Going Jordan

TrumpPicardJordan 2

Pardon the sidetrack . . .

Some time back, I was leaving my home, and some rain dripped off the roof, straight on to my bald spot. I decided then that I had to make a life decision.

In my mind, there are three stages of dealing with hair loss, without resorting to transplants or Rogaine. I name the three stages after the most prominent people who elected them.

Trump:

Here you act like nothing is different, and cover it up. Also known as the Comb Over.

Picard:

Here you admit that your coverage isn’t what it used to be, but you still want something there. So you trim it down and own up to it.

Jordan:

Here you say, what the hell, and shave it all off.

So, about 5 years ago I went Picard and started getting a 3/8 inch buzz cut all over.

Me as Picard

But then came the Recent Unpleasantness and the threat of losing it all, and I decided to go Jordan.

Me New

Another milestone.

How To Prevent Mass Shootings

Like most Americans, I was saddened and outraged by the shootings last week in Newtown, Connecticut. My heart goes out to the parents, children, and citizens of that town, and the responders and others involved.

As expected, the media and the President have completely avoided the true nature of this tragedy, and, in so doing, will avoid the best lasting actions we can take to prevent them in the future.

The real cause of this shooting wasn’t evil assault rifles, or high capacity clips, or lack of gun safes. It was the concept of the “gun free zone.”

The people in that school, as in schools across America, were completely at the mercy of anyone who decided to come in with the intent of doing them harm. The same goes for anyone at a venue that has been declared off limits to guns.

That’s because criminals and nutjobs don’t pay attention to the signs on the door. And it’s not because the penalties for violating the gun free zone are too lax, as someone from the CSGV once tried to argue with me. No amount of penalty will deter someone who is determined to break the law, especially since the threat of life in prison or execution isn’t going to deter them from murder.

So, how do we prevent this kind of incident in the future? Simply, do away with gun free zones.

Of course, the first argument that follows is that armed children, or teachers, or anyone, would not be expected to be able to prevail in a gun battle with someone so heavily armed. Unfortunately this argument misses the nature of these incidents as well.

You see, it isn’t the armed teacher or customer that wins this battle, so much as the threat of armed teachers or customers.

Just the possibility of the presence armed resistance will keep our children and shoppers and worshipers safe. Why? Because the people who perpetrate these horrific acts are cowards through and through. In every instance, when confronted by the first responder with a gun, they kill themselves.

If you need proof, look my home town of Kennesaw, Georgia. Famously, every homeowner is required by a city ordinance to own a gun. And the theaters and malls around allow guns to be carried. And, as a result, the crime rate here is among the lowest in the country, and, more to the point, there has never been a mall shooting or theater shooting here, ever.

In fact, even normal armed robbery has been prevented on at least one occasion, because of the presence of civilians, lawfully carrying guns.

So, the real course to take is two-fold. First, enhance the care we give to the mentally ill, and develop a system to integrate their treatment with the NICS background system. This is tricky ground, though, because of health privacy concerns, and I won’t offer anything beyond that.

But, regardless of what we do with the mentally ill, we must act to abolish government mandated gun free zones.

As gun owners and consumers, we can do our part by avoiding businesses that choose to prohibit lawful carry of firearms, and make sure the owners of those businesses know we are doing so.

And, in the meantime, we must continue the course, and remind those who want to latch on to an inanimate object as a cause of evil, that it is, instead, evil people who are at fault, and evil people, by their nature, will merely laugh at your attempts to take their guns. And, we must remind them that the end game of any gun confiscation scheme they may enact is that only the evil people will have guns, and that they will then be at the mercy of evil people. By then it will be too late.

Practice Makes Perfect

Image

Practicing magazine changes in my garage, with a training barrel installed.

 

Time to come clean.

I played a lot of baseball in my youth, and one thing I learned was that it took practice – practice to improve, practice to win, heck, practice just to stay even. I liked baseball practice – fielding, batting, throwing, running the bases. And I got better and better every season.

I also played a season of youth football, but I quit after the first season, not because I didn’t like the sport, but because I hated practice. We did so many things that seemed to have no bearing on the game of football.

In my shooting career, I’ve seen improvement from time to time, and it usually came when I practiced. Nothing surprising there.

About ten years ago I read a book called Mastery, by George Leonard. George took up the martial art of aikido at age 47, and went on to become a black belt, and open his own dojo. In the process of becoming a black belt, he studied and then wrote about the process that humans go through when they learn and master any skill, from sports to career to marriage. Without reviewing the whole book, he found (and my experience confirms) that humans learn in spurts. In between these growth spurts, we are on a plateau, until practice and training enable us to reach another growth spurt.

This past week I decided to get the book out again, after hearing Michael Bane talk about it on one of his old podcasts. Two things became immediately obvious to me.

First, despite anything I’ve written in this blog, I am, sadly, merely a Hacker when it comes to shooting. I have worked on my shooting, and improved, but I have reached a plateau, as George Leonard predicted. Sadly, I have somewhat accepted this plateau, and I am most of the time content to compete at the level I am at.

Second, if I am going to shed this Hacker status, and truly improve – move up in USPSA, win a match, learn new techniques – I am going to have to devote myself to practice. I am also going to have to get a coach, someone who can show me where I am lacking, correct mistakes, and hold me to my program.

Fortunately, through contacts I’ve made since I started this blog, I have access to the tools, drills, coaches, and techniques that I will need. I have the time and the desire. All that is lacking is the doing. Practice.

I am currently putting together my practice plan, and in the coming weeks I will share it with you. In the meantime, I welcome suggestions.

Paradigm Shift

When I first took up competitive shooting, back when the Earth was still cooling, I discovered something that, in retrospect, was detrimental to my growth as a shooter. It’s taken me a long time to change that, and even now, I have only changed half of it. The time has come to change the rest.

The Mistake

The club I first shot with in Alabama was filled with pistol shooters who had grown up in the time when Bullseye and PPC were the reigning games. So, they concentrated a lot on accurate shooting, and not as much on speed. I, on the other hand, was new to competition, and I looked at the scoring method, which was total shooting score divided by time, and realized I had an advantage. Most of the members were shooting 9s and 10s but shooting slower than me. I found that I could shoot 7s and 8s but shoot faster, and win. For two years this worked, and I either won or came in second in just about every match. This was my mistake.

Fast forward about five years, to an IDPA club in east Texas. I was still fast enough to get away with shooting not so well. Yes, there was an added penalty for a complete miss that wasn’t there in the Alabama club. But I still did well. I was shooting against some professionals – a couple of Border Patrol agents and some Texas DPS Troopers – and I usually managed to at least be the high amateur. So I settled for faster scores with poorer shooting, and I told myself that was good. My mistake continued.

The Truth

Now, I was faced with the Truth – I can’t shoot badly fast enough to win. So I concentrated on shooting better. In the past two years I’ve learned my about sight alignment and trigger control than I ever knew before. And my shooting scores have improved.

But, I can’t move as fast as I did, and it’s killing my overall scores.

I won’t re-post the video of me shooting the same stage as Dave Sevigny in USPSA, but it’s there in black and white. Dave shot the stage in 28 seconds and I shot it in 63 seconds. That means he could have started over again, and still beat me.

Now, the good side to this is, as I said, my shooting scores have improved. Dave had 174 points and I had 162, right in the middle of the pack. Looking at the other stages, and all 67 competitors, my shooting was in the middle, definitely C Class. But, over the last 20 years I’ve gained weight and slowed down, and that will keep me in D or worse.

And, I need to face it – if I am in a life and death struggle today, I probably won’t survive, because I’m so out of shape and overweight. I’ve been telling myself that I can survive on shooting skills or survival preparations, but that’s not true.

The Answer

If I am ever to get any better in this sport, and if I am going to have a chance of surviving TEOTWAWKI, I have to lose weight and get in shape. And the truth is, at my age, it’s only going to get worse, without hard work.

This isn’t anything new. I’ve been saying the same thing for a long time. My doctors have been saying the same thing for a long time. I would go on a diet and exercise program that was successful for a while, but only as long as I kept it up. Then the old habits would come back.

So I write this today, not to moan and complain, but to get it in black and white. I have to change my lifestyle, if I am going to get better. If I am going to live.

The Shift

I have a plan*, and over the next few months and years I’m going to share my progress, my ideas, my successes, and my failures.

I admit I was reluctant to do this publicly on my blog. But if I am going to succeed I need motivation and support, and maybe this is where I will find it. So, here it is.

* The Plan.

It’s a radical plan my doctor suggested. I suspect he got it from some shady website, maybe a late night infomercial. It has 2 crucial steps, and it scares me, but I’m going to try it.

1. Eat less.

2. Exercise.

I know, it’s radical. Wish me luck.