Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pseudo Fit Shot Workout

Last week, I mentioned that I might have fallen in love with a new workout that combines working out and shooting.  I've been dying to try it, but haven't been able to get out to the range to do so.

Since I can't get out to the range until this Friday, I figured out a way I could simulate the workouts at the gym without the risk of going to jail.  I weighed the guns I would be shooting if I was at the range and substituted the appropriate weights for them.  Also, since Fit Shot isn't really meant to be a workout-workout, I added in cardio and merged two of the sample workouts together so that I would have an hour's worth of exercise.  Here's what my modified workout looked like:

  • 15 minutes on the elliptical machine, level 7
  • 5 release push-ups; in a push-up position, go all the way to the ground, contract your back to lift your hands off the floor, then put your hands back on the floor to complete the push-up
  • 15 one-handed dumb bell clean and presses (10#); the other hand is extended as though shooting one handed (2.5#); switch arms and repeat
  • 20 full sit-ups; I did this with a 2.5# weight to simulate my handgun and since I shoot Weaver, it added a level of difficulty by requiring me to engage my obliques.  I did 10 holding the weight like I was shooting right handed, and 10 as though I was shooting left handed.
  • 20 squats, again with a 2.5# weight; on the down portion of the squat, I lowered my "gun" to low ready, on the up portion I brought it on target.  10 right handed; 10 left handed.  Next time, I'll do the squats on the Bosu ball to increase the difficulty.
  • 20 box jumps, with two 5# weights to simulate a long gun.  While on the ground I had my "gun" in the low ready position, double leg jumped onto the box, then went through the motion of shouldering my gun.  I did 10 for right handed shooting, and 10 for left handed.
  • 20 minutes on the bike, level 5
  • Repeat the weight exercises.
It certainly kept my interest throughout the entire workout and whetted my appetite for doing it at the range, when I can actually use my gun and shoot between each rep.  I only burned 296 calories, so it was a fairly low intensity workout, but I can change that easily by adding intervals to my cardio next time around.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Shotgun Customization

Since RCC gave me all of the parts to customize my shotgun, of course we had to stay up on Christmas Eve and put it together.

What I love about the Remington 870 (and though I don't own one, the Mossberg 500) is that is so easily customizable.  Here's the thing - it doesn't take a gunsmith to do most of the modifications.  The exception, for me, is the trigger.  Could I buy a new trigger, read the instructions, and put it in?  Probably.  Would I? Hell no, that's why I have a gunsmith (who is moving away, but we're not talking about that right now).

Here's a picture of the base 870 I started with and the parts that RCC got me.
With all of these add-ons, I can pretty much configure my shotgun any way I want to.
Even though it has been probably five years since I built my last shotgun, I was confident that I could build this one without too much trouble.  It took RCC and me about an hour to do the whole thing.  I only had to glare at him once, for taking away my toys and wanting to build it himself.  He got the hint and let me have the fun - and satisfaction - of doing it myself.

With the exception of the tac rail that mounts to the receiver, there were no special "gunsmithing" tools that were needed.  My Gerber multi-tool and RCC's flathead screwdriver were the only tools we had to provide - all other tools were provided with the parts.

We started with the buttstock - two screws held on the recoil pad and one screw attached the stock to the receiver.  It was off in a matter of a minute or two.  The new stock took just a couple of minutes to screw on. It was really that easy.
Knoxx Blackhawk Special Ops Shotgun Stock
I've never used this kind of stock; it's supposed to reduce felt recoil by 90%.  The diagram didn't explain to me how it was supposed to reduce the recoil, but Boss Man (my gunsmith) did.  Apparently, when fired, the whole receiver moves back, compressing the spring, which absorbs the recoil.  He doesn't seem to like this kind of set-up, but I'm excited to try it.  I want to get video and super slo-mo it to see if I can see the compression happening.

The shot shell and battery carrier were the two most pain-in-the-ass pieces to assemble - not because it was difficult, but because it involved installing several screws in very tight spaces.  If you have big fingers, this would be almost impossible.  RCC did have the bright idea of starting the screws before attaching the shell carrier and battery carrier - that suggestion saved us a lot of aggravation.  This portion of the project took us the longest to complete.
Blackhawk PowerPak modular cheek piece with shell carrier and battery holder.

To install the cheek piece, I had to remove the back portion of the stock.  In theory, it should have been easy.  In reality, it took both of us - one to pull down on the adjuster lever-thingy and the other to stabilize the gun while the back portion was pulled off.  After that, it was as easy as slipping the cheek piece over the back portion of the stock, making sure it clicked into place, and sliding the butt back onto the stock.

Unfortunately, once I had it put back together, and shouldered the shotgun, I realized that I needed to install the high rest cheek piece, so we took it all apart and did it again.  It went much faster the second time.

Taking off the fore-end was a breeze - remove the sling swivel, unscrew the magazine tube (watch out for the BOING! factor), pull off the barrel, release the action bars and slide the fore-end off.  It sounds like a lot of steps if you've never done it before, but it's actually very simple.  Well, it's simple if you remember to push the magic action bar release button inside the receiver.  Otherwise, you'll just yank on the fore-end and curse - a lot - until you remember to push the magic button.

At this point, I had my new fore-end in one hand, and the old one, still attached to the action bars, etc., in the other hand and I drew a blank.  I *know* I've installed new fore-ends before, but couldn't remember the next step.  However, I keep all of the boxes and instructions for pretty much everything, so when the new part didn't have instructions, I pulled out my SureFire box and lo and behold, had not only instructions, but the very important super special fore-end nut removal tool.  After that, it was a matter of removing the nut, taking off the old fore-end, and putting on the new one.  Thirty - forty-five seconds, tops.
Mako Handguard with 3 rails and a Mako Quick Release Ergonomic Vertical Foregrip

To re-install the fore-end with the new handguard, it's simply a matter of reversing the steps.  Unless you're me, in which case you must forget about the super secret action bar releases (there are two for re-assembly; one on the right, which must be pushed first, and one on the left), which will cause more cursing and aggravation.  Oh, and almost breaking your toes several times when the slide block assembly jumps off the action bars and falls to the ground repeatedly.  Eventually, though, if you're me, you'll look at the re-assembly instructions, smack yourself in the forehead for forgetting about the super secret action bar releases, and it will go back together easy-peasy.

The vertical foregrip slips right on the rail.  I'm not completely sold on it, but RCC loves it and I did promise to give it an honest try.  It does look pretty bad-ass in an over-the-top-even-for-a-tacticooled-gun kind of way.

The only thing we couldn't install was the receiver tac rail, because it required a punch to remove the trigger plate pins.  I did put the red dot sight on the tac rail, so that when we went into the gun shop today, all I had to do was punch out the trigger plate pins, slip the rail over the top of the receiver and screw it on.
UTG M87 tactical mount and NcSTAR red dot sight with four different reticles.
There is a problem, though.  Damn it.

Even with the higher cheek piece, the red dot rides too high on the receiver for me to actually use it.  I'm either going to have to build up the cheek piece even more, or lose the tac rail and mount the red dot directly to the receiver.

Meet BAMF, completely assembled and ready to rock 'n roll
Friday is the day we've got planned for taking BAMF to the range to try her out.  RCC is buying the shotgun I built for my brother, so I'll try to do a side-by-side comparison of how they shoot early next week.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I hope all of my fellow GunDivas and GunDudes had as great a Christmas as I did!

My very own GunDude, RCC, bought me the parts to accessorize my Remington 870.  You know, the one that I was going to customize "some day".

Some day was last night, as we stayed up far past our bedtime putting the darn thing together.

Pictures soon!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Just Fell In Love

...And surprisingly, it wasn't with a gun.

No, it was with Fit Shot, which combines a CrossFit-type workout with shooting exercises!  Tara and I met Rob Pincus at Valhalla several years ago, and had a private day of instruction from one of his instructors.  If I recall correctly, after they unloaded our gun bags, we were told that it looked like Soldier of Fortune puked all over their gun counter.  We took it as a compliment.  We had both of our tactical shotguns, Tara's long-range rifle, and our handguns.  Not much, but more than they were expecting two women to have, I suppose.

Anyway, the Valhalla shooting center has closed, and Rob Pincus has moved on to I. C. E., where he teaches Combat Focus Shooting all over the world.  He's also a Certified CrossFit instructor.

Do you see where this is headed?  Fit Shot combines "Functional Fitness and Practical Shooting Skills".  You know I love shooting from my Bosu, and I was pretty certain that was some cutting edge training right there.  This stuff makes my Bosu shooting look like child's play.

Their Facebook page has a lot of sample workouts that aren't nearly as intense as the one in the video, but I really want to try it.  I just have to figure out how to do something like this at the range, since I'm relatively certain that my gym won't let me work out with my gun on and dry fire at the wall.  Pretty sure that would induce panic in the other patrons.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Christmas Song for You

Boy, I wish I'd thought of this.

Merry Christmas to All!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Feminine Protection

My future SIL was spot-on with this one...

I don't know where she got it, or I'd give credit to the genius who came up with it.  But it's beautiful.  I love it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

SEAL of My Dreams

Tomorrow, Veterans' Day, is the release of SEAL of My Dreams, a romance anthology that our very own NYT Bestselling GunDiva, Tara Janzen contributed her considerable talents to.  I've read the excerpt for her short story and it is hot, hot, hot.

All proceeds from the book go to the Veterans' Research Corporation, which sponsors medical research to help our veterans and their families.  You can buy the ebook version from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or a print version from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bell Bridge Books.

Go.  Buy it.  Let me know what you think.  And be happy that by buying a copy, you're contributing to the health of our vets.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kinsco Police Supply

I love 5.11 gear.  Love it.  However, there is a draw-back.  I had to order online and pray that I could fit into whatever it is I ordered.  There wasn't a store nearby that I could try on the 5.11 clothes.  All of the stores in my area that carried 5.11 only carried the men's line.  Oh, I could have bought men's clothes, but there's this not-so-little issue of me being build like a girl.  As they used to say, I got me some birthin' hips.  In order to buy men's pants that would cover my birthin' hips, I would have had about a million inches of gap at the waist.

I grumbled and grumbled and last year at SHOT Show actually went to the 5.11 booth to see if I could try on some pants only to find out that they don't sell off the floor anymore.

I did some online searching for stores in the area that carried women's 5.11 clothing and was thrilled to find one less than 40 miles away.  I love my 5.11 so much that I was willing to make the drive.  Kinsco Police Supply is a 5.11 lover's dream.  The store is amazing - wall-to-wall 5.11 gear in every color, shape and size.  I was in heaven.  I found a new pair of pants and got to try them on!  What a treat that was.  The sales lady was friendly and knowledgeable; she told us about their upcoming Black Friday sale, which RCC and I fully intend to attend.

That is definitely a store I will be returning to over and over again.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Zombie Hunt

Seems they're crawling out of the wood work...I went zombie killing, Mrs Mom went zombie killing, and last night my family loaded up and went on a Zombie Hunt/Gather.  Truly, this infestation is getting old.

But, we're getting lots of practice and that's got to count for something, right?

Contest Winner

Email me (thegundivas @ hotmail dot com) and I'll get your book on its way!
Thanks for playing along -
let us know what you think of the book.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ready for a Giveaway?

There are 15 million women like us - Chicks with Guns - in the United States.  Photographer Lindsay McCrum recently released a book that brings female gun ownership to light through her artistic lens.

She has highlighted nearly eighty women in her book, each describing the roles guns play in their lives.  We want to know...what roles do your guns play in your life?

We will be giving away a copy of Chicks with Guns.  The contest will be open until Friday, October 21 at midnight MST.  A winner will be chosen via Random Name Picker after the contest ends.  One entry per comment.

To earn entries complete one, two or three of the following and leave a comment:
  • telling us about the role guns play in your life
  • that you've "liked" us on Facebook (The-GunDivas)
  • recommended us to other GunDivas (have them leave a comment telling us who sent them here)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

ATF Form 4473 and Medical Marijuana

On September 21, 2011 the BATFE issued an open letter to all Federal Firearms Licensees.  It essentially states that anyone who lives in a state that recognizes medical marijuana use and who holds a "card" is an "...unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance...".

While individual states have decided to recognize the medicinal value of marijuana, the fact is that it's still a Class I controlled substance according to the Controlled Substances Act.  Class I drugs have a high probability of abuse and have no medicinal use according to the CSA and are, therefore, illegal.

When answering the questions on the 4473, anyone holding a red or MMJ card is required to answer "yes" to question 11.e.  The transaction stops right then and there.

According to the open letter, people who hold a "card" may not purchase nor possess firearms or ammunition.

Whether right or wrong, that's the way it is.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Zombie Killing Day 2011

I love Zombie Killing Day!  It's my favorite defensive pistol match of the year.  I don't know what it is about it, but I get so excited about blowing their little rotted brains out.

This year, Mez and I designed a stage and incorporated the Bosu.  Holy cow, people bitched and moaned about the Bosu.  We didn't even have them standing on it - just shooting prone from it.  After the match, though, I was stopped by a shooter from another squad who said that he really enjoyed the challenge of the Bosu.  *Whew*

Here's our stage, "Saving Selene"...

Even though I shoot from the Bosu on a regular basis, this was hard

We also had our take on Dancing with the Stars, Dancing with Zombies.  I personally feel like the lady on the left looks a lot like a blow-up doll that's trying to get away from the zombie.

We had a team challenge in which each team member had to add a piece to the jack 'o lantern and color it in before engaging the zombies.  Our poor jack 'o lantern was not very cute by the time everyone added their little artistic flair to it.

I've shot the Steel Challenge for the past two months.  I would have thought that I'd gotten over my "thing" with steel.  Yeah, right.  I'm pretty sure that the steel they set up for the Pumpkin Shoot had a force field around them.  No one shot the stage well.  I think I expended thirty rounds before I managed to hit all eleven pieces of steel.

I hated that stage.

And then we got "home" to find that Hannibal had escaped and was in our house.  Wearing weirdly shaped body armor that left his center mass exposed.  Odd.  But good for us, since we had to kill him over and over and over again.  I'm not quite sure how he managed to be in so many places at once.

The best part about Hannibal's in the House was that I beat Mez by about five seconds on that stage.  I very, very rarely beat Mez when we're shooting.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mother/Son Bonding

I love that shooting is something that I can do with my kids.  The boys have been asking me to take them out for a while now, so I planned a range day with them.  Digger was more than happy to get up and go, but Monster wasn't feeling well, so we left his sick butt at home and went without him.

It was a good day and I enjoyed some one-on-one shooting with my eldest.
He's a natural with the long guns.

Not proper range attire, but not one issue with hot brass today.

Proper range attire - but he did the hot brass dance twice today.
As a general rule, shooting is "my" time, but it's fun to spend some time with the family out at the range on occasion.

Is shooting a family sport for you, or is it something that is all yours?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Shooting with the Hubby

RockCrawlinChef and I don't get to shoot together nearly often enough.  In fact, I don't recall that the two of us have ever gone shooting just the two of us.  We've shot matches together; we've gone out to the range with various family annd friends, but I don't think we've ever gone out alone.

Last weekend, we took a short roadtrip to Cabela's and two new rifles joined our family: a Remington 700 SPS .308 and a Henry Survival Rifle .22 LR.  We've been anxiously awaiting today to try them out.  We're headed to Nebraska in January with a group from the gun shop to hunt and "needed" a hunting rifle, so we managed to justify the .308.  For the Steel Challenge, RCC wanted to shoot his AR-7, so I ordered extra magazines.  Turns out the magazines are not interchangeable.  The ones I bought fit the Henry, not the Armalite (which is the one he had at his parents' house).  Well, darn, we now had five magazines and no rifle, which is why we "had" to buy the Henry.

I really love the new rifle, too bad I need a visit to the eye doctor.

Dang water bottle was hidden behind a very dangerous cactus.

Dancing an empty water bottle about 30 yards out.

RCC killing the reactive target at about 175 yards

I don't know, you think he likes the new rifle?
I had such a good time on my shooting date with my husband; I think I'll try it again tomorrow at the Steel Challenge.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Missing FATS

I'm not able to go to Writers' Police Academy this year.  Yes, I had planned on going and had even paid my registration.  But, turns out, I can't afford to actually make the cross-country trek to WPA.  I'm definitely depressed about it and in my fit of melancholy, dug through my posts from last year's WPA.  I think the thing I'm going to miss most this year is FATS training - the FATS instructor had promised me the M4 for this year's training, so I'm pouting a little bit about not going.  AnyGunDiva'sacrybaby, here's my post from last year's FATS training in case any of you missed it.

You know, with a nickname like GunDiva, people kinda expect me to know one end of a gun from the other and, you know, be able to shoot said gun(s).  And I can.  Unless it's FATS training and both Jeffery Deaver and Lee Lofland are in the room watching my group.

I can honestly say, though, that once the scenarios started I forgot they were there.

Everything Mrs Mom's DH (Anonymous) wrote in the comments section of yesterday's pop quiz is true. 

  • The whole losing 50% of your fine motor skills.  Check.  Lost some fine motor skills. 
  • The whole shooting until the threat is stopped.  Check.  Did that - of course, the scenario didn't end until the bad guy was neutralized. 
  • The whole attitude is everything.  Check.  I can grip and present a gun with the best of them.  Couldn't hit anything, but, man, if attitude would have taken down the bad guys, I wouldn't have ever needed to squeeze the trigger.
I've shot Defensive Pistol off and on for a long time; I've been under pressure from the clock and other competitors.  But that didn't do much to prepare me for FATS.  I had a hard time interacting with the screen - screaming alpha commands at it just wasn't working for me.  Lucky for me, one of the girls in my group had that down pat.  In Defensive Pistol, it's just one person killing all the bad guys.  Makes for a bad team player when grouped with others.  So, #1 and #4, I apologize for being a bit scattered.

I did okay with most scenarios, but there was one that raised my frustration level like you wouldn't believe.  The scenario was that we were called to a wholesale warehouse (like Sam's Club or CostCo) where a man with a shotgun was confronting an employee.  My frustration came when we couldn't get the person who called to shut up and get out of the way, then we were moved through the aisles until we came to the end of one.  I found myself peeking around the corner just like I would in a match, but the camera took us into full view of the bad guy.  #1 killed him dead; I followed a shot or two behind.

I was completely disoriented by the camera movement; in matches, we're expected to move around the course, standing still and being moved by the camera view was just plain weird.  By the end of our eight million scenarios, I'd adapted to the camera movement and was doing better.

The other thing that frustrated me about FATS training was the lack of immediate feedback when firing.  I squeezed the trigger and had no idea where my bullet went.  I know that sounds horrible, and it was horrible.  Any time a gun is fired, the shooter should know where the bullet went.  I thought I had my sight picture lined up and I know I wasn't jerking the trigger, but I consistently was a little high on playback. 

Despite my disorientation with the camera movement and my frustration with not knowing where my bullets were going, I loved FATS training.  It was excellent for shoot/no shoot training and made me really analyze what I was doing and why.  There were people that I didn't shoot (and correctly, it turns out) because they didn't feel like a threat, but I couldn't articulate why I chose not to shoot them.  However, I can absolutely understand why people would shoot them; their actions could absolutely be interpreted as aggressive or dangerous.

In the half hour we had with FATS, we must have shot seven or eight scenarios.  I can happily say that I did get better with every scenario and that I had an *amazing* head shot on a bad guy holding a baby in a car seat in one arm and swinging a machete with the other.  I fired one round and killed him dead.  I am also thrilled to say that no one in my group was killed or shot an innocent.

I thought we were going to get to see Jeffery Deaver shoot - apparently, he's quite the competitive shooter - but we moved onto the next round of simulation training, the VirTra simulator.

With the VirTra simulator, we all got to shoot individually and I LOVED IT!  It may be that we got to start off shooting steel poppers.  I love shooting steel poppers.  Doing so gave me a chance to get to know my weapon and gain confidence.  Again, I had trouble giving alpha commands to a screen, but I had a blast shooting the bad guys.

One scenario completely threw me for a loop.  I was called to remove an employee who had been fired, but was refusing to leave the building.  He was standing at his former desk, with a cardboard box of his belongings on the desk and he was flat-out refusing to leave the premises.  The problem was that I was giggling because all I could think of was the movie "Office Space" - I just wanted to give him his red Swingline stapler and usher him out the door.  Instead, he reached in the box and pulled out a Glock.  I knew he was going to eat lead a split second before he did.  I hesitated, not wanting to shoot him and be involved in a "suicide by cop" situation.  In the moment of my hesitation, he shot himself.  "Oh Shit," was all I could say.  That scenario was set up for failure - either I shot him to neutralize the threat or I let him shoot himself - either way he ended up dead.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lessons Learned

Now that the euphoria of completing an entire match weak-handed has faded, I can take a look back at the videos and critique them.

First, my grip sucked.  I should have re-read our post on proper grip.  Being so right hand dominant, I can see that my discomfort with using my left hand impacted my grip.  I did not hold it like I owned it and it showed with feed failures.  I worked like crazy on getting the proper grip while in the holster and throughout my presentation (draw), which explains why I never had a feed failure while shooting my first magazine.  However, I obviously didn't maintain that grip during/after magazine changes (or, in the case of Stage 1, after switching hands back and forth).

Because I didn't have a proper grip, I couldn't control my muzzle flip, which increased my time to get back on target.

Second, as a general rule, I shoot using a Weaver/Modified Weaver stance (the differences between the two are so subtle, most people can't distinguish them).

When I looked at the videos, though, I noticed that left-handed, I gravitated toward the Isosceles stance.

The debate over which is the superior stance is a post for a different day, but my point is that it's not a stance I normally use, which also played a part in my slow-as-molasses-ness in acquiring my sight picture.

I had intended to shoot the match and be done with shooting weak-handed.  The problem is, I've got a lot of work to do.  Am I confident I can hit what I'm aiming at weak-handed?  You bet.  But can I do it in a timely manner? Not so much.  RCC pointed out last night, as he was watching the videos, that I need to work on speed.  The bad guys would have killed me five or six times over by the time I got my first round off.  He's right.

Questions for you: Do you work on specific skills when out at the range or do you just go out "to play"?  Do you set shooting goals for yourself?  If so, what are your shooting goals?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Defensive Pistol 9-4-11 (warning: long post, picture and video heavy)

I've been talking about shooting an entire match weak-handed for a couple of months, but hadn't done it yet.  The last month I planned on shooting weak-handed, the person I was going to borrow the holster from couldn't find one and I ended up shooting it strong-handed (I'm a righty).  Then I was at HCR for the following month.  This time, instead of planning on borrowing a left-handed holster, I just bought one.  I've practiced with it exactly twice.  Did I have a whole month to practice?  Yep.  Did I?  Just twice.  Have I mentioned I'm a procrastinator?

Nevertheless, this morning, I loaded up with my left-handed holster and left my right-handed ones at home.  That way I couldn't chicken out at the last second and procrastinate again.

Stage 1
Starting position: seated in pickup, handgun loaded and holstered,hands on steering wheel, seatbelt on.
Course of fire: remove seatbelt, engage P1 & P2 from inside the pickup; engage T1 - T3 from across the truck bed and P3, P4 and T4 from the back bumper. 8 total targets.

Here's the video.  Just a note, the gun wasn't malfunctioning - I was.  Every time it didn't go into battery was because I was limp-wristing it.  Totally my fault.  It only happened once or twice (or three or four times).  Each flipping stage.

Stage 2
Starting position: loaded, holstered handgun, standing in the shooting box, hands at side.
Course of fire: engage targets from either side in tactical order: right side standing behind cover; left side behind cover, shooting under the "wall".  8 total targets.

Here's the video.  I'm pretty happy that I was able to hit the steel plates that were hidden behind the good guys without hitting the good guys.

Stage 3
Starting position: shooter in box A, handgun loaded and holstered, arms at side.
Course of fire: shooter steps into box b (pink outlined area), engages T1 - T11 in any order; do not shoot the good (white) guys.  11 total targets.

This stage scared the bejeezus out of me!  Do you see how many good guys there are?  Nine good guys, eleven bad guys.  Yikes.

Stage 4
Starting position: shooter in shooting box, handgun loaded and holstered.
Course of fire: Three strings: 1) engage T1 & T2 in tactical sequence (one each and then clean up with a second round each), shooting free style; 2) engage T1 & T2 in tactical sequence, strong hand only; 3) engage T1 & T2 in tactical sequence from low-ready, weak hand only. 6 total targets.

This one looks (and felt backward) because my "strong" arm today is actually my weak arm in real life.

Stage 5
Starting position: shooter behind door, strong hand on door knob, handgun loaded and holstered.
Course of fire: open door with strong hand only, draw and engage visible targets in any order; targets hidden behind the "walls" must be shot in tactical order (slicing the pie). 11 total targets.

Yep, the limp wrist strikes again.  I like the beginning of this run, but I can't seem to get the rhythm after the magazine change.

Side match: Rifle
Starting position: shooter behind the door, rifle loaded, muzzle in a safe position.
Course of fire: open door with strong hand only, draw and engage visible targets in any order; targets hidden behind the "walls" must be shot in tactical order (slicing the pie). 14 total targets.

This is a long video - I was going to edit it down, but I had too much fun shooting the stage to want to cut any of it out.  Besides, I want everyone to see the beautiful head shot I had from the doorway and Mez video'd the scoring.  I kinda forgot one target, though.

Working out with El Poquito Diablo really helped when I was having trouble with the rifle; I had the extra oompf I needed to manhandle the 9.25# rifle.  After the stage, one of the other shooters told me that I was having problems because I was hitting my left forearm with the charging handle.  I didn't feel it, but you can see where I had the charging handle flush against my left wrist.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Steel Challenge 8-27-11

RockCrawlinChef, Mez and I shot the Steel Challenge last Saturday.  It was the first time I'd ever done it and it was a blast!  I've shot Defensive Pistol off and on for years, but hadn't bothered with the Steel Challenge.  In the interest of broadening my shooting horizons for my next application to Top Shot, I'm shooting anything and everything.

During a Defensive Pistol match, it's not unusual to go through approximately two hundred rounds, so I didn't realize how tiring shooting the Steel Challenge would be.  I shot it using my step-dad's Ruger MKII (.22 LR) and didn't think that two hundred plus rounds of .22 would be a big deal, since I normally shoot a .45 ACP.

The biggest difference, for me, is that the Steel Challenge feels like an endurance match.  Shooting the same stage five times, one right after the other, takes a lot more stamina than shooting each stage one time like you do in Defensive Pistol.

I wasn't sure I'd like it, since the stages never change month to month, whereas in Defensive Pistol the stages are different every month.  I can definitely see the advantage in being able to compare stage times each month - it's an easy way to measure improvement.

Another thing I learned is that I shoot better right to left than left to right.  Odd, isn't it?  If I hadn't shot the Challenge, I would have never known that.  For some reason, it's easier for me to pick up my sight picture moving to the left than to the right.

Since I videotape pretty much *everything* when I'm shooting now (more application footage), I have a video of some of the stages...

I think I've got Tara Janzen talked into shooting it with us next month - it's a good segue into shooting matches, something she's been talking about doing, but hasn't quite gotten there yet.

I took the Bosu out to the match, though I didn't shoot off of it.  When we were done with our stages, Mez and I asked if we could try to shoot the last stage from the Bosu.  Unfortunately, I ran out of memory on the video camera before we hopped up on the Bosu.  We both took a turn and decided that next month we'll be shooting from the Bosu, just to up the ante a bit.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gun Powder Therapy - Pretty Much a Perfect Way to Spend a Sunday

July/August was a disaster for me; I traveled for work and then went to Julie Goodnight's place for a week to film her TV show, Horse Master with Julie Goodnight, made an appearance at RomCon and then raced up to the High Country Rendezvous.  The constant running around, even though it was only for about ten days, really cut into my range time, so it felt *fabulous* to be out on the range today.

Boss Man fixed my Para (it was the three-fingered spring - yay me for guessing that!) and I wanted to put a couple hundred rounds through it to make sure all of the ghosties are gone and that it'll be okay to take to the September match.  I'm all about challenging myself, so I decided I'm going to shoot the September match completely weak-handed.  I'm confident in my ability to shoot weak-handed, but I've never presented from a holster left-handed or changed magazines with my right hand.  I picked up a cheap Kydex paddle holster the other day and spent some time today working on presentation.  Holy cow, it was U-G-L-Y!

(Yes, Mez was nearby, just barely behind the firing line, but I was doing dry-fire practice with empty magazines.)

Throughout the day it got more smooth, but I've got just two weeks to get as comfortable as possible before I do it at the match.  That means even more dry fire practice at the silhouette on my bedroom wall.

Mez brought out his new toy, which for the life of me I can't remember the manufacturer, a .308 carbine (essentially a FN FAL, but Austrian-made).  That is a sweet shooting gun.  We had an 8" steel plate about 60 yards out and I hit it with every round I shot right-handed from an off-hand (standing) position.  My accuracy wasn't as great with my left hand; I only hit the plate about 50% of the time (but I did manage to shoot holes clean through the legs, which are much smaller than the plate, that ought to count for something, right?).

Of course, standing around plinking at paper's not a ton of fun, so we decided to add an extra degree of difficulty and set up our own carbine course.

Yep, pretty much a perfect way to spend a Sunday.

Monday, August 8, 2011

RomCon 2011

I was thrilled to be invited to be a "special guest" by Tara Janzen and Cindy Gerard during their 3-hour "Special Ops" presentation at this year's RomCon.  RomCon is a romance readers convention; there are no writing workshops or agents to pitch to, just romance authors and their readers.

L to R: Cindy Gerard, Tara Janzen, Cullen, me

Cullen, our master gunsmith from Colorado Gun Works, did a presentation on the "toys" he and Tara brought, which included Kid's rifle and Skeeter's shotgun.

Kid's rifle: Remington 700P chambered in .308 with a Schmidt und Bender PMIIK scope.
Picture by Terry Odell

Skeeter's Shotgun: Remington 870 with too many toys/customizations to mention. (Though I could if you asked.)
Picture by Terry Odell

During the course of Cullen's presentation, he asked the crowd to guess how many weapons he had on him.  The guesses ranged from three to thirty-some.  They kept count as he pulled guns off of his ankle, out of a shoulder holster, out of a pocket and knives out of his tie, pockets and god-only-knows where else.  All guesses were wrong.  The right answer, and the one I hope everyone remembers is: ONE.  He had one weapon with him, his brain; the rest were merely tools.

If you never remember anything else from this blog, please remember that your brain *is* your weapon.  Use it.

During the course of the presentation, we were asked to demonstrate a Wingate maneuver, which both Tara's and Cindy's heroes have used in their books.  Unfortunately, since I was busy being "killed", I don't have any pictures of the demonstration, though I do still sport the bruises from the rubber knife.

Spending three hours with Tara's and Cindy's fans was a good time - it was wonderful to see so many women take an interest in the weaponry and feel like they had a safe place to ask questions without being ridiculed.

For a participant's take on RomCon, click over to Terry's Place and see what she had to think about it.  Terry's an author whose blog I've followed for a couple of years; I had the opportunity to hang out with her at Writers' Police Academy last year and was thrilled to see her at RomCon.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Couple of Quickies

I'm so sorry for being behind.  I've still got lots of posts in my little brain, but need to get them from my brain to my computer.  In the meantime, I've been shooting as much as possible even though I didn't make the cut for Top Shot this time.  I still plan on working out and shooting everything I can get my hands on to apply for the next season.

Anyway, I've got just a couple of quick videos to share from last time we went out.  Deejo (my brother) finally made the move from Arizona to Colorado (yay, Deejo!) and I'll get to shoot with him more often now.  But first we have to get him back into shooting shape.  Mez's .45-70 kinda kicked his butt.  Well, his shoulder.  Take a look...

I fared much better in the shoulder department when I shot the rifle, but could not stay on the Bosu.  I guess that means that I've got a lot more core abdominal work to do in order to stay up during the recoil.  I also sort of made a mistake.  We had a dueling tree out with us.  It was out thirty-thirtyfive yards, a reach for the handguns, but just right for the rifle.  Um.  Yeah.  The dueling tree lost.  Big time.

In the video, when we're looking at the plates, you can hear me say, "I didn't do that".  On playback, you can see that I very clearly did do that. 

Anyone know where I can buy new plates for the dueling tree?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why The Gun Is Civilization

This was sent to me in an email from a fellow GunDiva...I thought I'd pass it on...

by: Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and

force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of

either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding

under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those

two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact

through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social

interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is

the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use

reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your

threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon

that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger,

a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger,

and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys

with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical

strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a


There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad

force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more

civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm

makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course,

is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed

either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most

of a mugger's potential marks are armed. People who argue for the

banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and

the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A

mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a

society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal

that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is

fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are

won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on

the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't

constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings

and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun

makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker

defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is

level. The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an

octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply

wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal

and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight,

but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means

that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm

afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the

actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the

actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the

equation...and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No News Is...

...Well, no news.

Actually, I think it's fairly safe to say that if I haven't heard from Top Shot yet, I didn't make it through the application phase.  The next step is the Final Casting that begins this weekend in LA.  Pretty certain if I had been chosen, I would have heard already.

It's kind of bittersweet.  I really do want to compete on Top Shot, but I also know that my application and video weren't up to par.  Tara's got me convinced to apply again and not be so rushed - take some time with my application and video instead of just slapping it together.

I'm relieved because I feel like my life has been on hold - I couldn't make any summer plans because I didn't know what was in store.  Honestly, I have great bosses who would not have had a problem with the time I would have needed to take off, but it's a lousy time for me to be gone.  One of our medical instructors just got another job and is leaving next week; an adjunct instructor just informed us that she only wants to teach one class a mod and no directed studies; and the list goes on.  It would have been doable for me to be gone next week, but it would have been tough. 

Six weeks through August and September?  Again, doable, but it would put an enormous strain on my co-workers and that's not fair.

The plan is to re-group, put together a dazzling application and submission video, and give it another go.  I know I can go and compete well.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Want to improve your shooting?

By: GunDiva

If you read my other blogs, you know that I have a serious love affair with the Bosu ball.  My trainer has had me on it since February and I've seen a drastic change in my riding confidence (not to mention a 4" loss from my waist).  From the first moment I laid eyes on the Bosu I've been dying to use it as a shooting platform.  A strong core will make a world of difference in speed and accuracy when shooting.

So, for months I've been telling myself I was going to buy a Bosu.  I'm gonna get one...I'm gonna get one...I'm gonna get one...

Well, finally, last week I got one and couldn't wait to try it out.  Here's what I learned from shooting from the Bosu...

It's absolutely unforgiving.  You get off balance and you pay for it.  It can teach you a lot about your weaknesses.  For instance, I didn't realize that when I reholstered, I was shifting my weight ever-so-slightly forward until I tried it on the Bosu and almost fell off.  Shooting from the Bosu requires that you keep your knees soft and your core tight at all times.

I knew going in that I was going to love shooting from it, as I had already seen drastic results in my riding from it, so I dragged it out to the range and let Tara shoot from it.  It's tough, but the grin on her face after just a couple of rounds was worth it.  She agreed that it was a handy dandy training tool.  We decided that the Bosu was going to be a part of our shooting gear.

Having made that decision, I hauled it out with me today to go shooting with Mez.  It was the same story - some hesitation, followed by a huge grin.  In fact, Mez got two rounds into it and declared that he was going to buy one for himself.  It says a lot (to me at least) that two shooters I highly respect find it such a great training tool.

It is most definitely not for beginner shooters - anyone who wants to shoot from the Bosu should be comfortable with safe gun handling to the point that they practice it without thought.  Both Tara and Mez came off the Bosu at one point this weekend, but they kept the guns pointed in a safe direction with their fingers off the trigger as they came off.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Defensive Pistol 6-5-11

I'm a week late in getting this posted, I had hoped to post these videos much earlier.

Last week was the monthly defensive pistol match at Colorado Rod and Gun Club.  It's pretty much the most fun you can have for $10 and 200 rounds of ammo.  I was excited when we did the walk-through and found that we'd be shooting prone.  While I've certainly shot from a prone position before, I don't recall doing it with a handgun.  I love the challenge of doing new things (or doing old things in new ways). 

The stages just got better and better and I got more and more excited to shoot. 

Then we got to the bowling pins.

Bowling pins are my kryptonite.

(Unless you're from Top Shot and reading this.  If that's the case, I love bowling pins. Oh, and you might want to skip this video.)

I only deflated a little bit at the bowling pins, because they had the Texas Star set up.  There's no middle ground with the Texas Star - you either love it or hate it.

Once you hit one of the plates, it falls off and sets the star to spinning.  It's fabulous and I love it - you can never shoot it the same way twice, as you can never predict how it's going to move.  Of course, I got so excited about the Texas Star stage, I forgot to ask Mez to film it for me.  I can tell you that I was the first in our group to shoot it clean and complete (and then, not to be shown up, Mez shot it clean with a damn five shot revolver).

I don't remember what this stage was named, but it was fun.  We had to leave our gun in one area, our magazines in another and start while sitting at a table.  I almost slipped and fell on my arse coming around the table, but recovered and managed not to make too big a fool of myself.  Well, I mostly didn't make a fool of myself.  I kinda shot a no-shoot target.  Oops.

My Para's been acting up.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know she's kind of finicky and has had some temper tantrums, but I was able to keep her going with little office visits to the gun doctor.  A hundred and forty-five or fifty rounds into the match, she gave up the ghost. 

I broke her. 

She didn't jam, she didn't booger, she didn't goober. 

She broke. 

I haven't taken her apart yet to look at the extent of the damage, but I can tell you that a free-swinging hammer is not a good sign.  I can't say I didn't expect it, because I know she had parts that were wearing out and I was just being too cheap to buy new parts and have her overhauled.  She does have something like 10k rounds through her.

However, because I knew she was on her last legs and might booger up on me, I threw RockCrawlinChef's gun in the car - just in case.  It's a good thing I did.  Once the Para went belly-up, I went to the car and swapped out guns.  RCC shoots a S&W M&P 9mm.  Lucky for me it's an M&P, because I easily swapped out the backstrap to the small size and it fit my hand beautifully.

So, off I went to shoot the last stage with a gun I'd never fired before.  The shooting gods were with me on that stage, as I shot it well.  I was more than a little pissed at the scoring, which you might hear on the video.  I got penalized for a missed headshot, when, in actuality, the target didn't rebound in time to catch my second round. 

I argued a bit, but decided to just go with being pissed.  Whatever.  I shot the stage well and did it with a gun I had never fired before.  Guess I'll just have to be happy with that.  There is a big difference between shooting a .45 and a 9mm, though.  It's a lot harder to see the holes in the target, which is why I shot at the far target four times - I just couldn't see the holes in the cardboard.

So - a question for my fellow GunDivas (and GunDudes) - do you enjoy new challenges?  What is the most challenging thing you have done shooting? 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Range Day

To prepare for Top Shot (see? Positive thinking), I'm getting as much range time as absolutely possible, learning new weapons, and re-familiarizing myself with guns I haven't shot in a while.

I have a plan.  My plan is to practice everything ambidextrously.  I figure it's just a matter of time before the folks who come up with the challenges will dream up weak-handed shooting.  They got close in Season 2 with the Trick Shot Showdown, when the contestants had to shoot with both hands.  Besides, if you have confidence in shooting with your weak hand, you can pretty much do anything.

I'm good with my pistol weak-handed.  Slow, but good.  It took a lot of practice, but I like having the confidence that I can do it if I have to.  Honestly, it's a ton of fun to do, too.

One of my "boys" - one of my original shooting buddies - has stepped up to the plate and offered up his time and energy to help me out.  Mez and I have put a lot of lead down range together.  If I make it through the casting process, it will be because I've got a whole slew of people who believe in me and who are willing to help me out.

Before Saturday, I had never shot a long gun weak-handed, but I was determined to do so.  I was also determined to shoot offhand, as it's the most unstable and therefore most difficult position to shoot from.  I headed to the range with RockCrawlinChef (and his family) to meet Mez immediately after I finished a killer workout.  I'll call it a win that I could hoist Mez's 9.5# with my jello arms.

Here's the AR15 footage.  I shoot it like I shoot my pistol weak-handed - slow.

I'm surprised that my shaking arms weren't visible, but then even the slightest movement looks enormous when you're sighting down a barrel.

By comparison, the .45-70 was light-weight.  What a rush shooting that was!  I shot the shit outta that gun weak-handed.  However, you'll see in the video that my core was weak and the recoil pushed me around more than it should have.

 The Little Bastard...Gymnastics Boy...El Poquito Diablo, as my trainer now likes to be called, will be so disappointed in my lack of core strength.  Guess it's time for more Bosu work. I'll be buying one within a week to practice shooting from.  The next time I shoot this .45-70, it won't knock me around so much.

I had an issue while shooting my 870 weak-handed; I'm so used to racking the slide with my left hand that I'd fire, then try to move the pistol grip backward before I realized that I had to work the action with my right hand.  The tactical 870 that I built for myself had a mercury recoil system that I put in and it weighed 12.5#, so the recoil - even from shooting heavy slugs - was minimal.  I have yet to modify this shotgun and I'd gotten spoiled shooting one with next to no recoil.  This new one kicks like a damn mule.  The thing about shotgunning is that if you're not on your gun like you're supposed to be, it will tell you about it - often painfully.

I have just a couple of seconds of video of strong-hand shooting my 870, but I'm going to share it anyway because I *love* shooting my shotgun (even with the resulting mule kick).

I didn't get video of all of the guns I shot on Saturday, mostly because everyone else was shooting too!  But here's a list of what I shot:
  • Lever action rifle (.45-70) - my bad, I don't remember the make/model
  • Long barrel AR-15 (.223)
  • Remington 870 (12ga)
  • Remington 700 (.223) - shot from prone just because I could; strong-hand only because the eye relief for my weak-hand was completely wrong, but I tried.
  • Glock (9mm)
  • Double action revolver (.38) - again, don't remember the make/model
  • Ruger Super Blackhawk (.44 mag) - strong-hand only; forgot to trade hands
I think that's a pretty complete list of my three hours of playing with the bangsticks.  By the time we were done, not only were my arms completely toast, but my upper abs were en fuego.  Maybe an hour at Body Bootcamp before three hours of shooting was a bit of overkill.  But I'll do it again next week!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Mrs Mom posted this on her other blog.

Take a moment during your festivities to remember why it is we're celebrating.

Stay safe y'all.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What I Shoulda Said Part II

I sat down and put together everything that I had to cut out of my Top Shot Interview and once it was done, I was happier with it than the video I submitted.

Dang it.

I suppose that's just a little taste of Murphy's Law.

Dang it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oh What A Night!

This is an idea I really wish more ranges would consider and offer. It's simple- Ladies Night. How many new to shooting and firearms ladies are out there? LOTS. How many feel intimidated by being in a gun shop? Too Many. How many feel uncomfortable being the "only woman" in the shop, asking for help? Again, TOO MANY.

Fortunately, Patrick's Gun Range is NOT one of those establishments that allows staff to treat women as an after thought, giving them lip service and / or a pat on the head, insisting that a lady only needs a .22, because a bigger gun would scare her/ hurt her/ be too hard to operate.

I have been lucky enough to attend two events there now. For Ladies ONLY. Spouses may come- but they are "encouraged" to sit down and enjoy the flat screen TV in the comfortable seating area, or to watch from the outside of the glass. This program is quite literally for the ladies.

First time shooters, returning shooters, done it once but forever ago shooters- ALL are welcomed with open arms, quality education and an understanding staff. They go above and beyond making the ladies comfortable- from answering questions to hands on teaching on how to handle a firearm, every single lady that I spoke with (or helped) left with a better understanding of firearms and a desire to learn MORE.

Because sometimes, that is all it takes. One time, one caring, skilled experience can make a huge difference to new shooters.

The attending ladies learned that shooting is not just for self defense- although that is an excellent option. They also learn that shooting is great stress relief. It offers a new skill set. It offers a chance for you to escape and broaden your education.

Other areas of self defense are covered- batons, defense spray, tazers, stun guns- you name it, the staff will take the time to talk about it and help you gain a better understanding.

To any Range Masters out there, consider setting up a Ladies Night. Treat us right and I guarantee you will increase your business. And ladies, if your local range does NOT offer such a program, locate the manager and ask about it. It's well worth the effort!

Follow them on Facebook!

Friday, May 20, 2011

What I Should Have Said

I got the application for Season 4 off last week, completed/edited the video over the weekend, and dug around until I found a recent picture of me without my baseball cap and shooting glasses on.  Now that everything is off the the casting producer, I have time to obsess and think about What I Should Have Said.

1st, the application:
There was a section on the application for me to rate my skills with different types of weapons, it was a 1-5 scale, with 1 being no experience and 5 being expert.  For the most part, I chose 4s across the board.  I'm better than your average bear with most weapons, but I don't consider myself an expert.  Why?  Because even if I was an expert, I'd never consider myself one.  The shooting sports are constantly evolving, there's always a new gun, a new techniques, a new gizmo out there.  As a shooter, I have to continue to elvolve as well just to keep up.

There was also a section to list our our shooting achievements/education.  Mine was pretty boring, in fact, I may have left that section empty.  Of course, after I sent off the application I realized that I could have put down that I'm an NRA Instructor and that I've qualified for the NRA's Distinguished Expert (pistol).  The thing is, there are thousands of people with those same qualifications, and truth be told, I didn't find the testing for the Distinguished Expert anything to brag about.  Everyone in the shop qualified in an afternoon at the range.  The most difficult part of the testing was controlling my shivering - it was about 20* outside the day we tested.

2nd, the video:
Oh Lord, where to start with this one...In real life, I'm a teacher.  I lecture for four hours at a time.  I can talk.  I'm also on a prescription that really dehydrates me, so I usually have a piece of gum in my mouth.  Except on the day we shot my submission video, I ran out of gum.  I look like I've got Tourrette's on video, what with the constant swallowing trying to generate some saliva and lip-licking to keep my lips from sticking together.

Beyond that, though, talking to a camera is a whole lot different from talking to a class that can interact.  Before I started, I actually thought I was going to throw up.  Once I got started it wasn't so bad - not sure much of my personality came through, but I managed.

Three to five minutes sounds like a long time.  Should have been plenty of time to answer all of the questions, throw in a personal story or two, and add some shooting clips.  Riiiiiiiggghhhtttt...  I cut about four minutes of talking out and could only squeeze in about 10 seconds of shooting.  Most of what I cut out were my personal stories, where my personality really came through.  So, personality is now on the cutting room floor due to time constraints.  Maybe once the application process is closed, I'll do a montage of "outtakes" to put up here, just for fun.

The thing is, if I had a chance to do my video over again, I don't think I would change a whole lot about it.  Maybe make sure I have some gum and water handy.  Maybe run through a practice or two of what I wanted to say, but the instructions were specific about not reading cue cards or giving a presentation.  I had a mental outline of what I wanted to say, but that was it.

3rd, the photo:
I've gained weight in the last few years.  A lot of it.  I'm working out religiously, watching what I eat, and the pounds are coming off oh, so slowly.  I haven't spent a lot of time in front of a camera since I gained weight.  I had to provide a recent picture in which my face was not obscured by a hat or glasses.  I live in a baseball cap and/or my shooting glasses.  It was unbelievably difficult to find a picture without them.  After much digging, I found one from March that I sent in today.

Believe it or not, I almost forgot to send in a picture.  Maybe it was subliminal :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Creating a New(ish) GunDiva

A couple of weeks ago, Tara and I met up with Judy, a woman who had contacted me about wanting to refresh her shooting skills.  It took a couple of months to come up with a good time for all of us to meet, but we managed.

While Judy had taken a basic pistol course and currently has a CCW, she felt like she needed more time to be comfortable with shooting.  After reading how anal we are about gun handling, she felt comfortable enough to ask to shoot with us.

Our weather has been hit or miss, mostly miss, so we were extremely pleased to have a beautiful day to shoot - the first in a very long time.  Even more surprising than the nice weather was that the range was pretty empty.  Usually the nice weather brings people out in droves.

After a slight delay getting to the range, we finally got set up.

So, here's the thing...Judy didn't really need us.  She had all of the basics down.  A couple of minor adjustments and some lead downrange was all it took.  Instead of buying targets, Tara and I use the small (6") paper plates and stick a 1" orange dot on them.  Judy danced around the plate with her first round of five shots - had we been shooting at "real" targets she would have been on paper immediately.

The next five rounds were on paper and she never left it.

Judy's the kind of person who doesn't like to be a bother and was kind of hesitant to ask to shoot with us.  I can understand that - I'm the same way.  It's even harder to approach people you've only met online (and armed people to boot).

However, one of the main purposes of this blog is to help unite and support women shooters.  To create a space that is comfortable for us; one where it's okay to ask the "dumb" questions and not worry about being ridiculed, where we don't have to watch our ps and qs - we don't have to worry about shocking each other when we "admit" we enjoy shooting - it's not taboo here.

Shooting with Judy was an honor and delight and I can't wait to do it again!

Welcome to the GunDivas, Judy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

To all of our pistol packin' mommas!

(or rifle packin')

(or shotgun totin')

(or revolver shootin')

Have a great day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Well, Well, Well...

Back in March, I got a wild hair up my butt to look into applying for Top Shot.  I don't remember why the thought ever crossed my mind, but I came across something that said if I was interested, I should shoot an email off to the casting agency to express my interest.

So, while I was still not in my right mind, I sat down and composed this lame-o email:
My name is GunDiva and I want to be the next Top Shot!

I am a third generation native of Fort Collins, Colorado (yes, home of Fat Tire beer). I started shooting seriously about eight years ago, competing in our local monthly defensive pistol matches, where I had the opportunity to shoot against Bud Bond (who bested Jerry Miculek in the 2001 World Shoot-off Championships). One day, when we were shooting head-to-head the shooting gods smiled upon me and allowed me to beat Bud not once, but twice. Truth be told, both times were flukes, but he took an interest in me and mentored me - as he did many Northern Colorado shooters - for a few months. I've been extremely lucky to have an excellent support system - from the guys at the gun shop, to my instructors, to my fellow shooters - that has always encouraged my shooting goals.

While I am by no means a professional or competitive shooter, I am enthusiastic and eager to learn about all types of weaponry.

Ugh.  I was not thrilled with my email and had even asked Tara to write something on my behalf, but then I came to my senses and dropped it.  You've all read the email - would you contact me?  I wouldn't.

So I put it out of my mind, didn't spend another second thinking about it.  They opened up the application process for Season Four, but I didn't apply.  Like I said, I'd regained my senses.

Yesterday, a call came in from an unfamiliar number.  Since I was at work, I let it go to voicemail.  Imagine my surprise when I checked my voicemail and this is what I heard:
Hey, GunDiva, my name is Greg, I'm the casting producer for Top Shot on History Channel.  I got your email and I want to follow up with you, so give me a call.  Again, this is Greg from Top Shot.
Y'all, my heart stopped.  Ashinator and Monster were in the store buying something to drink when I checked my messages, so I saved it and waited until they got back in the car.  They knew something was up and I played them the message.  They couldn't believe it either.  I couldn't wait to get back to the house and share it with RCC.

I called Greg back and talked with him for a short bit.  He asked several questions that I didn't have a coherent response for; I should have been thinking about the answers all along, but since I never expected anything to come of my email, I was caught flat-footed for several of the questions.

I'm not kidding myself, I know probably the only reason he contacted me was because I'm a female shooter and there probably aren't that many female applicants.  I'm not a competitive shooter and I may not even fit the bill for a recreational shooter, but I am a female shooter who loves it and I want to share my love of shooting with, well, everyone.

The biggest question he asked me: "Can you win Top Shot?"

I hesitated while I thought about my answer - lots of thoughts were tumbling around my itty-bitty brain at that point.  I was mentally replaying all of the episodes I'd watched and how many times I thought, I can do that.  And I answered, "Yes, I believe I can."

I don't have all the fancy shooting credentials that even their amateurs have; I've only shot locally at our gun club, but damn it, why not me?  Why shouldn't a nobody shooter from Colorado win?  Heck, if I make it through all of the steps of the application/audition process, I've got just the same chance as everyone else who makes it through, so why not me?

At the end of our conversation, Greg asked me to submit an application and submission video.  The timeframe is short - I only have until the 20th to get my video together and to him.  Let's hope that working on the application and video tomorrow on Mother's Day brings me luck, because that's the only time I've really got to do it.

I've got so much to do - I don't want to be caught flat-footed again.  I've got to work out harder and longer; I've got to get lead down range (lots and lots of lead); I've got to re-familiarize myself with guns I haven't handled in a while; I've got to get my hands on other types of weaponry so that I don't look like a total doofus; and I've got to convince my boss to let me have up to seven weeks off this year.

The phone call from Greg was one tiny step in the process.  The next step is to make it through the application process.

Wish me luck.