Monday, August 22, 2011

Basic Carbine Training Course

Recently, I took Alpha Dog Tactical’s basic carbine course. Watching stuff like The Nutnfancy Project and Top Shot always makes me want to take courses with experienced instructors to up my skills but a lot of anxiety and intimidation have always prevented me from enrolling. Luckily, enrollment in the course was a gift (and a big push). My initial expectation was that the course would be filled with law enforcement officers and maybe ex-military and that my skills and knowledge would be far less than that of other participants. However, some internet research and thinking-it-over led me to expect more varied skill levels putting me at ease.

Leading up to the course, I had to get all the required gear/supplies. Having minimal real life experience with the AR-15, there was a lot of guess work. (What kind of vest/chest rig fits most comfortably? Where do I want my magazines to be positioned? How essential would knee pads be?)

The day of the course, I felt prepared and made my long drive to the course location. When I arrived, most participants were already gearing up and I rushed to get ready. The participants were about as diverse as one would find at most Northern CA shooting ranges. As the day showed, our skill levels were extremely varied as was our experience with our weapons. I have to give the instructor, Jeff, and his co-instructors, Jimmy and Chuck, a lot of props for handling the varied skill levels so well.

I won’t recount the course entirely. You can find the course list HERE and read it yourself. Jeff, Jimmy, and Chuck all had great demeanors for instructing. They kept the pressure on but were not the type of militaristic asshole rangemasters or gunshop owners we all encounter too unnecessarily often.

Most important are my take-aways from the course. While the instructor’s pressure/stress was minimal, it gave me the greatly desired opportunity to perform and learn while not in a comfortable environment. The drills also showed me what I need to work on and how to do that. Jeff continuously told us how shooting is “the thinking man’s game” and it definitely took me some stretching to try and think outside of my daily office job sheep role. It became painfully obvious to everyone there that the bullshit CA “bullet button” is not meant to be on the weapon and caused problems in learning, adapting, and even weapon malfunctions. Similarly, we all felt the pain of using 10 round CA legal mags. I did find myself in the bottom quarter of skill levels. At least it felt like it. I also made some glaring mistakes. However, I have to keep it in perspective of my goal: Get better. I like the TNP motto of “suck less” and I know I learned a great deal and I suck less than I did before the course.

Most all of my gun enthusiast peers have no military experience nor do we encounter many people who do. Enrolling in civilian training courses is crucial. I would recommend this for pistols and not just rifles. We ran drills transitioning from rifle to pistol and without strong pistol fundamentals, I felt at a disadvantage. It wouldn’t hurt to watch a lot of internet videos about tactical AR-15 usage either. Watching and re-watching TNP and Magpul videos helped me with terminology and ideas on how to run my system. Working on some forearm strength before the course will help avoid some sore muscles/tendons. If intimidation is keeping you from enrolling in a course, get a friend to take it with you. This course had solo and group participants. There isn’t much time for chatting but going with friends might help put you at ease.

Big thanks go out to the Alpha Dog Tactical team for teaching us all some great skills. I am extremely appreciative of the gift enrolling me in the course.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Loughner & Gun Control

Jared Loughner allegedly shot 20 individuals, including his apparent target Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), at a Tucson meet-and-greet. I will refrain from blaming the rhetoric of Sarah Palin or labelling Loughner a rightwing loon at this point. Loughner's motives are not the subject here, "gun control" is.

As could easily be suspected, liberals are using the shooting as a rallying cry to limit gun ownership. Just look at Huffington Post and how anti-gun sentiment is rampant. Articles such as "Only One Fact in Arizona: Loughner Got a Gun" or "Americans Favor Semi-Automatic Weapons Ban..." are pushing for more limits to gun ownership, especially since Loughner apparently purchased his weapon legally.

After a murderous shooting attack, the media likes to immediately begin defining sanity and defining the assailant as insane. This is an attempt to negate extralegal political action as well as label the act as isolated. If we cannot look at reasons why, we tend to only look to how. How is a gun. Another thing that really annoys me is liberals' constant use of "semi-automatic" as a scare tactic. Do these people even know what a semi-automatic weapon is. It is a firearm which automatically reloads, but will only fire one round per trigger pull. That's all. Nothing scary. Give me a break!

This attack cannot be used to further limit people from having guns. As a matter of fact, I read one pro-gun blog that posed the question of how this Arizona attack might not have been carried out to the extent it was if the people present had been armed. (Of course, if people aren't armed in Arizona, I don't know where they would be.)

We must engage people we hear talking about "gun control" as a solution. It isn't a solution and an unarmed populace is far scarier.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Flying with a Firearm

Traveling by air with a firearm sounds like it might be tricky even if it shouldn't be. Here is my account of traveling from Oakland,CA to Casper, WY with my AR-15. Hopefully it will help anyone thinking of making a similar trip and encourage others to travel WITH firearms. It is perfectly legal to check a firearm when traveling by airlines. I had read over the minimal regulations made available by Transportation Security Administration (TSA), my airline (Delta), and Oakland Airport. They all said the same thing which I encourage you to read but which can be boiled down to 1)it must be unloaded and 2)it must be in a locked case. It seemed way too easy so I also checked with a coworker who has traveled with a rifle to hunt on the east coast. He assured me it was, in fact, just that simple and that he was never hassled.

I bought a Pelican Stormcase just for the trip. These are hard cases and maybe a little more fancy than needed but I wanted to be safe with regulations as well as keep my gun safe from any rough handling. Also in the case were two empty CA legal 10round magazines. The case has 6 clasps and at least four holes which could be fitted with locks. I locked the case with one key-lockable padlock.

We arrived at Oakland airport with what should have been ample time to get boarding passes (we had already checked in online) and make it to our gate. We got in the "special check-in" line. A delta staff member checked with us to see if we really needed to be in the special line. I explained I had a firearm and the staff member said "Oh! Ok. You definitely need to be in that line." When it was our turn, the Delta counter clerk checked in my travel companion but when she found out I had a firearm to check, she literally told me someone else would have to help me. She instructed me to just stand to the side. She told another clerk that I needed to check a gun and she left. I patiently waited for over 15 minutes. Finally, I was motioned over to the counter and the clerk rudely said "So you have a gun? How are we supposed to do this?!" She proceeded to have me sign the unloaded firearm declaration and then told me we needed to go to the TSA booth across from the Delta counter. As we approached the TSA booth, this clerk asked if the case was locked. I said yes. She said the one lock wasn't going to be sufficient. Trying to remain polite and calm, I mentioned that the regulations make no mention of multiple locks. She rudely passed me over to TSA pointing out that I only had one lock. The TSA officials asked me to unlock the case. I did. The TSA agents wiped the case for explosives, checked to make sure it was not loaded, and closed the case. They asked me to lock it. I did and they began trying to pry it open while locked (which they could not). They called over another TSA supervisor. She looked at it while they tried to pry open the locked case and told me one lock would not be sufficient. Alarmed, I asked what I was supposed to do. I was instructed to go to the nearby airport giftshop and purchase another lock. I ran to the shop and bought the only locks they had- a 2 pack of combination locks. Then I ran back to the TSA booth. I put a total of three locks on my case to appease Oakland TSA. They then told me I was free to go but I told them I was never issued a boarding pass. Apparently, the check-in clerk must verify with TSA that all is sufficient before issuing a boarding pass. So I had to go get the rude Delta clerk again. She gave me my boarding pass and told me I had better hurry to my gate. No kidding! I ran to my gate. The whole process took approximately 45 minutes. Upon landing in Casper, WY, it was humorous to see so many rifle cases come out of the luggage carousel.

The return leg of my trip was unsurprisingly very different. Casper airport, to be fair, is far less crowded. The Delta staff there were not bothered by my having to check a firearm. I am sure it is something they have done a million times (50 times by noon of that day alone according to a TSA official). The Delta clerk calmly gave me clear instructions to unlock the case and had me sign the unloaded declaration. I was then instructed to take it over to the TSA area. The TSA agent was not busy and asked me to relock the case. I did. He took it and told me to wait for a sec in case they have any questions or need to unlock it again. I stood in place for about one minute and the agent gave me a good-bye thumbs up.

An interesting thing to note upon my return to Oakland airport- While waiting for baggage at the baggage claim carousel, I saw the "oversized luggage" door slide up only about three feet. A pair of hands tossed in my rifle case. The sliding door closed. There sat my rifle on the floor of Oakland airport unattended.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Third Lawsuit Filed Against AB 962

Truckers and gun owner groups file lawsuit against California to void handgun ammunition shipping ban

AB-962 Pre-empted By Federal Laws That Regulate Interstate Shipping


No Police? Arm up, people!

Despite a lot of this article being crap, it does point out that Oakland should not rely on police and should arm themselves.

"Be very careful, be vigilant, get in touch with your neighbors, because we're going to have to look after each other."

I don't even think folks in Oakland are aware of this attention or their being used as an example.