'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

30 December 2013

3 Gun On A Budget

In my ongoing attempt to master 3 Gun in the coming year I'm going to be running a series of posts on equipment and gear choices. In this first post I'll be covering starting out on a budget.

As you know my pump Remington 870 crapped out on me at my first match. I decided to upgrade to a semi and chose the modestly priced Stoeger M3500. 432 bucks out the door. But it's limited to 4 rounds in the tube plus one in the chamber. Insufficient. An extended magazine tube is really the only choice here. After doing some homework (no one makes an M3500 specific magazine tube extension) I found out that with some moderate work one for a Benelli Nova/Supernova would fit. I ordered one along with a reduced friction follower and barrel band from Nordic Components. 150 bucks total with shipping.

When you get the kit it comes with everything you'll need for the installation. For this application I had to take the shotgun down all the way. See that small unthreaded bit at the top there? That's the end of the stock magazine tube. According to the instructions I found that's supposed to be cut off. But I've learned. First I test fitted the tube extension and turns out it fit perfectly. No cutting or grinding required. Whew!

Screw the tube extension nut to the stock barrel. I test fit the new spring. There's a bit extra. They send a one size fits all spring and you must trim it for your specific application. Cool, I get to use tools after all!

Screw on the extension tube to the nut and put the spring in place. The instructions tell you to cut it off at 16 inches and then test fit it. Trim as needed.

Twasn't necessary in my case. The spring fit perfectly and it all went back together as advertised. I now have a 9 + 1 semi automatic 3 Gun shotgun. I'm into the entire thing 582 dollars. Not too shabby.

On to the rifle. I decided early on that some compromises were going to have to be made. Especially in the beginning as I'm first getting my feet on the ground. I have a 16 inch Bushmaster flattop carbine that I ran with a cheap 3x9. I've had it for years and I think I paid south of 600. Let's just call it 600 bucks for the sake of argument. Here's the before picture.

It's going to need a few things, starting with a new optic and a gas block with no front sight. At 3 power the front sight disappears but I'm going to be running a 1x4 and at 1 power it'll show. What to do? A new gas block is the obvious answer but we're running 3 Gun on a budget here. Let's get creative. That front sight has a gas system that runs under the A pillar front sight assembly. It doesn't reach upward into the sight base itself. Hmmmm...I wonder.... Yep, turns out you can "remove" the front sight without impinging on the gas system. Which leads to a decidedly redneck solution.

Yessir. Powertools and guns. Now follow my logic on this one. If I screw this up I was going to have to buy a new gas block anyway. If this works I can decide at any time to replace the gas block if I want to. The whole thing is nothing more than a gas block with a sight attached. I'm running an optic and if I decide I want back up irons I'll run some 45 degree offsets. The front sight in this configuration is superfluous. Screw it, off she comes.

You ever do something like this? It was invigorating. I cackled like a redneck mad scientist the whole time. Hey, in the end it's just a gas block. I hit it with the Dremel and a back magic marker (I did say on the cheap didn't I?) and we're defecating in lengthy cotton. I'll clean it up some more later on but for now she works just fine.

On to the optic. Remember when I mentioned that some compromises would have to be made? Here is the first. I'm a big believer in quality optics where and when you can. I went through a vast number of optic choices in the 1x4 category from Burris, Leupold, Bushnell, etc., ad infinitum. Everything I looked at was in the area of 300 to 500 dollars. I was decidedly in favor of the lower end until I got some of them in my hand and really looked at the reticles and glass quality. When I did that one scope stood out. The Vortex Viper PST. I got it in the MRAD reticle because I understand Mils and can convert them to distance in my head.

It's an illuminated second plane reticle. That means it doesn't change size as the magnification increases. You can only range with it in 1 power but for my purposes that's a non issue. I love the clarity of the glass and the overall quality of the materials and build. It's a 30 mm tube with finger adjustable windage and elevation knobs and a 10 setting illumination dial. At 500 dollars it's on the higher end of what I wanted to spend but compared to the top level scopes it's a bargain. The Burris Tac30 and Leupold were cheap by comparison and their reticles left a lot to be desired (My opinion only. No hate mail please). On this item being too cheap was contraindicated.

It needed a solid mount. I chose the P.E.P.R. one piece mount from Burris. It was 90 dollars. I looked at the Warne at $180 and decided it was a little better but not that much better.

The mount sets the optic at the perfect height for an AR. It came with 2 sets of ring caps, with a rail and without. My tactical ninja being curiously silent I went with the smooth, low profile caps. I went with the non QD mount because I hate QD scope mounts. Anything that can fail will do so at the most inopportune time. Plus it's an extra 30 bucks. Screw that, this is a Budget Build.

The end result. It still needs a longer, free float forearm and a compensator but for the time being she'll do nicely. It's a long way from what it was that's for certain. And cost effective. If you add in the price of the gun I already had we're at $1190. 600 + 500 + 90. Take away the gun that was just sitting around doing nothing and we're at $590. I'm going with that because, like I said, the gun was just sitting there.

My 3 Gun setup minus the handgun.

Grand total outlay is $582 for the shotgun and $590 for the rifle for a total to date of $1172. I anticipate spending a few hundred more on the rifle for the last few bits but I can run both right now, as they sit, and be competitive. If you take a look around at new 3 Gun specific firearms that's less than what one of each of these would run you. Makes me feel all warm inside. There may very well be new guns in my future but for now I'm satisfied.

Next up running in the new shotgun and addressing any feed issues with the new tube and sighting in the Vortex. I can't wait!


29 December 2013

Sunday Kipling

Man, Christmas is over and the new year is almost upon us. I don't need a time travel machine, I need a time slowing machine.

The new scattergun is awesomeness personified. I'm now perusing rifle glass and compensators. I should be shooting 2 local matches soon (depending on whether or not the local constabularies decide to allow retired cops into their LEO 3 Gun. It's looking good). I'll also have a post up soonest talking about Why 3 Gun and How to get started. LauraB advised to get a stroller or something similar for totin' shootin' irons. I ignored her to my dismay. I will be rectifying that soonest. Look for another build post. Power tools, Yay!! I'm having video problems but I promise, at least one. Even if I have to sit by the computer all day.

Lu and her mom continue to heal as does the DO. Her help these last few weeks has been invaluable. Your words and prayers are a large part of that. Never let anyone tell you the power of prayer and friendship have no value. They're wrong.

Angus is still getting better though I'm beginning to suspect he and Barkley have a common ancestor. People food is severely contraindicated for that boy. On the carpet. In front of guests and everything. Oh the horror!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and a fine Sunday. Here's to a wonderful and stabilizing 2014.

The Lost Legion

There's a Legion that never was listed,
  That carries no colours or crest,
But, split in a thousand detachments,
  Is breaking the road for the rest.
Our fathers they left us their blessing --
  They taught us, and groomed us, and crammed;
But we've shaken the Clubs and the Messes
  To go and find out and be damned
                               (Dear boys!),
  To go and get shot and be damned.

So some of us chivvy the slaver,
  And some of us cherish the black,
And some of us hunt on the Oil Coast,
  And some on the Wallaby track:
And some of us drift to Sarawak,
  And some of us drift up The Fly,
And some share our tucker with tigers,
  And some with the gentle Masai,
                              (Dear boys!),
  Take tea with the giddy Masai.

We've painted The Islands vermilion,
  We've pearled on half-shares in the Bay,
We've shouted on seven-ounce nuggets,
  We've starved on a Seedeeboy's pay;
We've laughed at the world as we found it, --
  Its women and cities and men --
From Sayyid Burgash in a tantrum
  To the smoke-reddened eyes of Loben,
                              (Dear boys!),
  We've a little account with Loben.

The ends of the Farth were our portion,
  The ocean at large was our share.
There was never a skirmish to windward
  But the Leaderless Legion was there:
Yes, somehow and somewhere and always
  We were first when the trouble began,
From a lottery-row in Manila,
  To an I. D. B. race on the Pan
                                (Dear boys!),
  With the Mounted Police on the Pan.

We preach in advance of the Army,
  We skirmish ahead of the Church,
With never a gunboat to help us
  When we're scuppered and left in the lurch.
But we know as the cartridges finish,
  And we're filed on our last little shelves,
That the Legion that never was listed
  Will send us as good as ourselves
                              (Good men!),
  Five hundred as good as ourselves!

Then a health (we must drink it in whispers),
  To our wholly unauthorized horde --

To the line of our dusty foreloopers,
  The Gentlemen Rovers abroad --
Yes, a health to ourselves ere we scatter,
  For the steamer won't wait for the train,
And the Legion that never was listed
  Goes back into quarters again!
  Goes back under canvas again.
  The swag and the billy again.
                                Here's how!
  The trail and the packhorse again.
  The trek and the laager again!

26 December 2013

New 3 Gun Shotgun

In light of the failure of my 870 at the Hard as Hell 3 Gun match it became readily apparent to even me that a new shotgun was definitely needed. To that end I went on a bit of a search for, if not the Holy Grail then at least a serviceable semi automatic shotgun suitable for 3 Gun. Call it the Holy Scattergun. I went through the usual suspects, Beretta, Remington, FNH and Mossberg to name a few. But then I came across this thread. In it the Stoeger M3000 is discussed in some detail as well as it's suitability for 3 Gun. I was intrigued. I did some more research and was happy with what I saw. Stoeger is an offshoot of Benelli and the M3500 has a virtually identical inertia driven action. Call it a C Class Benelli. I was mostly sold. Now all I needed was a chance to handle one.

So I headed down to the local big box outdoor store and lo and behold they had a.....

Stoeger M3500. Wait. What? Well see it's like this. They had a black M3500 with a 26 inch barrel just sitting right there. Looking all lonely and forlorn. The 3500 is identical to the 3000 except for a half inch longer receiver, three and a half versus three. The experts told me to buy it. Lu told me to buy it. The devil on my shoulder told me to buy it. The angel on my shoulder told me stop looking at the Victoria's Secret catalog and buy the stupid shotgun! So I did.

Then, of course, I put it in the gun safe and waited for another day to take it out and shoot it. Not!

Instead I gave in to my baser desires and headed out to the range to put the new girl through her paces.

And it didn't go exactly as I had hoped. See, this thing must be able to shoot lighter 12 gauge loads. Not powder puff stuff but 2 3/4", 3 Dram Eq., 7 1/2s and 8s. Must. It was spotty with all shells ejected but not every new one loaded. Hit and miss. Then I noticed it had a pretty fair glopping of cosmoline all over the operating system. So, back to Casa Six we went for a thorough cleaning and lubrication evolution. Then it was back to the range, hopes high in hand and suicide prevention on the speed dial.

This time I also read the manual (like a big ol' sissy) and noticed the part about breaking it in with heavier loads. So I brought along some of these bad boys. Lead in #2 and #5 and steel in T. Break in shall be accomplished.

I fired off maybe a box or so when excitement and morbid curiosity got the better of me. I also toted along a mixed grab bag of 12 gauge left over from HaH and the 870 who shall not be named. I had 3DE 1 1/8 ounce loads of 8s and 7 1/2s from Federal, Winchester and Brand X (really, I need to start writing this stuff down). Nestled in there, among their larger siblings, was a few rounds of Winchester Extra Light and some 1 ounce loads. The question was would the 3500 shoot it all?

The answer was a qualified you betcha. The only shells it had difficulty with was the extra light loads. This is a 3 1/2 inch gun, capable of handling the heaviest duck and goose loads on the planet so I'm giving her a pass on this one. I'm also convinced, from the way she tried valiantly to cycle them and sometimes did, that with some more break in time she'll eat anything I throw at her and call me a sissy boy to boot. Everything else ran and cycled with no issues at all. Ounce and an eighth 7 1/2 and 8s are right in her wheelhouse. Perfect.

Nordic Components has a mag extension tube kit that will fit her and one is even now winging it's way to the sunny climes of Southern Utah along with an over sized bolt handle. Once those are fitted and we get some more trigger time I'm convinced she'll be one dang fine 3 Gun whacking stick, able to run with the big boys and maybe even show 'em her heels now and again. Providing I do my part of course.  And I haven't even mentioned the best part.

She cost me 432 bucks on a suggested retail of 629. That's a cool grand below what most of the other shooters are plunking down for even the most basic shottie currently being run on the circuit (except for the Mossberg JM Pro at about 750 if you can find one). Some of them are going for well north of 3000 dollars. Yikes! P.E. Kelley, writing for Shooting Times, calls it the best kept secret in 3 Gun. I agree. She's a sweet little filly.

So, I have seemingly addressed my shotgun woes. Now it's time to do a little work on the rifle. In looking it seems that a new rifle will set me back several mortgage payments with even uppers nearing a cool thou. Instead I'll be modifying my current 16 inch carbine to better work in the game. Expect a compensator, stock, scope and probably a free float forearm tube.

I have a match coming on the last Saturday in January and it's a 3 Gun Nation classifier. I gotta get hopping.


24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

From my family to yours.

Six, Lu, Angus, DO, AFSon, The Boy, The Girl, MIL

And The Sarge
Warrior Emeritus

22 December 2013

Sunday Kipling

We're...dealing. Lu and her Mom are trying to find their new normal. Both show signs of that but we're taking things slowly. Thank you all again for your e-mails and kind comments. They have meant the world to us.

Video is taking forever. Stupid Blogger. I'll get some up soonest.

The other day we hit a milestone here. We went past 200,000 hits. Bug urine to many of you but for me it's a wonder and a delight. Thank you again for visiting and chatting with me. It's been awesome as all of you are.

This Sunday Kipling is in honor of The Sarge.

We miss you Pop.

The Burial

When that great Kings return to clay,
   Or Emperors in their pride,
Grief of a day shall fill a day,
  Because its creature died.
But we -- we reckon not with those
  Whom the mere Fates ordain,
This Power that wrought on us and goes
  Back to the Power again.

Dreamer devout, by vision led
  Beyond our guess or reach,
The travail of his spirit bred
  Cities in place of speech.
So huge the all-mastering thought that drove 
  So brief the term allowed 
Nations, not words, he linked to prove
  His faith before the crowd.

It is his will that he look forth
  Across the world he won 
The granite of the ancient North 
  Great spaces washed with sun.

There shall he patient take his seat
  (As when the Death he dared),
And there await a people's feet
  In the paths that he prepared.

There, till the vision he foresaw
  Splendid and whole arise,
And unimagined Empires draw
  To council 'neath his skies,
The immense and brooding Spirit still
  Shall quicken and control.
Living he was the land, and dead,
  His soul shall be her soul!

17 December 2013

3 Gun Pics. Now With More Suck!

You asked for 'em, you got 'em. Well, you didn't ask for them but narcissism and a strong tendency toward self humiliation kinda require my posting them. Just wait for the videos. Then you'll really see some humiliation! In random order with commentary amounting to "I think" and "What stage was that?" and "Tell me again why exactly you took that picture? Have you no shame?" As always click to embiggen.

I think that was Stage 3, the second one we shot. Yeah, it's all mixed up. We shot stages 2,3,4 and 5 on day 1 and stages 6,7,8 and 9 on day 2. Then stages 1 and 10 on day 3. Confusing for someone already suffering from a few too many head injuries as it is. Note please the mud. The day started out cold as a well diggers....bum. Or something. The ground was frozen. Then the day warmed. Slightly. Just enough to turn it into a sea of mud. Quite fun actually.

We shot from platforms, rifle and pistol.

Running the 870. Take a good look as that didn't last very long.

AR with an Aimpoint red dot. I was decidedly Meh about that optic. The scope was a better choice. Note please the surplus M14 mag pouch. Another really bright choice. I need a keeper.

I wanna say Stage 5. Shotgun and rifle, then a quick trip through the pit of despair...

Across the slack line... (Still looking cool. That's important)

To the pistol bay. 5-11s and a black mock turtleneck. It just doesn't get more stylish than that.

I think this was my last stage with the Aimpoint. Please note the presence of those tires on the right there.

Yep. Dragging 'em. Yah mule! Yah!

All the way across the road to the pistol bay.

Note please that large pipe on the right, near the top of the berm.

But first a spinner. One of two in the match. I tanked both of them, adding 120 seconds to my time in penalties. I could get them soooo close but not quite over. Next time a .300 Win Mag. Or maybe some C-4.

Up the berm, through the pipe and down the other side. 870 clutched safely in hand.

Shooting a pump shotgun through tires is one thing...

Doing it whilst twisted into a knot, one handed, is something else. I look cool though, don't I? Wait, don't answer that.

Day two and here came the snow. Man was it cold. Me and a buddy planning strategeries and plotting revenge at the shoot house. But mostly just walking around, trying not to freeze to death.

By this point it had been snowing all day and I was mostly trying to avoid becoming a sequel in The Zombie Snowman Story: Part VII, The Freezening.

We were laughing here because the 870 had pretty much become a lump of inert metal and wood by this point. Laughing at me and not with me you understand. And I've completely lost track of which stage this was. 7 (below) I believe.

Last stage of the day. I'd just run through The Obstacle Course, differentiated from all the no capitol letter obstacle courses only in length and amount of snow accumulated on clothing. I had also switched to the 3x9 for the rifle somewhere along the line. Stuff got a little hazy there for a while. Cannibalism was discussed. I'll say no more.

Last shot on the last stage of the day (9 if my math is correct and it probably isn't). Note the empty holster and ear muffs. I started out wearing plugs but as the temps dipped so did my desire for a proper cheek weld. I wore the muffs for about a week afterward. In fact, I think I still have them on. I have no idea where the Sig went. Lu handed it back to me afterward so I'm assuming everything is cool.

Yes, the suckage was strong with me that weekend. Still, it could have been worse. I don't know how exactly but I am assured by Top Men that is could have and who am I to argue? A guy with a frozen 870 and a 101st place finish, that's who.

Video tomorrow if I can figure out how to post them.

Oh DO...... Have I got a job for you!


16 December 2013

Moving On - A Review Of My First 3 Gun Match

I seriously questioned whether or not to shut this place down. I decided not to, for two reasons. First. I'm positive Sarge wouldn't have wanted me to. He loved this place and all of you. Second. Your outpouring of love and support reminds me of why I do this in the first place. Because I have grown so fond of each and every one of you who visits and comments and just generally engages me in the bonds of friendship. I'd miss you badly. I will abandon neither my friends nor my responsibilities.

So. It's time to move on and see what comes next. We'll grieve for and miss Sarge all our lives but our lives will go on. Sarge would want it that way. In that spirit, and because Sarge was intensely interested in this competition and how I was going to do, here's my after action on the Hard as Hell 3 Gun competition from last weekend. This will be in three parts; write up, pictures and video (if I can get them to download). As you read this please bear in mind that this was my first ever 3 Gun and only second match of any kind.

My thanks go out to the folks at Southern Utah Practical Shooters range for their tireless work on this match. Especially Ken. It was pretty dang awesome and you should be proud. It was challenging, interesting and cold! But it was never boring or routine. If anyone reading this wants a 3 Gun match unlike anything you've ever shot before, drop me a line and we'll talk. Everyone should shoot this thing at least once. It was combo mud run and 3 Gun torture. Talk about a good time.I urge you to give it a try next year.

I know you all want to know where I placed and whether or not I even finished. Well, thanks to the Match Director (a really good guy) who insisted that I had a good excuse for missing the last stage I was an official finisher. I finished 101st out of 107 (83rd out of 88 in the Tactical Division) due to missing the points from that last stage but I'm absolutely Ok with that. I was where I needed to be and screw the last stage. I'll get the chance to run it later just to say I did but finishing was always the goal and I at least met that. I'm confident I would have done no better than in the mid to late 80s (mid 70s in TD) even if I had aced the last stage anyway. And I wouldn't have.

What went wrong.
 I hate to say this but the the single biggest issue was with the shotgun. I ran my ancient Remington 870. The first day I was slow but it at least ran. By day 2 it flat up and quit on me. First was feed issues then it wouldn't fire the shell in the chamber. I must have put a hundred unfired rounds into the snow. I still don't know why but I do have a theory. Cold combined with the age of the gun. I bought this shotgun from the PD more than 20 years ago when they upgraded to new shotties for the patrol cars. And it was old and worn then. Since buying it I haven't replaced a thing on it. Nothing except maintenance and occasionally taking it out for a few rounds. When the temp dropped all those excessively worn parts quit moving the way thy were supposed to. Combine all that with Break Free lube that I suspect was starting to gum up in the sub zero temps and you have what happened to me; a malfunctioning shotgun and an angry shooter. That wasn't the sum total of what went wrong in shotgun though. A good bit of it was poor preparation, or rather over confidence on the part of yours truly. I thought I had this part nailed so I did minimal prep work going in. I was soooo wrong. My shell caddy on my belt was an overwhelmingly bad choice, limiting me on reloads and dragging the whole mess out to where I wasn't losing seconds, I was losing minutes. The side saddle on the shotgun lost 5 of 6 screws and ended up flopping about on one stage like a fish out of water. When the 870 quit I had no backup plan.

The AR was Ok but not ideal. I ran a 16 inch A2 carbine with a 3x9 optic. I also hauled along my other 16 inch A1 carbine with an Aimpoint red dot. The red dot was no bueno. It tended to wash out in harsh light (as from sunlight bouncing off of a blanket of white snow) leaving me shooting irons a lot. The 3x9 actually worked pretty well and I ended up using it exclusively as soon as I figured out that the Aimpoint wasn't the hot setup. The problem is with the magnification on the bottom end. Long shots were easy peasy but close in stuff was iffy at 3 power. A 1x4 or 1x6 is indicated.

I need more magazine capacity in my pistol. I shot the Sig P226 in 9mm with three 15 round mags. Believe it or not but I shot it dry once and nearly so a few other times. And I was shooting pistol really, really well. The stages were that long and involved.

My belt was an abject failure. I ran flap mag pouches, a shotgun pouch with snap closure and a thumb break holster, owing to the nature of the match and course. I had consistent reloading issues with all my magazines, rifle and pistol. I don't even want to talk about the shotgun reloading fiasco. Race stuff that is adjustable for retention would have been immensely better. I could have switched mid match but I was determined to run what I brung. The only problem being that what I brung was a load of crap.

I was slow. A lot of that was because I was just...slow. But some of it was equipment issues. Watching the videos has been eye opening but it's also given me a wealth of information on what and how to improve and get faster.

I got some good advice (from a lot of you) and I ignored it. Shame on me.

First the 870 got retired immediately. I'll go completely through it and replace everything that I should have years ago but I've lost confidence in this particular gun so a safe queen it becomes. The good news is that I have a brand new, unfired 870 in the gun safe so with a few quick modifications I'll have a closet gun for the bedroom that I will trust. It's not the platform, it was that particular gun. No hate mail please.

A new 3 Gun specific shotgun. Pumps are out and a semi is in. Probably this one with the 24 inch barrel. Though I am looking at others. A better shotgun loading system. Something like this and this (in 4x4). Reaching into a pouch and taking them out on a catch as catch can basis just doesn't work. Trust me on this.

A new 3 Gun specific rifle (or more probably upper). This one is on my short list. I'll combine that with a more sensible optic choice. This one is in my price range.

A couple of more mags for the Sig. They also make 20 rounders and some 2 and 3 round mag extensions. I'm also going to be sending it to Bruce Gray at GrayGuns for some competition specific work. This has become a race only gun so carry condition is a non issue.

A better belt set up with race mag carriers and shotgun loaders.

Practice, practice, practice. I need to move faster and shoot faster. I have to cut down on the time I spend transitioning between targets and stages. That's unproductive time where all you're accumulating is lost seconds (or minutes!) and zero points.

What went right.
A lot actually. My fitness was good so the physical challenges were right in my wheelhouse. I was able to run with the big dogs, even those a few decades younger than me. Well, mostly. That felt really good.

My clothing and shoes were perfect choices. Layered blends of synthetics and cottons and Brooks Cascadias. I remained dry and warm through out, even in sub zero temps and 8 inches of snow. Though I will be researching cold weather shooting gloves. Just in case.

The Sig ran flawlessly the whole match. The one gun I could count on every time. I also shot it extremely well, so much so that on any stage that had a target where pistol was an option I shot it with my pistol. I was banging the 60 yard gongs first shot every shot. One of the reasons I was routinely shot out on my mags and consistently reloaded from a locked back slide. I was coaxing those babies out. "Come on sweetheart, just 2 more shots. Please!"

My rifle was acceptable. I'm going to upgrade the equipment but my shooting was decent. Likewise shotgun actually. In spite of the gun and equipment problems I probably only missed 1 or 2 shotgun targets all weekend.

All in all I was pleased with how I physically shot the match. I need to get faster but the accuracy is there.

Lu. She was a rock. She was my range monkey and cheerleader all weekend. She was also the primary target taper and stage re-setter for the whole squad. I highly recommend her if you can find one. Mine is taken.

Bottom Line.
I was epically challenged and I had a blast. Plus I really learned a lot. Sometimes you just have to get out there and take a swing at something. It's definitely no fun to time out on a stage, let alone 3 like I did. It costs points, standing and is frustrating as all get out but sometimes you just gotta take your medicine. The physical challenges were quite fun. We did obstacle courses mid stage with all kinds of platforms, walls, runs, drags, challenging shooting positions and most anything else you could think of. On the stages where things worked and I shot well I had a really good time. Makes me think that the trick is to make sure I'm better prepared next time. I imagine the fun factor goes up with one's score. Not that I'd know.

The end of the match for me was about the worse thing one could have imagined. That really sucked the joy straight out of the whole thing and I'm not letting it color my impressions. Ken went a long way to alleviating that when he refused to DQ me for missing a stage. Thanks again Ken. That said I will be back next year. In fact...

I'm dedicating my 2014 shooting season to Sarge. Barring injury or catastrophe I will be shooting more next year than I ever have before. I will be competing as often as I can, time, ammo and funds allowing. My range is hosting a bunch of new Multi (rifle and pistol) and 3 Gun matches next year as well as the usual USPSA pistol matches and I intend to be there. I'll be upgrading my shooting bag with a lot of new and cool stuff. Well, to me anyway. I'll be putting in orders of magnitude more trigger time and improving my fitness to the extent I am able. All this will culminate next December at Hard as Hell 2014. I'm also going to be blogging about all of this so if gun stuff, epic failures and match reports turn your crank we should have a lot of fun together. And if you're visiting or live in the area come on out and shoot with me.

If you go to the Hard as Hell Facebook link you'll see these wonderful words from Ken Nelson;

"You can't test courage cautiously."

So I won't. That will be my motto for the new year. And I'll be bringing Sarge along for the ride. Every step of the way. My guardian angel.

Hard as Hell 2014. Top half finish. Mark it down.


14 December 2013

An Ode To My Father In Law, Sarge

This is the speech I gave at his services today. I called him Pop out of love and respect.

We come together today to say goodbye to a beloved man and a true American hero.  We are sad and tears are not always a bad thing. We cry and grieve because we miss him. He leaves such a huge hole in all our hearts. How can it be otherwise? Tears are surely a gift from a compassionate and loving God to wash away our pain.

But we also come together today to celebrate a life well lived. A race run and won. There an old meme stating that we all want to finish the race sliding home, on our last legs, battered and bruised but unbowed, with a smile on our faces and “Man, what a ride” on our lips. Pop did that. He ran his race and he won. He made the finish line and he died as he lived, on his own terms. 

What is the measure of a Man? Pop was a soldier and a cop. He worked hard for all he accomplished and wore his badges with pride and gratitude. He was a father, son, brother, grandpa, friend and comrade in arms. He was a true warrior but he was also an amazingly gentle soul with a font of innate wisdom ever ready to be called forth when the circumstances required. He answered every call, whether from his country, family or friends. He never refused, never surrendered, never gave up, never quit fighting the good fight. There wasn’t an ounce of backup in the man. No better friend, no more fearsome foe to the enemies of all he held dear. He loved every one of us, whether by blood, marriage or simply choice. He had love enough in his heart for all. That was Pop.

Pop was never broken by the vicissitudes of life. No man is perfect and Pop was no different but he never stopped striving for that perfection. He never gave in to despair. He took life’s punches, rose to his feet time after time and got right back into the ring. He always did the best he could with whatever he had and asked for neither pity nor sympathy. Pop made his own way in the world. 

What is the measure of a man? Poets and philosophers have tried to define it for centuries but the truth is that we each define it. For ourselves and those who love us. Each and every day. Duty, honor, pride, integrity, courage. Pop had them all in spades. Soldier, cop, warrior. Pop lived those things all his life but they didn’t define him. They weren’t the sum total of who he was, just a part. He was loyal and fair and generous. His family and friends were so important to him. He always had a kind word or a bit of advice for anyone in need. He took the wayward feet of a fatherless boy and set him on the road to manhood. That boy was me. That was Pop.

Pop loved his veteran brothers and sisters as he did anyone who ever put on the police uniform. He was always ready to help in any way he could. I sent more than one hurting veteran to him because I knew he cared and was ever ready with words of comfort and wisdom. Pop was a rock who brought order and stability out of chaos and despair. He was ever calm, even in the face of the unimaginable. If you could put a face to command presence, a voice to certainty, a form to comfort they would belong to him.

Yes, tears are appropriate today, even necessary. We must grieve, we who are left behind as he forges the path ahead of us once again. But so is a laugh and a smile at a remembered story or joke. Pop would be the first to tell one today. Something about baldness no doubt.

Yes, he has now laid down his burden but his legacy lives on. The faces in this room attest to that. He is gone but he died a free man, one who loved greatly and was in return greatly loved by those of us lucky enough to have had him in our lives. What more could one ask?

So, what is the measure of a man? One need look no further than the life of Michael Stephen Gale for your answer. Jennifer reminded me yesterday that if you know a man’s character you know that man. Never were truer words spoken than this. Pop was a good man. 

Cop, soldier, warrior. A true and good man to the day he died. I can think of no finer or deserving epitaph. 

From "An Ode To A Fallen Officer"
I seem gone from you now, but I know that somehow
We will reunite in another place.
For “The good they die young,” is a song often sung,
But this verse is flawed on its face.
You see the good don’t die young, but instead they live on,
In memories, and many a heart.
The good that you do does not die when you do.
For the good, death’s not an end, but a start.

So we say goodbye to a father, son, brother, grandpa, friend and comrade. Goodbye my brother, my friend, my father in truth and spirit. We will always miss you. You did good Pop. You did good.

“May the road rise up to meet you.  May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”  


08 December 2013

RIP Sarge (Updated)

This is one of the hardest posts I've ever done.

This morning Lu's father, our own beloved Sarge, passed away.

I'll have some thoughts and things to say a little later but for this week I'm going to maintain a silent blog in respect for a man we all loved so very dearly. He leaves a gigantic hole in all our hearts. Another warrior and good man is gone and our lives are sadder and drearier. I'm sorry. I am undone.

Goodbye my father in spirit. May you soar on the wings of angels. We miss you so very badly.


Thank you all for your words of sympathy and love. Lu has read each of them and has been moved and touched by them all.

Viewing tonight with the services and interment  tomorrow.

Sarge's Obit. He was the real deal.

Please pray for Lu and her Mom. I don't know how they're going to get through this.

07 December 2013

Quick 3 Gun Update

I'll have a better post up in a few days but here's a photo of what we faced today.

Yep. It snowed all day. There was still some leftover from a snowstorm a week ago so Friday was very muddy. Today we fought and shot in a pretty good snow fall all day. It was a very long day. We ended up with about 6 inches or so. The forecast for tomorrow is clear and cold and the last stage is estimated at 12 minutes. Yikes.

The Sig 226 has run perfectly, the AR almost as good. The 870 failed badly. I'll talk more about that later.

4 stages Friday, 4 more today and 2 to finish up tomorrow. Lu took lots pf pics and a few videos. I'm going to place very near the bottom but not last. Provided I don't commit an epic pooch screw on the last 2 stages. I'll have some thoughts on what worked and what didn't. The didn't list will be a long one. So far I've timed out on 3 stages out of 8. Not good.


02 December 2013

Light Posting This Week

With the bedroom remodel wrapped up it's time for me to turn my attention to an upcoming event. The Hard As Hell 3 Gun Shoot. It starts Friday and runs through Sunday with a Team night shoot on Saturday. I'm on Team 3 Gun Challenged with mt friend and coach.

We met today and worked on some stuff. Mostly getting zeroed in on the long stage, trying out some of the obstacles and squaring away our gear. This is a different kind of 3 Gun match. The emphasis is on challenging and difficult obstacle strewn stages. I'm running a thumb break holster and flap mag pouches because the last thing I want to see is my handgun rolling across the stage sans attached hand. It'll also be cold so layering is definitely indicated.

Lu has agreed to be my gear monkey. She'll be toting range bags, excess ammo and whatever firearm(s) I'm not actively shooting. I'm bringing 4, red dot AR, scoped AR, 870 shotgun and a Sig P226. With mags, on board ammunition and miscellaneous stuff I figure I'll be weighing in somewhere around fully grown gorilla. She'll also be responsible for feeding me and making sure I hydrate. I tend to forget those little things in the heat of competition and bonking is a very real likelihood here.

We'll take lots of photos and maybe even a video or two. If I don't suck too badly. Like always, if things go south I'll delete this post and swear such a thing never, ever happened. For today I'll be moving a few things on the bat belt and working over the guns to make sure they at least will run reasonably well. Friday morning it will be time to jump straight into the fire.

Pray for me, this could get ugly.


01 December 2013

Sunday Kipling

It's Sunday. Did you know it was Sunday? 'Cause I didn't know it was Sunday. For some reason I've been a day behind since Thanksgiving. In spite of watching college football yesterday and pro today. In spite of meeting Lu's nephew and his son for our regular Saturday morning shoot yesterday.

That's what age and frequent head injuries are good for.




(Northern India Transport Train)

Wot makes the soldier's 'eart to penk, 
wot makes 'im to perspire?
It isn't standin' up to charge nor lyin' down to fire;
But it's everlastin' waitin' on a everlastin' road
For the commissariat camel an' 'is commissariat load.
O the oont*, O the oont, O the commissariat oont!
With 'is silly neck a-bobbin' like a basket full o' snakes;
We packs 'im like an idol, an' you ought to 'ear 'im grunt,
An' when we gets 'im loaded up 'is blessed girth-rope breaks.
Wot makes the rear-guard swear so 'ard 
when night is drorin' in,
An' every native follower is shiverin' for 'is skin?
It ain't the chanst o' being rushed 
by Paythans from the 'ills,
It's the commissariat camel puttin' on 'is bloomin' frills!
O the oont, O the oont, O the hairy scary oont!
A-trippin' over tent-ropes when we've got the night alarm!
We socks 'im with a stretcher-pole 
an' 'eads 'im off in front,
An' when we've saved 'is bloomin' life 
'e chaws our bloomin' arm.
The 'orse 'e knows above a bit, the bullock's but a fool,
The elephant's a gentleman, the battery-mule's a mule;
But the commissariat cam-u-el, when all is said an' done,
'E's a devil an' a ostrich an' a orphan-child in one.
O the oont, O the oont, O the Gawd-forsaken oont!
The lumpy-'umpy 'ummin'-bird a-singin' where 'e lies,
'E's blocked the whole division 
from the rear-guard to the front,
An' when we get him up again -- the beggar goes an' dies!
'E'll gall an' chafe an' lame an' fight 
'e smells most awful vile;
'E'll lose 'isself for ever if you let 'im stray a mile;
'E's game to graze the 'ole day long 
an' 'owl the 'ole night through,
An' when 'e comes to greasy ground 'e splits 'isself in two.
O the oont, O the oont, O the floppin', droppin' oont!
When 'is long legs give from under an' 'is meltin' eye is dim,
The tribes is up be'ind us, and the tribes is out in front --
It ain't no jam for Tommy, but it's kites an' crows for 'im.
So when the cruel march is done, an' when the roads is blind,
An' when we sees the camp in front an' 'ears the shots be'ind,
Ho! then we strips 'is saddle off, and all 'is woes is past:
'E thinks on us that used 'im so, and gets revenge at last.
O the oont, O the oont, O the floatin', bloatin' oont!
The late lamented camel in the water-cut 'e lies;
We keeps a mile be'ind 'im an' we keeps a mile in front,
But 'e gets into the drinkin'-casks, 
and then o' course we dies.