Moving while shooting drill

An impromptu day at the range. Me andone of the LMI figured we'd head to the range and practice moving-while-shooting drills. Since the crux of the matter is being able to move while hitting the target, we figured we could practice this cheaply with the .22 rifles since using the .223 or 7.62×39 would be more expensive and not really make any difference.

It was very simple..theres some steel tanks hanging at the end of the fifty yard range. Walk towards them while keeping your sights steady and youre dumping lead downrange. Then start walking to the side. Then backwards. Then to the side. When done you'll have walked a box-shaped path all the while firing and, hopefully, hitting your target. Good practice.

Radio activity, Florida hurricane, flu musings,

The girlfriend has a loaner radio from her ham club. We need to set up an antanae for it and since we were going to be doing that I figured I'd pull my radio out of storage and hook it up as well since both radios operate on the same frequencies (Mine is an RCI-2950dx…noted for its 'modificationability'). For the antanae, its going to be a simple and cheap dipole for now since, well, I'm cheap.So we'll do the math to determine optimal length, cut the antanae, connect it to the insulator, plug in the coax, set up the SWR meter, and, maybe, get the bloody thing working. Pictures? Maybe, if I can remember.

It has, however, come to my attention that I need to pick up a battery charger for the 12 volt marine battery I keep on hand to power this thing in a blackout. One BatteryBuddy added to my list…
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God. Hates. Florida.

One of the cuties on my friends list  rode out the hurricane in grand style….steel sheeting over the windows, generator and fuel, thundertoys, and she seems to have weathered it just fine. I'd love to post some of her pics but I gotta clear it with her first. However, she gets major Zero points for being ready and prepared. Coolest thing? She has no water pressure at the moment but she does have a full swimming pool…niiiiiiice. Why is that cool? Because, my friend, you then have several thousand gallons of chlorinated water to bathe and wash with…and flush toilets. Even with a some minor hurricane debris like a lawn chair or some shingles in there, as long as you dont have the neighbors dog floating belly up it should be fine for non-potable uses. And a hot bath is a fine non-potable use.
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Bird flu. Hmmmm. As I read it, the situation is thus – an extremely virulent strain of flu is infecting birds across Asia and is now showing up in Europe. Migratory and wild birds are transmitting it to domestic birds. The concern is when/if the flu mutates to a version that jumps from birds to human.

The great flu pandemic of 1917 (I think thats the right year) was the last time we saw such a beastie. My grandmothers sister died in that one. There were stories, some more true than others, of rail/trolley cars starting with a load of healthy people and finishing the route with a load of corpses. The advent of modern air travel certainly would make the likelihood of infection spreading faster even greater. Not much you can do for it except be prepared to isolate yourself from other people. Might be a good idea to practice the most basic precaution against any infectious disease: soap and water. And for the love of Crom dont put your hands near your face after touching money, a doorknob, a telephone or anything else that a hundred wheezing, mucous-dripping people may have already touched. Buy the yuppie bottle of hand sanitizer and use it.

Is a government enforced quarantine a likely course of action in this case? The current administration seems to be thinking it is. Now, think about this…when the government says “Everyone MUST leave.” like in Hurricane Katrina, what happened? Right. So when the .gov says “Everyone MUST stay.” what do you think is going to happen. Uh-huh.

Hand sanitizer, soap, bleach, repeat.
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This is more personal politics than preparedness but….if you have one of those Big Brother neighborhood watch cameras monitoring your neighborhood you should know that paintball guns are readily available from a myriad of sources. That is all.
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Gasoline, guest sheeple, lightsticks, Mythbusters and experiments

Local gas prices are down about $0.35 from their high of almost $3 a few months ago. The prices are still, to me, high but then I've probably been spoiled in terms of gasoline prices. If you think that gas prices are unfairly high the solution is to either reduce your usage or use it more wisely. Seems cut and dried to me.

Anyway… the whole experience, which may very well be repeated in the future, certainly illustrated a bottleneck in our society…fuel availability. The preparedness experts have always said that in a major crisis fuel stations would be either unable to operate due to power concerns, out of gas, or rationed. We saw all of that in Texas and Luisiana this summer, so it went from being paranoid-theory-by-a-doomsaying-nutjob to hard fact. Shrug. I learned a lesson from it….stored fuel, treated for long-term storage, stored in a good container, and rotated on a schedule is just as important as all those cases of MRE's and AK ammo. I'd already known that fuel was important, but this reinforced it to a rpeviously unheard of degree. Even those of us who know to store fuel are, I bet, learning some lessons….like you can never have too much, that some containers are better than others, that people will be desperate when their tank guage reads 'E' and theres a 3/4 mile long line at the pump.

I think it was Frankilin who said something along the lines that experience was an expensive (or dear) school but some will learn at no other.

Me, I learn.
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A post over in the survivalist community asked what to do when the Big Day occurs and your relatives or firends who always said “Disaster? Heck, Im just going to come over and stay with you! Heh heh!” actually show up on your doorstep expecting to be able to take advantage of your farsightedness.

Tough call.

I don't have to worry about it because with one exception I dont have any friends who aren't into preparedness…at least, none that are close enough to actually come by. Now, I do have friends who are not as prepared as I, and I have some who are more prepared than I, but short of a catastrophic loss on their part none of them would show up without supplies. Of course, theres always simply not being home when the hordes come a-knocking…simply be at your #2 location…although for many of us that isnt a real choice yet.

I suppose, if it isnt too late, you simply keep your mouth shut and not let anyone know just how prepared you are. If its too late, well, then you either pretend youre not home or you start making some tough choices.
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I need to head up to CostCo and see if they have their annual Halloween cyalume lightstick package for sale….although it wouldnt surprise me if the lightstick manufacturers are dedicating their output to disaster relief efforts..after all, thats where the money is.
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Hats off to the Discovery channels 'Mythbusters' program. In the past, theyve experimented with some myths that have use to me… can you blow up a car by shooting into the gas tank? (nope) Will diving underwater save you from gunfire (yes..if your at more than 3' under) and that sort of thing. Latest episode I saw had them firing a .50 BMG into a swimming pool to see what happens. Surprisingly, the bullet failed to reach the bottom of the pool…instead, like every other high velocity bullet, it immediately started breaking up when it hit the water.

Box O' Truth (linked to in an earlier post) also did some even more impressive tests against bulletresistant glass and sandbags. The sandbag one was quite eye-opening and I reccomend it highly. It basically showd that a stacj of sandbags makes you impervious to most small arms fire…good to know.

Economics of reloading

Im always surprised when someone tells me what a staggering good deal on ammo they got and the price, to me, seems rather high. The reason for this is because I do alot of reloading on my own and Im amazed more poeple don't. Yeah, theres a time element involved (which is mitigated if youre willing to pop a few hundred bucks for a top notch progressive press like the Dillon) but alot of times the savings are worth it.

Lets crunch some numbers…

Constants:
Powder is $18.00/# which comes out to $0.0025714 per grain
Primers are $17.50/1000, or $0.0175 each
We'll assume you have been saving your fired brass

9mm 115 gr. FMJ:
Bullets – $47.25/1000 or $0.04725 per bullet. We'll use 5.0 gr. of powder, or .$0.0128 worth.
Total cost for a cartridge: $0.07755, or $3.88 per 50 rounds.

Not bad, but 9mm is cheap enough to buy that you may as well not bother reloading for it (unless youre after some sort of exotic velocity or bullet).

.45 ACP, on the other hand, is never cheap…
Bullets – $85.80 or $0.0858 per 230 gr. FMJ bullet. We'll use 7.6 grains of powder, or $0.0195 worth.
Total cost for a cartridge: $0.1228, or $6.14 per 50 rounds.

The real savings is in the high end stuff…take, for example, a .30-06
Bullets – $98.70 for some 150 gr. Rem. soft points. $0.0987 per bullet. We'll use 52.5 grains of powder, or $0.1349 worth.
Total cost for a cartridge: $0.2511, or $5.02 per 20 rounds.

ANd, if youre one of the belted magnum guys, the .300 Win. Mag.:
Same bullet as the .30-06. 60 grains of powder, or $0.1542 worth.
Total cost for a cartridge: $0.2704 or $5.41 per 20 rounds.

.357 Magnum? (158 gr JHP)
Bullets – $64.45 or $0.06445 per bullet. We'll use 14 grains of powder, or $0.0385 worth.
Total cost for a cartridge: $0.1204 or $6.02 per 50 rounds.

“But Commander”, I hear you cry, “Who has the several hundred dollars necessary to buy the gear to get started?”
Fool! Only the weak and liberal democrats pay more than they have to!
You can get a decent setup from the folks at Lee for less than a hundred bucks. Not the best gear in the world, but it would load pistol ammo for you all day long on a single stage press. If you shoot .45 ACP at normally $10.99 a box you could pay for the setup within 21 boxes (1050 rounds)

If you dont mind spending a bunch more, RCBS makes a very good setup for about $300~.

Finally, the Dillon 550B or even the Square Deal are great for churning out lotsa ammo in a hurry.

Reloading is like any other hobby, you have to learn a few things but if youre worried about blowing yourself up you've got a very melodramatic idea of whats involved. If you can follow a recipe, you can reload. Guys alot stupider than you, and with worse equipment, have done it for years.

However, Im of the mind that you still need factory ammo. Why? Couple reasons. First of all, no matter how much experience I have and no matter how good I am at reloading, I'm going to feel a bit more comfortable with quality commercially loaded ammo (and that means Win., Rem., Fed., etc….not Texas Discount Reloads). Secondly, if, for whatever reason, I have to use ammo for trading I am going to be far more likely to take quality 'name-brand' commercial ammo than suspect reloads…and that works both ways – a fella is more likely to take a sealed box of factory ammo from me in trade than a drawstring bag filled with mixed-headstamp .223 reloads. Really, its a perception thing.

One other aspect to reloading thats worth considering if you dont already reload is the versatility. For example,

  • you can reload subsonic ammo for your supressed toys. 
  • You can reload ammo in a configuration that is not normally served by the factories (example, you have a 98 Mauser in 8mm but want to shoot a subsonic lead roundball for whacking squirrels). 
  • You can make armour piercing or tracer ammo in a non-standard caliber (somewhat illegal, mind you. However, you'd have the ability to pull the bullet from a perfectly legal round of .30-06 M2 AP ammo and reload that bullet into your .300 Ultramag whcih would give you some hideously nasty penetrative power. Seen it done with a .300 H&H…drilled a hole through about 1″ of steel plate.) This will also work with pulling steelcored bullets from .223 SS109 and dropping them in your .22-250 or [shudder] .220 Swift.
  • One more thing to think about, and this is for all of us tinfoil-beanie crowd… when they change the laws to require you to sign for ammo, or tax it to the point of unaffordability, or regulate the caliber/bullet you can use (which is already done in some places), or make it unavailable at all (as done in CA during the LA riots) you will be able to churn out whatever ammo you need free from intrusive .gov snooping.

Suggestions:
Lee Anniversary Kit – $100~
RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Reloading Kit –

Asia quake, surplus arrival and impressions, portability musings,

Its a tragedy, this earthquake that theyve had in Asia, but you know what? If we're going to be spending money on humanitarian aid to dark skinned poor disaster victims then they should be Americans…get this New Orleans mess put away before you start rushing to a foreign disaster.
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Surplus goodies from Cheaper Than Dirt arrived. w00t!

Vinyl Mittens at $0.99 per six pair – Just what you'd expect. Unlined vinyl mittens. Theyve a wrist gather to keep cold out and the gauntlets go halfway up to my elbow. For bicycling or motorcycling in wet/cold these would be a good deal. Coupled with a set of GI wool mitten/glove liners they should be great. Since they are a lousy sixteen cents per pair I'll put a pair in my cold weather bag, the 's cold weather bag, an extra set to keep at work, a set to keep in the truck, and a bunch for storage. And, because I'm a sweetheart and can spare ninety-nine cents, a half dozen pair to one of the LMI. These are worth $0.99 for a half dozen pair and if you ever have occaison to have your hands out in windy, wet, cold weather your really gonna think they were worth the sixteen cents when you luck out and find the pair you stashed in the glovebox.

HK G3 Mag Pouches – Again, $0.99 ea. Sure enough, they hold a FAL mag like they were made for 'em. And, considering the history of W. Germany's armaments, they may well have been. (For a while W. Germany used a FAL variant.) These are uber-heavy-duty rubber/vinyl pouches. Completely silent, rattle-free and wth belt slots. Appears to be impervious to wet, cold, rot, mold, and everything except plastic-melting temperatures. Holds FAL and HK mags and I will bet they'll hold M1A mags as well. At $0.99 how can you go wrong??

Czech medic/firstaid bag, $9.99 – Eh. Not enough pockets. Construction is good…its a heavy burlap/canvas type fabric with stiffening panels on the sides. Might be good for re-enactments. I'm gonna strip the red cross patch off and use it as a carrybag for range gear. Might be good in its original role if you dont expect much but I can get a better organizer for a little bit more out of Outdoor Research. However, as a carrybag for cleaning gear, shooting stuff, small tools, etc, etc, it would be fine. Mild disappointment. Probably an improvement over the craptacular Blackhawk Medic Supply Roll, though.
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From the standpoint of those of interested in preparedness, the second half of 2005 has been the most interesting and analyzed period of time sine September of 2001. Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the bird flu threat, soaring gasoline prices, etc. have given people alot to think about. It certainly has restructured some of my priorities…how so? Well, I used to put food and ammo at the top of the list of things to stock up on..but now fuel is right up there, if not at #1 easily in the top 3. Its also reinforced my belief that a certain amount of portability of your gear is absolutely mandatory. While its great to be able to remain in place with all your gear and ride out whatever the disruption is, the evidence from Katrina and Rita clearly show that you need to be ready to get out in a hurry. Getting out in a hurry means being able to grab your essential gear and run like hell. Tough to do if youre wheeling around 55-gallon drums and footlockers. Storing everything in man-portable, durable, travel-capable containers makes more sense and I need to make sure that my gear is, in fact, stored in such a manner as to facilitate that. Imagine the classic 'bucket brigade' of a several people passing boxes to each other from a building to a waiting truck (or vice versa)…thats exactly the level of portability I want. Something that can be maneuvered quickly and easily into a waiting vehicle.

Of course, this is not to say that there isnt a place for larger 'static' stores. It may be more prudent to do both – keep some gear in smaller, more manageable units and keep other gear in larger, stay-in-place units. If youre staying out, you can use both and if you have to leave in a major hurry you can grab the portable stuff and least not be without resources.

Of course, this also depends on how much time you think youre going to have to pack. For 'appointment' disasters like hurricanes, blizzards and that sort of thing you have hours, even days, of warning. More sudden disasters like earthquakes, terrorist attacks, chemical spills, etc, obviously give you alot less time…in the case of earthquakes, no warning.

One of the LMI has a fairly clever set up. He has a two car garage where he keeps his big Ford truck. Theres a shelf that runs along the wall of the garage right above the roll up door. He keeps large bins full of his gear up there. To leave in a hurry he just stands in the back of the bed of his truck and pulls bins off the shelf to land at his feet in the bed of truck. Elegant. I've read of people using duct tape or masking tape to make an outline on the floor of their garage to the approximate dimensions of their pickup bed or trailer so they can practice arranging gear for the most efficient loading…or, if youre hardcore, you could get a few refrigerator cartons and cut/tape a 3-d representation of your available cargo space. If you cant fit it all in the box, its time to rethink your choices.

Of course, if youve got a secondary location to retreat to you could just store enough gear at your primary location for the immediate need and keep the majority of your gear at your secured secondary location. A nice plan if you can swing it.

Link – Power company cowboys

A very cool story out of the hurricanes…regional power companies that showed remarkable innovation and perserverance.

As an electrical power company what do you do when your fleet of trucks needs diesel and its in short supply? Why, you head over to a local refinery and pipeline and say 'Hey, we can get your power back on if you'll give us a supply of diesel.'

Freakin' brilliant.

Great story – read it here.