Saturday, May 05, 2012

How to rip off the IRS for Big Buck$

"Undocumented Workers" from Mexico are claiming ... and receiving ... BILLIONS of dollars of exemptions on their tax returns (and receiving tax refunds) for "Dependent Children Who Live In The Home", for children who live in Mexico.

Can this be true?  Who knows?  At least one TV station in Indiana claims to have interviewed one such "Undocumented Worker" who confirms the story.

According to Indianapolis News, the Inspector General knows this is happening, has reported it, but the IRS is doing nothing to rectify the situation

Indianapolis News Video | Weather Video Forecast | Sports - 13 WTHR Indianapolis (Hat Tip: G-Man)

Travels with Hansel and Gretel

Travels with Hansel and Gretel The Hobo Brasser has started his own blog. There ... in a forum in which he proposes to share the merry adventures of his annual travels (decrepit pickup, dented fifth-wheel, spicey wife, and the dog and the dogette) he proves himself to be the master of understatement. The man is stealing my blog material!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Seven Deadly Sins of USPSA Competition

When I teach the "Introduction to USPSA" class at the Albany Rifle & Pistol Club (ARPC), I recognize the importance of presenting the class material in a user-friendly, positive manner.

That's why I emphasize all the ways in which a competitor can "DQ" (Match Disqualification for violating a safety rule).

You can't do 'right' unless you know what is 'wrong'.   It's easy to say "Go, shoot, be safe".  But unless people know what are UNSAFE actions ... well, it's complicated.

The easiest way to teach people how to be safe, is to define the actions which are NOT safe.

I'm developing a teaching guide for instructors who are attempting to familiarize new shooters in USPSA competition (this almost exactly follows IPSC rules, as well), and in the process I've boiled the competition rules into a simple seven-element set of  "DO NOT" rules which will help the new competitor to shoot safely, over 90% of the time.  [I would say "100%", but nothing is all- right.

These seven deadly sins are:
  1. Muzzle (180)
  2. Finger (1 & 2)
  3. Sweeping
  4. Dropped Gun
  5. D&D
  6. Over The Hill
  7. Cheating
Seven rules, ten words (more or less).  The "Four Basic Rules of Gun Safety" are:
  1. Treat Firearms as if they are loaded;
  2. Point the muzzle away from non-targets;
  3. Keep fingers off the trigger;
  4. Be sure of your target, and what is beyond it
Lots more words to remember.  And actually all of the rules are embodied in the USPSA rules which define "unsafe acts".    But competitors need to know the elements of these rules, and the even more esoteric rules which are elemental in a competitive environment.

Here are the Seven Deadly Sins again, with some explanations:

I:   Muzzle (180)

Face downrange, and extend your arms to each side.  Your arms define the 180 degrees in which it is 'safe' to point your firearm.  If you point your firearm 'behind' that 180 degree line, you are breaking the "180 Rule".   That is, you are pointing it uprange, where there may be people standing.  It matters not what you are doing or where people are actually located relative to your firearm; as the competitor, you are responsible for everything that happens with your firearm and breaking the 180 rule is ALWAYS unsafe.

II: Finger (1 & 2)

The rules say you cannot have your finger on the trigger unless you are actively engaging targets.  This breaks down to two general situations:
  • You cannot have your finger on the trigger when you are loading, reloading, clearing a jam, or during any activity other than actively engaging targets.
  • You cannot have your finger on the trigger when you are moving, except when you are actively engaging targets.
This last part is a bit complicated.

If you take ONE step, you may keep your finger on the trigger.   That's Part 1.

But when you are "actively engaging targets", you may have your finger on the trigger 'anyway'.
That means, your firearm is mounted ... it is raised so that you may see a sight picture with the target generally including the front and rear sights, and the target.  If your firearms is below the sight-line between your eyes and the target, the Range Officer may reasonably assume that you are not "actively engaging the target".  ("Engaging" means shooting at, or trying to shoot at, a target.)   That's Part 2.

III: Sweeping

The term "SWEEPING" include any motion of your firearm or your body which may result in the muzzle of your firearm pointing at any part of your body.

It (according to the rules) does NOT include such actions as are needed to holster, or un-holster, your firearm.  I'm not sure why this is true, except that with some holsters it's impossible to holster a weapon without using your 'off hand' to expand a pliable holster so you can place the muzzle of your firearm in the holster.  This may also be true when using a "gun rug' rather than a holster at the beginning or end of a stage.

At all other times, though, if during the course of fire you combine the actions of your hand which holds your firearm with ANY other activity in such a way that the muzzle of your firearm points at any part of your body, that is an Unsafe Act.

For example:
You are required to open a door so that you can pass through it; if your free hand passes in front of your firearm, you have just "swept yourself".

You drop your magazine at the end of a stage.  If you reach down to retrieve the grounded magazine before holstering your firearm, you may "sweep yourself".

IV:  Dropped Gun

IF "during a stage" you lose control of your firearm ... it is not in your hand under circumstances which are not required by the stage directions or after you have drawn your firearm from the holster ... and the firearm hits the ground, you may be DQ's for having dropped your gun.  It matters not whether your firearms lands pointing safely down-range.  If you are not in full control of your firearm at all times, you are subject to a DQ.

The phrase "during a stage"   is significant.
If you are NOT an active competitor under the direct control of a Range Officer, and you drop your gun while you are not shooting a stage (eg: you are in the squad area or walking through a stage, and your pistol falls out of your holster and drops to the ground), you are NOT automatically DQ'd. Unless, that is, you touch your firearm. The thing to do under this circumstance is to protect the firearm, call for a Range Officer, and let the Range Officer do whatever is necessary to SAFELY retrieve the firearm and return it to a safe condition.

Of course, this does not obviate the rules which forbid you to handle your firearm other than when  you are at a SAFETY TABLE or under the direct supervision of a Range Officer.

V: D&D

The acronym "D&D" refers to "Drunk & Disorderly".
"Drunk" refers to any situation where the competitor is under the influence of substances to the point where he or she is incapacitated ... which is a very fine line, considering that this is a sport where the 'normal' competitor can be described as "running around with loaded guns".  Essentially, if you are under the influence of alcohol, or drugs, you should not be handling firearms.  This includes such situations as taking prescription medication under the care of a physician.  Any substance which undermines your ability to be entirely responsible for the safe handling of a firearm, including those which only have the warning "may cause drowsiness", is entirely incompatible with USPSA competition.

You're welcome to come observe, tape targets, reset steel targets, and visit your friends.  Please do us all a favor and leave your guns at home.

"Disorderly" refers to many ancillary activities, including coarse/foul language while arguing with a Range Officer.  An armed society is a polite society; one who allows him/her self to display belligerent behavior during a competition event may reasonably be defined as one who should NOT be allowed to "run around with a loaded firearm".  Disorderly conduct is, of course, defined by the Range Officer or other range officials.

These activities may fall under the general category of "Unsportsmanlike Conduct", which is complete in "Deadly Sin #7: Cheating".  (See below.)

VI: Over The Hill

This section refers to both negligent discharges (there is no such thing as an "Accidental Discharge", as we are all entirely responsible for anything which happens with our firearms) and shots which are so badly aimed that the bullet passes over the berm.  The berm is provided by the range to stop any fired shot; if you can't keep your shots low enough to hit the berm after they pass through the target, then you are not a safe shooter.

This also refers to any shot which impacts the ground within six feet of the competitor (or behind the competitor) unless it is obvious that the competitor is actively engaging a target which is close to the ground within that range

VII:  Cheating

This is a general catch-all phrase which envelops situations which may not have been defined previously.  Essentially, this is "unsportsmanlike conduct" or a deliberate attempt to obviate the rules.  This is presumably to gain a competitive advantage, but not necessarily so.

A good example is the rule which requires all competitors to wear both eye-protection and ear-protection.  If, during the course of fire, a competitor may lose either piece of competitive safety equipment, the Range Officer is obliged to stop the competitor, correct the situation, and mandate a re-shoot for that competitor.  There are no options available for the Range Officer; the competitor has, at last, lost time by the loss of safety equipment, and consequently has not been presented with an 'equitable shooting problem'.  The RO must mandate a reshoot.
This provides the competitor who is 'having a bad stage' with an opportunity to re-shoot the stage; by merely doffing ear muffs, the rules would mandate a reshoot.

However, the rules specifically forbid this under the "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" clause; it is cheating.

The number of categories is small, but the detail is large.  This approach doesn't pretend to simplify the rules of competition.  It only serves to present the rules in an easy to remember set of categories, and provide the instructor to bunch the most important safety rules in a simple framework for presentation.