Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Place to Shoot

This is a big problem for some people.  They live in cities or towns and perhaps they don't know anyone who owns land on which they could shoot much less anyone who would give them access.  They might know of a place but have quite a way to drive to get to it.  These people, and that is most shooters, endeavor to find a legal place to shoot safely.  They don't want to be threatened.  They don't want to be a hazard to others either. 

Mom's place was where I shot for many years.  I could go anytime and shoot safely at ranges up to about 100 yards.  That was usually sufficient distance and I had enough and sufficient backstops in the right place to shoot safely.  It was a big bonus that my parents' neighbors didn't mind shooting.  However, about 1998 the daughter of one neighbor managed to get permission to put in a double-wide (twice wide in some areas) trailer home.  Unfortunately, she and her husband put it all the way to the rear of the lot.  This reduced safe shooting lanes on our land as well as eliminated a whole swath of dangerous ground for the groundhogs, crows, coyotes and such.  It hasn't bothered them very much as her husband is content to shoot TOWARDS the ROAD from his house.  Nothing has thus far dissuaded him.  I've been waiting for him to hit somebody as they bomb down the road but it hasn't happened yet.  The placement of their home has also knocked out a chunk of prime deer highway from safe shooting.  Then, last year, Mom died.  Since we were going to sell the place to settle the estate it was very obvious that I was going to need another place to shoot. 

I had been going to Hite Hollow Range which was constructed by locals with private funds on National Forest land about 26 miles south west of Staunton just off SR 42 near Augusta Springs.  This range has had a lot of use and I personally know of at least 3 people who have driven from Charlottesville to the range just to find a place to shoot.  There are a separate pistol range (25 meters, two points) and rifle range (50, 100, 150 meters and eight points).  Firing points for both ranges are covered.  There is adequate parking and a pretty standard USFS pit toilet.  Unfortunately there have been repeated acts of vandalism at the range, thefts from shooters while they were working their targets and, rumor has it, threats from groups who took over the range and blocked other users out.  The vandalism has resulted in repeated threats by the U.S. Forest Service that they will close the range.  Again, it is clear that a better solution is needed.

The Stonewall Rifle and Pistol Club has a range on US 250 aka Hankey Mountain Highway.  There is a trap range, covered firing points, a club house, secured access (locked gate), and almost as important other members who look out for one another as well as conduct shooting events.  It does require and initiation and membership fee and a couple of workdays each year but that is part of being a member of a club with property to maintain.  It isn't much more difficult to get to than the Hite Hollow Range and certainly is likely to be safer from a personal security point of view.   However, there are only about 300 members of the club (I think that's right) and membership applicants have formed a queue.  I knew that and so I applied this past fall for a membership.  I expected to have to wait 2-3 years to actually be accepted.

Last Friday I received my acceptance letter.  Monday I called the secretary to let him know that I still intended to join and would be present at the 11 July meeting.  I'm excited.  This means I'll have a place to shoot and that is important to me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Farmer Boy

Alonzo Wilder
Alonzo Wilder, the husband of writer Laura Ingalls Wilder of "Little House on the Prairie" fame, was the subject of her book "Farmer Boy".  I never read more than school book snippets of the rest of her series of books on her life in frontier rural America but I read "Farmer Boy" more than 5 times.  Because Alonzo Wilder seemed to have a connection with me, my 2XGreat-grandfather was named Alonzo and Wilder was from an upstate New York farming family like my own, I really enjoyed reading about his various "adventures".

Of course, in our advanced years we now know that our perceptions aren't always accurate.  Alonzo is known in his family as Almanzo.  I haven't been able to discover exactly why but suspect it is because this is how his name was recorded by a census enumerator and that was likely because that is very close to way he pronounced it.

I had no idea from the book that he was born in 1857 and a contemporary of the Civil War.  I don't remember a single mention being made of brothers or cousins going to war, dying, being maimed, and so forth.  I suppose that Laura cleaned up the account to avoid any unnecessary conflicts,  after all, she was living in Missouri at the time.

In any case it is a good book.  If today's boys were to read that book I'm betting that more of them would have at least a passing idea of honor, integrity and the concept of hard work.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

After 30 years...

30 years ago yesterday my 8-year old brother, Benjamin Charles Parslow, was struck by a pick-up truck as he crossed SR-42/Main Street in Bridgewater, Virginia. Today it has been 30 years since his death. It is hard to believe that this happened and what has happened since.

Benjamin was born in February 1973 just before my 18th birthday. As Dad once said, "...he came late and left early." Although I sometimes gave him his "midnight" feedings, changed diapers, etc, we weren't all that close because for most of his life I was away in military service. I tried to connect with him. I took him shooting. Played some soccer with him (he was better at it) but having to work slowed that process.

Mom and Dad foresquarely approached their grief by often openly and fondly recounting their good memories of him. As Mom's Alzheimer's progressed she made fewer and fewer every day connections to him but she never forgot him completely. Only 1 or 2 months before she passed she mentioned to a visitor that she'd lost a son. I think that maybe such a loss is very firmly recorded indeed.

Benjamin would be 38 this year. I often look at others (including my own children) of his age group and wonder at what might have been.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

A long slow day at the shop today.  Then at 4:55 we started a run in which we sold 3 guns and a bunch of other stuff.  5 background checks all day, 2 delayed.

Had some interesting conversations including one with a fellow who came in for a trigger lock for a Remington 700 he is giving to his 16-year old grandson.  He went on and on about how he was telling the boy not to take the gun into the back yard and point it at "things" and how he was telling his daughter (the boys mother) that he wasn't going to give him any ammo and that he'd have a lock on it.  All the time I was wondering...  1.  If you don't trust your grandson to have a gun, why give him a gun?  2.  If you don't want him to shoot the gun, i.e. you aren't giving him ammo, why give him the gun?  3.  Do you really think the trigger lock is going to secure the gun from anyone who truly wants to misuse it?  The upshot is that I gave him the lock.  We have a box full of locks that people throw away when they buy guns from us.

Speaking of gun locks, the most useful are those that are padlocks with long cables as shackles.  They can be used as bike locks, to lock farm gates, etc.  Trigger locks?  99% crap that couldn't take a single well-placed blow from a rubber hammer.

The boss man continues to recover from his dislocated shoulder.  A good customer who was in a motorcycle accident (a pickup turned into his path and then ran from the scene) was in and he will apparently have a lengthy recovery.  3 weeks later he's still suffering from double vision and, yes, he was wearing a helmet.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

More interesting connections...

My 4XGreat-grandmother Ann Smith McGowan was newly widowed on September 7, 1809 when she purchased from John and Marcia Van Ness lot 16 of square 321 on 11th St. West (then, now NW) for $336.00.  This is now the location of Manufacturers Life Insurance and across Eleventh Street Northwest from Lincoln Circle Associates LLC 0555 11th Street NW, Washington DC or one block directly west of Ford's Theater or at approximately 542 11th Street NW.
This indenture made this Seventh day of September in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and nine Between John P. Van Ness and Marcia Van Ness his Wife, both of the City of Washington of the first part, and Ann McGowan Widow and Uloct(?) of the late Barney McGowan of the same place of the second part, and Catherine McGowan, Ann McGowan and Charles McGowan Infant Children of the said Widow & Barney of the same place of the third part Witnesseth that the said John and Marcia for the consideration of the sum of three hundred and thirty six Dollars to them in hand  ____ the receipt whereof they hereby acknowledge have granted bargained sold En_i__ed & confirmed and by these presents do grant, bargain, will, _____ & confirm unto the said Widow Ann McGowan one undivided third part of a certain part of lot number sixteen in square Three hundred and twenty one said part of said lot being the north part thereof and containing twenty four feet front on Eleventh street west and about one hundred feet in depth & one inch be the same more or less as designated on the plat of said City of Washington. To have and to hold the said equal undivided third part of the said twenty four feet front by one hundred feet & one inch in depth of ground with improvements & appurtenances belonging to her the said Widow Ann McGowan during her natural life for her only proper use benefit and behoof. And for the consideration aforesaid they the said John & Marcia Have granted, bargained, sold, aliened, enfessed and confirmed and by these presents Do grant, bargain, sell, alien, infess & confirm unto the said parties of the third part, to wit, Catherine McGowan, Ann McGowan and Charles McGowan infant, children of the said Widow & Barney, the remaining undivided two thirds of the said part of the lot as above described with the improvements and appurtenances thereon. To have and to hold the said two undivided third parts of the said part of a lot and also the reversion of the said other third part after the death of the said Widow Ann party of the second part, unto the said Infant children, parties of the third part, as Tenants in Common and not as _ointenants, their heirs and assigns forever. And the said John & Marcia doth hereby covenant and agree to with the said parties of the second & third parts that he the said John and his heirs will forever warrant & defend the said part of a lot & premises with the improvements and buildings thereon to the said parties of the second and third parts their heirs and assigns against all & every person or persons lawfully claiming or to claim the same by from through or under them the said John & Marcia. In witness thereof the said John & Marcia have hereunto set their hands & seals the day & year above written.

But that's not all, John and Marcia Van Ness are interesting as well.
John Peter Van Ness
John Van Ness was a native New Yorker, born in Ghent [formerly Claverly] New York. He studied law at Columbia College [now Columbia University], was admitted to the New York State Bar, but he never practiced. He was elected as a Republican [some sources say Democrat] to the U. S. House of Representatives to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of John Bird. He served in the U. S. Congress for less than two years, from October 6, 1801 until January 17, 1803.

While he was in the U. S. Congress, President Jefferson offered him the office of major of the militia in the District of Columbia. He accepted the appointment, and as a result he had to become a resident of the District of Columbia. As a D. C. resident, he was no longer a resident of New York, and therefore had to give up his seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. In that same year, in 1803, he was also made the president of the Second Council.

He apparently relished the military appointment, possibly because it had been granted to him by President Jefferson. In 1805, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and became commandant of the first legion of the militia in the District of Columbia. Six years later, in 1811, he was again promoted to brigadier general, and in 1813, he reached the rank of major general of the first legion of the militia of the District of Columbia.

Later in his Washington residency, probably following his military career, in 1829, he entered a more political career, and was appointed to be an alderman of the city of Washington, D. C. A year later, in 1830, he became mayor of Washington, D. C., and served in that position until 1834. By this time he had approached the retirement age. Prior to the end of his mayoral career, he became the second vice president of the Washington National Monument Society. A year later, in 1834, he became the president of the Commissioners of the Washington Canal, and president of the branch bank of the Bank of the United States at Washington, D. C. Van Ness had also served as first president of the National Metropolitan Bank from 1814 until his death.

John Van Ness was born in 1770. He married Marcia Burns [1782-1832] in 1802. She was a very wealthy woman, who had acquired her fortune through an inheritance. She was a philanthropist and had great influence in the Washington area. Upon her early death, when she was only 50 years old, she was given a public funeral. She was the only woman, up to that time, to be given such an honor following her death. John Van Ness outlived his wife by 16 years. He passed away on March 7, 1846, at the age of 76. Both John Peter Van Ness and his wife Marcia are interred in a private mausoleum at Oak Hill Cemetery.
It is hardly surprising that Widow Ann had to buy property from wealthy residents of the city. How she came to have the money though is a mystery. Perhaps it was saved, perhaps some of it was recompense for the death of her husband who, family oral history has it, died in the construction of the capitol building. Prior to our review of the deed we did not know, well somebody did but I didn't, who Charles' siblings were.  We now know they are Catherine and Anne McGowan, likely older as Charles was born in 1807.

Back a bit to my 4XGreat-grandfather Bernard "Barney" McGowan.  Apparently he was a stone mason who had been born in Ireland.  We know that he died in 1809 but we don't know when he was born or immigrated.  Indeed, immigrate might be not quite the correct phrase depending on his age because when he came here and where he landed it might still have been colony.  This may be, in part, why there are no records of immigration or naturalization.  But, I'm thinking, based on the averages of the time that he might have been born about 1780, give or take a couple of years.  The family story is that he fell from a building and was killed and that that building on which he was working was the U.S. Capitol building.

In 1809, Benjamin Henry Latrobe was the capitol architect (his proper title being "Surveyor of Public Buildings") and he was working on the interior of the north wing.   Much of the rotting wooden interior was replaced with stone work.  It would be about this time that Barney would have fallen and died.

Finding anything about Barney has been difficult.  This made all the more difficult by the many Bernard "Barney" McGowans who apparently immigrated during and after this period.  We do know that as a stone mason on the Capitol building project he was paid about $1.33 a day and the only days not worked were Sundays.  We also know that he likely worked side-by-side with the slaves brought in to work on the project.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

.224" bullets

Like many others, I shoot a variety of .22 caliber cartridges.  .22 Hornet, .218 Bee, and .223 Remington/5.56 NATO.  I'm not into the big .22s like the Swift, .22-250 or .225 Winchester.  I've no use for them.  These are the bullets I'm currently using in my .22 caliber rifles.  I initially took this photo because I thought it would be interesting to compare them to the current and former standard military bullets.

Starting with the littlest on the left we have the Hornady 35 gr. VMAX.  A "ballistic tip" bullet, you can see it isn't as aerodynamically shaped as the others.  In fact, I've heard it referred to as "a brick" for its lack of aerodynamic shape.  The ballistic coefficient (BC) for this bullet is .109 and the sectional density (SD) is .100.  However, this bullet seems to be a good one and fairly popular.  It will give me 1-1/2" groups in the .22 Hornet even with mixed brass.  It also provided an instant kill AND complete penetration on a ground hog at only 10 yards.  I don't think this bullet opens too quickly and yet it certainly opened quickly enough.  Over 13 gr. of Lil'Gun it gives about 3000 fps from the Hornet. All together that's plenty good enough performance for me.  However, when I've shot up my stock of these bullets I'm going to switch to the next bullet for the Hornet, just to reduce the number of different bullets on the shelf.

Next is the 40 gr. VMAX.  As you can see it is quite a bit more aerodynamic than the 35 gr.  What a difference just 5 gr. in bullet weight can make in bullets of this diameter.  The BC is up to .200 and the SD is .114.  I've been loading this bullet in the the .218 Bee over 14 gr. of Lil'Gun which, if memory serves, moves it along at about 3100 fps.  However, speed isn't the only thing and this bullet is pretty accurate in my custom Contender barrel.  Groups from the bench unsupported position average around 1" and some-times I can manage tiny cloverleafs at 100 yards.

Third from the left is the standard 55 gr. FMJBT for the 5.56mm cartridge.  I bought 5000 of these in bulk for loading for my old Colt SP-1 sporter carbine.  This is the same bullet used in the military's M193 cartridge.  I don't suppose there's anything really wrong with it.  This bullet is what my old gun's barrel twist rate seemed to demand and I was only using it for practice so the FMJ design wasn't a handicap.  However, FMJ bullets are illegal for hunting in many places, even for forbearing animals, and so a better solution is needed for my current 5.56mm AR-15 type rifle.  BC is .243.

Fourth, with the remnants of tar is the 62 gr. green-tip bullet.  Pulled from loaded ammo this is the current standard bullet in 5.56mm M855 cartridge.  BC is .304.  I got this ammo just to compare it to my own handholds with the next bullet and so I haven't shot it much.  I really have no use or need for an FMJ bullet if I can get soft points at a low enough price.  By the way, the U.S. military is shortly going to (they may have already done so) introduce the M855A1 bullet.  The weight is the same but the new bullet is politically correct and lacking lead (and green tip) so that it doesn't pollute the poor schmo a soldier might shoot with it.

That cheap and bulk packed bullet is second from the right (fifth from the left) and it is the 64 gr. Winchester Power Point.  I've been told this is the same bullet the California Highway Patrol uses in their ammunition.  As those patrol rifles have to take care of a number of scenarios, I expected this bullet to be a pretty good one and it seems to be.  Of course I'm using it in the 5.56mm/.223 Rem cartridge (yes, I know they aren't exactly the same).  In some states (maybe even Virginia in the near future) it will be legal for deer.  BC for this bullet is .234 and SD is .182.

Last is the 77 gr. Sierra BTHP.  With a cannelure this is the bullet that is specially loaded for certain military applications.  Due to this "elite" cachet it is quite in demand, cannelure or not.  I bought 100 to try in my new AR-15 carbine.  Even though that gun has a 1 in 9" twist rate I was concerned that the bullet wouldn't stabilize.  Most seem to think that the 1 in 7" twist is necessary to stabilize this bullet.   Then again, just because a barrel is labeled with a particular twist rate it might vary a bit, fast or slow, depending on how it was rifled.  The barrel in my gun seems to stabilize this bullet but I'm going to do some more testing at 150 yards just to be certain.  I like the looks of the long slender bullet but it does intrude below the shoulder of the .223/5.56mm case and that concerns some people.  I have been using WW748 for all my loads in this cartridge and it works just fine.  I don't think I want to change.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

A friend just told me that The Cave of Forgotten Dreams is playing at the Visulite Theater in Staunton.  I don't know if I'll find the time to see it but I'd like to.   As my friend pointed out, all of us have ancestors who survived long enough in that period to reproduce and that makes any current troubles seem pretty mild by comparison. The Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave contains the earliest known paleolithic cave paintings. Neat stuff.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

6 degrees of separation...

This is going to be an continuing project...

Apparently this interesting game based on six degrees of separation really took off when done in relation to Kevin Bacon (who and whose band I've seen perform live) but I've found another way to play, albeit a bit surprisingly.

My grandmother Janet's(1) godmother was Margaret Grote Elliman Henry(2).  Margaret (or Maghatan (sp?) as we heard her referred to) was married to James Buchanan Henry(3) (his third wife, m. 1904).  Buchanan (as he was called to discern him from his uncle) was the son of Harriet Buchanan Henry(4).  Harriet was a sister of President James Buchanan(5).  Buchanan was ward of and personal secretary to President Buchanan.

Also, Buchanan(3) attended a dinner given for Ignacy Jan Paderewski(4) by the Lotos Club on April 8, 1893 (it appears that Paderewski signed the menu!).  To how many people might connections be made through this single dinner?

I have to back up a bit to play six degrees of Kevin Bacon.  Kevin, wife Kyra, Kyra's ?XGreat-grandfather Judge Theodore Sedgwick, MY 3XGreat-grandfather Judge William Hathaway Van Cott (who named his oldest son after the noted jurist), me.  Do the genes count as one point of connection or do you have to allow for each intervening generation?

A further digression... Margaret Grote Elliman was a native of Annapolis, Maryland. She attended and graduated the Horace Mann School of Teachers College in May 1898 with my Great-Grandmother Eleanor Elizabeth Van Cott. She went on to Columbia University and graduated in 1902. In 1904 she married James Buchanan Henry. Buchanan died in 1915 in Florida (Margaret is mistakenly recorded in many genealogies to have died that same year) and she returned to New York. In 1939 she published "The doves of old Saint Paul's and other brief verses" and in 1947 published "L'Enfant and St. Paul's Chapel". She was active in church affairs. About 1962 she moved in with her God-daughter, my Grandmother Janet Crawford Brodie Flint and about 1964 or 1965 she died. Grandmother always referred to her as "Maghatan" and so it was quite some time before I could connect this woman with Grandmother's houseguest. She had a dog named "Blarney" who lived a couple of years longer. I remember having to share her former room with the dog when we visited.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

It will be a short report today. While we did 5 background checks, three were transfers or ordered guns and the other two guys came in with a purpose to get a home defense shotgun, NOW. In other words, people were motivated to get in around the construction which seemed particularly obnoxious today.

We did get two Weatherby Mark Vs in on consignment. One is a .300 Weatherby Magnum and the other is a .257 Weatherby Magnum and they've both been well cared for.

The big news was that the boss man went white water rafting last Friday, fell out of the raft and dislocated his right shoulder. Everyone had to hear the story. Remember, get your feet pointed downstream...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

An Anniversary

June 12, 1954
A wedding anniversay! 57 years ago today my parents were married at Sabbath Day Point on Lake George in New York.

Mom and Dad met at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. Mom once said that Dad would sleep through the class they had together while she was frantically taking notes but that his grades were better. Whether or not somebody introduced them I haven't a clue.

I know why this location was chosen. Mom's family had had a summer place on Lake George since about 1884 and Mom had waited tables at the place where they had the reception.

Sabbath Day Point has a bit of history. On the 5th of July 1758 General Abercrombie landed at Sabbath Day Point with an army of fifteen thousand men, rested until midnight, then moved north toward Fort Ticonderoga, leaving behind a hundred burning campfires to fool the enemy. General Amherst also encamped at Sabbath Day Point in the summer of 1759 with a force of twelve thousand men. It was at Sabbath Day Point that in 1756 , a party of Provincials, under General Putman and Robert Rogers, defeated a superior force of French and Indians. Grandma Flint told us that an Indian had been killed just up the hill from the main camp building.  How she had come to know this I haven't a clue.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Available Ammo

What ammo is on hand in the Hobie hut? I should begin with another gun nut enthusiastic collector's assortment but I've lined out that which I don't have.

.44 Magnum
.44 Special
.41 Magnum
.357 Magnum
.38 Special
.22 Remington Jet
.32 S&W Long
.32 H&R Magnum
.38 S&W but I do have a bullet mold for the 146 gr. bullets.
.32 S&W
.32 rimfire long
7.62x38 Nagant
7.62x25 Tokarev
.455 Webley Auto
.303 Brit
10.4x38R Swiss
7.5x55 Swiss
11x59R Gras
8x51R Lebel
7.5x54 French
6.5x52 Carcano

6.5x54 M-S
11x60R Mauser

7.62x51 NATO
8x50R Siamese
.300 Whisper

7.7x58 Arisaka
6.5x50 Arisaka

.30-40 Krag
.243 Winchester
.405 Winchester

but I have some she doesn't have...
.22 CB
.22 Short
.22 WMR
.22 Hornet
.218 Bee
.25-35 Winchester
.250 Savage
7mm TCU
7-30 Waters
.30 Herrett
.30 WCF (.30-30)
.300 Savage
.32 WCF (.32-20)
.35 Remington
.38 Colt
9x18mm Makarov
10mm Auto
.45 Auto Rim
.45 Colt
.45-75 WCF
.410 bore shotgun
28 gauge
20 gauge
16 gauge
12 gauge

When you have stocks of some 28 49 (!) different cartridges, you have a logistics problem. There is a need for space, for atmospherically safe space, for fire-safe space, etc.

Hat-tip to Tam.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Letting yourself down...

I let myself down last night. How? Let me try to explain.

Many months ago I came into this Marlin 1894 .44 Magnum to replace my old beloved 1894 .44 Magnum and to help out a buddy who needed some money. One of the first things I noticed was that the loading gate screw was a bit buggered. I thought I'd fix that and so I acquired a new screw but of course the person who'd buggered the screw had cross-threaded the gate and so I needed a new one of those as well. I got the parts but I put off doing the repair for several years now because, well, I didn't have the time. Last night I got the wild hair and took the gun apart.

Unfortunately, I wasn't smart enough to find my parts first so that I had everything together. So I then had to reassemble the rifle so that I wouldn't lose any more parts. Still can't find the new parts. No they aren't in the parts boxes. I've no idea where they are and I could swear I had to move them only a couple of months ago because they were in the way of a loading project.

So, you see, in failing to keep myself organized I let myself down and wasted time. Entirely preventable.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics

Somebody mentioned that people don't sing along with the National Anthem. Now I know that some singers over stylize their performance. They see it as a performance, not as reverential thing as I do. But, that does not mean that I, or you, can not sing the National Anthem. It does help to know the lyrics, so here they are.

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Another slow day in the gun shop yesterday. We really didn't have many customers until about 2:00 PM and then it went pretty fast with 5 background checks by the end of the day. No new cool guns, no neat accessories, some interesting conversations.

This brings us to the subject of false veterans. Yesterday was a peach. The fellow came in and was wearing a medical mask. Allowed as to how it was a medical necessity to protect him from our (i.e. other people's) contagious diseases. Quite a bit overweight this fellow had no problem talking but to his story. To sum it up he had a disqualifying medical condition such that he couldn't enlist in the service (Vietnam era). So, in looking for work he applied to several companies and also to the CIA (THE company). Calling to check on his application he was given a referral to the State Department and then, after several courses at Fort Benning, he found himself sniping at truck drivers on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Said he killed several "Russian" truck drivers.

Pretty disappointing when somebody feels so badly about themselves that they will do/say such things.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

James Arness Interview

I first posted this on October 6, 2009. May God comfort his family in their loss.

James Arness who Played Matt Dillon on the TV show "Gunsmoke" for many, many years is of interest to many shooters who grew up watching the show and whose interests were thus influenced. There is about 2½ hours of video. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

A Rifleman Went to War by Captain Herbert Wesley McBride

I recently re-read "The Emma Gees" on my Kindle and was reminded thereby of this book, "A Rifleman Went to War" by Captain Herbert Wesley McBride in 1935, just prior to his death.

The first part of the book is almost a verbatim repetition of "The Emma Gees" but it soon takes a different path and the tone changes from the earlier book.  CPT McBride manages to weave his experiences, the stories of his fellow soldiers and the war into one neatly written account of this bitterly fought war.  He says that he doesn't want the book to be nor is it a history of the war but indeed it is, a very personal history.

McBride touches on his background and how his previous training as an artillery and Gatling battery officer helped him in his service with the Canadians in France during the 1915-1917 period.

His is the only first person account of use of the Warner-Swasey sight that I've read.  I only wish he had written in greater detail about it.  What he does say can be summed up by saying that the sight took a bit to get zeroed, had to be checked and wasn't the best but was the best for the time.  To put it another way, he took the available technology and made it work.

He also talks about the practical use of the various pistols in the trenches.  I had previously read that the French were using .32 ACP Browning and Ruby pistols in their trench raids and wondered how that really worked for them.  By McBride's account, one wouldn't think they did so well.  He strongly felt that the .45 ACP Model 1911 (which was the issue pistol for the Canadians) was the best of the lot.  However, he wasn't averse to anything of .40-something caliber.  He wasn't fond of the smaller caliber guns but part of that was due to the actions in which they were chambered.  He also recounts how the pistols were best carried in the trench raids and security patrols between the lines.

He discusses the various artillery pieces at length.  My feeling is that he felt very qualified to comment on the various pieces, their application and effectiveness.  He also discussed at some length how the soldier should react to shelling and how the use of the various pieces gave indication of what the enemy intended to do.  Very interesting stuff.

McBride doesn't limit himself to comments on firearms and explosives.  He also talks about the edged weapons used and mentions that the Lebel ("the French bayonet") bayonet used as a sword (rather than on the rifle) was one of the best of the lot.
21" French Lebel bayonet was McBride's trench raid favorite edged weapon

CPT McBride even manages to discuss the espirit of the various armies involved.  This is about the worst part of the book and seemed a bit disjointed to me.  I think he was trying to be profound but got a bit verbose.  Although he doesn't really reach beyond his personal experience some of his opinions were very similar to those I heard in the 1970s!

I really enjoyed the book and thought it was full of useful information.  I was fortunate to find a Kindle version of the edition that included a prologue by that eminent expert on combat pistolcraft, COL Jeff Cooper.  In that prologue he obliquely comments on the importance of CPT McBride's book on his own life and career while denying that it was the sole source of his opinions on the subject.

I think it is safe to say that every soldier (and Marine) should read this book.  The practical content applies even in these days of the GPS guided munitions and the personal expressions about the war will be forever timeless.  

Friday, June 03, 2011


Larry vs Harry Bullitt Classic
I like bicycling.  Have a Giant mountain bike, wife does, too.  Need to ride more but...  In Korea bicyclists did most of the local delivery work of everything from eggs or toilet paper to live hogs.  Those bikes were really standard bikes with various forms of frame reinforcement.  Any way I had never seen these cargo bikes until I stumbled on to the one below...

European Sperm Bank's "Sperm Bullitt"

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Lipsey's does it again...

Lipsey's has prevailed upon Ruger to make 500 ea, blued and stainless, 5½" New Model Flattops in .45 Colt/.45 ACP (yes, a convertible). The Lipsey's dealer e-mail:
We are proud to announce the newest member of the Lipsey's Exclusive family of guns, the Ruger Blackhawk Flattop 45 Colt / 45 ACP Convertible.

This is the first Ruger Blackhawk Flattop chambered in the classic 45 Colt cartridge. As a bonus, we are including an additional 45 ACP cylinder. These highly anticipated revolvers will feature a blue finish, simulated ivory "gunfighter" style grips and adjustable sights. They will be built on the mid-size 357 Magnum frame and offered with a 5-1/2" barrel. A stainless steel version of the same revolver will follow shortly.

View them on the Dealer website:
Blue -
Stainless - Announcement to come
Read the full article explaining the thought process behind our newest Ruger Revolver
Read the article at

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Notes from the gun shop...

Due to the Memorial Day Holiday I worked today instead of Monday. It was a very slow day. Only did a couple of background checks. Not much other business either. No great guns came in. Had some good conversations though! Worked on THE S&W 586 some more.

That is interesting, the hammer hangs up on the rebound slide and won't fully reset. Lewis hasn't figured out what is up yet. How did it come to be this way? Let's just say, "if it works, don't fix it." A previous owner took it apart "just 'cause" and when he put it back together it didn't work. I think he has an incorrect part in it that won't work with the given geometry of the L-frame. Then again, I don't know. Anyhow the current owner bought the gun for $50 and wants to avoid the cost of sending it back to S&W to get it repaired. If it was mine it would be gone and back by now...