18. April 2012 · Comments Off on Focus · Categories: Technique · Tags: ,

I’ve been told that when using iron sights, you line up the front and back sights and focus on the one out front so that the back ones get out of focus. Intellectually I understood the intent of this, but for me personally, I didn’t see this working. Without a natural, flexible lens, I don’t have many focus points available. On the one hand, the world does not look blurry to me, but it would be impossible to tell if it were relatively so.

To a beginner, it may seem like too many things are going on at the same time. You’re trying to hold your arms steady, keep a certain stance, line up the sights, and watch your breathing. Some people can walk and chew gum at the same time, others can’t.  It often feels like some aspect of what I’m doing suffers as I focus on another specific thing. Sometimes it all comes together, but not until I’ve put a few bullets downrange that one session.

So there I was, staring at the bright, beautiful stock sights on my PPS, trying to keep these huge, bright white dots lined up, when suddenly the rear sights went blurry.


It works.

I’m still not entirely sure how this can be, but I have a suspicion. I suspect that I can flex my eyes to some extent through changing the distance at which they cross. My weak right eye is contributing a little something and helping me find a bit of depth. That day, everything just clicked into place and my focus was spot on.

To most people, this is entirely trivial, but for me, it’s amazing.

16. April 2012 · Comments Off on Cabella’s is Now a Threat to My Wallet · Categories: Accessories, Shopping, shotgun · Tags: , , ,

To date, I have visited tree different Cabella’s on three different occasions in my life. I suspect my visit rate will go up in the future.

In the home stretch of our cross-country move, we stopped by the Cabella’s in West Virginia. While on previous visits, I did not find the store interesting, I realized that now, I have a whole lot of interest in a lot of their merchandise.

This one had the gun library with fancy specimens of all kinds, and additionally a whole lot of consignment pieces.


We went looking at the shotgun options with a friendly rep who happened to be left-eye dominant. It turns out that I want a “youth stock” for my shotgun.

You know, this is the sort of thing that keeps a lot of people out of shooting sports. It’s hard to beat a stereotype when the available equipment reinforces the stereotype. Options are limited for lefties, shorties, and people with taste. If you don’t fall too far from the average clientele, you have tons of options available, but those who don’t fit the mold of typical gun owner are left with some uncomfortable choices.

Oh well, fortunately I don’t have a problem using a youth stock. I still look forward to the day manufacturers will sell to a wider market.


We also thought we’d look through a few scopes. It turns out $200 can get you a decent model to start off with. But wow, two scopes with the same specs are NOT necessarily the same. Apparently it’s all in the fancy coatings. I was looking through the various scopes, which were all pretty good and a market improvement on the cheap one we already have, and then I picked up Leupold’s VX-R 3.9x40mm FireDot. WOW. Couldn’t put that down. This is going to go with me from gun to gun.


Yep, now I’m prone to spending money at Cabella’s.

15. April 2012 · Comments Off on Ultimate Defense Rocks · Categories: Guns, Shooting · Tags: , ,

I was moving across the country. Our last day was the day we took our two friends to the range for the first time. We took them to the range that we thought we’d be able to use the FN PS90. Unfortunately, we were wrong. The caliber was right, but it was a “rifle” and not a “pistol”. Welp.

We started our trek, planning to meet some friends in Boise and going to an outdoor range, but got out of town way later than we expected.


Ok, let’s try this again! We were meeting a friend near Wichita (Fort Riley) and planned to meet other friends in Indianapolis.  Found a range that should let us use the PS90 in St. Louis so we planned to stay in Kansas City and hit up the range early in the morning.

That random place turned out to be Ultimate Defense Firing Range and Training Center.

Now of course, they get points for letting us use the PS90 indoors when other ranges don’t for arbitrary and non-arbitrary reasons. But these guys are just so helpful that I really enjoyed my stay. Friendly, easygoing yet serious, and well informed, the staff are great. They had a nice selection of rentals with nice rental rates. If I were in the area, I’d definitely be back.


We tried zeroing this in. Sadly, we only had 25 yards to play with, but this might be an indication of what options will be realistically available. Zeroing it in took more bullets than expected. This is not something I understand yet.

We put a red dot on it, which was damn easy to use. Target acquisition was so fast! I do need to dim it next time though, the dot and the ring around it covered up most of the target, so I couldn’t really see the thing that I was actually shooting at. But my response to feedback was reassuring. Pop off three rounds, have a look, adjust relative to the entire paper target, and repeat.

Unfortunately the iron sight option that came with the gun was holes in a tube. I didn’t even realize it was there at first. I took one look down that thing and said “no”.

Overall I love my gun. It’s super easy and very fun. The only part that’s a downside is the long trigger pull. It’s not just long. It’s uneven. There’s two points where it requires more pressure so it kind of feels like pulling three triggers. At the final one, it actually fires. I don’t know if this is going to be a benefit or detriment learning on this gun.

I’m looking forward to using it in obstacle courses.


FN Five-Seven

We also rented the five-seven. Also very easy, also low recoil. The only problem we had with it was that the extended magazine (yeah, 30 rounds) was a point of feed failure. The first couple rounds kept jamming. One other minor detail that I noticed was that the factory iron sights suck.

It’s pretty solid, it has nice controls, but it just feels kind of… bland to shoot.

The main reasons I wanted this gun was to match my PS90 (and of course, black on black). After using it, I’m not real sure now. The bullet is an uncomfortable size. It may in some cases fall through the cracks in competitions; distinctly larger than a .22 but technically not as wide as 9mm. Ehhh, I think it’s moving down my list of desired weapons. I’ll want one to match, but I don’t see myself using it a lot.

Back to the shop
Great place. I highly recommend it. They even gave me a free Sig Sauer hat!

13. April 2012 · Comments Off on Taking Friends to the Range · Categories: Shooting · Tags: ,

Last Saturday, we took two of our friends out shooting for the first time.

When first time gun users go out there, it never seems to be quite what they expect, even those of open minds. People who aren’t as keen about the idea of others being armed tend to appreciate the amount of safety that is gone over, repeatedly.

When introducing people to guns for the first time, it’s a good idea to go over the weapons in some private, quiet place away from the range so that there are less distractions and people can focus on the particulars of each gun.

It also helps that we now have a nice selection of weapons to let people try out, so that they can immediately see that there are different kinds so if you don’t like the first one, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t like to shoot at all.

I was sharing a lane with one of the new people and I was a bit embarrassed that there didn’t seem to be much of a difference in our groupings. Turns out it’s not me—she’s a natural! She has such a naturally calm and easygoing nature that she can follow instructions without being distracted by pressure to perform or anything.

It is ironic that tools designed for use in the most stressful circumstances are better used with increasing calm.

I can see how some people are naturally good at this. I also know that I’m a pretty high-strung and nervous person. But like many activities, learning to enter a calm state leads to obvious rewards.

03. April 2012 · Comments Off on Eagerly Awaiting · Categories: Shooting · Tags: ,

I am taking the PS90 out for the first time Thursday and I am SO excited! We picked up a holographic sight for it that fits the aesthetic as if it were built for this gun!

In other news, I am really into the idea of a bolt action rifle with exquisite woodwork.

So excited!

02. April 2012 · Comments Off on My First Shotgun Experience · Categories: Guns · Tags:

I had my first shotgun experience last month. A couple friends of ours took us out to their local gun club for a skeet shooting competition.

I really had my misgivings about this one. But I was going to give it an honest effort. I was pretty sure that this was one of those things I wasn’t going to be able to do, but I’d never used a shotgun before, let alone had a clay to shoot. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and a sport that is within my ability.


Our friends had two different shotguns. I tried them both out, but they were a little long for me. I was interested, but they were of an intimidating weight and I felt like the skinny kid on a seesaw. They arranged for me to borrow a gun at the club (it was sparkling blue).

The gun club had a very fun setup. They had multiple stations with different challenges. Most shot clays outward. One shot a clay outward, and then when the first shot is fired, another clay was launched inward. A last station had some “rabbits”. All of these clays had cute names based on wildlife. Hey, golf can’t have all the fun naming things.

Good thing it’s orange

When I watch soccer for example, I can only track the ball about 75% of the time. The rest of the time, I have no idea where it’s at. I describe watching a game in a stadium as akin to watching a small living room TV from the other end of the kitchen.

It really helped that these things were bright orange! Without this blatant coloration, I would be totally lost. It’s really hard for me to pick out any sort of creature, so I’m in favor of the orange. But even with the orange, I was surprised I was able to keep up. Maybe it was because I knew where they were coming from, and that they followed a single arc.


The first interesting thing I learned about this type of gun where you push the lever and you break it open is that the shell casings fly straight out. First one smacked me good on the lip. I was really surprised–it was shooting out the wrong end!

Now that we got that cleared up…

I often have trouble with sights. They have to be pretty crisp on a pistol, and the end of a shotgun is pretty far out there. Fortunately for me, the bead is pretty big, and I could follow it. One day, someone’s going to have to explain to me how exactly I should be using it.

Side note: the thought of a “cheek weld” is somehow a little disturbing to me. I lean in, I look down the gun, but I never remember to glue my head to the stock.

Side note 2: At some point one of the volunteers asked “Is she using one eye?” and the other dude confirmed it. Little do they know my right eye spends a lot of time closed all on its’ own. Yeah, I don’t know if that was good or bad.


I tried to keep on target. I tried to keep my muzzle one step ahead. I didn’t hit a single thing, but I was encouraged to hear I was getting close. It was a whole lot of fun.

Afterwards I learned that you were supposed to keep tracking the target after you pull the trigger, in order to shape the pattern of the shot as it scatters out. Huh, it would have never occurred to me. It makes a lot of sense though. I think I’ll do a lot better next time.

I also learned that a person with normal eyes generally doesn’t see where the shot is going unless the sky and the light are just right. It’s very interesting. There’s many situations with guns where you need to rely on someone else’s feedback to find your target, walk your shots in, figure out how to make it work. I just need a little more of that assistance than others.

I was pretty ambivalent to shotguns before, and I’d simply ruled out the idea of shooting flying targets. I thank my friends in PA for showing me otherwise.

May fluorescent orange birds beware: I will connect next time.