Friday, July 31, 2015


Milady and I went over to the local National Guard post this morning.  Got myself a new ID card, and got Milady one too.  Then stopped by to check on applying for my retired pay.  I had talked to the guy last week, and he had some questions, so I took my records and let him make copies.  My military career was complicated, it seems.  Even so, I've started the process. to do the paperwork to get money in my mailbox every month.  Hopefully, the Army will figure it out.

I feel better about that, it was one of the things I was putting off, because I initially didn't think I qualified for retired pay.  After talking with the guy last week and this morning, I feel better about it.  He's got copies of everything relevant and he said he's call me in a week or so if he (or his bosses) have any more questions.

Then, Milady and I went to the PX to try out her new ID card.  They never even asked us for an ID.  Evidently, old soldiers look like old soldiers.  I bought a bottle of whiskey to toast Friday afternoon with, later.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hot, Just Darn It's Hot.

It's hot out there, just darn it's hot.  Accuweather says it's 98F out there right now, climbing toward 100.  With over 50% humidity, it's darned hot.

That's not unseasonable for this time of year, and I'm sure that we'll have hotter days in August and September, but I decided about an hour ago to put my hat on, and practice my draw for Cowboy Shooting.

Looking at photos, I'm doing it all wrong, so taking some advise from Gentleman George, I'm re-vamping my draw.  I'm extending my arm too much, relying on the years of experience that I've gotten from law enforcement training, which is all wrong for this game.  What I'm looking for now is index points, so that when I hit that index I can lock, fire, and be reasonably certain of hitting the target.

So, I'm slowing down, trying things and seeing what works.  What I'm doing now isn't working, so I have to make some adjustments.  I think I'm on the right track.

Rather than talk about me, let's see one last video from Odessa, where Milady is matched against a gal from Texas, Marshals Daughter.  In this round, she gave Calamity her final X to put her out of the match.  This match happened just before the shoot-off for 11th place.

Marshals Daughter was knocked out in the next round, and went on to claim 10th place in the overall ladies competition.  Congratulations to her. She's a fine competitor, and like everyone else in the organization, she's a joy to be around, both on the line, and chatting in the stands.

It's more fun watching ladies shoot than listening to PawPaw talk about practice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Grace, Dignity, Friendship

We're new to this CFDA game, and we knew, going into the Southern Territorials, that we wouldn't burn the house down with speed, but maybe, just maybe we could have some fun, learn a little bit more about the game, and enjoy the company of some fine people.  We were right on all counts.

During the main match, I lost track of Milady (aka: Louisiana Calamity Jane) for a while, but caught up with her after I had collected my Xs in the 5th round.  She was still alive, with two Xs, so I became her cheering squad.  She X'd out in the seventh round, and we walked outside to take the breeze and reflect on the experience.

Suddenly, Zach came to the door "Grandma, they're calling you for a shoot-off!"

Calamity walked inside the venue, and headed to the line.  Her opponent for the shoot-off was a lady from Colorado known as Honey Badger.  Honey Badger is fast, very fast, and Calamity told me on the way to the line that she didn't think she stood a chance.

"Shoot the target, Sweetie" I told her.  "Just find the target."

So, Calamity walked out to the line for the match.  I don't recall the score before the last shot, but I managed to think to drag out my camera for the shot.  I posted it on Saturday, but we'll replay it again for illustration.

Watching this video, we see Honey Badger take her shot, and miss.  We don't get a time on this particular shot, so I took out my IPSC timer to try to get the splits.  We know that Calamity hit her target in 1.271 seconds, and after I had played with my timer, we find a split between the first and second shot of 0.860 seconds.

In this game, 8/10ths of a second is a long time.  Trophies, titles, and bragging rights are set on times a lot shorter than that.  But, as long as the timer is running, you can still hit your target.  Simple match tells us that Hone Badger fired her shot in 0.411 after the light.  (1.271 - 0.860 = 0.411).  That's quick, really fast.  Three times as fast as Calamity's 1.271.

Honey Badger told us later (I don't recall the exact quote) that coming into the shoot-off, she thought she could win it, but she knew that Calamity was hitting the target.  Hitting it well in the earlier rounds.  But, Honey Badger decided to make no adjustments, shoot her game like she always did, and let the timer tell the tale.

That shows great sportsmanship on Honey Badger's part, and also shows the randomness of this game.  Speed counts, but hitting stops the timer.  Honey Badger is a great competitor, a fast shooter, and sterling individual.  Going into the shoot-off, she could have slowed her draw just a little, took another 3/10ths and hit the target, but she decided to compete "wide open".  That's the spirit of the game.  Wide-open competition, let the timer tell the tale.    It's grace, and dignity, and letting your opponent keep their dignity.  Two people on the line, letting the timer record the result and after it's over walking off the line with your head high, your dignity intact, and a smile on your face.

Grace, dignity, friendly competition.  That's what this game is about.  Our motto is Safety First, Fun second, and Competition third.  In our quest for speed, accuracy and bragging rights we have to remember that our opponent is our friend after the match.  Thanks, Honey Badger for reinforcing that lesson.

See you on the line.

Monday, July 27, 2015


We're home.  Regular posting will resume once I'm unpacked and the laundry is done.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Odessa - Day 3 Update

Today, we shot Bracket Matches, which pair shooters against their own skill level.  Then we watched the finals match.  Then, the awards ceremony.

Akarate Zach brought home a concho for his belt, signifying 9th place in the Billy the Kid (male youth) category.

We'll install that on his gun belt when we get home.  It's a nice, three-color concho.  For his first title shoot, that ain't bad.  It ain't bad at all.

Calamity Jane got her 11th place certificate, and we were surprised when she was also named 3rd place in the Ladies Senior category. I didn't get a picture of her with the trophy, but I'll take a pic soon and put it up where everyone can see it.

We're now comfortably ensconced in a room in Weatherford, TX.  Tomorrow we'll visit the stockyards in Fort Worth and head for the house.

Odessa - Day 3

In a few minutes I'm going to fold this computer into its bag and start packing the car.  We're going back to the match this morning, where they'll run the finals for mens, womens and youth.  None of us will be in that match, but they'll have shooting for the also-rans, in the form of a braket match.  So, we'll all get to shoot again today, if only to keep the guns limber.

Noon-ish, there will be the final awards ceremony.  There will be a couple of drawings for pistols, and we've got several tickets.  It would be nice to bring home a new pistol, although my luck with raffles is such that I hold no great hope.

A couple of pictures from yesterday.

That's Akarate Zach, going against Good Deal Lucille.  Lucille is the reigning National Champion and granddaughter of my cousin, Gentleman George.  She's very fast, and only eleven years old.

That's Thorn Valley's Big Mark on the line, and I'm not sure who he's shooting against.

Last, and certainly almost least, is PawPaw hisself, getting beaten once again.

Today, sometime shortly after noon, we'll all be leaving Odessa and scattering across this great land.  For Milady and myself, we plan to stop in Fort Worth and spend the night.  There's a shop in the stockyards that Milady wants to visit again.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Odessa - Day 2

Today was the main match at the Southern Territorials.  Zach X'd out first, and I followed in the next round.  If you're at a major match, when you lose, you get an X.  After a certain number of Xs, you're out.  In this case it was four Xs.  However, the real pride of the day was my gal, Louisiana Calamity Jane. As soon as I had my fourth X, I found her and learned that she was still alive with two Xs.  Not fast, but consistent.  Before long, she was in the top 12, and was slated in a shoot-off to see which of the ladies got the 11th spot and who went home with the 12th.

The match director had told us earlier that whoever got 11th in main match, would get a "free ride" next year to the match.  So, Calamity stepped up on the line.  For the last shot, I quickly turned on my cell phone camera to capture the glory.

She won it!  A free ride to next year's Southern Territorials.  The entrance fees to this match are about $200 per shooter, so this isn't a small prize.

I'm so proud of my gal, I could just burst.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Odessa - Day 1

Today was the first day of the Odessa Shoot, formally titled The Southern Territorial Championship.  Today we had category matches, an opportunity to shoot against your own age group.  With several age groups, it's an opportunity for some folks to excel.  And, it's good fun.  A few photos.

Thorn Valley's Big Mark, vs Delta Whiskey of the Big Thicket Bushwhackers.
That's two of my good friends on the line, going head-to-head.  They shoot in the traditional category and they're both very fast.

That's Milady on the line, also known as Louisiana Calamity ane.  She's running and gunning in the Ladies Senior category.

The guy in the white hat is grandson, Zachary, also known as Akarate Zach.  That's pronounced Accurate.  Next to him is Willie Hit It, Then next is Lonestar Leadslinger. Then, Trigger Happy on the far end.  Good kids all, great competitors, and fun to be around.

We finished the evening with a fun shoot, not part of the competition, but purely to raise money for  the CFDA scholarship program, Shoot For The Stars.  It's a fun shoot, fast and furious, with some weird rules.  Times faster than .700 don't count (in fact, if you shoot a .699 or faster, it costs you a dollar.)  Times over 1.000 don't count, so what you're trying to do is shoot between .700 and 1.000.  Nothing else counts.  And, everybody is thrown on the line together.

Here is KK Kid, a very fast woman shooter, against Akarate Zach.  KK is trying to slow it down (she normally shoots in the .3s and .4s) against Zachary, who is just trying to stay on the line.  It's a lot of fun, and raises money for a good cause, youth college scholarships.

All in all, it was a very good day.  The host clubs took care of us, fed us well, and everyone had a great time in a wonderful venue.  Tomorrow is the main match, so I'm going to take off my boots and have a little drink before I turn in.  Tomorrow is going to be fast and furious.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Odessa - Day 0

We made it to Odessa today about noon.  I suspected that the hotel room wouldn't be ready yet, so we went immediately to the venue, to find the place and see if they need any help.  The venue is the Ector County Coliseum, building G.  We found the place and saw some pickup trucks parked outside Building G, so we went inside.

We recognized this stuff, so we knew we were in the right place.  Introduced ourselves and the lights went out.  The host club was still setting up, so we helped them in the dark until the lights came back on, then we admired the facility and the ranges that the hosts have provided for our use.

It's indoors, with air conditioning, which will be a huge advantage, simply for the factor of human comfort.  We won't be sweltering in the west Texas heat, which is a balmy 99F right now.  After we registered, we went to find the hotel and some lunch.  We're ensconced in the room right now, and Milady has a glass of wine to relax her after 600 miles.

We'll go to the Meet-and-Greet in a couple of hours, then back to the room and get ready for a great shoot tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Spent the morning getting ready, checking the list, packing, doing all the things to leave this afternoon.  Took lunch to Milady's crew, came home and checked everything again.

Miss Susan is watching the place while we're gone, and babysitting the Dawg.  He'll be fine.

Now, I'm on hold, waiting for my lady to get home from work.  I think I'll put on a movie and take a well-earned break.  Might even nap.

I'll be posting from the road, when I can.  We'll pitch out of here about 5:00 and try to make it to Dallas before we stop for the night.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


I am reminded that on this day in history, July 21, 1865, Wild Bill Hickok faced off across the town square in Springfield, MO against Davis Tutt.  Both men were armed and the conflict seemed to stem from a watch that Hickok had pledged as collateral for a gambling debt.

From the Wiki page:
Both men faced each other sideways in the dueling position and hesitated briefly. Then Tutt reached for his pistol. Hickok drew his gun and steadied it on his opposite forearm. The two men fired a single shot each at essentially the same time, according to the reports.[4] Tutt missed, but Hickok's bullet struck Tutt in the left side between the fifth and seventh ribs. Tutt called out, "Boys, I'm killed," ran onto the porch of the local courthouse and back to the street, where he collapsed and died.
Hickok was later arrested for murder, and tried, but was acquitted on several grounds, not the least that Hickok tried to avoid the duel.

I'm sure that men were shot before that time, but the write-up in the papers made Hickok a household name and this altercation is often cited as the first shootout recorded in the Hollywood tradition of two men meeting in the town square.

Tuesday Ramblings

Ran errands this morning, got a lot done.  Getting-ready stuff for the Odessa trip coming up.

It's hot out there.  Damned hot.  Accuweather says 91F with a heat index of 105.  That might be.  My back porch thermometer shows 95F in the shade.  With 50% humidity, that puts the heat index at 102, and we haven't reached the heat of the day.  I'll spend the afternoon indoors, checking my list for the trip.

I'm cooking tomorrow for Milady's work crew.  They get paid every-other Thursday, and like most of the pore-an-starvin', on the day before payday they're broke, so she has begun feeding the whole crew on the day before payday.  The menu tomorrow is smoked chicken and Ouida potatoes.  I'll get up in the morning, put those birds in the smoker, then piddle around the back yard.  About 10:00, put on the potatoes, then assemble the meal.  Delivery for 11:30.  Then, I'll come home and start packing for the trip in earnest.

We'll leave here when Milady gets off work.  We'll check the list, make sure everything is packed, and put several hours on the road before we find a hotel for the night.  It's a long way to Odessa (a little over nine hours) and Milady wants to get a jump on the road show.

Monday, July 20, 2015

More Shooting

Another little video below, of a grandson shooting against his uncle.  Grandson Michael recently graduated from high school and in just a few weeks will begin attendance at NSU, my alma mater.  Michael really doesn't have time to get into this game, but when he's around, he likes to shoot, so of course, we strap him up.  He's only done fast draw three or four times, but he's got one of the smoothest, most natural draws I've seen.  Very fluid, and his natural accuracy is very good.  Of course, he's got 18-year-old reflexes, which helps.

The little video is forty seconds, but on his second shot, he hits a 0.637, and makes it look easy.  Not really fast by CFDA standards, but for someone who is just picking up the game, it's phenomenal.

With just a little practice and coaching, he could be very good.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Family Shoot 07/19/15

Sunday shooting in the back yard, with our new, improved backstop.  Last week I experimented with Fast Draw Cartridges, which are .45 Colt blank brass, a standard primer, 3.0 grains of Hodgdon's Triple Seven, and a wax bullet.  The small charge of black powder gives smoke for the spectators and makes the match more visually appealing.

The match cartridges aren't necessary, but as an old-time reloader I had what I needed to make them and decided to put some together.

Here, in a short video, we have Matt shooting against Zachary.

Milady and I will practice some this week, then start packing for the shoot in Odessa next weekend.  We'll leave here Thursday morning early, and be ready to shoot on Friday morning.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Life Today

1) Life with a smartphone.  This looks about right.

2) In other news, the search for a motive for the Chattanooga shooter continues.  CNN is baffled.
Friends described Abdulazeez as a once devoted, disciplined mixed-martial-arts fighter; a top student known for smarts, charm and humor; and a devout Muslim who kept in touch with his roots in the Middle East.
Andrea Mitchell even had the audacity to ask a classmate if the shooter was into "guns, or hunting maybe". Her editors should fire her for being stupid.

Uuuh, Dude!  His name was Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, he had just been to the Middle East, and he attacked Marines.  If you can't figure out the motive, you're being willfully obtuse. I understood the motive plainly in the opening moments of the coverage.  He's a Muslim and he hates the United States.  It's jihad, dude.


Friday, July 17, 2015


Side benefit to wax bullet shooting. A standard primer load will make a stray cat take a hike. LA Calamity Jane just sent another stray cat over the cedar fence. The cat ain't hurt, but I believe he got the message.

Now, the gun is put away and I'm going to bed.  Watching that cat go over the fence made the whole day worthwhile.

Robert Burns

Robert Burns, a famous Scot poet of the 18th century said, in is ode to a mouse;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley, 
Or, in common English, the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.   It 's a quote I use often, and generally take comfort from the idea that it is a common symptom of the human condition.

Or, as Murphy, a 20th century military philosopher sometimes said; No plan survives the first contact, intact.

I'd like to think that I've learned those lessons by now, but life tends to reinforce those lessons, sometimes on a daily basis.

I'm not bitching, I'm just saying.  It's been one of those days.

The upside is that my lady should be home before long, and we can commence the weekend.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Road Warrior

I've been a road warrior today, helping a good friend.  Got up at 4:00 a.m. to meet him at 5:00.  Drove from Trout, LA to Tatum, TX so he could buy a pickup truck that he found on Craigslist, then back to Trout, LA, then back here.  All told, nearly 11 hours on the road, counting time to seal the deal.

I'm whacked.  Milady will be home soon and we'll have a cocktail, then it will be early abed and early to rise.  This weekend is Milady's mom's birthday.  Miss Reba will be 94 years old and we've got lots planned for the weekend.

If the posting gets to light around here, go to my blogroll on the right sidebar.  Look around there.  Good stuff, I promise you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

That's a Wrap

Elder son came over this morning and installed the Galvalume metal roof on the shade awning.  He's a sheet-metal guy, so I let him do his thing while I played helper for him. It's been my experience that if someone knows what he's doing, let him do it and grab whatever he tells you to grab.  In about two hours, we were done.

Nice clean lines, straight edges, sturdy and durable.  The uprights are 4X4 treated, the ceiling is 2X6 treated and the roof is 26 gauge ag panels.  Everything screwed together.  Nice and tight.

It might be susceptible to hurricane, but I don't believe that it will UV.  It won't be much protection against sideways, blowing rain, but it's not meant to be.  It's shade, and with any luck, it will be there for many years.  Thanks, son.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Range Upgrade

Upgrading the range, one paycheck at a time.  The little one-lane range worked good, but it was wedged into a corner.  Yesterday I was able to find some more "drops" to use as backers and this morning I went to the lumber yard and bought lumber, then swung by son-in-law's place and pressed a grandson into service.

Here's a view from the deck, looking downrange.

Those two light-colored boards in the center of the frame are the foundation for the 12 gauge drops.  It doesn't look level, does it?  Appearances are deceiving.There's some sort of weird optical illusion there.   It's dead-nuts level.  Off to the left of the frame you can see one of the targets where the range was originally located.

We installed the drops on that framework and placed the targets in front of the backstop.

There is a good deal of slope along that line, and it leads to some interesting visual effects.  Both targets are 50 inches from the ground as measured from the firing line. Each shooter, regardless of which target he's on, is shooting at a 24" circle, 50 inches above the ground.

That galvalume metal at the bottom of each photo will be installed tomorrow, and as funds permit (one paycheck at a time), I inted to install a small deck for the targets to stand on, and another on the same level for a firing line.  That should minimize the  optical illusion of the ground sloping down to the right.

Still, we're making improvements one paycheck at a time.  Many thanks to Zach for his grunt labor.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Great Jumping Jehosephat, it's hot out there.  I went and picked up the galvalume for the shade awning today, and just dern, it's hot.

According to Accuweather:

Of course, the humidity is 60%, so the air feels like a wet blanket.  It's going to be a good day to stay inside and pester the dawg.  Heat index of 114.  Just damn!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New World's Record Set

According to the various gunslinger forums, there was a new world record set this weekend at the Western Territorial in Genoa, NV.  Master Gunfighter (his CFDA alias) hit a new record of 0.295.

For the unitinitated, he was able to draw, cock, and fire a single-action revolver and hit a target at 21 feet in 0.295 of a second.However, under our rules, that isn't good enough.  Anticipation is an ongoing concern.  After the "SET" command, you're not allowed to move your revolver until the light illuminates.  So, if you set a world's record, you've got to "back it up" by another draw and hit within three-hundredths of a second.  The rules say this:
ANTICIPATION: The Competitor cannot move the gun in the holster after the shooting command “set” and before the start light comes on. Furthermore, any shot fired that is faster than the current World Record, must be backed up by 3 hundredths of a second before the round is over. If a competitor has not fired a shot within 3 hundredths of a second in the current round, an additional three attempts will be awarded. If the shot in question is not backed-up, then the shot will be considered “anticipated” and will result in a Procedural Penalty (PV), which is a Loss of Shot.
So, this is  big deal.  Really.  A new world record is always something to crow about.  Below, a photo of the other competitors congratulating him.

 Congratulations, Master Gunfighter.  May your record stand until it's beaten, which lots of folks would like to do.

If you'd like to try your own reaction time, I've found a neat little timer that you can use on your computer.  CLICK HERE and try your reaction time.  See if you can beat Master Gunfighter, then remember that he's not simply clicking a mouse.  He's drawing, cocking, firing, and hitting.  It's quite illuminating.

Congratulations, Master Gunfighter.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

That Was the Week That Was

That was the week that was, it's over let it go.
Old-Timers like me remember that jingle as the lead-in for a comedy show back in the '60's that spoofed the weekly news.  And this week is surely deserving of spoofing.

 They took down the flag in Columbia this week, a piece of cloth that symbolized the Confederacy, that racist, despicable torment that our country endured in the 1860s and for which no apology is acceptable.  We live in the shame of the sins of our forefathers.  Not content with retiring the flag, they continued on the activities and even took down that racist flagpole.  That should do it.  Racism is now officially solved in the South.

I'm reminded of an anthen sung by Joan Baez, released in 1971.  Joan was a hippy chick, large in the civil right movement, agitated against the Vietnam war, got involved in politics, Her signature song in 1971 was a song first recorded by The Band in 1969, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

This ballad became an anthem of the early 1980s, and I remember it on every jukebox in every honky-tonk I wandered into during my early adult years.

I guess that makes Joan a racist, too.  Oh, well, she's in good company.

That was the week that was, it's over let it go.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Derned Ol' Chicken

It's Friday afternoon in these parts, and that means the weekend will soon be upon us.  Milady has gone to get her mother, Miss Reba, who will spend the night with us, preparatory to a hair appointment tomorrow.   I have been tasked with cooking some chickens, because I've got nothing better to do, and because I've been cooking old, dead chickens for lots of years.  Some other family will be around, so I figure four smoked chickens should be about right.

Before you wonder if I've been in the whiskey at this early hour, that's an old family joke.  My first father-in-law, Boonie, was a master of cooking chickens.  He could start with a flock of birds and render them into tasty, succulent smoked chicken in an afternoon, and he always cautioned us to use dead chickens.  The live ones jump around too much.

Fortunately, in this modern era, we can buy dead chickens at the grocers, so this morning while Milady was out running errands, she picked up several dead chickens.  That takes most of the work out of the prep.  Starting with live chickens is messy.  Dead chickens are much easier.

My recipe is simple.  Take the (dead) chicken out of the bag, remove the giblets and wash it, then pat it dry.  Coat it with margarine, then sprinkle Tony Chachere's liberally across the skin.  Put him in the smoker at 275F for four hours.  Or thereabouts.  When you reach in to pick up the chicken, if the leg bone comes off in your hands, it's done.  If you like livers and gizzards, make a little pan out of aluminum foil and put them in the smoker with a little butter and Tony's.  Let them sautee in that butter while the chicken cooks.

I put those brids in the smoker at 2:00 local.  I've got several thermometers poking through various holes in that box, and as soon as I get the temperature regulated, I'll ignore it until just before supper time.  There is no reason to open that door before then.

Milady is responsible for the rest of the meal, and I understand we're having Ouida potatoes, butter beans, okra and tomatoes, and cornbread.

If that doesn't suit them, they can stop at Burger King on the way home.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Thursday Practice

Milady and I set up the practice range this afternoon, because we both need the practice.

Louisiana Calamity Jane (her CFDA alias) is hitting about  90% in the 1.1/1.2 second range.

We're practicing for the Odessa match coming up later this month.  She's getting the muscle memory down to a fine calibration and while she's not real fast, she's deadly accurate.  For the record, she's hitting a 24 inch target at 21 measured feet, in just over a second. From the holster, with a single action revolver.  Sights, you ask?  T his is reactive shooting.  Try coming out of the holster, cocking the revolver and putting the bullet on the target.  You'll be surprised how slow you are.

Gawd, I love this woman.  And I know better than to piss her off.

Thursday Tab Cleaning

This morning I ordered the metal for the shade awning.  I pick it up Monday.  Then we install it one afternoon next week.  By this time next week, that project will be finished. Then we'll start planning the next.

Regarding the CDFA match cartidges, Old NFO asks in comments:  
Interesting, I thought you just used primers..
Ninety percent of what we shoot is powered simply by a shotgun primer.  It's what we use for practice and club shoots, and there are some sanctioned shoots where primer-only loads are used.  However, we like spectators, and spectators like to see gunsmoke, so the Association came up with a load that has smoke.  Simply by using a large pistol primer to ignite a tiny charge of black powder substitute.  I first stumbled across these cartridges at the Texas State Championship in April.  Almost universally, it's Starline blank Brass which has a 0.140 flash hole.  The primer ignites a small charge of black powder substitute and the  wax bullet is seated 3/8ths below the mouth of the case.  When the cartridge ignites, it gives a puff of smoke.  In still wind conditions, that smoke tends to follow the bullet.

Spectators love it, and it makes for very nice pictures.  Like this:

That photo was taken at a major competition last month.  This particular photo is of the Annie Oakley category (youth, girls) and the ladies are shooting for the national title.

Oh, and for those of you who are wondering, I'm shooting from the right side when I get to Odessa.  Simply an equipment issue, my southpaw holster drags a litle.  When I get back from Odessa, I'll order a new southpaw holster, probably from Ken's Leathercraft.  Ken made my right-hand holster and I'm very pleased with it.

While I'm ordering, I'll order a right-hand black holster for Milady.  I have a black belt coming in from El Paso Saddlery in her waist size and she wants a Ken's holster to wear on the belt.  Then, she'll have a black rig when she wants to wear black boots.   We must be able to coordinate our accessories.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

CFDA Match Cartridges

For CFDA sanctioned matches, the host provides the ammunition and we call them CFDA cartridges.   There are loading guidelines in the literature and they call for .45 Colt blank brass.   This is brass with a 0.140 primer flash hole.  I had some .45 Colt brass and decided to take a run at the CFDA cartridge.  I didn't have any blank brass, but I had regular .45 Colt brass and a 9/64 drill bit, which is a nominal 0.1395 on my calipers.  Close enough.  About a half-hour setting up the drill press and I had 20 pieces of brass modified.

The literature calls for 3.0 grains of Hodgden's Triple Se7en black powder substitute.  I took out my Lee dippers and a scale.  It turns out the the 0.3ccc dipper throws 3 grains of that powder.  So, after I primed the brass with CCI large pistol primers, all that was left to do was to measure the powder and seat the bullet.  The CFDA calls for the bullet to be seated 3/8ths below the case mouth, which I'm sure seats the bullet on the powder.

Now, I've got some ammo so that I can familiarize Zachary with the ammo he'll see in Odessa later this momth.  I may, as timeallows, modify some more of that brass with a larger flash hole so that I can keep a stock of CFDA cartridges when we're getting ready for a big match.  For an old-time handloader, this is easy stuff.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Summer Project Update II

We wrapped the shade awning with a tarp this morning, courtesy of Harbor Freight.  That will do until I can install the metal roof, but we can sit under shade now.

The west end of that awning has always been a problem, because the afternoon sun comes in under the west end as the sun goes down.  So, I bough an extra-long tarp and I'm experimenting with a Roman Shade concept for that western exposure.  Hopefully it will make the deck more liveable in the late afternoon sun.

My buddy, Old NFO, commented yesterday that I should expect the project to "grow".  I suspect you're right, Jim and I'm already thinking about phase II.

I promised the boys I'd cook ribs for the evening meal.  About 1:00 I'll put them on the smoker.  With beans and potato salad that should be about right and they'll be well fed before I bring them home after supper.  Grandson Zach showed up late yesterday afternoon and spent the night, so I've got the company of three fine fellows.  They're in the pool now, but we may have to do some shooting this afternoon while the ribs are cooking.

All in a day's work.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Summer Project Update

After cleaning out the bed of the pickup truck, picking up the boys and a trip to the lumber yard for materials, we got busy.  In just a little less than four hours, we had erected the skeleton of the shade awning.

Everything is braced, screwed down, and structurally sound.  I don't worry about someone knocking it over, or the wind lifring it up.  It's all treated lumber and should be there for many years.  Eight feet tall on the front and 7 feet six inches on the rear, the water will flow toward the back of the yard.

Not too shabby for a bunch of amateur carpenters.  Tomrow we'll wrap it with a tarp for a temporary roof and I'll start pricing Galvalume locally and buy what I need.  Elder son will help me install it int he days soon as he clears some other things off his plate.

This project is coming along nicely.

Summer Project

Every summer, it seems, I have a project, most often in the back yard, and this summer is no different.  On the deck built in 2008, I initially installed a gazebo with a cloth roof.  Bought it at Big Lots, and after a year or so, it came down due to weather, so I bought another one, installed it, it also came down during a snowfall.  Installed a third, and it's been up for three years.  However, it is weathered heavily, the canvas has UV damage, and it's falling apart.

That gazebo is going away.  In it's place will be a wooden structure, the same design as the deck, wiht a flat roof.  sloped six inches to allow for runoff.  Hopefully, it will provide shade for many years.

In about 30 minutes I'll leave here to collect two grandsons and the materials for the project.  I'll teach the boys some basic carpentry (very basic) and use the grunt labor that teenagers provide.  This is going to be great!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Club Shoot

We went to the club shoot today, and when we arrived, our Marshall, Big Mark had been busy.  He has installed two new targets to bring our shooting line to four lanes.  

With four lanes, we've doubled the size of the shooting area, so we gave it a good shake-down today, learning the ins-and-outs of doubling the size of the shooting area.

Left to right, Tombstone, Lady Dane, LA Calamity Jane, and Paula.   Great fun, good shooters, and good friends.  PawPaw won a couple of matches today.  My speed is increasing, incrementally, and I feel that this new expansion of the range will make us all better shooters.

Friday, July 03, 2015

This Gunfighting Game

I've tried to understand why this game has taken me so strongly and I guess that it is a lot of fun.  I've done lots of shooting games, from skeet to trap, to USPSA, and they're all fun.  Lots of fun.  So why is this game different?  I've come to one simple conclusion:  The people.

I've been to other matches in other disciplines, the tension before the match is palpable.  Some of these folks come to win, and while they are courteous and helpful, you have a feeling that there will be winners and losers and the top dogs are nervous about the outcome of the match. The newcomers are also nervous about the match, and that nervousness translates into their performance.  Americans like to win, and we don't want to do poorly at anything, so the competitive edge comes out during a competition.  That's well and good, and we'd all like to win.  I get it.

CFDA is different.  With a motto of "Safety First, Fun Second, and Competition Third" it sets the tone for the game.  We're there to be safe, have fun, and indulge in a little good-natured competition.  Sure we want to do well, but we want the other competitors to do their best also, because after just a little while, those other folks on the line are our friends.

Unlike the other shooting games, it doesn't take a lot of money to get started.  The equipment is easy.  Many competitors use bone-stock guns, straight from the box.  There are no equipment categories like some of the other disciplines.  You won't see any tricked-out race guns on a CFDA line.  A simple action job is all that's allowed, and it's not even necessary.  The association has settled on one caliber, the .45 Long Colt, simply for ammo consistency.  As a matter of fact, at sanctioned shoots, ammo cost is part of the entrance fee.  Yep, that's right, the host supplies the ammunition.  Everybody is shooting the same ammo.  That's one less thing to worry about on your way to the venue.

I realize I'm new to this game, and we've been to only one sanctioned shoot (The Texas State Championships), but we found the people extremely friendly, courteous and helpful.  In minutes after signing in  we were talking to folks who were seasoned veterans, who genuinely wanted us to feel welcome, who wanted to share their enthusiasm, who wanted us to do well.

The club shoots are the same way; friendly.  Folks talk and josh and ask questions, and get advice.  Everybody pitches in to if something needs to be done, to give tips, to be helpful but not pushy. I can' say enough about the pure friendliness that we've experienced.

The dress is interesting,and the association has a dress code.  Men wear long trousers, long sleeved shirts, boots and a hat.  The association has adopted the 1880s as their time period, and if you want to dress from that era, that's encouraged.  I've seen lots of dress from that period. Some of the guys (and gals) put a lot of energy into building their persona for the events.  It's flashy, that's for sure.  But, if you simply want to wear boots, jeans and a western shirt, that's fine too. Don't forget your hat.

There will be kids running around, too, strapped just like the adults.  They've all been through the safety training, and vetted by a seasoned member before they're allowed to participate.  The kids are safe, very safe, and they know both the rules of the game and the rules of safe gun-handling.  They're courteous to a fault, honest competitors, and they're the future of this game.  In a non-category match, don't be surprised if your competitor is a young'un.  And don't get your feeling hurt when he beats you.  Many times, sons beat fathers, or grandfathers.  Fourteen-year-old reflexes are fast, and this is a reflex game.  Sure, there is skill involved, but the kids are skilled.

I've walked all over this subject to give my readers an idea of how much fun this gunslinger game is, and we welcome new members.  There's a page here with links to all the clubs.  If you think you'd be interested, drop an email to one of the guys listed in each club, or give me a comment and I'll try to help find a club near you.  I guarantee those guys and gals will welcome you, make you feel comfortable, and probably loan you a gun for the first club shoot.  My club does that all the time.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to set up my range.  Milady wants to practice for a little while.  We've got a club shoot tomorrow, and Odessa is only three weeks away.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Left or Right?

Should I go left, or right?  We're not talking politics here, we're talking about something much more interesting.

I'm nominally left-handed.  I write with my left hand, hold a wrench in my left hand, If I'm throwing a punch, it will normally come from my left hand.  However, when I was a mere youth, my Dad conducted an eye-dominance test and we discovered I was right-eye dominant.  So, he taught me to shoot long guns from my right side.  For me, putting a shotgun or rifle on my right shoulder is the most natural thing in the world.  That proclivity moved over to handguns, and as a police officer I've always carried my handgun on my right hip.  It works well for me.  I shoot a handgun just fine from my right hand.  And, because my dominant eye is on the right side, I pick up the front sight very well.

Milady wonders why I don't shoot left-handed, and I've tried to explain to her the dominant eye theory, and forty years of right-handed shooting, but her argument is simple.  I don't use my sights in this fast-draw game.  It's point-and-shoot, pure reactive shooting, and sights are superfluous.  Indeed, if I took a grinder to my revolver and shaved off the front sight I'd still be within the rules of the game.  I'm naturally left-handed, she argues, so it stands to reason that I'd be just a bit faster on my southpaw side.

The other day, I strapped on a left-side holster.  I bought one a couple of months ago to accommodate a left-hand son and grandson who shoot from the south-side.  It didn't feel odd, just different, and if anything, I was a bit more accurate.  We've got a major shoot coming up in three weeks, and while I have no pretensions of winning it, I'd like to do the best that I can.  Speed is fine, as Wyatt Earp famously said, but accuracy is final.

I'm faced with a quandary, and I need to settle down and pick a side so that I can focus on the peculiarities of my draw, get consistent, and fine tune my stance and speed.

Decisions, decisions.