Friday, May 22, 2009

I Think I Might Take the Weekend Off!

© 2009 Albert A Rasch
Siesta Key Drum Circle


It is Memorial Day weekend. I am of the habit of refusing to work on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. I may pop in for a quick note if something spectacular or untoward happens, but otherwise I think it's time for a long weekend break. Everyone please be safe and keep your eyes and ears open and aware.

Other than that, have a great time!

While you are out this weekend having fun, please take a moment, pause, and ponder the meaning of freedom and sacrifice. And then take another moment and remember all that have fallen in defense of our Nation and our values.

Best Regards,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to Support Animal Rights Activists

© 2009 Albert A Rasch
Supporting the Animal Rights Groups
in Your Neighborhood

Bet you never thought you would ever see the day when I would post an article on the successful methods of supporting or even starting an animal right group, but lo and behold, I have seen many in our own ranks do just that!

"Tell us it isn't so, Albert!!!" You cry in response, gnashing your teeth and rolling your eyes.

Well the truth is that many people that claim to be hunters just don't get the responsibilities that they have to everyone else that is a hunter. I'm not going to talk about the lawbreakers like poachers, criminals, and their ilk. That is in a category all its own, but I will mention people that facilitate law breaking in the guise of hunting.

#1: Do Really Stupid Stuff:

First of all, didn't your mother teach you how to act properly? I mean seriously. Didn't she teach you right from wrong? Let me ask you, aside from the fact that there are many things that you can do, aren't there things that you shouldn't do?

Like this maybe?:

Let's see, we have a beer, a hot tub, and a rifle. Assuming this is a legitimate photo, whether joking around or not, it simply perpetuates the stereotypical view that hunters are a thoughtless bunch of cretins. Use your head, don't do or portray stupid crap. By the way, his particular picture is ranked very high in the social networking sites. The commentaries in most cases, are in very negative terms.

I've stamped it with my seal of un-approval.

#2: Say Something Really Stupid
Image Credit: Spunkinator
This is always handy when you want to reinforce the idea that all hunters are really just stupid, ignorant, fat, and lazy barbarians. When you open your mouth, be careful what you say. There was a great example of it at the Charter Arms booth at the NRA Convention in Phoenix. The point is that you never know who is listening, who is recording, who is documenting. That's number one. Number two, you should say what is in your heart and what is on your mind, but you need to be civilized.

Its corollary would be:
#3: Keep Ignorant of the Facts

This is an easy one, keep abreast of the facts. It takes little effort to amass a catalog of pertinent facts that will discombobulate any assailant. Granted, the person you are arguing with may not care about the facts, but everyone listening or reading what you are saying will certainly remember the facts.

Here are a minimum few you should be aware of.
Image Credit: Orin Optiglot
  • PETA operates on an annual budget of $ 29,000,000. They euthanized 86.3% of their animals and only adopted out 13.7%. Most of the money that is raised is spent on publicity to raise more money. (Gotta pay those salaries!)
  • The income of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for the year 2005, was close to $125 million. Only $2 million went to animal shelters.
  • The HSUS managed to pay its president, Paul Irwin, $237,831 and its chief executive officer, John Hoyt, $209,051. Additionally the HSUS provided tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses to the pair.
  • On the national level, 34 million sportsmen age 16 and older spent more than $76 billion on hunting and fishing related materials in 2006, supporting 1.6 million jobs.
  • For the last ten years of that records are available for, less than 10000 homicides per year occurred with handguns, and less than 4000 with other firearms. That means that there are less than 14000 firearms related homicides per year.
  • Alcohol related deaths are approximately 40000 per year.
Just a few facts that are hard to argue with.

#4: Allow Emotion to Override Your Good Sense
Image Credit: rene1956
If you have nothing nice to say, you should probably keep your mouth shut. If you feel like you are ready to go on a rant, check yourself and decide what it is you are really going to say. Again it is imperative that as you start to feel the heat rise, you remain aware of the impact of that your statements and actions make, and their effect on your brethren. This obviously relates to # 2 above. But even if you don't say something stupid, you will still be branded as the ANGRY (fill in the blank) animal murderer.

#5: Argue that Your Way of Hunting is Better than Anyone Else's
Image Credit: Sylvester
This one is a little touchy. I recently had a fairly lengthy discussion with another fellow hunter. Other parties joined in with very good arguments, but shortly thereafter the discussion had broken down to a heated exchange. No matter what was said on either side, and everyone had a good number of facts to support their positions, (Along with a couple of bucketfuls of opinions too!), the exchange had broken down into a non-productive series of recriminations.

I am passionate about the Right Keep and Bear Arms. I am passionate about the Right to Hunt as I see fit. What we all need to avoid is a stance that does not allow for divergent thoughts or activities. We can disagree, but we shouldn't splinter and fracture our common relationship.

Another example is the traditional muzzle loader vrs the inline, or the traditional bow vrs the compound vrs the crossbow. What exactly is the argument? The only thing we should be concerned with is whether we can take the game cleanly or not in a lawful and ethical manner.

#6: Let your desire for more than what you are allowed, lead you down the wrong path.

I reserve this section for those that should know better and allow actual or mental greed get the better of them.

Image Credit: sevqi.k

As many of us are aware the staff at Game Trails Lodge were illegally killing does and using hunter's personal information (who had previously hunted at the facility) to tag the kills.

"Their (Kentucky Fish and Wildlife) investigation turned up numerous instances of Game Trails employees, their friends and family chronically taking over-limits of deer, outside hunting season parameters, supplying false information to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and using social security numbers of Game Trails clients without their permission to Telecheck their deer. harvests" Kentucky Dept of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Why would the friends and family act in such a thoughtless manner; did no one question the activity? What where they thinking! Do not allow yourself to be dragged into illicit activities. It is not worth the legal or even the personal ramifications.

Now when corporate entities start doing things like this I'm not sure there is any hope for anyone!

I don't even know where to go with this...

In conclusion, all I ask is that you think before you act. All to many times we do the work of the animal rights people for them. Fight misrepresentations with facts. Be above reproach, by acting better than they do. Educate yourself and be proactive. Be active in the political arena; write when you are presented with an opportunity to write. Speak highly of your fellow sportsmen, and live up to the best standards you can.

And, don't forget, take a kid shooting, fishing, and hunting!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Learn to Shoot, Break the Flinch

© 2009 Albert A Rasch
"Gun Control is Having a Good Sight Picture"
Col. CB Winders

One thing I have noticed on my frequent rounds of the shooting range, is the vast numbers of people that never leave the comfort of the bench, whose rifles never leave the sandbags, and whose skill level never increases. I am tempted to ask, "By the way, how many rounds does it take to sight in that rifle?"

The best thing I ever did, was to play a brutal round of paintball, and shoot several hundred rounds of twenty-two ammunition offhand at a spinner one afternoon many years ago. We'll get into that in just a moment.

My travails all started with a Colombian Mauser converted by the Israelis to 7.62 x 52 NATO (308 Winchester).

It was the first real rifle I ever bought at Navy Arms out in Ridgefield NJ. "Get your steel butt plate here, military stock design, guaranteed to jar your teeth loose."

But it has an FN action!

In those days I didn’t even break 145 lbs; I was light, but by golly I was fast. That same day, I bought several boxes of Musgrave ammo from the huge stack on the floor. Great stuff that ammo. Made in the Republic of South Africa, the rounds have heavy for caliber bullets of course. I noticed that when you load those long round nosed soft-points they barely fit in the magazine. Cycling the bolt, it flawlessly picks up a cartridge and feeds it into the chamber where the bullets are then pushed up close to or into the rifling. When you pull that trigger, it's like getting kicked by a mule. With shoes.

So, needless to say I also learned to flinch. The anticipation was almost as bad. I even flinched subconsciously when I pulled the trigger of my airgun. As I got older I knew I was a flincher but didn’t know how to overcome it. I could will myself to stillness 80 percent of the time, but the other 20, I either pulled the trigger, or momentarily closed my eyes.

One fine weekend, I was at a paintball tournament, and we were going through CO2 cartridges like mad, with paintballs flying like mayflies at a hatch. For one reason or another I realized that I wasn’t flinching when I pulled the trigger. I paused in wonder, and immediately got hit by about eight paint balls. In those days you only had orange so I looked, well, orange.

After deliberation, I figured that I was mentally occupied with the game at hand, and did not anticipate the recoil because first of all there was so little to contend with, and secondly I was focused on the target or targets. I went home to experiment. I bought a couple of bricks of 22LR, an extra magazine for the Ruger 10/22, and a spinner target with a one inch target. My Ruger has a Volquartsen trigger assembly that I bought through Brownells and is the only modification I have made to it.

I set it all up with a good backstop at 25 yards.

I stood there shooting round after round. One eye open, both eyes open, different presentation angles, and different start positions. At first I concentrated on not flinching. Good sight picture, breathe control, and squeeze that trigger. Then I just relaxed. I was comfortable. As the afternoon wore on, I was shooting without really thinking, I was becoming instinctive in my targeting. I could focus on the target; the surroundings, the wind, and everything else became extraneous to me. The sighting became automatic and the spinner clanged with monotonous regularity. 99% on target. I moved out to fifty yards. The interesting thing was that once again the spinner never really stopped moving. 95% on target. Now I was cocky. Out to a hundred yards. At that distance I might have hit it 3 or 4 out of ten times. That’s offhand, at a one inch target, with a scope set at 1.5X. Not bad with a factory barrel Ruger10/22.

I went straight for my Weatherby 30/06. I really like my Weatherby, with its oiled walnut stock, and its Leupold scope. With 180 grain Swift A-Frames, and me doing my part, it will keep five rounds inside an inch and a half at a hundred meters. That’s more than good enough for me. I’m told that it will do minute of angle with 150’s but I prefer heavier bullets for hunting. In this case though, and in the name of economy, I used some budget 150’s for practice. I burned a hundred round of PMC ammo, (with a half dozen cleanings in between), mostly offhand, at a variety of targets and ranges. Now I can confidently state that if I decide to shoot at something with a properly sighted rifle, I will hit it where I aim. The flinch is gone.

When it was time to teach my wife to shoot with her S&W 908, I bought a case of ammo, and three extra magazines. When we went to the range, I brought my bull barreled Mark II, two magazines, a brick of .22 ammo, and the Smith and Wesson. We fired the Ruger until she was warmed up and comfortable shooting. Cristal is an old hand with the Mark II, having one of her own before I even met her. Anything that comes within her sights is apt to be ventilated, so I would think twice before challenging her to a gunfight.

The S&W is a nicely made compact 9mm. I am not a fan of the 9mm and my personal self defense gun is a Colt 1911 in 45 auto. But she needed a compact firearm with good capacity, and the 908 fit the bill. At the range, I filled up the four mags, and told her to point it down range and fire one round every two to three seconds until the slide locked. Drop the empty magazine, put another one in, and do it again; and again, until she went through all four magazines. By the third magazine she was in control of the weapon, and by the end of the session later that day, my thumb was raw from shoving 9mm rounds into the mags, and she was making two inch holes in the cardboard backing of the targets at 21 feet, just because she could.

(Update: As much as Cristal loves the S&W, I should have bought her a shorty 1911 instead. Something has gone wrong with the Smith. The slide refuses to budge. The weapon does not have a round in the chamber, thankfully, and the only clue I have is that the extractor is not flush with the slide. What happened previous to the slide locking up is unknown. My darling loaned it to my father in law, and that is how it came back…

I am going to remove the grips tonight and see if I can garner any more information. I downloaded the manual from the S&W website, maybe there are some clues in there.)

(Updated Update: After carefully inspecting it from every angle, I took an unbreakable grip on the SOB, grabbed the slide with the other hand, and pulled the two apart. It wasn't easy, but they did. I stripped the gun down, but I couldn't find where it was binding, or what was holding it in place. Now it seems to be working fine, but this S&W 908 will be forever suspect.)

When it came time to teach the kids, I was ready. I bought us all matching Daisy Red Ryder BB Guns! A couple dozen pop cans strewn about the yard constituted our targets. After a short but very serious lecture and demonstration on gun safety, we proceeded to ventilate as many cans as possible. Several thousand BBs later, everyone was making the cans dance all across the yard.

Then it was to the bench with the Ruger 10/22. Once again the focus was on safety and overall gun control. Proper gun handling, sight picture, breathe control, and squeezing the trigger, was the order of the day. The key was a relaxed but purposeful attitude and a controlled discharge of the weapon. Both the boys did an excellent job of it.

After several weeks of shooting the Ruger, I pulled out the old 308 and another Ruger, a 77/22 in 22 Hornet. The 308 went to the older one, while the younger was assigned the Hornet.

By now I had pseudo-sporterized the old Mauser. Gone was the steel butt plate, replaced with a proper pad. The stock had been reshaped to more pleasing lines (sorta…), and a sling installed. I left the original iron sights on it. They are rugged and accurate enough for the kind of hunting I do. A box of 150gr pointed soft points rounded out the ensemble.

We headed out back to our shooting range and set up at the fifty yard line. I had a bag of soda cans with me to liven the exercise up. The boys stapled the cardboard target backers up, while I set up a few cans on stumps. Back at the bench Blake took up position first. I asked him to fire one fouling shot at the target and then we would continue. He had no problem, hitting within an inch of his point of aim. I then changed it up a bit, I asked him to shoot at the bottom of two cans that were stacked one upon the other. What he didn’t know is that I had put two full cans there. When he pulled the trigger, the impact and subsequent disintegration of the hollow pointed 45gr bullet, not only blew the bottom can to smithereens, but also ruptured and exploded the top one. I can’t think of a better display of the destructive power of a firearm.

That demonstration drives home the lethality of any high speed projectile. The same can be done with a milk jug filled with water to which some red dye has been added.

Properly awed I set the two down to business. Both of them put a dozen rounds of 22 Hornet down range without any issues. Again we concentrated on proper form, target acquisition, sight picture, and trigger control.

By the time we ready for the Mauser, I was concerned that the switch from the Hornet to the .308 would be dramatic. I was wrong. The boys, other than remarking that it “kicked a little more,” continued to put round after round down the range, hitting their assigned targets with monotonous regularity. Both were shooting offhand and doing a much better job of it than I ever did. Just to be sure, I occasionally mixed in a spent round while helping them load their rifles. Not once was there any noticeable flinch, twitch, or extraneous movement on their part.

The lesson here is to use a firearm that you know you can control and that you are not afraid of! Any rimfire is a good choice along with a brick of ammo. Proper form and safe gun handling habits are easily reinforced by using the relatively quiet and basically recoilless guns to solidify them. A move to a mid level gun that a good physical fit for the shooter is also important. From there its just a matter of regular practice to stay fit and on target.

Speaking of practice don't forget to gt into a routine of using a dry-fire regimen at home to keep those muscles in shape, and the eyes keen. Make your self a set of snap-caps like the ones we made in the Snap-Caps Chronicles Project. These will help you hone your technique at home.

There is one other thing that I do each and every time before I go out. The day before, I take out the Ruger 10/22 and shoot several magazines in all the field positions, sitting, kneeling, and mostly offhand. I have never shot a single head of game without a rest, but the confidence of being able to do so makes me a better hunter.

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...

Blogs of Note: Hunting Business Marketing

© 2009 Albert A Rasch
Hunting Business Marketing
With Dayne Shuda
Image Credit: Dayne Shuda
When I first bumped into Dayne Shuda's blog, Hunting Business Marketing, I thought to myself, "What does this have to do with the outdoors?"

I read through several of his posts, and it dawned on me that Dayne's mission was to help me communicate more effectively about the things I cared about the most.

Dayne's knowledge of World Wide Web marketing includes SEO, Creative Commons, and Social networking and linking sites. For bloggers these might not seem like very important issues, but in reality they are. If you are interested in being seen or heard, you need to know about the Internet and what is available to help you be noticed.

For instance, there is Flickr. Computer lugnuts like myself, don't understand much of what happens outside of our little corner of the web. I heard about Flickr, but I had no idea what it was about. After reading and understanding the concepts behind Dayne's post "50 Inspirational Images to Inspire Blog Title," I was convinced that great photos help make a great post even better! Then Dayne followed that post up with "10 Ways to Create Stunning Hunting Blog Posts," where he reiterates among many things, that you can get great pictures at Flickr following some very simple rules.

Social Networking is another tool that Dayne asks us to embrace. I'm not a fan of any of the social networks. Hell I don't even like the phone that much. But Dayne has made several convincing arguments that have led me to try a bit of Social Networking.

Image Credit: Anirudh Koul
Dayne must be an audiophile. He frequently refers to many musicians and their careers as analogous to Blogging and business. My favorite is The Jon Bon Jovi Guide to Making it Big on the Web. You have to admit, that's pretty clever! And the information is solid.

He is also very clever at metaphors. His most recent post, The Robin Hood Blogging Theory is an excellent example of his skills at taking an idea that appears to be unrelated and turning it into a learning experience for his readers.

For those of you that take your blogging seriously, Dayne's blog, Hunting Business Marketing, is a great asset. Maybe you just want some ideas for your next post, or perhaps you are looking for some new tools, either way, Dayne has a substantial number of useful ideas, and a multitude of links to pros with other areas of expertise. I highly recommend Dayne and his work, you won't be disappointed by what you learn!

Albert A Rasch
The Hunt Continues...