Friday, July 29, 2011

Freestate Gun Range

I think this is the first time I'll be naming a range near us, but this one is worth talking about.

A few months ago, an entrepreneur came to Maryland Shooters with a question for the forum: "What do you want to see in a range?"  Naturally, the masses responded with enthusiasm.  This was unbelievable...a range actually wanted OUR opinions before opening?  REALLY??!?  Everyone listed their grievances with the other local ranges and specified things they absolutely wanted to see in this new location, and the owners took it all in...and thus far, they've made something excellent with it.

The range in question is Freestate, and out of all the ranges I've been to in Maryland, they're the one I'm actually going to join.  They have TWO bathrooms (where most have one, if you're lucky), classrooms, a waiting area with chairs and tables, an onsite gunsmith, a location where a  snack bar will be (in the works right now), and air conditioning on the range itself.  The guys who own and operate the location are courteous, friendly, and welcoming.  The range itself is modern, with an electronic target deployment system and active targets, and a bag bench behind the shooting stalls.  Oh, and they allow .223 rifles AND silhouette, zombie, "bad guy," and animal targets  They have a decent class offering including Tactical Pen.  Memberships are under $300 (cheapest around, from what I've seen...), and I'd say it's worth it.

I waited until my third visit to the range to do my writeup because I wanted to see them under different situations.  Here's a summary of the three visits.

First visit: Fourth of July weekend with Chris, friends MB and P, and myself.
The visit itself was nice enough.  We were given the tour of the place, shown how to use the target deployment system, and set up with two lanes.  Overall the experience was pleasant, but we could tell they were still working on things.  The women's bathroom was lacking fixtures and had a unisex sign on the door.  I brought this up and was told it would be better by the next visit.

Second visit: Two weeks ago with Chris and his coworker, my coworker, coworker's SO, and myself.
This visit was more pleasant (despite a malfunctioning AC system).  We showed up around 10:15 and they were still setting up for the day - apparently they had people waiting outside before they opened at 10.  We were set up on three concurrent lanes and had our shooty fun.  My coworker and their SO had to leave early, so we closed out our two lanes while Chris and his coworker continued to shoot.  While I waited for them to finish up, I waited at the tables and had a nice chat with Randy, one of the owners.  We discussed the range, how business was going, and my opinions of other local public ranges.  I noticed he would not share any opinions of those other ranges and consistently steered the conversation back to his business.  This was incredibly professional, and made me feel more confident about the range sticking around.  Oh, he bought me a soda, but he didn't need that to win me over.  Promised I'd get a membership when I had the disposable funds for it.

Third visit: Last night with my cousin V.
They were busy! It took a few minutes to get us signed up for a lane (part of that was V filling out the initial waiver).  I did notice the clientele differed drastically from previous visits - most notably in the amount of female patrons.  For once, I wasn't the only female adult!  That said, I think the owners/ROs need to clearly define the rules regarding entering and leaving the range area.  There is a two door "airlock" sort of setup, where you must shut one door before opening the other to reduce noise between the range and the lobby.  The doors do not automatically shut, and apparently the individuals who were there last night assumed otherwise.  I had to correct the group more than once (because no one else was doing so).  This is a problem, and one I hope the range addresses.

Overall, I'm pleased with Freestate...and I'm never going back to the range we used to frequent.

Boo, Chiappa. Boo.

Way to make no one in the blogging community want to buy one of your pistols.

If you're going to use RFID tech in inventory management, it's great to let your customers know about it.  I don't have a problem with it, really...but please, don't let your distributors do the talking for you when it comes to responding to complaints, especially if they're going to be snarky.  That just paints you as the bad guy.

**Edited to add** I've read the press release, and I misunderstood who was originally saying the chips can only be read within a couple of inches.  So glad to see MKS is failing in both their snark and their facts.  WTG, failboats.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

No FFL needed!

I thought I had seen it all. With the 100 yr anniversary of the 1911 it seems almost every firearms manufacturer is getting in on the production action. Now it seems you can get 1911's from the most unlikely vendors. A whole bunch of these just showed up in my office. I hope the alphabet boys don't come next.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fellow Blogger a question.

Does anyone know how to kill the linkspam at the bottom of a post, other than manually deleting every link?  Furthermore, does anyone know what causes this, other than manually linking a post?

I'm stumped, and there's a lotta links that need killin'.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I think the best birthday gift...

Is time spent with good friends.

Chris and I went to Virginia for the weekend to celebrate my birthday.  Newbius, NFO, Mike V, my old buddy S, and even my dearest friends L and his wife H (who trucked down from PA) hit the NRA museum and range with us.  We did the museum tour, then hit a restaurant for lunch and had a crazygood time while noshing on some pretty good food and having high-larious conversation.  After lunch Mike and Newbius had to skeedaddle, but the rest of us blew through a good bit of ammo at the range.

I learned:
1 - Gold Dot .45 ammo?  Holy Hannah.  I'm definitely not used to it!
2 - HK USP .45 = Heavy...and thick. Not my bag, but it shoots's just danged big for me.
3 - I am entirely too likely to drop the muzzle in anticipation of recoil when shooting .45, but I don't do so at all when I switch back to .380.  I really need to get some snap caps to practice more, I think...
4 - I need to lose weight so my holster fits better.  More on the holster later this week...Michael, we've got another winner!

Today we went to the newer Air & Space Museum...and it's well worth the $15 parking price.  Seriously.  Saw the Space Shuttle, the SR71, and a whole mess of other cool stuff.  If you're in the DC area, GO THERE.

Also, we stayed at the Springhill Suites Fairfax, and I can honestly say it's in my top 5 list of non-resort hotels.  If you find yourself needing a hotel somewhere near DC, GO THERE.  The room is EXCELLENT, the bed is comfortable, the staff is pleasant and helpful, and the breakfast is pretty good.  Oh, they'll have a flyer for a local pizza joint in the room...definitely order from there if you've got a hankering.  It's one fo the better delivery pizzas I've had in awhile.

All in all, this was a really nice weekend and I'm glad we decided to stay down there.  I'm also very thankful those who could make it out did.  I love you guys, and I'm glad I got to meet/talk with Mike. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Well, dangit.

I was starting to write about this moron but you guys beat me to it.

I'd like to add the inherent problems with this proposal:
Problem #1 - Chris and i really, seriously, can't think of a place (that would be affected by this proposal) IN the city where one can buy ammo.
Problem #2 - Rob&Ride goes out of the city into the county and straight to a Dick's...and ammo.
Problem #3 - bus goes out of the county to various malls...and Dick's.

Basically, this guy's plan is already a failure.  Way to go, dinglebrains!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why your new knife might seem to suck.

So you bought a new knife and you used it a few times, but then you put it away with the tens and hundreds in your collection. It was cool, but didn't seem to hold a good edge very long or stay sharp, but that old crapper fishing/hunting/kitchen knife you use all the time does. How come? The simple answer is because you don't use it.

Commercial knives available today are some of the best in history, even the crappy cheap ones. The reason is the steels used in today's knives are some of the best ever made. The computer controlled foundries are producing higher quality steel with less impurities in greater quantities and therefore cheaper than ever before. So even some of the really cheap crappy knives you pick up have pretty decent blade steel.

Why does my new knife suck though? Because of the grind. Check out this nice illustration at wikipedia. Almost every knife you buy that was mass produced will come with a #3 saber grind because it is the easiest and best grind for all around use that a machine can easily make. It has two precise angles, and blades can quickly be ground to a razor sharp edge. So blame the robots! There is nothing wrong with this, but from looking at the illustration you can see the edge is very thin and can easily be flattened or bent out of shape. Most people continue this grind shape on their knives because they use all manner of angled gizmos to sharpen them. Angled ceramics, electric sharpeners and things you pull along the edge are all designed to keep that straight angle on the blade and give you a razor sharp edge.

If you're satisfied with this, great! keep doing what you're doing. The only real difference is you will be sharpening more often, and your edge is more vulnerable to chipping, but you'll have just as sharp a knife, that's just as useful. If you want more out of your knife buy some type of whetstone. Before the usual exasperation, (OMG! How do I use a flat stone to sharpen things? There might be math involved!) let me assure you there is less math involved than there is with the other sharpening gizmos - it's just the other gizmos have done the math for you. You will have to acquire some skill which will mean practice. I will admit I do still use the gizmos for quick stuff and kitchen knives. What you get with a flat stone is an eventual convex edge. That's #6 on the above chart. The convex edge is just as sharp as the V or saber grind, but it is much stronger and will stay sharp longer, and be less prone to chipping. It's all in the sacred geometry. OH NOES MATH! Relax, it's only in the explanation. The convex edge has much more steel backing the edge. Remember from geometry class? Say it with me, circles are stronger than squares and triangles.

So how do you get one? If your knife came with an edge like that you're in luck, as it was most likely hand ground. If not, you can do it yourself, and you don't even have to work hard at it. How? Use a flat stone when you sharpen things. This is where we get rid of the math. Your human sense of angles is vague. You try to hold the precise angle on the whetstone, but due to human error you wont get it exactly right each time. You will however not quit until it's sharp. Over time you will round the angle that the machine ground at the factory until it becomes convex. This happens a little even when you use the sharpening gizmos as long as you're using them often. That's why the old crappy bait knife and kitchen knife I mentioned earlier always seem to stay sharp.

My dad showed me how to use a whetstone when I was young and I've been practicing ever since. There are plenty of videos on youtube that show how to use a flat stone so I won't go into that here. The problem is in the beginning when you're not so good at it YOU WILL most likely scratch the blade. Start with a knife you don't really care about the finish on until you get the hang of it. Once you get it down you'll have no problems with scratching finishes. It just takes practice and best of all once you get the technique there's nothing for you to do, just keep using the flat stone and you'll get that convex edge. So get practicing!

Friday, July 15, 2011

XKCD's spot-on...

Yet again.

Don't forget to check the hovertext. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

He actually stuck the landing?

Thanks to NFO, I saw this post this morning.

I'm floored.  That guy's a spectacular pilot.  Go, read the post, watch the vid.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Confession time: national politics, and why I avoid most conversations.

I've never really had an interest in politics.

As a child I remember watching the adults in the family scream at each other about politics, and I never understood why they got so angry.  I never really wanted to understand.  I just wanted to run and hide...I hated the screaming.

I grew up with an aversion to politics and political discussion, and even now I find myself reluctant to self-educate when it comes to the federal government.  I honestly don't believe that we have any sort of control over who ends up in office...on a national level, anyway.  Why bother, if the guy who ends up in office really is pretty much the same as the guy before him?  This is the same reason I didn't bother registering to vote until a couple of years ago, and why I'm registered as an Independent.  I don't agree or disagree fully with either of the major parties, and refuse to pick a "side" when the loudest members of either "side" tend to be single-issue voters.

So I avoid the discussions...and I avoid the namecalling...and I avoid the crap.  It's exhausting, it's disheartening, and I'm sick of hearing and reading about it.  I find myself skimming more and more posts because I just don't have the heart to read about it.  It all sucks, it's not getting any better, and I think expecting things to improve might be a bit foolhardy.  I really don't think anything's going to get better without  revolution...and I don't know if that would actually make anything better.  I just see the country swirling 'round the bowl, and I wonder when we'll eventually go down the drain.

I know this post will anger more than a few people out there, and it may make some of you decide to stop reading what Chris and I have to say...and frankly, I don't care.  Call me whatever you will, but I'm just burnt out on all of it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Call for suggestions - .22LR pistols for bullseye?

Chris and I have started shooting Bullseye at the club, and while he's shooting the Neos, I've been shooting the Rock Island.  This pistol is perfect for it, but ammo is I'm considering picking up a .22LR semiauto.

I'm considering a Neos, S&W Model 22A, or a Ruger 22/45.  I already know a bit about the Neos, but I wanted to consider other options as well.

So...which of the above would you recommend?  If none of those, what WOULD you recommend, and why?

Thanks. :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Last Space Shuttle

I'm having a hard morning. I'm excited, proud, angry and sad all at the same time. Today was a triumph for America, but the country was also diminished in a very public way. Today was historic. Today was the last Space Shuttle flight, STS-135. Atlantis is now safely in orbit set to rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday. I'm very proud of and thankful for all the astronauts, crew, contractors and anyone else that made the STS program a reality. You did a great job!

When Atlantis lands and is prepped for the museum The United States of America will have no ability to send a person into space. Think about that when your kids pose this question to you. Hey Mom/Dad when you were a kid did a man walk on the moon or was there really a Woman in space? After your answer the next question will be, How come we don't/can't do that now? You'll be forced to say, well Russia and China still can, but not the US. How are you going to feel about that? Are you going to explain that the US government has no business in space exploration? That space is the domain of the private sector? That there are a few companies now that own the only means of space travel?

When NASA goes to space, we all go to space. Every single American Citizen, not Lockheed Martin or Boeing or Rocketdyne or even just the Astronauts, All of us. Every inch of space NASA travels into we're right there along for the ride. You can call NASA a matter of national pride, or even a charitable organization or our gift to the world if you want to, I don't care, but it needs to be there. The progress of civilization and the future of mankind need it to be. Americans need it to be, especially now. The space program was always the one thing that no matter what kind of shape the country was in, or what your ideas of greatness are, you could take pride in as an American. We put a man on the moon, we have a reusable space vehicle, we discovered other galaxies. Now it's, we used to be able to do that stuff. Maybe it's my age and remnants of of the cold war mindset I grew up in, but I don't like that feeling.

You can dog NASA and its government funding all you want, but the simple fact is without NASA there would be no private sector space exploration. NASA's astronomical budget (pun intended) is a result of those same private sector contractors you're cheering for. I'm not saying there shouldn't be private sector space exploration. I'm all for it, but NASA needs to be in front of, or right there with them. There is hope, and a bit of a future. NASA has joined up with SpaceX A private company that's hell bent on space exploration and getting to Mars. They are currenly testing a manned space capsule that has sucessfully re-entered Earth's atmosphere. BTW without NASA's help they would still be sitting on the launch pad. The CEO is claiming Mars in 2020. I hope I'm here to see it even though it won't be the same. We'll have to see what happens. Sticking with the Ameican theme all I can say is, Ok Private Sector. You're up, let's see what you got kid.

People Control Does Not Work

Jay over at MArooned turned me on to this article from CBS News in Baltimore that I had not seen, and as I read it I realized that it points out all the failures of Baltimore and Maryland's crime prevention and gun control policies.

At the 4th of July celebration in Baltimore's Inner Harbor area - one of the safest spots in town - there was a child hit by a stray bullet, a stabbing murder and numerous fights broke out. This is not unusual activity in Baltimore on a non-holiday weekend, but hundreds if not thousands of people that have fled the city and rarely come into town were there for the 4th of July celebrations. They saw anew what the downtown area is like. Most of these people never come to Downtown if they can help it, and ignore the news as they live in their suburb utopia. Now there is local outrage, because the Mayor and the Police Commissioner have been telling the citizens the downtown area is safe since a rash of attacks by packs of teens in 2009.

Maryland has some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. Among the existing hurdles, it has a regulated firearms list, a ballistics database requirement for new sales, a waiting period, and purchase time requirements. It's the 7th most restrictive state according to the Brady Gun Control Center. Maryland is also a "May issue" concealed carry state. Because of this, and the permit issue review board, that means you will not get a concealed carry permit. Citizens are told to call the police if you are attacked or need help. Baltimore has gone further than that to "protect" you while you're in town. They have installed surveillance cameras all over the city and they will be spending additional tax money to install more. The city also has instituted a curfew for teens in the city to combat the previous problems with attacks. Finally, the city also tested an acoustic gunshot detection system. It is unclear if it ever produced any results or was fully instituted.

While all these safegard laws are in place there were also about 600 police officers downtown for the 4th of july celebrations. Sounds pretty safe right?

The CBS article states "Police say they made 30 arrests and handled 20 curfew violations." "An all-out brawl broke out." "Several fights broke out," and "a 26-year-old from Alabama...died after he was stabbed in the neck with a bottle." "Chaos also erupted at Light and Pratt streets, where a 4-year-old was shot in the leg with a stray bullet."

The Police Commissioner responded with, “We had incredible deployments down there and literally feet away from where this incident occurred,” and the Mayor responded with, “This is absolutely ridiculous. People come down to the harbor to enjoy themselves,” The City Council President said, “Most people are out here for a good celebration and to have something like this, most people won’t come back next year.” Police also added "the camera located at the intersection did not capture any part of the shooting. Detectives did not recover any shell casings, either."

Wow! So what do we do now? The city leader's statements almost sound like they were saying,"But we tried so hard? Why did this happen to us?" An army of cops, high tech surveillance systems, the ballistics database, lawfully owned guns off the street, a legally unarmed and defenseless populace...all useless to prevent these crimes. Will we have martial law next? Perhaps we just can't have nice things. Should we call the TSA for grope-downs at all city events? More regulation and restrictions on law abiding citizens? Ban all bottles? More reactionary policing?

I'm dreading the new laws and restrictions that will come of this.  How long will it be before we have checkpoints every few miles?

Whatever happened to "The Free State?"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is the Bunny Man Back?

WJZ Baltimore reports a man attacked a roadside speed camera vehicle with a hammer on the BW parkway yesterday. SWAT was called, they closed the highway and used helicopters, but could not catch the suspect. He vanished into the woods next to the highway after apparently brandishing a shotgun then beating the vehicle with a hammer while the speed trap camera operator was inside. There were no injuries and the police have no motive.

I would hazard a guess at the motive, the individual doesn't like speed traps. In any event this type of story causes me to raise an eyebrow due to my knowledge of local legend. You see the Baltimore/Washington area has an urban legend called The Bunny Man! This attack fits the story except for a missing bunny suit and an axe instead of a hammer. OK, OK I'm reaching a little, but perhaps the contractor in the vehicle was too ashamed or frightened to admit he saw a 6ft dude in a bunny suit. Maybe he mistook a hatchet for a hammer. A random vandalism attack and the suspect disappears? Poof! Who would believe him? Maybe he doesn't know about the legend? Maybe they're not releasing all the details so they don't start a panic. I can't believe all that police power and tax dollars were used to no avail in order catch any regular criminal, or that any regular criminal could evade such a manhunt so easily. It's just a bit strange.

It is nice; however to see real research into an Urban Legend and as the legend is more prevalent near Fairfax, VA a local librarian and archivist there named
Brian A. Conley, of the Fairfax County Public Library did some pretty in depth research to get to the bottom of the story. The Bunny Man Unmasked.

So you can accept Brian's in-depth investigation and conclusion or you can wonder if The Bunny Man is STILL AT LARGE!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Things on my brain.

Part Two of the weekend happened today - we went to the new local range with our guests.  We were there about an hour, killed some zombie (targets), and had an excellent time.  Well...excellent, aside from Chris's AR15's feed problems and a couple of feed issues with my (admittedly dirty) Rock Island.  UMC bulk pack .45 is some dirty stuff, since that's all I've shot through it for the past 100 rds.

I was going to be more chatty about the 4th, but Newbius covered it for me.  Go, read the whole thing.

I'm just in too good a mood for this trash.

I was going to write a lengthy response to this, but decided against it.  Presented without further comment.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hoping you're celebrating our nation's independance appropriately...

Chris and I opted to take two out-of-town friends to Ft. McHenry, down in the city.  They had a small munitions demonstration (translation: THINGS THAT GO BOOM), and the weather was nice enough we opted to wander the grounds for a couple of hours, soaking in the history.

We were going to go to Antietam, but figured our friends would appreciate seeing Baltimore Harbor from the ramparts of McHenry.  It really is a nice view.

Because this is fitting for both this post and the holiday, have one of the better renditions of the Star Spangled Banner (thanks, Borepatch).

Hoping everyone else out there is having a lovely weekend!