Mother’s Day

Mom & I at The Range

I went to visit my mom for Mother’s Day last weekend. For various reasons I didn’t take her shooting this year but in past years that’s exactly what I’ve done for Mother’s Day.

It’s unlikely she will  take her gun to the range unless I go with her. I remember when I first started down the path of becoming proficient with guns, I was often unsure of myself at times. It’s something I’m very confident about now and something I’m happy to help her with. She’s done so much for me over the years. Please note, there is no doubt Mom will use her gun to protect herself and her home! The range trips we make to practice help ensure she can do that with confidence.

This photo of Mom and I is from the day after Thanksgiving in 2012. My sisters and my nephew joined us. In all my years of growing up never did I imagine I would take my family shooting. We were the only ones at the outdoor range that day so I was the default Range Safety Officer. Everything went flawlessly.

Love you Mom!

Want to get a recommendation? Ask Triangle Tactical!

I asked a question over on the Triangle Tactical Q&A Podcast looking for a recommendation on a shot timer. Luke and Ben delivered. They followed up a week or so later and noted that the timer was at the lowest price it’s been at a long time on Amazon. I went to their site, clicked through to Amazon (to give them a kick back) and saw there was also a used timer listed, so I picked up a Pocket Pro II for about $90.

It showed up this week and I skimmed through the instruction manual. I opted to check out the gun show this weekend and stick to dry fire practice so it’s still a “virgin”, but I’ll be putting it to use soon with live fire practice. I’m still fine using the IPSC Shot Timer app on my Android phone for dry fire.

I don’t listen to many podcasts, but I listen to these guys. They have a nice mix of gear reviews, tips for improving in competition, gun related politics and a generally well grounded outlook on all things guns. Recently they started fielding questions from listeners. I think they give excellent advice and I highly recommend checking them out!

The site is here:

If you are local, check out the calendar for local matches also.




You share, I share

I was leaving an office building late in the business day on a Friday. There was virtually no foot traffic and I happened to cross paths with the security guard. I took the opportunity to ask a few questions. His initial reaction was rather closed. When I explained that I had my concealed carry permit and I was interested in speaking with folks who understood security, he opened up.

He commented that he thought it was great to see a women take an active interest in her safety and to be an active shooter. I was able to ask his opinion on carry guns, holsters, and security. I shared the best places for women to learn to shoot locally once he mentioned that he wished his wife was more interested. And I encouraged him to consider shooting competition.

It was a great exchange. And even though it was late in the day, I left with a smile.

I’ve realized that most every gun owner has opinions. They often conflict. The more people I talk to, the more information I have to form my own opinions. I encourage any new shooter to do the same.


Forcing the Slide

Back when I managed to paint my XD9 shut, I made a visit to the gun smith that has been so helpful to me in this journey. He forced the slide open and showed me the hand position  that he found gave him the most leverage to do that. He was kind enough to let me take photos of that hand position on a future visit when I wasn’t in such a flustered state.

Here are the two views of his hands on one of the guns from the shop:

Hands from above

Hands from above

Reverse view of hands

I’m not going to tell you when it’s best to force the slide versus taking a problem gun to a qualified gunsmith, but if I ever paint another gun shut (no plans at this time!!!) I’ll have a plan for getting the snap caps out.

Taking Mom Shooting

Last weekend I took my mom shooting. She won’t go unless someone goes with her and I’m the one that has stepped up to make that happen. So when she asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told her that time with the people I cared about was more important to me than “things”. I wanted to book a weekend to come visit her (she’s 4 hours away from me), to take a side trip that was important to both of us, and to take mom shooting. She seemed excited about that. I looked at the calendar and just before Christmas I gave her the dates for the trip.

Last weekend I went down to honor that commitment. I took my .22 target pistol as she feels more comfortable shooting that than the .38 Special the fellow at the local gun store sold her. I also brought my 1911 so I could get in some practice with the gun I’m competing with.

Sunday morning she asked me to take a look at her computer. I do tech support for a living. I will bow out of working on friend’s computers because I do too much of that at work, but my parents ensured I got a good education and helping them with their computers feels like a small payback for their contribution toward helping me develop a very marketable skill. While I was dealing with that she said she’d pack up her gear to go to the range.

She came to me and told me that she could not find her gun. Really. I’m not making this up. I wish I was. What good is a gun when an intruder busts in your house if
(a) it’s not loaded and
(b) you can’t find it ???

Another 15 minutes and voila! We found her revolver. Then we had a discussion about how much good a gun will do you if you can’t lay your hands on it instantly when there is a threat. I told her to remind me to show her some bio-metric hand gun safes when we went to the local range. We found one at the range where we shot so now she understands that option.

We headed to the local range. I’ve shot their with her once before so I knew that all I needed was a driver’s license (ID) to book a lane. Mom lives in a different state and the range closest to her house requires no test or confirmation that you know how to shoot safely. Just ID. That actually freaked me out the first time we went…. because I was so new to shooting that I still felt like a “poser”. But the fact was I knew enough to be safe since Mom would listen to me and we had a good experience on our first trip to this venue. That was Mother’s Day 2012. Yes, I took my mom shooting for Mother’s Day. I consider that a truly inspired “gift”.

I skipped the safety briefing this time as I’ve gone over that with her several times now. We got a lane, laid out 3 guns: her .38 Special,. my 22. target pistol, and my 9mm 1911 competition pistol. I noticed that one of the grip screws on my 1911 was missing… and wasn’t too happy about that.

Mom shot my .22 and her .38. She never shoots much and you can tell she’s pushing herself to shoot the .38, but she was significantly more accurate than the last time I took her shooting. I was really proud of her!

I put about 70 rounds through the 1911. The rules at that range said that I couldn’t draw from a holster so I worked on keeping my grip strong and not adjusting my hands between shots. I also worked on longer distance shots.

After shooting we split a pizza and than headed back to her house. Mom told me she could clean her revolver herself and asked if it was ok to wait till the next day. I often procrastinate on cleaning my guns so I’m the last one to insist on immediate cleaning. I also knew she’d only put about 12 rounds through her revolver, so I told her tomorrow would be fine. I didn’t plan to clean my guns till the following weekend.

I headed back home and felt pretty good about my choice of Christmas gifts: because Mom is building her confidence and I’m happy to help with that.




Meeting mentors in unexpected places

As part of my journey, I have been participating in forums that discuss shooting. One thread I commented on asked whether men should push their female partners to learn to shoot and train. I replied:

I’ve been involved with several men who were very proficient with firearms, had a CCW and carried. I asked every one of them to take me to the range and teach me. None of them did. So this year I decided to stop waiting on someone else to hold my hand and just get started.

I signed up for an NRA First Steps Pistol class. I have made new friends, been encouraged by strangers, and I was a grinning fool after my first class.

If/when there is a partner, I will likely be the one pushing him to train.

One of the responses I got was a private message from a local guy, but a total stranger to me. So I gave him a polite brush off. And he politely accepted it. And proceeded to help me hunt down some information on my revolver. He built some credibility with me, offered some advice and shared his experience related to getting a CCW license.

Eventually I met him (and his mom!) for bagels and coffee. He offered to let me shoot several of his pistols when I was doing my due diligence in selecting a 9mm for myself. He’s still one of the people I consider a cheerleader in my pursuit of shooting skills. He’s knowledgeable without being judgmental. And I met him on the internet. Go figure…

He let me shoot his .357 with both .38 and .357 ammo after explaining to me that it would shoot both (yet another thing I didn’t know…). And he managed to capture my muzzle blast with his cell phone so he could send me home with a memento!

May 9, 2012: .357 muzzle blast



So you feel strongly about that?

I still feel like I’m drinking from the fire hose most days when I talk to people who have been shooting for years. I really, really appreciate a few of my mentors who will let me ask questions and slow down or back track to give me more detail about something they take for granted.

That said, I’ve learned not to ask if I’m not willing to listen to the answer. And “gun people” can be very, very opinionated. There are several debates I’ve run across over and over in the short time I’ve been researching forums that are a source of never ending argument. For example:

– 9mm vs. .45cal
– 1911 vs. all other handguns
– Glock vs. all other handguns

If I ask a dozen people the same question, I’ll get a dozen different answers and at least 5 of those will assure me their answer is the “right” answer. It can be frustrating and maddening. They can’t all be right.

I realized that the answers to these questions are ultimately personal. One comment I read on a forum put this into perspective for me: “Your question is akin to asking which underwear will fit you best.”

I continue to read, ask and consider. But I’ve come to understand that no one can make these decisions for me, and reading with never give me answers. I need to make a decision and move forward. Based on the experience I gain I can determine if that was a good decision for me.