Friday, August 01, 2008

Mother Jones as "Yellow Journalism"

Opinions are like Assholes: everyone has one.

The trick is to avoid being an obvious asshole by publishing your ignorant opinion in a public place.

(Note: in anticipation, I admit that this is a trick which I have not yet mastered.)

In the July/August edition of Mother Jones [MoJo], the editors manage the not-too-difficult hat trick of seeming to be authoritative but (to those who know the subject) making the perquisite minimum of three basic errors, in the article Semiautomatic for the People.

(For a real understanding of the MoJo bias, pay attention to the URL of the article. It is:

I'm sure there isn't a subliminal message there, nor is there an attempt to undermine the Bush Administration.)

This isn't the Main Stream Media, which tries not-too-hard (but usually fails) in attempting to be objective. This entire website is devoted to writing opinions cloaked in the armor of good research. That is; they find a subject, research it to determine the facts, and then slant it to present the facts in a manner which will logically lead the reader to reach their pre-determined conclusions.

Way to go, MoJo! You have just put the reader in the unenviable position of needing to wade through the morass of opinion in a vain attempt to decide whether your hidden agenda is supported by the facts.

In this article ... it isn't.

But that doesn't matter, because the way you twist the truth is so skillful that, unless the reader is cognizant of facts not presented in the article, the average reader will accept your interpretation without question.

Read on:

This article is about the author's quest for "... something with a bit more Firepower" at a gunshow. Specifically, a firearm "designed to circumvent federal regulations on the import of assault weapons."

Whoa! That's a heavy agenda! Don't we have laws against that?

Well, yes. We do.

But it kind of depends on the meaning of the phrase "Assault Weapon".

There are (and here I'm quoting Wikipedia, always a dubious source but adequate for this purpose) Assault Weapons and Assault Rifles.

Assault Rifles are 'selective fire' (either semi- or full-automatic modes available) firearms of 'intermediate' caliber. Assault weapons include semi-automatic firearms that look like Assault Rifles, even if they don't have the same functional characteristics. Assault Rifles, being capable of full-automatic fire, have been regulated since 1934.

Assault Weapons
were only regulated by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and were subject to a 10-year Sunset Clause:


This subtitle and the amendments made by this subtitle--

(1) shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act; and

(2) are repealed effective as of the date that is 10 years after that date.

[emphasis added]

Essentially, this last provision was added by the Republican contingent of Congress because, if after 10 years there was no evidence that the law provided an ameliorating effect on Gun Crime, it would be subject to either permanent enactment or rejection, depending on the vote of Congress.

In 2005, the Sunset Clause was proffered to Congress for ratification or for rejection. President George W. Bush famously (or infamously, if you will) declared that if congress ratified the act, he would sign the permanent bill.

In the actual event, Congress defeated the measure and the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was defeated ... not because Bush chose to, but because Congress chose to.

Yet in the MoJo article, we see this statement:
" ... not only did the current Bush administration allow the 1994 assault weapons ban to lapse, it has also, through the atf, permitted gun manufacturers to game the import rules, effectively reopening American borders to foreign assault weapons. While the import ban remains nominally in force, gun importers are now able to easily skirt it by assembling the guns in the US."
The first clause implies that President G.W. Bush "allowed" the ban to lapse, while in fact Bush was willing to agree to whatever decision Congress would make. The rest of the paragraph referred to subsequent actions not under control of the Bush Administration.

In fact, original legislation attempted to define "Assault Weapons" not by only brand and model, but by 'characteristics' or 'features':

At a table near the entrance, I found it: a Chinese-made mak-90 semiautomatic rifle, a variation of the Russian AK-47 designed to circumvent federal regulations on the import of assault weapons. "It's the same gun," the dealer told me. "They just eliminated the pistol grip, replaced it with a threaded thumb grip, and took off the flash suppressor."

(Examples include flash hiders, folding rifle stocks, and threaded barrels for attaching silencers). The law bans 18 models and variations by name, as well as revolving cylinder shotguns. It also has a “features test” provision banning other semiautomatics having two or more military-style features. In sum, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has identified 118 models and variations that are prohibited by the law. A number of the banned guns are foreign semiautomatic rifles that have been banned from importation into the U.S. since 1989.

So the MoJo statement that ".... the current Bush administration (allowed) the 1994 assault weapons ban to lapse (and) permitted gun manufacturers to game the import rules, effectively reopening American borders to foreign assault weapons ..." is pure hyperbole. Which is another, and much more Politically Correct, word for "Bullshit".

Let us look at another MoJo statement:
But not only did the current Bush administration allow the 1994 assault weapons ban to lapse, it has also, through the atf, permitted gun manufacturers to game the import rules, effectively reopening American borders to foreign assault weapons. While the import ban remains nominally in force, gun importers are now able to easily skirt it by assembling the guns in the US.
They can't have it both ways, but they're trying!

AWB advocates and opponents alike stated that the AWB allowed firearms manufacturers to make minor changes to make their affected firearms legal, and they both described the features affected by the ban as "cosmetic"... Supporters pointed to the ability to fire a large capacity magazine without the need to reload as frequently; the ability to fire from the hip with a pistol grip; and greatly reduced chances for detection when using a silencer in the perpetration of a crime (silencers were already regulated by federal law prior to the AWB)...

Critics also noted that many of the defining features included in the ban did not necessarily make a weapon more dangerous or more desirable to a common criminal (for example, bayonet lugs and barrel shrouds.) ...

Once certain combinations of features were banned, manufactures complied with the law by removing such combinations of features. ... As the production of large-capacity magazines for civilians had also been prohibited, manufacturers sold their post-ban firearms either with newly-manufactured magazines with capacities of ten rounds or less, or with pre-ban manufactured high-capacity magazines, to meet changing legal requirements.

Those of us who found the AWB 'laughable', because it relied on 'cosmetic' definitions of an Assault Weapon, had little reason to disagree with a practical response to petty tyranny.

Those who didn't themselves have a viable definition of the term "Assault Weapon", but didn't like the image of "Ugly Guns", considered the actions of the "firearms industry" (removing objectionable characteristics from nominally unobjectionable firearms models) considered these changes to be an effort to "skirt" the law.

This only pointed out the shallow definitions used to describe "Assault Weapons", but the folks who objected to the changes in firearms configurations were bound to protest. They had painted themselves into a corner, and there was no graceful way for them to bow out of the controversy.

Another loophole was created for the sks semiautomatic carbine, developed in 1945 for use by the Soviet army until it was replaced by the more rugged AK-47. The Bush administration reclassified the sks as a "curio," adding it to the atf's [sic] list of such weapons, most over 50 years old and considered collectors' items, that are automatically authorized for import.
This is more bullshit. The AWB specifically excepted:

`(3) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to--

`(A) any of the firearms, or replicas or duplicates of the firearms, specified in Appendix A to this section, as such firearms were manufactured on October 1, 1993;

`(B) any firearm that--

`(i) is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action;

`(ii) has been rendered permanently inoperable; or

`(iii) is an antique firearm;

... and an "antique firearm" is defined as any weapon that is more than 50 years old.

One assumes that the Legislature is composed of lawyers, and that they are competent in their profession. If they wanted to exempt a firearm which is more than 50 years old, they had ample opportunity to specify it during the extended period when the original bill was being considered. Now that it had been enacted, MoJo finds fault in the law and blames gun-owners for not predicting that MoJo would object to their lawful possession of a lawful gun?

I call this the "LIMBO" interpretation of Federal Law: "How Low Can You Go?" Apparently, MoJo can go as low as it takes to denigrate the actions of lawful firearms owners.


Getting back to the original article ...

At the Fishersville gun show, crowd members seemed particularly drawn to the assault weapons on display ... At one table, a little boy admired a .50-caliber sniper rifle, capable of downing a jumbo jet, while at another a man held a cheap Romanian AK knockoff to his shoulder. His T-shirt read "'Freedom At Any Cost.'—Randy Weaver, Ruby Ridge, Idaho." The only thing that prevented me from becoming the proud owner of a mak-90 was my Washington, DC, driver's license: The district has the nation's strictest gun rules. (At press time the law was under review by the Supreme Court.) But if I really wanted the mak-90, one dealer pointed out, all I had to do was move to Virginia.
The author is disturbed that "a little boy" admires a ".50-caliber sniper rifle, capable of downing a jumbo jet". Is he honestly concerned that a child will use an 80-pound rifle, costing from $3,000 to $13,000, to shoot down an airplane?

Then he seems to object that Federal Firearm Laws prevent his indulgence in "The Gun Show Loophole".

If there really WAS a loophole, would he have been able to write this article?

I Led 3 Lives

In the early 1950's, Richard Carlson starred as Herbert A. Philbrick in a television series called "I Led 3 Lives: Citizen, Communist, Counterspy".

This week, the Mother Jones [MOJO] online magazine published a similar drama in an article titled: There's Something About Mary: Unmasking a Gun Lobby Mole.

Unlike the adventures of Herbert A. Philbrick, however, this story is presented as a dark invective against the National Rifle Association [NRA], which private organization purportedly paid one "Mary McFate" upwards of $80,000 to spy upon "Gun Control Organizations".

According to MoJo, "Mary McFate" is one and the same as "Mary Lou Sapone", who worked as an employee of one or more private security firms.

As introduced in the MoJo article:
This is the story of two Marys. Both are in their early 60s, heavyset, with curly reddish hair. But for years they have worked on opposite ends of the same issues. Mary McFate is an advocate of environmental causes and a prominent activist within the gun control movement. For more than a decade, she volunteered for various gun violence prevention organizations, serving on the boards of anti-gun outfits, helping state groups coordinate their activities, lobbying in Washington for gun control legislation, and regularly attending strategy and organizing meetings.

Mary Lou Sapone, by contrast, is a self-described "research consultant," who for decades has covertly infiltrated citizens groups for private security firms hired by corporations that are targeted by activist campaigns. For some time, Sapone also worked for the National Rifle Association.

But these two Marys share a lot in common—a Mother Jones investigation has found that McFate and Sapone are, in fact, the same person. And this discovery has caused the leaders of gun violence prevention organizations to conclude that for years they have been penetrated—at the highest levels—by the NRA or other pro-gun parties. "It raises the question," says Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, "of what did she find out and what did they want her to find out."
Actually, it raises the question of what did she find out that the 'gun control movement' would have rather never be known by the public?

And the question that the MoJo folks would have you focus on is whether the NRA (and by direct quote " the gun lobby" which includes "The firearms manufacturing industry") acted illegally, or at least unethically, by slipping this hen into the fox-house.

Well, maybe so. One would be justified in considering this to be "Industrial Espionage". Both the "Gun Lobby" and the "Gun Control Lobby" have their espoused philosophical priorities, but both are firmly grounded in the profit motive. (Both groups will protest that last statement, and both will thereby reveal their basic hypocracy.)

But is the "Gun Lobby" any different from the"Gun Control Lobby"?

I don't think so.

One of the groups supposedly infiltrated by "Mary McFate" is the Violence Policy Center [VPC].

In 1999, VPC published an article ("Gold Medal Gunslingers") on their website which cited many 'insider' sources including the International Practical Shooting Confederation [IPSC], the United States Practical Shooting Association [USPSA] and an informal mail-list called "The Unofficial IPSC Mailing List".

In order to access these resources, it was necessary for VPC to 'join', or subscribe to, the various organizations or services.

Due to the subscription requirements, these resources might reasonably be considered 'private communications'. However, without either announcing their intentions or requesting permission to publish quotes, VPC quoted correspondents out of context and included comments designed to present these quotes in the most damning manner ... in the eyes of VPC adherents. Worse, the article included an index which identified the private participants by name. This served no journalistic purpose, but it did identify correspondents in a manner which left them vulnerable to condemnation for anyone who considered Gun Control to be a sacred obligation, and who might feel obliged to retaliate against these private individuals.

Which is worst? An Industrial Spy, or the intrusion on private correspondence?

MoJo will never address this question. They don't care. They did a good job of researching their article, even though they only presented one side of the issue, and they got the article published. And, they have received a lot of publicity in the past few days. See MarketWatch, and (with an interesting poll here), and (this played BIG in Philadelphia!) at OutsideIn/Philly.

Mojo has never been shy about their support of Gun Control. Just witness their version of yellow-journalism in a previous article, "Semiautomatic for the People".

You will note that the actual link url is:

Nothing biased about that reporting, eh?

I think I'll fisk this in the next article.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tim Holm Benefit Matches

Tim Holm
Benefit Matches

The United States Practical Shooting Association


Columbia Cascade Section

Present two matches to benefit injured Salem Police Officer Tim Holm.

Saturday August 9, 2008 at Albany Rifle and Pistol Club


Sunday August 17, 2008 at Tri County Gun Club

Match fee for each match is $20.00

We’ll also have a few fun surprises so bring some extra money!!

There will be a machine gun shoot during the Albany Match with an M-16 and Glock 18.

All proceeds will go to Tim and his family.

For details go to

or contact Chuck Anderson at

or 503-453-3781

... And from an email just received from WhiteFish:

This was just posted on the Enos Forum by Chuck Anderson:

The Columbia Cascade Section is running two charity matches in August. The first is at Albany Rifle and Pistol Club on August 9th. The second will be at Tri-County Gun Club in Sherwood, OR on August 17th. All the proceeds of both matches will go to Tim Holm and his family.

Tim is a long time USPSA competitor. His daughter just joined our CCS Junior Program as well. Tim was involved in a motorcycle crash earlier this month and was pretty badly injured. His most severe injury is a broken neck. He has been in the ICU for about the last three weeks and still does not have any feeling below mid chest. Tim will require long term rehabilitation and he's going to need some help.

The entry fee will be $20.00 for each match. We'll be selling stage mulligans as well. If you screw a stage up, try it again. We'll also have a silent auction or two as well as maybe some other goodies we're still working on. Also at the Albany match, I'll bring my M-16 and Glock 18 for a little full auto fun.

All the proceeds from these matches will go to Tim's family. And I mean all of it. We'll have info up on the section website soon at Attached is the flier for the match. [ED: the information is already available at that link, and the flier is reproduced above.] Please come out and help us raise some money to help Tim out. If you have any questions, my email and number are on the flier.

Chuck is the Competition Director at CCS, and although he doesn't say so here he is also a Law Enforcement Officer. Also, he is the guy who typically solicits Sponsorship for Major Matches in the section in excess of $100,000 for prize tables.

He is obviously very persuasive. If you can make it to either of these two matches, I suggest you be there with your Double-Sawbuck in hand.

Come to think of it, Chuck looks like a fireplug with a head, only bigger. Much bigger. He's very intimidating. You might consider competing in both matches.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dundee Jungle Run

I've published all of the usable photos from last weekend's match at Dundee on my private photo gallery, but YouTube reminds me that I haven't posted anything there lately.

Here's a video which again shows what it's like to shoot a Jungle Run in Oregon's Rain Forest.

Note that the first shooter is Brent, who then works as the Range Officer when Mark II is running the stage.

During the conduct of this match, a competitor was Match Disqualified ("DQ" ... stopped, disallowed from continuing to compete) because he violated a Safety Rule.

The DQ occurred on this stage. The competitor moved past the "STOP" sign which marked the safe distance to engage a steel target, and then shot at the U.S. popper seen in the film.

We are all still trying to learn the 2008 rules, and this process is made more difficult because for many years the rules were not consistent. Is it or is it not a DQ situation to engage steel within the 23-foot safety distance?

The 2008 USPSA rule book is clear on this point, and (finally) consistent with the effort to mandate the safest shooting environment possible:

2.1.3 Minimum Distances – Whenever metal targets or metal hard cover are used in a course of fire, precautions must be taken so that competitors and Match Officials maintain a minimum distance of 23 feet from them while they are being shot. Where possible, this should be done with physical barriers. If Fault Lines are used to limit the approach to metal targets, they must be placed at least 26 feet from the targets so that the competitor may inadvertently fault the line and still be outside the 23 feet minimum distance (see Rule 10.5.17). Care should also be taken in respect of metal props in the line of fire.
and, defining a plethora of 10.5 "Match Disqualification - UNSAFE GUN HANDLING" offenses:
10.5.17 A shot fired at a metal target from a distance of less than 23 feet, measured from the face of the target to the nearest part of the competitor’s body in contact with the ground (see Rule 2.1.3).
Thus, if a competitor engages a steel target beyond the minimum safe distance (here marked with a warning: "STOP!"), the competitor is definitively in violation of rule 2.1.3 and subject to the Match DQ mandated by rule 10.5.17.

Thank you again, USPSA, for bringing us back to the safest possible competitive shooting environment, and for clearly defining the List of Things Which Must Not Be Done.

To be perfectly fair, it would have been better if some sort of physical barrier had been erected at the 'Safety Line', the point beyond which it was unsafe to engage a steel target. Yes, we are all responsible shooters and should not need this sort of reminder. Still, as we have seen, in the heat of competition it is all too easy to forget that a visible reminder is notionally equivalent to a physical barrier.

A Strong Argument for a Bigger Zoom Lens on your Camcorder

Also from Guest Blogger The Hobo Brasser:

Tactical 3-gun: TCGC July, 2008

Guest Blogger: The Hobo Brasser

I have joined the ranks of the small number (usually less than 20) who shoot “Tactical” at Tri-County on the fourth Sunday of each month. In January of this year Phil and Kyle, best friends who shoot together all the time (who are excellent shooters as well) took over running the matches. They have a low key approach to the sport and the matches. Tactical has very few rules beyond the obvious safety rules which are range rules. These include things like the180 rule, cold range, etc. One unique to Tactical is mandatory use of cover.

Sunday morning I showed up with a stage design in my head, because I know they usually need help and they don’t come with stages all ready designed. The exception is when Phil sets up a surprise stage. Last mouth he had one which sandbagged everyone, but more on that later. Kyle said to do it and so I set my stage up. It was simple, 5 steel targets, they use a lot of steel so that reset is easy and consumable supplies are at a minimum. Mine had 5 shooting positions, one shot on each steel with a carbine from each of the first 4 positions then pistol from the last position.

Three of the other four stages were more complicated and, in all, it was lots of fun. Yesterday’s match had a carbine emphasis, i.e., more carbines rounds that anything. The stages from 1 - 5 were: 1 - carbine/shotgun, 2 – carbine/pistol, 3 – carbine/shotgun, 4 – carbine/shotgun/ pistol, 5 – carbine/ pistol (mine). Usually the match starts around 10AM and is over with us out of there by 1PM. Yesterday was an exception for three reasons. First, it was a prize match with great weather. Second, there were 28 shooters. Third, we didn’t finish until 3:30PM. I expended 40 pistol rounds about 80 carbine and 21 shotgun.

I had to miss the regular USPSA match at Dundee on Saturday due to some family obligations, so this was a one match weekend, in the future when I can, I will shoot both matches. Judith and Iain were at both. Tactical is a hoot.

A few words about Phil’s surprise stage last month. He set it up so that white were the shoot targets and brown were the no shoots. There were a couple of shoot thrus and you had to move to avoid the shoot thru. Then he put clay targets on the ground to simulate land mines, if you stepped on one you were dead and done. You did not know the white were the shoot targets until you entered and read a sign right at the beginning. Most of us read the sign and proceeded reflexively to shoot the first no shoot (brown) target, yours truly included. It was a lot of fun.

There are a couple of things that bother me about Tactical, but I can live with them. On one stage we shot 6 carbine rounds at some rather tight targets then abandoned the carbine and finished up with pistol. The stage description only allowed 8 rounds in the carbine. Then it had to be abandoned empty with the magazine out and slide back. Good so far, but they allow the muzzle to point down range and the course design made the shooter cross in front of the muzzle. I put mine on a chair off to the left and pointed it into berm so I wouldn’t cover myself, but most did not. I would change that rule. That said, I like the fact that there are not too many rules. My friends will tell you that as much as I like USPSA/IPSC, I have said time and again we are getting too silly in our rules and too much like golf, which I also play, love and think has a lot of silly rules.

The other thing that bothers me is that more people will discover this sport and the matches will continue to get bigger and bigger.

Bob, a long time friend, who was on my squad took pictures and they are at

[ed: copy & paste the URL above, or click here for the link.]

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dundee USPSA Match: July, 2008

This weekend I attended a USPSA match at the Dundee club. The weather was good, the stage designs were good, the people with whom I was privileged to shoot ("my squad", not to be to ego-centric) were truly excellent and a lot of fun.

This match may serve as one of the halcyon times of club shooting, because all elements of weather, shooting challenge and shooting companions combined to make the day a memorable experience. I've shot a few Major Matches in my time, and these are notionally the epitome of competition shooting.

In the actual event, though, it's difficult to beat a good club match shared with your friends. The only thing that would have improved the day would be if SWMBO had felt well enough to join me at the match.

MD Paul and RM (and probable designer of most of the stages, plus the guy who probably set the stages up and tore the down) "Evil Bill" are the under-appreciated authors of this Excellent Adventure. In a reminiscent moment today, the day after the match, I relived the history of IPSC/USPSA matches in the Columbia Cascade Section.

Competition History within Local Clubs:
First there was Tri-County Gun Club (TCGC), where I took a class in "New Shooter Certification" in 1983. There was no other local club (to my knowledge) hosting this kind of Practical Pistol shooting in the area, at the time. This formed my standard of future evaluations. TCGC offered two matches a month: the second Saturday and the third Sunday of the month, and more often than not the stage designs were identical on both match days. The matches were an opportunity to shoot a pistol which (if your situation was similar to mine) was rarely used for any more challenging purpose than shooting at tin cans.

A few years after I started shooting regularly at TCGC, I became aware that the Albany Rifle & Pistol Club (ARPC) was sponsoring IPSC matches. I lived in Portland at the time, and the drive the ARPC was something of an imposition. Also, the leadership at the club was, while determined, not endowed with Leadership Potential. The people who accepted a leadership position found it difficult to recruit help from the participants, and consequently found themselves bound to design six stages a month, and usually they set them up without any help in the last morning moments on Match Day. The running joke was the "Competition starts at 9am" meant ""9:30 if you're lucky, more likely 10am."

But it was no joke.

This situation rapidly led to burnout of the organizers, and their best response to an obvious need to recruit more help was to antagonize the few people who chose to participate. I finally resolved to "never again to shoot a match at ARPC", and with few exceptions followed this determination for several years. Fortunately, several years ago ARPC found members willing to accept responsibility for organizing IPSC matches, and (as TCGC discovered), this discipline is one of the most consistent sources of income in the history of the club.

Enter the Madmen of Dundee: The Crocs
Somewhere between the peak of TCGC and the nadir of ARPC, a few bold adventurers at The Chealem Valley Shooting Club (CVSC), always and ever known as "Dundee" (after the name of the nearest town), decided that they could join their efforts to present a program of IPSC-type matches at their local club ... which is accessed via a gate in the fence surrounding "Crabtree Park" (yes, it's a park near Dundee, Oregon, and sited in the middle of Wine Country North in Oregon). The range was most often used by hunters who were sighting in their rifles before hunting season, but it was an established club with berms, a few bays, and an absolute minimum of facilities. (They had to build a 'stats shack', the computers were laptops powered by automobile batteries, and there were only four 'bays'.)

The stage design philosophy of CVSC was, essentially, "If it bleeds, it leads". There were only a few steel targets available, which represents perhaps $1,000 investment (I'm guessing) and the very first investment was to buy the most difficult targets available ... "droppers" (disappearing targets, which were powered by gravity and were usually set up as "Disappearing Targets", and "Bobbers", which wig-wagged and often were hidden by vision barriers or no-shoot 'targets'.

The stage designs represented a new philosophy: if you expect static targets without penalties for missed shots, you were due to be surprised and disappointed at a Dundee match. Moving targets were the rule rather than the exception, and any Pepper Popper on the stage was likely to activate a moving target ... as the club evolved, they played with stage designs which placed moving targets which could not be engaged from the same position where the activating Pepper Popper could be engaged.

Dundee imagined, and created, stage challenges which were not generally available anywhere else in the world. This was not the exceptional match; this was every match.

The Mad Men of Dundee have mellowed a bit over the years, but the challenges continue. They were not the first local club to feature the Texas Star in club competition, but they were the first to offer difficult variations (see Evil Bill and the Evil Oregon Star when searching this website).

Back to this particular Dundee match.

Dundee continues to evolve its stage designs, and this match is typical. Most stages revealed all targets from the starting position, but even the Classifier, "3 V", asked you to emphasize accuracy over speed by shooting at cardboard targets largely covered by "No-Shoot" penalty targets.

But most of the stages pushed movement and speed, with a lot of steel targets and most of them requiring the competitor to move several times (or continuously ... depending on your ability to shoot on the move) to engage targets.

Better, there was a "Jungle Run" stage, with ten Turtle-Targets and three US Poppers hidden in a forest of ferns and trees.

I took a lot of videos of the match, although I didn't end up with usable videos of all of the stages.

The people on the squad all worked hard, so the match went quickly. In fact, I was the 'laziest' member of the squad, because I was filming as much of it as I could. I spent some time taping, more time RO-ing, and my greatest regret is that I didn't film Iain and Judith the last stage because these "New Chums" are so eminently photogenic while they shoot a stage. But I got at least one one 'typical' stage for each, where Iaian leaps like a frog from one shooting position to the next and Judith extends herself as if an epee-wielding fencer to pierce a target.

And Jerry and Catherine H. demonstrate their careful approach to stages. Brent leaves a trail of 8-round magazines everywhere he goes as he competes in the difficult Single-Stack division. Rich W. yells "Yay-Hoo!" on the Jungle run, and I don't capture it, but I get a wide variation on the theme as other squad members shoot the green stage.

Norm storms every stage he encounters, until he is confronted by the Jam From Heck when a nickle-plated case reverses itself during ejection and jams between the breech and the open-gun Scope Mount ... at 5.99 seconds into the stage, and takes 39.66 seconds to clear the jam to continue by engaging the last 12 Steel Targets for a final stage time of 52.06 on Stage 1. (This so inspired Master-Class shooter Norm that he, after winning his first stage .. Stage 6 ... just relaxed and treated the entire match as nothing more than a lark to be enjoyed for its own sake. It's hard not to like a tough competitor like Norm, when he is so willing to just ignore defeat in favor of having a good time at the match. No tantrums, no ego moments ... just a guy who understands the reason we're spending our Saturday in a Rock Quarry, and gets all the joy available from the exercise.)

I have a lot of pictures, and I have posted them on Jerry the Geek's Video Shooting Gallery tonight.

I had a great time, and some of my stages weren't even disasters. Who could ask for more?

Surely you don't need to carry a gun in a CHURCH!

In another chapter of the continuing story of deranged gunmen attacking unarmed innocents in 'Gun-Free Zones' ... particularly in Churches ... a long gunman brought a 12-gauge shotgun into a Unitarian church in Tennessee, where two-dozen children were performing in a local-theater version of the musical "Annie".

The gunman, 58-year old Jim D. Adkisson of Knox County, apparently fired 3 shots from his shotgun, hitting "six or seven" people ( or as many as 9 people), two of which died from their wounds.

According to the MSNBC article:

The man slain was identified as Greg McKendry, 60, a longtime church member and usher. Church member Barbara Kemper told The Associated Press that McKendry "stood in the front of the gunman and took the blast to protect the rest of us."
(An omnibus of articles about this attack may be found the UK website Newstin. )

Early reports are always suspect, but there is no doubt that Greg McKendry will be heralded as the man who literally "took a bullet" for his friends and fellow congregation members in what has been describe as "a normal Sunday service".

The shooter, Adkisson, was "taken down" by members of the congregation (reported by the local WBIR webpage to include congregant Professor John Bohstedt. (See photo at right.)

This was a terrible thing, which might have resulted in an even more extensive loss of life it not for the heroic actions of Greg McKendry and congregants such as Professor Bohstedt.

McKendry, of course, gave his life.

The King James version of the bible says, in James 15: 13
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Greg McKendry certainly will remain an iconic representation of that sentiment. The congregants who pulled Adkisson to the ground are similarly blessed in their determination to lay down their lives for their friends, except that circumstances did not require the sacrifice which they offered.

Question #1: If Greg McKendry, described by his friends as "a refrigerator with a head", had in his possession any weapon more lethal than a thick body and an uncommon courage, would he have been required to lay down his life to protect his friends?

Question #2: Civil law may have prevented church members from carrying a weapon into a church. The cultural approbation against carrying a weapon into a church certainly insured that peaceful, non-aggressive church members were unarmed. What civil laws and cultural approbations disapprobations prevented Jim Adkisson from bringing his guitar-case disguised 12-gauge shotgun into a church with the sole purpose of slaughtering as many innocents as he could?

[previous posts on "Gun Free Zones"]

The Wild Ones

In a scene that might have been found in a 21st Century Yuppie version of "The Wild One", a mob of bicyclists attacked a motorist in Seattle, Washington this weekend. They injured the driver and broke windows in his car when he had the temerity to leave a parking space as they were riding past.

According to an article in the Seattle Television Station KOMO website:

A mob of bicyclists riding in Seattle with the monthly Critical Mass * demonstration injured a motorist after an altercation.

Seattle Police spokesman Mark Jamieson says that on Friday between 100 and 300 bicyclists were riding down a street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, blocking traffic on both lanes, when a man and a woman in a Subaru station wagon tried to pull out of a parking spot.

But some of the bicyclists blocked them, sat on the car and began banging on the vehicle. Words were exchanged between the male driver and the bicyclists.

The driver feared being assaulted and backed up, but bumped a biker and enraged the group. In response, some of the bikers smashed the windshield and rear window. He tried to drive away but hit another bicyclist.

The car stopped a block down and the bicyclists surrounded the car. One biker punched the driver through an open window and another used a knife to slash the tires.

When the driver got out of the car a male suspect struck him with an unknown object in the back of the head. The driver was later taken to the hospital. His female companion was not injured.

In a curious coincidence, this weekend the Albany (Oregon) Democrat Herald published an article about bicycles in my home town of Corvallis titled "Now more than ever: Share the road".

Corvallis has been at or near the top of the League of American Bicyclists’ list of bicycle-friendly communities since it started tracking such things in 2003. However, despite miles of bike lanes and public-awareness campaigns, crashes between bicyclists and motorists might be on the rise because of an increase in bicyclists on the road and carelessness by both drivers and bicyclists.

The mob violence in Seattle is without precedence, although one can understand that groups of bicyclists might be more sensitive to the disparity of damage between cyclists and motorists when they meet in a collision: it was only six weeks ago that a motorist slammed into a bike tour in a Mexican border town.

On the other hand, perhaps the Seattle mob isn't entirely without precedence. The Oregonian ran an article on July 10, 2008, discussing the recurring contretemps between cyclists and motorists.

Perception: In Portland, one of the great cycling cities of North America, bikers and motorists share the road with mutual respect and tolerance, like friends sitting around the campfire singing "Kumbaya."

Reality: There's an undercurrent of tension between cyclists and drivers that sometimes erupts into violence, like it did Sunday when police say a drunken man used his bike to attack a driver who chided him for running a stoplight.

The confrontation in Southeast Portland returned the spotlight to an ongoing and sometimes angry debate about how we share the road. In a city that prides itself on a broad-based and rapidly growing cycling culture, the fight struck a nerve

Online and elsewhere, motorists blamed cyclists for reckless and rude behavior, alleging that bikers frequently run red lights and stop signs and change lanes whether they have the right of way or not.


This is the third time in recent years that cyclists and motorists have engaged in a heated public debate about roadway etiquette and safety. Last fall, after two Portland cyclists were killed by turning trucks, there was an occasionally contentious citywide discussion about the rules of the road. A few years ago, a widely viewed online video showed a cyclist being attacked by a TriMet passenger after the cyclist parked his bike in front of a bus to protest a near-collision.

Who is to blame? The cyclists, or the motorists?

Probably both groups can share the blame for, at least, a lack of situational awareness. When I was a regular motorcyclist, I heard many stories of the "Stupid Shit That Drivers Do". Examples:
  • They change lanes without warning, and without looking to see whether a bike was in the lane they're moving into.
  • They will sit at a stop sign on a cross-street, look you right in the eye as you approach the intersection they're about to cross, and pull out right in front of you at the last moment.
  • They will pass you on the freeway, and then pull right in front of you with minimal clearance ... and then slow way down.
  • They will pass you on the freeway, and straddle the dotted line separating lanes forcing the bike to move to the shoulder of the road.
[NOTE: There's one more specific bone of contention between motorcyclists and motorists: Motorcyclists take advantage of the practice of "Lane Splitting". That is, when traffic on a multi-lane road is at a standstill, motorcyclists will drive between stopped cars to move forward in traffic. This is actually legal in Oregon, at least partly because it's difficult for a motorcyclist to maintain a heavy motorcycle up by putting one foot on the pavement for long waiting periods. Also, many motorcycles can overheat when sitting idle for long periods of time in hot weather. (I burned out a water pump one August afternoon in heavy city traffic trying to 'be a nice guy' by not lane-splitting.) But most motorists aren't aware of the law, and in the frustration of the moment it is not uncommon for motorists to open their car doors to block lane-splitting motorcycles ... usually at the last moment.]

Yes, I understand the irrational actions which both motorists and cyclists may inflict on each other, and although I deplore it I certainly understand that even "nice people" may turn into someone they don't recognize under the right ... or the wrong ... circumstances.

But violence, even if understandable, is not excused by frustration.

To make this discussion "fair and balanced", let's look at some anecdotal stories of "Stupid Shit that Bicyclists Do".
  • They ride in "The Blind Spot" of a car on multi-lane streets.
  • They dart across lanes without signaling, and often without looking for traffic.
  • They ride faster than they can stop safely in both traffic and in places where they are riding on sidewalks ... where they endanger and alarm pedestrian traffic.
  • They often prefer to ride on sidewalks than on the available bike paths in the street.
  • They obey neither the rules of vehicles nor the rules for pedestrians, as if they are a law unto themselves.
  • They are unaware of danger to themselves and others, expecting everyone else to watch out for them.
This last is perhaps the most dangerous situation in which cyclists indulge themselves. Personal experiences: I've seen pedestrians hit by bicyclists. Is there any excuse for this? I've seen bicyclists crossing streets on pedestrian walkways, ignoring the "Don't Walk" signal, just as the traffic light changes. When they realize that motorists are prevented from moving (even though they legally have the Right-Of-Way", they give a finger-wave accompanied by a lop-sided grin, and regally take the consideration of motorists as if it is their right. (I've seen or personally experienced this as a motorist, at least three times in the past month. Summer is a difficult time for motorists in a "bicycle friendly" town.)

Yeah, this sounds like a rant against bicycles. But it's not. Rather, it's a rant against stupid people who do stupid things ... and when they get off their bikes they're probably "nice people".

The thing is, a lot of my friends and co-workers use bicycles for commuting to and from work. They're mature adults and they spend more time riding in cars than they do riding their bikes. The problem is typically with children and young adults (there are a lot of bicycle-riding young adults in a college town) who haven't yet understood that their responsibilities as a bike rider are almost equally as vital as the responsibility of a motorist. They need to be visible and predictable, and to be situationally aware, and they need to be aware of the possibility that they will injure a pedestrian. All too often, they consider the bicycle to be a mode of transportation from Point A to Point B, and they pay no attention to the Journey because children, adolescents and young adults are typically more focused on the Goal than on the Journey.

When I read a blog like Xavier Thoughts, who has recently spent almost as much time talking about Bicycling as he has talking about Shooting Sports, I'm impressed by his appreciation for bicycle riding as much as a healthy and fun activity (almost in a Zen sense) as an efficient, economical way of ... here it is again ... "getting from Point A to Point B".

The difference is, I doubt if Xavier would ignore the demands of self-survival while riding.

I wish someone like Xavier would come to Corvallis and provide safety training to the cyclists here.

On the other hand, I hope that people from Critical Mass never choose Corvallis for a road tour.
* quotes from the Critical Mass website:

Critical Mass is a monthly bicycle ride to celebrate cycling and to assert cyclists' right to the road. The idea started in San Francisco in September 1992 and quickly spread to cities all over the world. This site attempts to be the most complete guide to all Critical Mass rides around the globe.

Critical Mass has a different flavor from city to city -- there's a big variety in size, respect of traffic laws (or lack thereof), interaction with motorists, and intervention by police. So if you want to know more about Critical Mass, you'll really need to find out what your local ride is like. For those who must know more right now, here's a link to Chicago CM, which I suppose is a "typical" CM ride, if there is such a thing.

Critical Mass has no leaders, and no central organization licenses rides. In every city that has a CM ride, some locals simply picked a date, time, and location for the ride and publicized it, and thus the ride was born.

CM is an idea and an event, not an organization. You can't write to "Critical Mass" -- certainly not by writing to me.