Sunday, August 07, 2011

Wil and Grace

Actually, their names are William ("Call me Wil") and Betsy. Betsy is Wil's sister, and they magically appeared at the August "Introduction to USPSA" class at the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club.

Will and Betsy are brother and sister, and I was privileged to provide instruction to them about IPSC Competition. Yes, I've spoken of this "Introduction to USPSA" class before, and invariably in positive tones. I love teaching the class, because it provides me with the opportunity to meet some of the very nicest people in the state with the goal of introducing them to the principles and policies of IPSC competition in Oregon.

Of course, we're trying to acquaint them with the culture and practices of competition, but we're also trying to help them understand the Safety Rules which keeps us all safe while we're running & gunning with pistols ... "designed to shoot people", as the gun-grabbers contend, but actually the most fun target practice to come our way since Pub Darts.

Wil and Betsy are gregarious, nice people who have no desire to shoot other people. They're just tired at shooting at [ho-hum, BORING] bullseye targets, and thought that a more complex shooting sport would add vinegar to their sports shooting. (Not to mention that it would confirm the three rules of shooting safety, and help them feel more comfortable during their first few matches -- because it will teach them what to expect, how a pistol match is conducted, and how their fellow shooters will expect them to act.)

A word about the "three rules of shooting safety", and how the Intro to USPSA class reinforces them:

(1) "ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction."
This is enforced by the IPSC/USPSA safety rules, which dictate that anytime your pistol wanders away from being definitively pointed 'downrange', you will be stopped by the Range Officer and you will not be permitted to continue shooting for the duration of the match. The basis for this penalty is that you have demonstrated that you are not in the "safety" mind-set today, so while you are welcome to stay and watch ... we don't trust you today. Maybe next week, eh?

(2) "ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot".
Another safety rule in IPSC/USPSA -- you must keep your finger off the trigger (a) when you are reloading, clearing a jam, or otherwise not actively engaging a target and (b) when you are moving, unless you are actively and obviously engaging a target.

(3) "ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use"
IPSC/USPSA ranges are always "cold ranges" .... the only time you can handle your pistol AND your ammunition is when you are on the line, ready to begin engaging legitimate targets, and under the direct personal supervision of a Range Officer.

(Actually, the founder of IPSC .... Colonel Jeff Cooper ... proposed a fourth rule:

"Be sure of your target and what is behind it."

Since IPSC/USPSA competition always takes place in a closed and supervised range setting, the target and background are placed and constructed to be ALWAYS safe .... so while this rule is certainly valid, it is accepted as a 'given quantity' in this milieu.)

Back to the class:

Actually, Wil's wife, Beth, would have also attended this class. Unfortunately, she was physically unable to attend because she had taken her penultimate Chemotheraphy treatment on Thursday. As we know, the day after Chemo the patient feels great; but when the drugs wear off, in about 36 hours, they feel very not-so-great and do not feel attracted to any physical activity, nor do they enjoy the heat of an August Saturday at the range.

I understand this. My personal experience with the long struggle with Cancer treatment which SWMBO endured has sensitized me to the discomfort of Chemotherapy. I had, in fact, tried to avoid the subject when Wil and Betsy were going through the course. It was only toward the end, when Wil asked my direct questions about SWMBO (I had unwisely referred to her positive experiences with IPSC/USPSA competition) that I admitted, that ... well, SWMBO didn't make it. The chemo never worked for her.

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The good news is that, again, Beth is completing her treatment, and it seems to be working for her. Wil tells me that she is in fact an NRA instructor, and they are both active in the Four Corners Gun Club in Salem. Going through the certification course is something that Beth wants to do at least as much as Wil and Betsy did. I've made tentative arrangements with Wil to provide a special class next weekend, with Beth as the only student and Wil there to provide support.

Wil and Betsy are good people. They both agree that Beth is the 'pistol' (in the sense of being very competent, very goal-oriented) shooter in the family. As they talked about Beth, the things they say about her reminded me very much of the things I've always said about SWMBO: competent, strong, dedicated and a leader.

I'm looking forward to meeting Beth. Maybe she will let me talk about her experience in a week or two.

And if she won't ... I won't talk about her. She must, after all, "be obeyed".