Saturday, September 22, 2012

September 2012 CAPS USPSA Match

I was really looking forward to the September USPSA match put on by Coastal Area Practical Shooters. I didn’t shoot last month’s match since I was out of town, so I was excited to get back between the berms. The weather was going to be almost ideal. There were lots of new faces this month and lots of familiar old ones as well.

Set up went well, but it went down to the wire because we didn’t have quite enough help. We had five stages in all, and one of those was a speed shoot. Official round count was 117 for a total of 585 points. We had 32 shooters come out. Production and Limited divisions bore the brunt of the shooters with 13 and 11 respectively.

I usually learn something during a match, and this month was no exception. On stages 3 and 4 the mystical palms were nice enough to choose me to be the first shooter. I’ve never shot first before and wasn’t sure I liked it. On stage 3, one of the RO’s offered to put me further down the list, but I sucked it up and took the lead. After all, somebody has to shoot first.

Here is where I learned a valuable lesson. Before doing a walk-through of a stage with barriers of any kind, walk around the barriers and see if there is anything hidden behind them. I completely missed one target on stage 3 because I didn’t see it in my walk through. When I thought I was done shooting, I thought it was strange that the RO was still back a few feet like I was going to run to the other end of the wall we had to shoot around. I needed to go down to the other end of that wall, because there was a target behind a stack of barrels that I could only see from that end of the wall. Since I never knew it was there, I never saw a need to go to the right end of the wall during my walk-through. That cost me 2 misses and one procedural.

Stage 4 was worse. No hidden targets on this stage, but we did have to engage 6 targets from 2 different ports in a hard cover wall. It should have been a piece of cake. Moving left to right, just shoot them as you see them, 1,2,3, move to the next port and 1,2,3. The targets were set up as a pair with a single about 3 feet to the side of the pair. Well, when I got to that point of the stage, I shot the pair in the first port and jumped over to the next port. There I shot the pair and jumped over to the right to engage the last target on the far right end (not the one behind the wall to the side of the pair I’d just shot). Chalk up 4 more misses and 2 more procedurals.

These mistakes cost me dearly. They meant the difference between 12th place and 8th place in the Production division. I’m a little disappointed in the mistakes, but to be honest, I’m okay with it because I had a good time.

So let this be a lesson to everyone out there. Learn from my mistakes.

Be safe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?

Where were you that fateful day? Like millions of others, I was at work. A day like any other day.

I was going by our Receipt Inspection area when Rodney told me a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. He heard it on the radio. We didn't have TV's at Jered back then. The first thing I thought of was some little private plane had crashed into one of the buildings, probably due to low visibility from rain or fog. Rodney told me he thought they said it was a bigger plane. As we talked it over, unconfirmed reports were coming in that another plane had hit the other building. Rodney and I had the same cold chill. Now we knew this wasn't an accident. Then came the Pentagon and Flight 93.

The rest of the day, I would listen to radios around the shop as I stopped in to do one inspection after another, picking up tidbits of information. The most intriguing part was to hear the government grounded all flights and that planes were directed to the nearest airport. The coordination of this must have been astounding. Living and working in the south on the coast, we see our fair share of air traffic overhead. The contrails are always noticeable here, except for that day and the days following the attacks. It was almost scarey when you did see one, because you knew it was military jets.

I didn't get to see any news coverage until that evening when I got home from work. I tuned in to CNN and stared in disbelief for a couple of hours. When I was numb enough, I turned it off. Later on, before dark, I can remember standing outside with my wife at the time, looking up at nothing, and reflecting on the events of the day.

I remember hanging onto every word of the news over the next couple of weeks, looking for anything new. I remember feeling closer to my neighbors and fellow Americans.

Today, the eleventh anniversary of the attacks, I still remember those feelings. Don't ever forget the thousands that died that day, or the thousands that have died since. Don't ever forget the brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, the fathers, mothers, and children either lost or left behind.

Be safe.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Choosing a Gunsmith

Photo Courtesy of MA Customs Firearms and Ammunition, Jesup, GA
Some say choosing a gunsmith is like a woman picking a hairdresser. Some say it’s like choosing an auto mechanic. I say it’s like picking a doctor. If you’ve got a cold, you go see your general practitioner, but if you’re having chest pains, you don’t go to a proctologist.

There are gunsmiths out there that are good all-around smiths, and there are smiths out there that are better at rifles or shotguns than pistols, or better at 1911’s than revolvers or better with S&W’s than Glocks. Just like finding that doctor, you have to find the right gunsmith.

To find potential gunsmiths, ask around at gun stores and ranges, check the yellow pages, or do a Google search on the web. If you’re looking for a smith to work on your Remington 700 before deer season, you could also ask around at high power rifle competitions. The same stands true with pistols. Who knows, you may get lucky and one of the competitors might be a smith.

Once you’ve found a candidate, interview them. Find out how long have they been a gunsmith; what is their specialty; what shooting experience do they have; can they provide references? You should also ask them what they will charge to do the work you want done, have they ever done this particular job before, and how long it will take. Good gunsmiths usually have a healthy backlog of work, so don’t be in too big of a hurry. Also ask if they have any kind of warranty on their work? If you don’t like the answers or you’re getting bad vibes, don’t feel bad about walking away.

I took my M&P in to the smith at the local range, mostly because he was convenient, and partially because I didn’t know better. I felt pretty sure I wanted just to have an Apex kit installed to lighten up the trigger pull. He convinced me that he could manually work the trigger to reduce the pull. I was a little reluctant since I was sure the Apex would be fine, but he seemed competent and this would save me about $70. So I went ahead with his plan. I had the gun back in 3 days and the pull was a lot better.

Five months and exactly 700 rounds later, in the middle of a USPSA match, the M&P double fired on me. When it happened, I was a bit shocked. I wasn’t sure what had just happened, but the RO knew and had me stop. Luckily, there was an S&W Certified Gunsmith shooting the match that day. He checked it out in the safe area and told me what was wrong. That afternoon I visited another gun shop where the owner was a smith. After talking to him for a while, I found out he was an S&W Certified Gunsmith as well. He told me what parts I needed and that if I got the parts, he would install them for just $25. I’ve only had one problem related to this work since he installed the Apex kit, and that was a roll pin that decided it wanted to start easing out as you shoot. It never backed out more than 1/8”, but I mentioned it to the guy that did the install and he replaced the pin, on the spot, for no charge. Now every time I visit his shop, I pick his brain about my future projects. He’ll get more of my business.

Be safe.