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.