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June 5, 2012 / 1911ryan

Shooting on public land

All of my recent posts, if you’ve noticed, are blogs about various shooting activities on private ranges either in San Diego Area or L.A. area. I’m originally from Oklahoma, I grew up in Oklahoma and Missouri and I had never visited a private range until I moved to North Carolina. And I shot quite a bit as I was growing up. We always had access to either private land or public ranges which were maintained by the city or county. The private land was usually owned by a friend of the family and located far enough away from anything to make it safe to shoot. The public range in Columbia Missouri where I used to shoot doesn’t appear to be around any more but Missouri still has several shooting facilities run by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

California, on the other hand, at least southern California, does not offer the same facilities for shooting, whether it be private property or public land. The problem with private property, while it is entirely possible to know someone who will let you shoot on their land, is that most land is so densely populated that it isn’t safe to shoot often times. As for the public ranges, California does not offer such a service, at least not the CA Department of Conservation.

In an attempt to find a free and legal place to shoot I contacted the Bureau of Land Management. I wrote them an email and asked if there were any places on BLM land to shoot in the L.A. area. The BLM office I contacted was the Palm Springs field office which includes LA and surrounding areas. I received a quick and dissapointing reply. “The Palm Springs Field Office has no officially designated recreational shooting ranges within our jurisdiction, which includes LA, Orange, Riverside and much of San Diego County.  Due to the population density and the lack of suitable public lands in these areas, you will have to travel to find suitable locations for target shooting on BLM or other public lands.”

While many shooters in online forums will talk about places to shoot o BLM land or in the desert it is always best to ask and find out the proper laws. If you don’t research first, at best you can be asked to leave by authorities, at worst you will be arrested and have your guns confiscated. Or even worse, you could endanger or cause harm to residents that may live beyond sight but within the traveling distance of a projectile. Don’t forget, some bullets can travel over 2 miles and still be lethal.

So shooter beware, be safe, be legal be conscientious.

June 2, 2012 / 1911ryan

IDPA: The Self Defense Sport

Today I am going to post a series of videos. These videos are of myself shooting an IDPA match at Lemon Grove Gun Club in Alpine California and some videos from Youtube for comparative purposes. I would like to show the difference between IDPA and IPSC as it may not be evident to many viewers. IDPA is an acronym for International Defensive Pistol Association. The point of IDPA, as the website reports is” The main goal is to test the skill and ability of the individual, not the equipment or gamesmanship.” (idpa.com) This sport was created in contrast to IPSC or International Practical Shooting Confederation. IPSC’s mission, which is much longer than IDPA’s, is basically to maintain regularity and perpetuate the sport of practical Shooting sports. “Practical” shooting, as the IPSC website says, differs from the IDPA style of shooting by promoting sport versus real world applications. Lets watch and IPSC and IDPA demonstration and I will explain. This video has been borrowed from Chade2112 on Youtube.

IPSC Video

Next watch this video of an IDPA demonstration. Yes, the slow guy shooting is me.

IDPA Video

In the IPSC video, the shooter is moving from point to point without regard to cover. The idea is to hit all the targets as fast as possible. So the shooter moves from one engagement area to the next considering only the shortest distance, fastest engagement patterns and reload plans. By reload plans I mean the plan for making sure you don’t run out of ammo at an in opportune time. If your low on ammo, it is best to reload while your moving and not engaging targets. You don’t want to reload while your in the middle of shooting.

In the IDPA video, the shooter is wearing a cover garment, which would be worn by a citizen who is carrying a concealed weapon and the shooter seeks cover when possible. The idea here is to mimic a real world environment as closely as possible. Rather than going purely for speed as in the IPSC competitions, IDPA incorporates true combat consideration into the rules. IDPA is a competition that fosters good personal defense habits and skills. So it more than a sport really. IDPA is a gathering of people who have fun competing while learning to be effective defenders.

Lets see another video of IPSC as a purely completive sport.

IPSC Open Race Gun

Here, maybe you can see that the shooters gun has sights on it. It also has a host of other upgrades including a recoil compensator on the end of the barrel, all of which assist in the speed of the pistol, none of which would be used on a self defense pistol.

I hope I have helped to illustrate some of the differences between the two shooting sports. I try not to be biased about either but I do see benefits of both. IPSC can foster a safe shooting environment and safe practices while popularizing shooting sports. I believe that IDPA does all of that and helps reinforce good self defense habits. That’s why I shoot IDPA

May 7, 2012 / 1911ryan

Lessons Learned in Firearms Safety

Last Saturday, April 28th, I became a casualty of my own carelessness. While shooting an IDPA match at the Lemon Grove Gun Club I suffered hearing damage after forgetting to replace my hearing protection before a string of fire.

The use of hearing protection is paramount when firing any kind of firearm indoors or outdoors. The problem with most earplugs and earmuffs is that they do their job very well. It is hard to communicate while one is wearing the personal protection equipment. I had removed my earplugs to engage in a conversation between my events and when it came my turn again, I was caught off guard since I was not paying attention to the lineup and when I commenced firing I immediately knew that I had made a mistake. The real problem is that I kept making mistakes after the initial incident. My course of fire was from inside the cab of a pickup truck. The purpose of IDPA is to practice self-defense shooting within a competitive and safely controlled environment hence being inside the vehicle. Consequently shooting from inside of a vehicle multiplies the percussion of the weapon and made for a very painful few seconds. After firing the first shot I realized my mistake but I didn’t want to stop the match due to my unfounded fear that I would lose my chance to reshoot the string. I kept firing, and each shot was a terrible torture that felt like I was poking my brain with a pointy stick!

The point to take from my idiotic incident is to pay attention at all times while engaging with firearms. This is a perfect example how complacency will get you hurt. I wasn’t paying attention because I wasn’t actually handling a firearm. I thought that since it wasn’t my turn I could let my guard down. Wrong! In order to maintain the level of safety within a shooting environment every parson must be constantly vigilant in regards to safety. If I had done my job I never would have removed my earplugs on a range, no matter how far from the line i was. If my peers would have done their job they would have corrected me before allowing me to proceed, harshly no less.

I hope that my idiocy will serve as a lesson to you all, I know it will for me! Stay safe and go shoot. -Ryan

May 1, 2012 / 1911ryan

Unsafe Range Practices

This last weekend, on the 21st of April 2012, I went to another shooting range. This time I was in Pasadena California and I wanted to try out a range that I had not been to before. The Angeles Shooting Ranges offer an impressive array of target shooting options from automated clay machines, steel pistol and light rifle targets and 600 yard long distance ranges. The thing that really drew me were the steel targets, which are a down right hoot to shoot. They’re reactive, as in they move and make sounds when you hit them. They have lines of the steel set up at, I think, 35 yards, 50 yards and 100 yards. Hitting a target at 100 yards with a pistol is tough business but I think I got a couple of hits. The clay throwers were nice too and since I just picked up a new shotgun, it offered me the chance to get acquainted with it a little more.

When I pulled up to the range I was surprised by the large amount of cars in a very large parking lot. i have never been to a range with so many people shooting at once. I was a little sceptical at first and I wasn’t proved wrong in my hesitations. The place was like a zoo! There must have been at least twoo hundred people there, with about 100 guns being fired at the same time. All of this, while not ideal, is fine when safe range practices are observed. Now, it appears that as the number of shooters increases it becomes a little difficult to police the range and make sure everyone is following safe range practices.

The first problem that I noticed was when two young men came up beside me to shoot their pistol.  I kept an eye on them to make sure they didn’t do anything too terribly stupid, but then again, I watch everyone around me to make sure I’m in a safe environment and contributing to that same safe environment. It wasn’t long before I deduced that they did not have much experience with firearms. While one friend was filming with his iPhone, the other would pose with the pistol lowered but finger still on the trigger, this is a no-no that any knowlegeable shooter will tell you. The second issue was when they laid their pistol on the table pointing to the side with the slide closed. this is another range no-no and thankfully a neighbor shooter from the opposite side corrected them for it. This type of activity makes me very nervous when shooting at a range but that’s what cognizant safety officers are for. But there were only a few safety officer, probably enough for the amount of people but they weren’t paying attention.

The next major issue, and final blow in my mind, was the cleaning and intermediate storage practices at the range. What I mean by intermediate storage practices is this; when someone takes more than one rifle or pistol to the range, while one is being used the other is placed in a storage rack. The storage practice at this range was to lay the guns on a table with the breech open. There is a walk way behind the table and when you walk down it there are numerous guns pointed at you that you are trusting complete strangers to have unloaded and made safe. This to me is unacceptable behavior as a weapon should never be pointed at any you do not intend to destroy. Here’s an example of the table method employed by Angeles Shooting range.

Here’s an example of a safe storage rack.

This style of rack, when used with an empty chamber indicator which is a red or orange visible plastic insert placed into the chamber, is a safe way to store guns. The gun is not pointed at anyone and if there is a negligent discharge it will go into the air and not a body.

The positive thing to take from this is that I am quickly learning which ranges I prefer and which ranges I will never return to. I am very pro gun but I am more pro safety. Maybe my post hasn’t had the original intentions of my blog, to get people out and doing things since this one is scary. But I hope that this will help you to be aware of the environment around you and whether it is hiking in a desert canyon or shooting targets with your favorite .22, one must always keep safety in mind.

April 16, 2012 / 1911ryan

First Blog Post

Hello everyone and welcome to Adventures in SoCal! In the coming few weeks I will be exploring southern California in any fun and exciting ways that I can imagine and I will share it here with you. My hope in creating this blog is to not only share my experiences with you, the keen observant reader, but to motivate us both to get out and explore. Maybe you live in SoCal and aren’t sure what amazing things wait just outside for you. Maybe you live elsewhere and are just curious to see what SoCal is like. Or, maybe I can encourage you to get out and explore your own backyard. Either way, I’m excited to start the journey and see where it leads us.

Today the path took me to Lemon Grove Gun Club in beautiful Alpine California. The club hosted a sporting rifle match which provides members of the club and non-members the opportunity to practice a little distance shooting in a competitive setting. The game is advertised as a means to practice with hunting rifles, which most people only use once or twice a year and usually never fire in the field, but today I only saw military style rifles, M-14’s and AR-15’s. Either way, it was a fun and safe day at the range. I can’t say that I shot all that well but I did get to fire my rifle that has been sitting in a safe for a few years now. I figure if I own it I should shoot it.

The other really cool thing about this match is that it is a Civilian Marksmanship Program sanctioned match which means that you can buy a CMP rifle once you have shot the match and scored a satisfactory score, which is within the reach of most people with a bit of instruction. CMP is a program through which the US government sells surplus rifles. You can read more about it on their website. The point of participating in a the match to qualify for a purchase is to learn and demonstrate firearms safety and proficiency within a safe and controlled environment. I have done this match before and received the certificate but I have never purchased a rifle from CMP. I will one of these day but they seem to be going fast and they will run out. I guess I better act soon.

In about two hours we had fired four courses of fire, using about 37 rounds in all. Not a bad morning if you ask me. Lemon Grove Gun Club offers many more events for anyone interested in shooting, including pistol matches, shotgun matches and skeet/trap, rifle matches, 3 gun which includes pistol, shotty and rifles and even archery. You don’t have to be a member for all of the matches, you just pay an entry fee, today it was $10, and have a rifle, safety glasses, ear protection and ammo. So check them out if your interested and go have a great Saturday or Sunday at the range.