Saturday, January 28, 2012

Momma's Getting A New Gun!

Well, a new-to-me gun.  The gun itself is about six months old and belongs to my shooting buddy, Mez.  He goes through cycles where he stocks up his gun cabinet(s) and then goes through and weeds out some guns, then doesn't like the emptiness of his gun cabinet and buys new guns.  You know, like some women and shoes.  Only the stuff in his closets is useful.

Being a wonderful shooting buddy, he offers me pretty much first dibs on any guns he's thinking of selling.  And, boy, oh boy, I wish I'd had the money when he sold his AR-15.  But I didn't and it went to a good home, I'm sure.

This time, when he emailed me that he was selling a gun I jumped right on it.  Not only is the price right, but I've been looking for one just like it.  It's a GSG (German Sporting Gun) 1911 chambered in .22.  Yes, you read that right.  A .22 caliber 1911.  I didn't get the one pictured in the link, with the faux suppressor.  Mine looks more like the one below:
Not my acutal gun, but one similar.  Image from Google Images
Some of you may be wondering why on earth I would want a 1911 chambered in .22 for Pete's sake?  Sounds a little odd, doesn't it?  The reason is simple.  My Para, though I love her to bits, is expensive to feed.  Putting more than a couple of magazines through her is, well, sometimes cost prohibitive.  Unless Mez is doing reloading for me, which he does frequently.  But that's beside the point.  With this little GSG I can practice 'til my little heart's content and not break the bank.

I can shoot the Steel Challenges with this gun for $20 instead of $100 (or more) to shoot the Para.  I'll still shoot the Para for the Defensive Pistol matches, but will "train" with the GSG.  I won't need any new accessories; since it's a 1911, it will fit in my holsters and I can practice my draws while at the range.

Additionally, I can now do my Fit Shot workouts at the range and not cringe about the money flying down range, when each workout requires something like 60 rounds.  As much as I love Fit Shot, I couldn't afford to do a workout each time I was at the range before.  Now I can :)

There are some .22 conversion kits that I could buy for my Para so that I could train with the gun I'm going to shoot, but they're a whole lot more expensive than this GSG (even a brand new one is only around $300) and with the GSG I get a complete gun, not just parts to change out in the Para.

I understand the argument about about training with the gun you're going to shoot, and I agree with it. However, training with a similar gun is better than not training at all and with the cost of ammo, similar is going to have to be good enough.

I've shot this gun and loved it.  It's a great little plinker and just a whole bunch of fun to shoot.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome New Followers and Lurkers

According to Stat Counter, our views have jumped dramatically, so I want to take a minute to say "hi" and "welcome" to our little piece of the blogosphere.

I thought a little of our history and an orientation to our site might be helpful to new followers and lurkers.

The GunDivas started life as "Girls With Guns" back in April 2010, a joint venture between Mrs Mom and me.  Two female gun nuts who found each other through the interwebs (actually through our respective horse blogs).  Tara joined our ranks shortly thereafter.  The whole point of the blog was to share our little bit of knowledge and experience with other female shooters - we knew there had to be more than just a few of us. Our bios are at the top of the screen - just click the tab for each of us to learn more about us individually.

Last January, GWG became The GunDivas when I wanted to buy the domain name for GWG and found out that not only had the domain name been purchased, but that it's essentially a T&A site.  Yikes. All I can say is no wonder Tara and I got so much attention at SHOT Show last year when we told them which site we wrote for.  Yeah, wrong site. Color me embarrassed.

Now, Country Tea runs her own Girls With Guns blog, which looks like she started last November and I've pretty much read the whole thing, which is well-written and doesn't have a single T&A mention.  You should go check her out.

I've added a column to the right (lower part of the page), labeled "Fellow GunDivas' Blogs".  As I find new female shooters' blogs, I'll be adding them to the column so make it easy to see what other females are doing around the nation.  Please feel free to recommend new blogs to add to the list, but be aware that we reserve the right to choose which blogs to link to.

The word cloud (top right) lists our most common tags, though it's not an exhaustive list.  To see all of the posts related to a tag, just click the tag and it'll bring up the posts for you to choose from.  For example, when you click "Shooting Tips", you'll find posts on proper range attire, how to fit your pistol to your hand, proper grip, etc.  If you click "Reviews", you'll get gun and parts reviews.  I know Mrs Mom is currently working on a review of her 1911 after switching from a Glock.

We're also on Facebook!  I don't Tweet and have no clue as to how to do one, but it's something we'll be looking into in the future (I think).  To find us on Facebook, just click the picture on the right.

Again, WELCOME to our new followers and lurkers.  Please feel free to leave comments or questions, we don't bite, and we love to get to know our readers.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Parts Review (warning: long and media heavy)

Note: this is an unsolicited review of the shotgun parts my husband got me for Christmas.  The opinions are mine and mine alone.

Last month, I wrote about the parts RCC got me for my shotgun and how easy they all were to install.  Shortly after BAMF (yes, that's her new name) got put together, we arranged a range day with my boys, Mez and Z joining us.  I was anxious to see how everything was going to work.  On my previous shotgun, one similar to RCC's, I had a Breako mercury recoil reducer, which made shooting the 12 ga as comfortable as shooting a .22.

Blackhawk Knoxx Special Ops Adjustable Stock
This is advertised to reduce felt recoil by about 90%.  Having been spoiled in the past with the Breako, I wasn't sure this one would even come close.
Here's what it looks like in real time...

Not too bad.  The felt recoil is greatly reduced to the shoulder, almost as well as the Breako system.  With this Knoxx system, the receiver actually moves back into the buttstock to help absorb some of the recoil.  The springs in both the grip and the stock itself help dissipate the recoil before it gets to the shoulder, which is great.  What is not so great is that when the receiver moved back to it's original position, it tended to smack me in the cheek.  Ouch.

In slo-mo you can see the recoil move through the gun and my shoulder (and cheek) looks much worse than it really is.

RCC had been shooting his shotgun, which has the Breako system in it, so I asked him to shoot mine to compare them side-by-side.  He says that they are pretty much the same, not enough difference to choose one over the other with respect to decrease in recoil.

Since he's eight inches taller and a few pounds heavier, I wanted to see what it looked like when he shot BAMF.  Here's his video in real time...

And in slo-mo...

It looks horribly brutal in slo-mo, but it's not (other than the cheek slappy thing, which you can see in this video).  I didn't get smacked every time I shot, just often enough to make it uncomfortable.  Would it deter me from shooting a bad guy?  No, but I did find myself reaching for RCC's shotgun more than my own.

Rating: 3/5.  Yes, it does reduce recoil, but the ocassional literal slap in the face isn't worth it in my book.

PowerPak Modular Cheekpiece with Shell Carrier and Battery Holder
The high cheekpiece was a necessity for me, as the optic sat way too high on the receiver for me to use without it.  It still wasn't quite high enough to effectively use the optic, which turned out to be okay in the long run.

The Shell Carrier, being on the right hand side of the gun, is convenient for a right-handed shooter.  With the left hand stabilizing the gun, it should be fairly easy to grab a shell out of the carrier and insert it into the chamber.  The only problem is that, brand new, it's awfuly tight and takes a lot of yanking to get the shell out of the carrier.  In order to get my last shell into the carrier, I had to pry the space open with a screwdriver.

I don't know if it will loosen up or get easier with use, but I've loaded up the Shell Carrier with Snap Caps for practice.  I did notice that it was a little easier to load the Snap Caps after I'd had shells already in the carrier, so I'm hopefull it will loosen up.  I really like the ability to carry a variety of additional rounds.

Rating: 4/5.  The whole having to use the screwdriver to load up the carrier was irritating.

Mako Remington 870 Handguard with Three Rails
While I really like the idea of rails, I'm not in love with this handguard.  The forward rails on both sides tore up my hand.  I lost a chunk of thumbnail from the left-hand rail - hurt like a bitch - and a chunk of skin from my index finger from the right-hand rail.  If I moved my hand back to the near end of the foreend, I didn't get smacked or lose any portions of my body.

I want to be able to place my hand anywhere on the foreend without worrying about getting bit.  To say this pissed me off would be an understatement.  The foreend (or handguard) is going to go.  I'll go back to the standard Remington foreend until I can afford the SureFire foreend that I really want.

Rating: 1/5. 

Mako Quick Release Ergonomic Vertical Foregrip
I originally didn't want to put this abomination on BAMF, but RCC talked me into it.  It *does* look cool - very intimidating, at least - but I wasn't sure it was for me.

So, partway through our shooting day, I made good on my promise to RCC to at least give it a try and put it on the handguard.  I ran a few rounds through the gun and noticed that I could cycle it so much faster, which I loved! 

What I didn't love...the damn thing bit me.  Now, remember, I'd already lost a chunk of thumbnail and a chunk of skin off of my fingers.  Not to mention getting slapped upside the head by my recoil system.  You can see in the video that I get a couple of rounds through and then look at my hand.  I originally couldn't figure out why the base of my thumb hurt.

The vertical foregrip *did* solve the problem of getting smacked by the rails and losing skin, but there is a gap right at the top of the foregrip, where it attaches to the bottom rail and that's what was biting me.  I think that a couple of strips of electrical tape might be just the fix for it.  Of course, if I decide to keep it, that means I also have to keep the Mako handguard.  It'll take another trip to the range for me to completely make up my mind about what I'm going to do.

Rating: 4/5.  Even though I think it's kind of ugly, it did speed up my cycling of the gun.  But it also bit me, which is the reason for the 4/5 rating.

UTG M87 Tactical Mount
Love it!  Easy to install, looks bad ass.  'Nuff said.

Rating: 5/5

NcStar Red Dot Sight
I loved this.  Yep, past tense.  As I was dialing it in, it broke.  As in the reticle disa-freaking-ppeared.  I got about four rounds through, was just about sighted in, and then nothing.  Nada.  No more reticle.

I think that maybe it wasn't rated for a shotgun, though nothing in the literature says otherwise.  I've got it boxed up and ready to ship back, so we'll see how the next one holds up.  My thought is that it might be okay with a "normal" backward recoil, but because of the set-up of the Knoxx system, the spring, as it returns to its normal position, might cause the recoil to travel upward at a diagonal through the receiver, knocking the reticle around.  Same thought as to why I get smacked with the cheekpiece on ocassion.

Rating: 1/5.  While it was working, it freaking ROCKED!  For four rounds.

Overall impression of the customization to BAMF?  I'm luke warm about several of the components, but really like the gun changes overall.  I think with tweaking things here and there, I'll get her exactly where I want her.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

IPSC Shot Timer Andriod App Review

Note: this is an unsolicited review of the free android app, IPSC Shot Timer.

I've been wanting a shot timer for a long time, but have been loathe to put out the money for one.  I mean, really, I could buy a shot timer OR I could buy ammo.  Guess which choice I made over and over again?

I believe that shot timers are an important tool for training; they make it easy for you to set a goal and objectively reach that goal.  You can see your progress, or lack thereof, with a shot timer.  Until I found the free app, the only time I used a timer was at the range during matches.

While watching one of Rob Pincus' Fit Shot videos, I saw that he had a timer of some sort on an iPad, and thought, "wow, I wonder if...".  Yep, there was an app and it was free!  I did a little middle-of-the-night happy dance when I searched the Android market and found the IPSC Shot Timer app, by Ivan Stoliarov.

There were a couple of things that I loved right off the bat, even without trying it out at the range.  First, you have the option to email the results to yourself, and second, you can save the results for retrieval later.  I don't know that any of the "real" shot timers have those two options.  I find myself storing more and more information electronically, so having the ability to save to my computer or email to myself makes me very happy (and decreases the paper clutter in my house).

Some of the other functions that caught my eye:
  • easy calibration for dry- or live-fire
  • different timing modes: Comstock, Virginia, and Par time (not that I know what any of those are - if anyone knows the difference, please enlighten me)

It's very easy to use.  The main screen looks like this...
Okay, it looks like this without the numbers.
Photo cred: Android market
A quick tap of the "Start" button and you're on your way.  When finished with your string, press "Stop" and flick up the results table.
It gives your overall shooting time in the top box,
and your splits (time between shots) in the
results table.
With the results table open, you have a couple of options; email or save (XML in the picture above).  The range that Tara and I shoot at doesn't have very good cell coverage, so I opted to save our strings and retrieve them later.  You press the save (or XML) button and name the file.
Saving and emailing (when you have coverage)
is extremely easy.
I've tried out emailing results to me where I have cell coverage, and it works like a charm.  The pop-up window asks for the email address, you type it in and hit send.  It's that easy.

Saving the file is easy, too.  The difficulty is in retrieving the file.  I couldn't figure it out, so I sent an email to the developer, who emailed me within a week (he apologized for the delay, he'd been on vacation) telling me that the files were stored as .xml files.  I'm not very tech-savvy, so when I asked him how to retrieve them, he very kindly told me I had to upload them from my phone to my computer.  I got my answer within 24 hours.  No complaints about customer service from me.

Shot Timer creates a file on your phone called, not surprisingly, Shot Timer and stores the files in there.  To retrieve the files, you must upload them to your computer.  I had a hard time opening the files using the Window-suggested program, but opened them without a problem in Wordpad or Notepad.  Yes, it's an extra step to get the results, but without the ability to immediately email them to myself due to crappy cell coverage, I'm not too upset about it.

I ran into a couple of issues with the app; some of them were my issues, some due to my phone, but none due to the app itself.
  1. Inability to email the results - phone/service issue, not the app's issue.  I resolved it by saving the results and retrieving them later.
  2. Inability to see the screen in bright daylight - phone issue, not the app's.  Even with the screen shaded, it was hard to read.  I did read a review on the Android Market website about this issue, and the reviewer seemed to think the developer could have worked around it, but I'm not so sure.  I have a hard time reading my screen, period, in bright daylight.  Once I used the timer a couple of times, I knew where on the screen each button was, so I didn't necessarily have to see the screen to work the timer.
  3. Inaccurate split times - completely, 100% my fault.  I didn't calibrate the timer.  It's very easy to do and I neglected to do it, which resulted in the timer picking up additional noises (even speech).  If I had taken the ten seconds (yes, that's all it takes) to properly calibrate the timer, I wouldn't have had these issues.
I give this app 5/5 stars. 

The customer service has been good, the app functions better than I expected, and - extra bonus - it's free!  I'm looking to upgrade my phone in the next month or so, at which time, I will purchase the ad-free version.  I'm astounded that this is only a Beta version of the app and that it functions so well; that has not been the case with other Beta versions of apps I've used.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


By: Tara Janzen

Four years ago, one of the local newspapers interviewed a gun shop owner in our town. It was a great article, up until two-thirds of the way down, where the owner told a story about a woman coming into his shop, wanting to buy a gun. Problem was, she didn’t know anything about guns, but she wanted one. As the gun shop owner talked with the woman, he started getting the idea that she was a little nervous about buying and owning a firearm, so in her best interests, he said to the reporter, he advised her not to buy a gun. (insert dead silence here)

Right. Guns are for guys only. Or guns are only for people who already know about guns. WRONG, and doubly wrong because it was a woman who got turned away. Even nervous, she hauled herself down to the gun shop and into a situation where she knew she was in over her head – and she walked away with a pat on the head, and no gun.

The question in my mind has always been – “What made her think she needed a gun?” And the answer, 99.9 times out of a 100 with a woman who is not already a shooter, is – “She thought she needed to defend herself.” And if she thought she needed to defend herself, she DID need to defend herself. A situation in her life, or someone in her life, was making her feel threatened, and she instinctively knew, probably without being able to put it in these words, that NOTHING LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD LIKE A .45.

That woman made the right decision to go and buy a gun. Unfortunately, she went to the wrong gun shop. If she’d gone to Colorado Gun Works, she would have walked out with a lot of knowledge, suggestions for shooting classes, a few dozen stories about women the guys at the shop know who shoot a lot, and an introduction to those women, if she’d wanted it. She would have been shown a number of guns for her to buy, and been encouraged to handle those guns, and she would have been shown how to safely handle those guns. The guys would have made her feel right at home, right there in that bastion of firepower and testosterone – Colorado Gun Works. Most importantly, she would have walked out with a gun, the right gun, feeling darned confident about her decision to buy it, and she would know that if she had any questions later, she had a place to come and get answers.

When I walked into Colorado Gun Works the first time, I was there to do research. I had already written CRAZY HOT and CRAZY COOL and realized I needed to learn something about all these guns my characters were shooting. At the time I had never even seen a handgun, except in the movies, and had certainly never shot one.

Fast forward six years later, and I own one rifle with glass to make a grown man weep (yep, it’s that good), two shotguns, three revolvers, and three semi-automatic pistols – and I shoot all of those guns, and yes, I’ve got my eye on a couple more.

More importantly, I have a new mindset about self-defense, and it starts and stops with three words – WINNING THE FIGHT.

All of this is thanks to Colorado Gun Works. From the Boss Man, to the guys behind the counter, to the OBB, as the Diva calls him (I usually just go with BB, for Big Bad) everyone at CGW has had a profound effect on my life. I’ve shot a few 1000 yard matches, and won once – which made me intensely famous among a very small group of people. I have the score sheet and the cash winnings from that day on display in my office.

Now the Boss Man is leaving, taking the shop with him, and the sense of loss is huge and complicated. For a lot of folks, myself included, the shop has been a home away from home. Many of us practically lived there. The welcome was always warm, the gun talk always fascinating, even if sometimes so arcane I couldn’t figure out what in the world everybody was talking about. The Boss Man has an encyclopedic knowledge of guns, absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen him stumped no matter what comes through the front door. He also has a special way of creating community. The shop is the Boss Man, with a warm welcome, a warm smile, and easy conversation – though be warned, he can hear everything that’s being said in the room, even while he’s talking to somebody else, and sometimes when he asks questions, you are quickly reminded that he used to be a cop.

He’s going home, setting up shop in a place where he has deep roots, and from the bottom of my heart, I am wishing him and his family well, wishing him all the best of life. His old stomping grounds look like a great place to live, and I know he’s glad to be moving back.

But what are the rest of us going to do without our home base? Like the Diva said, mourn, spend more time on the range and less time sitting at the counter, take each other’s phone numbers and work at keeping in touch, and try, so help me God, not to spend too much time leaning up against the front door on the empty building and wishing like hell that we could still get inside.

Yeah, let’s try not to do too much of that.

Don't forget about the give-away at A Girl and Her Gun.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

FitShot, Take I

I *finally* made it out to the range to try out FitShot with live fire.  I've been substituting weights for my guns at the gym for a couple of weeks, keeping in mind the point was to be able to do it with something that went bang.

Tara and I went out to the range and I realized I'd have to modify what my plan was.  Some idiot, who will remain unnamed, left her gun belt at home.  Not a huge deal, as the holsters I packed were paddles, but I couldn't add my second mag carrier because it's a belt carrier.

It was a brisk 42* at the range, with no wind.  That, right there, is a miracle.  There's almost always wind at the range.  The intro to FitShot calls for doing the sit-ups and squats with a carbine, but since I don't have one, I used my handgun instead.  Also, I was supposed to do release push-ups, but without my belt on, my holster kept sliding around my waist, so that I would have been laying on it.  I didn't want to grind dirt into my gun, so I went with regular push-ups instead of release ones.

Here's the modified workout:
  • 20 full sit-ups; 10 shooting right, 10 shooting left
  • 20 squats; 10 shooting right, 10 shooting left
  • 5 push-ups, 5 rounds.  2 sets shooting right, 2 sets shooting left

I felt like I was moving fairly quickly through everything, but once I watch the video, I can see that I can shave off a whole lot of time by being more efficient in my movements.  I got spoiled doing this in the gym; there, everything is nice and level and easy.  Not easy at the uneven range, but a whole lot more fun!

Tara even had us running and shooting, but since we were both doing it, there's no video.

I would highly encourage everyone to try to incorporate some form of fitness into their shooting routine, because, let's face it, when the fecal matter hits the air circulating device, our hearts are going to be thumping and our fine motor skills are going to be shot all to Hades.  Might as well doing something proactive to give us the advantage.

I forgot to post my target when this post went up, sorry.  The target's not as gorgeous as it could be, but I'm not too upset, as this is a whole new exercise for me.
And don't forget about the give-away at A Girl and Her Gun.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Great Opportunity

You know, we here at The GunDivas, value gun education and empowering women shooters.  A Girl and Her Gun is giving away $300 toward a gun education class of the winner's choice.  Since she posted about it, several people have jumped on board and have offered other prizes - it looks like the winner will make out like a fat cat.

This give away is aimed primarily at new shooters, so if you have a potential GunDiva who would like to join the ranks of women shooters, please direct them to A Girl and Her Gun.  It's an amazing opportunity.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mourning My Gun Shop

One of the biggest changes to come about for me in 2012 is the closing of "my" gun shop, Colorado Gun Works.  Despite knowing that Boss Man *hates* Colorado and despite me telling him for years, "if you hate it so much, leave", now that he's actually doing it, I'm sad.

Boss Man is keeping the business open, "just relocating" to Southern Indiana.  But I'm not relocating and my local store is closing, so what will I do on Fridays?  Where will I go to hang out and get my gun/girl time with Tara?

There's a lot of whining I could do about missing my shop, but instead I thought I'd look at the positive side and share with everyone how the shop has impacted my life and helped me grow as a shooter.  If you've read my profile (the tabs at the top of the page hold profiles for all of us contributers), you know that an old boyfriend of mine started me shooting.  But it was more of a "how cute, my girlfriend can shoot" kind of thing with him. 

Never once, not ever, did I get that kind of vibe from the boys at the shop.  From the first time I walked in to look over their inventory, I was welcomed.  Not only was Boss Man welcoming, he was willing to spend time talking to me.  The shop was unlike anything I'd ever experienced; it had more of a coffee shop atmosphere.  Come in, grab a stool at the counter, and talk about anything you'd like - religion and politics included.  I spend a few months in and out of the shop, just talking, before I received my Glock 23 as a birthday present from my family.  After that, I literally spent hours a couple of evenings a week hanging out at the shop.

Boss Man encouraged me to take a concealed carry course from The Original Bad Boy, a man who has truly "been there, done that".  The Original Bad Boy is the only person I've seen disappear in a room full of people.  If you've never met anyone with that ability, it's down right spooky.  He just goes so still and draws no attention to himself.  Next thing you know, he's gone.  His favorite place to disappear was the couch by the coffee pot.

The money I spent on the class with The Original Bad Boy was worth every damn cent.  I could have taken two other classes for the price of one of his, but I learned so much in the eight hours at the range with him that I would never have learned otherwise.  We started with the basics - this is a gun, this is where the projectiles exit - and ended shooting on the move, from cover and concealment, learning how to think tactically.

About the time I'd taken the CCW class, I'd started shooting at the Defensive Pistol matches and spending even more time at the shop.  When I started shooting Defensive Pistol, I was the only female shooter in a field of between twelve and fifteen shooters.  Now, when I go, there are about ten female shooters out of a field of between thirty to forty shooters.  It's a huge growth of women shooters.

Defensive pistol introduced me to even more people who would influence my shooting.  Notably, Bud Bond, who was one of the fastest revolver shooters in the world. Think Jerry Miculek fast.  Think fast enough that he actually beat Jerry in 2001.  Bud took me under his wing, as he did many shooters, and I learned a ton from him.  Imagine my happiness when I beat him in a head-to-head challenge at one of the Defensive Pistol matches.  Of course, I was shooting my Glock and he was shooting his revolver.  He fumbled a re-load - which rarely happened - but it gave me the edge.  I never beat him again, but I thank the Shooting God for letting me feel that joy.  And the confidence it gave me was unparallelled.

When Boss Man had an opening, he hired me for weekend work.  I drew exactly *ONE* paycheck from the shop and it was for something like $38, before I learned the joy of a "shop account".  I worked for Boss Man for almost two years and in that time I got to learn and do some amazing things.

I learned to build an 870 from the receiver up as my birthday present to myself in 2005. She was called, alternatively, my "12 guage flashlight" or my "flash 'n trash" shotgun.  Tara calls it the "Skeeter Special" in her Steele Street series.
Boss Man found this old receiver and gave it to me as my starting point...

I'm supposed to build a shotgun out of this?!

The cure for an old, rusted receiver?  Robar!

Once I got the receiver back from Robar, I added a new barrel and put on the pistol grip

Almost shootable

6 position AR-15 buttstock with mercury recoil system,
Hogue pistol grip,
Vang-Comp safety,
JP trigger group,
18 1/2" barrel with rifle sights,
extended mag tube,
...still missing a couple of things

Now it's complete!
SureFire foreend,
Side saddle shell carrier,
and Ballistic Resources sling.
I loved my shotgun so much, I built one for my brother Deejo for Christmas, too.  His shotgun, similar to mine, but lacking the SureFire foreend, made an appearance as Red Dog's shotgun in one of Tara's books.
Looks good in black, too.
Our shotguns, side-by-side, shooting clays.
Yes, you can shoot clays with an 18 1/2" barrel,
but it ain't easy.
The guys at the shop became "my boys": Matt, Robbie, Mez, Z, Brad.  They took me under their wing and helped my shooting grow exponentially.  Even though I was a newer shooter, they never took the "how cute, she shoots" approach with me.  They all treated me with respect and as an equal, which helped to increase my confidence. 

Our marathon shooting days were stuff legends were made of.  In the picture above, you'll see eight cases of clays.  We shot them all.  That day.  And that was only the second half of the day; we'd started with pistols.  An average shooting day for us lasted anywhere between 6-8 hours and literally included thousands of rounds each.  God, I loved my store account.

Not only did the shop introduce me to my boys, I also met Tara through the shop.  The Original Bad Boy asked me to co-teach one of his pistol classes, and the rest, as they say is history.  Tara and I hit it off and we started shooting here and there together.  As we shot more frequently, our friendship grew.  We took a trip to Elk Mountain on the Western Slope of Colorado and took a day's worth of private classes from Valhalla.  We've also competed together, using her Remington 700 .308, at 1,000 yard matches.  From never shooting a gun to competing in long-range matches in just a few years, Tara's shooting skills have exploded.
At Valhalla

At Byers' 1,000 yard match
Together, Tara and I have introduced several women to shooting.  The most memorable was an 80+ year old woman who wanted to learn to shoot.  She was a spitfire; the little .22 rifle we had her shooting was almost as big as she was.  I've not had a comparable experience since; she was so thrilled to be shooting that it was contagious.

In fact, our dream is to be able to do more to promote shooting among women.  There are not nearly enough women-friendly places where one can feel immediately comfortable and be treated as an equal.  Women shooters are being recognized as legitimate shooters, thanks to women like Julie Goloski Golob, one of my shooting heros, who are making the world take notice.  But there's still a disconnect between retailers/instructors and women shooters. 

I'm not man bashing here, but men are not women.  Unless a woman stumbles into a situation like Tara and I did, it's difficult for women to be taken seriously as shooters.

Working at the shop not only introduced me to new people and skills, but allowed me the opportunity to shoot guns I'd never otherwise be able to shoot.  I have the confidence to try new things because of the shop.  Where else would I have gotten to shoot an actual elephant gun, a .458 Lott, or a .50 beowulf, or a .454 casull?

I was unbelievably lucky when I first walked into Colorado Gun Works.  That store, and the people in it, the experiences I had, literally changed and shaped my life for the better. Not only am I going to miss you, Boss Man, but I'm going to miss the shop.  There's a big ole hole in my heart right now.