Podcast Review – When The Balloon Goes Up!


Ron Larimer has taken the When The Balloon Goes Up brand to another level, with a new podcast. They have produced 3 so far, and I am impressed.

It’s a good entry to the podcast galaxy, not too long, and not too short. It’s a great mix of interviews, shooting news, and reviews. Ron is the host, and brings in people to help and interview, like Ben Stoeger and Julie Golob.

Each show is only about 20 minutes, and I find it fills a gap in my rotation. I leave the longer shows for car commutes, but this one fits in well in a lunch time, or short commute.

Give the show a listen, and let me know what you think.

Thoughts on My Goals in Competition

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I was running the leaf blower to get the yard clean before having guests on the holiday, while listening to Walt White’s podcast Shooting the Breeze. In a recent episode Walt shared that his strategy in IDPA competition is to shoot as accurately as possible, giving preference to accuracy over speed if necessary.

Yard work generally inspires deep thought, because, really, what else is there to do? So, this got me to thinking about my own strategy in competition, and I had to admit that, despite many attempts to change it, mine was exactly the opposite. That is, I shoot as fast as I can, being willing to give up accuracy for speed.

I know exactly where this started. When I first began to compete, at the Marengo County Shooting Club in Demopolis, Alabama, the club used a simple formula to calculate scores, which was total hit value divided by time. Unlike USPSA, IDPA, and GSSF, there was no penalty for misses per se, except that one got no value for the shot. I soon realized that I could win by shooting as fast as I could, since the difference between a 10 and an 8 was more than made up by the faster score.

Now, over the years I have vowed to improve my accuracy and give up the faster speed, only to find that absolute accuracy eludes me. D’s and misses still infest my scorecard, and I don’t like it.


Beyond that, this got me to thinking about competition in general, and, eventually, to the Grand Question of competition: Why do I compete?

The obvious answer is that it improves my shooting and increases my chances of prevailing in a gunfight, should the time ever come. In fact, this lies at the heart of why the major shooting sports organizations  IPSC, USPSA, and IDPA, were created in the first place.

So, going deeper, how exactly does it increase my chances of prevailing? How am I a better shooter?

And that’s when I got a shudder. Can I prevail by shooting as fast a possible, just as long as I get hits?

I doubt it.

In fact, I ran across this observation by Lt. Colonel Jeff Cooper that eventually confirms the correctness of Walt’s strategy over mine:

Anyone who studies the matter will reach the conclusion that good marksmanship, per se, is not the key to successful gunfighting. The marksmanship problem posed in a streetfight is ordinarily pretty elementary. What is necessary, however, is the absolute assurance on the part of the shooter that he can hit what he is shooting at – absolutely without fail. Being a good shot tends to build up this confidence in the individual. Additionally, the good shot knows what is necessary on his part to obtain hits, and when the red flag flies, the concentration which he knows is necessary pushes all extraneous thinking out of his mind. He cannot let side issues such as fitness reports, political rectitude, or legal liability enter his mind. Such considerations may be heeded before the decision to make the shot is taken, and reconsidered after the ball is over; but at the time, the imperative front sight, surprise break must prevail.

Thus we have the paradox that while you almost never need to be a good shot to win a gunfight, the fact that you are a good shot may be what is necessary for you to hold the right thoughts – to the exclusion of all others – and save your life. This may come as a shock to a good many marksmanship instructors, but I have studied the matter at length and in depth, and I am satisfied with my conclusions.

According the the Colonel, Walt would stand a better chance of prevailing because his devotion to good hits, and knowing what it takes to make them, is superior to my practice of settling for a lesser hit, faster. This is not because Walt’s hits would be more fatal than mine. It is more because, in the heat of the fight, Walt’s concentration on what it takes to make a good shot would give him the concentration to see the fight through to the end, while my strategy would leave a crack, however slight, that might cause my concentration to falter, with bad results.


So, I know now that I must, at last, get serious about marksmanship and accuracy. My life may some day depend on it.

And, who knows, my competitive scores may even improve.

My Week in Podcasts

I started listening to podcasts in my commuting time about three years ago, when I decided the cost of satellite radio had outstripped its usefulness. At that time, I found only two worth listening to, GunTalk and Downrange Radio, and I still listen to them.
It’s been a while since I reviewed any podcasts, and for that I apologize. I do listen to quite a few regularly, and you can read the reviews I’ve written by searching the label “podcast.” Any time I hear of a new gun podcast, I try to give it a go for at least 3 or 4 episodes.
My attitude on podcasts is simple – I listen to get information about guns and shooting, and I listen to be entertained. Naturally, some podcasts resonate with me and some don’t. After a while, I stop listening to the ones I don’t get a lot out of, or that just don’t click with me, or that irritate me.  So, if you read about a podcast here, know that it’s one that I listen to, and enjoy.
Having said that, around the first of the year I started listening to Shooting the Breeze with Walt White. I’ve been remiss in not writing a full review, but I plan to fix that in the near future. Suffice it to say that I like his podcast a lot, and not just because he references my stuff. Walt and I have a lot of similar interests and background, so he talks about things I am interested in.  Look for the review soon.

I also have half a review written on Julie Golob’s podcast. Look for a review of it soon as well.

Some podcasts come out on a regular basis, pretty much the same day of the week every time, and some come out either less frequently or on a sporadic basis. The latter shows I refer to as Free Agents, and I use them to fill in when the Regulars are gone.
Here is what my typical podcast week looks like. Note that the links are to the respective home websites of the podcasts. All of these are also available on iTunes, and most are on the Gun Rights Radio Network.

GunTalk with Tom Gresham in the morning. I don’t always get through all three hours of it, but I save some for weekend chores and fill ins.
The RoadGunner podcast with the Unknown Trucker in the evening. He once referred to my review of his podcast as “the greatest blog post ever written.”  Gosh . . . .
Gun Dudes in the morning. If you have a high tolerance for hijinks, this is a great show. These guys are serious about having fun shooting. They do tend to fool around a bit, and there are quite a few inside jokes, but I like the show.
The Power Factor Show in the evening. This is a video podcast with Steve, Rick, and Caleb, and it focuses on IDPA and USPSA shooting, with shotgun sports thrown in. I listen to the audio portion only. This is a little confusing at times but it’s still a good show. This is not a podcast for new shooters – you have to know your shooting and guns, because they do, and they assume you do.

Downrange Radio with Michael Bane in the morning. This is, to me, the daddy of them all. Michael produces the shooting shows on the Outdoors Channel, and has been a music critic and adventure sports writer, among many other careers.
That’s Walt. He doesn’t have a logo.
Shooting the Breeze with Walt White in the evening. This is actually a video podcast, but I only do the audio version. Walt reviews cigars as well as shooting and competition. He sometimes refers to this blog. But he’s still a good podcaster.
Handgun World with Bob Mayne in the morning. Bob is a salesman who travels throughout central Texas, shooting and talking about it. He shoots IDPA and describes it well.
Free Agent in the evening.

Friday is Makeup Day. I will either finish a podcast I’ve started, or listen to a Free Agent. Sometimes I find a new podcast and give it a try. Who knows, I’ve added some before.
These podcasts are irregular, but I listen to each episode when it comes out. (These are in alphabetical order.)
Empty Mags from JP. JP hasn’t put out a new episode in a while, but his slot is still open.

The Gun Runner Podcast, with Ryan Rocquin. Ryan is a former Marine and does an almost-daily podcast. I admit I can’t listen to them all, but he is in the rotation.

Gunsmithing Radio with Fred Zeglin. This podcast comes out as Fred has topics to discuss. I leave them all on the iPod so I can go back and review them as I get Free Agent spots open. On the Fast mode on the iPod they take about 30 minutes so I can always find time

Julie Golob’s Podcast. She’s new to the podcast gig, but not to shooting. The reigning Ladies Bianchi Cup and Ladies USPSA Single Stack Champion, among a zillion other titles, Julie has been doing a podcast on competitive shooting since early this year. Her monthly podcast is a mix of interviews, how-to’s and reviews.

The Rimfire Podcast with Ken Kowalski. Ken is currently deployed in Afghanistan and that doesn’t let him be as regular in posting as he could be, but we’ll let that slide.
The New Shooter Podcast with Nick. Nick covers a lot of stuff for a new shooter, like competition and different kinds of guns. Maybe he meant New . . .  Shooter-podcast.
The Urban Shooter Podcast,  with pastor Ken Blanchard. I’ve met Ken and he is a great guy to visit with, and a great shooter. Ken covers shooting, rights, life, music, and zombies.
As always, if you know of a shooting podcast that I should try out, please leave a comment. I’d also like to know what you think of these shows.
Should I start a podcast? Maybe record them during the Friday commute? Hmmm . . . .

Kindred Spirit

Photo courtesy of Walt in PA
Over the past few months, Walt White over at Walt in PA has been blogging extensively about his USPSA shooting experience. In fact, he and I have corresponded a lot recently, via email and Twitter, so I thought, if my readers like my stuff, they should go check out his.
He’s gone from an unclassified shooter last year to becoming a C Class Production shooter. I’m D Class, in Production.
He shoots a Glock 17. I shoot a Glock 17.
He makes video of his matches. I make video of my matches. (His are a lot better. I covet his head-cam.)
He’s a architectural designer-drafter by trade. I’m a recovering engineer turned headhunter.
We have a lot in common.
Even our approach to shooting is similar. Take a recent post he had about his goals for shooting USPSA. Good stuff.
Go check him out, and while you’re at it, subscribe to his podcast on iTunes* and follow him on Twitter.
* Sorry, I don’t have the doohickey that does that. But go to iTunes and search for “Walt in PA.” You’re a grown-up.

Great Detailed Match Report from Walt in PA

This isn’t Walt, he does this a lot better.

I’m a little behind in my blog reading and podcast listening, but with the warm weather this weekend, I got to do a lot of yard work, and, thanks to noise-cancelling ear buds, catch up some on the podcasts.

In his most recent podcast, Walt White at Walt in PA talked about his first USPSA match of the year, and that led me to the collection of videos and stage debriefings on his blog.

I am a fiend for good descriptions of stages and how they are shot – visualization, planning, and the actual “Red Haze” shooting of the stage, and Walt really delivered. Check out the hat-cam video Walt provides. Coupled with his insightful and no-holds-barred self examination, I found it a really great read.

I am almost convinced that Walt and I are separated at birth. He doesn’t cut himself much slack in reviewing his performance, and neither do I.

On a related note, one of the other podcasts I listened to was Episode 254 of Down Range Radio with Michael Bane. Michael has been competing as long as there have been competitions, and this episode he talked about Winter Range, the big Cowboy Action Shooting match. He didn’t do as well as he thought he should have, or could have, either.

But he talked a lot about how the top shooters are able to shake off a bad stage, and go on to the next stage. Without that ability, they could easily let a poor performance take down their whole match.

I’ve been looking into this concept some, and I plan to write about it some more in the near future. In the meantime, I will take away the good and try to learn from the not-so-good.

A New Look at Empty Mags

I may be late to the party, but check out the newly re-branded EmptyMags blog.

JP was one of the first gun bloggers to welcome me to the fold. He’s been a great source of information and entertainment both on his blog Eyes Never Closed, and on the Twitter.

He recently started the Empty Mags Podcast, and has now combined those efforts into a unified website. I’m glad – this will give me one place to go. Believe it or not, I try to read all those blogs listed on the right side at least once a week, many daily.

Podcast of the Week – The RoadGunner

The Un-Named Trucker (r) and some other up and coming gun guy.
Photo courtesy of the Un-Named Trucker

Okay, I admit I am probably the last gun guy in America to discover the RoadGunner Podcast. But I’m here now, and that’s what counts.

Over the last year my gun podcast repertoire has expanded to cover the 30 plus mile commute that I face twice a day. I have gotten to where I listen to music maybe two or three afternoons, but beyond that my drive is taken up.

I started hearing about this new podcast called the RoadGunner, hosted by an over the road trucker. Okay. I’ve known a few over the road truckers in my time, so in my mind, this was a wonderful podcast full of stories of duck hunting and hog hunting and deer hunting and squirrel hunting and coyote hunting. I am not a hunter. So I held off.

Man, was I wrong.

After the Gun Dudes hosted Mas Ayoob’s MAG40 class out in Utah, they started talking about what a good guy this new podcaster was. He goes by the name The Un-Named Trucker, because he’s a trucker and he prefers to remain unnamed. He drives an over the road big rig, for a company whose policies prevent him from carrying a firearm for protection. I understand completely.

The man has a gift for talking about guns and shooting and self defense, as well as just about every other topic. This is understandable, since a trucker’s life is spent behind the wheel, and he has ample time to work out not only the solutions to all the world’s problems, but effective and memorable ways to express them. He records his show while driving through the lower 47 states of America. He doesn’t visit New Jersey.

From his first show, this podcast has not failed to entertain and inform. Since he visits so many places, he’s become an expert of sorts in the gun laws of the various states and locales. He knows where all the good gun ranges are, and, like any trucker, he knows where the best food is, so he includes a food review of some kind in every episode.

He is also a very good interviewer, and he uses that skill in a lot of the episodes. His interviews are very conversational, and I imagine this flows well from a trucker’s natural skills – someone who spends almost all his day in the cab of a truck would probably be a very good conversationalist once he got to talk to someone in person.

Since I am late to the party, I am going back and listening to the old shows. The RoadGunner Podcast is published every weekend (again, this makes sense, since this is when a trucker is home the most) so I can fit it into my schedule any day. This is definitely a welcome addition to my weekly rota.

The RoadGunner podcast is a member of the Gun Rights Radio Network, and is available for subscription on iTunes.