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Currently Browsing: Shooting

Steel Gong Bleg

A few months ago, our club started putting in gongs for members to shoot at on both the 100 yard and 200 yard rages. I thought this was a great idea, because I’m a big fan of reactive targets and getting people exiting about putting bullets on steel. But we’ve had problems with the frames getting shot up on the 100 yard gong. There have been suggestions that people are using AP ammo on the gongs. I have some experience shooting steel, but mostly with pistols and .22LR. I’m pretty sure AP will punch through 3/8 AR500 steel. Plus, AP just isn’t very common. The most common is M2 AP, and it’s not so common you’d want to target shoot with it. It’s my opinion the craters on the gong are from steel core ammo, and the small divots are from regular old 5.56x45mm. The gong is made of AR500 steel, 3/8″ thick.

Gong Pitting

The frame holding the gongs up is mild steel bar, about 1/2 inch, and took this damage:

FrameDamage

I asked Joe Huffman, who has a lot more experience with this kind of thing than I do what the damage looked like to him, and he was kind enough to run an experiment. Sure enough, regular old .223 rounds will shoot right through mild steel, while pistol ammunition will just polish it. Looks to me like these are rifle hits, with just ordinary ammunition. I’m thinking we may want to acquire one of these armored stands from Salute Targets. We expected this to be a maintenance items, but so are wooden target frames, and people like to shoot the gongs. There’s also speculation among club leadership that some of the damage is deliberate. I’ll admit the tight group on the bar right where the straps were is suspicious, but I’d hate to see someone brought up on charges and booted from the club for poor marksmanship. I’m also thinking we might need to ask members not to shoot at the gongs with steel core ammunition.

If anyone else can offer their experience, I’d be appreciative.

Northampton County Club in Trouble

Local news outlets are reporting a gun club near Easton, Pennsylvania, is being investigated by the State Police to see if there is any merit to residents accusations that gunfire from the club is hitting their homes.

I haven’t been to the club, so I don’t really know what kind of backstops or baffling they have. From a Google Eyes view, it certainly looks like it’s possible rounds could be impacting residences.

Clubs get a lot of things like this blamed on them even when it’s not coming from the club directly. In some cases I’ve seen, the person hurling accusations at a club are not even downrange, or in one case was in the ballistic shadow of a mountain that stood between the club and the residence.

Hopefully if it does turn out the bullets are coming from the range, they have the resources to correct the problem. A lot of clubs live hand to mouth, and a determination that a range in unsafe can be enough to shut a club down for good.

I’d note that area has seen a lot of in-migration from New Jersey and New York, and there’s a contingent of residents that commute to New York City from that area, so you’ll have plenty of people in the area who don’t want to coexist with a gun club.

Pearl Clutching Alert: Range & Restaurant in Daytona Beach

Miguel notes that our opponents are freaking out because a shooting range in Florida is also going to have a license to serve alcohol. He is correct to point out that this is nothing new, and also perfectly safe if done correctly. But since it helps drive the narrative of the reckless gun owner, the media will be happy to run stories on this.

My club has a strict “no alcohol on premises” rule, and it’s against the rules to be intoxicated on club property. But I’ve been to other clubs that have a bar, and even one club that had a pretty decent restaurant on site too. The rule usually is if you come to have a drink, you get flagged and aren’t allowed to use the shooting parts of the facility. Most clubs I’ve ever been to, rules are taken quite seriously and the penalties for serious safety violations are generally ejection from the club.

But Americans have always been a bit puritanical about alcohol to begin with. The Swiss take it even a step further, and it’s not uncommon there to have a glass of wine or beer before hitting the firing line with fully automatic assault rifles. I don’t think anyone would argue the Swiss are irresponsible with firearms. It’s a different culture, and a different set of attitudes. I thought we were supposed to celebrate diversity, and different cultures?

Regardless, there’s absolutely no danger in what this club is doing if it’s done safely, and I’m sure it will be done safely.

NY Times Advances Narrative of Brutish Gun Owner

It’s pretty apparent this New York Times article about the impact of shooting on federal land is meant to smear responsible shooters as reckless and irreverent heathen out terrorizing the quiet countryside, but it would do us no good to pretend that every shooter out there is a good steward of the land. Back years ago when I used to shoot at public ranges, I saw a lot of cringe inducing behavior, and I have left a range on an occasion or two because of grossly unsafe behavior. I used to not only pick up my own trash, but would pick up other garbage people left on the range as well. Poor stewardship of public shooting areas makes us all look bad.

But I used to hike too, and I can tell you that not all hikers are good stewards of the land either. Same is true for mountain bikers, ATV operators, snow mobiles — you name it. What bothers me about the Times article is that it paints shooters as being some kind of unique jerks. You’ll find a healthy share of jerks in any recreational activity. The Times is simply working to advance the politically convenient narrative of the dim-witted, reckless, and brutish gun owner.

Gun Clubs & The Press

Last week, I ventured out to West Virginia for a funeral and managed to stop by a couple of libraries between family gatherings to do a little bit of genealogy research for Sebastian. Needless to say, these aren’t the kinds of circumstances where I planned to think about the gun culture and media outreach.

While scanning microfilm for an obituary I knew existed somewhere, I found this article in the community news section of the March 18, 1899 edition of the St. Mary’s Oracle.

Gun Club Publicity 1899

Now, you might not really care about the winners of the clay bird shoot at the Mountain State Gun Club 116 years ago, but the local press did care because they were all locals. The same applies today.

Sometimes we focus on the national or statewide political fights while we ignore one of the best angles we can use in the media – the fact that people in our clubs are great representatives for our cause simply because neighbors, friends, and family know them and know that they won’t hurt people with their guns. Even better, the club members don’t have to talk to the press or do anything other than show up for activities they already enjoy.

The NBC national news won’t care about your club’s rifle shooters that managed to sweep the regional competition, but the local paper will care about it if you include names and towns. There’s one thing that will still move hard copies of newspapers, and that is mostly the fact that they will cover local stories with local people who have friends and family willing to read about them.

A volunteer with another group noted that regardless of what we might consider the news-worthiness of a story, if she includes the names and towns of the volunteers involved, it almost always gets picked up by more of the smaller community publications. Yes, they are even read by others, as I learned when congratulated for being elected to an office of the unrelated group by a Friends of the NRA volunteer. There’s no reason that we can’t do the same thing.

So I would say that if you’re part of a gun club, or even if you run a commercial gun range that hosts competitions, why not have a community/public relations type role that will put out a simple press release talking about who wins? If you include a picture of the winners, then the paper will be far more likely to run the news. It’s a great community outreach tool that we have been far too willing to ignore.

Guided Bullets

Kind of takes the fun out of it, don’t you think?

Full link here.

Hobbyists and Collectors Generally Aren’t Politicians

New Jovian Thunderbolt has a write-up on the guns owned by potential 2016 Presidential candidates. Tam isn’t impressed, and neither is McThag. I’m actually surprised it’s that many. I think collectors, and by collector I don’t just mean gun collectors, tend to have certain personality traits. Hardcore hobbyists share many similar traits. The personality profile of a hard core collector or hobbyist pretty much prevent those types of people from running for office, because people running for office also have certain personality traits, and those are very different from a hard core hobbyist or collector.

So it’s not surprising that most of the candidates may have a gun or two, for hunting, personal protection, etc. But they aren’t that into it. In NJT’s list, you’ll notice there’s one gun guy, really two if you look at it, because I’d be surprised if Todd and Sarah Palin don’t own several, and I’d be surprised if Rand Paul owned more than a couple. The real gun guy on that list is Lindsey Graham, who’s picture is right there along side John McCain if you look up RINO in the dictionary. But Graham has always been solid on guns, because, at the least, he’s good at saying the things that convince us he’s a shooter. But even Graham, I’m betting, isn’t spending more than the odd weekend at the range, and maybe a few hunting trips throughout the year for fundraising and politicking. The life of a Senator, Governor or other high level politician doesn’t leave much time for “not politics.”

Most politicians don’t arrive at their pro-gun positions by being gun people. They arrive at that position because it is in their self-interest to do so. We are the ones who are charged with convincing them, and we do that by voting the issue, and persuading them that voting the way we want them to vote is in their self-interest. That can be the carrot, or the stick. Our side is generally much better at the stick, because punishing enemies rallies our grassroots more than supporting friends. But punishing enemies can buy you a lot. The current GOP field all being pretty solid on the gun issue was bought with the heads of Dick Lugar, Mike Castle, and other squishy Republicans who lost their primaries. Obviously it would be better to have a real gun guy behind you in politics, but those are going to be a rare find.

It’s worth remembering that Reagan signed the current Armor Piercing Ammunition Law that Obama was trying to use to screw us. Later in life (whether he did, or his handlers did, is a matter of debate) he endorsed the Brady Act and Assault Weapons Ban. Bush sailed into office saying he’d sign an AWB renewal. John McCain was the first GOP nominee who was actually against an AWB, but he was in favor of banning private transfers, and he lost. Romney was for an AWB before he was against it, and he lost. We have slowly, but surely, corralled the GOP much closer to our position. Let us hope we can keep it there, and we might make real progress if things go our way in 2016.

Ultimately, all I care about from a Second Amendment viewpoint is a) who is a GOP president going to put on the Court, and b) will they sign pro-gun bills? Beyond that, I couldn’t care less how many guns he or she does or doesn’t own, short of what that signals about how serious they might be in their convictions.

Norway Looking to Repeal Lead Ammo Ban

They banned lead shot in 2005, now they are re-examining it:

The organisation criticised the ban on the grounds that it lacked a solid evidential basis and that the use of alternative ammunition posed animal welfare risks. Non-lead ammunition does not kill as cleanly or as efficiently as lead, and therefore causes unnecessary suffering to quarry, the JI has argued. It also maintains that the potential adverse effects of such substitute materials on health and the environment have not been studied in sufficient detail.

The typical substitute for lead is bismuth, which is nearly as dense as malleable as lead. The problem is that almost all the bismuth production is the world today is a byproduct of lead production. It’s only about twice as common as gold is. There is essentially no way for the shooting sports to function solely on lead substitutes. While Norway may be poised to repeal its law, we’re going backwards here, with Oregon considering a ban on lead ammunition.

Opportunity for More Olympic Shotgunners

According to this article, there are only about 30 international-style trapshooting ranges open to the public in the US. Fortunately for enthusiasts in Wisconsin, they are now home to the latest one.

I think this is great news because I’d like to see more Olympic shotgunners from the United States. Because the traditional version of trap shot here isn’t like the international version shot at the Olympics, we don’t really do as well on those sports as one would expect with a wider gun culture. I hope that an expansion of these ranges will help change that.

I know that some recreational shooters assume that Olympic competition style is boring, but I’m not sure that’s true.

Top Congressional Shooters…

It looks like Team Republican won yesterday’s Congressional Shoot-Out, but the Democrats have the best individual shooter in Minnesota’s Rep. Collin Peterson. Interestingly, the past VP candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan took home the award for best skeet shooting.

It would seem that either Pennsylvania’s Congressmen and Senator aren’t interested in shooting events or need some shooting lessons. Any local clubs want to make the offer to their Congressman to help him on his shooting scores? :)

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