Disappointment thy name is Red Label!

Well, after a recent shotgun side event at a Cowboy Wild bunch match I decided this shotgun thing is pretty darn fun! My Dad has a membership to a local gun club that has trap, skeet and 5 stand fields and so all I needed now, was a good over and under shotgun. Now I didn’t have the money to get what I thought I wanted but I had a couple of guns I could let go of in trade, so I headed up to my favorite LGS to see what I could find. I found a new, shiny, Ruger Red Label with 30″ barrels, so I traded two for one (with a cash kicker on my end) and I stepped away from the counter with a nice new Ruger Red Label 12 ga. O/U. This is one of the new production guns not an original model that was discontinued a few years ago due to excessive production cost.  The cheek pad in the picture below was something I added myself, it’s a sorbothane cheek-eeze product.

DSCN1761 OK, so let’s start with the good stuff. On the positive side, Ruger provides a nice semi-hard padded case with 5 chokes (IC, MOD, Full and 2 Skeet, installed in the gun) and a nice choke tube wrench. They also provide a nice lock and a strange locking mechanism, which I promptly discarded as I always do. The lock, I kept, they are great for the fence gates out back. The receiver, now a single cast part, is reasonably well done. Additionally, the gun comes set up to have the safety automatically activated when the gun is opened up, in the field this would be an asset, in competition, not so much. I don’t really care for this feature because during competition it’s really in the way and could cost you a bird, however Ruger smartly provides an alternate slot where the rear of the spring strut responsible for activating the safety can be placed. In this new slot it travels above the other slot where it activates the safety thus bypassing this feature. However, here is where the positive part of the story ends.

DSCN1752 DSCN1753 DSCN1754 Now for the negative, and get ready, as far as I’m concerned, it’s ugly. Needless to say, I was disappointed as the title of the post clearly states. Having said that, the receiver, while well cast (as mentioned above) was far from well finished. The internal portion was left rough and where holes were drilled and metal was cut the flash was left with no regard for removing it at all.  The below image shows the inside of the receiver after I have removed some flash but some still remains.

DSCN1760 The lever that opens the action was also not finished well and it was scratching the the top of the receiver tang just below the serial number. I had to polish the underside of the lever to eliminate this issue.

DSCN1757 I realize that cost is a factor and the human labor required to do such a task is expensive but then again so was the shotgun. The ticket price for this long gun was $1129.00 So while I can understand their need to keep costs low I feel taken advantage of here. My wife owns an Italian made O/U made by Fausti with a retail cost of around $450.00 and my dad owns a Turkish made Yldiz ($500 at Academy Sports) and both have better fit and finish by comparison. The ejector cam on one side was not properly sized and required me to remove metal to get it to properly slide back and forth against the inside of the frame. Ruger put really tight springs in the ejectors and this massive force simply overcame the resistance but it was apparent it was rubbing because you could see the marks on the side of the ejector cam from when the shotgun was opened.

DSCN1758 Next, the forend iron was leaving marks on the underside of the bottom barrel and I had to polish and remove some metal there to get a better fit to prevent further wear.

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Both the ejector sear plungers were rough and did not slide in and out of their recess holes smoothly and I had to remove them and polish them to achieve smooth operation. The ejector sears also needed some deburring and polishing to achieve ideal movement. The forend iron head is not well fitted to the wood of the forend at all.

DSCN1759 Comparing it to the fit of the other aforementioned shotguns they are done better, which is troubling because apparently they were able to provide a better fit and still charge much less. Now make no mistake I like Ruger, always have probably always will but this gun has been a disappointment. Will I keep the gun? Most likely. Will it all be ok? Probably. But is it disappointing to pay that much for a O/U shotgun, or any gun, and have to bring it home, tear it down and file and polish parts to get them to function properly and prevent what would certainly be damaged parts after even minimal use? Yes, yes it is. But this is just how it is I guess. I was used to it when we paid $350 for Uberti revolvers for Cowboy action, you expected to have to do the work on it.  But almost $1200 for a shotgun from a reputable company here in the US?  Nope, I expected better, just didn’t get it. Ruger will soldier on, and post modifications so will I. I expect it will run well now and serve me well on the skeet field. After the work I did the gun is much smoother.  Maybe some more aftermarket accessories will be called for, perhaps not, but they could be necessary on any shotgun I would buy for clay shooting. We’ll see. Let’s just hope there are no more surprises, I think I paid enough to avoid any more.

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Refugee Reunion – An Outbreak Event: Chapter 37

We traveled in silence for awhile. Everyone was exhausted, tired from our gun battle and the general stress of suddenly being thrust into the world of the walking dead. Eventually, Mom, Molly and I put away the food we had acquired from the store. As we worked, Dad and Mom recounted what they had been told by Ben, my father in law. As we finished our task the cabinets were overflowing but we found a place for everything nevertheless. It seemed like a lot of food but I was afraid it wouldn’t last as long as we would like it to. Afterward, I collapsed onto the chair at the kitchen table. Mom headed into the back bedroom to lay down. Jay was sitting on the sofa, his head back, hand over his eyes. I could just make out the salt stain of tears on his cheeks. The day had taken it’s toll on each of us. The adrenaline was gone and the fatigue and reality of the situation was settling in, now that we had some quiet time to reflect on everything. For awhile there was so much happening so fast there was no time to consider the details, to think too much about the loved ones lost, but as Dad piloted the RV up the lone and empty interstate toward my brother’s home we had time to come down, to settle and begin to ponder our situation. Molly was curled up on the opposite side of the sofa from Jay. I stared long and hard at her wondering who she was, how she was feeling how she was going to handle the loss of her family. We were good folks but we all knew each other. Jay and I go back years and then there are my parents. I’ve got lots of people I’m close to and my parents think of Jay like another son, so he has me and them. Then there’s poor Molly. She is with us but in a way she is all alone in this new world. I know she is attached to Jay because of their experiences together earlier but having said that this has all just happened today.

The sun was just beginning to shift in the sky. It was late in the afternoon now and we still had a ways to go. The sun was cutting through the windshield at a sharp angle throwing a lot of light in my direction. I looked toward the sky. The blue crispness was beginning to fade into the orange and reddish hues representative of the close of the day. It was then, as I contemplated the sky and what lay beyond, that I decided it was time to do something I hadn’t done yet today despite all the horrors the day had presented. I spun the chair away from the table, rested my elbows on my knees, bowed my head and began to pray. I suppose I was muttering under my breath which served as enough sound to attract Jay’s attention. “What?” He said, “Are you talking to me?” His muffled inquiry drifting from beneath his hand. I guess when I didn’t respond in a timely fashion he looked out from under his hand. He blinked his eyes, wiping away a few remaining tears from them. “Are you….praying?” He asked with some confusion in his voice. I didn’t answer him immediately but could sense he was waiting. He wasn’t a believer but always respected the fact that I was. In the past I had spoken to him about Christ at least a couple of times. I had done my part but ultimately the conviction comes from the Holy Spirit and I have no way of knowing if that had happened yet other than he hadn’t said anything to me about it. We have always respected one another’s beliefs and never let that interfere with our friendship, he’s my brother and I love him like one, regardless, but I always like to think one day he’ll accept Christ. He waited patiently until I mumbled “Amen” and looked up. “Yeah I was praying.” I said with a smile. “Really?” He replied. “You still think there is a God? After everything we’ve been through today? I mean, it’s the end of the world? And He’s making it happen. He’s letting the dead walk the earth and destroy everything. How could you believe in Him and even want to talk to Him?”

I smiled. “Funny you should ask.” I noticed out of the corner of my eye, Molly had woken up upon hearing Jay’s voice but she chose to remain still, with her eyes open and I could tell she was awaiting my answer. “I think we need God now more than ever. He doesn’t cause bad things to happen, I suppose you could argue He allows them, but this is not His fault. Remember what Dad said awhile ago, this is some kind of man made bomb attack thing gone awry.” “Yeah but He let it happen He let so many people die.” Jay responded. “True, but God doesn’t say we won’t die, we’re human, we’re all gonna die sometime. The real question is have you accepted His son before you do? That determines where you’ll spend eternity. We’re all gonna go, someday, somewhere, somehow. I guess zombies is as good a way as any. Not that I’m in any hurry, mind you.” I said with a smile. “God gives us free will, which is important because He wants us to turn to Him on our own, by our choice, that way it’s genuine, not motivated by worldly benefits. The only true benefit is our salvation which He guarantees if we choose Him.”

Jay smiled. “Still holding on, huh?” “If you’re gonna hold on to something I can’t think of anything better.” I said returning his smile. Dad piped up from the driver’s seat, “You can say that again, WG. ‘The way the truth and the life,’ now, more so than ever it seems.”

Breaking the subject Mom appeared from the rear of the RV inquiring through sleepy eyes and a weak voice, “How much farther?” “Not long now.” Dad replied, “We’re turning off the highway now. Should be about another 20 minutes.” I rose from the chair and approached the front of the cab, patting Jay’s knee as I passed by, shooting him another smile. I sat down in the passenger’s seat next to Dad with a springy thud. Mom followed and stood at the back of my seat, leaning into the space between us. We three stared out at the road ahead as 460 East bound came into view. “I wonder what we’ll find when we get there.” Mom muttered in her weak, still groggy voice. “We’ll have to wait and see, and just have faith.”

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Paragon Shooting School Experience

broken-clay Well Friday was my wife’s birthday. (Happy Birthday, Sweetie!) 8 years ago for her birthday I bought her a 20 gauge over and under shotgun and an introductory lesson so we could take up the shotgun sports together. Well, my lack of interest at the time in the shotgun sports coupled with a few other issues led us to not taking up the activity after all. In retrospect I wish I had tried a bit harder but nevertheless I thought maybe the time had come to revisit the idea. I have recently established my own interest in shotgunning and approached her about the subject again. She was ok with it but I knew, at least for her, she wouldn’t feel comfortable unless she had lessons again. So after some mods to her shotgun to reduce recoil and a call to Paragon we were back in business. Eight years ago, along with her shotgun, I also got her a lesson from a Paragon instructor, a very nice lady named, Wallie. She was patient and very knowledgeable and we both had a great time and my wife learned a lot. Well fast forward to this Saturday and her lesson was scheduled with the man himself, Dan Schindler, the founder of the Paragon School. Now, not to take anything away from Wallie but Dan certified her so needless to say he was truly an exceptional instructor as you would certainly expect. He has been doing this so long that he has distilled the training program down to a very simple process. If you choose to take the course you will not be unhappy and while it was a bit pricey it was well worth it. What he teaches is not simply how to break clays.  Unlike others who mostly talk about leading targets, or this technique or that, he teaches from a whole different perspective and it’s not only worth it, it’s simple in its revolution. I think my wife is off to a great start and I think we will enjoy shooting together. What was the most remarkable part of the day was watching my wife come out of her shell so to speak, really enjoy herself and feel confident about performing well in something that only a few hours ago was unfamiliar to her. It almost brought tears to my eyes.

Dan is a very soft spoken man who is confident and obviously very knowledgeable. He is very organized and structured and if you arrive with an open mind and answer all of his questions and listen to his advice you will have a very positive experience. He leads you where you need to go to succeed and after you get there you will realize the simplicity. He takes his time, works patiently and most importantly positively. You will really feel better about your skill when you leave. He takes extra time if needed and let’s you learn at your pace as you go through the training. He is very conscientious of women and children making sure that what might be their first experience shooting or at least learning to shoot is a positive one. I was thankful that he did not use any negativity in his training as this really makes a big difference. Ultimately perhaps the best endorsement was that my wife has expressed an interest in going back to take another class to learn more! So I suppose we’ll see you in the spring Dan!

Find him here: http://www.paragonschool.com

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Update to the Tiger-ized 1911s

Well, impatience got the better of me and after investing in the tools necessary to do action jobs on 1911s as instructed by my good pal, Surly Dave, I went to work on my Commander 1911. I installed an Ed Brown bobtail mainspring housing and cut and polished the frame myself. I then worked the action over but had to replace the short trigger with the original modified match trigger. This worked much better in the long run and I now have a very nice trigger breaking at 3 lbs. with no creep. It’s not the best looking thing in the world right now but it will be. Once I can get back to Surly’s place I’m hoping to be able to get a lesson on bead blasting and bead blast the slide and frame to one uniform appearance. Stay tuned for more pics!

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Springfield GI 1911 Review

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Well here it is. My recently acquired, brand new Springfield GI Mil Spec 1911. As you may have noticed I have become a HUGE 1911 fan. I shoot them well, they feel better in my hand and after my experience at Shootrite, I feel very comfortable “running” the gun.

The Springfield, however, has left a bit to be desired. Now let me say that I like Springfield Armory, I believe they are a good and reputable company and they make a solid product. I have owned Springfield products in the past and would recommend them to other shooters without hesitation. This review is a singularity, it’s my own experience with this gun, not an indictment of Springfield itself.

Having said that, on to the review. Upon purchase I was pleasantly surprised. Springfield provides you with a nice hard plastic case, a sturdy, serviceable holster, a double mag pouch and even a second pair of rubber type grips. The external finish on this pistol is parkerized and it was very well done. The lines are crisp and sharp and they pay good attention to detail. All in all Springfield makes a good looking 1911.

The sights are very serviceable with the three dot system being employed. They are an upgrade from the original GI sights (thank goodness) but still look like they fit with the GI appearance. The hammer, slide safety, and grip safety are all the old GI style in appearance. The short trigger, and the rounded mainspring housing complete the look.

I was not initially aware of the ILS locking system contained in the mainspring housing when I purchased the gun, I simply overlooked it, but while inspecting the included accessories I discovered what it was. Immediately I decided I did not want that feature on the gun. It seems unnecessary and not something I would use and certainly far from consistent with a GI style gun. I researched the issue and determined the best course of action was to order a new MSH and the associated internals to go with it and replace the whole thing.

I went online and ordered the parts, but before they arrived I decided to shoot the Springfield in my very first Wild Bunch match anyway. I figured it would be a good test run. I had reloaded ammunition to shoot for the match which had Winchester primers. I figured a right out of the box, factory gun would have no issues reliably breaking primers as almost every company sends guns out of their factory with very heavy springs. This was also the case with the GI but it did not reliably break the primers. I found out during the match that in 6 stages, with 20 round strings of pistol fire in each stage I had failures to fire at least 5 times per stage. That’s 30 out of 120. This was not only aggravating, but worrisome as I had just purchased the gun. Now I’ve been shooting long enough that I didn’t panic, it’s almost always a solvable problem. After the match was over I performed some investigation and discovered the firing pin spring was extremely heavy. I compared it to two other 1911s and found it to be at least twice the tension! (If not more.) I had a Wolff brand firing pin spring on hand, so I installed it and could immediately feel a considerable difference. I also noted that the firing pin stop was uneven and irregular. I removed it and stoned the face on a flat stone until it was uniform and flat.

Before any testing could be done to see if that alone fixed the issue, I was scheduled to head to a friends place who is a gunsmith. He has been teaching me some tricks of the trade and while there, we did a complete action job on the pistol and it made a significant difference in the performance of the gun. As we worked on the various pieces however I noted that they were cast parts. While this alone does not necessarily mean they are poor quality, these were not finished very well at all. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed. I will say the gun was in the $575 dollar price range and is not Springfield’s top of the line model but I was nevertheless displeased. My friend indicated that that was simply the type of parts used by a lot of the companies manufacturing 1911 model pistols. It took us some time polishing the requisite parts but we were ultimately able to achieve a desirable result.

I would very much like to see manufacturers move to utilizing better finished parts but I know all that does is raise the price of the gun. I suppose it’s the difference between a $600 1911 and a $1500 custom or semi-custom 1911. As a shooter it’s just a little frustrating. It seems purchasing a gun these days in that mid-range price point means gunsmithing will be needed for ideal and sometimes even just functional performance.

All in all, I am glad I bought the Springfield. As previously stated they are a good, quality company. I suppose this shooter longs for the days when everything wasn’t CNC, or EDM machined or even parts made through PMP processes to the finest tolerances and then these parts just dropped into to any gun on the production line. Seems like back in the day they weren’t built on a price point but on a desire for solid craftsmanship by a group of highly qualified, talented gunsmiths. I guess those days are gone unless you can afford a Les Baer, Wilson Combat or Ed Brown custom pistol or you can do it yourself which is exactly what I’m trying to learn to do.

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My “Tiger-ized” 1911

Well, after my experience at Shootrite a few weekends ago I came home with a whole new perspective on fighting with a handgun. Tiger left us with some modifications he suggests and why. So, I took my full size 1911 and “tiger-ized” it. The only part I did not change was the safety. Tiger uses and recommends a low mount style safety but I installed one on my gun and it didn’t work for me. The safety was so low that my right thumb dropped too low on the frame and was competing for the same space with my left thumb with regards to my grip. So back to the factory safety where my thumb rides on top just above where my left thumb rests. Below is a full picture of the gun.

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Right away you can see some of the changes. Perhaps the most prominent are the grip panels. They are magpul’s new 1911 grips. I liked the contrats of the black color as well as the rough texture. Also the generous relief on the left panel allowing for better access to the magazine release is really a nice feature.

While I didn’t adopt the low mount safety I did opt to break the edge on the factory safety as this caused me some discomfort on the range clicking the safety on and off repeatedly. You can see here I rounded it slightly and then polished it smooth.

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Next, I installed the short trigger as Tiger recommends. I have long fingers so it may not have been as necessary for me but I still found it to be more comfortable and easier to control the trigger press with the short trigger.

Moving on, I took a file to the Novak rear sight and cut it into the notch shape seen below so they would be able to be used to rack the pistol one handed if the need arose.

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Next, I ground down the exposed portion of the opposite side of the slide release. I had never heard of this being a problem but one of our classmates kept indexing his finger on this protrusion and by pushing ever so slightly on the pin he would cause the piece to move and the gun to lock up. Tiger then showed us his gun which had this part ground flat so as to not create this issue. (The black line is not really on the gun, it’s blocking out the serial number.)

One change not visible in the pictures is the “softening” I did to the checkering on the backstrap of the pistol. The factory checkering was deep, prominent and very sharp and after two days of manipulating the gun that checkering wore my hand out! Needless to say it got some much needed attention and it is now a lot more comfortable.

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Now some of you may be wondering why the gun has no manufacturing marks on it. Well this was all me and had nothing to do with Tiger’s suggestions. I don’t point that out to sing my own praises but more so to absolve Tiger of the idea if it doesn’t make sense! Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure why I did it but if I think the reason is two fold. This gun is a Ruger and while I like Ruger firearms and own several, in this case they were a bit obnoxious with their markings. They used some kind of etching that had a raised surface and I didn’t much care for it.

However, perhaps more importantly was a psychological reason. I chose to disassociate myself from brand with this gun. This gun is a fighting tool not a show piece. The removal of the brand suggests to me, in my head, that this gun serves a singular purpose with no attachments or assumptions. I know it’s really just in my head but I don’t want to get hung up on the idea that this is my Ruger or my Kimber or whatever and I have to baby it or keep it from getting scratched, etc.

You want a “Sunday-go-to-meeting gun” or a “BBQ” gun as they call them in Texas? That’s fine, more power to ya. I’ll probably have one, who knows? But this gun is a fighting/training tool so no special love. No identity.

Anyway, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

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Some gave all, all gave some.

Today is Memorial Day, a day when we honor those who gave their lives in the service of our country, supporting our patriotic ideal of liberty. This is a day of commemoration which began just after (or during) the War for Southern Independence when people decorated the graves of fallen Union and Confederate soldiers, hence it’s original name, Decoration Day. Some years later it was renamed Memorial Day to honor all those lost in the service of America, regardless of the war in which they fell.

Today, let me say, thank you to all who served, thank you to the families of those who paid the ultimate price. We can never get them back, but they did not die in vain. May we, as their fellow countrymen, honor their sacrifice by maintaining and upholding the values for which they died.

God bless them all and though their ears can no longer hear and their voices are forever silent in some way, some how may they know we appreciate them and what they did, I know I do.

Memorial-Day

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Refugee Reunion – An Outbreak Event: Chapter 36

The air outside the RV was bad. It was a stale smell, the stench of rot, lingering in the breezeless afternoon. We filed out of the RV and Molly, still wiping tears from her face, closed the door behind us. Jay slipped to the rear of the RV, mounted the ladder and ascended to the roof, M4 slung across his back. Dad and I moved carefully to the front of the RV, and awaited the birds-eye scouting report from Jay. Across the street, a lone zombie was struggling up the hill from the store parking lot, trying to get to us. The angle of the slope and the thick vegetation growing there proved too much for him and he was bogged down pretty good. Dad and I watched the area around us carefully. Jay, moved as quietly as possible along the roof of the RV and dropped to one knee behind an AC unit and peered into the parking lot. Leaning over the edge he whispered down to us “Yeah, there are Zombies down there. Maybe 10, no more.” I looked up at him and nodded, giving him a thumbs up. I turned to Dad, “You ready, big guy?” “Sure, why not?” He replied. I grinned slightly and we slipped down the side of the RV and down the entrance drive of the grocery store.

A few zombies on the edge of the parking lot took notice of us and began lumbering our way as fast as their stiff, dead limbs would carry them. Three approached me clustered in a tight pack. I struck the first, stepped back, and struck the second, by then the third was very close and I had to push it away with a hard shove to it’s chest creating the distance I needed to bring the wooden blade thudding down in it’s head. I had dispatched them as swiftly and quietly as I could, their skulls were now cracked open and black ooze ran out onto the asphalt. While crashing the wooden sword down on the head of the last zombie, that had once been a small hispanic man, I heard a shot ring out. I looked over to Dad thinking he may have fired the shot but he was using the buttstock of the M1 to crack a single zombie under the jaw which sent it reeling backwards and ultimately to the ground. Another rifle shot cracked overhead and we both dropped down, scanning the area looking for where it might have come from. Glancing back up the hill I caught sight of Jay atop the RV. He was motioning behind me. I turned to see a headless zombie laid out on it’s back not but a few feet away. I turned back toward Jay and gave him a thumbs up sign. I’d have to remember to thank him when I got back to the RV. He waved me off and Dad and I resumed our trek across the parking lot to the grocery store entrance. A few zombies remained in the mostly empty parking lot but after Jay fired his two shots they had turned their attention in his direction. Arriving at the store’s bricked entrance Dad turned and spoke, “Get a cart, get in there and get canned stuff mostly. Stay away from a lot of perishable stuff.” Dad said. “Got it.” I replied. “I’m gonna head to the pharmacy first, get some of mom’s meds if I can find them.” I finished. “Good thinking, grab some antibiotics too. Might come in handy. Who knows?” He responded, and I nodded in affirmation and we both approached the doors. The lights were on inside, and the doors parted automatically, as they would on any normal day. Strange, I thought, how something that had happened so often in my life now seemed eery and out of place in this new dead-infested world. I followed Dad in and he grabbed a cart and the next set of doors opened.

Without speaking, he headed straight down the aisle of protein bars and vitamins and I turned to the right and headed for the pharmacy. At first I hadn’t noticed but as I moved further in to the interior of the store things didn’t look quite right. Some racks had been turned over and the pharmacy door lock was shattered, broken, as if it had been kicked open. I moved slowly inside the pharmacy office. I set my suburi down just inside the doorway and drew my 1911 from the holster on my hip. My suspicions were correct, someone with less than good intentions had been here already. A pharmacy employee lay on the floor, crimson blood oozing from their now lifeless body, eyes fixed on the ceiling above. This was not a zombie, this was person and they had been murdered. I looked around carefully and began backing out of the pharmacy slowly. As I did the lights throughout the store flickered and went out, popped back on for a moment, then went out, this time for good. “Dad!” I thought, I had to get to Dad, he didn’t know, he’d be exposed. As I came back into the store the emergency lighting kicked on bathing the store in a dim inadequate amount of light and a lone figure emerged from one of the aisles carrying some kind of long gun. “Stop, drop the weapon!” I shouted, presenting my 1911 in a firing position, sights set on the dark shadow approaching. “It’s me! Dad.” His voice was hushed but firm. I lowered my weapon. As he approached he spoke again this time in more of a whisper. “I found some dead folks in the back, store employees,” he paused, “and they weren’t zombies.” “Me too.” I responded, and gestured with a snap of my head over my right shoulder toward the pharmacy. “Let’s move through here together. I don’t think whoever it was is here now but we better not take any chances. You grab the stuff, fill the cart and I’ll cover you. Sound good?” I nodded and placed my 1911 back in it’s holster. We returned to where he had left the cart and resumed collecting food. I grabbed as much as I could, hampered by the darkness but nevertheless the cart began to fill up quick. Dad covered me as best he could as we moved carefully through the aisles. We watched cautiously for the ones who may have killed the store employees thinking they could be anywhere. “That’s about it.” I said gesturing to the now full cart. “Let’s head back to the pharmacy, get Mom’s meds and my suburi.” Dad nodded and we moved through the aisle toward the front of the store. As we neared the front doors we heard what sounded like gunfire erupt from outside, and lots of it.

I drew my pistol and together we pushed the cart forward. The electronic doors wouldn’t open with the power off but they were the standard safety type doors and I pushed the front of the cart hard into their center and the doors gave way and swung open. The next set did the same. We emerged quickly but carefully onto the brick entrance to the store and were immediately met with the image of Jay still on top of the RV but now lying prone firing at an unseen target as it wheeled down the entrance drive and into the parking lot. Mom was at the wheel and Jay’s line of fire was straight ahead but from where we were we couldn’t see what he was shooting at. “Zombies?” I asked. “I don’t think so.” Dad said. We stepped slightly to the right and turned in the direction Jay was shooting. Out in the parking lot was a truck and a small compact car, and behind the two vehicles was what he was shooting at, five men with all manner of guns were shooting at the RV. Over the gunfire I heard one shout, “Yo, they just came out, get their shit!” One of the men broke from the group and ran straight for us, a shotgun wrapped tightly in both hands. He stared straight at us as he ran. “Gimme that cart, mutha fucka!” was all he said. “I don’t think so.” I heard Dad say as he raised his M1. The man didn’t stop advancing and Dad didn’t hesitate. He fired 4 rapid shots into the center mass of the thug’s chest. The man flinched at first, resisting the urge to go down but when the 4th shot hit his chest he slowed to a stumble, stood upright, his legs crossing then he dropped his shotgun. His eyes rolled skyward and he fell to the pavement. At seeing this his fellow thieves turned their attention to me and Dad and began concentrating the bulk of their fire on us. I dropped down and fired my 1911 in their direction running it dry and Dad ran to get behind a large brick post, leaning out only to exchange fire with the assailants. Just as I emptied my magazine, the RV came to a stop in front if us. Despite their anger, the remaining four men disappeared behind the vehicles as the fussilade of bullets got to be too much for them.

Molly had emerged from the RV door when it stopped and started shooting at the thugs as well. One popped up over the trunk of the car trying to get a shot off only to take a .223 round straight to the head. He collapsed backward onto the pavement and didn’t move. “Get the cart to the RV!” Dad shouted as he turned around, back to the brick to reload his M1. I holstered my empty 1911 and pushed the heavy laden cart forward as fast as I could. I went around the back of the RV and approached Molly’s position by the side door. She stepped forward out of the way of the door and I began emptying the cart as fast as I could, hurling the contents into the RV through the opening. She and Jay continued to fire relentlessly and I could hear Jay shouting to Dad to move out of the entryway and get back to the RV. The thugs were succesfully pinned down for the moment and Dad took the opportunity to make a run for it. As soon as he did, one of the thugs appeared from behind a different vehicle several feet away from where he had originally been. He had obviously crawled over to it and his sudden appearance from behind a different location left Jay and Molly at a slight disadvantage as they were focused on keeping the others pinned down. Dad ran for the RV and the thug raised his shotgun. The blast went off but Dad wasn’t hit. The shotgun had fired high into the air. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, a zombie bit down hard on the thug’s shoulder. Blood spurted out and flowed down the man’s arm and chest. He screamed in agony and fell to the ground as a second and third zombie grabbed him, pulled him down and began feasting on his flesh. The other thugs began shooting into the small throng of zombies but too many had emerged from behind them. During the firefight we had all lost track of the undead but they had not lost their unending focus on us. We could hear the screams of the thieves as the zombies tore into their flesh, heedless of the gunshot wounds they were sustaining until finally there were no more shots and no more screams.

Dad had reached the RV and opened the driver’s side door. Mom slipped out of the way into the passenger’s seat. The cart still had food in it and Molly turned, threw the sling of her rifle over her shoulder and began throwing items into the RV as well. Jay came up behind me, passed around me and Molly and stood still watching the approaching undead. “There’s a lot of em and, we don’t have the time. You guys gotta leave the rest and get in, now!” Just as he spoke, I flung the last armful into the RV and drew my 1911. “Molly, get in, you too Jay.” I reloaded the empty gun, snapping a new magazine in the magwell, slamming it home and racking the slide back with authority. I covered the other two as they climbed into the RV and over the groceries scattered aboit on the floor. The first zombie reached the front of the RV and I took aim at it’s head. My front sight was as clear as a spring morning and I pressed the shot off firmly, sending the 230 grain hollow point round through the monster’s skull. I backed up, engaging the thumb safety and stepped up into the RV. Dad slipped the transmission into reverse, and began backing the RV up. The zombies slogged forward, carried on rotting stiff legs and feet. We backed up and turned, facing the exit of the parking lot. Dad drove the unit up the hill and turned onto the main road once again. I stood near the door, 1911 still in hand. Boxes and cans of food at my feet. Looking out the window we passed by the one lone zombie still stuck on the hill. His dry, cracked, gray face sunken by decay followed us as we past and I realized as we drove out of sight, our predicaments were not all that different. Our situation may be just as hopeless as his.

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Shootrite Firearms Academy – My first visit!

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This past weekend was marked by an awesome experience for me, my father and my brother. On Wednesday my brother traveled from VA to SC and on Thursday, the three of us loaded up in my sister-in-law’s van (Thanks, Laura!) and headed the 5.5 hours to Langston, Alabama. To say we had arrived in God’s country would be an understatement. It was absolutely beautiful. Langston is basically a lake community with a population of only 208 people. I can safely say out of that 208, everyone we met was, very friendly and seemed genuinely happy to see you. We arrived at Fisherman’s Landing, the place we were staying, and Donna, the proprietor, greeted us warmly and had everything ready to go. The cabin was great and was only about half a mile from the turn off to Shootrite. We found it in very good shape and very comfortable.

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A rustic appearance and feel coupled with all the amenities and creature comforts we have all come to enjoy such as central air, flat screen TV and Dish satellite service. If none of that appeals to you, your welcome to rock or swing the evening away in the cool breeze of the front porch.

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Langston itself didn’t look like much of a town at first glance but some of these old, run down looking buildings held treasures beyond expectation! The Langston Quick stop was home to a very nice couple who made an amazing pizza. I know the picture tells a different story but truthfully it was worth it! The lady that works there makes a mean pizza and if you’re ever there give it a try or you’ll be sorry.

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The Five points gas station and cafe had great home cooked breakfast and lunch with equal service as did the South Sauty Diner. The food there was really good, it was all down home, southern food and there was plenty of it! Homemade cakes for dessert topped it off. I know the three of us gained 5 pounds apiece at least! While we opted to stay at the cabins, some other class members stayed at the lodge at the Guntersville State Park. We ate there Friday night and the lodge was not only huge but offered views from their balcony that were best described as breathtaking.

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So, needless to say our stay in Langston was a pleasurable experience even before we set foot on the ground at Shootrite.

Now to the really good part. Arriving Friday morning at Shootrite Firearms Academy we were greeted by Tiger McKee, Shootrite’s founder and director, as well as Scott, one of Tiger’s instructors. As the morning progressed other class members arrived and we met them as well. I have to say it was very nice to informally meet the director and an instructor in the parking area as we arrived. They were both friendly, respectful and laid back which continued through the two day course and made everyone feel at ease. Tiger has an intense love for and focus on, what he does, and he is without a doubt a master of his craft. His easy going, friendly, southern drawl reflects his jovial personality but make no mistake it also craftily masks a fiercely intense fighting spirit just below the surface that can be easily summoned should the need arise.

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His assistant instructor, Scott (not pictured) was without question a valuable asset to the class. If you take a class at Shootrite count yourself blessed if he’s there helping out. He was top notch, down to earth, very friendly and very knowledgeable. The two of them worked very well together watching and helping us as we trained.

The course we were there to take was the Defensive Handgun Course. I will not say much about the course content as that is well described on the website, but we learned proper drawing technique, marksmanship fundamentals, shooting with movement, communication and combat mindset. There was a lot built into the class and if you want to know more let me say you need to take the class, it’s well worth it.

The instruction began in the classroom, and included a solid review of the safety fundamentals as well as an introduction to what we would be doing and Tiger’s general position on the subject of defensive training with a firearm. Tiger and Shootrite teach the four primary rules of gun safety which I was glad to see. Many places insist on adding to the four fundamental rules and I have never understood why. These rules encompass all that you need and adhering to them is more than sufficient.

After about an hour or so we adjourned to the range and continued the coursework there. Everything that they taught was very thorough, well thought out and very polished. There was no confusion or disruption in the material or the methodology. I found this to be very reassuring. It truly builds the student’s confidence in and respect for the instructors when the class is smooth and structured. It was obvious they had taught this class many times yet they still conveyed the material with conviction and enthusiasm. Breaks were called throughout the day to do everything from reload magazines, and hydrate to discussing topics and asking questions. The number of breaks was spot on, not too many and not too few and the instructors, while allowing a little flexibility in the discussion kept us on topic and on time. The training was laid back enough to be fun but remained focused and structured enough that time wasn’t wasted. If you decide to attend a Shootrite class, which I obviously recommend, you’ll see that efficiency is a way of life there. Not just in the flow of the class but in concept throughout.

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After the close of the first day let me say I was worn out! My hand hurt from the checkering and recoil from my 1911 but my brain was going a mile a minute trying to absorb and assimilate as much of the information as possible. Take notes and listen hard, it’s a lot of info in a short period of time and it’s all good. You shoot maybe 150 -200 rds. on day one.

Day two began on the range and ended in the classroom. We shot and shot and shot while Tiger and Scott drilled us on the fundamentals and schooled us on the proper techniques as well as helping to develop our fighting mindset. On day two you shoot around 300 – 350 rds.

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The day closed with some discussion of legal ramifications of a self defense shooting, general review and questions and the awarding of certificates. There is no doubt this was one of the best instructional experiences I have ever had. Tiger and Scott did an excellent job. As I stated before, the class was well structured, ran smooth and there was no confusion. I will definitely return to Shootrite for more instruction when time and finances allow. I really like the philosophy and mindset taught at Shootrite. I found it consistent with my past martial arts training and I felt right at home with Tiger’s philosophy as it was easy to adapt and absorb.

Now, as to some hard suggestions let me say the website, http://www.shootrite.org, has recommendations on what to bring to class and even goes so far as to break down individual needs for each class. These lists are very good and comprehensive but I will take it a step further and add some thoughts of my own as a student who has recently been in class.

First of all, be prepared to shoot……..a lot. This means determine before you go where your gun may hurt your hand if held for long periods of time or with too tight a grip. If you can fix any of those issues before you get there (smoothing sharp serrations, relieving places that may rub too hard, etc.) then do it. If you are shooting a double stack pistol for the class, such as a Glock, take at least 5 magazines, and 4 mag pouches. If you are shooting a 1911 take 6 mag pouches and 8 mags and make sure they work! I recommend Wilson Combat mags but if you have any others and know they work in your gun, good for you, if not, buy Wilson Combat. Also take a good solid, thick belt that will easily support a holster. If you have a non-retention outside the waistband holster that your gun will easily go in and out of then good, if not, get one, you’ll be happy you did. Wear some kind of cargo pants or shorts, you’ll need the pockets. Take lots of water, Tiger is big on hydration. Take a hat, preferably one that has a brim that goes all the way around it. This type of hat is indispensable for very nicely deflecting flying brass away from your neckline, just ask my Dad! And for Heaven’s sake take band aids and first aid tape! Why? You ask. For all those places you thought you fixed on your pistol but didn’t realize would rub your hand sore after hundreds of repetitions of manipulation. Yes, it will happen. No, you’re not prepared for it. Just take the stuff, you’ll be glad you did. Sunscreen is a good idea, so is some form of rain gear because they shoot rain or shine. Some basic tools to make minor adjustments to holsters or to disassemble magazines if needed during a break are a good idea. Also, and this is probably obvious to most folks headed to this class, but take a caliber specific cleaning kit. For most shooters, a lot of this stuff is already rolling around in your range bag.

In closing, I would like to thank both Tiger and Scott for all they did. Their time, energy, effort and friendly, professional attitudes were greatly appreciated. Without a doubt, Shootrite is an excellent firearms training school. Their martial philosophy is well thought out and very solid. If you go there and don’t learn anything or claim not to have learned anything then you just weren’t paying attention. When I trained martial arts there was a saying, “If you don’t come to train, don’t come at all” and while I’m the one saying that, not Tiger, you better have a good mindset when you go to Shootrite because there is a lot to learn from an experienced director and staff and believe me, it’s the good stuff, the real good stuff and Shootrite might just be the best place to get it.

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HAPPY EASTER!

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Praise the Lord! Christ is risen today! Thank you Lord Jesus for your sacrifice, for your love and for your grace!

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