September 23, 2014

Terri Elliott Pine is trying to send Chester home

This post showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. I know my blog does not reach many people, but it does reach people in every corner of the world. Below is the complete post by Facebook user Terri Elliott Pine. The title below is also a link to the original post.


Help Chester Get Home


Looking for who sent this toy to Afghanistan and trying to get it back home!! This is Chester. When I was in Afghanistan I got a care package from one of those “Adopt a Soldier” programs that lets families send care packages to service men and women who are deployed overseas. Anyway, I got this care package, and it came with the usual stuff: Baby wipes, crackers, peanut butter, the Dad threw in a pack of cigarettes, and there was some jerky. But there was also a little beanie baby gold fish and a hand written note from a 7 year old girl that said:

“Dear Soldier, (I wasn’t even mad)

I hope you are doing well. I’m sorry you have to miss thanksgiving with your family. This is my friend Chester. He keeps me safe from monsters, but I think you need him more than I do. I hope he keeps you safe from the monsters you’re fighting. Take good care of him for me”.

You bet your ass that little fish was in my pocket every time I went on patrol. I’d like find that kid and return her friend to her with the good news. I wanted to but I lost the box it came in (with the return address) accidentally got taken out to the burn pit before I could write it down. My only hope is for this post to go insanely viral and her hear about it and that he did his job, which was helping me do mine.

September 15, 2014

Ruger SR1911 CMD at 30 feet

I woke up with a cold this morning, but I didn't have a fever. I sat around the house, watched the news, found out it would rain tonight and tomorrow, decided cold or no cold I had to get some range time in. So I bundled up a bit and headed out to the range. I shot about 250 rounds through my 10/22 takedown and learned my eyes have gotten too bad for iron sights. That hurt. So I slipped over to the pistol range and ran a box of ammo through my Ruger SR1911 CMD. Much better. Although I do need to learn not to get impatient and jerk the trigger on the last couple rounds of a session.

This target was shot on a 30-foot range with 20 rounds of Hornady Critical Defense 185 grain, my normal carry ammo. I also shot a box of 50 rounds of Winchester 230 grain FMJ. A couple of those targets are pretty nice, but I figured one target was enough. Besides, this one is easiest to scan.

I made this target myself, by the way, which is why it looks unlike anything you'll find at your local gun shop. I also uploaded a blank copy just in case anyone out there likes the look. I normally print it out vertically centered on standard 8.5"x11" paper with .25" margins right and left (which makes it an 8" circle, naturally).

September 11, 2014

A Good Day at the Gun Range

I don't often post stories about my own firearms collection, how I test them, how well I shoot them, and so on. There are so many top quality firearms related blogs and websites that I don't feel my opinion is needed. I do own four rifles and about half a dozen handguns. I also have a Concealed Carry License from Wayne County in the State of Ohio, which allows me to carry a concealed handgun when I am out and about shopping or running errands. Naturally I always keep a handgun close by when I am lounging around the house. I don't consider myself paranoid, but I do like to maintain a certain level of vigilance in everything I do and everywhere I go. I have seen firsthand the horror that evil can manifest in moments when no one is paying attention, allowing it to strike from the shadows in brutal, devastating ways.

One of my favorite rifles is my Ruger 10/22 with a laminated stock and a Tasco 3-9x40mm scope. The scope was very inexpensive, but after two years of use it has proven to be more than adequate for this particular rifle.

Today I took this rifle to the range along with about six hundred rounds of ammunition. I adjusted the scope (apparently I did not replace it correctly after my last cleaning), re-shot the zero, then spent a couple of hours blasting away at a variety of targets. Most of my targets I created myself using graphics collected off the internet, photos I've taken, or geometric designs created in programs like MS Publisher or Open Office Draw. My primary zero target is a target created in Open Office Draw. It features five 2" circles with blue centers that are easy to see in any weather.

Because I had to adjust the scope mounts at the range, the initial zero was not close enough to use this target. Once I had a five-shot group landing near the center of a standard 12" target, I switched over to the zero target above. The top-left circle is the first five shot group. I adjusted the scope three clicks, then shot the top-right target. That seemed fairly well centered, so I adjusted the scope to bring the group up slightly (two clicks) and shot the center target. I was using Remington .22 Long Rifle Golden Bullets (a 36-grain, brass-plated, hollow point). These are the same bullets I use when shooting groundhogs so it is important for the rifle to be set up to fire them accurately.

Satisfied with the zero setting on the scope, I fired about 200 rounds at silhouettes, pictures of groundhogs, collections of decreasing radius circles, and several other targets I've made myself. One thing I noticed as the afternoon wore on and the rifle barrel became hotter and dirtier was that the groups began expanding until it was difficult to predict exactly where the rounds would hit the target. Curious, I shot the bottom-left target on the zero target sheet above, confirming my suspicions. The accuracy of the rounds became less and less reliable as the barrel heated and collected fouling.

I happened to have about 80 rounds of CCI Mini-Mag .22 Long Rifle (a 40-grain, copper-plated, round nose bullet). Many people have told me that Remington rimfire ammunition is inconsistent, prone to having wild rounds, and prone to having misfires. I've never really noticed much problem with it and I have fired well over two thousand rounds at both paper targets and groundhogs. The vast majority of groundhogs I have killed on my property here in Ohio were killed with these very same Remington Golden Bullets. Nonetheless, since everyone praised CCI so highly and since I happened to have some onhand, I loaded up a magazine and fired them at the circle on the bottom-right of the same zero target I'd been using all day. As seen above, even after over two hundred rounds of heat and fouling buildup the CCI ammunition was right on target and grouped well within the two-inch target (except for two rounds out of twenty, but those were probably my fault). The reason the CCI is hitting somewhat to the right of the Remington is partly the fault of wind and partly because Remington rimfire ammo in both .22 Long Rifle and .17 HMR always shoots to the left of all other brands. This is true in every rimfire firearm I own, although I am at a complete loss to explain the physics of it. (In the picture below, the Remington Golden Bullet is on the left and the CCI Mini-Mag is on the right.)

As soon as I saw the result I switched over to a full-size, standard 12" target to see how well the CCI would shoot. This target, like all the targets mentioned in this post, was placed at the fifty-yard line right next to the first 12" target I had used to bring my scope into a place where I could properly zero it. This target is twenty rounds at fifty yards from a bench rest, but not from a vise. I have to say, this is possibly the finest target I have ever shot in my life. I'm not ready for Top Shot, naturally, but I'm quite happy with how well I performed today.

As I have claimed on this blog many times: I'm not a trained sniper, but I generally hit what I'm aiming at.

President Obama's Speech on ISIS

By the time most people find this post, a wide variety of memorials and observances intended to honor both the victims of 9/11 and the military members who fought to destroy the Al Qaeda stronghold in Afghanistan will have begun. Most of these church services, silent minutes of prayer, and other events will include mention of the war with Iraq. Even though the links between these two wars are tenuous at best, because we fought them over the same time frame they will be forever linked in our minds. 9/11 now rests alongside Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Alamo, and the Battle of North Bridge in Concord as defining events in American history; moments of great loss, great sacrifice, and great courage. Beginning right from the day William Bradford and his ragtag band of Congregationalists set foot in what eventually became Plymouth Colony, the history of the United States has been marked by unending conflict, great sacrifice, and undying dreams of utopia. Our nation, more so than any other nation in the history of the world, is trapped between the dream of a better world and the realities of this one.

Already the internet is bubbling with controversy over what today's speech by President Obama really means and how it will affect our lives moving forward. A link to the complete transcript is below. I hear the echo of the Mayflower Compact in the President's words. There is unbridled optimism here, an almost delusional conviction that everyone in the world has the same dreams and if given the opportunity, they will gladly beat their swords into plowshares and live in perfect harmony with one another. He even asserts with absolute conviction,

ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al-Qaida’s affiliate in Iraq and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.

American leaders have used nearly identical words throughout our history. Our critics declare otherwise, but the simple fact of history is that every major American war has been defensive. We fought and traded to gain a place to live. We fought to keep it when the original owners tried to take it back. We fought the French when they tried to use raids into our cities as a way to weaken England. We fought England when the nobility demanded more taxation than we felt we could endure, and then we fought them again when they came back and tried to force us to resubmit. We fought Arab pirates that raided our Atlantic trade and we fought Spanish armies that encroached on our borders. We fought each other when we could not agree on whether the States or the Federal government had the right to determine who was a citizen and who was property. We fought Mexico when she felt more entitled to islands we controlled than we were, and we fought Germany when a web of alliances threw the European continent into a war that threatened our ability to do business anywhere in the world that we could land a ship. We fought Germany again when a maniac tried to take over the world. We fought the Japanese when they bombed our naval base in Pearl Harbor in order to prevent us from defending our friends and allies in Southeast Asia. We fought to defend South Korea when the communist North tried to violently unify the peninsula. We fought communism again when the French fled South Vietnam in humiliation. Then we did something we had never done before. After a stunning military victory that decimated the North Korean military, we packed up our bags and left; thus allowing the remainder of the North Korean Army to stream southward unopposed. For a long time after that we avoided getting involved in world affairs. The risk was too great, the benefits too limited. Until a well-funded, poorly organized band of Islamic terrorists managed to hijack some planes and crash them into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. They had a fourth plane under control, but modern communications meant the passengers knew what the terrorists had planned and for the first time in a long time they fought back, forcing the last plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field.

9/11 reawakened our memory. We remembered our dream of a better world. We remembered our ability to destroy those who tried to steal that dream. And then, for reasons I will never understand, for yet a second time we again did something we had never done before: we invaded a sovereign nation based on a rumor. President Obama is right, his problems in Iraq are not President Bush's problems in Iraq. If anything, a powerful military attack on the land controlled by ISIS would be more in keeping with our history than was George W. Bush's overthrow of Saddam Hussein. That war was foolish and unnecessary, but this war is not. There was no reason for President Bush to invade Iraq. A nice air campaign would have been sufficient to destroy any chemical arsenal Saddam and his crazy buddy "Chemical Ali" had stashed away for a rainy day. This new threat, however, is not the same. We are not facing rumors. Instead, we find ourselves staring straight down the barrels of ten thousand AK-47s in the hands of an insane army of religious ideologues determined to force their version of utopia down the throats of everyone else. ISIS has far more in common with Adolf Hitler's dream of a Third Reich than it does with Saddam's messy chemical hobby. This "caliphate" they have established in the borderland between Iraq and Syria is far more than, "a terrorist organization, pure and simple." They are building a nation founded on ancient ideas of genocide and religious purity. Humanity has not faced this kind of insanity in over a thousand years.

I understand that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was foolish. There is no doubt in my mind that this was a great mistake entirely different from any war our nation has ever entered into. Granted, we were not seeking to add Iraq as our 51st State nor were we seeking to create some kind of oil-rich American colony. Technically, this was not a war of conquest. However, neither was it a defensive war. This was an invasion of a sovereign nation based on a rumor. Saddam Hussein was insane, absolutely, but he was not insane in the way that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is insane. It is unlikely that Saddam would have ever risen to be a threat to anyone other than Iran or Israel. Granted, he did invade Kuwait, but as a result his military was decimated and his nation's economy was utterly ruined. I doubt he would have made a similar mistake had he been allowed to continue. Now, of course, we will never know. The one thing we do know for an absolute fact is that al-Baghdadi's ISIS army has captured enough territory and resources to eventually follow through on al-Baghdadi's dream of rebuilding the ancient Abbasid Caliphate of Harun al-Rashid. It would take him another decade, maybe two, but the foundation of religious purity funded by oil-rich Syrian and Iraqi highlands would be the modern equivalent of the Umayyad Empire the Abbasids were able to co-opt as their own. ISIS is not a slow-growing cancer. It is a pack of wild dogs just organized enough to capture as much territory as they feel like having. Once their control is consolidated (another year, maybe two) they will strike at the nations around them. If ISIS is allowed to fester, then within two years they will control all of Syria, all of Iraq, and possibly Kuwait. Every city, town, and village between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea will be cleansed of dissent through mass murder of anyone who does not immediately accept both their political and religious oversight.

President Obama is right about one thing. Objectively, this is not an American problem. At least, not yet. However, he is wrong to assume that ISIS will never reach beyond the Middle East. Although it is unlikely that ISIS will become a direct threat to the United States before President Obama leaves office (unless they launch another 9/11-style mass terror attack), his successor will be forced to deal with both an aggressively expanding Islamic Caliphate and an aggressively expanding Russian Confederation. President Obama's speech implies that he is not going to sit by and let the world burn around him, but the four point strategy he has outlined will not be sufficient to deter al-Baghdadi from his dreams. At best, this strategy will slow the growth of ISIS just long enough for it to become someone else's problem. This is the same kind of strategic thinking employed by President Clinton, and it was Clinton's inaction that enabled Al Qaeda to organize well enough to successfully pull off 9/11. Al-Baghdadi's ISIS is far more ruthless than Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda ever dreamed of being. They are so ruthless, in fact, that Al Qaeda initially tried to wash their hands of al-Baghdadi and his followers. That will change very quickly if ISIS continues to consolidate and expand. The one thing even a terrorist admires is someone who can follow through on their goals and get the job done. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that goal is you and I on our knees either accepting Allah as the one true God and Mohammed as his prophet or taking a bullet to the brain so our head can decorate the local ISIS headquarters.

Washington Post: Transcript of President Obama's Speech on ISIS