to protect us from this criminal phenomenon.)

Ultimately, to my mind, this seems to be a situation in which the police did invade a home of a private citizen who interpreted it as a Home Invasion, and reacted to defend himself and his property.

But the police will never give up in their prosecution and, ultimately, persecution of Ryan Frederick. They are unable to admit that they made a mistake in judgement. They are unable to admit that their aggressive tactics may have served to construct a situation which the home-owner could only react in one way: to defend his life.

And so it comes down to a trial, in which the police may find themselves as much on trial as does Ryan Frederick. With one significant difference: The police are a unified organization. They only see one color: Blue. There are no shades of grey in their universe.

Frederick, on the other hand, is and remains a man who is confused, frightened, and (as he says): "I don't have anybody!"

A rich man would have walked by now. There is no evidence that Frederick as participating in any illegal activity apart from the private consumption of Marijuana (a "crime" punishible by nothing more than a fine, much like a traffic ticket.) Not much justification for killing a policeman.

Frederick is A Man Alone. Confused, frightened full of remorse and finding himself in a position similar to a kernal of corn in a remorseless grinding mill, Frederick has no-one to call upon for help. No family. No friends. No helpful member of the Third Estate. (Well, perhaps except for one.)

From Xavier thoughts of Match 23, 2008:

Frederick was armed with a .380 pistol. He fired at the figure. The shot killed a police officer, Jarrod Shivers, who was serving a "no knock" search warrant. Shivers was a narcotics detective and a father of three children. Frederick had no prior criminal record, and he was not growing marijuana as a confidential informant had claimed. Frederick was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Two .380 shell casings were recovered, as well as a .223 hull. Judge Thomas M. Ammons III has denied bond. Frederick is represented by attorney James Broccoletti.


As I listened carefully to the original interrogation tape, I was struck by they image of Frederick in a Cage, bouncing from one set of bars to the next, bruised and battered but certain only of his inalienable rights to defend himself and his home.

Except for that one moment, when in the smallest of voices he asks:

"You can't ... you can't defend your home?"


I think he can. And I think the aggression of SWAT teams who, masked and costumed and armed with all of the latest Big Ticket Item armor and weaponry, is probably wasted on such a small-time operation such as that which the considered Frederick to be a very minor member.

The police have screwed the pooch on this one. Instead of simply saying "OOPS! My Bad!" -- they have no choice to go after Frederick in the most aggressive manner possible, in the sure and certain confidence that their local Presecutor will support them beyond the point of reason.

After all, they're The Good Guys.

Aren't they?

As you will find, Curt has been keeping track of this case far better than anyone else.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Captain Jeremy Fresques

I recently received an email from a friend ("Bill S.") commenting on a 2005 event where-in a 'local resident' (living near an U.S. Air Force base) complained about a fly-over at low altitude near a residential community.

The entire story is told here.

The original complaint was:
"Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special? Any response would be appreciated."
Cranky? Yes, but understandable.

The response (from a U.S. Air Force member) was:
On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship flyby of F-16's from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt Jeremy Fresques.

Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day.

At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.

Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.

A four-ship flyby is a display of respect the Air Force pays to those who give their lives in defense of freedom.

We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.
The letter writer asks, "Whom do we thank for the morning air show?"

The 56th Fighter Wing will call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.

Lt. Col. Scott Pleus
CO 63rd Fighter Squadron
Luke AFB

It's not uncommon for those of us who are not members of the military to misunderstand the arcane things they do. In this case, the original complaint performed a service to the community, which was not expected. (The writer of the complaint also provided an apology, which was perhaps not entirely necessary .. but still, I'm sure, gladly received by both the Military unit which performed the fly-bay, and Captain Fresques' family.)

Although this story is somewhat dated, still it serves the purpose of explaining that, while some of the things which the Military does are often incomprehensible, our military continues a centuries-long tradition of respect to its fallen members.

Perhaps we too need to make an effort to honor their sacrifices.

My personal thanks to Bill S., one of whose sons served two tours in "The Sandbox" as a combat medic, bringing his family much honor. Bill sent the basic information in an email, and I'm grateful for his intention to high-light the difficulty of communication between the Military and we Civilians.

And of course a special appreciation to the memory and family of Captain Jeremy Fresques.

Family Values: Firearms Safety and Good Sportsmanship

Fifty one weeks ago I posted an article titled "John McCain on the Second Amendment".

In that article, I was not only critical but perhaps dismissive of Mr. McCain's position vis-a-vis the "Right to Keep and Bear Arms". His published position was not substantively more appealing than that of Mr. Obabma.

(Is it too late to repeat my disappointment that the Republican Party was unable to offer a truly Republican candidate?)

Recently I received a late, but interesting comment on that article.

A reader signing himself "Anti gun banner" asked:

What would be wrong with firearms saftey [sic] and penalties for wrongful use of fource [sic]with firearms tought[sic] at a middle school age level?

My response would have to be --- absolutely nothing.

In fact, I received training which introduced some of the elements the commentator described, at Helen McCune Junior High School when I joined the Rifle Team.

This group of middle-school students met once a week (I believe it was Tuesday after school) to practice shooting 'gallery rifles'. There we learned much about gun-handling, safety, and accuracy (and "following the rules").

I'm convinced that this training made better people of all of us.

Note that I later continued my participation in "Gallery Rifle" shooting in High School (Pendleton High School, in Oregon), while also shooting competitively at the "Senior Club", which met on Thursday evenings in the basement of a downtown retail store.

Thus the Middle High School, the Senior High School, and an independent group of adults provided a variety of venues for young people to shoot in a highly technical competitive milieu.

The Junior High School, and the Senior high School, both allowed us to bring our 'personal weapons' to school ... although of course while attending the Middle (Junior) school I did not have a driver's license so I was obliged to use the equipment (rifles, magazines) provided by the school.

In both schools, we participated in "Postal Matches", and occasionally travelled (or hosted) matches involving direct competition with shooters from other schools.

I remember travelling to Pasco, Washington, at least once a year during the six years during which I competed in "Gallery Rifle" during my school years. There I usually threw up at least once because of the combination of compettive stress and the strong aroma of gunsmoke permeating the enclosure of an indoor rifle range.

Vomitting notwithstanding, it was my opinion (at the time, and enhanced since then) that these experiences not only intruduced me to the concepts of Firearms Safety and Good Sportsmanship, it also allowed me and my companions to perceive that the Shooting Sports were not the harbringer to what we now commonly refer to as "School Shootings", but instead were just another way in which young people can compete with each other in a manner which did not necessarily require dependence on having an Athletic Body.

Yes, I was a Geek 50 years ago, and I remain one today.

But looking back on the original question:
"What would be wrong with firearms saftey and penalties for wrongful use of fource with firearms tought at a middle school age level?"

Actually, upon reflection I am disappointed that Firearms Safety is equated with Penalties for wrongful use of force with fairarms.

It is, I suspect a sign of the times that these must necessarily be the two primary concerns in 2009.

In 1959, "firearms safety" was assimilated from our fathers who gave us a .22 rifle for our 10th birthday and threatened to take it away from us if they ever saw us using it in an unsafe manner.

When we had demonstrated our ability to safely handle a rifle, they gave us a deer-rifle for our 12th birthday (or Christmas). The gift included the same precautionary note, but by that time it was essentially an empty threat. We were aware of the deadly power of a firearm, and we knew all about firearms safety.

Now, approximately 50 years later, the culture has changed dramatically ... and not to the good.

The firearms training we enjoyed in the 20th century, expected from our fathers, is no longer available.

In this century, the saying "It's a Wise Man who knows his own father" is not only even more valid, but it's a poignant reminder of a culture which has been allowed to fall by the wayside.

No longer is there a strong male presence in the family. No longer is there an experienced shoter, perhaps even a shooter, who is available to teach both son and daughter how to hunt, shoot, and handle firearms safely.

(In my own family, my elder sister had no interest in hunting. But we both learned to shoot ... accurately, and safely. My own children learned the same lessons, in the same way.)

In the aftermath of the break-up of The Nuclear Family, it is no longer sufficient to rely on the presence of a strong Male parent who is sufficiently experienced to teach these Family Values.

The Male Parent is not only not necessarily "strong" (nor grounded in the fundamentals of Gun Handling", but is Missing, more often than not.

But we still have guns, and we still have children. Our choices are simple. Either:

  • We give up the private ownership of firearms;
  • We find a way to teach these same Family Values without the support of the Family;
  • Or we allow access to guns to people who have learned neither basic firearms safety not the values which enable our children to be safe, respectful members of society.
In that contest, the idea that we should allow our schools to pick up the slack which results from the lack of a strong Male Parental Mentor seems to be the only way to reconcile the newly missing elements of a Responsible, Functional Society.

I don't like it, but there it is.

In that context, I cannot even object too strongly to the idea that part of the things the Schools will be training our children includes "Penalties for wrongful use of force with firearms."

That is, I know that the concept is necessary to be taught our children, but still I object to the context.

Our children should not be schooled in the penalties. They should be taught that shooting at another person, even by accident, is anethema. They shouldn't be focused on the "Penalties". Instead, they should be focused on the wrongness of the action.


The original question presupposes that our children will be out-of-control. It's misleading in that the concept of 'legal penalties' is not as effective as the concept of 'societal penalties'.

We need to get away from the litigious penalties for "Doing Wrong". Instead, we need to establish in our children the idea that "Doing Wrong" is just ... wrong. And that it will not be accepted.

Fifty years ago, the penalty for a child harming another living person was not a pre-designated number of years in some lockup. It was the virtual ostracism by civilized society, combined with the imperative that acceptance by civilized society was the norm, which was legitimately pursued by us all.

This is part of what is referred to by the common phrase "Family Values".

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: the attempt by a large society to impose legal constraints upon unsafe or unacceptable activity is misguided. The attempt by Government to impose the same code of conduct (typified by "Family Values") on individuals as would ordinarily be imposed by the Family ... is also misguided.

The ONLY way to reduce the number and chilling 'quality' of public misuse of firearms is to work to re-introduce the concept of Family to the general public, and to provide such community obligations as to make it seem both workable and attractive to both adults and their children.

This is much more difficult than introducing a piece of legislation ... and consequently much more likely to achieve the desired results.

Is it a good idea to require Middle Schools to teach "... firearms saftey [sic] and penalties for wrongful use of fource [sic]with firearms..."?

No, it's not

But it's not the approach which will achieve the un-stated goals:

No More Columbines!

Oops! Typo! My Bad

'Human error' shuts down Google - Times Online

THE world’s biggest internet search engine temporarily shut down today, leaving hundreds of millions of surfers stranded in cyberspace.

Google broke down for forty minutes this afternoon, paralysing everything from internet-dating to people checking out the latest news.

Anyone searching for a site using Google was blocked with the warning: “This site may harm your computer.” The problem started at 3.30pm.

As fear spread across the internet that hackers would bring the mighty search engine down and cause millions of pounds in damage, it emerged that the entire search engine was crashed by a rogue “/”.

I, of course, as a CoOmputer Prefessional, have never done anything like this.

Boy, I'm glad I don't work for Google. This stuff happens all the time. Usually, it's caught in User Testing before it goes into Production. But occasionally the press of business requires that 'minor changes' be pushed into production without at least two levels of testing.

Boy, it must be tough having the Eyes of the World watching your every keystroke!

For the poor schmuck wh\o made this single-keystroke error ... man, it sucks to be you!