From the Editor – January/February 2017

As a crime was unfolding at Ohio State University in late November, an “active shooter” alert went out to students.

There was plenty of reason for the alert as a student plowed his car into groups of students and then emerged from his vehicle wielding what has been described as a “butcher’s knife,” slashing at anyone he came in contact with. There were eleven injuries reported, several serious. The alert told students and faculty to “run, hide, fight.”

The criminal was killed by a campus police officer on duty nearby after he failed to heed an order to stop.

When I googled the incident to be sure of some details, I began typing “Ohio State…” and the search engine supplied the word “shooting.” The news media, as the event was unfolding, broke in with “Breaking News” icons touting the “active shooter” incident.

Now, the only shooter in this incident was the armed police officer. That’s interesting in itself, because at many colleges and universities the police officers are unarmed, or at least armed only with non-lethal tools such as pepper sprays and batons.

I don’t blame the media as the incident was unfolding for using the term “active shooter” and I don’t even blame them for conflating an “active shooter” report into headlines or chryons that reported the incident originally as a “shooting.”

Although professionals may understand that the term “active shooter” can denote more than just someone shooting at people, we have become so accustomed to language like that and terms like “gun violence” that the shorthand loses it meaning to most people, or worse, perverts it.

However, as soon as media learned the facts of the case—that the criminal was armed only with a car, a knife and murderous desire, they should have corrected it and said something like, “We used the term ‘active shooter incident’ because that is the language in the alert sent by the school. But we have now learned that the perpetrator was not armed with a gun, but rather used a car and a knife. The incident was concluded when a campus officer shot and killed the rampager after he ignored an order to stop.”

But even a day or two after the incident, the media was still using the term “shooter” to describe the criminal. That’s bad reporting, plain and simple.

Any number of anti-gun activists, including legislators like Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) could maybe even be forgiven for tweeting or issuingstatements calling for more gun control as the incident was unfolding. (I think, of course, that you should be in possession of more than just a headline before you comment, but that’s another matter.)

But they all should take to their Twitter accounts, blogs and press releases and retract, perhaps after sober reflection of how quickly the incident was ended (under two minutes) by an armed “good guy.”

If this led to a discussion of who are “good guys” and who aren’t, so much the better. The debate about civilian gun possession on campus has been going on for some years, now, and maybe the many media outlets that covered the story should have gone to any number of Campus Carry advocates for comment.

It would have been helpful, too, to hear about the order to “run, hide, fight” that was issued by the school.

Anyone who has done her due diligence in becoming a gunowner has been taught that the first tactic is to get as far away as you can as quickly as you can (“run”). We’re also taught that there is no shame and a good deal of wisdom in hiding if that is possible (“hide”). As to “fight,” well, we are taught that, too. The order of the commands is in keeping with even the most rudimentary self-defense curriculum, even those that don’t involve firearms.

But it would be interesting to hear what students think the “fight” command means, and if they are taught any techniques to aid in the fight.

These types of incidents are statistically rare, but they do happen.

And it seems to me that more than delving into motives (except as they pertain to avoiding future incidents or prosecuting those that do happen) is fairly useless, and even dangerous, if they give the impression that learning the motive in one incident can prevent another.

What does seem useful is fully reporting the facts.

Even more useful? Teaching everyone how to deal with them.

 

Peggy Signature

Peggy Tartaro, Executive Editor

 

New Handguns Coming at 2017 SHOT Show January/February 2017

By Dave Workman,
Contributing Editor

The annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show is the world’s largest exhibition of firearms, ammunition and accessories that unfolds every January in Las Vegas, attracting tens of thousands of industry professionals, including manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers.

This is a monstrous show, held on two levels of the Sands Convention Center. It is not open to the general public, but rest assured, the public will be learning of new products throughout the four days of the show, and for weeks and months afterward.

As in years past, W&G is offering a preview of many new products, including some that were introduced late in 2016 that will be officially unveiled in Las Vegas.

Naturally, handguns grab a large share of attention, and this year should be no different.

For example, there are several new handguns on the market, including some that will genuinely raise eyebrows and expectations.

Colt Competition Stainless available in .45 ACP, 9mm and .38 Super.

Colt Competition Stainless available in .45 ACP, 9mm and .38 Super.

Colt has a brand new version of its popular Competition Pistol, chambered for the venerable .38 Super. This model joins pistols chambered in .45 ACP and 9mm, with the same features including a Dual Spring Recoil System, Novak patent-pending adjustable rear sights and fiber optic front sights, an undercut trigger guard and upswept beavertail grip safety with memory bump.

Colt also fits this pistol with a National Match barrel, and the handgun wears a handsome blue finish, and blue/black laminated grip panels.

Browning’s new Black Label 1911-380 Medallion pro model will be offered in full size and compact versions this year.

Browning Black Label 1911 .22.

Browning Black Label 1911 .22.

The pistol has a matte black finish frame, blackened stainless steel finish with silver brush polished flats on both sides of the slide, and the grips are checkered Rosewood with the gold Buck Mark emblem. The pistol comes with two magazines. The full-size gun has a 4¼-inch barrel and the compact version has a 3-5/8-inch barrel.

Another new Browning entry is the Black Label 1911-22LR Gray full size and compact, chambered for .22 Long Rifle cartridge. This one features a rail for 2017. The slide is machined aluminum that has a gray anodized finish.

Browning’s Buck Mark Field Target suppressor-ready model in .22 Long Rifle features a 5½-inch round barrel with a matte blue finish. This barrel is threaded for a suppressor, and comes with a thread protector ring. It also has an integral scope base with Pro-Target rear sight and front blade sight. Grips are made from laminated Cocobolo.

A second new Buck Mark is the Lite Flute UFX model. It has a 5½-inch steel barrel with fluted alloy sleeve and a matte blue finish. It has a Pro-Target rear sight with a TRUGLO Marble Arms fiber optic front sight, and Ultragrip FX ambidextrous grips.

New RugerTurnbull MKIV .22 with Turnbull color case hardening.

New RugerTurnbull MKIV .22 with Turnbull color case hardening.

The three latest entries from Sturm, Ruger include the Mark IV .22-caliber semi-auto, the latest incarnation of the original handgun that launched Sturm, Ruger back in 1949. This one is available in either the Target or Hunter models, and it takes down with the press of a single button on the rear of the frame. The Target model has a 5.5-inch bull barrel, adjustable rear sight, blade front sight, one-piece precision CNC-machined grip frame, bolt stop, ambidextrous thumb safety and checkered grips. It is available in blue or stainless finish. (I was so impressed with

The Hunter model has the same features but with a 6.88-inch fluted bull barrel with fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear. It has a stainless finish and checkered grip panels.

Ruger’s LCP II is chambered in .380 ACP, with a steel slide and one-piece glass-filled nylon grip frame. It has a blue alloy steel barrel, 6-round magazine, fixed front and rear sights and the hammer is recessed within the slide.

Lastly, Ruger’s American Pistol family expands with a new version in .45 ACP and six new variations in 9mm. It has a low bore axis and Novak LoMount Carry three-dot sights, ambidextrous safety, automatic sear block, modular wraparound grip system that allows adjustment for palm swell and trigger reach, two nickel-Teflon plated steel magazines and an accessory rail.

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Inland Liberator .45ACP Derringer.

Inland Manufacturing has announced a new Inland Liberator Derringer pistol in .45 ACP. This two-shot handgun is made from stainless steel with a bead blasted anti-glare finish. Weighing 18 ounces, wood grips and sized for pocket carry.

New from EMF for the cowboy crowd is the Great Western II DLX Alchimista III, a two-tone single-action sixgun that is simply eye-catching. It features an 1873 barrel, cylinder and mainframe paired with an 1860 Army grip frame. It also has a competition, trigger, octagonal barrel and the revolver has engraving in old silver and blue. It has a blued barrel, cylinder, hammer, trigger and grip frame and matte stainless finish on the main frame. This revolver is made by Pietta in Brescia, Italy.

Two new handgun models are being introduced by Iver Johnson, one built on the Model 1911 platform and the other a four-barrel derringer. The Iver Johnson 1911A1 Chrome is chambered in either .45 ACP or .38 Super, both ideal for competitive handgunners. This pistol has a chrome finish and black Dymondwood or black pearl grips, dovetailed front sight and standard GI-type rear sight, standard hammer and grip safety.

Iver Johnson’s Pocket Ace derringer is chambered in .22 Long Rifle. Made from 17-4 PH stainless steel, it has a rotating firing pin that allows each barrel to be fired separately. The small pistol features an integrated, ambidextrous safety/takedown lever. Barrels are 2 inches long and the skeleton hammer is large enough to be easily cocked for each successive shot. It has wood grip panels.

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Smith&Wesson .22 Victory.

Details for all the new Smith & Wesson handguns which will be introduced in January were not available as we went to press. However, late in 2016, S&W Introduced a new competition .22 LR rimfire called the Victory which should attract attention at the SHOT Show. The new SW22 Victory® is constructed on a single-action, enclosed hammer-fired, blowback semi-automatic design. It comes highly featured with innovative design qualities that include a match-grade, interchangeable barrel for superb accuracy on the range or in the field along with a simple one-screw takedown design. It featues a removable interchangeable threaded barrel.

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Sig Sauer1911 BB-gun

Sig Sauer has a new airgun modeled after the 1911 Max centerfire pistol, making it a great training and practice aid. It’s a CO2 powered  model with a 16-round magazine and fires .177-caliber BBs up to 410 fps. It has a full metal slide and frame, blowback action, a cam lever CO2 loading port and the same controls as a 1911 Max firearm.

Late in 2016, Walther announced the Creed semi-auto, a 9mm pistol that features what they call a “pre-cocked double-action trigger system” and a bobbed hammer. Metal surfaces are coated with Tenifer that produces a matte black finish. The pistol has a low profile three-dot sight system, front and rear cocking serrations, 4-inch barrel, loaded chamber viewport, 6.5-pound trigger pull, molded accessory rail, and either a 10- or 16-round magazine.

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Walther Creed.

By now, the new Galil ACE pistol should be available on dealer shelves. Imported by IWI US, a subsidiary of Israel Weapon Industries, the new pistol is chambered for the 7.62x39mm cartridge. The Galil ACE SB model features a folding stabilizing brace that folds to the side, but the pistol may be fired with or without the brace. It also boasts a left-size charging handle, full-length Picatinny top rail, fully adjustable metallic sights with a Tritium front post and two-dot Tritium rear aperture.

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Galil GAP39-II.

Uberti will debut a new .44-caliber percussion revolver patterned after the 1858 Remington, and they’re calling it the New Army Buffalo Bill Commemorative black powder model. It’s a replica of the sixgun Bill Cody carried during his hunting and scouting days. It features floral engraving on all external components, and gold inlay on either side of the barrel that features Cody’s name and dates.

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Uberti’s New Army Buffalo Bill Commemorative.

 

Gunsite: 40 Years Strong January/February 2017

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Marty and Gila Hayes shoot side by side in rollover prone at 35 yards as part of the school drills for the 350 class at Gunsite. (Photos by Tom Walls.

By Diane Walls,
Contributing Editor

As referenced in my article reviewing the Nighthawk Ladyhawk, 2016 is the year that my husband, Tom, and I made acquaintance with one of the most renowned firearms training facilities in the world. It also happened to be Gunsite’s 40th anniversary. Celebration was in the air and with good reason. Since Col. Jeff Cooper opened the school in 1976, a great many of the shooting community’s shining stars have trained there as well as thousands of military and law enforcement personnel and ordinary citizens interested in developing their skills with all types of small arms.

Our experience began with Gunsite 250, held April 25 through April 29. Our rangemaster was Charlie McNeese. He was ably assisted by Ted Ajax, Chris Edwards, and Allen Hall. Though we had started our plans to include friends to keep us company, health and scheduling problems left the two of us on our own. As is the case with training classes, we soon had friends to share the experience with.

The 250 is Gunsite’s introductory pistol class and a full five days of their introduction into gun handling and marksmanship skills. Gunsite philosophy is to teach students how to fight with a gun. Learning speed and accuracy is paramount. Work is done from the open holster without concealment garments. It is the student’s responsibility to keep their gun fully loaded and ready to go at all times. The tactical reload was taught as one of the first skills along with the mantra:

“How many rounds in your gun?” The answer to which should be an emphatic: “Not enough!”

After every string of fire, we were taught to top off the gun with a tactical reload and scan the target area completely before returning it to the holster. Everyone soon learned the advantage to having a pocket full of loose rounds to refill magazines while watching the other relay do the drill just completed or while listening to the briefing on what was coming up next.

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Rangemaster Charlie McNeese controls a student’s hands to demonstrate that smooth trigger press is more important to accuracy than how much the gun moves around in your field of view. The student pressed smoothly in spite of his hands being moved around and got better hits, proving the point.

Breaks were regular so we could get more ammo and drink water. Hydration is crucial in the desert climate and every student is issued a water bottle as they arrive with a name tag to put on it. Big water jugs were kept ready at the ranges for the students to fill their bottles as often as they needed. Electrolyte powder was also available to mix in every now and then to replace those lost to sweat. Nearby restroom facilities were available and everyone was advised to put their hat or earmuffs on the doorknob for privacy and close the door after themselves when leaving so none of the local wildlife, such as rattlesnakes or javalinas, would get in looking for water and be a nasty surprise for the next person to use the facility.

Once a skill was introduced and practiced and coaching was given, we were introduced to the hydraulic turning target system. This turns all or some of the targets edge-on for no shoot and fully facing for the signal to draw and fire. Time intervals for exposure were controlled by an instructor with a signaling device that activated the turning system. Quite ingenious! We all worked to get our shots onto the targets, into the hit boxes, in the time allotted for the distance and string of fire set out in the Gunsite qualification course known as “school drills.” Times get shorter and distances greater in more advanced classes and more movement and positional shooting is added as well.

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Gila Hayes (left) and the author, sisters in arms, prepare for Gunsite 350.

Gunsite 250 introduces the students to the simulators, indoor shoot houses that are live fire with frangible ammunition shooting at human image targets that may or may not be threats or “dongas,” also with frangible, that involve sneaking through arroyos looking for steel targets that represent threats or no shoots while using natural geography for cover and concealment. Instructors would give each student a situation that they needed to address and coach them as they worked their way through the house or donga and solved problems as they arose. This was very educational and a whole lot of fun.

One evening was reserved for some low light work. 250’s task was to learn techniques to shoot with flashlights in one hand and your gun in the other in a safe way that allowed you to identify targets in the dark before addressing them. This is done with an eye toward more advanced training where searching with flashlights in low light while on the move is the goal.

Every part of the 250 curriculum is designed to encourage those training to continue to advance, at Gunsite with more advanced classes or elsewhere. They take their mission of teaching people how to defend themselves with a gun seriously. They also make the experience supportive and enjoyable so students want to do just that.

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Gunsite 350 students listen to a briefing. The class was half women!

As Gunsite Chief Operating Officer Ken Campbell graduated us, he anointed our class part of the Gunsite family. We were invited to visit The Sconce, Col. Jeff Cooper’s and his wife Janelle’s home and meet Mrs. Cooper in person. We felt honored and eagerly accepted. Mrs. Cooper welcomed us graciously and gave us a guided tour of their home. She shared her late husband’s vision and inspiration around the school and the construction of his private fortress. We were treated to iced tea and lemonade and homemade brownies. What a treat to visit with the Countess Emeritus and hear some of the history of their remarkable family and school!

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Instructor Jay Tuttle demonstrates high kneeling position with a replica gun while Instructor Walt Wilkerson explains.

We headed back home enthused and committed to training for our next class, Gunsite 350, to be held September 26 through 30, followed by the 40th Anniversary Gunsite Alumni Shoot (GAS) held October 1. This time, we did get together a cadre of friends from Firearms Academy of Seattle (FAS), including owner and Director Marty Hayes, his wife and business partner Gila Hayes, and longtime FAS instructor Rick Bressler. All of us were recent 250 graduates and, in the interval between Spring and Autumn, Gunsite COO Ken Campbell had come to FAS to offer a Gunsite 150 class and establish a new Washington State site to hold their off-campus classes. More Gunsite classes will be offered in 2017 at FAS for those in the West Coast region or wishing to visit the beautiful Pacific Northwest for a taste of Gunsite.

We walked into our classroom in September to find a 350 class that was half women. Our rangemaster this time was Bob Whaley. He was assisted by John Hall, Jay Tuttle, Ken Tuttle and Walter Wilkinson. These gentlemen were all highly skilled with impressive resumes. John Hall’s wife Robin and daughter Julia were among the women taking class with us. All the women in class were there to learn and did well. We ladies were all excited to be sharing our experience with each other.

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Gunsite 350 is about adding movement. We traversed both left to right and right to left while shooting steel targets.

Gunsite 350, intermediate pistol, consists of the basic skills introduced in 250 done more quickly and with the addition of movement out to 35 yards on the static range and further on the simulator exercises. We shot from kneeling, prone and seated positions, shot on the move laterally, forward and reverse. We were introduced to moving targets and shooting one handed with both dominant and non-dominant hands. We also got the Gunsite take on drawing from concealment.

Low light simulators used flashlights in outdoor and indoor scenarios to learn to identify threats and address them. Gunsite runs their night simulators in the evenings, making for a long day of work on your relay’s assigned night. They close the day class promptly to give the students and staff a good dinner break and some rest before getting down to work in the dark. This was my first introduction to navigating natural terrain with a flashlight and a gun, looking for threats. A challenging endeavor, it gave me an even deeper appreciation for those who choose to take on these tasks professionally and a resolve to stay ensconced in my house and let trouble come to me if I have any choice in the matter. Nevertheless, I’m grateful to have some experience in my store of knowledge to build upon and have just in case the time should come that I need it.

Daylight simulators encouraged searching and finding threats both indoors and outdoors out to the limits of terrain and vision.

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Robin Hall (foreground) demonstrates some attitude while watching the author’s relay prepare to shoot some drills.

Outdoor targets were camouflage painted to encourage us to develop our ability to search and see. We also had a taste of force on force training with live actors and Simunitions.

Photography was not allowed in the simulators but these scenarios are the most valuable segments of the program, in my opinion, for developing mindset, target identification skills, use of cover and concealment as well as searching skills that maximize personal safety in a high-risk situation. Having the insights of professionals that have done the things we did in the mock exercises for real is invaluable as the staff guides you through your individual experience.

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The author gets ready to go full auto with a vintage WW1 era Browning watercooled machine gun.

We finished, as in 250, with timed school drills for score and a steel shoot-off against the others in our class for the top shot prize. This was the most fun, cheering on our friends and classmates and doing the best we could to knock our targets down first when our turn came around. One gentleman put us all to shame with his shooting and earned the top shot prize as well as the coveted gold raven and expert rating (the e-ticket). He was amazing!

After graduation, we were again invited to tour The Sconce with Mrs. Cooper and enjoy refreshments. The mood was celebratory for the 40th anniversary and Mrs. Cooper was in fine spirits. We had another lovely visit.

Following a brief interlude to return to our hotel and clean up, we returned to Gunsite for the pre-match barbecue dinner. Most of the parking lot had been turned into a covered al fresco dining area for the many alumni, staff and families that had gotten their reservations in to enjoy a delicious dinner and meet and mingle with those they would be partying with all day Saturday during the match. The celebration was just getting started.

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Mrs. Janelle Cooper tells students about how her husband designed and built The Sconce to be a fortified sanctuary for his family.

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Mother and daughter, Robin and Julia Hall, took Gunsite 350 together.

We said goodnight to our friends at the campground and went back to our room to get some sleep and arrive bright and early for the match.

Parking was provided at the Gunsite campground so we parked at the Hayes’ trailer and hopped on the haywagon for a ride up to the pavilion for the pre-match briefing. Ken Campbell greeted everyone with a hearty “Welcome all you deplorables!” We all roared a response as we proudly claimed the title.

There would be 10 match stages to finish throughout the day and numerous side matches for an additional fee. All fees collected would benefit the Jeff Cooper Legacy Foundation which sponsors training scholarships for deserving people that couldn’t otherwise afford to go to Gunsite. Manufacturers and collectors offered their guns for the attendees to try in side matches with shotguns, distance rifles, closer range guns and even a WW1 vintage Browning water-cooled machine gun. There would be a midday lunch break with barbecue provided. Everyone would return to the ranges after lunch to finish up their stages and any side matches they wanted. After the match, there would be brisket dinner and an auction as well as the awarding of prizes and more opportunity to buy gear and goodies to take home for souvenirs. Some of the prizes offered in those side matches were very tempting. Tom and I determined, though, that the Browning water-cooled would be our top priority.

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Some carry options for ladies offered in the Gunsite Pro Shop, a truly dangerous place to your wallet!

We formed a Pacific Northwestern squad with Marty, Gila, Rick and ourselves from FAS along with Tim Wegner and Brian Yip of Bladetech Holsters. We agreed on where to start and jumped on one of the shuttles to the many ranges. We all started with the Cooper Challenge, which was some of the basic school drills done at very short, expert time intervals. No one on our squad took home the commemorative 1911 pistol that was the prize for the winner, but we all did the best we could. Due to the long lines of eager competitors and side matches, our squad ended up going on different paths after a couple of stages. Tom and I went on together as Team Walls.

We found the Browning the first time and the gentleman in authentic WW1 uniform told us it needed some repair work and was closed so we would have to come back a little later. We did a few more stages and returned for our chance to contribute to the Jeff Cooper Foundation and send some rounds downrange in classic old school style on that Browning. We resolved to add it to our bucket list just so we could cross it off when we got home!

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This young lady gave the author hope for the future. Her proud papa gave permission to photograph her posing in her full range kit, showing perfect firing grip on her holstered gun. The youngsters enjoying the 40th Anniversary GAS with their families were well behaved, safe and having a great time.

Match stages at GAS involve employing skills learned at Gunsite, sometimes with your own gun and often with firearms provided by manufacturers invited to showcase their products to the competitors. The stages are designed to be challenging but fun for everyone. It was clear that a lot of planning and preparation on the part of everyone on staff at Gunsite had taken place to provide 40th Anniversary GAS run efficiently and safely while showing all shooters and their families with a good time.

There is a junior division open to responsible youngsters accompanied by their parents. The young people we met there were very safe and well behaved, giving those of us in the older generation hope for the future of gun rights and firearm sports in the USA. The kids were all enjoying the day and the chance to walk around with guns on their hips in an environment where such was not going to generate panic and was, in fact, expected. A nice prize would be awarded to the top junior shooter but all the young competitors were out for a family fun day.

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The author shoots the first of 3 steel targets from a seated position in the Dozier Drill.

Later in the day, we showed up at the steel bay adjacent to the Haneken Range where we had spent much of the previous week in class. The stage here was run by several gentlemen from Nighthawk Custom Firearms and involved battlefield pick-up exercises using the Korth .357 magnum revolver they partnered with the German company to market in the USA as well as one of their 1911 pistols in .45ACP and finished by your own gun. I was greeted with enthusiasm for sporting their Ladyhawk, by now showing the first stages of holster wear due to its busy year as my working and training gun. I was happy to share with them that their gun had performed flawlessly for me throughout and I found my investment to be well worth the coin. They were happy that one of their guns was getting lots of range time, as it was meant to.

It was getting on in the afternoon by the time we finished all 10 stages, so we retired to the pavilion to rest, refresh and have a last look at the souvenir goodies for something that appealed to us before dinner. We reserved a table for our friends and enjoyed the people watching until we were joined by our buddies, first from Bladetech and then FAS.

We tucked into a wonderful dinner followed by speakers from among the staff, current and retired and even words from a student from Col. Cooper’s first pistol class given at the facility. An auction of Gunsite memorabilia followed with proceeds to benefit the Jeff Cooper Legacy Foundation. Bidding for things such as old range signs, décor pieces and even an ancient, battered flashlight that had seen a lot of range time drew generous bids and raised a lot of money for a worthy cause. Ken Campbell is quite an auctioneer! Mrs. Cooper attended with some of her family and mingled with many happy and appreciative students from the 40-year span of the school.

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The author, on the left, shoots while advancing with a partner and coach.

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Rangemaster Charlie McNeese greets Mrs. Cooper, the much treasured Countess Emeritus of Gunsite, as she mingles with the students, past and present, that came to Gunsite’s celebration.

At last, it was time for the awarding of prizes. The match results were already out and circulating and we had a copy to find where we stood in the rankings. Though none of us won one of the big firearm prizes, we all took home something from the prize tables. All the competitors that finished the match were given a swag bag with anniversary commemorative DVDs and book, a nice T-shirt and other goodies. Gunsite had pulled out all the stops to throw a generous party for their Raven Family that was appreciated by everyone. We left for the night happily spent and wishing we didn’t have to go back to the real world. Gunsite is truly like Disneyland for firearms enthusiasts on the serious mission of learning vital defensive skills and passing these skills on to others. An entire week spent where everyone understands and appreciates you is truly a dream vacation.

 

College Shooting Sports from a Coach’s Perspective – January/February 2017

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MacAllister (second row, far left) was a CMP Summer Camp Counselor before taking her coaching abilities to the collegiate level.

College Shooting Sports from a Coach’s Perspective

By Ashley Brugnone,
CMP Writer

For some juniors, moving their shooting careers from high school into college is an indispensable goal. It’s the chance to compete at an even higher level of competition, while also gaining a worthwhile and valuable education. But a lot of juniors, coaches and parents have absolutely no idea where to start in getting their athletes onto college teams—or what to expect when they get there.

The following highlights questions asked of current college student athletes and coaches—some of whom are alumni of the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The interview with Ashley MacAllister, Head Coach, The University of Nebraska, will cover how juniors can gain college attention, what they can expect in college as both athletes and students, as well as the sort of qualities coaches look for in their athletes – answered by those with first-hand experience.

How long have you coached your current team? Have you coached anywhere else?

“I’ve coached Nebraska for 2 years. I was at the University of Kentucky for one year and Murray State University as a GA for one year.”

What have been some of your successes while coaching?

At Nebraska we took 4th place team finish at NCAAs 2015; 3rd in Air Rifle Team finish NCAAs 2015 ; 4th place finish in smallbore team finish 2015, and Rachel Martin was individual National Champion Smallbore.

At Kentucky we had a 3rd Place team finish at NCAAs 2014 and Individual National Champion Air Rifle, Connor Davis.

What is your background in shooting?

“I have shot competitively since I was 12. I started in BB gun competitions, then transitioned to Precision Rifle when I was 14. I also shot competitive Archery. I shot at Murray State University in college.”

What do you look for in shooters when recruiting?

“Someone who has a good shooting IQ. Someone who is able to problem solve on their own without having to rely on coaches all the time. Coaches are a great resource for all shooters, and I want them to be able to rely on our knowledge, but while they are shooting they need to be able to make adjustments without having to confer with a coach in the heat of the moment.

“I look for someone who is going to be a team player. We are a team, and selfishness takes away from where we are headed. It is very important to find someone who is going to fit in with the culture of our team. Someone who is going to be coachable and get along with both myself and my assistant. When there is a bond between coach and shooter, it is easier to give the shooter what they need to succeed.

“I also look for ‘coachability’―someone who is going to be able to sit back and listen. When we listen to those around us we learn. Those who are around us often may have more experience in areas that we need improvement. We can learn a lot from our team.”

What steps should [high school] juniors take if they are thinking of shooting at the college level?

“Unlike other sports that have a database for athletes, we don’t. It is important to let coaches know that you are interested in shooting in college. Don’t be afraid to email them and let them know a little about you. We often have a hard time determining who is what grade level in school, so be sure that you tell a coach what year you are.

“Unfortunately, everything we do is based upon NCAA recruiting rules, so we often don’t contact people for fear of violating rules. If this information is given up front, then we are much more willing to respond and work through the process.

“I would encourage everyone to shoot high-level matches. This allows college coaches to see you in action. It also puts more pressure on you than local matches. We like to know what contribution you are going to be able to make to the team based upon past experiences.”

What do you feel they should look for in a school or coach to make sure it’s the right fit for them?

“Look at the team. While you are in college, you will spend a lot of time with the individuals that are on your team. It is important that you fit the culture of the team.

“Be sure you are comfortable with the coaches. These are the individuals that will influence the next 4 years of your life. It is also important that the academics of the school meets your goals.

“In reality, one percent of all student-athletes ‘go pro.’ So have a plan for after college if you aren’t in the one percent that will continue to shoot.”

Is there anything you feel juniors overlook when they think about collegiate shooting?

“Collegiate shooting is a huge commitment. Often, it is more of a commitment than they have ever experienced in their life up to that point.

“All incoming freshmen learn a new level of work when they come to campus. This is all stemmed by how well they use their time. It is very important once you get to college that you properly manage your time in order to accommodate everything. Not only do classes become harder, but you have other commitments. You are no longer going to class from 8-3 every day. Depending on your schedule, you may go to class longer, then you have to fit in workouts, practice, study hall.

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Ashley McAllister. (Photo courtesy of University of Nebraska Athletics.)

 

“The great thing is that college provides you with the resources needed to be successful, but students often feel like they do not get any down time. Being a student athlete is hard – it isn’t as glamourous as TV makes it out to be.”

Smallbore is sometimes a discipline that not many juniors have experience with. Do you ever have any challenges with student athletes when they first begin to shoot smallbore? How do you go about introducing it and implementing it into their practice/competition routines?

“The reality is in college we need 2-gun shooters. I can only take 5 to NCAAs at the end of the year, and I need them to be able to shoot both guns.

“We do have individuals who come in with little to no experience in smallbore. The hardest part about that is the learning curve. While we are spending a year trying to get them to where they need to be, they may or may not be traveling with the team. This can be a hard transition for many athletes. The idea of little fish in a big pond sometimes makes it very difficult mentally when freshmen are used to being the big fish in a little pond.

“We train Air Rifle and Smallbore equally, so it wouldn’t be weird for the first couple of weeks of training to only spend time in smallbore with those individuals who have little to no experience. We would work every day to build good positions, and once we are able to get to a point where that individual can replicate the position, we would move on.

“Quality positions are the most important part of shooting. Scores will come later if you have a solid foundation. This thought is often hard for shooters to comprehend. Patience is hard for any athlete.

“The best thing a new shooter can do when learning a new gun or position is to dry fire. Live rounds are fun, but if you are trying to build muscle memory and really focus on perfecting what you are doing/changing, then dry firing a lot is necessary.”

How long were you involved with the CMP Summer Camps? Why did you become involved?

“I have been involved for 6 years with CMP Summer camps. I worked every year in college except one and have continued to help after college.

“I got involved initially because I had heard about the camps from some of my teammates that had worked them. It sounded like fun, so I thought I would try it out.

“Every year I came back to work for the people I worked with – for the kids I helped. When you enjoy what you do and the people you work with, work becomes fun. I always loved getting up every day to go work camps.”

Do you feel that working the Summer Camps helped prepare you for coaching? If so, how?

“Summer camps prepared me for being a coach, but it also helped me as a shooter. My first summer, I encountered some stubborn shooters who didn’t like to listen, and it really put my own coach ability into perspective. I vowed from then on to not give my coach a hard time, to listen more and talk less.

“It changed how I approached my own shooting and ultimately allowed me to learn more. Any time you are in a position to have to verbalize what you know, it makes you look at the big picture. Shooters often get caught in tunnel vision and don’t know how to look at the big picture.

“Getting caught up in how things should be done is also a problem. Sometimes you have to be creative in how you talk, approach things or handle situations. I have seen a ton a personal growth happen during summer camps – not only for the campers, but for the counselors.”

What do you look forward to in the future of your coaching career?

“I look forward to watching my athletes grow every year. I find myself amazed what students learn about life and shooting. They relate in so many ways. I hope that everything I do every day helps their personal growth.”

The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log ontoTheCMP.com.

 

Dad and Daughter Take on First M16 Match at 2016 Western CMP Games January/February 2017

Dad and Daughter Take on First M16 Match at 2016 Western CMP Games

By Ashley Brugnone,
CMP Writer

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Blue Beckham and his daughter McKenna attended Western Games for the first time this year. Both participated in the Small Arms Firing School, where McKenna fired in her first M16 Match.

Like tumbleweeds in the wind, nearly 200 marksmen and women rolled through the desert to fire in one of the Civil Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) most unique matches of the year–the Western CMP Travel Games. Under the hot sun at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, in Phoenix, participants compete in popular CMP Games matches, including the John C. Garand Match, Vintage Sniper and Rimfire Sporter–all while immersed in the stunning scenery that can only be found in Arizona.

Attending for the first time was father/daughter duo Blue Beckham, 42, and McKenna Beckham, 13, of Phoenix. The two participated in the CMP’s Small Arms Firing School (SAFS), which is designed to teach new and experienced marksmen AR-15 rifle fundamentals through classroom and hands-on demonstrations from qualified CMP instructors.

McKenna is currently a smallbore shooter but hopes to soon add highpower to her repertoire through the local junior team, the AZ Junior Highpower Scorpions. For McKenna, shooting is a sport she takes on both for fun as well as to train for her future dream job.

“I want to be in the Secret Service when I’m older, so shooting is a good skill to have,” she said. “And I love it–that helps.”

During SAFS, McKenna learned the essentials of firing a rifle and also fired in the true M16 match that is always held at the conclusion of the course.

“I thought it was really fun. I had never shot an AR before,” she said. “I had never really been to a highpower match before, so that was really cool. And I liked learning how to operate the pits.”

Her dad, Blue, is also new to the highpower competition world, generally partaking in rifle shooting as only a hobby instead of competitively. A common interest he and McKenna share, rifling with his daughter is something Blue cherishes as he watches her grow into a talented young woman.

“It’s the most exciting thing in the world,” he said. “My son shoots and my nephew shoots, but they aren’t as competitive this way as she is, and to see her out here competing with people who have been doing it for 40 years is just an incredible, proud moment, for sure.”

“Lots of pictures were texted afterwards,” he added, with a smile.

McKenna equally enjoys delving into the highpower rifle realm with her dad, saying, “It’s cool because, like in smallbore, he has no experience at all so he can’t really help me, but he has more experience with ARs and other rifles, so it’s nice to hear his opinion on them compared to just hearing my coaches.”

“She’ll do it for the rest of her life. I have no doubt,” Blue added.

western-games

The Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Western Games combines the fun of rifle competition with the unique challenge of firing beneath the blazing Arizona sun.

Winning the M16 Match and earning EIC points was James Ritchie, 64, of Barstow, CA, with a score of 376-7x. Earning the High Junior honor and landing third overall was Caden Gamblin, 16, of Tucson, AZ, with a score of 364-8x.

David Geyer, 41, of Phoenix, AZ, had an outstanding showing at the 2016 Western Games, coming out on top of both the Three- and Four-Gun Aggregate competitions. Guyer, who made his sixth Western Games appearance this year, enjoys the comradery and historical distinction that comes along with competing in the Western CMP Games.

“There’s just something about having an old M1 Garand and imagining who carried it before you and just trying to use it to the best of your ability,” he said.

Last year, Guyer earned the second place spot in the Three-Gun Aggregate and attributes his success at this year’s Games to the practice he has put in over the months leading up to the event, having utilized a SCAT machine at his home range, Ben Avery.

“It really helped me with my offhand scores,” he said. “With the practice, I saw my scores gradually increase over time.”

From here, Guyer is looking forward to fulfilling a long-time goal he has never been able to achieve–competing at the National Matches at Camp Perry, in 2017.

Other winners of Western Games included Rimfire Sporter winners William Aten, 64, of Kingwood, TX, who overtook the O-Class and William Ellis, 51, of Langley, England, who was the overall winner of the Tactical Class. Robert Evans, 31, of Reno, NV, who competes with only one hand due to an unfortunate IED accident while deployed in Iraq as an Army soldier, won the T-Class by more than a 10-point margin.

In the only team event of the Games, M-2, consisting of Mike Barranco and Michael Miller, won the overall manual competition of the Vintage Sniper Match with a score of 389-10x.

Save the dates for the 2017 Western CMP Games―October 13-17, 2017!

November/December Women & Guns

 

 

Are you ready for action? In this issue….

Holiday Gift Guide: Part 1

mycharge hub plus

mycharge hub plus

By Roger Lanny,

Contributing Editor

It seems today that we live and die by our mobile devices—our iPhone or Android is a constant companion, and that iPad or tablet is not very far away. We just couldn’t exist without them but then the battery runs out….

We’ve all been there—a long day, an endless list of things to do, and numerous social media sites to crawl through and post to. By the way, do you know what social media has the potential to do to your safety, security, and future jobs prospects? Just a quick question.

While there may not be a handy AC outlet, or that darn charging cable is in the car or back home, if you carry one of these with you, you’ll always be powered up.

The myCharge Hub Plus is a self-contained rechargeable portable charger. It’s been newly redesigned, and has both a built-in Apple Lightning cable and a micro-USB cable. You’ll never have to look for the charging cable. The wall prongs that quickly recharge the Hub Plus (they call it Rapid Recharge) are also built-in.

For comparison to the Hub Plus’ 6000 mAh capacity, the iPhone 6 has an internal 1810 mAh battery, the 5s a 1570 mAh, and the iPad Mini a 4440 mAh. The Hub Plus has plenty of power to charge virtually any smartphone, iPad Mini or similar device, and it touts the speed of recharging – their Hyper-Charge technology.

I found that an iPhone 6 at 44% battery topped off in an hour and a quarter, a 5s went from 14% to 100% in two and a quarter hours. A totally exhausted Hub Plus gets topped off in 2 1/2 hours. Not too shabby.

You can recharge the Hub Plus at the same time as it’s charging your mobile device, and, while I couldn’t check it, its claimed to “maintain battery power for up to 1 year.” Weighing in at 7 oz., it measures a svelte 4.1″ x 2.5″ x 0.9″. It can be recharged up to 500 times.

myCharge has a variety of devices on their website from $20 to $150 (their powerful 12,000 mAh power pack). There you can also find manuals, how-to videos, warranty & returns, FAQ’s and a link to customer support.

They’re available all over, from Amazon to Costco to Target to Best Buy and more, with an MSRP of $99.99 and free shipping from the company directly.

OK, why are there headphones in Women&Guns. Hey, look at ‘em. 9mm headphones, and tactical to boot—I just couldn’t resist.

Munitio Headphones

Munitio Headphones

These are very nice in-ear headphones that not only look and sound good, but they have a variety of great features. The driver housings are machined out of a solid piece of copper alloy, and are tuned for the perfect frequency response. Then they add a scratch-resistant titanium coating to give you another layer of protection. However, it looks for all the world to be a 9 mm brass case in each ear, complete down to a headstamp and primer.

Munitio then added their proprietary Kevlar reinforced cable complete with Apple certified 3-button Mic Volume Control for both music and phone, which is also an Android compatible 1-button Mic Control. They state that the acoustical engineering of the Nines yield excellent reproduction, minimal distortion, and is well balanced for all music genres.

Listening to them on my iPhone 6, these unique headphones delivered excellent stereo with crisp highs, seamless mid-tones, plentiful bass, and good separation. They were very comfortable to wear, and come with interchangeable small, medium and large “Hollow Points” (silicon inserts) to insure that secure, comfortable fit in your ear, while enhancing performance and noise isolation. The standard 3.5 mm stereo jack is 24K gold-plated for trouble free use. Optional ear hooks are provided just in case you need additional help in keeping them in during your more vigorous jogging.

Looking on Munitio’s website, they also have wireless on-ear (Bluetooth 4.2) and corded (with in-line mic) over-ear models. There is a limited two-year warranty.

As a bonus to you, our Women & Guns readership, Munitio is offering a time-limited $100 off (expiring 12/1/15), so these beautiful-sounding, conversation-starting headphones are only $79 with free shipping. Just use the code “womenandguns100” during your check-out on www.munitio.com. Happy Holidays and happy listening!

Glasses collect fingerprints and dust. Binoculars, scopes, and red-dots are similarly magnetic. We try wiping them on our jeans, buffing them with our t-shirts, grab paper towels, or whatever else is handy so we can see clearly through the darn things.

Well, most times none of the above are really that helpful, and may even be injurious to the device being cleaned. Some of these “cleaners” are coarse and can scratch. Moreover, if the dust, dirt and detritus aren’t removed from the surface first, cleaning can grind them in, again causing scratches and abrading the coating.

What to do? LensPen offers a great solution—their LensPen for lenses, and their Peeps for glasses.

LensPen and Peeps

LensPen and Peeps

Both self-contained units come with a soft, retractable brush to safely remove potentially damaging dust and dirt. Once that’s done, use the specially design cleaning element to remove fingerprints and smudges. The Peeps just pull out, and the LensPen unscrews.

They use a unique, invisible carbon cleaning compound on the cleaning surface to readily remove those oily smudges. Why does this work—the same reason folks used to clean windows with newspapers. The printer’s ink in those papers was around 25% carbon, and that carbon absorbed the oils. The carbon cleaning compound used here has been specially formulated to readily handle the fingerprint oil with ease.

The cleaning element is designed to never dry out, and the cleaning compound is replenished each time you screw in the LensPen or push the Peeps back in. The Peeps, by the way, is all new, and comes in eight different colors to suit your fancy. In my limited usage, they performed just as advertised.

Their instructions and website state they are safe to use on glass, and on CR39 or polycarbonate lens so long as the latter two have an anti-reflective coating on the outer surface of the lens. My optometrist suggests if there is any doubt, just use just a bit of mild soap and water, followed by a very soft, non-scratching cloth, or, preferably, a microfiber cloth.

Available from Brownell’s and other distributors, LensPen products also have many OEM and private label customers, such as Canon, Nikon, Leica, Trijicon and Leupold, to name just a few. The LensPen and Peeps each have an MSRP of $14.95.

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Part 3

By Scott Smith

Over the last several years we have seen more and more women becoming involved in the shooting sports and in hunting. This growth is reflected in the number of companies manufacturing clothing, footwear and accessories specifically designed for/or works well for women. The holiday season is an ideal time to look at a few of these items.

KleenBore's Tactical Maintenance System, you can see there are rods, brushes, pads, jags, CLP to clean most common competition calibers.

KleenBore’s Tactical Maintenance System, you can see there are rods, brushes, pads, jags, CLP to clean most common competition calibers.

One arena we have seen a marked increase in female participation is in action shooting sports; three-gun, USPSA, IDPA etc. In discussions with competitors and on shooting forums it seems, “what do I need to maintain my firearms,” is one of the most often asked questions. If you are new to action shooting or expanding the games you shoot I generally suggest kits that have brushes, jags, swabs to fit a variety of firearms and calibers. One of the best kits I have seen is KleenBore’s Tactical Maintenance System (TMS) which retails at $87.90.

The TMS is built to meet the needs of law enforcement to clean agency weapons which coincidentally are generally the same calibers as those used by action shooters; 9mm, 45ACP, .223Rem, .308Win, 12G. Since this kit is targeted at law enforcement, the rods and tools are all top of the line unlike many of the bargain kits you will find at big box stores. Another strong point of this kit is the multi-pocketed zipper pouch with each brush/jag in its own plastic container not a generic cut out in a sheet of cardboard or foam. This protects the brushes and keeps the kit clean.

Ernie Hill's BackPack Pro1, this range bag makes it easy to carry your gear and keep it all organized.

Ernie Hill’s BackPack Pro1, this range bag makes it easy to carry your gear and keep it all organized.

When I looked at the contents of the kit it obviously had the required lubricant, brushes, jags and patches; but it also had No.10 Copper Cutter. Copper Cutter is specifically formulated to help remove copper fouling; general cleaner/lubricants are not. Over time copper fouling like lead fouling will degrade accuracy. The compact size (9.5″x7″x1.5″) will allow you to easily pack this kit in your range/competition bag so you can keep your firearms clean on the road. KleenBore’s Tactical Maintenance System will serve the new shooter or the seasoned competitor, making it a good gift idea for any shooter on your gift list.

Over the years I have been using various backpacks for competition, because they are just easier to carry than a traditional rectangular range bag. While a generic tactical backpack works, a backpack built for shooters would be great. One such pack is the BackPackPro01 from Ernie Hill Speed. For those of you not familiar with the name Ernie Hill, he is one of the world’s fastest fast draw shooters and has been building holsters for shooters for years. In the 80s Ernie Hill Speed Leather was the holster of choice for USPSA and then IDPA. Ernie sort of retired but is back with a vengeance and the BackPack Pro 01 is but one of his latest offerings.

The Pro 01 has a flat solid weatherproof bottom so the pack sets upright, thanks to a semi-rigid frame while protecting your gear. The first zipper at the back of the pack is a moisture proof pouch to carry your hydration bladder. Next is the dual zipper main pocket to carry your ammo, snacks, etc.; you will find a built-in zipper pouch to store your shooting glasses or to carry the pack’s rain cover. The front dual zipper pocket is a where I store my hearing protection and stuffable rain jacket. Under this you will find a pocket designed to carry a hard cased handgun; I found it works well with various OEM pistol boxes. On the sides of the pack you will find four large zipper pockets to carry cameras, cleaning kits, water bottles, etc.; the top left pocket has a security strap to secure your keys.

What distinguished the Pro 01 from generic packs were the carry options. While designed to be carried with padded shoulder straps, we know that is not always the most convenient way. To make one-handed carry or grabbing the pack out of your vehicle, there is an over molded carry handle sewn into the pack straps. For those times you have to carry your gear into the range there is a removable waist strap. Last you will find two large adjustable outer straps to secure larger items like a shooting mat or coat.

While the BackPack Pro01 is designed for function, it also looks good. The cordura body is semi-gloss with contrasting piping and lettering. Colors range from black on black to yellow, white, red, and blue; which match the colors of Ernie Hill Speed’s MTS belts. The Pro01 retails for $175, which may sound expensive until you consider all the features and how it protects your competition handguns/gear.

The primary way competitors carry a handgun is in a quality holster. If you run an M&P or a Glock 17/22 or 34/25, I suggest the Proctor OWB. Designed by Frank Proctor, owner of Way of the Gun, this holster works well for both men and women. Frank had this holster built by Off the Grid Concepts to offer a holster that works well for range and competition. This holster is IDPA and USPSA legal for ladies.

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With his years of experience as an instructor at the Army Special Forces Advanced Combat Course, he designed this holster to be a multi-purpose holster. The Proctor OWB, unlike many other holsters, is designed with a drop offset shank. This offset works well for men and women, something many non-female specific holsters do not do. The Proctor OWB comes in basic black, our sample has been finished with Duracoat and stencils from Montactical; retailing for $92.

Another method of carry that has become popular is using a purse designed for concealed carry. 5.11 Tactical introduced the Lucy Tote in military brown or iron grey. Manufactured from 420 nylon twill this purse looks as good as it is tough. To ensure heavier loads do not blow out the bottom of the purse, the handles wrap the bottom.

With its full length zipper, the Lucy Tote is built to keep your items organized and secure. Inside the main pouch are several sewn pockets to organize pens, glasses, cell phones and there is a larger zipper pocket to secure items such as a wallet or small tablet. The beige interior makes it easy to find items in low light.

If you need to keep your ID or phone handy there are two pockets covered by a flap on one side of the tote. This pocket is on the opposite side of the zipper-secured handgun pocket. The handgun pocket can be accessed from either end with the hook and loop secured pull tab which prevents this pocket from accidently opening if the pull tab is snagged. This outside pocket is lined with loop material so you can easily attach one of 5.11’s TacTec Pistol or Magazine Pouches or a more traditional Holster Pouch. All the ladies at my club who looked at the Lucy Tote raved about the color (Iron Grey), the size, pockets and the fact that it is fairly water resistant; but to the lady they said the pistol pocket needed a way to keep your pistol from flopping around. It seems the vote goes for 5.11 to include at least the TacTec Pistol Pouch with each purse. MSRP is $99.99.

One of the biggest names in action wear clothing, Under Armour, is now offering pants for women that are built to meet the needs of competition, training, casual wear or even duty wear. The Women’s UA Tactical Pant is made from stretch polyester that wears like iron, won’t bind when bending/kneeling, dries quickly and resists holding odor.

UA’s Tactical Pant, unlike many other pants, has belt loops placed to accommodate holsters and magazine pouches and puts the belt at your hips, not low ride like stylish jeans. The rear and thigh pockets are closed with buttons for easy access while keeping your gear secure. Another big selling point of these pants is they come in black, Marine OD, coyote brown, dark navy and desert sand, allowing you to have variety.

Size wise online reviews of the Tactical Pant have varied from true to size to buy a size larger. The sample pants Lisa wore fit and ran true to size. She says these are the most comfortable of the “tactical” pants she has worn. They don’t bind or pinch when bending nor do they show the proverbial plumber’s crack. These pants were washed and dried several times in high heat and showed no signs of shrinkage or fading. At $79.99 these pants are practically speaking perfect range and daily wear pants.

5.11 Tactical's Lucy Tote, tucks perfectly under the arm and allows easy access to an H7K VP9.

5.11 Tactical’s Lucy Tote, tucks perfectly under the arm and allows easy access to an H7K VP9.

If like most of the country you live where we have winter, you need some warm clothing. Being from the great northeast, LL Bean knows about cold weather clothing and is offering women clothing meant to keep them warm in the field, around the yard or out on the town. The Maine Guide Wool Parka Primaloft will cut all but the harshest of winter weather.

Under Armour's Storm Tactical Pants, pants for competition and daily wear that perform as good as they look and fit.

Under Armour’s Storm Tactical Pants, pants for competition and daily wear that perform as good as they look and fit.

The red and black check is a northeastern tradition that goes back before my day and was called Pennsylvania camouflage in my youth. LL Bean has updated this 85% wool/15% nylon classic by lining it with Primaloft. With the full cut shoulders you will easily be able to mount a long gun or throw a snowball. Like the traditional wool parka of my youth, there is a zipper bag cargo pocket to carry a drag rope or other field gear. On front you will find snap close flap covered pockets for gear, backed by fleece lined hand warmer pockets. To keep the chill out this coat also has an elasticized waist and button up collar.

Fit of the Maine Guide Wool Parka is roomy. While the parka runs true to size, if you do not plan to layer under it; order a size smaller. The arm length with the internal cuffs comes right to the thumb, so gloves/mittens will easily tuck under the sleeve cuff. You can wear the Guide Parka comfortably without a long sleeve shirt thanks to the soft quilted fabric of the Primaloft.

LL Bean's Wool Guide Parka Primaloft will keep you warm in the worst weather no matter the outdoor activity.

LL Bean’s Wool Guide Parka Primaloft will keep you warm in the worst weather no matter the outdoor activity.

Another traditional piece of Maine hunting clothing is the Maine Guide Wool Pants. Like the parka these pants are 85/15 blend to strike the balance of fit, function and comfort. While these pants are not the latest camouflage print, they will keep you warm in the harshest conditions whether you are hunting, ice fishing shoveling snow or letting your inner kid out riding a sled. Pockets are traditional slash front and flap covered rear for ease of access and to keep your stuff where you put it.

Unlike many pants on the market today, these pants are high-waisted. With the long tail of the Maine Guide Parka, this helps defeat the chill along the back. The higher waist does not bind nor does it constrict. Lisa tells me the pants fit perfectly true to size. She cautions that because of the wool, you will want to wear leggings or pantyhose to avoid itching. The straight legs are roomy and comfortable squatting, kneeling, and climbing. She tells me the Maine Wool Guide Pants fit and look good enough that you could wear them to the office if you work wear it is kept chilly all day or you are in and out like a salesperson is.

The Maine Guide Wool Parka Primaloft will cost $249 and the pants are $109 a pair. These are not cheap, but this is a case of getting what you pay for. LL Bean’s clothing is known to last for years through the worst weather. Both the Maine Guide Wool Parka and Pants are dry clean only, so we do not anticipate there will be shrinkage or fading. If you get out and about in the winter check out LL Bean’s Maine Guide series. You will not be disappointed and you will be warm.

Also on the list this year is serious footwear built for the fast action of three gun, USPSA and to give all day comfort on the sporting clays field; the Adidas Terrex Fast X GTX. Over the last few years another European company has been the latest piece of cool kit for competition shooters. What I have heard from many competitors is these shoes, because of their aggressive nubs, wear quickly and need replaced yearly. Not only do very aggressive nubs wear quickly but they can be uncomfortable and more

unstable underfoot. Unlike the latest cool “boots”, Adidas’ technology has won Olympic gold medals, set world records and survived countless marathons. Now Adidas uses this experience to make the Terrex Fast trail running shoe family; which is a practically perfect range shoe. I have been wearing the men’s version of the Fast X for the last year and have yet to get wet feet in the spring monsoons or to slip on the wet red clay of the south.

if your legs get cold on the range, in the field, or at the office, LL Bean's Wool Guide Pants will break the wind and chill.

if your legs get cold on the range, in the field, or at the office, LL Bean’s Wool Guide Pants will break the wind and chill.

smith3Adidas uses time tested Gore-Tex to keep your feet dry and Traxion to give you secure footing in all conditions, even on wet painted wooden decks. While the nubs of the Terrex Fast are not as aggressive as others, they give long lasting grip. To ensure hours of comfort whether you are shooting three-gun on the most uneven surfaces or standing on a skeet field, the adiPRENE midsole and Formotion foot bridge cushion and protect your feet. Using this technology allows Adidas to reduce the weight without sacrificing support and all day comfort.

Since getting the samples of the Terrex Fast X, the shoe has been replaced by the Fast R. By all looks and from what I can find the only thing that has changed is the colors; the technology has not changed. If you look online the Fast X can still be found for around $135 while the Fast R is retailing for $165. With either pair of shoes you cannot go wrong. Depending on your shoe size you will find many of the men’s models of the Terrex family in sizes that fit many women. The men’s versions run approximately 1.5 sizes larger than a ladies; if you wear a ladies 8, try a men’s 6.5. If you like to wear thicker socks, I suggest a man’s model for comfort.

smith9

If you wish to improve a well-traveled pair of shoes/boots or make a new pair warmer and more comfortable, I suggest slipping a pair of SUPERfeet’s Hunt Insoles into them. These insoles have a flexible heel cradle for support, the proprietary sole material dampens shock, they have Scent Lock technology incorporated into them and the upper of the sole is merino wool. Having used several pairs of SUPERfeet insoles, I can tell you they are great. These insoles are an ideal gift for anyone on your gift list at $39.95; whoever you give these to, they will thank you.

Steel reactive targets are integral to three-gun and USPSA but unless you have a range that has practice sessions, how do you practice on steel? The drawback to steel is it is heavy and awkward making something many of us cannot easily practice on. Birchwood Casey has changed that with the $155.60, 9.5″ AR 500 steel Boomslang. What sets the Boomslang apart from other steel targets rated for rifle calibers is the weight. It weighs around 18 pounds versus many others that tip 30+pounds. You will find the Boomslang easy to put together and easy to stick in the ground at the range. If you want to improve your skills on small steel targets, get a Birchwood Casey Boomslang, it will be a good gift for yourself and other shooters on your list.

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Part 2

By Carolee Anita Boyles,

Contributing Editor

Prois Archtach Jacket

Prois Archtach Jacket

If any one company can be called the leader in serious hunting clothing for women, it’s Prois. The company’s Archtach jacket is filled with goose down that has been treated with an acrylic so that it’s weather resistant and very packable. It has a micro fiber rip stop exterior so that if it tears, the tear stops within a very small grid. It weighs less than two pounds so it’s excellent for back country adventures. The Archtach jacket is available in a variety of camouflage patterns and in black. MRSP $399.99

Browning has expanded its line of camouflage hunting clothing to include women’s sizes. They’ve added the Hell’s Bells line with a little bit of pink on it, and pink deer skull logos. The Hell’s Bells line has all the items that Browning’s Hell’s Canyon line has, including jackets and pants, in sizes up to 2XL. It’s a layering system with either down or Primaloft for insulation. Soft Shell Jacket MSRP $212.00; Soft Shell Pant MSRP $200.00.

Browning Hell's Bells Bottoms

Browning Hell’s Bells Bottoms

Browning Hell's Bells TopBrowning Hell’s Bells Top

Along with serious hunting clothing comes a more playful trend, as camo also has come to the beach and to the bedroom. Wilderness Dreams has a line of lingerie, loungewear and beachwear. For women who don’t like pink, there are items in both camouflage patterns with just some lace to make them dressy. Products in the Wilderness Dreams line include bikinis, bras and panties, camisoles, pajamas, T-shirts, and other fun and flirty items, in sizes up to XXL. With so many products available it’s hard to pick just one, but I’d go for the tank nightgown in Mossy Oak Breakup or Naked North Snow, MSRP $38.00.

Wilderness Dreams Pajama's

Wilderness Dreams Pajama’s

Spectra Shot has shotgun shells with color enhanced shot that fluoresces. When you shoot these shells under a black light, you can see every pellet brightly illuminated; you can see your shot pattern, and every pellet in your shot string, so you can see where you miss. It’s amazing what happens when you can see what you’re doing wrong; you can make the necessary adjustments so you can break the target. Spectra Shot ammunition is great for shotgun games. Turkey shot MSRP $25/box; Waterfowl shot MSRP $125/4 boxes.

Spectra Shot Shotgun shells

Spectra Shot Shotgun shells

 

The Traveling Sisterhood: Babes with Bullets

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By Lyn Bates,

Contributing Editor

I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Woman after woman was shooting several action shooting stages, which involved drawing a 9mm S&W M&P from a holster, shooting at cardboard targets and falling steel plates, moving confidently from one vantage point to another, reloading, and shooting some more. Most of them, until three days prior, had never touched a gun!

Yet here they were, doing really well, getting good hits, their coaches occasionally making suggestions but seldom needing to make safety reminders.

Coming off the line after shooting—broad smiles, cheers and high 5s abounded. These women were really having fun.

An organization called Babes with Bullets held one of their 3-day handgun camps in early August at my home range, Harvard Sportsman’s Club, in Harvard, MA. These camps introduce women to firearms via the action shooting sports and an all-female staff.babes-1

The Babes’ camps description said that in less than three days, attendees would be able to draw from a holster, shoot and move, shoot moving and falling targets. “How the heck can they do that?” I wondered, so I watched closely to find out.

Who and what are The Babes with Bullets?

A decade ago a couple of women who were legendary in action shooting, Kay Miculek (yes, the supremely accomplished-in-her-own-right wife of the legendary shooter Jerry Miculek) and Lisa Munson, encountered Deb Ferns at a match. Deb Ferns was a woman who had shot for the first time on her 45th birthday. Lisa encouraged Deb to take a weekend training session with Kay, a class that Deb describes as “life-changing,” and Deb convinced Kay and Lisa to take their program on the road under the name “Babes with Bullets.

Eleven years and more than 4,000 students later, Babes with Bullets is a resounding success.

Kay, Deb and Lisa added some other stars to their teaching roster. Even if you don’t follow the action shooting sports closely, you might have heard of some of these women: Lena Miculek (Kay and Jerry’s daughter, rapidly making a name of her own in competition), Athena Lee, Maggie Reese and Sheila Brey. If you watched Season 2 of Top Shot, you saw two of them.

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Among them they hold more than 30 national or international shooting titles in every kind of shooting matches. Six of those amazing women taught at the camp I attended.

Most novices are introduced to guns like this: They take a 4- or 8-hour NRA class, or they go to a range with a gun owner. They learn some basics about gun function, gun safety, ammunition and so on. They shoot a few rounds with a .22 or a .38 revolver, and go home. Over the next months, they get back to the range once if at all, and might or might not try a larger caliber. They shoot only at bullseye paper targets, at a single distance, standing in one spot, not using a holster. That’s a reasonable intro to firearms—but is it fun? They might like shooting, but do they love it? Are they proficient with a gun or just a beginner? Do they have the camaraderie of other people sharing this experience? Are they confident in their skills? Do they realize a competition might actually be fun?

What makes the Babes program different from the other “typical introduction” described above?

It is focused on action sport shooting, not on getting a license, not on learning a million details about many kinds of guns, not on indoor target shooting, not on revolvers, not on bullseye target shooting.

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And, it is for women, taught by women!

It lasts a big three days. Any new shooter can feel overwhelmed at the end of their first day, and that’s where many of them leave a traditional class, never to return. Babes has many more hours to teach, encourage and build skills.

It mixes absolute novices with experienced shooters, to the benefit of both. Sometimes the experienced shoot first, newbies watching, to show how and what to do and to reduce “freshman anxiety.” Sometimes the groups shoot separately.

It emphasizes fun, camaraderie and female bonding. Shared meals and lodgings help, but fun is built into many of the activities. It is a camping experience, not just a shooting school.babes-5

The night before camp starts, women check in and are measured for belts and hand grip size. Having a belt that fits and a gun that fits from the get-go is one of the reasons students do so well.

A guiding principle of the Babes instructional format is that, on the line, every student is closely coached. Each instructor covers only one or two students, so feedback, positive and constructive, can be delivered immediately. This is essential to fast progress, skill-building and confidence building.

Some excellent competitors can’t teach. Some excellent teachers can’t compete. It is rare to find one person with both skills, and even more rare to find an organization filled with such people. Babes and Bullets is that rare organization.

What is “action sport shooting?”

Action sport shooting involves moving dynamically, drawing a handgun from a holster, and shooting at many cardboard and metal targets. Time taken, as well as the placement of hits, determines the score. A match includes a number of stages, each stage in a shooting pit with a different setup of targets. Many local gun clubs host these kinds of matches indoors or outdoors, and there are regional and national competitions as well.

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The disciplines include the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), and the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), whose American affiliate is the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA). 3 gun matches (handgun, rifle, shotgun) also fall in the action sport category.

Who were the 30 campers at this particular camp?

They were diverse in age. I thought the participants would be mostly youngish women, but, no, “middlish” and “oldish” women were well represented. Kay Miculek wasn’t the only grandmother.

Most were absolute beginners when it came to guns, but several had attended camps or even competitions before. Why would they repeat? Because returning students are given some different activities on different ranges, and because of the camaraderie they found here.

They were geographically diverse. They came to Massachusetts from as far south as Huntsville, Alabama and as far north as London, Ontario, and as far west as Xenia, Ohio.

Most came either by themselves or with another woman. Several came at the behest of men who saw Babes on the Discovery Channel. One found mention of the breath control for shooting being compatible with yoga in a yoga magazine, and found Babes on her own.

Kerry Lawlere, a single mom with two kids from the Boston area, was a nervous newbie who came at the urging of a friend. She had never fired a gun before, and was very curious about what it would be like.

Robbin Mosdossy is a Canadian woman who rather reluctantly attended her first camp 10 years ago. This year she brought her daughter, Natasha, along. I asked Natasha if she had finally given in to her mother’s pestering, or whether she really wanted to come. “Really wanted to come,” she said, having heard so much about the skill-building and fun.

Dr. Laura Torres-Reyes is a physician who is also an Air Force Colonel in the Medical Service. She had no experience with guns before she joined the Air Force, so got some help from a friend before she had to qualify. She qualified at the top of her class! Feeding off that achievement, her brother-in-law, an IPSC shooter, suggested she try that competition. Laura did, and has made handgun and 3-gun competition her primary “hobby.”

Laura had been to Babes camp about 6 times. Why so many? “No matter how experienced you are, a return to the basics for a short time makes you a better shooter,” she says. She loves the socializing with the instructors and other women.

A few husbands, boyfriends, or friends accompanied, but only a few. One such man was asked by another, “Does your wife have a license to carry?” He quickly answered, “No, she has a license TBA,” and proudly explained, “A license To Be Awesome!”

What happened at camp?

The first morning started with Kay Miculek doing the introduction about guns and safety. Thoroughly professional, but also as short as possible, and amusing. She described a gun’s magazine as the plate of food that feeds the rest of the gun, making it easy to understand why that part must be removed first. She made fun of her age (she’s a grandmother, after all) and her eyesight. Afterward one of the returning students said, “I thought I’d be bored, but not at all.”

That day started on the outdoor range started with Smith & Wesson M&P .22s from a table. Folks learned, or practiced loading magazines. Targets were IPSC/IDPA cardboard torso targets, in the usual stands. One instructor for each pair of students helped with the basics of stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture and trigger control.

The instructors pick up very quickly on who is new, who needs more help, who is ready to move on to 9mms and holsters, and who already has skills. The 30 students were gradually divided and subdivided, in different IPSC pits, into groups that respected their skill level, with appropriate coaching. Nobody is intimidated by the more experienced shooters, nobody is slowed down by novices.

The Outdoor Channel was making a documentary on Babes with Bullets, and was at this camp filming as much possible.

Smith & Wesson provided the equipment—a competition belt (inner belt with Velcro on the outside, outer belt with mating Velcro), 3 high-capacity magazines, a competition mag pouch, a Smith & Wesson M&P in 9mm and a Kydex competition holster.

By the end of the first day, everyone is loading 9mm magazines, and drawing, shooting and reloading their 9mm from a holster. Some targets have acquired a “no shoot’” or other game feature. The steady creep from one target to a full scale action stage has begun. Beepers and range commands are becoming familiar.

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Camp should be fun, and so this was. From an impromptu “Can you lick your elbow?” contest to the many, many stories shared during meals and after hours. Another advantage of mixing experienced shooters with beginners is that the former can add their own stories to the “campfire tales” women tell one another. A one-day class would not have an opportunity for this, but the multi-day format is perfect for sharing.

Discussions included topics such as “Where did you get those pants?” “That shirt?” “How do you stay comfortable in this heat?” What’s better than wiping sweaty palms on your pants before you shoot?”, (Wiping them in the dirt.) and, of course, “What is the best bra to wear shooting?” (There is no universally perfect bra—no surprise there!)

The second day saw more changes on the ranges, as they added one feature after another such as Pepper Popper falling steel plates, a Texas Star, and more no-shoots to move the scenarios closer to competition stages and yet introduce new skills one at a time. Everyone rotated though multiple ranges One group had targets that alternated close and far. Another group worked on a setup that was all about how to move (walking or running, camper’s choice) left to right or right to left and shoot. They then moved to a setup that was all about moving forward, shooting though “windows” and “doors.” Another group learned how to shoot the smallest target available, steel plates, and enjoyed that wonderful visual and auditory feedback when they were hit.

What really made this camp soar was the quality of the teaching and coaching. Time after time I saw coach after coach notice something subtle in what the student was doing, and offer a timely suggestion or correction on the spot.

Positive feedback was also abundant. One student was praised for her “incredible focus” after having gun trouble, fixing it, and coming back on target as if the trouble never happened.

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Another coach was very careful to insist her shooter go with her to examine the 8 targets in the order she shot them, rather than starting with the last target as is usually done in these scenarios. The coach pointed out that the hits on the first two (not very good) targets were “You started out nervous here,” moving on the next two “You started to settle down here” and reaching the final targets “Look how great you were doing at the end.” That’s high-quality feedback.

Students also benefited from the coaches’ competition background. Lena explained that, “If you want to shoot fast to better your score, don’t try to pull the trigger faster. Learn to do everything that doesn’t involve pulling the trigger faster: drawing, running, reloading.”

On the last day, IPSC score sheets made an appearance. Every part of competition was now familiar, from the Safety Area where one holstered one’s gun, to what “Load and make ready” and “Shooter ready?” mean, to the beeper, the timer, shooting, moving, reloading, and the scoring and patching of targets. Lots of “2 alphas” were heard. “Alpa” is the highest scoring area on the target, so two hits there meant the shooter had maximum points on that target.

Campers finishing weren’t just happy, they were joyful!

What now for the campers?

Kerry Lawlere, the single mom, quickly found that she was good at this. “The best thing is the instructors. They figured out my strengths and weaknesses, and worked with both of them.” She will be shooting a lot more once the camp is over.

Elizabeth Keister, from Alabama, said Babes has made firearms a “huge passion” and “a very important part of my life.” She calls the Babes “a traveling sisterhood of support for women who shoot.” “A Traveling Sisterhood” I love that appellation! To Elizabeth, sport shooting and personal defense are equally important. She will soon have all the licenses and equipment she needs for both.

Everyone gets something different from this experience. One student, who I won’t identify, said that she had been abused as a child, usually found it difficult to socialize, but found support in the women at camp, and it was helping her to “come out of her shell.”

Another said, “The hands-on coaching is amazing. I’ll take their voices home with me in my head.”

Let’s let Laura have the last word. She said, “I just want to reiterate what a great experience the Babes Camps are, and the importance of the explosive expansion of female shooters. It is such a supportive and generous community of women, who have bonded together to make a significant impact in the shooting sports industry. Just 10 years ago, the only resources I could find to help me start in the shooting sport were YouTube videos. I accidentally stumbled on the Babes with Bullets camps that were just getting started. Now, there has been such an exponential growth in women’s focused organizations, competitions, groups, magazines, websites, Facebook pages, etc.., that it is clear that women and guns are a serious economic, marketing force to be reckoned with! It is pioneers like Deb Ferns, founder of Babes with Bullets and Women’s Outdoor Media Association that have been a game changer (literally!)”

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Some campers will go on to find places where they can shoot IPSC or IDPA matches. But the majority of women who will never compete will have a solid background and a positive attitude. They will be unafraid, confident, even eager for any other gun-related activity they might want to try.

Kay Miculek, the most decorated female in shooting sports in the world, is now at a point of apparent perfect balance in her life, dividing her time between teaching Babes camps and competing.

To see some of the Babes in action, see their website, their webisodes on the Outdoor Channel: www.outdoorchannel.com/babeswithbullets, and watch for their documentary. In addition to 10 handgun camps that move around the country every year, the Babes offer 3-gun camps and an annual Diamond event (an upscale dude ranch experience along with training).

W&G