Thursday, May 04, 2006

Shooting Sports: Family Friendly

In this age of Political Correctness, there are too many people who look upon gun-ownership as being an indicator of beer-breath, sloppy personal hygiene, bigotry, sloth and the political equivalents.

When you tell these people you're 'going to the gun club', their purse-lipped expression suggests that they have formed a mental image of a small crowd of rough-looking Rednecks sitting on the tailbed of a pickup, swilling warm beer from the bottle while waving their guns around and griping about the 'Gubmint'.

While there are probably no fewer incidents of political commentary at a shooting range than there are at New York City coctail party (or a London Tea Party, if they still have them), chances are that a day at the range is something of a Family Affair.

I would like to introduce you to some of the families I see at local shooting matches.

For example, the picture above was snapped at an IPSC match in April, just because of the curious juxtipositioning of TWO father-and-son pairs. That's right, the charming tot at the left of the picture is the son of the man in the red golf shirt (who is a supervisor at a local Private Security Company), and the man in the blue shirt is the son of the last man (who is a retired State Policeman and a part-time instructor at the Oregon State Police Academy.)

Take the 2005 Croc Match in Dundee, Oregon.

This is an unfortunately unflattering photo of Caryn, the High Lady at the match.

To the right is a much more flattering photo of her husband, Rob, who won Second Grandmaster at the same match.

Wives show up at matches with their children. They even bring the family dog. Two of the four men in this photo brought either their wife or their son to the match.

And of course, it's not just the contestants who consider a shooting competition to be an appropriate place for their family. It's the match staff, as well.

Here, Match Director (and Section Coordinator) Mac McCarter is shown publicly thanking Loren and Sherrie, the husband-and-wife team which every year do NOT compete in the Croc Match. Instead, they design, construct and officiate on the "Jungle Run" stage which is the delight and the bane of IPSC competitors from all over America.

The Jungle Run is such a heart-stopping thrill to shoot, it's the primary reason why some people travel across multiple state lines to compete in this annual high-round-count event. This couple gets little enough recognition except for when Loren (an experienced Range Officer who once appeared on the cover of The Front Sight magazine) reads his incredibly unhelpful stage-procedure poem.

Still at the Croc Match Awards Ceremony, The Lovely Nancy (unfortunately caught with her back to the camera) and her husband "Pelican Bill" are shown in their matching green shirts.

Not the best pictures of The Pelican Family, perhaps, but those who were there can also pick out at least one father-and-son team, and one married couple in the picture.

Until I start to really LOOK at these random photos, it didn't occur to me how well they illustrated the pervasive influence of family participation at gun-games.

And of course, there are The Juniors.

These young people are the future of shooting competition.

The young man on the left/front (Drew), in the red shirt, is the grandson of Mac, the Section Coordinator of the Columbia Cascade Section.

The young man in the center/front (Zac) is the son of Norm The Ungrateful, one of the fastest-rising stars in the section. Zac made B-Open just before this match. Norm was bumped to Master two months ago. Norm has been shooting for just over three years; Zac just over two years.

And the young man in the background, with his head cut off just above the green collar of his Croc Match shirt? That's Stephan, subject of a couple of memorable videos which have graced this blog. He brought his grandfather out to watch him shoot.

And there is Chris, whose father brought him to the Albany Rifle and Pistol Club a couple of years ago to join the Columbia Cascade Section Junior Program. Chris had so much fun shooting Production with a donated Glock 17 (as do most of the Juniors in this section) that his father, Jeff, just couldn't stand just watching anymore. Jeff got his own pistol, went through the certification course give by Mac at ARPC, and started shooting right alongside his son.

Chris (left) won First C-Production at the match.

Jeff (right) won Second C-Production.

You can bet that there was an interesting conversation on the ride home from that match. And you can also bet that Jeff was so proud of Chris that his own excellent finish was not the topic.

Finally, there is SWMBO and The Geek.

SWMBO (it stands for "She, Who Must Be Obeyed", from H. Ryder Haggard's novel "SHE!") spent the first two years of our relationship saying goodbye to me on Saturday Mornings as I left for weekly club match. I always invited her along, but SHE had been raised in a family which saw no use for guns.

One weekend SHE said "I can tell that if I'm going to see you more than half the time, I'm going to be in some crummy gravel pit. Wait a minute, I'll put my boots on. I'll meet you at the car."

She followed me around the range for three years, learning how to pick up brass and give it to the person whose gun had ejected it into the gravel. She learned the different calibers, how to distinguish them at a glance, and also learned that the people who went to these matches were a bunch of tail-gate-squatting, beer-swilling Rednecks. They were, in fact, people who were fun to know no matter what the venue. People she enjoyed spending time with.
Eventually, she said "I'm tired of always picking up other peoples' brass. Get me a gun. I want to shoot some cardboard!"

So I did, and she did, and she still picks up other peoples' brass. But they pick up hers, too.

(I think some of them are scared NOT to brass for her. She's an imposing figure, don't you think?)

Monday, May 01, 2006

USPSA to establish new relationship with IPSC

In a surprise move, the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) Board of Directors (BOD) has taken one giant step forwards to establish new permissions for USPSA to compete under rules subtly different from those enacted by the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), while simultaneously forging a closer political bond with the International body.

IPSC publishes updates to its competitive rules in intervals ranging from three to five years. USPSA has typically taken exception to some of these rules, under the premise that the changes are either inapplicable to USPSA or that USPSA finds them administratively untenable given the more 'free-style' nature of USPSA competition or the U.S.A. Second Amendment "Right to Keep and Bear Arms" (RKBA) which more readily acknowledges American individual rights.

IPSC has always labored under a confusing morass of national law, especially since some Regions ... determined by National Laws ... prevent (for example) shooting at 'humanoid' targets or even the ownership or private storage of firearms.

While some American states or munincipalities impose restrictions on the storage or physical possession of firearms, there are few areas where firearms cannot be legally possessed without a minimum requirement of a license or other governmental permission. Also, there are no American areas which restrict the shape and nature of targets which can be shot at with firearms.

This implies a dramatic difference between the legal restriction among American States, and national laws in other parts of the world. While IPSC must cater to the 'least common denominator', at least in the sense of providing competition rules which allow participation by citizens of the most restrictive nation-states, the "least common denominator' bar is a bit higher in America ... generally concerned with magazine capacity and gun-safety tests (eg: California.)

IPSC even provides a 'non-humanoid' shaped target, which has found little acceptance in America .. the home of origin of "Practical Pistol" competition where the "Practical" use of a pistol has historically been assumed to be personal defense against a human aggressor.

The advantage to USPSA is that the BOD would no longer be required to negotiate with ISPC to determine which rules, often inadvantageous to USPSA, would be waived and which would be accepted ... albeit unwllingly on the part of the USPSA BOD.

The new relationship, as defined by the USPSA BOD, would allow USPSA to modify rules of competiton without the need to seek special permission (or "waiver") from IPSC to ignore rules intended to permit competition in countries which have legal restrictions not applicable to American law.

Further, it establishes the right of USPSA to sponsor firearms competition which is generally not supported by IPSC.

An example is 'multi-gun' matches, where three firearms (Rifle, Shotgun, Pistol) may be used in the course of a single stage. This is different from a "Three-Gun" match, where the same three types of firearms may be used but only one type of firearm may be used in a single stage.

Neither of these types of matches are currently officially sanctioned by IPSC. The new agreement would officially recognize a situation (multiple match types) which has ipso facto been sanctioned in USPSA for several years at a National level.

The BOD motion is included in toto, below. This is taken directly from the official BOD meeting minutes (The "Dallas"BOD meeting of March 3, 2006), as previously published by USPSA:

11:27 am

19: IPSC and USPSA-Planning for the future. Area 1 moves to pull off table.

Area 2 seconded.

Area 1 moves as follows:

Insofar as the International Practical Shooting Federation (IPSC) and its sole recognized affiliate for the United States region, The United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) share a common interest in promoting shooting competition, and;

Insofar as USPSA has historical, practical and reasonable needs to deviate in several and various ways from the IPSC rules for the conduct of shooting competitions within the United States, and has continuously maintained a long-standing precedent for doing so, and;

Insofar as neither IPSC nor USPSA desire to detrimentally affect their current affiliation, nor to detrimentally affect the image or operations of the other,

The Board of the United States Practical Shooting Association hereby declares its desire to resolve this issue in a manner that benefits the interests of both organizations, to wit:

?? The United States Practical Shooting Association will offer and promote IPSC competition within the United States, in accordance with IPSC rules, and in doing so fully satisfies its obligations under the IPSC constitution and affiliation agreement.

?? Separately, the United States Practical Shooting Association will offer and promote other forms of shooting competition within the United States, in accordance with such rules, policies and procedures as it deems appropriate, with specific details established by further action of the Board.

Because the United States Practical Shooting Association currently operates under an existing IPSC waiver granting authority for a United States rulebook, and because it is our mutual desire to minimize any disruption to competitors within the United States, it is reasonable and necessary for the IPSC Executive Council to approve our request for an extension of the current rulebook waiver through 12/31/2007.

This approach in no way represents a violation of the IPSC Constitution or the affiliation agreement currently in effect between USPSA and IPSC, and in fact represents a resolution to a long-standing conflict and a substantial growth opportunity for both organizations. Accordingly, the Board of the United States Practical Shooting Association directs its President, as the Regional Director for the US Region of IPSC, to communicate this direction to the IPSC Executive Council.


Area 4 seconded. Passed

11:50 am

Area 1 moves for USPSA to make announcement release re: agenda item 19: IPSC and USPSA-Planning for the future,

Area 8 seconded.


This statement not only opens the door for USPSA to freely re-interpret rules according to American law and American values, but at the same time acknowledges IPSC as the ruling body of International Practical Shooting competition.

In other words, IPSC can do what it needs to do, for the benefit of regions outside the United States. At the same time, USPSA can do what IT needs to do, for the benefit of its 15,000 members, in competition within the United States.

In the meantime, USPSA will permit IPSC competition within its national boundaries based upon the 'pure' IPSC rules of competition. While nobody is obliged to attend these "IPSC-Only" matches, they can "vote with their feet" in regards to the degree of interest in 'pure' International Practical Pistol Competition.

This move is entirely in keeping with the democratic principles of American vigor, and establishes IPSC competitive rules as the root-stock of Practical Pistol competition.

Above all, it establishes a test-bed whereby the "IPSC vs USPSA" question can be settled for good, by the most rigorous and practial test possible, and at the same time preserves the vital relationship between IPSC and USPSA.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dillon Precision is OUR friend!

When I started adding "Resources I Recommend" to my sidebar, it somehow just didn't occur to me to include Dillon Precision to the mix although I can't think of a single 'resource' which is MORE intrinsic to IPSC competition in the US.

In fact, even though I cited Dillon as a new source of the previously 'unobtanium-rated' Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip books, I remained blissfully clueless about the need to provide an easy-access link, or to reinforce the legendary "No Bullshit" Dillon Guarantee.

Okay, these Scottsdale Suppliers are much to dignified to give their guarantee the name which best describes it, but it's true. If you have a problem with anything you buy from Dillon, even if it's not something they build themselves, they'll make it right for you no matter what it costs ... to them. It won't cost YOU anything, except possibly shipping charges to return the item in question.

If you're a Dillon customer, you have already read the many testimonials in their monthly catalog. The ones that come to the front of mine are the 550 (Square Deal, whatever) loading presses that were damaged by user neglect, misfortune, accident or nobody's fault and returned with the hope that Dillon would consent to repair it and charge the customer for parts and labor ... but were instead either completely refurbished OR REPLACED at no charge to the customer.

Dillon calls it the "No Fault" or "No Hassle" warranty, but you know in your heart that it's the No Bullshit Warranty.

This is tacit acceptance that they only stock the best, they only ship the best, and if there's anything wrong you don't have to deal with weasel-words such as "please contact the original manufacturer and provide proof of ownership" ... if you bought it from Dillon, it's repaired or replaced by Dillon, even if you are the Dork that broke it by misuse or misadventure.

Example: over ten years ago, I managed to crunch a primer in my XL650 while loading 9mm ammunition. The primer exploded, as did a few others in the primer column. No damage to me or mine, but the charge shot the plastic primer-follower rod into the ceiling, and the pieces that I DID find were twisted like a corkscrew.

I called Dillon to ask for replacement parts.

The said I had a 'obsolete design' of the primer-feed assembly, lacking the safety features of current releases. (The press was about 5 years old at the time.) They sent an entire new-design primer assembly, with instructions on how to install it, and asked only that I return the old primer assembly to insure that it would never be used by another unsuspecting customer.

Price to me: the phone call ... and it was a 1-800 number which means it didn't cost me a cent. And they shipped it to me by air express, no charge for expedited shipping. Dillon understands that we often wait until the last minute to reload for an IPSC match, and we NEED to get our loading press back online quickly.


The incident that prompted this unsolicited testimonial, however, is much more recent.

Last week I wrote that I discovered Col. Jeff Cooper's "Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip" (Volume 1) was available directly from Dillon. Not only that, but Volume II was also available. This was Good News to me, because I had lost my Volume I in a burglary some years ago, and I had only read it once. The best prices I could find on were totally unacceptable. Current offerings ... one at $95.27 and another at $199.00!) Dillon had Volume I listed at $29.95 and VOlume II listed at $39.95. I ordered one copy of each the same night as the original post!

They had them in stock, too, and I received my book order within five business days.

The only problem was, instead of receiving one copy of each, I received two copies of Volume II.


I went to the Dillon website, found the 'contact us' email address, and explained my problem. I offered to return the extra copy of the book if they would give me a "Return Merchandise Authorization Number" (RMA) so I would get credit. I cited the invoice number, which clearly indicated that I should receive one of each volume, and also included my Customer Number, my name, address and telephone number.

Not reply from email, no phone calls. For three days I was curious about whether Dillon actually monitored their "contact us" traffic.

Then, on the third business day (last Friday), I received a shipment from Dillon.

Inside was Col. Jeff Cooper's "Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip: Volume I" in it's familiar blue binding. Also, an invoice with "no charge", a shippping label made out to Dillon's "RETURNS" department, and a pre-paid postage label for $8.50 ... the Parcel Post rate, not the "Books" rate.

Five minutes after I got home and opened the box, I had put the superfluous copy of GGG II into the box, written "You Done Good, Guys!" on the invoice and laid it on the GGG II copy, replaced the packing, sealed the box and affixed the address label and supplied postage to the outside. Saturday Morning I went to the post office and explained that I was not shipping a bomb but returning a book (the post office is very particular about the big, heavy boxes they ship now-days) and was assurred that it should arrive at its destination in five business days.

Cause of the shipping error: clearly Dillons.

Expenses incurred: entirely Dillons.

Credit for making good on a simple, common slip: entirely Dillons!

With any other vendor, I would have had to prove everything, and they wouldn't have shipped the correct volume until they had received the superfluous copy. Not Dillon. They didn't ask any questions, they assumed I was an honest man and a valued customer, and did what was necessary to make it right with a minimum of paperwork, delay and complication.

Heck, I could have kept the extra copy of GGG II and sold it on Ebay, to my advantage.

But I AM an honest man, and I DO value my given word.

The same can be said of Dillon Precision.

It's amazing how simple Trade can be, when all parties assume each other to be operating on the Good Faith Principle.

Bottom line: if you need a thing, and you can get it from Dillon or you can get it from some other vendor -- buy from Dillon. You will never regret it. In seventeen years of buying both via phone and via the internet, I have never regretted it.

You have The Geek's word on it.

And more important, you have Dillon's word for it.

Take it to the bank.