Friday, August 28, 2009


Mal: "If anyone gets nosy, know... shoot 'em."
Zoe: "Shoot 'em?"
Mal: "Politely."
-- -------------------------------------------Firefly

It's still a ways until whitetail season folks, but it IS bowling pin season, as we speak.
If you've not tried one it's time. You shoot the pins, but watch out. If they fall over with the small pointy end forward they're a bear to get off the table in the time and shots you have left.
Yes, that's Caleb from Gun Nuts Media at one of the state Fish and Game ranges. You know, there is more happening at your local fish and game or conservation range than just point and shoot. A number of them have bowling pin matches, putting your quick shoot skills against a line of bowling pins intent on standing up, in addition to great everyday, match and proficiency shooting opportunities, in an environment of safe gun handling and family oriented sportsmanship.

Take THAT, evil bowling pins!
Another fun way to spend the evening is the steel plate match.

Here's some photos from one, at Marion County Fish and Game (also check out Atlanta Conservation Club, north of Indy, a GREAT bunch of folks and an awesome range). These matches are typically held once a month, in the evening when the day is cooling and the winds have settled down. On this evening, here were 50 shooters, and five stages, some tactical, shooting around and through things, others plates in varying sizes, and some a combination of plates and tiny little Discworld Dwarf sized silhouettes. Here is Caleb, shooting from the tactical position.

But I did notice, other than my usual group, there were no women shooters, though one scorekeeper was female (and a redhead).

I know a number of women who own a weapon for self defense and all shoot for sport as well. There is a decided benefit to weapon ownership. And it's a benefit to others, who may not be armed themselves. For you see, those that want to harm you for wanton gratification, rage against life or your gender, or for profit, do not know who carries and who does not. Over time, they have the decided chance of accidentally attacking an armed person, male OR female. Even if you don't carry to resist evil, you still have some protection by protective mimicry, as in nature, when harmless animals resemble a more formidable foe, giving pause to even the most determined of predators. I think that predators that pick their victims based on their expected lack of resistance, size or ability to fight back will think twice if they believe their small target is carrying a gun. Especially one that has the ability to put a sizable hole in them.

But in order to carry with confidence, you need to not only have a weapon you are comfortable with, but you need to practice with it. Sitting in the drawer after a friend or loved one instructed you in it's use, with dim light in your room, your Adrenalin running, is not the time to be fumbling with your gun. The rapist/home intruder is not going to wait. Participating in some of the activities at the local range is one way to dust off your skills and have some fun and fellowship with fellow shooters. For concealed, during the summer when clothing is lighter, I usually carry something something a bit smaller in size, but what I fired at the match was a .45 caliber.

Some people say that a .22 caliber handgun is as strong as a woman can manage, and some men will actively discourage a woman from purchasing anything stronger. Unless you are weak from illness or have a motor or neurological problem that prevents you from holding onto something firmly, this is frankly not true. Women come in all sizes, but it's a rare woman who is so small or weak of grip that she could not fire a .45 with proper training and the right shooting stance.

But if someone tries to foist off a small caliber handgun on you, with "That's too big a gun for a girl," you need to talk with one some of the female shooters in the blog world, women who can tell you that a larger handgun is no problem. In sport shooting certainly it only ensures a bigger smile on the face, be it it a Ruger .357 M or a S & W 686.357M in your hand.

It's confidence and stance, not brawn.

The stance I believe I use is known as the modified Weaver (or Chapman stance) and might be a good alternative for most female shooters with a higher caliber weapon. In this stance the body is held similarly to the Weaver (at a 45 degree angle to your target with your dominant hand and foot back) but the gun hand is locked out straight (like a rifle stock), with the other arm slightly bent. The advantage with this, it reduces trembling in someone with reduced upper body strength and allows one to shoot even .357 rounds with few problems. The key is to maintain the "push-pull" nature of the grip. You'll still get good recoil, but not to where it upsets your next shot. If you are cross eye dominant, as I am, it's even better as it allows you to line up one eye with the opposite hand.

I wear my usual range wear, an over sized, loose weave, cotton shirt, to help keep me comfortable, temperature wise, and protect my arms from any &*# that's HOT, casings.
Here's a little steel fun with a Volquartsen Barrel Ruger 10/22 with a C-More sight that the range officer for our group owned, and handed to me to try out. It was a 40 grain bullet and with the feet per second, it didn't "PING" the targets with a hit like the .45, but it was light and accurate. My AR15 it was not, but it was FUN!
One other thing I noticed at the match, that in addition to all range of skills, there were all ranges of ages, from the college crowd to the very old. If you've ever thought of taking up a shooting sport or learning to shoot for self defense, don't let age stop you. One is never to old to learn. One is never to old to take in their hand the instrument that for them, will be the perfect medium between the spiritual and the physical, the roaring blast of a dream, and the lingering echo of their strength. Big caliber, small caliber, it is what works best for you, but don't stay away from the range because you feel you are too old, too rusty in skills that went stale, or too fixed in your life. And definitely don't stay away because you worry about being the only female or the only beginner.

So try an outdoor pin match or steel plate match. Even if you've never done it before. Trust me, no one laughs even if it's one of those days you can't shoot your way out of a paper bag. I was pretty nervous on my first one, but everyone was so supportive and I had a blast. And you WILL have fun, an evening in the spirit of sportsmanship, liberty and the basic rights we should all bring out to the range table on more than the rare weekend.


  1. Great post! I've never shot a steel plate or bowling pin match. The poppers in IPSC have been fun so I think plates and pins would be fun too. The Volquartsen barreled Ruger 10/22 looks like a sweet little gun. Do I see an overtravel stop on the trigger? I'm guessing more than the barrel has been customized.

    One of my Bullseye pistol friends just put a Volquartsen barrel and hammer on a Ruger MkII pistol. Still looking for a range report on that one.

  2. I'm cross-leg dominant, so my natural position is basically Weaver, but I drop my left foot back instead of the right, while shooting right handed. Any known issues with such a stance?

  3. Looks and sounds like fun! You make a number of good points, too - like usual. Thanks.

  4. Great post and an important message that needs to be repeated regularly. My 110 pound, 78 year mother loves to shoot her .45 Blackhawk, and the Single-Six is great as a training companion. She is very confident in her home with her revolvers close at hand.

  5. Brigid,

    Thanks for another great post. The comments about ladies and guns were spot on. I would suggest that a handgun should also fit well enough that the operator can manipulate and shoot it with one hand. On occaision one might need to fire with one hand while the other is busy. Could be pulling a wounded comrade to cover, pushing someone down or carrying a child to a safe room.

  6. Looks like a lot of fun and you have a bunch of great places to shoot.

  7. what glock is that Caleb is shooting and is that a stock adjustable rear site or something added?

  8. Right on. My girlfriend is 78, and slowly progressed from the 22 thru the 45. She is a great range buddy, and surprises most people.

    She is also very comfortable living alone.

    See Ya

  9. I used to shoot pins every week with a couple of friends from work. I shot .22lr with a Buckmark and .45 with a stock Kimber. That group disbanded several years ago and I miss it.

    You have to watch for splinters when shooting in the winter with temps in the 30's and below. Our rules prohibited gloves and everyone lost some skin on cold pistols from time-to-time.

    If I find another group, I'll be hunting the elusive pin again.

  10. You have the most fun of anyone I know....and the photos were great. Wish I was there.

  11. I shot at the Second Chance Bowling Pin Shoot for 10 years.
    If it was still being held I'd still be shooting there. It was one of the most fun things I've ever done.

    In July I shot a steel plate match with a S&W M657 with an eight and three eighths inch barrel. The gun does not approve of missing and didn't all match. Also a whole lot of fun.

    I might hunt deer with that revolver this fall and the match was good practice.

  12. Good post and yes, pins and steel are BOTH fun! I get so tired of hearing that .22 cal crap, I know women who routinely shoot .357s and .45s with NO problems! One of the Lady cops I shoot with occasionally carries a .40 as her duty weapon and shoots it in competition (and usually whips my ass)...

  13. I don't know if I should be proud or ashamed but I've never been to a range. Here in Lake Havasu I have numerous safe locations where I go shoot out in the desert. Growing up on a ranch we shot everywhere. That seems to be common out here in the West with plentiful sparsely populated public lands. The downside of that is the overwhelming amount of trash people haul out there to shoot up and just leave. LITTER SUCKS! Until yesterday, a couple times a year I took my dump truck and loader out to known shooting areas and loaded up unbelievable amounts of trash and hauled it to the dump. Yesterday one of my employees rolled my dump truck in the busiest intersection in town. Heavy load, 118 degrees, downhill grade, total spectacle with television cameras, newspaper reporters, free entertainment for the masses. Miraculously, nobody hurt, thank God! I guess my trash hauling is temporarily downsized. DAMN! The fraternal aspects of your shooting are enticing though. I guess it's a square hole, round peg phobia to be overcome. Life is growth. steve

  14. Nice post. Pretty interesting. (Well all your posts are.) Never tried it, but it looks like fun.

    Did you ever try any Cowboy Action Shooting?

  15. What is the distance to the bowling pins? 20 feet?

  16. Steve,

    Thanks for doing a thankless job. Here in western SD, we have a similar situation. Slobs going on public land with all manner of junk that they shoot full of holes and leave. Once a year the local off-road club and shooters sponsor a cleanup. It's typical for several dump loads of trash to be hauled away. And don't get me started about those same slobs and their shooting habits!

  17. HowFar - I've never helped with the set up, just the clean up, but I think it's normally 25 feet.

  18. Love the pins! Our range has a regular league - someday the husband and I will probably join. We are new to shooting (since April this year) so are taking things slow and steady.


    I started with a .22 and have worked my way to a 9mm -which I love. The Husband has a .45 - which I will shoot with his loads, not factory loads. Still working my way up to that.

    The Husband participates in a weekly tactical/defensive shooting league. We do try to get to the range anywhere from 1-3 times per week - it's very enjoyable, the people are wonderful and we are having the time of our lives!

  19. That looks like a lot of fun. My wife and I went shooting for the first time a few weeks ago at New Castle. We just shot zombies and other random targets. The coolest one we shot was an SKS rifle. I wasn't too good with it though.

  20. Another female shooter here debunking the .22's are for girls myth. I love, love, love, love my S&W 1911 .45 with the 5½" barrel. It is the most fun to shoot of any pistol I own and it's the most accurate. Maybe the 5½" barrel has something to do with that.

    As much as I like my .45 I can't CC it unless I'm outside in a blizzard. So my carry gun is a Glock 19.

  21. heh, I have a Ruger set up almost exactly like that...


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