Sunday, April 29, 2012

Garden Visitor

Went out to check on the garden the other day and found this little guy, a red footed tortoise.  They're apparently native to South America, but have been exported as pets in the past.  Its possible this guy got out from somewhere I suppose. 

Either way, after a few pictures he ran off.  I guess he's camera shy. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Becoming an NRA Instructor

As I posted before, I spent some time recently in class to become an NRA Certified Instructor (and got these shiny patches that I'm going to show off one more time)

The NRA offers certifications in a lot of different areas, from the seemingly obvious like pistol, rifle and shotgun, to the more advanced/obscure like reloading metallic cartridges, range safety officer, and muzzle loading pistol, rifle or shotgun.  I am now certified to teach (as if you couldn't tell from the patches) home firearm safety, personal protection in the home, and basic pistol. 

Before you can become certified to teach any of the specific disciplines, you must attend Basic Instructor Training (or BIT), which basically makes sure that you're capable of getting up and speaking in front of others...something only moderately important for a teacher, right?  

Day 1 of class consisted of mostly BIT, though we started covering some of the pistol course information as well.  I really enjoyed the fact that our BIT training consisted not only of making sure we had a good grasp of basic firearms knowledge, but also covered topics such as advertising, writing a press release, checklists of "things to do" before hosting a class, etc.  For someone with no prior paid teaching under their belt, this is a helpful way for you to dip your toes into the pool, and figure out how to swim before you swan dive off the 10 foot board in that first class. 

Day 2 was the meat of our pistol course and a trip to the range which made sitting in a classroom all day worth it.  The information is pretty basic, which is good considering the pistol course is designed to introduce new shooters to pistol shooting in a safe way. 

We begin discussing the various types of pistols and actions, breaking down and explaining the components of a pistol and even a cartridge.  From there, the fundamentals of pistol shooting such as sight alignment/sight picture, proper grip, trigger pull and follow through is all discussed.  This class can take someone who is a complete novice, and turn them into a knowledgeable shooter.  

On the range we mainly were tasked with making sure we were familiar with all the various action types that may be in class, from semi autos to double and single action revolvers.  The single action revolvers were new to me, and I have to admit I prefer modern designs in both revolver and semi auto.  The grip on an old school single action revolver were a little hard to get used to for me.  They're fun to shoot and have nice triggers, but they just feel weird in my hands.  (Though I do want to get a SAA clone in .357 to pair with my lever gun just because they go together like peanut butter and jelly.) 

Day 3 was the most fun day to me because it was more advanced, dealing with home security, personal awareness, and the importance of having a plan for a home invasion.  Personal protection in the home is considered a more advanced class, so the teaching is directed towards those who already know how to shoot or may even be CHL holders, that would like to improve their in home safety knowledge and skills. 

The range session was also a lot of fun, as we got to practice shooting from different positions and behind barriers, not to mention emphasizing defensive shooting as opposed to bulls eye shooting.   Don't get me wrong, its fun to tear a tiny hole in the paper to show what a great shot you are, but knowing that you're able to bring the pistol into action quickly and be accurate enough to stop a threat is a very comforting thing and the perfect range session for a class on in home defense. 

In summary, I felt the classes were very helpful, and absolutely worth the price of admission.  Now that I am certified, I plan on teaching both NRA classes and my own classes, specializing mainly in helping introduce new shooters to pistol shooting.  I don't plan on making "quit your day job" type money, but as long as I can cover my costs regarding ammo/insurance/other expenses, I will be happy.

I'm mainly doing this because I love shooting and enjoy teaching people about things.  If I can infect others with my enthusiasm for the shooting sports, then that is X number of people who are now informed about their 2nd Amendment rights and are therefore less likely to buy the utter drivel that passes for "thinking" regarding guns from the media, the brady bunch, and the statists.  As well, they will possess the knowledge and skill to safely use their gun and enjoy shooting.  That's a win in my book any day! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Garden Update(3)

Well, I'll get around next week to writing about class.  A combination of being in class/on the range from 8am-6pm for 3 days, sleeping on an unfamiliar couch, driving to dallas and back, getting a cold, and coming home to pollen counts that have quadrupled in the past week have me feeling pretty lousy still.

In the meantime, I do have a garden update!  We have officially picked our first produce...a single strawberry.  It had a lot of flavor for a little guy though.

The garden has been overrun with grass/weeds, and we had 2 pepper plants that looked fairly dead, so we did some weeding/replanting today.  Here's hoping our new pepper plants make it longer than the others did.  We also have a cherry tomato plant that is looking stunted, but it also looks healthy so I'm going to give it another week or so.  To help it along, we went ahead and fertilized today as well.

Alright, enough yaking..picture time!

Our pepper/squash bed still over run with weeds

Cleaned up


Thursday, April 19, 2012

So how was your week?

I had a great week in Dallas getting my NRA Instructor certifications.  I slept pretty poorly on a couch for 3 days and came down with the start of a cold, so I'll blog at length about the class and what I did later because I am worn down today. 

But I did say I'd blog when I came back, so here's a quick preview of at least one cool patches.  I know its kind of childish to get excited about such things, but I was very very happy to get these.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekly Garden update (2)

No pictures, because its raining and I don't feel like getting out in it.

Tomatoes are all still looking strong.  2 of my pepper plants I'll probably wind up replanting next week.  They just never grew any and have been a sickly yellow color since they went into the ground.  Both strawberry plants are already producing fruit, so that's exciting.  Basil is coming on strong, but my other herbs have failed to grow.  3 out of 4 watermelon plants are doing alright, and I have plenty of good looking squash popping up. 

Hope everyone elses gardens are doing well.  As I said with my last post, I will be in Dallas to become an NRA certified pistol instructor next week.  Leaving tonight, and won't be posting again until at least Thursday.  Expect my thoughts on the class, and an actual garden update with pictures later next week.

Until then.....

Friday, April 13, 2012

Time for a rant

I went to the range today, to get a little more practice in before I head up to Dallas next week to certify as an NRA pistol instructor.  (I'll post more about that next week after I'm back, but don't expect a blog from Sunday-Thursday next week.).  Now, anyone who's used a public range has seen the fun variety of people you have the privilege of interacting with in such settings.  Heck, even as a firm and staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment, some of the stuff I see at public ranges makes me feel just the tiniest of a "twinge" of understanding for the Brady nutjobs, which I then purge quickly by doing a mag dump into center mass of the target with whatever pistol/rifle I'm shooting that day.

I may have to blog later about some of the absolute winners I've  seen at the range, but I'm going to try to stay on a single topic today:

A Bersa Thunder .380: NOT a good "first pistol" for Granny

Now, nothing against Bersa, or .380s, or Granny. In fact, I'm mentioning the Bersa because I saw not 1, but 2 women at the range today escorted by their proud husbands who picked out this great gun for their gal, only to watch them have a pretty dang hard time shooting it.  I think that a light .38 revolver, .380 pocket pistol of any variety, or a Desert Eagle in .50AE are about on par as far as "really bad choices for granny" go. 

I know there are people out there who's wives love their little .380 Bersa, or LCP, or .38 revolver.  That's fine, and I understand why people would like these guns.  I also think a small, snappy .380 pistol is a freaking awful choice to learn to shoot with whether you're a man, woman or child. In my mind, a .22 semi auto rifle, followed by a .22 pistol, are the only acceptable "first guns" to teach anyone to shoot well.  Their cheap cost and minimal recoil make them excellent candidates for learning how to shoot with.  That last part in bold?  Yeah it's actually far more important than the cheap cost part. 

The Bersa Thunder is a straight blowback gun, built on a polymer aluminum (hat tip to A-R of for correcting this for me) frame.  They made this thing light, with a double action first trigger pull so its an ok concealed carry choice.  Unfortunately, its lighter weight, long trigger pull and snappy recoil make it a TERRIBLE first pistol choice, especially for older women who don't have great hand strength.

 In fact, I would argue that allowing people to think granny HAS to have a pocket sized pistol, even when she's only planning on keeping it around the house, is turning people off of guns, and preventing some women from being able to effectively protect themselves.  For a woman with minimal shooting experience, I personally prefer a pistol caliber carbine, which I've blogged about before, but any rifle/shotgun is more than adequate, and easier to use than a pocket pistol for home defense, especially for people with weak hand strength and an aversion to practicing at the range.

Save your granny the sore hand and bad experience, and don't make a bad choice.  In fact, we as men shouldn't be choosing guns for the women in our lives anyway.  Try to get them interested, let them shoot a .22, offer to sign them up for a class......

but when our female loved ones are getting dressed, do we run into the closet and start telling them what they should wear?  If we're smart, the answer is a resounding NO.  The gun they choose to protect themselves should be their choice as well (though preferably in a reliable caliber/gun). 

/rant off for the day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

An ARFCOM style Dinner Picture

For anyone who's on, this picture will look...familiar.

They have a tradition over there of taking whats called "dinner pics".   A meal, presented with a knife, handgun, rifle and reloads, plus alcohol for those who drink are the bare minimum requirements.  I didn't have anything exciting or important to blog about, so I took a dinner pic of my meal tonight.

Food is as follows:  Steak is seasoned with a dry rub using paprika, chili powder, cumin, Tex Joy, kosher salt, freshly pressed garlic and brown sugar. Seasoned 3 hours before grilling, set out to room temperature 30 minutes before grilling.  Potatoes were cubed, then cooked on a skillet with Cajun seasoning and olive oil.  Tex Joy and cheese top off the broccoli. 

Guns:  A Saiga AK-47 type rifle that I converted myself, a Gen4 Glock 19, and reloads for both.

Knife: New production USMC Kabar

Drink: Jack Daniels

Extras: A ballcap from my Alma Mater, and my Aggie ring/wedding ring just to add a little something shiny to the picture.  

This rub is a keeper.  Unless the steak is being prepared specifically to pair with another dish, this rub is how I will do it from now on.  Best steak I think I've ever grilled.

Closeups of the food/my rings just because I thought it was a cool shot:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Light weight pots

We decided to add some containers to our garden this year, so we could continue growing peppers and tomatoes but add some herbs and fruit.

Saw online someone recommended filling containers partway with packing peanuts, then topping off with soil.  This way the containers are lighter, drain better, and you can actually move them around.

So far I'm rather fond of the idea, but we'll see what the first bad storm does regarding knocking things over.  Until anything like that happens, they look stable.

We purchased 2 bags of packing peanuts from Staples, at around $7 per bag, and filled all 3 containers a little over halfway with the peanuts.

We followed this up with potting soil, packing it down lightly.  A word of warning so you don't do what I did:  If you water down the soil, it will pack itself down.  If you plant immediately when the soil is at the top of the pot, once you water it down your plants are going to have a nice little 4 " rim protecting them.  If you want your plant to be higher up, water down the soil and add more a couple of times.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Garden Update

Our garden has been in the ground for a week now, so I thought it was time for a status update.

In general, things are looking pretty good.  1 watermelon plant is dead, our squash have come up, and 2 of my pepper plants are looking sickly..but its early, so I can always replant if needed.

The other addition I've made is a fence.  Some of our friends with dogs live in apartments (my wife is in school), so we make it a point to invite friends and their dogs over to take advantage of our big backyard.  Unfortunately, not all of those dogs respect the garden like our dog does, so if I want to avoid my plants being chewed on, peed and pooped on, or dug up...I have to have a fence.

Alright, enough chatter, its picture time.

Garden with the fence around it:

My squash poking their little heads out:

My 4 watermelon plants (3 looking good, one with no leaves left):

My pepper plants, showing the contrast between a healthy and sickly plant.

Next update will be about our potted herbs and strawberries and how we set up our pots this year.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Glock 19

Time for another gun post, and as promised in yesterdays teaser, its about a Glock!

This is a recent acquisition and has become my favorite gun to carry.  That's right, I drank the kool-aid....I picked up a Gen4 Glock 19.  Coming from the 1911 camp, that's a pretty sacrilegious thing to do. 

But to make up for the sacriledge slightly, I did allow my 1911 to come hang out with the 19 for a picture.

So far I think I  have around ~600 rounds through this gun.  Not a single failure of any kind, and I didn't even clean it till past the 300 round mark.  People like to call Glocks the AKs of the handgun world, and since I like and own AKs, I've been treating the 19 like an AK and have thus far been very impressed.

What I like about it:  This thing is lighter fully loaded than my 1911 is empty, carried 15+1 instead of 8+1, and has been completely error free. 

What I don't like about it: Nothing so far.  Seriously.

To be fair regarding reliability,  my 5" 1911 has never given me any trouble at all, though my 3.5" 1911 did choke up on a bad magazine a few times until I confirmed which magazine was the offender and threw it away. 

Lets talk about ease of carry: The Glock is thicker than my old 1911, and thickness matters far more than length in a carry gun. (For example, I never found my 3.5" 1911 any easier to carry than my 5" 1911.)   That being said, I only have 1 holster so far for the Glock, a Tagua leather OWB holster.  Its been so comfortable and carried so well I haven't had any interest in finding something else.  The 19 has concealed easily under just my usual wear of shorts and a tshirt (though that may also be partly due to the 30 lbs I've lost from Jan 2011 to now)

Picture to compare thickness: It honestly doesn't feel all that much thicker when carrying to me.

Either way, I really like this gun, and it has become my primary daily carry piece.  I'm now planning on eventually picking up a gen4 Glock 21, and maybe a 26 to round things out.  Yes, I enjoy the 19 that much. I drank the Kool aid.  May John Moses Browning (Inventor of the 1911 for the uninitiated) have mercy on my heathen, plastic soul.

One last picture in its OWB holster and I'm done spamming pics of it.  (For now at least).  Can ya tell I like this gun? 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lazy Mans Kabobs

I enjoy kabob style grilling.  BUT, I loathe trying to cook veggies in combination with shrimp or chicken or steak on the same skewer.  Why?  Because its like trying to time getting ready to go out on a date at the same time as your wife.  If this example, women are veggies and men are meat (read into that what you will, Freudians).  No matter how much you WANT the meat to be ready at the same time as the veggies, it will NEVER happen.  EVER.

So, because I don't like overcooked veggies or undercooked meat, I call this my Lazy Mans method of grilling on skewers.   Simply put, meat goes on one skewer, veggies on another.  I throw the veggie skewers on earlier, if I'm really good, can time throwing the meat on just right for it all to be ready at the same time.  Then, I normally just strip all the food off skewers (man, you type that word more than once and it really starts looking weird) and dump everything into a bowl.  That way, people can grab what they like and move on with life.

This week I did asian inspired chicken kabobs.

Chicken, cut into kabob friendly sized cubes
Bell pepper
Pearl Onions
Soy Sauce
Rice Wine Vinegar
Red Pepper Flakes
Garlic (I used the last of my fresh garlic in the recipe, so had to throw my garlic powder in to the picture...but I prefer using fresh)
Sriracha Sauce
Olive oil (not pictured because I forgot about it)

The pearl onions are the only thing that require much prep.  Boil them, then transfer to a bowl of ice water.  That will allow you to easily peel the outer layer of the onions off.  Once they're stripped the onions are ready to marinade with the other ingredients (I prefer to marinade at least 3 hours).

Cut up the chicken, zucchini, and bell pepper.  Boil/peel the onions, and throw all the veggies into one bag, and the chicken into another (this allows you to baste with the veggie marinade later.  Chicken marinade goes into the trash).  Mix the sauce however you like.  Since I'm not a huge vinegar fan, I went light on the vinegar and pretty heavy on the soy, but there is honestly no wrong answer here.  If you like it spicy, go heavy on the red pepper flakes and sriracha, lighter if you're a spice wimp.

Grill on medium high (12-14 minutes for the veggies, 6-8 for the chicken).  We served on a bed of rice to stretch the recipe out into leftovers, but you don't have to make anything with it. 

Marinading picture, with a teaser of what my next blog post will be about:

After the marinade, ready to go on the grill....(onions in a foil packet, because as I said this is Lazy Man kabobs, and have you ever tried skewering pearl onions?!)

All done and ready to be thrown on rice and devoured!

I hope you enjoyed my ranting on kabobs in general, and really hope you try out the recipe.  I'll certainly be making these again.

Till next time!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

We're in the ground!

Its central Texas, so April first is long enough to wait before planting.  Last year we planted in mid March with no difficulties, but weather and other obligations pushed us back this year.

We have 3 cherry tomato plants, 3 large tomato plants, 4 watermelon seedlings, 2 jalapenos, 1 serrano, 1 anaheim, 1 bell pepper and 1 poblano pepper plants along with 1 sweet basil, 2 strawberries, and seeds in the ground for squash, rosemary, and cilantro. 

Here's to another great year of gardening, grilling and guns!