About Me

I am also the author of 4 books, available on Amazon, and at many major outlets. I have been contributing writer for Combat Handgun Magazine and Women and Guns Magazine.

I was an instructor for many years, Recently retired.

Thank you for following along with me as this journey continues.

Safe Shooting!

my books

my books
Thoughts, comments and insights for women who shoot and the men who love us!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

Wishing you all a safe and prosperous 2013!  Be careful if you are going out and stay strong in the face of the harassment from the anti-gun groups.

Talk (write) to you all next year!!

Safe Shooting and Thank you for your Support!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

I want to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas,
or whatever Holiday you observe,
and a Safe and Happy New Year.

Be safe, be well, and thank you for a wonderful year!

Monday, December 17, 2012

And now the Fallout Begins

With so many young innocent lives lost, and the photos of the fallen, with their cherubic faces smiling into the camera, flashed across our TV screens, emotions are running high.  I’ve heard everything from a national gun ban to banning semi-automatic pistols, restrictions on ammunition sales and magazine capacity…the list goes on.  The only thing we all seem to agree on is this was a senseless act of a disturbed individual. 
My heart goes out to the families, the survivors and the emergency responders.  Their lives are changed forever.  We should mourn the loss of the many, all whose lives were cut short by this senseless violence.  But we need to remember, this person, this killer, chose a gun as his tool, but it could have been anything.  Banning firearms doesn’t stop gun violence, just look at two cities with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country, our Nation’s Capital, Washington DC, and Chicago, Ill. 
Perhaps we should look at the desensitization to violence brought on by a culture that reveres violent films and video games.  Perhaps we should consider allowing law-abiding, trained, citizens to carry concealed firearms everywhere so that they have the right, and the ability, to defend themselves, and others, at any time.  One defensively trained and lawfully armed teacher could have made a significant difference in the outcome of the tragedy in Ct. 
Let us, as a country, look at our mental health care and ask why seriously disturbed individuals wander free.  Let us not blame the tool but blame the person responsible for this heinous act.  This is a time to come together, grieve and look for solutions, not to push an anti-gun agenda.  History has shown, banning guns doesn’t work, it merely makes us defenseless.
Don’t get caught up in the debate and lose sight of what really happened.  A mentally unstable individual, with an apparent history of violent behavior, committed an atrocity, and 20 children didn’t get to return to their parents arms.  Six adults didn’t get to go home to their families.  That is the real crime, not the tool that was used to commit the act. 
Be safe. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tragedy in Newtown, Ct - A Year Later

There has been a lot of coverage of the anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown Ct.  In the days following my original post I wrote that I believed that people on both sides of gun control would use this tragedy to justify their positions.  But as we watch the still grieving faces, it is important to remember, these were innocent children and adults trying to protect them. 

This incident highlighted many things. 
  • The power of a community to come together and support each other in tragedy.
  • The courage and humanity of First Responders.
  • The impulsive nature of some people to take advantage of a tragedy.
  • The need for quality mental health care and personal responsibility in storage of firearms.
  • That we, the people, should think first of the victims and their families, not jump to conclusions and start pointing fingers.

Below is what I wrote on 12/14/12. 

Over the coming days I’m sure we will see much about the latest school shooting, and both sides of gun control will have their say.  Today, however, please think of the innocent children who may never feel safe again, the innocent victims who tragically lost their lives, and the families left behind.  My thoughts and prayers are with them, wishing I could shelter the victims from such senseless violence or somehow find words to comfort the families as their shock and disbelief turns to grief.
Thoughts and prayers to those who were lost, those who are injured and those who are picking up the pieces.
May God welcome the lost with open arms, guide the emergency responders and give them strength, and bring comfort to those still here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

FireClean – Hype or Fact?

I’ve been reading and hearing people praising FireClean like it was the best thing to come to gun cleaning since bore cleaner was invented.  I’ve never cleaned my guns with anything but Hoppes, and I was a believer that cleaner and lube were TWO separate products.  I’ve always been a little picky about keeping my guns clean, to the point where I get teased sometimes, but I always say that no one ever had a malfunction because of a gun that was too clean.

Well, I decided to try it.  The first thing I noticed was that it was a little thicker that my usual cleaner.   Then I noticed the scent, or lack of scent.  I had let my gun go a little longer than usual, maybe 500 rounds, so it was dirty.  I know, you can laugh, but this is my carry gun and I clean it every time I shoot it.  So, I started cleaning and noticed that it was cleaning faster than I was used to.  I was surprised by how well it worked, my gun was cleaner than the day I brought it home! 

Next was the real test, my .22 rifle.  You probably know that .22 is pretty dirty, and I have put a couple hundred rounds through the rifle.  I ran a wet patch through, ran the brush through 5 or 6 times, and ran a half dozen dry patches and they were clean! 

Glocks run fairly dry, my Ruger a little more lube, but gently wiping them down, everything was done and ready to go. 

I cleaned 4 pistols and 2 rifles in about an hour. 

Ok, call me a convert.  I really like this stuff.  What a great product!

You can find them on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/fireclean?fref=ts, check them out.  You will be as amazed as I was.

Before FireClean, notice the gunk on the recoil spring?

After cleaning, what a difference.  See the frame below, it almost looks like it has never been shot, and I’ve put several thousand rounds through this gun!

Old Dogs, New Tricks

I met a friend of mine to the range yesterday, he has been shooting for twice as long as I have, taken numerous tactical courses, etc.  He was looking for a little update, not really expecting to learn anything.  We started out with a review of the safety rules, and then on to carry laws in our state.  His eyes got a little wider with each question. 

Then we went out onto the range...we started out with warm ups at 8 feet.  Then up went the silhouette and we started the real fun.  He has never done unsighted fire, and was surprised that he was shooting low.  We talked about anticipation, and fixed that, and he was in the area he intended to be.  We focused on Combat Accurate, or as I think of Defensively accurate, spreading the shots our over high center chest.  Then we incorporated scanning, fire a couple shots, come back into high ready and scan 360 degrees, my hand was behind him holding up fingers to tell him how many shots to take on the next fire.  That forces him to really see what was behind him.  In talking after, he admitted that was new, his first scan was a quick glance left and right, not really taking in any information, but he recognized the value of really processing information.  We shot for nearly an hour, I took a turn to demonstrate what I could do at 20 feet unsighted, slowing once to take a head shot, then back to emptying the magazine and showing him a quick reload. 

It was fun, and for him a little humbling.  The sport of shooting is ever evolving and if you aren't training, you aren't learning the new techniques and tricks.  If you are a plinker, that is fine.  However, if, like my friend, you have made the decision to start to carry, that is something else. 

He was feeling a little humbled, not my intent, but left with a lot of information to process and things to practice.  I mostly work with new shooters and it was a treat to work with an experienced shooter, and watch the minor tweaks cause very noticeable improvements. 

So, not to call me friend an old dog, but no matter how long you have been shooting, it is a good idea to freshen your skills from time to time and take a class or work with an instructor.  Find out what is new, take away what works for you.

Safe Shooting.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guest Blog on the Need to Protect Your Hearing

Following is a guest post by John O. This addresses a topic that is near and dear to my heart, hearing protection and hearing loss. I have a significant hearing loss in one ear, and it is related to nerve damage, which means hearing aids, or amplification, do not help. I'm very diligent about my ear protection, either electronic muffs or custom molded plugs, depending upon the situation. While John relates the dangers to your hearing while hunting, any time you are shooting, you need to protect yourself. 

Thank you John for reaching out to me to share this information with my readers.

Tips for Preventing Hearing Loss in Hunters
Hearing loss can be caused by excessive exposure to loud noises. Hunting is a threat to hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss comprises a large portion of the 36 million who are suffering from hearing loss. As people age, the threat can worsen since 30 percent of adults between the age of 65 and 74 have difficulty hearing.
Hearing protection is necessary for people who engage in this popular sport. My father suffers severely from hearing loss and is part of the 30% of adults between the age of 65-74 that have trouble hearing.  Although not the only cause, hunting did play a very large role in the decreasing levels of his hearing.  He now wears hearing aids in order to help increase hearing levels so he can here well.

Ways to Protect Hearing While Hunting

Since most shotguns produce sounds between 160 decibels (dB) and 144 dB, most hunters need protection. Any noise over 80 dB may provide permanent hearing damage. Normal hearing speech is between 60 dB and 65 dB. This gives you an idea about how much noise people can handle.
To protect the ears, avoid enclosed environments when shooting. Earplugs, earmuffs and electronic earmuffs are the most common.
How to Protect Hearing at the Shooting Range

When at the shooting range, you should wear earmuffs, a combination of earmuffs and earplugs or electronic earmuffs. Electronic earmuffs have noise cancelling technology. This allows hunters to hear sounds under 80 dB.
Every sportsman should wear earmuffs to protect their ears. Many sportsmen have lost their hearing due to shooting.  These earmuffs have protected people for numerous years. Any person who is aware of hearing loss should consider purchasing ear protection. The earmuffs are friendly to all budget types. Everyone should consider purchasing a pair if hunting is the sport of choice.
Why You Should Protect Your Hearing

Since hearing is one of your most important senses, you must protect it. Hearing impairment can affect your balance and cause you to fall. Compromised safety is not what most people desire. Everyone must create awareness and let their friends and family know how important it is to preserve hearing.

Hi my name is John O'Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss.  My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss.  I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can.  Check out my new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New Video Glasses Review

I got a pair of POV HD Digital Video Glasses from Amazon.com.  I couldn't wait to take them to the range.  Attached is a short clip shot with the glasses.  I'm impressed.  They are very easy to use, Micro USB charge of internal battery and uses a micro-card.  There are clear and tinted lenses, very easy to swap out.  Only downside is the temples are a little bulky, so they work better with ear plugs than they do with ear muffs. 

Overall, I like them...

Watch for more video in the future!  This was fun!

25,000 Strong and Growing!!

Just missed doing it in a year, but so close!  Thank you so much, I hope that you all enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing.

I have left a message for the winner of the gift certificate to Gun Goddess, and as soon as I hear from her I will set that up.


Racking the Slide

I've worked with a couple students recently who had a lot of trouble racking the slide.  Racking the slide is less about strength than leverage.  You can do it, it just takes practice.

First, make sure you are in your workspace, close to the body, upper mid chest.  Think of where you would hold a jar with a tight lid to open it, that is where you are strongest.  Hold the gun in your strong hand, come up and over the top of the slide with your weak had, grasp the rear of the slide firmly and pull back while pushing forward with your strong hand.  When it is a far back as it will go...let it fly!  Yep, let go.  The slide is designed to do that.

You can do it, it just takes practice.  It can be harder on the smaller guns, the "pocket pistols", mostly because there is less to get a hold of, but with practice, and patience, you can do it. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Closing in on 25,000!

Wow, you all have been so supportive!  Thank you!!  To show my appreciation if you leave a comment on this post, I will randomly select a winner of a gift certificate to Gun Goddess when I get to 25,000!

Thank you and be safe!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Should I Buy a Gun for my Significant Other for Christmas?

Thinking of a new toy for your significant other?  Do they want one or do you want them to have one?  So often people come to a beginner class with a gun their SO (usually Husband) bought for them.  I’ve seen women come in with a Desert Eagle, a Judge, and a Ruger LCP (or similar .380 “pocket pistols”).  These are women who have never shot before!  I’m sure there are a few men in this category, but I haven’t had one admit it (although I did buy my husband a shotgun for home defense without talking to him first but he loves it).
Common theme?  Buying what you want, or want them to have, not what is best for their partner.  I don’t know very many women who really want a Desert Eagle.  Me, I like my 9mm.  For a new shooter, or to introduce someone to shooting, you don’t want to start them without something that is overpowering or so tiny it is difficult to control.  A .44 Magnum is probably not a great start, either.  A Double Action Revolver, with a 12 pound trigger pull is also not a great way to start.  Those are for after you master the basics, if you really feel the need. 
A gun must fit securely in the hand.  Can you really judge for someone else what is a comfortable and secure fit?  No!  Your SO needs to first, have an interest and be willing to at least consider it, otherwise is a bit like giving your SO golf clubs in your size.  Second, let them participate in the shopping experience, trying a gun in the hand, getting comfortable...  This goes for holsters, too!  Unless they have told you what they want…don’t go there.  There is a reason most of us have “the holster bag”.
I know, it takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it?  Consider, instead, a gift certificate to a training class.  A NRA First Steps class (you don’t need to own a gun to take the class) is a great way to start and they are offered all across the country.  If you are feeling a little bolder, a Combat Focus Shooting class (probably should have the gun, or arrange in advance with the instructor to borrow gear) teaches great defensive techniques and accommodates all skill levels.  Both of these courses, and more, are offered in the Northern Virginia area by Innovative Defensive Solutions, LLC., but you can also find them at the embedded links above.
Follow up with a promise to take them shopping for their first gun. You always remember your first, you should have some say in what it is.
Wishing you Safe and Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review of Fundamentals of Combat Focus Shooting Course

Fundamentals of CFS is a one day course, offered in Northern Virginia by Innovative Defensive Solutions, LLC.  If you don’t know me I’m female, over 50, and an experienced shooter / instructor.  I was excited to get to take this class.  There were 10 students ranging from a young woman who had never drawn from a holster to very experienced shooters.  I had never taken a defensive firearms class before.  My first reaction was WOW!  My second reaction, at the end of the day, was OW!
This was a great class. The instructors were patient, helpful and extremely knowledgeable (and no, I didn’t know all of them, LOL).  The class started with fundamental skills and quickly built on those, mastering one new aspect at a time and building up to the final drills.  I learned so much that it wasn’t until the very end that I realized how much I had learned. 
The instructors focused on something that was a new concept to me.  We didn’t all have the same “performance goals”, they recognized that we are all starting in different places.  Some were amazing shooters, some were more tentative, not quite as accurate.  We were building skills to help us defend ourselves, not trying to hit a 10 ring.  This was a great approach because if allowed all of us to be successful without being measured against each other.  The instructors were constantly walking up and down the line, sharing advice, offering tips, making minor corrections and offering the occasional encouragement, as well as pointing out errors.  Safety was a constant, every new skill included an explanation of how to perform it incorporate it safely. 
When I first starting looking into the class I was put off by the word “Combat”.  Then I realized, combat is a fight for your life, and if I’ve drawn my gun, I’m fighting for my life.  Also, I thought, this would be a great class for an experienced shooter to take their skills to the next level.  I was half wrong.  This is a great class for ANY shooter to enhance their defensive skills.  I watched a relatively new shooter blossom and grow more confident as the day went on, getting accurate hits on target and moving and drawing smoothly.  I, personally, saw my accuracy improving, my drawing getting faster, my reloads getting smoother….and my threat recognition, which I had never worked on, went from zero to sixty!
This class covers so much it is difficult to describe it all.  But at the end of the day I was tired, sore, and thinking to myself…I WANT TO DO IT AGAIN!!!  I think of all I learned in one class, wow, if I take it again, how much more will I get out of it?  There was so much, and it is structured to your individual level, that now that I (I think) have moved up a notch, taking it again will offer new challenges and a chance to get even better.
I also know that I will incorporate some of the skills into my teaching, tips on lateral movement, threat recognition, drawing and firing, scanning and assessing slowly enough to actually see what is behind me but fast enough not to lose track of what is in front of me. 
Ladies, this is an especially great class for women because it will build confidence in a way I didn’t think was possible in one day.  I’ve been shooting, and carrying a long time.  This class taught me things I had never thought about.  I was pushed past my comfort zone, by caring instructors who wanted me, and everyone else to excel to the best of my ability.  I was encouraged by these same instructors.  I felt I held my own with the guys, even the young ones.  I might not have moved quite as fast, but I was drawing, and getting hits on target right next to them. 
Bottom line, if you use a gun for personal defense, either in your home or carry out in the real world, I strongly encourage you to find and take a CFS class.  You will be amazed.  The inexpereinced shooters came away with a new appreciation of their skills.  The experienced shooters, one of whom was Law Enforcement, admitted that the drills were new to him and he learned a lot.  EVERYONE can benefit from this. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Training Logs

A few weeks ago I received a question about training logs, and diligently downloaded an application to my Android Phone, RANGELOG, to track my round counts and practice.  I learned a couple things.  First, logs are not my forte.  I would forget, and then try to enter days later, plus my practice session vary significantly depending on my mood.  If I’m stressed, I like to shoot fast, and a lot.  If I’m in a good head space I tend to be more methodical and focused, drilling marksmanship, drawing, defensive skills, scan and assess…  Some days I just want to punch holes in paper.  I learned that I didn’t care about tracking it because it all balances out.  I do keep my occasional targets, the ones with the fist size hole missing from the middle (I’ve threatened to frame them and hang them on my back door so if you bust through my gate it will give you something to think about).
Second, I found the mechanics of this particular application did not work well for me.  I have multiples of the same make/model gun, one for me and two for students.  Trying to determine my gun meant opening each one and checking the notes section.  All in all, I’m not a training log gal.  If I were more OCD (or as my husband says CDO since the letters need to appear in alphabetical order) maybe.  But I tend to judge my skills by my performance.  I don’t really care that my round count is 5000 on a particular gun, or that I did point shooting last week so I need to do marksmanship this week. 
I don’t know if that answers the question, but that is my experience.  If I really wanted to keep a log, I think I would get a small book, maybe 3x5 size, and keep it in my range bag, record my info there.  Or, being a little geeky, make notes and go home and put them into a spreadsheet or a Database.  Do I need a special app for that?  No. 
Thank you for the question though, gave me something new to try and consider.

Safe Shooting!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coming Up!

Next Saturday I will be attending, as a student, a Fundamentals of Combat Focus Shooting Course offered by Innovative Defensive Solutions, LLC.  I’ve read about, seen videos, even observed one class.  Now…I get to take the course.  I can’t wait!  Based on watching it I have a slight advantage in that I know what to expect, but there is a difference in knowing, and knowing what it can do for my defensive skills, and actually completing the training.  I will definitely be posting a review and maybe a photo or two after the class.
Ladies, do not be put off by the term “Combat”, if you are in a defensive situation where you are drawing your gun, you are fighting for your life.  One on-line dictionary defines Combat this way; “to fight, contend, or struggle to fight or struggle against; oppose, resist, or seek to get rid of armed fighting; battle any struggle or conflict”.  That can happen on the streets, in your home, at the grocery store…not just on a battle field.  This is about confidence in your own ability to defend yourself, and knowing you have the skills to survive the encounter.
Check back early next week for a full review!

Will We Know in the Morning?

This election has brought out the best and the worst in people.  Negative ads have been rampant, at least in Virginia which is considered a swing state.  We all have our own opinions and preferences as to who should be the next President.  I’m not going to address that here.  What I do want you to think about it the polls show this to be very tight, too close to predict.  We’ve been here before.
With emotions running high, remember to exercise your right to vote and then be respectful while the results are tallied.  If we wake in the morning without a clear winner, as I expect to happen but you never know, be patient.  Be respectful.  If your favorite wins, remember that is means someone else’s favorite lost.  This is Democracy in action. 
If your candidate wins, celebrate in a safe and non-destructive manner.  If your candidate doesn’t win, understand the other side is entitled to their celebration and respect that. 
Be civil, be respectful and above all, if you voted, you did what you could.  If your guy wins, yea.  If he didn’t, well, you did your best. 
Stay Safe, be patient and cross your fingers for the candidate of your choice!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gender Bias?

I helped teach a Pepper Spray class today, we had two gentlemen in the class.  They had a little difficulty responding to me as the “bad guy”, were slower to respond to an aggressive act…  It is so important for everyone to remember that women can be the aggressor, or the can be part of a team.  It is hard to balance the conditioned courtesy, a woman approaches, looking innocent, and asks for help, directions or the time, your guard goes down and…she has you. 

I actually feel the for men, it is tough to balance courtesy with a perception of risk or threat.  We react differently when approached by a woman then we do when approached by a man.  This goes for women as well.  I tend to be less defensive, or I used to, when a woman approached me than when a man was coming to close. 

Bottom line, trust your intuition.  The threat can come from anyone, at anytime.  Be aware, alert and stay safe!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Been busy!

Things have been crazier than usual around my household lately, so I humbly apologize for not keeping up with posts.  Between the day job that pays the bills, some craziness in my community with meant more neighborhood watch patrols (and a few calls to the police), teaching every weekend, writing posts for Gun Shows Today, and starting on my 2nd book (yep, glutton for punishment) and trying to get next years National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day moving forward...well, I'm sorry.

Coming up on my calendar is a Combat Focus Shooting Fundamentals course where I get to be...a student!  How fun will that be.  If you haven't heard about CFS yet, look at it.  This training is great, doesn't matter if you are new or experienced, you will come away with skills you can use.

Also, HUGE election on Tuesday.  VOTE!  There is a lot at stake in this election, and it could make a big difference in the direction of our nation, so take a hard look inward and vote your conscience. 

Today's tip for kids and grownups alike...what do you yell when someone is grabbing you and pulling you toward someplace you don't want to go?  STRANGER!  Simple, easy to remember, sends chills down the spine of any parent but works for adults, too.  This simple word can get you more attention than Help.

Be safe and VOTE!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

DC Sniper – 2002 – Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I was living in the DC area then.  I remember the fear on people’s faces as they were gassing up their cars, or walking through parking lots.  I remember driving home from a friend’s home one night and being stopped at a road block and thinking…someone else just lost their life.  If you were here, you know.  If not, you shared the horror as it was spread across the nightly news. 

Now, Lee Boyd Malvo, the young man who was half of the shooting duo (the elder, John Allen Muhammad was executed for his crimes in 2009) is claiming sexual abuse from the age of 15 and appears to be using that as at least a partial defense for his actions.  In an interview with Matt Lauer, http://todaynews.today.com/_news/2012/10/24/14680073-dc-sniper-lee-boyd-malvo-i-was-sexually-abused-by-my-accomplice?lite, he spoke out about the abuse by John Muhammad.  

Many people are abused, it doesn’t turn them into serial killers.  This young man, at 15, was old enough to know that you don’t shoot people for the thrill.  He went on to claim that there were other victims of their spree, in other states, that people aren’t aware of.  I’m sorry, this made me sick to my stomach.

If you read my blog, you know I try to focus on shooting tips and the occasional product review, but this article really upset me.  Maybe because I was here, maybe because I was only a few miles away when one victim was gunned down for no good reason other than being randomly selected by a pair of murders. 

Mr. Malvo is serving six life sentences, and likely will never again walk as a free man.  But that is still better than the his victims or their families.  The simple fact that he has been getting press attention and was interviewed bothers me.  He participated in cold, calculated and merciless killings, in a very cowardly way, from a distance, secreted in the trunk of a car.  Ordinary people, going about their lives, doing ordinary things like getting gas or going to school…they are the victims.  Mr. Malvo earned his place in a cell and I have to leave the rest to God because I cannot find empathy or sympathy for him. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Training and Training Logs for Shooters

I have never used one, I don’t record the specifics of my practice, but the question came up so I did some research.  Training logs can range from a small notebook with dates, time, rounds fired, type of shooting, i.e., marksmanship, drawing, speed, point, etc., to complex computer applications that calculate lots of different information and can graph your practice and your performance.  I admit to being intrigued by the apps I could get for my Android phone.  I might do that.

My training time generally starts with a warm up at about 8 feet, using my sights, slow fire, trying to make one hole.  Then I will gradually work out to 15 or twenty feet depending on my goal for that day and speed up.  I will draw, point shoot several rounds fast, come to a high ready, do a 360 degree scan, drive out and either shoot 4 or 5 rounds point shooting or slow down and do one precision shot with sights.  Somewhere in this combination I will re-holster.  I deliberately do not track my round count, nor do I always load my practice magazines to capacity so I am never sure when the reload is coming.  I believe in a real situation I won’t be counting my rounds so I want to be able to reload quickly, smoothly and re-engage with minimal down time. 

If I’ve had a particularly bad day, I may just go and put as many holes in the paper as I can, I find that very relaxing.  I will generally shoot between 150 and 200 rounds in a one hour practice session.  Every other month or so I will remind myself to shot with my weak hand, both one handed and two handed.  I actually shoot fairly well when I do that because it forces me to concentrate harder. 

I will be purchasing an app for my phone in the near future and post a review of what I think.  I may find that I like a training log, I’ll let you know.


Safe Shooting!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Writing can be hard work

Coming up with new ideas can be tough sometimes.  I’m going to turn some of that over to you and ask. “Do you have any questions?”  Maybe I can write about questions you have or ideas.  I know you don’t want me to write about my day at work or what I did for dinner, that isn’t what this blog has been about, so…thoughts?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Progress on the Book!!

I got the first edits from the publisher and finished making the requested updates.  Not much, and frankly her suggestions were improvements.  I was so nervous waiting for the edits!  Years ago I heard a relatively new author speak and he said that "having some edit your book was like watching them tattoo your baby".  That was Tom Clancy. 

I feel like I'm one step closer to being able to see it in print and am so excited.  I can't wait to be able to share the cover and release information with all of you.  Most of you won't need it, as it is focused on new shooters, but maybe you will know someone who can.  :-)

Thanks for the words of encouragement, many of you have been sharing this journey with me and I'm grateful for the support!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

We all Need One!

What do you need?  A friendly shop where you can pick up your accessories, boots, pants, range bags, knives, batons, 5.11 shirts, training pistols…you know, everything except the guns.  We need a great place for those, too.  But, you can’t always find everything in one place.

If you are in the Northern Virginia area, F3 Tactical, 13914 Metrotech Dr., Chantilly, VA 20151.

These are some of the nicest people I’ve met in the shooting community, and we all know what a great group the shooting community is!  They are very supportive of Law Enforcement, Military (even us Retired types, Firefighters, EMTs, anyone in public service).

My experiences have included them ordering special sizes for me so I could get exactly what I wanted if it wasn’t in stock.  A willingness to chat, complimentary coffee, great Show and Tell (I took my new shotgun in after I got it at the gun show and had them help me pick out accessories), great advice.  They have hosted lots of events, including the MASF meet and greet, a free SIRT (Laser Sight Indicating Resetting Trigger Training Gun) class, a free Knife class…What more can you ask for?

Not in the local area?  Check them out on Facebook for great pictures from the store, friends, Show and Tell, events…

Great people, competitive prices, free coffee, free classes…what more can you ask for?

Stop in and say hi, you are guaranteed a friendly smile and a great time.




Sunday, October 7, 2012

Review of Mossberg 500 Tactical 12 Guage Shotgun

I have a Mossberg 500 12 guage tactical shotgun, and I got the chance to shoot it for the first time. 
I was a little nervous, have been well warned about the recoil of a pistol grip shotgun.  But, using Federal Premium 2 3/4 inch, 1 oz, low recoil slugs, it was a lot easier on the hand than .357 through my short barrel revolver! 

Being a wise women, I let my shooting instructor (Evan Carson of Innovative Defensive Solutions, LLC) fire it first.  I really like him, but he is a big guy, and watching him gave me an idea what to expect.  Holding it up, almost to the shoulder, didn't work well. 

Holding at waist level, with the strong hand arm tucked down tight, the bicep tight, one foot back to brace, and strong support hand on the pump...the only trick was leveling the barrel, it was harder to judge than I thought it would be.  I may add a rail and a laser.

But, it was surprisingly easy to handle, accurate, fun to shoot and will be an awesome home defense firearm.  At about 30 inches it is shorter than a standard shotgun (although I have the option to swap out the pistol grip for a standard stock) so there is less length to deal with.  It gives me the option to fire home defense shot, which is safer to my neighbors tham my 9mm rounds.  And, it has a crown muzzle that, if needed, will give me a great striking capability against an intruder.

Bottom line, great firearm, I'm very happy with it!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Debate over marksmanship vs. defensive shooting

Ok, this is a hot topic right now, so here we go.  Which is more important?  Both, imho!

I believe that marksmanship practice builds your confidence as well as your skills.  Self defense practice; drawing, moving point shooting, shooting from different positions like standing, kneeling, etc., builds your defensive skills. 

You never know what your situation might be.  Being able to respond quickly may be critical but you may need to take a precise shot around a loved one.

I have written several time, Practice like your Life may depend on it.  I believe that now more than ever.  I practice marksmanship, I practice accuracy, and I combine the practice so I can draw, shoot rapidly without sights and then on demand take that precise shot.

If you need a precise shot and you haven't practiced, can you make it?  If you need to defend yourself quickly, can you?

Practice smart, practice safe, be safe!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Women are the new Majority

I'm seeing more and more women in classes, learning, shooting, having fun.
They are strong, independent, smart and armed! 

There was a big gun show this weekend in my area and I saw a lot of women shopping, buying and smiling.  Yep, I always smile at the gun show, kind of "kid in a candy store" smiling.    Today was no different. 

But I really enjoyed seeing the women next to the men, shopping, talking, understanding.  I listened to a few shoppers, and they were asking intelligent questions, making good deals.  I remembered back to my first gun show when so few women were there and even fewer were able to talk with any knowledge. 

It is a great feeling to see women learning, being independent and able to take care of themselves.  The shooting community is a lot like a big family, welcoming, open, helpful...

Be safe, Be smart and Have Fun!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Use your Ears!

Hearing Protection, often call “Ears” helps us protect our hearing when we are on the range.  When looking at Ear Muffs, look for at least a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 25 or higher.  Electronic ears, which automatically shut down for loud noises but let you hear the person you are shooting with are great, but tend to be a little more expensive.  Also, you can use foam inserts, under your muffs to double up on protection. 

Lastly, there are custom molded hearing protection, that fit into the ear and block all sounds, they may also be available in an electronic version.  These do require the assistance of a professional, but I love mine!  (They are bright pink and royal blue swirled together. )

Bottom line, decide what you are comfortable with and what your budget can handle.  Even if outdoors, and the range allows it, do not shoot with hearing protection.  Once you lose your hearing due to exposure to loud noises, even partially, it is likely gone for good.  Protect your hearing.

Safe Shooting!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Developing a new class for women...ideas?

I've been working on developing a new class for women, focusing on very basic un-armed personal defense.  Not just physical contact, but more on situational awareness, using your voice, walking with a purpose, not being an easy target, getting creative with avoidance or distraction, some cyber-security, watching your drink when you are out, and, yes, some very basic physical resistance.

I was thinking of adding an optional hour at the end for holsters.  Just the ladies, try on holsters, carry purses, no shooting, no guns, just getting a feel for different types of holsters.  Maybe save someone else from "the holster bag".

That written, I'm asking you for your help.  If you were interested in a women only unarmed basic personal defense course, what would you want to learn?  I'm hoping to make this as helpful as possible and ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Yes, I do think this might be a gateway class for some to bring them to shooting, but even if not, I want to give a good foundation, if only one woman is saved from a bad encounter, it will be worth all the effort.

Thank you!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shooter’s Elbow

Ever hear of it? It is kind of like Tennis Elbow for people who shoot. It is Tendonitis in the upper forearm / elbow. And, it HURTS!! Left untreated, like anything else, it can cause serious injury, so if you find yourself with significant pain that lasts for weeks, visit your Doctor.

Like most cases of tendonitis, the first suggestion was rest and figure out what was causing it. I had already adjusted my keyboard, changed the position of my steering wheel…the only thing I hadn’t done was stop shooting. In fact, some of us are just prone to repetitive motion injuries, and I seem to fall into that group, having had carpal tunnel in both hands.  So…off to my friendly Orthopedic Surgeon. (He and I are on a first name basis.) He confirmed my suspicions, discussed my options, and had the “If it were me…” talk.  I weighed my options and got cortisone injections in both elbows. If you’ve never had the pleasure…well, in a word, OW!!!  I also agreed to stop shooting for a month to see how I did. That was probably harder than the injections. Shooting is my release, it is my chance to shrug off the idiocy of my world and just relax. Ok, I lasted two weeks, but then only 100 rounds, that in about 15-20 minutes.

But, my month is up! I went to the range Saturday and let lead fly for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want to push it too much. It felt WONDERFUL! I learned a few things. First, don’t ignore the pain for three months before going to the Dr. Second, be more aware of taking breaks from those marathon typing sessions, and third…I really do enjoy shooting.  I’m easing back into shooting, I’m a little sore today, but nothing unreasonable.

Do yourself a favor, if you are prone to this type of injury, be mindful of the signs, make adjustments, take breaks, see youe Doctor if it gets worse. Listen to your body, and be well.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Update on National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day

Ranges are starting to sign up, but we haven't listed many yet on the website pending agreements.  I'm hoping that more ranges will sign up early to give them the most time to plan, raise funds and get donations for their events. 

I have sent out a letters to many gun friendly companies in hopes of finding sponsors to help us fund the next years but haven't had much support so far.  I recognize that we do not have our 501c3 status yet, but we can not file until we meet a minimum donation threshold. Then it takes about 9 months before the IRS approves the application.

If you are not familiar with the corporate structure behind NTYDTTRD, it was founded as a non-profit corporation early in 2012.  We have 4 Directors, each with their own area of expertise.  The 2012 event was supported in part by donations, but more than 50% by the Directors, in hopes of getting it started and then securing funding.  What you may not realize is we received more in $5 and 10 donations than we did in large sponsorships. 

Our original goal has not changed.  Teaching safe handling to young people, encouraging families to take not just their sons but their daughters to shoot, and bonding over the fun of shooting sports. 

If we are to continue, and provide much needed support to host ranges, we need help.  We do not charge ranges to host an event as we recognize that they are covering their own expenses.  We would like to be able to provide more promotional materials, prizes and financial support to ranges.  We can't do that with the small amount of money we have saved now (actually, if we reimbursed ourselves for the money we spent out of pocket we would be in the hole, but have opted to consider those funds donations). 

Please visit the website at www.NationalTakeYourDaughtertotheRangeDay.com, like us on FaceBook, and if you have any ideas, suggestions, questions, would like to register your range or can help us financially...please contact us!

Thank you!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Latest Trip to a Gun Shop - Update

Based on comments received, I wrote to the company, linked to the orginial post, and expressed my frustration at the apparent gender bias.  I also asked permission to quote from the reponse.
I did hear back, one step above a form letter, that barely addressed my issue and did not answer the question about posting a follow up, even though I did write that I would not name the company.
Essentially, I got they've recently expanded, adding firearms, you know how hard it is to find knowledgeable help, they've hired a woman to oversee that section for all of the retail stores, etc....
Pretty much not an answer.
So...I guess they don't need my business.  Since the store is local to me I will share the name with people in the area so they can avoid them as as well.
It is sad that there are still some companies who, instead of addressing the issue, hide behind good help is hard to find.  However, since not all of them are like that, it will be survival of the finest.  I will go where I'm not talked down to or ignored; i.e., vote with my feet.
Original post below

I stopped into a Tactical / Gun store today looking for a new bag for my first aid kit and wandered by the counter in the back with a lovely assortment of Smith and Wessons. I waited patiently while the clerk finished with the person he was helping, somewhat patiently while he did something with a rifle box, started losing patience when he walked out from behind the counter and came back with a man answering questions, then left again. The other man who had been behind the counter the entire time typing into a computer finally looked up and asked if I had a question. Really? Me standing there for five minutes didn't give him a clue?

I asked about the M&Ps in the case, he informed me that I had to be LEO or Military to buy from that case. I asked if Retired Military was adequate, it was. Thought that might have given him a clue, or that I new they were M&Ps...nope. He pointed to the 9mm, I mentioned I was intereseted in the .45. He told me they had 40s. Does this guy not shoot? I told him I didn't want a .40, I was interested in the .45. Shrug, he opened the slide door by the .45s and said I do have a compact model. Ok, at this point I get lots of credit for not clocking him then and there. I said no, I didn't need a compact model. He tried to show me a tiny little polymer revolver, saying it could go in a pocket or a purse (ARGH!!) then when I commented that it would not be fun to shoot because it was so light he told me it would make a good backup gun. I replied, not if I don't practice with it!

Bottom line, the prices were good, but the service was clueless!!

It is getting better, and if he had been a shooter, he probably would have gotten a clue by how I checked the pistol to be sure it was clear, and handled it...FRUSTRATING!

Be Safe!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Day My World Changed

Eleven years ago today was a turning point for me.  I remember it like it was last week, the sky was a lovely blue, I was in my office, a typical morning, when someone came in with the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  Like many people, I assumed it was a light aircraft that had succumbed to a tragic accident.  I went down to the cafeteria in my building and locked eyes on the news coverage.  It didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t a small plane.  As the reporter was talking, I watched in disbelief as the second plane hit the adjacent building.  I remember thinking; “they just said they didn’t have footage of the collision!”  Then my mind translated what my eyes had seen and I knew…this was a second incident.  Time stood still for me until I suddenly remembered where I was…directly across the street from the Pentagon.  I ran up three flights of stairs to warn my co-workers when we heard the roar of jet engines.  The next thing I knew the building was moving, followed almost immediately by a sound I will never forget.  A jet had just crashed into the Pentagon and the force of the explosion sent a shockwave that literally rocked our building.  I saw several people running toward the windows and I yelled at them to “get the F*** away from the windows!”  I don’t use that language at work, but it seemed appropriate at the time. 

The next several hours were building evacuation, frantically listening to car radios for information, calling my main office to let them know we were safe, mixing with others on the street, like refuges...  dazed, confused, crying, scared…

Then, finally, driving home, looking in the rear view mirror and seeing the smoke rising against the clear blue sky.  People on overpasses waving flags.  The silence of no traffic in Northern Virginia because the Interstate going North had been blocked.  Going home, putting my flag out and then sitting in front of the TV, too numb to cry, too overwhelmed not to watch the coverage, thinking about the heroes on Flight 93, the courage of the first responders…

We didn’t return to work for two days while the building’s structural integrity was verified, but driving in and seeing the charred space where the wall had been…

Take a moment and remember those who were lost and those who survived but were changed forever.

Be safe.



Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Fundamentals of Combat Focus Shooting (CFS), My Introduction

I had the chance to spend a day observing an 8 hour class this past weekend.  I had planned to take the class but because of a flare of tendonitis I can’t shoot for a few more weeks.  However, I was able to go, observe and take a lot of photos for Evan Carson, the instructor.
The course was held outdoors in Northern Va, near Harper’s Ferry.  If you’ve never been up there, it was beautiful, mountains, wineries, farms…that was the up side.  The downside was bugs and a couple spells of heavy rain.  Ok, I’m spoiled, I like the indoor range I go to. 
The CFS Course was incredible.  It was progressive, building the skills.  All the students were already proficient shooters.  I can’t imagine doing the class without the fundamentals in place.  The philosophy includes incorporating the natural startle response into your actions, recognizing if a threat exists and shooting if there is, scanning and evaluating for additional threats..  The students were pushed physically and mentally and went away very pumped, excited and yes, tired.
I am still a strong believer in getting your fundamentals down but I can’t imagine a better program to take your shooting to the next level.  These guys went through several hundred rounds, my arms wouldn’t have held up.  I am really looking forward to actually taking the training. 
I can not recommend CFS strongly enough.  If you are in the Virginia Area, check out Evan Carson and Innovative Defensive Solutions.

Ladies, do not be put off by the name!  This is great training for anyone who wants to move their defensive shooting to the next level.  It isn't easy, but it is more mental than physical.  If I wasn't recovering from an injury I would have taken the class instead of photographing it.  I can't wait!
Stay Safe!

Latest Trip to a Gun Shop

I stopped into a Tactical / Gun store today looking for a new bag for my first aid kit and wandered by the counter in the back with a lovely assortment of Smith and Wessons.  I waited patiently while the clerk finished with the person he was helping, somewhat patiently while he did something with a rifle box, started losing patience when he walked out from behind the counter and came back with a man answering questions, then left again.  The other man who had been behind the counter the entire time typing into a computer finally looked up and asked if I had a question.  Really?  Me standing there for five minutes didn't give him a clue?

I asked about the M&Ps in the case, he informed me that I had to be LEO or Military to buy from that case.  I asked if Retired Military was adequate, it was.  Thought that might have given him a clue, or that I new they were M&Ps...nope.  He pointed to the 9mm, I mentioned I was intereseted in the .45.  He told me they had 40s.  Does this guy not shoot?  I told him I didn't want a .40, I was interested in the .45.  Shrug, he opened the slide door by the .45s and said I do have a compact model.  Ok, at this point I get lots of credit for not clocking him then and there.  I said no, I didn't need a compact model.  He tried to show me a tiny little polymer revolver, saying it could go in a pocket or a purse (ARGH!!) then when I commented that it would not be fun to shoot because it was so light he told me it would make a good backup gun.  I replied, not if I don't practice with it!

Bottom line, the prices were good, but the service was clueless!!

It is getting better, and if he had been a shooter, he probably would have gotten a clue by how I checked the pistol to be sure it was clear, and handled it...FRUSTRATING!

Be Safe!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gender Differences in Concealed Carry

With more and more women shooting, you would think that the holster manufacturers would catch up.  There is only so much you can do with a gun, except make it smaller or make it in colors, both of which is prevalent in the marketplace, but smaller is not kind to a new shooter, and colors…well, that is a matter of personal choice.

With the notable exception of the FlashBang Bra Holsters which are for the smaller guns (really, I don’t know anyone who could carry a full sized gun that way) and the Remora thigh band for smallish guns, the holster manufacturers have given us purses, which means carry off body and a host of other concerns and…what?  Pink?  Seriously, I have not found holsters intended for on body carry designed specifically for women!

Calling all holster manufacturers…Women need their own line of holsters?  Think IWB with less obtrusive clips?  Maybe a lower rise on the leather backing on a hybrid to accommodate the shorter torso?  Maybe a softer backing so it is less irritating to the skin? What about a kydex shell that is shaped to the gun on the inside, but has softer shaping on the outside to reduce printing with softer, feminine fabrics? There is only so much you can do, but women are carrying, and would like to be reasonably comfortable do so!

Concealed carry is a lifestyle, and we do need to modify our clothing, but a few holsters, maybe for the more popular, and not tiny, carry guns like the Glock 19, would be a welcome addition!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Do you Practice for Real Life?

Are you a marksmanship shooter of a Self Defense Carry Shooter.  If you are a marksmanship shooter, enjoy, but this isn't for you.  This is for the person who carries a firearm for personal defense.

How do you practice when you go to the range?  Assuming your range lets you draw from a holster, do you?  Do you clear your cover garment, then draw or tuck in first? Do you drop you mag when it is empty as you are reaching for the next one?  Do you shoot at 25 feet or less? Do you use your sights? Do you shoot slow and methodical for rapid fire 2 to 5 shots, and come back into a ready position or even re-holster?

In a threat situation, you may not have time to get a great sight picture, so do you shoot silhouettes and aim for high center mass?  If you are making one big hole, you are probably shooting too slow, if you are all over the target, maybe a little too fast.  Think of the goal of getting all of your shoots in about 6-8 inches, high center mass, with as much speed as you can. 

Are you catching your mag or dropping it?  Mags are expensive, yes, but not fragile.  If it breaks that easily, you probably didn't want it in your carry gun.  Plus it adds seconds to your reload if you are catching and laying down your empty mag and then reaching for your fresh one...seconds you might not have.  Do you watch you mag go in, or do you index so you can feel it (index finger along the front to help guide it in).  If you are looking at your mag, you aren't looking at, or for, the threat.  Practice loading without looking.  It is easier than you think.  Also, keep the gun high and close in your workspace.  Insert the magazine and bring your hand up and over to rack the slide, one smooth motion that flows together like dance steps.

Don't count your shots so you don't anticipate the reload.  If you are shooting with a buddy, have them give you the command for when to draw and fire so you aren't anticipating quite as much.

Have fun with your shooting but practice like you life might depend on it!

Safe shooting!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Getting Political...

For as long as I’ve been writing I’ve posted mostly Tips and Tricks, ideas to improve shooting, show to shop, how to carry, or rare personal milestone updates.  Very recently, in response to a request by Gun Shows Today, where I am a guest blogger, I tackled a politically oriented post calling out the US Attorney General and the administration for their anti-gun positions.  That was a huge step for me.  I’ve enjoyed a lot of anonymity with the anti-gun crowd because I wasn’t controversial.  Now I feel like I’m wearing a target.  No negative feedback yet, but I imagine it will come, especially since there are more posts coming in a similar vein. 
I was talking with a dear lady last night, who is also a strong advocate for gun rights, and she helped me to realize, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t put ourselves out there, we could very well lose our rights and then have only ourselves to blame.
What can you, the average shooter who doesn’t write or speak or advocate do?  Plenty!  First, support the NRA, they are the biggest supporter we have.  Then, talk to friends.  If they don’t shoot, maybe you can take them to the range and show them that this is FUN!  One of the most important things you an do is vote! If we elect people who seek to ban guns, we will lose our guns, our rights and our means to defend ourselves and families.
I may lose some readers, I may gain some readers.  I may find myself in the metaphorical cross-hairs of the anti-gun movement.  But I can sleep at night knowing that I am following my heart and speaking my mind.

Please look for me on Gun Shows Today and let me know if you agree and how you are working to defend the 2nd Amendment.

Safe Shooting!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Assualt Weapon Ban

If you are a regular here you know how rare it is for me to comment on anything political.  I made an exception here; http://www.gunshowstoday.com/anti-gun-sentiments-in-the-current-administration/

Personally, I will never think of my gun as a weapon.  I define a weapon as an offensive tool, be it a pen, a knife, a bat, a trowel (I was once threatened by a landscaper with a trowel), or a gun.  My gun will never be used as an offensive tool, only as a defensive tool, or for sport such as target shooting or training.  Therefore, I do not think of my gun as a weapon.

We need to define our terms, both according to a standard, like Websters, and by our own standard. 

Be careful how you refer to your firearms and take opportunities to encourage friends who are anti-gun to examine why they feel that way.  Who knows, you might change their mind.

Safe Shooting!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stance - for the Self Defense Shooter, in practice and life

How you stand when you shoot can make a huge difference in accuracy, comfort, stability…fun.

If you already shoot in the isosceles position, great, if not, consider trying it. When startled you automatically turn toward what startled you, the hands come up, you might go into a slight crouch…these are reflex motions, and we all do them. Iso works well with these natural responses.
Feet about shoulder width apart, knees relaxed, weight forward on the balls of your feet, arms extended in a triangle but brining the gun up to the slight line while your head is tucked down into the triangle slightly. Bend forward slightly at the waist.

From here you can use your sights, or point shoot. You can absorb the recoil and maintain a stable platform.

Don’t be shy, think aggressive, think Grrrrrrrr. This is, after all, about self defense. 

(This is Evan, my instructor and President of Innovative Defensive Solutions, LLC)

Safe Shooting