Monday, August 31, 2015

The Cavalry Stetson

It's been a while since I wore one of these, and the legend and lore of the Cavalry Stetson is strong in my blood.  While the Stetson hat is closely associated with the Cavalry, the pure history is that John Stetson didn't begin making hats until 1885.  Prior to that time, the Cav wore hats from other makers.  So, from an historical perspective, the Cav Stetson didn't exist prior to then.

However, the Cavalry wore hats, generally wool felt, or fur felt, and the hats were generally black.  During the 1880's or 1890s they wore varying colors, including tan.  But, the classic Cavalry Stetson is a black felt hat of the western style.  Crown styles vary, even today.  You see the Cattleman, Brick, or Gambler style. Occasionally a pinched front, but styles vary even today.  The pure truth is that Stetson didn't start making hats until 1885.

I graduated from the Cavalry course in 1985, as a portion of the Armor Officer Advance Course.  I am qualified to wear a Cavalry Stetson.  When I joined the CFDA in March of this year, I wanted an alias that I would immediately and instinctively answer to .  My soldiers called me Major D for eight years.  It was a name I'd answer to in a whisper or a shout.  I took Major D as my CFDA alias.

Three weeks ago, Milady bough me a black felt hat.  Game on.  It was time to build my Cavalry hat.  I clicked on the US Cavalry Store and found the proper brass and hat cord.

It's been a while, but there's a Cav hat back on my hat rack.  I feel pretty damned good about that.

Let's Talk About This

It was a rough week, with three officers tragically killed.  We started off with Trooper Steven Vincent, gunned down on the side of a Louisiana road, then we followed up with Officer Henry Nelson was killed while responding to a domestic incident.  Finally, we learned that Harris County deputy Darren Goforth was killed at while pumping gas into his car.

Three police officers killed in the space of a week, within 200 miles of each other.  The local law enforcement community is in a state of shock.  We're saddened and angered, and mourning.  Yet, we put on our boots every morning and go to work.

They used to say that a police officer could expect to work twenty years and not draw his service pistol  I don't know if that's the case.  I've been a cop for 34 years and I've never been in a gunfight.  But, I've buried brother  officers.  Several of them.  Two that worked directly for me, both murdered in their prime.I'm no stranger to being a pall-bearer for a brother officer.

There is generally no common thread that binds these tragedies.  Each of the above incidents are purely individual, with differing motives and participants.  It's just that they came so closely together that the human mind tries to assign a commonality to them.  If there is any commonality to these three incidents, it is that it happened to police officers in the same week.  A State Trooper, a City Policeman, and a County Deputy, all killed in the space of the week.  The only commonality is that we notice, we pray, and we mourn.  We try to comfort those left to deal with the aftermath, and we try to serve justice.

It's tough being a cop right now.  Our president hates us, really he does.  Since his first pronouncement in 2009 that the police acted stupidly, he has put us down at every opportunity.  He really doesn't like the police.  He didn't help in Ferguson, or Charleston, or Virginia and his silence is deafening as regards the three officers killed last week. But that's okay, we're comfortable in his contempt.  We hold him in much the same regard.

For myself and my brothers and sisters who wear the badge, we'll keep on serving.  Most of us serve simply because we like helping people.  I like being friendly, and courteous, and helping people who need help. I can't imagine not being a cop.  And, just as once I couldn't imagine not being a soldier, one day I'll put the badge in a shadow box and hang it on the wall.

But, in the meantime, I have one request.  If you feel a burning need to kill a cop, go get mental help.  Don't be a coward, like those three guys last week.  Man up, admit you have a problem, and get some help.  Because, frankly, we're a little edgy right now.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


No, that's not a mis-spelling, that's a word.  Shottist.  I was scrolling through Cooper's Commentaries this morning and stumbled across the word.
I have had the opportunity now for a couple of years to evaluate the Glock pistol with sufficient care to give me justification in an opinion. I have not used one much myself, but just enough to know that it is not for me. However, I have some good friends in law enforcement who have pretty much set matters straight. My conclusion is that the Glock pistol is a very good choice for hired hands, but not for serious pistoleros. Its proper place lies in the public sector, and the dedicated shottist is rarely found therein. (Note: That is shottist rather than shootist. Look it up.)
So, I clicked over to the Oxford Dictionary to look up the word.  Sure enough.
shottist: noun - South African: A person who is skilled in shooting and takes part in shooting competitions.
So, it's in the Oxford Dictionary of the English language, and has a South African origin.

Of course, we all remember the John Wayne movie, The Shootist, where he played an aging gunfighter battling a fatal cancer.

And, in CFDA, we have a Shootist category, where the participants use revolvers with long barrels:
The Shootist category is for competitors that use Slim Jim Holsters and revolvers with a minimum barrel length of 7-1/2”.
 Interesting the way the language changes over time, and the regional variations.  I'm not suggesting that we change the category, nor the various club names, but I found it interesting that Cooper used the term Shottist, which is decidedly archaic, over the more familiar shootist.

I also note with some interest that Cooper disdained the Glock for a dedicated pistolero, saying that it was more suited to hired hands.  If Cooper was nothing else, he was educated in firearms, and he was opinionated.


I talked earlier about my daughter-in-law who does graphic design.  She helped me with our Thorn Valley logo. I needed a B/W logo that we could use on flyers and such, easily printed with a common desktop printer.  After she did the work, I asked her to colorize it and gave her full creative license to work her magic on our logo.

I think she did great!  The more I look at it, the more little details I see.  Lots of little shadings and color shifts.  Of course, you can click on the pic for a bigger view.

Good work, Kimmie!  You are da bomb!

Friday, August 28, 2015


Thank God It's Friday, the end of the workaday week.  Saturday is the club shoot, and Sunday we're feeding the kids, so we'll have a fun-filled weekend of frolic and adventure.

I'll leave you with this little .gif, cautioning everyone to be careful this weekend.

Oh, my.  Y'all have fun this weekend, but be careful  Tip of the hat to Wirecutter for the gif.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Another One Gone

While I was playing in the backyard yesterday, another fatal drama was playing out in St. Landry parish.  I learn this morning that another police officer was killed yesterday in Sunset, LA.
Two sisters of Grand Coteau Interim Mayor Shaterral Johnson were stabbed while trying to stop 35-year-old Harrison Lee Riley Jr., of Arnaudville, from stabbing his wife, Courtney Jolivette. Despite earlier miscommunication, one of the sisters, 40-year-old Shameka Johnson, and Officer Henry Nelson both died on the scene. 
 51-year-old Nelson was responding to the scene of a stabbing on Anna Street when he was shot by Riley with his own gun. According to the sheriff, Riley had taken the gun from Nelson during a confrontation. 
The suspect is in custody after a stand-off at a local mini-mart.

We offer prayers for Officer Henry Nelson.  Domestic incidents claim lots of good officers, and it seems that Officer Nelson's death is the result of such a disturbance.

I'll be wearing the mourning band on the badge for another few days.  Just Damn!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday Night Shoot

We set up the targets this afternoon and had a little Wednesday night shoot.  Invited the neighbor, strapped him up, and let him try his hand at Cowboy Fast Draw.  Milady and I enjoy showing new folks our game, and while the neighbor is not a new shooter, it's the first time he has shot wax bullets at steel targets in the backyard.

He shot 50 rounds, and in just a few cylinders, he was hitting in the 7s with an occasional hit down in the 6s (that's six-tenths of a second).  Good eye for the game on his first time on the line.

This Wednesday night shoot might become a regular thing.  We'll see if he stays interested.

Growing The Club

Growing the club is one of our goals for this year.  Several of us have been working on the things that other people see, so that we can get our name in the public eye.  Our club president came up with a nice logo, and we're trying to make brochures that are unique to the club, while still meeting the association guidelines.

One of our objectives is low-cost, simple black and white printing that can be accomplished on any home printer.   Or, at least cost at a print shop.  Sure, color brochures are wonderful visually, but black and white is so much more economical.  We're a small club right now and any money we can save on printing costs is money we can spend on other things.

I'm putting together a little 3-column  brochure that can be printed on a single piece of copy paper.  My editing skills are such that Milady proofreads my drafts, makes corrections, and layout decisions.  I'm learning about fonts, column styles, page breaks, and all manner of things that I didn't know I needed to learn.

Being the old dog that I am, I've had to learn on family.  My daughter-in-law Kim does graphic design for a living, and she's been a wonderful help to me.  Almost before I can explain the problem, she has it solved, on the screen before me.  Each of my kids, and their spouses has separate talents and I don't think that there is anything we can't accomplish.  The strength of my family and the depth of our collective talent amazes me.

Thanks, Kim, for helping this old dog learn new tricks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday Thoughts

Keeping a weather eye on the Atlantic and Caribbean, we find that a disturbance we watched earlier has morphed into a tropical storm.  After Danny came apart, Erika formed east of the Leeward Islands.

She's the latest in the line, and we hope that she dies early.  However, we're starting to see these things pop up and we best keep an eye on the tropics.  Right now, the storm track is predicting she'll head toward the east coast of Florida, but I've seen these things break predictions.  We'll keep our eye on her.

It looks as if "Crazy Uncle" Joe Biden is considering another run for the White House.  According to CNN, Obama has given Joe his blessing.  We learned yesterday that Biden had confab'd with "Faux Princess" Warren.  It looks like a Biden-Warren ticket might be in the offing.  I"m sure that Hillary will be pissed, but if the investigation goes wrong, (or goes well, depending on your point of view), the least of Hillary's problems will be the presidential race.  She'll do well to stay out of prison.

On the Republican side of the race, it continues to be a clown circus.  We're in the three-ring stage of this circus, and the less said, the better.

Last, but certainly not least, I see in a report from last month that the military is banning fried food:
The Navy Times reported that there will be no more fried chicken, french fries and shrimp. Instead these foods will be baked in “state of the art ovens.”“Whole milk will be replaced by skim and soy; fruits and vegetables will be on prominent display,” the report noted. “The fast line will remain, but its offerings will be cut back.
What the hell is going on in my military?  That's simply heresy!

Monday, August 24, 2015

In The Mail

I find today on my doorstep, a package from the Displaced Louisiana Guy.  Milady's holster has arrived.  She's been jonesing for a black holster, because it would look so good with her black boots and her new gun.  Matter of fact, it would look good with her old gun and turquoise grips.

It's a straight-drop Mexican loop holster, black, with teal stitching, and our brand on the loop.  Very nicely done.  It's period correct in many details, and fits the revolver nicely. It has that handcrafted look that everyone admires, and seems very functional.

Milady will be pleased.  Thanks, son.  Let me know what I owe you.

**UPDATE** Milady is truly pleased.  Life is good.

Officer Down

I have just learned with much grief and sadness that Senior Trooper Steven Vincent has succumbed to his wounds.  Sr. Trooper Vincent was shot yesterday near Lake Charles during a traffic stop.  He was a 13-year veteran of the force and leaves a wife and son.

Police officers all over Louisiana are now adding mourning bands to their badges.  A suspect is in custody.

Please take a moment and say a prayer for Trooper Vincent, his wife and son.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sapling Maple Whiskey

My brother David is in town for the day, and he brought me two bottles of Vermont whiskey.  Maple whiskey.  Seriously.

The bottle on the left is labeled Vermont Maple Rye Whiskey.  The bottle on the right is labeled Maple Bourbon.  Like most of us on the intertubes I came home and Googled it.  Sapling whiskey is produced at  Saxtons River Distillery in Brattleboro, Vermont.  It is maple infused whiskey, and no, I haven't tasted it.  I told David that I'd wait until Autumn, and try it as I sit near a fire.  There is a review here.

Thanks, David.  I'll sample then when the weather cools.  Good to see you and the girls today, and y'all be careful on the drive home.

Tropical Update

As predicted, Danny has weakened to a tropical storm.  He still bears watching because these things are known to pick up steam as they travel across warm water.  We'll keep a weather eye on him until he ceases to become a threat.

I see that another tropical wave has come out of the desert in Africa.  The one we talked about earlier has changed color on the map, from yellow to amber.  That means there is a 50% chance of cyclone activity in the next 48 hours.  Both of those yellow Xs bear watching because they're on the line of storms that become hurricanes.  It's that time of year in the tropics and we'd best pay attention.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Beau has been spending a lot of time relaxing on the back porch.

There's noting wrong with hanging out on the back porch.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Club Shoot

Saturday afternoons are club shoot days at the Thorn Valley Shootists Society, my home club.  We're a small club and we were only affiliated earlier this year, but we're growing, one member at a time.

We shoot in a barn at the Lucky 4B Ranch, im Melder, LA.  The owners of the place are very accomodating, letting us use a portion of the barn as an indoor range, which is a huge help in Louisiana.  Normally lately, it rains while we're shooting, as it did today.  We had a pop-up shower fall across us, but except for the sound of the rain on the tin, we never knew about it.
Paula and Art behind the scorer's table.  We take turns "talking", calling times and working the timers.

That's Akarate Zach (Zachary King) in lane 1, and Gator (Roland Scallion) in lane 2.  This game is for everyone.  I imagine that 50 years separate Zach and Gator, and they're about even in ability.

Zach is getting better.  He was really consistent in the 8s (that's 8/10ths of a second) and was hitting really well.  Zach met my cousin Denise today.  Denise shoots in the club as well, and when Zach found out she was kin, he had to challenge her to a duel.  Denise said that Zach kept giving her the "stink-eye" when the times didn't go his way.

Some people play golf, or watch sports on Saturday afternoon.  My crew?  We get into gunfights.

Danny Weakens

From what I'm reading, Hurricane Danny is a compact storm, barely 60 miles across with hurricane force winds extending only 15 miles from the center.  Although he flirted with Cat3 status, he's expected to weaken as he approaches the Leeward Islands.
Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 100 mph (155 km/h) with higher gusts.  Additional weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Danny is expected to become a tropical storm on Sunday as it approaches the Leeward Islands.
That's good news, but we can't take him off the radar yet.  He bears watching, and watching closely.  However, the graphic that goes with the discussion shows a disturbance following closely behind him.

 Hurricanes are born in the Sahara Desert.  Tropical waves that come out of the desert and find homes in the warm waters of the tropical Atlantic ocean.  They chug along, some gathering strength, some falling apart, depending on the warmth of the water, the steering of the jet stream, and other meteorological phenomena that are very individual to each storm.  That yellow X to the east of Danny bears watching.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Reminds Me Of A Story

Talking wiht a non-cop coworker today, we were discussing justifiable violence and I was reminded of a story from my young cop days.

Mid 1980s, near Chinquapin, LA, we got a call about a gunshot victim near the Brickyard, an area on the outskirs of town.  The Brickyard was a mixed area, residence and light industry, no real zoning to speak of.  We went out there and found a young gunshot victim in a ditch.  He was still alive and very vocal.  Some sumbitch had shot him twice in the leg and left him laying in the ditch.

Okay, fine.  He was sure enough gunshot, and he was in a ditch, but his story didn't ring true.  This fellow was in his late teens/early 20s and was one of our "usual suspects", very well known to the police.  He told us an old man had shot him, and walked down the road.

While the ambulance was tending to him prior to transport to the hospital, the young fellow points.  "There's the guy who shot me."

We looked up, and here comes an old pensioner, with a cane, walking up the street, carrying a sack full of Honey Buns.  The old man had just come from the day-old bread store.  We stopped him and talked to him.

"Yessir" the old fellow said, "I shot him, sure did.  I was walking to the day-old store to get some Honey Buns, and this young fellow said he'd whip my ass and take my money, so I pulled out my .22 and shot him in the leg."

We took the old man down to the station, and took his statement.  When asked why he didn't call an ambulance, he retorted "He wouldn't have called an ambulance after he left me laying in the ditch!" Which, I suppose, has a certain truth to it.

We didn't arrest the old man, but we did take the case to the District Attorney, who I understand later declined to prosecute.

There's not much moral here to this little fable, but I wrote it down just like I remember it, and we shouldn't take any valuable lesson from it.  This is a different time with different expectations.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday Odds n' Ends

I've got to brag on the US Postal Service.  When I order something and they tell me it's coming via USPS, I generally groan, but here lately they are stepping up their game.  The last three or four orders have gotten here early.

For example, I ordered some wax bullets from the CFDA.  I got a shipping notice telling me that they'd be here Friday, and when I got home I found them on the doorstep a full day early, on Thursday.  We shoot a lot of wax bullets and when I get down to the last 500, I re-order.  They can put 4000 wax bullets in a medium flat rate box.

If you've ever wondered what 4000 wax bullets looks like, they're bulk packed.

I repack them into zipper storage bags, and I can get 500 into a quart-size bag, which is handy when I'm taking inventory.  The quart bags fit very nicely into the shooting bag, also.

Someone asked earlier this week about The Dawg.  I've been remiss in posting a Sunday Dawg, but he's doing fine.  He's achieved senior status.  He's going a little bit blind, and he's slowing down some, but otherwise he's okay.

I took that picture this afternoon while he was exploring something on the other side of the pool.

Speaking of livestock, I thought we had lost a cat today.  I saw this pose while I was snapping the Dawg, and thought the cat had died.

Eyes half-open, distressed pose, I went over an nudged him with my foot.  Asleep.  The cat was simply asleep.  I thought someone had kilt him, and he barely made it over the fence before he expired.  No, just napping.  He's about worthless, although he is a pretty good mouser.  As long as he keeps the mice nervous, he can hang around here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Here Comes Danny

Welcome Tropical Storm Danny to the 2015 hurricane season. reports that Danny is forecast to become a hurricane soon.

It's too soon to tell where Danny might be headed, or where he'll wind up, But, here in Louisiana we keep track of such things.  PawPaw will be keeping an eye on this one, and generally keeping an eye at the National Hurricane Center.  It's one of my daily reads this time of year.

It's mid August.  You bet'cha I'll be paying attention till the end of September.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Blue Bell

The little creamery from Brenham, TX has had their problems recently, with a listeria problem in one or more of their plants.

I love Blue Bell ice cream, and I hope that they get their problems solved.  There is hope, because I saw last week that Blue Bell is hipping out of their Alabama plant.   There is hope, and I hope we soon see Blue Bell back on the shelves.  Don't talk to me about Ben &Jerry's or Haagen Dazs.  If you want ice cream, it's Blue Bell.

C'mon, Blue Bell, get your act together.  We believe in you.  If it isn't Blue Bell, it isn't ice cream.

The Purge

If the Social Justice Warriors have their way, all the vestiges of the Confederacy will soon be removed from the South.  All of them.

The Confederate Flag is now down in South Carolina.

The NAACP want to sand-blast Stone Mountain.

Mayor Landrieu wants to remove the statues in New Orleans.  Governor Jindal is trying to block the removal.

Hoop Skirts are banned on the UGA campus, following something done in Oklahoma.  Because hoop skirts are racist, or something.

I get it.  The Confederacy was part of our racist, slave-holding, Jim Crow past.  All vestiges of it must be removed, purged, if you will, so that we can atone for the errors of our ancestors. I had ancestors here during the Civil War, and I have ancestors who didn't get here until after the Civil War.

Oh, and now, the Fleur-de-Lis is racist.  Did you know that?  France, Louisiana, and Quebec may have to find a new symbol.  Not to mention the New Orleans Saints.  Quelle Horreur!  The Saints may find themselves in the same predicament as the Redskins; not only racist, but at the bottom of the league standings.

Some of this is getting plumb silly.  Really?  Hoop skirts and fleurs?  Seriously?  The Social Justice movement is but a poor caricature of the earlier civil rights movements, and I'm coming to believe that they really neither know history nor care to learn it.  They should recall the old caution that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

Be careful what you purge.  Often, the purgers are judged historically to be more contemptable than what they were trying to eradicate.  Right now, the purge is simply silly.  At some point it might become nefarious.  Judge your actions cautiously.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Sloth

Not entirely slothful, but certainly relaxing.  We began with coffee at day-light, and read the Sunday paper.  Then, cleaned up and went to church.

After church, the kids showed up and we cooked hamburgers on the grill.  93F for the high today and standing over the barbeque pit wasn't half bad.  Of course, hamburgers cook quickly on charcoal, so I wasn't over the heat very long.

Milady has been shooting her Liberty Model for about a week.  We took it to the club practice yesterday and she let everyone admire it.  We did a little more shooting today and we started comparing the hammer-cocking force with the Ruger and my Uberti.  After a brief discussion we decided to lighten the hammer force on that revolver.

The Liberty Model is a Pietta, marketed by Traditions, it is built by Pietta.  Removing the backstap showed me a common leaf mainspring, as in the original Colts, many of the Uberti's and other clones.  As such, we believed it would respond well to judicious grinding.  Luckily, I'm not the first fellow who has ever lightened a mainspring.  I've talked with fellows who have done it, and I've looked around on the internet for advise.

One of the best tutorials for slicking up a Colt clone, is over at, courtesy of Jim Taylor.  The page is photo-rich and very instructive, so we took the Liberty apart, took out the mainspring and slowly filed it on a belt grinder in the shop.  Judiciously, slowly, stopping frequently to cool the spring, we reduced it by about a 32nd on each side.  Then I cut a leather washer to install under the spring, between the spring and the grip frame.

Very carefully, we put the revolver hack together and went out back to test it.  The hammer comes back noticeably easier.  Milady tried it (it's her revolver after all) and pronounced it Much Better. It still has plenty of hammer fall to reliably dent a primer, but the force required to thumb-cock the hammer is noticeably reduced.

The kids left for home and I looked at the weather map.  Thunderstorms to the southeast, heaing this way.  I went out, straightened the backyard and came in just as the first big drops started exploding on the deck.  Now, we're blessed with a good, old-fashioned summer thunderstorm.  I think I'll poutra little drink and repair to the porch.  It's good to watch it rain on a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Kindred Spirits

A Fast Draw guy sent me a message last week, and I'll highlight it here to talk about our game.  It's interesting, the interactions at a match.
Was told at the last match by someone who has been in the Fast Draw game for a long time, that the only thing you can win at a match is respect...that about sums up CFDA.
That's a great observation, but there's something about this game that I haven't quite put my finger on yet.  Like any competitive venue, there are folks who want to win, have that competitive flame, and want to do the very best they can.  Others are there to be with like-minded folks, who enjoy the flavor of the competition and the camaraderie that flows from a group of folks who enjoy the same activities.  We dress like cowboys, strap gun-leather around our waists, and carry single-action revolvers.  

We're there to shoot, no doubt, and we want to do well, but we're also there to talk about boots, and chaps, cowboy hats, spurs and latigo.  Our game attracts a wide range of people, from all walks of life.  Simply mingling with folks who share such a wide range of experience is enlightening.

Respect is a big part of it.  As is humility.  Our game is designed, as is most of the sports, so that there are winners and losers in any match.  But in our game, you can't be a sore loser.  There is a randomness about the game that sometimes exerts itself, to turn the tables in favor of the underdog.  Sure, generally the game favors the folks who practice, who spend time sweating, who work hard for success.  Rightfully so.  A person who draws and fires a thousand times a month should do better than a person who just took up the game.  But, sometimes the stars align and the underdog gets to shine, if only for a minute.  I've seen it time and time again.

For example:

I was in southeast Texas this summer for a club match, a small invitational.  I dunno, maybe fifty shooters.  We draw our opponents randomly, literally from shuffling cards. When your name comes up, you shoot against the person you draw.  It's very random.  In this one particular match, a veteran of the game, a lion of fast-draw, a contender, drew a newbie, a 12-year-old kid with less than three months in the game.  The kid had been practicing, but had never shot a target in under a second, which is an eternity in this game.

In this game, speed counts, but accuracy counts more.  The veteran was bearing down, and the match should have been over quickly.  And it was.  The kid beat him handily.  The sore as 1-3, as I recall.  All that the veteran could do is shake the kids hand, congratulate him, and walk off the line.  This game will keep you humble.

I have to respect a guy like that, and I've found lots of them in this game.  So, maybe respect is what this game is all about.  The trophies are nice, but the respect is everything.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Well Done

After crafting a left-hand holster for me last weekend, my son decided to take a stab at a nice custom holster for Milady.  She wanted a black holster with teal stitching.

The logo on the loop is our family brand.  Very nicely done, and I'm sure that Milady will be pleased.

Friday Foolin'-About

**I ordered wax bullets this morning.  Four thousand of them.  That's all they can stuff into a medium flat-rate box.  We probably have 600 or so left in stock, but the way we go through these things, that might only last a couple of weeks..  Next paycheck I'll order primers.  This Cowboy Shooting is cheap, but the quantities are amazing.

**Big El-Nino this year, but the weather-weenies aren't sure what that means.
"A big El Nino guarantees nothing," said Mike Halper, deputy director of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. "At this point there's no cause for rejoicing that El Nino is here to save the day."
Even so, it ought to bring a little more rain, which California desperately needs.
California's state climatologist Michael Anderson noted that only half the time when there have been big El Ninos has there been meaningfully heavy rains. 
Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.  Meteorology is beginning to make meaningful observations.  The science is settled.

**Locally, the weather won't be bad this weekend.  Sunday, they're calling for a high of 89F on Sunday
That's a whole lot better than last weekend.  It was a measured 104F in the backyard, and the grease melted off the targets.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Big Iron

The question came up recently in another venue; What gun was featured in the old Marty Robbins song, Big Iron?  Good question, and the song itself doesn't lead us to a firm conclusion, but it certainly gives us a few clues. Marty Robbins was a songwriter and singer, a feature act at the Grand Ole Opry.  I had the privilege of hearing him sing the song in the old Ryman Auditorium in 1975.  Many people might not know that he was also an amateur historian, so his songs may have come from his research. If we go to the lyrics, we can certainly speculate.
To the town of Aqua Fria, rode a stranger one fine day.
Aqua Fria is a town in New Mexico, an historical village (now part of the Santa Fe SMSA) and really the only place that can be considered the setting for the song.  There have been other Aqua Fria's, but not towns.  The lyrics plainly state it was a town, so the song is set in Aqua Fria, New Mexico.  The town is older than the US, so that doesn't help us to set the time period of the song.  We have to go to the lyrics again.
Was an Arizona Ranger, wouldn't be too long in town. 
The Arizona Rangers were an interesting bunch, and they were in existence for three time periods.  (Yes, there are Arizona Rangers today, but we're talking about the Old West version.)  Generally, the accepted times are:

April 1860 to Summer 1861.  The Rangers disbanded to join the Confederate Army
March 8 - May 20, 1882.  Under 90 days, they were short-lived as an organization, but certainly around long enough to round up one outlaw.
March 21, 1901 - March 25, 1909.  The early years of the 20th Century, certainly not was we consider the gunfighter era, but there was certainly an opportunity for gunplay in the Southwest during that period.

  I think that we can discard the earlier, pre - Civil War period, and focus on the later, 1882 period.  Certainly there were horse-mounted Rangers during the early part of the 20th century, but the flavor of the song leads me to believe it was set in the 1880s.  I might be wrong, I frequently am.  So, with those time periods in mind, we can start to establish which handguns were in common use during the time period.

That was an interesting time for firearms design, and lots of manufacturers made handguns, including Remington, Smith and Wesson, and others that have fallen by the wayside.  Some were small and light, others were big and heavy.  However, Marty specifies "big iron" which limits our search to the larger revolvers.  Several possibilities exist.

Colt's Dragoon, a cap and ball, percussion pistol was a natural variant of the Walker revolver.  Both were heavy, large pistols, weighing something over four pounds.  Designed as pommel revolvers, they were originally carried on the saddle, but were certainly adapted for belt carry.

Colt Single Action Army, the Peacemaker, or Model P, is also a contender.  Certainly it was in wide use after 1873.  However, at 2.2 lbs, it was much lighter and trimmer than the Walker and Dragoon. Compared to the big revolvers, the new Colt was much lighter, almost svelte.

One other example raises it's head, and this one seems as likely as any other.  It seems that there was a one-off revolver that Robbins saw in a North Hollywood gun shop.  The Wiki page explains.
The Ranger's "Big Iron" actually existed. It was a one-off custom handgun chambered in .45 Colt and featured a Great Western copy of the Colt Single Action Army frame, Colt 1860 Army backstrap, grip frame and grips and a cut down 9 1/2" Marlin rifle barrel. Marty Robbins saw it in Andy Anderson's famed North Hollywood gun shop in the late 1950s and wrote the song around it. Its current whereabouts are unknown.
That may be definitive, if Marty actually saw the custom revolver.  Regardless, this takes nothing away from the song.  It's truly a romantic ballad that speaks to all of us.

But, if I had to vote, I'd vote that the heroic Ranger was probably carrying a Colt's Dragoon.  But that's just me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


When I was in the military, I was privy to classified data, and I worked around classified things that were beyond my simple SECRET classification.  Some of the things we used in tanks were SECRET or TOP SECRET and I knew not to take them apart.  The fact that I would use them was no secret, but the inner workings were classified and the technicians needed special clearance to work on them.

Later, in the run-up to Desert Storm, I was doing planning that required the use of intelligence data, most of which was classified SECRET or better.  We had strict handling protocols for that information, with secure logs, double-layer safes for storage, all sorts of procedures and regulations to keep that data secure.

Moreover, we knew that bungling those procedures would lead to disciplinary action, and possibly jail time, depending on the data and the consequences of the breach.  If, for example, I wanted to make a copy of classified data, we had justifications, protocols and procedures that were onerous in their complexity.  The idea of transmitting classified data over an un-secure line was enough to give an intelligence officer apoplexy, if not a fatal stroke.

We're learning more and more about Hillary Clinton's email server.  First, it was wiped clean, next it was destroyed, and now it's been turned over to the FBI.  They've found classified data on it.  Top Secret data.  Top Secret data on a private, unsecured, non-encrypted email server.  Young intelligence professionals heads are exploding everywhere.

That fact alone speaks to the presumptive Democratic nominee's trustworthiness.  Charles Krauthammer points out another feature of Hillary's political statements.
“it’s not only her trustworthiness, it’s the fact that nothing she says ever is true three weeks later.”
Heh!  Nothing the woman says is true, three weeks later.  That alone speaks volumes. That fact alone should disqualify her or the presidency.  Her security breaches should qualify her for a nice stint in a federal penitentiary.

UPDATE:  I've corrected the spelling in the title.  Good catch, Joe.


Earlier in the season, our Polaris pool cleaner crapped out with a blown transmission.  I shopped around, even talked to a guy who repaired the things, and finally decided to go with a new one.

Those things are expensive, but I got my little scratch together around the first of the month and ordered one.  A Polaris 280, from  We put it in the pool for the weekend, and I've been running it for an hour or so every day.  The pool looks better than it has looked all summer, and I certainly admit that the little robot is a lot easier than hand-vacuuming the pool on a regular basis.

I really should go put the big hose away.  I think I'm done with it this summer.

Here in the Deep South, we let the kids swim until they decide it's too cold to swim.  Normally when Milady sees one of them come out of the pool with blue skin.  Generally, the middle of October.  That pool gets a lot of use, and the Polaris is an absolute necessity.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


If you expect that a paper sign will change long-established public habits, you are doomed to frustration.

I'm just sayin'.


Considering that it was Monday, it wasn't bad.

Considering that it was the first day of school hereabouts, it wasn't  too bad.

Considering w.hat's happening in Missouri, I"m glad I don't live in Ferguson.  They're throwing stuff at the cops again.  One guy started shooting at cops yesterday, and got hisself shot for being an idiot.  I understand that they're still looting stores there..

A bunch of these idiots walked out onto I-70 and blocked it.  Police arrested them.  Did no one tell them that it's illegal to block an interstate highway?  One guy drove through the line of protesters.  Heh!  If more folks did that, it would be hard to assemble a crew to shut down a highway.

Considering that it's August, I suppose the heat is to be expected.  We do live in the Deep South, but 103F is just a bit oppressive, even for us.  Tomorrow, it's supposed to be 102, with a heat index of 112.  I suppose I'll stay in air conditioning as much as possible.  And drink water.  Lots of water.

Considering it is 2:00 a.m., I suppose I should go lie down.  I got five hours of sleep between 8:00 and 1:00, but "vampired" at 1:00.  That's what Milady and I call it, when a nights sleep is interrupted by waking up and wandering the house in the wee hours.  Like a vampire, searching for victims.  I don't want to still be awake at 5:00 when the alarm goes off.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Nice Work!

My boy wanted to make a couple of holsters for the Fast Draw Bag, so this weekend when I saw him, I brought him a revolver and a catalog from El Paso Saddlery.  I also included a basic holster from Triple K.  He said he'd work on it and let me know.

Just Damn!  Dark, chocolate brown, left-handed, it looks wonderful.

Oh, hell yes!  He even put a bullet deflector on it.

That's good work, son, and I appreciate your efforts.  Rich, chocolate brown, great work!  The old man is very happy.

Traditions Liberty Edition

We were in Baton Rouge on Saturday, and I wanted to go to Bass Pro Shops in Denham Springs to look around.  Milady decided to go with me, and we went immediately to the gun room to look at revolvers.

It seems that Traditions firearms (an old name in muzzle loading firearms) has begun marketing a single-action revolver.  It's a Pietta, but it's a good looking Pietta.  Nice bluing, laser engraving, they call it the Liberty model.  Like all our cowboy guns, it's in .45 Colt.  Milady asked the counter guy if she could see it, and when she gripped the gun, she looked at me with surprise.  The grips fit her hand.  The link to the Bass Pro catalog is here.

Milady has small hands, and the grips on a revolver have to be small to accommodate her grip. This one felt good to her.  So, she filled out the forms and this one came home with us.

Closer inspection reveals some interesting facts about the gun.  Unlike the original Colt Peacemaker, this one doesn't have a hammer-mounted firing pin.  The firing pin is mounted in the frame and a transfer bar transmits the hammer strike to the firing pin.  The grips are white PVC.  According to the schematic that comes in the instruction manual, it uses a traditional leaf spring to power the hammer.  There is a half-cock notch for loading, but not a safety notch, so the hammer-cocking motion reveals three clicks rather than the four clicks of the traditional Colt action.

Loading is done in the traditional manner.  Put the hammer on half cock, open the loading gate and load the cylinder.  With the transfer bar, it should be perfectly safe to load six, but many of us old-timers will probably continue to load five, in the time-honored tradition.  Load one, skip one, load four.  This traditional method of loading single-action revolvers has worked well for us over the years and many of us see no reason to change.

I don't know the weight of the mainspring, but Milady is able to cock it easily from the holster.  The trigger breaks clean at about five pounds, which is a little stiff, but eminently usable.  This is a brand-new gun, so everything is tight. It might benefit from an action job, but Milady likes it just like it is, so we'll leave it alone for a while.  I detected a little roughness in the hammer, but again, this one is new from the box.  We'll let Milady shoot it like this for a while.  It should smooth considerably with the first hundred firing cycles or so.  If it needs work later, I can always get out the stones, but for the moment, we'll leave it alone.

We left Baton Rouge about five o'clock yesterday and drove home, the little gun in the box.  We had taken it out at the family function we attended and let everyone "ooh and ahh" over it.  We arrived back on our little acre in the waning daylight of dusk, and the first thing Milady did was to grab her holster and head for the wax bullet range.  She got off a couple of cylinders before the light failed, and she declared the gun to be fully operational.

It's a classy revolver, on a basic budget.  MSRP on the revolver is $624.00 and at at Bass Pro we bought it for the mid-500 range.  The laser etching is shallow, but we didn't pay the prince's ransom that a good engraving job would cost these days.  The white PVC grips should be durable, and set off the gun nicely.  The biggest draw on the grips is that they fit Milady's hands.  They're slim and tasteful. The bigger hand-filling grips that work for me don't work for her and when she can pick up a tevolver and tell me that the grips fit her hand I know that I won't be on the bench filing and sanding.  If she likes it, I'm sold.  It's just "blingy" enough that she likes it, it's sized right for her hands, she's able to operate it smoothly, and she claims she likes it.  In fact, she claimed it for her holster.

As I think about it, this makes two new revolvers she's acquired this week.  Maybe next time I'll get to keep one for myself.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Sport, or Game

Years ago, I read a quote by Ernest Hemingway, where he said that:

Whether that quote is accurate, or apocryphal, is subject to wide interpretation.  Whoever said it, I think that what they were referring to, is that in bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering there is a better than average chance of personal injury or death.  Certainly motor racing has become more safe since Hemingway lived, but it still claims its share of victims.

Of course, the English language has changed some since the early half of the 20th Century, but words still mean things.  And, I prefer the imagery of a sport requiring, if not blood, then the very real possibility of blood.

I'd occasionally get into debates when I worked in the high school, because I ate lunch with the coaches, and when they were talking about sports, I'd drag out the Hemingway quote and ask what sports they were talking a bout?  Football?  It's a game.  Basketball?  That's a game too, and more particularly, a girls game.  If girls play it, it's a girl's game.  Invariably, one of the coaches would ask about baseball, and I'd tell them that baseball is a past-time, in fact, the national past time and it is a mens game.  Softball, of course, uses different equipment, different rules and a different field entirely.

Invariably the soccer coach would get his feelings hurt.  Too bad, so sad.  Soccer is purely a girls game.  I don't know why the bother to separate it into genders.  Same equipment, same field, same rules.  It's a girls game, shot through to the core.

I bring all this up because I'm working through some things in my own mind.  There are bound to be differences between sport and recreation, or between sport and a game.  We're well advised to keep our minds ordered and our language precise.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Friday Traveling

It's Friday afternoon, and I'm on the hook for a trip to Baton Rouge.  Milady's family is getting together at Brother-in-law's house.  So, Milady went to Jena earlier, picked up Mss Reba, and we're on the road.  We'll be home Saturday afternoon late or early evening.

While we're there, we'll spend some time with youngest son, who lives in Baton Rouge.  His wife is starting school at LSU's School of Veterinary Medicine.  I'll take a couple of handguns, because he does hobby leatherwork and he wants to try his hand at cowboy holsters.  I'll give him that opportunity and when I see him in September, we'll highlight his handiwork.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

My Lady's Revolvers

Milady is a revolver gal.  She likes them, prefers them over semi-autos, and has good taste in her personal firearms.  Let's review, shall we.

Smith and Wesson Model 28-2

This iconic large-frame Smith and Wesson revolver predates her time with me.  She had it when we met, and I have to admit that the idea of having a girlfriend who owned a 28-2 had a certain appeal to an old gunner like me.  She shoots it occasionally, but she has small hands and the revolver really doesn't fit her.  At 41 ounces, it's heavy, but it will handle any .357 magnum load she can stuff into the cylinder, and if you've got to have one gun, the old Model 28 has a lot to recommend it.  This one is the older model, with the pinned barrel and the recessed cylinder.  it's a very nice example of a 1960-70s era revolver.  I have one ike it, the 6" version.

Ruger New Vaquero.

I bought her this one in March, 2015, just five months ago, when we began Cowboy Fast Draw shooting.  In .45 Long Colt, with a 4.62" barrel, it has never fired a single round of standard ammunition.  But, this is the revolver she shoots best, and she's shot thousands of rounds of wax bullet, primer-powered ammo.  This is the revolver that she used to take 1th place overall in the Southern Territorials last month.  The gun came with rosewood grips that were too big for her hand, so she swapped them with a club member for a pair of hard-rubber Ruger Gunfighter grips.  I sanded them down further, to fit her hand and she finished them with fingernail polish and clear-coat.

The only thing I did to the internals of the gun was to clip four coils off the mainspring.  This brought down the tension on the spring from the factory 23 lbs to what we estimate is about 17 lbs.  It's easier for her to operate and is still strong enough to pop the tough shotgun primers that we use in our game.  When she straps to play the Cowboy game, this is the gun she carries.  With the wax bullet loads in  our little corner of suburbia, it is also the gun she grabs when a stray cat climbs the fence.  When Milady loads that revolver late in the evening, it's time for a stray cat to take a hike.

Colt Police Positive Special, 32-20.

I bought this little revolver this week, to replace another that was stolen from us in April.   The stolen gun was a Colt Pocket Positive, and it's probably the only revolver that she's ever picked up that fit her hand, right out of the box.  The Pocket Positive was in .32 SW Long, and she carried Buffalo Bore defensive ammo in that revolver.  (Yes, Buffalo Bore makes credible self-defense ammo in .32 SW Long)  Milady likes the little Colt D-frames, and she likes .32 caliber handguns.  When I showed her this replacement for her Pocket Positive, she was thrilled.  At 28 ounces with a 4" barrel, it's the lightest of her handguns by a wide margin.  I've ordered ammunition for this revolver and when it arrives, we'll make time to shoot it.  I'm looking forward to learning more about this old cartridge and in my research, I've found that it was a favorite of old-time handgunners like Paco Kelly, Elmer Keith, and Skeeter Skelton.  With a following like that, there must be something to like.

It's hard to judge the relative size of my lady's battery, so I took one snapshot of all three.

Top to Bottom: Smith and Wesson Model 28-2, Ruger New Vaquero, Colt Police Positive.
Those are my lady's revolvers, and I think that she's well equipped for most handgunning tasks.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Season's Turn

The teachers reported to their schools officially today.  In reality, many of them had been visiting the schools, arranging classrooms and prepping for the school year which begins, at least locally, on Monday.  Meetings, assignments, scuttlebutt and rumors abound.  It's time for school, and another turn of the season.

After the wettest June in several years, summertime has sorted itself out.  Both the calendar and the weather map tell me that we're in August.  Hot, dry, sunny.  This morning's extended forecast showed some numbers we're not used to seeing in this area.  Nineties, for sure, but when we get to three digits in the forecast, it's worth commenting.

At the begging of August, one site I keep track of is the National Hurricane Center.  I'll be clicking on that site daily, just to see what's coming.  It has been a calm season so far, but in my experience, August and September are the months with the greatest threat.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Pawn Shop Crawling

Those few of you who regularly read this little blog know that Milady has a fondness for .32 caliber revolvers.  Her carry piece was a Colt Pocket Positive in .32 SW Long.

She loved that little revolver, but it was burgled from our vehicle last April while we were traveling.  So, since then I've been on the lookout for another one, simply because she loves the little D-frame revolvers, and .32 caliber cartridges.  Her daddy carried a .32 and that's good enough for me.

A couple of days ago I was cruising though my favorite pawn shop and spotted a familiar profile in the handgun case.  Closer inspection revealed a Colt Police Positive Special in .32-20 WCF, a cartridge that I'm not really acquainted with.  I asked to handle the little revolver, and it seemed to have been carried plenty and shot very little.  Any shooting the little revolver endured was very gentle.  I did a quick Jim March checkout on the revolver.  It had very little end-shake, it locked up nice and tight and the action is buttery smooth with just a little stacking in double-action.  All in all, a nice little example of a police revolver from the 1920s.

Today, I went back to the pawn shop and dickered with the clerk.  I've bought several (dozen?) guns there over the years and they are very fair with me.  Very fair indeed.  I'm one of the few guys who will walk into the shop and make a reasonable offer on an old revolver.  And, in this modern era, who wants old revolvers, anyway? Especially in .32 caliber?

So, I filled out a 4473.  Brought the little gun home and got out the bore light.  Great jumping Jehoshaphat!  The bore is pristine.  The rifling is sharp and the forcing cone looks like it came out of the factory.    Then I checked the Colt online records.  This particular example seems to have been produced in 1928. Certainly, pre-WWII, and I'd love to know the history of this little revolver, but it looks like it spent many years in a desk drawer.  How it showed up in the pawn shop is anyone's guess.

When Milady came home, I told her that I had been a bad boy ad bought a revolver.  I told her about the process.  Then I showed her the revolver.  She's thrilled.  Now, I have to find some .32-20 WCF ammo.  It looks like it's available from several sources.

Nice little revolver, don't you think?

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sunday Family Shoot

Today after lunch, we shot wax bullets as we are apt to do.  I didn't take many pictures, because we had quite a crowd with ten shooters and various spectators.  I was busy running the range, finding earplugs and safety glasses and keeping everyone safe and armed.  Grandson Michael shot a personal best time today, breaking 0600 with a 0.596.  That was picture-worthy.

He's leaving for college in the middle of the month, and we probably won't see much of him until Christmas.  Still, it was good shooting with my eldest grandson.

This being the last Sunday of my vacation, I've got to put together a uniform, dust off my boots, and put a new battery in the alarm clock.  It gets one battery a year, at the start of the school year.  Old military types understand preventive maintenance and not waiting till a batter is dead before you change it.  PawPaw is going back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Cowboy Bling

Coming back through Fort Worth last weekend, Milady wanted to stop at the stockyards and go to a shop she had seen when we were there in April.  Zach, of course, was with us and wanted spurs for his boots.

Zach's other grandad was a rodeo cowboy and had given Zach spurs, but Zach wanted new spurs, and we certainly don't indulge our grandchildren.  So, Zach picked out a pair of spurs, then asked the guy in the shop if he could put larger rowels in the spurs his grandad gave him.  The guy advised against it, because Grandad's spurs are rivited, and taking out the rivet might damage the spur.  Zach agreed, so his grandad's spurs will stay original.

Zach's family has horses, and they ride, so spurs aren't an unreasonable request.  Zach was on horses lonng before he started Fast Draw shooting.

After the club shoot today, a fellow told us that he was selling a holster and asked if anyone would like to buy it.  HE showed it to us.  It's a Mernickle CFD1 REF1, in dark brown, with the gunfighter stitch.  It's been used, not abused and it has that patina that comes from careful use, sun, and sweat.  You can't buy that patina, it must be earned.

All in all, a very nice fast draw rig, and approved by the CFDA for our style of shooting.  It was a no-brainer.  We won't discuss the price, but it was very, very reasonable.  Mernickle makes nice holsters nd they charge a premium for them.

No, it won't fit me, but it fits Milady, and should fit several of the grandkids.  It's going into the spares bag.