Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shotgun Modification

I am not a gunsmith nor do I claim to be one.  There's a whole heap about guns that I don't know and I've always taken mine to a gunsmith if anything ever needed to be done mechanically.  Cosmetically, though, I've been known to play around, mostly with easy-to-do additions that look impressive but are actually very easy.  I "built" a shotgun from the receiver up several years ago, but I left the important things, like trigger work to Boss Man.
I *loved* this shotgun, my 12 ga flashlight.
Sadly, I got broke and had to sell my baby.

I had so much fun, I built Deejo a shotgun. 
Deejo's baby AKA Red Dog's shotgun

Last Christmas, I modified my Remington 870

And over New Year's helped RCC modify his Remington 870. 

Essentially, everything I've done to an 870 has been plug-n-play.  When Junior, my other brother, asked me to build his shotgun a few years ago, I said sure.  For some reason, though, he had to buck the trend and buy a Mossberg 500 instead of a Remington 870.  I bought the buttstock he wanted and then his build stalled out, meaning we were both too broke to buy the shotgun.  For going on five years, he's held on to the buttstock I bought him hoping for 'someday' to come along.  M, my future SIL, gave him 'someday' for his birthday this year and bought him his Mossberg.  He has spend the last month finding and ordering the accessories he wanted.  Finally, last week they all came in, which meant that I was on the hook for putting together his gun.

No problem, I thought.  I'd always been told that the Mossbergs were as easy to customize as the Remingtons - how difficult could it be?  He only wanted a couple of things added: a heat shield, a tac rail, a side saddle,and his buttstock.  I insisted on the mercury recoil system and he willingly agreed.

I guessed it would take about forty-five minutes to do the whole thing.  Two screws to take off the butt plate, one screw holding the stock to the receiver, a couple of screws for the tac rail and the side saddle, pull the barrel off to slide the heat shield on.  Seriously, forty-five minutes to put it together.  The mercury recoil system wouldn't take long to install, but it would take eight hours for the acrylic to cure.

Holy Mother of God was I wrong!  My projected forty-five minutes (and I thought I was way overestimating my time) turned into five hours. 



So not kidding.  I wish I was.

About the only thing that went right was taking the two screws out of the butt plate.  Yep, that went well.  And then the entire thing went to shit.  The bolt, screw, whatevertheeffitis, that holds the buttstock to the receiver cross-threaded and we spent an hour trying to back it out.
An hour.
Doing this.
The screw was destroyed and the threads were stripped out.  Junior made a run to the hardware store and got some new screws.  We managed to find one that worked only to realize that the adapter that came with the stock was too short.  Luckily, the stock also came with adapters for a Remington.  The Remington adapter was too long and the Mossberg one was too short.  No problem.  Junior cut the Remington one down to the correct length and after a very long afternoon we were able to attach the stock to the receiver.  Hallelujah!

The side saddle went on without a hitch.  A miracle!

The tac rail went on without a hitch.  Two for two!

The heat shield.  Mother Effer.  I knew it was too good to be true.

I got it on, but couldn't get the front end to clamp down enough to thread the screws, so I handed it over to Junior.  He couldn't get it to work either.  Thank God RCC was available, because after about forty-five minutes of creative swearing and doing everything I could think of, I was ready to throw the whole gun out the window.  RCC managed to work some magic with a C clamp, a pair of pliers and an allen wrench.  Whew!  Heat shield - done.

I had Junior secure the shotgun vertically so I could pour acrylic into the stock to suspend the mercury recoil system.  At the shop we had these wonderful bench vices that we could adjust to make sure that everything was level - I tell you, I really missed those vices a lot while putting this gun together.  I mixed the acrylic and Junior figured out a way to support the shotgun that would keep it secure over night while the acrylic cured.
Worked like a charm.
In order to suspend the recoil system in the acrylic, Junior found an old metal plate that he could put a screw through and attached the recoil system.  We let it sit over night to cure.  In the morning, all he had to do was remove the screw and re-attach the butt plate.

I have to admit, it is a pretty gun...
Only took five years to build,
but at least it's done.
Too bad the damn thing doesn't go bang.

Okay, okay.  It goes bang.  Once.  If you directly load the chamber.

I panicked a little bit, thinking I'd done something to completely screw up my brother's gun.  But we didn't do a darn thing that would have impacted its ability to cycle.  Come to find out, he'd been having trouble with it cycling ever since he bought it.  Boss Man is now in Indiana, I can't just run it by the shop and have him look at it.  However, one of "my boys", Stein, apprenticed under Boss Man for several years so I called him.  Thankfully, Stein speaks GunDiva so when I was explaining about the thingy on the inside of the receiver that releases the round from the magazine so the other thingy can pick it up and load it into the chamber, he knew what I was talking about.  And better yet, he can fix it.

You know what I learned from this experience?

I hate Mossberg 500s.  I'll stick with my 870s, thankyouverymuch.

Range Rant

Today, I went out to one of the few shooting areas that is still open to the public and was appalled to find one of the areas looking like this:

I know it looks like they had a lot of fun, but they forgot a couple of very important things.  First, clean your shit up!  As we started cleaning up, we found out that they also forgot that guns and booze don't mix!

You know, it only took about three minutes of this...

To make it look like this...

Seriously.  Three minutes and five plastic bags that we managed to scrounge up from our cars.  Didn't take hardly any time at all, certainly the drunk bastards who left the mess weren't in such a big hurry that they couldn't spare three minutes to clean up after themselves.

It's because of idiots like the ones who left the mess that we're losing our places to shoot.

I feel like not only is it important to teach our children about gun safety, but how to be good stewards of the land.  If we allow our children to grow up to treat our public shooting lands the way these idiots did, we won't have any public shooting lands left.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Guest Post: A Girl and Her Gun

A week or so ago, I read one of AGirl's posts about her training and I was struck by how amazing her training has been.  I tell you, when AGirl makes up her mind to do something, she does it right.  I thought that the training she did was too important to just link to, so I asked her to guest blog here.  If you don't already follow her, you certainly need to.  And if you've clicked over from A Girl and Her Gun, welcome.

About a year ago I was mugged walking out of a grocery store parking lot.  Unfortunately for me, I ended up on the ground with a not nice man on top of me.  After that experience I decided it was time that I got a gun and learned how to use.

I have spent the last year taking a variety of different classes and spending an awful lot of time educating myself on the best ways to stay safe.

While I still have an awful lot to learn, I feel very comfortable that I have a good solid foundation with my firearms training, but recently I have wanted to step it up a bit.

I have friends who think the “odds” are against being attacked and even if a person is attacked it’s rarely that bad, so carrying a gun is overkill.  I also know people who carry guns, but think basic shooting skills are plenty because they think the chances of needing an extra magazine or force on force train is so rare that it is just a waste of time and money.   Since I have already been face to face with a bad guy and ended up on my back while my daughter watched, I do not have the luxury to live in that fantasy world.  Most people think they are safe as long as they don’t go into “bad” neighborhoods or go out at night.  I agree with them, that there are plenty of things we can all do, to make ourselves less of a target, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.  For me, it was broad daylight, in a ‘good’ neighborhood. I was with a small child, and I wasn’t causing any trouble. Most people would assume, I would be safe, and like me, they would be wrong.  I think part of the reason I didn’t react and leave when I saw the guy approach me is that my brain just didn’t think anyone would be that bold.  I knew he was a bad guy, but it had been ingrained in me that people don’t attack people in a parking lot in the day time, but that proved to be incorrect.

I think anything one does to make themselves less of a target is great and I think the more one can do to avoid a violent encounter is fabulous and I do believe that there is much we can do to avoid ever having to use deadly force, but I am not leaving my life in the hands of the odds makers. For me, I don’t train for the events that are mostly likely to happen; I train for the least likely.

 A couple of weeks ago, I headed out with my husband and some friends and we did some out of the box training. 

One of the first things we did was, we learned how to access the gun if we found ourselves on our backs.  John, the instructor and owner of the range, simulated pushing us down. We would fall, then kick, kick, kick, then spin on our backs until we faced the target, then we drew and shot. We each did this several times and I cannot tell you how many things I learned about positioning my body, equipment failure, and mindset with this one drill. Just being conscious of how the body falls and practicing how I want to fall, if I can, so it becomes more automatic, is extremely valuable. It reinforced trigger placement and how important it is to NOT put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot.  If any of us had done so prior to muzzle on target, we could have blown a hole right through one of our legs. This is not a good thing to have happen in a gun fight, or ever really.
All photos courtesy of A Girl and Her Gun

I felt pretty good about this drill, but something interesting happened when the next person did the same drill.  I call this woman Mrs. Awesome and her husband Mr. Awesome, cuz they are, you know, awesome.    Both Mrs. and Mr. Awesome carry in the Remora holster.  They love it and so do I.  OK, time for the drill. John pushed her down, she kicks, spins, goes to draw her gun and it's not there.  It is not in the holster.  She does well, she feels for it, finds it and shoots, but we were all kind of like, "Not good!"  She was wearing the model with the reinforced top, so I said let's try it with the collapsed version.  I had mine in my range bag.  She did.  She falls, spins, draws and the gun was there, but when she drew the whole thing came out, holster and all.  Here are 4 people that use this holster daily and it failed, big time.  Not a good feeling.  Lots of chit chat, trouble shooting talk.  Mrs. Awesome does not wear a belt, so Mr. Awesome tosses out the idea that maybe that is the issue.  Mr. Awesome is wearing a belt, so he steps up to the line and does the drill.   Falls, kicks, kicks, kicks, draws and all goes well.  We might be onto something.  John happens to have an extra belt, so Mrs. Awesome puts her regular carry gear on with the belt and runs the drill.  Fall, kick, kick, kick, draws, perfect!  Looking good, but let’s do that a few more times just to be sure.  She does not have any more problems.

I see a lot of people go to a training with an OWB holster that is big and clunky and it is not the one they were everyday.  Not a good plan.  The place to find out your equipment doesn’t work, is on the range, not in a parking lot somewhere. To be fair, this really wasn’t an equipment failure as it was a learning of how the equipment works best which is when a belt is worn.  As an update to this story, John went to a force on force kind of training this past weekend where he wore the Remora while rolling around on the ground, kicking, fighting, and being very aggressive.  He reported having zero trouble as long as he had a good quality belt on. 

Next we did ground work.  We completely disarmed.  Nothing, not even a flashlight on us.  Did the TSA groping drill to be sure no one had forgot anything, then used a blue gun.

We took turns lying on our back, bad guy on top, grab, pop hip, shove off, grab gun, shoot.  This is where I got bruised.  My hips are boney and tossing someone off of me, made my hips black and blue and sore.  I also had a large bruises on my thigh and I am clueless as to how I got them, but he technique is so important it’s worth any amount of marks left behind. Repetition is vital, for skill building and mindset.  If you do end up on the ground it's not good to just lie there and say, “well, I am toast”.  It is crucial that no matter what, you tell yourself again and again, you will make it out.  Being on the ground is not where you want to find yourself and it puts you at a great disadvantage which is why, it is important to train from that position.

We did a drill shooting from retention.  I want to say position 1, but I think I am making that up.  So, you draw, the gun is at your side, low, no extension and you start shooting from there as you move up to the full two handed, extended position.  I think the drill is called "The Zipper"  Another fabulous lesson.  I am rather well endowed, so when I drew my gun and pulled the trigger the slide hit my breast and did not have room to fully go back, so my gun jammed.  I did do tap rack, bang, which only made it worse and instead of taking care of it, I stopped.  This is not like me.  I am very good at dealing with malfunctions and finishing up, but my mind was not on and I noticed everyone else had stopped shooting, so I did too.  NOT the right thing to do.  Anyway, it was a good thing to have happen because it made me aware of an issue and let me know what I personal needed to work on based off of my skills and body. I needed to make an adjustment to my draw.  I did and did not have any more problems.  I will practice that drill a lot in dry fire.

We did some drills where we were pushed up against the wall and the bad was choking us.  We learned to drop the knees to get slack and push the arms out, run, grab gun etc. We ended with some basic marksmanship type drills.

The exact moves are not important and it doesn’t matter if you do exactly what I do, but it is important to start thinking about ways that you can expand your training beyond just standing in front of a paper target that doesn’t move.  Marksmanship is important, but it really is just the beginning.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I Found Her!


Mrs Mom!  Our long-lost co-founder.  Seems she's been too busy with her new business, The Asylum Creations, to do much writing for us.  What is The Asylum Creations, you ask?

Mrs Mom is now doing custom creations, using paracord, to suit any outdoor need.  For most people outdoors, having emergency cordage is invaluable.  Not only does she make a wicked rope halter (in any color you want), but she makes a wicked rifle sling.  I used Double Tap's rifle at the last match and got to play with the sling.

Go ahead - click on over to her other blog and check out all of the cool stuff she's doing, it's pretty amazing.  I'll be ordering my shotgun sling in the near future.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

How Many Is Too Many?

So, the other day I was talking to one of Digger's friends, a kid from Texas who now lives in Wyoming and works with my son.  RCC was showing Digger his new gun and Digger says, "they've got a lot of guns".

I told them both, "we really don't have that many guns, just two 870s, a .223, a .308, the Henry Survival Rifle, the GSG 1911-22, the Para, an M&P, and a PX4 Storm. Not really that many." 

The poor kid's eyeballs 'bout fell  out of his head.

Imagine what he's going to think when we round out our gun collection.

It's more guns than I've owned in a long time, but it's still really only two pistols and a shotgun apiece.  The .223 was a wedding present (thanks, Mez).  The .308 and the Henry are supposed to be "ours", but they're really RCC's.  I'll have to get my own .308 with my own scope mounted for hunting.  I can use RCC's, but the eye relief just isn't quite right.

I still need a back up gun; RCC and I still need to build our ARs.  And then there are the "want" guns, which are too many to list.

I don't know, what do you think?  Nine guns between two adults doesn't seem like too many to me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We've Got Company Coming!

It's been a while since we've had a guest blogger.  Over a year, I think, so I'm really excited that we're going to have company next week!  AGirl from A Girl and Her Gun is going to visit and share some training tips.  I tell you, I've been shooting for eight years or so, and some of the training that AGirl has done in the year she's been shooting has me quite jealous.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Defensive Pistol

On Sunday, I shot in Double Tap's group instead of with Mez, like I normally do.  Because of this, I didn't have anyone to video me.  Or so I thought.  Double Tap has some fancy shooting glasses with a camera built in and since I'm vertically challenged, he was able to video my stage by merely standing behind me.  I haven't decided if that's a good or bad thing, though.

It was a slow stage.  I made the conscious effort to reload multiple times instead of running to slide lock.  The reasons for that were the swingers and poppers.  I had just enough rounds loaded to activate them, but even with my extended 10-round mags, I wouldn't have had enough rounds to engage the targets.

I shot the left hand side of the stage mostly weak-handed, which I think is good practice, so I'm not too terribly disappointed in scoring an eight on the swinger.

I shot the right side of the stage strong-handed and I think the transition between shooting weak- and strong-handed is becoming easier.  Of course, it's always much more comfortable to shoot strong-handed, but switching back and forth between them is becoming much smoother.  If for some reason my dominant arm was injured, I'm confident that I could make the switch to weak-handed shooting without even thinking about it.

Does anyone else practice weak-handed shooting?  How about switching between the two?  What are your feelings on it?

Update:  Scores are in.  I came in second to last in my class (mags with 10 rounds or less).  We had only eight shooters in my class; the top four or five were decided by tenths of seconds.  Not too surprising, actually.  The 1911 shooters are REALLY good.  Really, really good. 

However, when I compared the overall scores, I beat nine of the high-cap shooters.  Which means that even with more required magazine changes than they had, I shot faster and cleaner.  I'm okay with that, since on average their magazines hold seven more rounds than mine do.

Also, the side match with borrowing Double Tap's AR and having problems with unslinging and the stupid magazine release was surprising to me.  I did not come in dead last.  You could have knocked me over when I saw that on the score sheet.  My raw score was competitive, but once my penalties were added in, it dropped me to seventh out of ten.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Defensive Pistol 3-4-2012

I haven't shot Defensive Pistol in a few months, because... well, there really isn't any excuse other than I've become a fair-weather shooter. There was a point in time that I'd shoot no matter what, and I agree that for training, you should shoot in all kinds of weather.  But I'm getting old and I really like climate control.

The proceeds from today's match were donated to Avon's Breast Cancer Walk, so I had planned on going no matter the weather.  I just lucked out that the weather was B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.  So beautiful I got a sunburn and it feels wonderful.  No Vitamin D deficiency for this girl (we'll just overlook the skin cancer thing today).

I don't have the videos yet from the stages, but I do have the video from the carbine side match.  Each month, after we've shot all of the match stages, we do a side match, which is entirely optional.  I don't own a carbine (yet), so I borrowed Double Tap's.  Here's a little tip:  when borrowing a gun, be sure to spend the two or three seconds it takes to familiarize yourself with it.  Had I taken just two seconds to remind myself that the magazine release is on the right side of the gun, I would have shaved almost eight seconds off my time.

This is the AR I got to shoot;
it has one of Mrs Mom's custom slings.

Mrs Mom's recently gotten into making things out of paracord and this sling is one of her designs.  It's pretty cool and since I got to try it out, I know what I want when I order BAMF's sling.

The stage included five pistol rounds, transition to rifle and twenty-five rifle rounds.  I'm not overly thrilled with how I shot it, but I'm not ashamed of how I shot it either.  I did miss the pop-up target - never even got a round off at it - because of poor planning on my part. I should have completely shouldered the weapon, made sure I had a good sight picture, and then activated the pop-up.  Lesson learned.

Despite the fact that I didn't shoot the side match well, I feel pretty good about the day. 

And why wouldn't I feel good about it?  I got to spend the day outside at the range, blowing holes in targets AND we raised over $1000 for the Breast Cancer Walk.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Changes, changes, changes

Ever since I started blogging, the phrase "branding" has been repeated over and over.  What is your brand?  Who is your tribe?  All questions that bloggers are supposed to be able to answer.  I always kind of blew those questions off.  When I started blogging, it was for me and my friends/family.  I never thought about my "brand" or my "tribe".

Even when Mrs Mom proposed that we start this blog, we didn't really put much thought into it - other than we wanted to share our experiences and love of shooting with other women.  Our "tribe" has grown on its own for the past few years, pulled together by a love of shooting.  Though our number of followers is small, we are read (according to StatCounter, Google stats, and RealTime Stats) world-wide. 

Last year, when I came back from SHOT Show last year, I put more thought and energy into this blog and what we wanted to accomplish with it.  Guess what?  What we want out of the blog now is the same thing we wanted from the blog when we started it: to share our experiences and our love of shooting.  Maybe we'll post something you find helpful, maybe we won't, but we won't stop sharing what we know and love.

jwbydesign has been working on creating a web-badge, logo for business cards, and t-shirts for us. At first, I wasn't sure about business cards for a blog.  But how many times have you told someone about your blog and then had to find a scrap of paper to scribble your URL on?  I don't know about you, but it happens to me all the time.  Plus, when we go to SHOT Show next year, they'll come in handy to drop into all of the drawing entry boxes.

Business card option #1

Business card option #2

The t-shirs are purely for fun and promotion of the blog.  We'll donate some to National Take Your Daughter To The Range Day for give-aways and sell the rest, so if you're interested, let me know.  I know a lot of people I'm going to be buying shirts for as gifts - say, pretty much my whole family. 

Love this shirt.  We've found a local company to print
them for us and I can't wait to get mine.

This "branding" thing is kind of fun.  Wonder what took me so long to figure it out?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Teaching Tip

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of auditing one of Double Tap's classes to see if I'd be interested in teaching it for them.  I'll do a write up of the class in a future post, but this tip was too great to wait on.

Instead of using flags or cones to mark distance for students, Double Tap uses inverted funnels.  They don't blow over and you can screw them into the ground.  Since different size funnels are different colors it makes for easy reference for the students as well.

It's a brilliant idea - cheap and easy.  And it doesn't have to be used just for teaching, it will work well any time you go out to the range for practice.