Friday, March 29, 2013

Training Update

It's been awhile since I've last posted.   The battle with the state government over their latest foray into gun control, and the myriad of proposed laws coming from the Feds has left me tired.     All the talk of restrictions on law abiding citizens has lead to a rush on gun purchases and training.   Where I normally teach 1 class a month, February had 3 classes, and March 4, April has 3 on the calendar and May might have as many as 4.   It's a good problem to have, please don't take this to mean I'm complaining I'm not, and this is not the reason for this post, but moreover an explanation for my absence.

I wrote a month or two ago about my daughter wanting to get into the shooting sports and I followed up with our first match on Face Book.   We have continued to train and I thought I'd post a few update notes.   We're going to give Steel Challenge a try in April, so we're back at the range on a regular basis.

Firearm reliability, or more accurately ammunition reliability for a 22 semi auto pistol.   I've been surprised at how many misfires and failure to feeds we've experienced.   We've tried the Gray box Winchester, Remington, American Eagle and some Federal of a different color as well.   The only manufacturer that gave us 100% reliability was CCI.   The others are fine to train with, because it gives us a chance to practice our outage drills, but some days you'd just as soon not have the issues.   OK picked up 300 rounds of CCI for matches (no I can't get you any 22 - sorry).

Practice specific skills.  We learned holster work in the basement with snap caps.  Loading magazines, holster, draw, site alignment/picture on target taped to the wall and squeeze.   Repeat for 15 minutes.  I think you can do more with dry fire practice than most people realize.  Slow is smooth, smooth is fast - speed comes with familiarity.
We also work on target transitions.   It's difficult to do indoors, but if we staple multiple circles on to the target we can do up and down transitions.   Shoot the high circle, shoot the low circle.   Draw shoot 2 to the low circle, then shoot 1 to the top circle.  My shooter has proven to not be too young for one handed and weak handed shooting in small doses.

Next drill will be the numbered circles in array - call out the number to them, have them shoot the number.  

Dedicated time.   Like soccer or track practice, we dedicate a time to go to the range once a week.   I'm not such a hard ass that if she has alternate plans we can't drop it.  I'm taking advice I got from Julie Golob - "try to keep this fun and easy".  So we do.   I'm finding that she has started looking forward to going to the range.

Variety.  Allow your kiddo to warm up at their own pace, no time limit.   We shot at targets close up and out to about 25 feet with the pistol and 40 feet with the rifle.    I noticed that my kiddo was wanting to get the perfect shot regardless of how far away the target was.   I'm a believer in aimed shots, but as a very experienced shooter sight alignment comes very quickly to me.  I taught her point shooting at close targets and using flash sight picture for targets out to 10 feet, aimed shots beyond that.  We'll expand and continue to practice those skills.  But your kids can pick up some pretty advanced skills pretty rapidly, so don't be reluctant to push them.

Keep it Fun.  When shooting becomes too much like chores expect their interest to fall off.   Be flexible with your schedule, but do try to come up with a set time.   What I'm trying to say is if you have a range day on the calendar but it conflicts with a school dance or a friends birthday - let them go to their event, remember they're still kids.

Yesterday we also worked in using a S&W MP15-22.   Earlier in the week we had worked in how to load, unload, reload, safety, sight alignment and stance into our dry fire practice.   This rifle is lighter than your average AR, identical controls,even breaks down for cleaning the same way, and let's face it - it's damn cool.  She worked the trigger reset like a pro, we didn't even discuss trigger reset with the rifle, but she brought that over on her own from the pistol.   We shot at a target at about 40 feet with the rifle.   Since we could not identify hits on the target, she had to focus on the front sight and trust that the gun did what she told it to do.    When we brought the target in for inspection she was very pleased to learn that she was pretty accurate on the target.

Side notes, This rifle eats all ammunition equally and does not have the problem that the pistol has.  No misfires, however the jury is still out on the Plinker Tactical 35 round magazine.   No problems with feeding or reliability out of the S&W mags, but the Plinker has exhibited feeding issues when the magazine nears empty - last 4 rounds.   The S&W 10 round mags can be modified to the 25 round capacity by removing the base plate, spring and follower, and using a hammer and long screw driver to pound out the pin stop that the 10 rounder uses.  No hit on reliability.

Reward.  Taking your kids to the range is very rewarding - it usually makes my week, and yesterday was no exception.   Somethings that I've learned - make the time about them, do your shooting at another time.  Coach them using the their impacts, but don't correct for every shot.   Tell them where they impact so they can focus on the site, if the target can be seen - tell them "good hit".   If they are having a bad day, tell them you have bad days too, it's just how it is some days.  Take pictures of their successes, it tells them it's important to you too.

Yesterday, I notice the 20 something guys in the next lane, and the 40 something guy on the other side, realize that this 11 year old girl had better form, better control, and shot more accurately with her 22 than they did with their guns.   It was pretty fun to watch the reactions as both a father and an instructor.   I'm sure you've all taken your kids to the range, but consider a Basic Class if you haven't, or consider the NRA Basic book and go over it with your kiddo.   This is a time in their lives in which learning is a key part, they can absorb and learn when primed and enthusiastic to do so.   They see how much you enjoy shooting and they want to be a part of that, capitalize on the opportunity.

If you have ideas for instructing kids, or would like to share your success, please leave a comment.

Shoot Straight - Double Tap

Monday, March 25, 2013

Training Logs - Do You Keep One?

If so, what do you include in it?

I've just recently started thinking about this.  In the past, it has crossed my mind that I should maybe track my training, but I was getting way too in-depth and making it far too difficult and taking all of the fun out of my range time.  I think I lasted maybe two weeks of trying to log each and every time I handled my gun.

I know that keeping a training log can be beneficial if I am ever involved in a shooting (which, like most people, I hope I never am), but how in-depth does it have to be?

I know people who log every single round they fire, what they were working on, the brand of ammo, the weather, which position they were shooting from, the wind (rate and direction), if their arthritis was acting up, if their hair was down or in a ponytail, what color underwear they were wearing, etc.  I can't do that - it takes all of the fun out of training.

We've been talking about professional development logs at work and what is involved in those.  So instead of adopting a "Training Log", I'll be doing a type of a professional development log, keeping track of:
  • all defense related classes (knife, carbine, handgun, etc)
  • dates of Defensive Pistol matches I've competed in, since I use them for training
  • all reading (articles, books, blogs) pertaining to defense
I'll have to do some back-tracking for some of this information.  For example, I don't remember the date of the first pistol class I took, or the first AR-15 class I took.  I just vaguely remember that my pistol class was the week before my first Defensive Pistol match nine or ten years ago and that my AR class was during a weekend when it was crazy hot (104+ all day long).  My more recent courses won't be too hard to dig up the dates, because I've blogged about them, so it's just a matter of digging through old posts.

What I probably will not do is keep track of my range time, as I look at that like I do my job at work; it's just what I do and not out of the ordinary, whereas classes and such are above and beyond what I would normally do at work.

What kind of training logs do you keep?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Concealed Handgun Class

Back in the 90s, not long after Texas joined the ranks of states that trust its citizens to carry concealed handguns, I took the plunge and got licensed to carry along with many of my fellow Texans. I have to say, my motivation for doing so at the time was mainly because I could as opposed to any well defined awareness of the need for self defense or any other "valid" reason. I am a guy, guns are cool, and I thought "why not?"

Fast forward a couple of years, and I met the woman who would become The Queen. She grew up as a person of tremendous personal religious faith who believes that one should rely solely on God for personal protection. She is not anti-gun. In fact, she enjoys shooting as much as the next non-liberal person. She was, however, very uncomfortable with the idea of me carrying a revolver in my pocket anytime we took a late night stroll or having a gun in the car when we were out and about.  

Along about license renewal time, I was undergoing a bit of a spiritual awakening myself due in no small part to The Queen's example and God's inescapable influence. Let's just say, I have a somewhat better understanding of the Book of Jonah than the average bear. I came to believe, as I still do, that God is a far better protector than I can ever be, and my part in the defense of self and others is to be aware of my surroundings and lead us not into unsafe places. Nonetheless, I took the renewal class; however, I might as well have not bothered as I never sent my renewal paperwork into the state. 

Thus, my license lapsed many moons ago. It is a decision which I have never been given cause to regret. 

Fast forward more than ten years. I find myself married to a wonderful woman who I love dearly and starting a family through the trials and joys of fostering to adopt. The circumstances of life and money have forced me to abandon active pursuit of my first, non-marital passion, flying airplanes. Needing an outlet for my inner man child, I reverted back to a long dormant interest, firearms.

Much has transpired in the world of firearms since I was last really active in the sport. The assault weapons ban of 1994 came and went. Texas has become more firearms friendly by expanding the castle doctrine to include carrying in your personal vehicle. The polymer gun market niche has gone from the Glock and maybe the Glock to a near majority if not an actual majority of all handguns encompassing most if not all the major names in handguns including Ruger (which was into polymers before polymers were cool with the 22/45), Smith & Wesson and Sig Sauer. You can now even print an AR-15 receiver for crying out loud.

And my gun wish list has gone completely and totally out of control. 

The first thing I did when I became active in shooting again was to buy one of my long time wish list items, a 1911, and get involved in the local action pistol shooting club (mainly IDPA with some USPSA matches to boot). It also had me keeping an eye out for deals on other wish list items and setting money aside when possible to purchase some of those items. 

One of the things that has irked me the most about all this is the background checks they are required to do when purchasing from a dealer. Personally, I don't think a form 4473 and a background check should be required to purchase a firearm. I does nothing to combat criminals obtaining guns illegally, but that's a rant for another time. With The Great Firearms Buying Frenzy of 2012 following the election continuing into this year, I've been told, as recently as late February, that wait times of several days are not unheard of when requesting a firearms transfer through an FFL dealer. My last transfer went through in about 30 minutes on a weekday in the evening after work; however, that was before we all jumped off the Fiscal Cliff with Sequestration and the White House's edict to make the budget cuts are felt by you and I as much as possible. What do you bet manpower for NICS checks went under the budget axe? 

There is a ray of sunshine though. You can get around the point of purchase NICS background check (but not the form 4473...that's also a rant for another time) with a concealed handgun license. They seem to figure, rightly so, that some one who has gone through the hassle of getting a thorough FBI background check, taking a class and paying a hefty fee for a CHL will mostly likely clear an NICS check. So, why waste the manpower and resources to duplicate effort? Right? 

It makes so much sense it's a wonder the government allowed it (that too is a rant for another time).

If that weren't enough incentive, there is this. My sister...the devil started making noise late last year about getting her CHL. Around about November, I saw a Groupon deal that was almost too good to be true: CHL class for two including lane rental for $75.  This was obviously before they stopped offering firearms related deals. Around here that's about the bare minimum for a class for one person (and I've seen some places charging up to $125). 

So, I floated the idea to the family. Anyone interested in getting the class out of the way while they're giving it away for free practically? The Queen politely declined seeing no benefit or need to her which is quite alright as I am not the type of husband to force his wife to do anything she does not want to do. My sister...the devil was interested but decided to make her own arrangements despite me offering to cover the cost if necessary (me thinks she might be kicking herself now). Surprisingly, my mother expressed an interest.

There's a bit of a back story there that I will address shortly. Suffice it to say for the moment that Mimi (as mother is known to the grandkids) probably has the best excuse in the family for getting a CHL even if she never totes a heater in her life. I bought the deal for her and I and booked us the earliest slot that matched our calendars which was in late January. 

Of course, Murphy had a few choice words to say about that plan. I got sick the week before the scheduled class time immediately following which The Queen and newly adopted daughter M&M took ill requiring a rescheduling of plans. I was a bit concerned about this development as it was shortly after this that Groupon announced it's decision to no longer honor firearms related deals. 

Fortunately for me, the range where the class was scheduled did honor the deal. So, no harm no foul. The class was rescheduled for a week ago Sunday, March 10. My birthday, in fact, not that it matters a whole hill of beans.

But, here is my first minor gripe. I checked the range's website for the class' start time and was informed that 9:00 AM was when things got kicked off. Of course, Murphy had to screw with things yet again. This day was, as you will recall, the time change ending Daylight Savings Time (yet another rant for another time). Guess who was out until 1:00 AM the previous evening with his wife at the drive in theater? Guess who thought he had slept in too late until he remembered that his phone automatically updates the time?

Yeah. That'd be me. 

Anysnoozer, Mimi and I arrived at the range with what we thought was 15 minutes to spare...only to find out that class had been going for 45 minutes. 

Doh!! Facepalm!

Fortunately, we did not get any grief from the instructor unlike the young lady who came in a few minutes after us. I did come to her defense and tell the instructor of the website misinformation campaign. He promised to check with the range staff about that issue.  Unfortunately, there were no seats left for Mimi and I to sit together and only a couple of seats left period as the class was booked to capacity if not over capacity. Double fortunately, we had not missed anything important as he spent the first part of class going over range commands and safety.

There was a reason for that which we discovered rather promptly. The shooting portion of the class was to be done first. 

That was a little disconcerting because I had been hoping to have the lunch hour to get Mimi and I out on the range for a little warm up and familiarization. Mimi was to be using a rental gun for the test and hasn't shot handguns much and not at all in recent years. I have plenty of handgun experience, but I've been on shooting hiatus due to the situation with the foster kids which, until recently, kept my trigger time to next to nothing. Needless to say, some practice time would have been very welcome. 

In hindsight, the way they handled this makes perfect sense. This particular range only has seven shooting lanes for reasons that I have not yet figured out as they have room for double that amount. The class had so many participants that it was necessary to break the class up into five separate relays to get everyone through. The range does not open for regular business on Sundays until 11:00 AM. So, the sooner the CHL class gets run through the range, the less interference the range has with regular business.

I was in the third relay, and Mimi was put in the fourth relay at my request so that I could watch over her shoulder and provide moral support as necessary (I was not allowed to coach her at all...which turned out for the best as will be discussed shortly). 

I won't spend much time discussing my shooting. I did well enough to pass with a 248 out of a possible score of 250. I am greatly disappointed that I dropped one shot out of 50 especially when it was an "easy" shot at 15 yards with no real pressure. Two things come to mind in hindsight: 1) shooting is a perishable skill, and 2) I need to focus on my own shooting and not let the cadence of other shooters affect my own timing. 

I've always heard that shooting skills degrade over time, and I have experienced that to a certain extent in the past. However, it's something else to pick up your weapon cold after a several month hiatus and have trouble just finding the right grip. We were supposed to get a little range time in over the previous weekend. Unfortunately, Mr. Murphy saw to that be creating a little crisis that eliminated any possibility of a practice session. 

As far as letting what others are doing get inside my head and affect what I am doing, I think that too is a casualty of not getting enough practice time in. Normally, I can tune what others are doing out fairly well; however, I've always had a little jumpiness when I first get to the range. Some of that is excitement. Some is a healthy paranoia that there are people around me with guns that I neither know nor trust. After the first round or two, my jitters settle down, and I can get down to business. Add in a little performance anxiety and "I really want a perfect score" pressure, and dropping a round here or there is bound to happen. 

I've already posted a photo of my target previously, and it's pretty obvious that there was too much/too little finger on the trigger for at least 20 rounds. Most of those would have been at the 7 and 15 yard lines where shooting errors will be more apparent. Still, I can't complain about getting 30 rounds through the same, ragged, inch and a half to two inch hole. That's good enough to ruin any bad guy's day. 

Poor mom though...oy vey!

First, while waiting for our relays to begin, we did some familiarization and gun handling with rental Taurus .380. The Taurus was of decent size that a good grip was possible. Mimi learned how to operate it in short order and all was assumed to be kosher. 

Then, Murphy struck again. The Taurus bit the dust with several malfunctions in the early relays, and a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .380 was brought in as a substitute rental. Uh oh. No bueno batman. Some of you may be asking why we rented the .380 in the first place instead of a 9mm or other suitable caliber. Two words: AMMO SHORTAGE. The range only had .380 and .45ACP in stock for rental guns. 

Anyone here think turning Mimi loose with a polymer .45 rental gun is a good idea? Neither did I. 

In hindsight, I should have begged or borrowed a solid 9mm (such as my cousin's Kahr) from someone and scrounged the ammo. Oh well. Live and learn.

Back to the shooting. The Smith may be a popular pocket pistol; but, from what I saw of it, I wouldn't spend my money for one on a bet. The sights are non-existent for one thing. The thing is super tiny for another. It makes a Glock 26 feel like a full sized gun by comparison. Next, it too suffered from several malfunctions most of which were of the failure to go fully into battery variety. I will give it the benefit of the doubt and chalk that up to Mimi's gun handling as she was having a difficult time remaining steady for personal reasons. Bottom line: caveat emptor. Don't buy one unless you have tried it personally and know that's what you want. Don't buy one for someone else unless they've asked for it specifically. 

Come to think of it, that's pretty good advice for all firearms purchases. 

I don't have a photo of Mimi's target, but I think she would agree that it looked she had dumped a couple of loads of buckshot at it from over 15 yards as opposed to aimed fire from a .380. Part of this was due to her lack of familiarity with the gun. Some due to her inexperience as a pistol shooter

Some, however, was due to the personal issues I have mentioned previously. You see, Mimi had an encounter several years ago in which she woke up at 6:00 AM to find a naked man on her balcony. She lives alone in a small, country town and this was a bit of a shock to say the least. The man was later identified as a mentally disturbed Viet Nam vet which did nothing for Mimi's state of mind.

With time, the purchase of a Ruger 10/22 for home protection (her choice after several hours at a gun show with plenty of input from unbiased sources), and a major home remodel including elimination of the offending balcony, she gradually came to relax in her own skin and home again. 

She agreed to go to the CHL class with me, as she put it, "...because I think I need to."

I took that at face value until we got to the range for the shooting portion where it became apparent that she was not completely comfortable with things. I assured her she was under no obligation to continue if she didn't want to, but she bravely soldiered on. Even when it became apparent that her shooting was not up to par. 

I will give kudos to the instructor here. He was beyond patient with Mimi, giving her pointers as necessary and helping her clear the malfunctions in the Bodyguard. His scoring of her target was...shall we say...generous. He gave her a 212 out of 250 where 175 was the minimum passing score. I'm not saying he counted some holes twice, but I'm not saying he didn't either. 

For her part, Mimi reported after the fact with a few tears peeking out of her eyes that she was surprised to have feelings from the naked guy incident bubble up during the range time. She told me, wisely I think, that she wants to take a step back and start over with a handgun 101 class and possibly some private instruction before circling back around to take the CHL class again. Even though she "passed" the class, she does not feel she is ready. And that is a decision I respect. 

After the shooting was over, it was time for lunch before the mind numbing class room portion of the class going over the minutiae of Texas deadly force and gun laws. I confess that I had a hard time staying awake and took every opportunity to get up, stretch and get fresh air. Mimi and I both passed the written test with no problems. 

It was a good experience overall. I enjoyed the mother/son bonding time. The instructor did a good job of making the class room material interesting with personal stories from his own experience as well as funny video clips to break up the monotony. 

Soon, I will have a newly minted CHL in my pocket with all the rights and responsibilities associated with that. I anticipate very little change in my current behavior. I still do not plan on carrying regularly. My main reason, as mentioned earlier, is to remove some of the hassles associated with my hobby. In addition to no more NICS checks, I can now also go to and from the range and not worry about taking my gun off if I have to stop for groceries on the way home.  

And, I can now carry a gun when chaperoning my daughter on her first date...when she turns 30. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

BUG Day at the Range

Finally, Tara and I were able to get together and go to the range.  It had been weeks and I get cranky without my Tara time.

I had Baby Girl and all of her new holsters, so I wanted to try them out.  Though we didn't plan on our range time becoming BUG day, it did.  She carries a .38 revolver and Baby Girl is a .32.  Look at the size difference!

Apparently, the Beretta is more of a "micro" gun.
I started with my hidden-in-plain-sight mini day pack.  Baby Girl sits in it beautifully, and around here, no one will think twice about me carrying this on my waist.

(For the record, I *hate* having my picture taken)
The hardest part of carrying in the day pack is getting it unzipped to access the gun, but after a couple of times, it became much easier.  Jay and I talked about the zipper when I first got her and in case things get "hinky", I can just rest my hand on the bag and grasp the zipper pull.  From that point, it's no different in theory from releasing a retention strap.  Since I oriented the pack in the same place I carry my holster, the draw was easy. (Because I hate having my picture taken, I "forgot" to have Tara take pictures of the draw.)

After a few round from the day pack, I slipped the Remora into my bra, under my armpit, where the gun would rest if I had a shoulder holster.  Other than one pokey area that I'll snip and cover with moleskin, it was unbelievably comfortable.  Tara went to the car for something and I slipped Baby Girl into the holster without telling her.  I then shot her revolver, with my gun holstered, without a problem.  I wasn't sure how I would do with a gun tucked under my armpit, but it was still super comfortable.

Baby Girl tucked under my left arm.  No printing and very comfortable.
After I was done shooting Tara's gun, I told her that I had my gun holstered in my bra.  I hadn't told her to begin with, because I wanted to see if it was truly invisible and it was.

Gun?  Where?
In this shirt, though, it was nearly impossible to draw the gun quickly or comfortably.  However, my work shirts are v-necked and will be much easier to access my gun if necessary.  I also think that if I tuck the Remora into a good sports bra, I can even wear her at the gym without a problem.

The only holster we did not try out was the Pistol Wear, as it's still far too big for the gun.  I need to buy some velcro or figure out how to make a pouch to keep her from "sloshing" around in the pocket of the holster.  Once I get it modified, I think it will be a good way to carry under my work clothes, if for some reason I don't want to tuck the Remora.

Overall, I'm excited about my new carry options.  No, the Beretta's not a "big" gun, and not a typical defensive caliber, but it's an excellent "get outta my face" gun and I can carry her in "deep" concealment comfortably.

And just because I love these pictures I took of Tara, here are some gratuitous "Tara Janzen embracing her inner Skeeter Bang" pictures.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quick - Diagnose This Target

Do you know what I was doing wrong (I do because I already cheated)? Can you figure out what your targets can tell you about your shooting? No fair Googling the shooting errors chart (until after you've given up). 

Texas CHL qualification from yesterday. 50 Rounds total. 20 rounds at 3 yards. 20 rounds at 7 yards. 10 rounds at 15 yards. Scored 248 out of possible 250 (the major flyer was at 15 in a rush and didn't focus). All things considered, not bad for someone who hasn't shot anything since September (yes, I know, bad me).

More discussion to follow.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Part One- K Bar J Leather Review

 Posted by Mrs Mom

 While she was at SHOT Show, GunDiva managed to score a leather holster for me to test out. She was thinking it would be ideal for riding, and since I have my nags in my back yard, I got the pleasure of "meeting" Jack Gully from K Bar J Leather. At least, I got to check out his work first hand. (Note on the website: it's COOL! At least for someone like me who has equines on the brain 24 / 7 / 365.)

My FIRST impression, being a leather fan, was of the quality of the leather used in making the holster. It is beautiful- bridle quality would be my guess. The hardware he uses is durable- brass where needed and a good quality side-release buckle on the lower attachment piece.

 So -- today, all the factors added up and I was able to catch up my mobile red couch and crawl aboard for a ride test. First thing I noticed-- the muzzle needs adjusting as that position *really* made me feel uncomfortable. According to Mr. Gully, this basic design was for men, who can carry it more to the left, thus eliminating any issue with the muzzle pointing at a leg. He did suggest a different position and I will be testing that as soon as I can.

 Given my rather Pillsbury Dough Girl shape at the moment, there was still plenty of room to adjust the entire rig. Any father to the left and I would have had a difficult time being able to draw.

Provided the short video clip works, you can see how easy it was for me to draw from this position -- which was a plus.
- Quality- Excellent. I would buy from these folks with no hesitation.
- Comfort- I wore the holster additionally on an hour long hike with my sons in the woods today. I carry a steel frame 1911, which after an hour hiking in back in my paddle holster I can feel some pull on my back. I did enjoy hiking as the weight of my Kimber was "shared around" a bit and I more or less didn't know it was there.
- Customer Service- EXCELLENT. Mr. Jack has been fantastic to work with, had helpful suggestions, and he is pretty sure he has another variation of the rig that might work better for me. We'll see in a bit, after it arrives and I'll test and review that one as well.
- Fit- The Kimber was snug and didn't have much play. Being on my most reliable horse, I did check it out at a jog and even with his not-so-smooth jog/trot it stayed put well. (We call this horse Mommy's Little Dump Truck for a reason!)

All in all? I am impressed with the quality and care put into the work, and the excellent service provided by Mr. Jack himself. I'm looking forward to providing the Part Two for this in the next couple weeks. 

This is what my horse thought of the entire procedure today. He fell asleep. For the record, yes, I ride bareback with a halter and a lead. It's mostly because I am too lazy to drag tack out and mess with it. That and I honestly do like the challenge of achieving the utmost in lightness with the least amount of gear. I don't compete any longer- I just bomb around here at home with my mobile red couch and his newly started under rider grey brother, Tater. For more information on Phat Boy and Tater tot, visit Oh HorseFeathers!

Also- we are running a giveaway on the Facebook page for Southern Winds Solutions. We're offering three prizes- First place is Winner's Choice of any product we make- equine gear, rifle slings, you name it- you got it. Second prize is a matched pair of bracelets and Third prize is a pair of our new Bullets & Bling Earrings. All items will be fully customized to your specifications- colors, sizes and hardware! Drawing this coming Friday, 15 March, midnight EST.

Friday, March 8, 2013

It Never Fails

I've mentioned that I bought Baby Girl as a "bra gun" for running.  My initial intent was to carry her in a Flashbang holster, but after talking to Lisa Looper from Flashbang, I decided that carrying her in a Marilyn would be a better option.  Only, they don't make a Marilyn that fits the Tomcat, so it was back to the drawing board.

As I was walking through the kitchen the other day, I saw a sticker left over from SHOT Show for Pistol Wear holsters.  They are essentially belly bands designed for working out; they're supposed to be comfortable and breathe while you're hot and sweaty and moving around.  So I thought I'd give one a try.  I ordered the PT-2 holster.  I ordered the PT-2 because it's for smaller-framed guns and the Tomcat's not exactly a big gun. It arrived two nights ago and I immediately put it on under my scrubs.  It doesn't print at all, which is a huge plus and I can tie my drawstring pants around it while still having access to the top opening if I reach under my shirt.  That was the good.  The bad is that Baby Girl is so little (she's fun-sized, like me) that she kind of slides around in the pocket and if I'd have to draw her, I might have to fish around.  I might be able to fix that issue by making a spot for her muzzle to slip in with some velcro.

Shortly after I ordered the PT-2, I read in one of my Facebook groups that one of the ladies had taken a Remora thigh holster, removed the holster from the thigh band and slipped it into her bra in the same position as the Marilyn with good success.  Remora just happens to make a holster that fits Baby Girl, so cha-ching went my debit card.  I haven't received the Remora yet, but it has shipped and I've been eagerly anticipating its arrival.  I was looking forward to having carry options for under my scrubs at work and at the gym.  I'm pretty sure that I would get some strange looks in the locker room when I changed if I have the PT-2 on, but if I can slip the Remora into my sports bra, I can "hide" it when I'm changing by simply facing the locker.

Anyway, I told you all of that so I could tell you this...

While at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo today, I was wondering around with Jay and my parents and we stopped at my Mom's favorite saddle shop.  Hanging in a display right by the cash register was the answer to my concealed carry prayers.  A mini day pack.

Baby Girl is tucked snuggly inside

For scale - the bag isn't much bigger than my hand.
It was like the bag was made for her.
It's simply a mini day pack like you'd find at REI or any other over-priced outdoor store, but it's very roomy.  When I finally got home and spent some time looking at it, I was happy to find the soft pocket that I could slip her muzzle into and keep her from flopping around.  That main pocket is deceptively large.

There is another pocket (you can see the zipper under my thumb) which is perfect for a spare holster or to slip my CCW permit in.

If you look at the top picture, you'll see a rubber handle/loop.  That loop will fit over a saddle horn.  You know, if I ever go back to riding with a saddle.  By the handle, there are two rings to attach a strap for cross-body carry.  On the back of the pack, there is a space to feed a belt through, which is how I will typically carry it.

Dang it.  Dropped almost $100 on "real" holsters for Baby Girl, walk into a saddle shop and find the perfect solution for $20.

It never fails.

Please tell me I'm not the only one this happens to.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Situational Awareness with Children

I got a question a month or so ago asking how to maintain situational awareness while out with young children.

I haven't been ignoring the question - I've been mulling it over.  I have a few ideas, which I'll share, but we're a pretty good community of shooters and I have no doubt that some of you will have some input as well, so please feel free to add your input in the comment section.

My kids ranged from toddler to pre-school aged when we were being "hunted" (their phrase, not mine), so I can easily envision how difficult it would have been if they had been any younger. 

The transitional areas would be of most concern to me: loading and unloading the kids from the car.  It takes a lot of concentration to get kids wrangled up and strapped into car seats - your focus tends to be on them and not on what's going on around you.

Add in the fact that often your hands are literally full, when your kids are infants, and it can be overwhelming.

One of the first things I would do would be to lighten up.  Literally.  You probably don't need the eighty pound diaper bag with everything but the kitchen sink in it.  When my kids were babies, I literally only carried an extra diaper or two, some wipes, and a spare bottle.  Let me amend that...once I had more than one baby, I pared it down to the above.  A small diaper bag was plenty.  Would it have been nice to have toys, teething rings, and books?  Maybe, but they weren't necessary.  Food and diapers were.  Without an enormous diaper bag, you'll be better able to fight if you have too.  Yes, a heavy bag could be a weapon, but would you really be able to swing it with enough force to do any damage?  You can really wing a small diaper bag around if you have to, plus the weight (or lack thereof) won't throw you off balance.

While we're talking about weight - what about those very nice, very expensive, and very heavy convertable strollers?  Are they comfortable for your child?  Probably.  But are they really necessary?  I watch parents struggle with those all of the time.  If your focus is on breaking down and storing your stroller, can you be aware of what is going on around you?  I would suggest an umbrella stroller.  I know those are so decades ago, but they're sturdy enough to haul your babies and toddlers around and you can break them down one-handed.  They're also light enough that you can swing them at an attacker like a baseball bat if you have to (empty, of course).

Before your kids are old enough to strap themselves into their car seats, you've got to be the one to do it, so how do you keep track of what is going on while you're focused on untangling straps and feeding limbs through the appropriate places?  I would expand your "bubble".  Take a scan of the area before unlocking the car door, make note of who is around and what they are doing.  Think about how big your "bubble" is when you're alone and double it when you've got your kids with you.

After unlocking the car doors, scan again.  Put the baby or toddler in the car seat and scan again before you start with the straps.  If it feels like it's taking longer than usual to strap your child in, scan again.  It's very important to identify a potential threat and that means being aware.  You can't be aware if you're not looking around.  Make it a habit to look around you every few seconds.

As your kids get older, start playing games with them.  "I Spy" is a good one to have them start looking around and noticing what is going on around them. They don't have to know that you're teaching them to notice the world around them - they just think it's fun.

One of the games we used to play was to people watch and make up stories about the people around us.  If the kids came up with a statement like, "that man is mad", I made them explain it to me.  You'd be astounded at how intuitive kids are and how good they are at reading body language.

I am NOT a believer in "stranger danger"; I think kids need to learn to trust their instincts instead of making them afraid of everyone.  I think their intuition needs to be nurtured.  Gavin de Becker's book PROTECTING THE GIFT really helped me out in this sense.  It's an amazing book with real-life, not make-believe, tips to help us keep our kids safe.  There are some gunnies out there who knock him for being an anti-gunner, but I think that's not true.  Here's why I have a hard time believing he's a true anti-gunner: he runs one of the most well-respected, elite Protective Security Services in the world.

We've got lots of parents who are readers, what are some of your tips for situational awareness with kids?  What worked for you?  What didn't?