Shooting outdoors? Use that sunscreen!

After an annual skin cancer check, I was told I have a Stage 1A Melanoma on my right forearm. It’s actually no big deal. A 30 minute procedure next week should clear out the cancer and no further treatment is required. They do advise more frequent full body skin cancer checks going forward. The recurrence rate appears to be 2-3% so extremely low.

I feel like I should be freaking out. Instead I’ll just publish this as a reminder that if you are going to be in the sun, use your sunscreen. I love to spend an afternoon on an outdoor range. I just need to add sunscreen to my list of other protective devices. So now the check list is: eyes, ears & skin.

Benefits of Competition: Reinforcing Safety

Through the door-crop

I shot the Wake Action Pistol Match on March 20, 2017. The photo above is from a match 2 years ago. But it’s the same door we opened before shooting targets downrange last Monday.

I’d rather go shoot a match than practice on a “square range”(*) . Why? We deal with many situations and each and every time the range safety officer points out what safety issues will be cause for a disqualification.

In this case: You have a loaded gun in one hand. Don’t sweep your other hand or body with the muzzle of the gun when you reach to open the door. Never, never, never let the muzzle sweep any part of your body.

I don’t have a law enforcement or a military background. Where else would I get exposure to situations I’d never see at square range? At a local pistol competition! So I’ll start posting short descriptions of learning opportunities that reinforce safe gun handling skills as they occur.


(*)Square Range: a typical indoor shooting range where you pay for time to shoot in a lane at a single fixed target that can be set at various distances. You can’t move, or shoot multiple targets, or run a timer to get feedback on speed (if there are also other shooters). At some ranges you can draw from a holster but not all ranges allow this.

Awesome customer service for the S&W M&P


I went shopping for a replacement M&P Pro and found a reasonable price on a used gun over at Triangle Shooting Academy (TSA). I’d been watching both Armslist & the Carolina Shooters Club forum for a used Pro since my last one was liberated from my house. I wasn’t seeing any used guns posted for sale unless they had been liberally modified and the seller wanted over $1000 for the firearm. Since I mostly shoot IDPA the excessive modifications would make the gun illegal to shoot. I looked at these “For Sale” ads and  thought “Good luck with that!” and waited. And waited. I finally decided I was tired of waiting and started calling every gun store in driving distance. TSA  had what I was looking for.

Of note, I paid $75 more than I paid for my 1st used M&P Pro. I bought the first in November 2015 and the second in February 2017 – 15 months apart. They are much more scarce than when I originally shopped for this gun.

In the photo above, you can see the used gun I bought up top and a friend’s CORE below. They are basically the same gun but the CORE has the option of a removable cut out on the slide to place in red dot optics. Also the front and back sites are higher so they can co-witness with the optics, if mounted.

There are two other differences visible in the photo above:

  • The CORE had an aftermarket trigger. The Pro does not (in this photo, stay tuned).
  • The CORE has the upgraded / stippled small back strap and the Pro  has a regular, un-stippled small M&P 9mm back strap.

It appears the previous owner either swapped out the small back strap with another M&P non-Pro owner or S&W ran short and shipped it this way.

I resorted to eBay to purchase the proper back strap. I found none for sale. I looked at a few forums and found some posts leading me to believe S&W was restricting the resale to verified Pro or CORE owners.

So I called S&W and hit “3” for M&P Customer Service. I explained what I had and what I wanted. The gentleman at S&W M&P customer service dropped a small Pro back strap in the mail to me. No charge.

That was a lovely experience. Thanks S&W!

I will be watching my mailbox for it’s arrival.

UPDATE: Here’s a bit more information from the packing slip included with the shipment. The part number for the Small M&P Pro back strap is: 424300000 with a description

A beautiful day to shoot IDPA (March 12, 2017)

Triple Shot(big)
I started my day with a snow covered car. And a commitment to pick up a holster and 3 mag pouches from the local guy (D&D Holsters) I bought them from last year. My house was burglarized last fall, most of my shooting gear was stolen and I was in the process of rebuilding. This was the last bit of equipment I needed to shoot my next match. The forecast predicted that the snow wouldn’t stick and my holster would be ready for pickup at noon, so I took a broom to the car to remove the snow and I headed north to The Range in Oxford.

I had no intention of shooting a match. Really. There was snow on the ground! I think the last match I shot was back in May of 2016. I needed to practice with the new gun and the new holsters. I wasn’t sure I even remembered how to do a reload on the clock.

But an hour later I arrived and the weather had turned beautiful. It was 50 degrees and warm in the sun. I ran into friends I hadn’t seen in months. Everyone of them encouraged me to shoot. The holster I picked up fit the gun with a minor adjustment and the mag pouches were perfect with no adjustment.

I was short on ammo since I was sure it would be much too cold for to shoot. A friend filled that gap and said he’d give me what I needed if I ran short.

  • Was I ready to compete? No.
  • Was all my gear the way I wanted it it? No.
  • Was my gear sufficient? Yes.
  • Could I be safe? Yes.

I sighed up and shot the match. I was a good decision. Thanks to everyone who badgered me into it!

I had chosen a down vest that morning due to the cold so this was my first match using a down vest as a cover garment. It worked fine.

I remembered what I liked best about shooting a match: spending time with friends. I’m not competitive. I always place near the bottom of the list. But I really enjoy the sport and I’m a safe.shooter. They asked me to help out with scoring so I pitched in and did that as well. Once the match was over I checked in with the guys who were running the timer to get feedback on how we worked together. I’m glad I did. I’ll be able to do the job better when I’m asked again.

The timer keeper is responsible for ensuring no one wanders into the line of fire as well as recording the time, the points down and any penalties. I was focused on the scoring part of that list. I was aware of where the rest of the squad was subconsciously but I’ll be looking more actively to keep other shooters safe if/when asked to help again.

We shot moving targets, we moved and shot stationary targets, we shot both paper & steel, we shot through walls and had to back down a hallway and make a right to get yet more “bad guys” (targets) in the shoot house. It was sunny and warm. It was absolutely a good decision to participate. It was an excellent day.

I’m working on making peace with my poor scores and enjoying the good parts of the day. Like the triple hit I made on a target from my first stage (above). The requirement was 3 shots per target. This was at t 15 yards, I think. That’s a sweet grouping and really made me smile. I have much to work on but I’m really thrilled when I see results like this.


Concealed Handgun Permit Renewal Notification Letter

Postcard from the Sherriff

Postcard from the Sherriff

After I made an appointment and submitted my paperwork to renew my CHP in Wake County, I received a postcard to remind me to do just that. It arrived about four and a half months (18 weeks and 3 days to be exact) prior to the expiration date. Since you have to start the process all over again from scratch if you let your permit expire, this is a nice service from the Sheriff’s Department.

This is my first experience at a renewal. Five years ago when I originally got my permit, no part of the process was online. Now you can download the paperwork, pay for the renewal and book an appointment to submit the paperwork. The process requires a notarized signature, so I doubt the in-person step will ever be waived, but it will be interesting to see what technological changes will occur in another five years.

Posted in CCW

Raleigh Police Accepting Applications for First Citizens Police Academy / Due March 10th

Citizen's Academy logo

The program is designed to increase transparency and enhance understanding between the community and the police. It’s an outreach effort with a 30 hour commitment. Lots of details here: Citizen’s Police Academy

I’m putting in an application. It would be nice to see a friendly face there on Thursday nights if I’m accepted.

—- March 29, 2017 Update —-

I received a letter stating they received an overwhelming response and all the seats are filled for the first session. I sent my application just before the deadline. It’s still on file and I’m hoping to get in a future session. The letter included a brochure with an overview of the course topics. I don’t want to scan in a copy of the brochure without permission but I will list the topics included:

  • Week 1: Orientation  / Department Overview and Structure, Policy Distribution, Volunteer Program, Recruiting, Selection and training of Officers.
  • Week 2: Communications
  • Week 3: Overview of Legal System
  • Week 4: Specialized Units
  • Week 5: Patrol and Investigative Techniques
  • Week 6: Specialized Units (in addition to week 4)
  • Week 7: Practical Exercises
  • Week 8: Ride Alongs
  • Week 9: Forensics/Crime Scene Processing
  • Week 10: Graduation

It looks like a variety of interesting and useful information for citizens and for anyone considering a career in law enforcement.

Renewing a Wake County Concealed Handgun Permit (CCW)

Wake County Permit

I purchased a pistol a few weeks ago and at the time the sales person pointed out that my Concealed Handgun Permit would expire in July. It sure doesn’t feel like it’s been 5 years since it was originally issued. Here’s a link to the blog post on getting the new permit: Getting a Concealed Handgun Permit in Wake County, NC

It was February but I decided I had some free time so I’d take care of it.

The actual name attached to this permit can be confusing. The front says “CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMIT” while the back says “CCW Permit”. CCW typically stands for “concealed carry weapon”. I’m not sure why they use different terminology on the front and back. Most folks I know call this a “CCW Permit”.

I found this page that appeared to have the link to a renewal: Wake County Sheriff Office Concealed Handgun Permit Application. I filled out the form, paid by credit card ($81.59 with convenience fees) and booked an appointment to drop off my forms the following week.

A few days later I had a dentist appointment. I’m out to my dentist and my chiropractor about shooting IDPA and having my CCW and I mentioned I’d be downtown the following week. My dentist said there was a restriction on how early you could renew. I did further research and found a web page here that mentioned “no more than 90 days prior to the expiration date”. 

I was about 6 week too early so I called the contact number promptly at 9am the next morning and asked if I should reschedule the appointment within the 90 day window. The person I spoke with said they were fine if you started 4-6 months in advance. So don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

My appointment was at 1 pm on March 1, 2017. I got lucky with parking and arrived at 12:30 pm. They took me right away. I was asked to sign and date 2 pages then address an envelope to myself. Once approved, they would mail my permit in that envelope. I was done in about 15 minutes. Parking cost was $1.

Of note: I was told that if my current permit expired before receiving the renewed permit, it was OK to continue to carry, however, I could not use the expired permit to purchase any firearms.

I’ve done my part ion the renewal process. I’ll update this when my permit arrives to document how long the process it taking at this time.





Posted in CCW