Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's in my blood... American Exceptionalism.

I may be one of the few that's left... a shrinking minority... a man who still believes that the United States of America is exceptional. My friend, Matt, over at Jerking the Trigger recently posted a link to a video of Greg Medford speaking at a gathering of employees and friends at Medford Knife and Tool. It reminded me of why America is still exceptional... because we are more than just a geographically defined land mass... we are a group of diverse people who live in a nation founded by a Declaration of Independence and on a Constitution that spells out and protects the rights of man given by God, our creator. Sadly, I believe many folks have forgotten where we came from, how we got here, and where we should be heading.

Pappy, my brother, and... me.
My great grandfather had five boys who grew up on the farm. They made their own way, worked through the tough times of the Great Depression farming, selling milk, building homes, doing various jobs as necessary and as they could. They took care of their family, their friends, their community, and their country. Some served in World War II while folks like my grandfather farmed and worked in the steel mills along the Ohio River to help produce the raw material that continued to build our country.

I have great memories of my grandfather, "Pappy" as everyone called him.  Maybe those memories are inflated, almost legendary in my recollection, but he was a good man, a strong man, a manly man. He worked hard... in fact I'm not sure he knew how to not work hard. Ask anyone who's had dairy cows about getting up every morning, working every day in a labor intensive job, then working each night to keep the farm going. He could make, fix, or build just about anything... and he and my grandmother gardened, butchered beef, and provided for most of their own needs.

He still found time to have fun and do things with his family, friends, and grand-kids. I think I tend to live a lot like he did... I saw it in my mother too... a hard working lady who could cook, sew, and change a disposal under the sink or build just about anything she set her mind to. She put herself through college, married, and had two boys of her own, still working daily tutoring math as a volunteer in our local schools at almost eighty years of age. She can't stop past our house without doing some kind of work around here. Heck, we almost have to have some odd job lined up for her or she won't stay to visit very long.

The gals and I are pretty self-sufficient and can do just about anything we set our minds to and if we can't figure it our or have the right equipment... we have good friends and neighbors who probably have what we don't... so we help each other out like friends and neighbors should.  That is something that's not lost out here in the country.  I know my neighbors that live a half-mile away better than a lot of city and suburban folks know their neighbors that live forty-feet away from them.

Folks, we're headed for some rough times ahead... there's know doubt about it. We can't borrow our way out of it forever and at some point it's going to come down to fending for yourselves, your families, your friends, your community, and your country. I don't think endless growth is sustainable and while we may not have a total collapse... I believe we're at least heading for a "constriction" of our country's economy and general life-style. It's time to skip a few soccer games, occasionally turn off the TV and Facebook, and spend some quality time with the ones you love... building skills, knowledge, capabilities, supplies, and relationships that are real, practical, and meaningful.

We may not be as exceptional as we once were, but we have the foundation to be more exceptional than any place else on earth... if folks are willing to step up, take personal responsibility for themselves and their families, acknowledge reality, and move forward... looking towards a future.  THAT is why places like Medford Knife and Tool are prospering in tough times... that is why Pappy's legacy lives on generations later... and that is why my gals and I will do fairly well no matter what our circumstances are. We're not invested in and our worth is not found in things, but in folks.

What can I say... It's in my blood... American Exceptionalism.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

First Shots Cold... with our Ruger SR-556c.

I'm not much fun sometimes because I'm not a gamer and I'm far more practical than tactical. At around a half-century on this third rock from the sun, I'm not an operator... just a husband, a dad, a pudgy country boy, and a gun guy. Yeah, I use a timer when I practice with my firearms and when I compete in local IDPA, three-gun, and other competitions, but I don't participate in competition to beat anyone else but myself.

It's not that I'm making an excuse for being a poor shot or for mediocre firearms handling... I think I do alright handling guns and I shoot pretty well, but I'm more interested in my speed and abilities with my everyday carry gear than I am in how well I do with a race-gun or a competition-specific rig while wearing a shoot-me first vest.  Along those lines of thinking, I'm always interested in how I perform when I step out on the range taking my "first shots cold" or FSC.

My everyday home and self-defense, kill-a-coyote rifle is our the Ruger SR-556c with an Aimpoint PRO for an optic. I plan to use it for a 100-yard high-power, three position rifle match coming up this Saturday which only allows iron sights or zero-magnification red-dot sights. Now I realize a fourteen and a half inch barrel and a red-dot sight is not exactly standard fair for precision shooting at targets... four and two-legged varmints... yes... but precision targets... no.  I'm being practical.  This is the gun I bet my life on.... the gun I bet my gals' lives on... so when I grab it and take those first shots cold... it better hit what I'm aiming at.

The target above is from my practice time last Saturday and shows the first three-shot group using Federal .223 Remington GoldMatch with 69-grain Sierra MatchKing bullets shooting from the prone position resting the gun on the Magpul PMAG.  The target was at exactly 100-yards and the rifle was set up with a 50/200 yard zero.  The 2.5-inches over at 100-yards is pretty much dead on, but the 1.5-nches to the right is a little off, maybe due to taking the Aimpoint PRO on and off and couple of times.

I can't complain about the accuracy and precision... can you ask for anything more than a sub-one-MOA group from a defensive AR?  The rifle and I both performed to my expectations for self-defense. By the end of my practice time, I had re-zeroed at 100-yards for the match this coming Saturday with over two-thirds of my three-shot groups at less than one-inch.  Will I likely win the match competing against long-barreled rifles with precision peep-sights... not a chance. 

Again, I'm not shooting to win or be a gamer, I'm shooting to be practical and the best I can be... call it an excuse if you want... but that is why I'm always mostly interested in testing myself... and whether it's a pistol, rifle, or shotgun... those first shots are what count when your life or your family's lives are on the line.

This Saturday I'll again see how I do when firing those... First Shots Cold... with our Ruger SR-556c.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Back-up USB power for your technology.

We live in a technology-dependent culture whether we like to admit it or not.  For years, when the power went out... which happens a lot out here in the country where we live... the good 'ol trusty telephone still worked because it had a separate power source from Ma Bell. These days, we don't even have a "land-line" any more as it was dropped when my daughter was finally provided a cell phone several years ago.

While I've talked about back-up power before, sometimes you need a quicker or more portable solution for your technology, a lot of which can now be charged via a USB port. First of all, make sure you pick up a USB adapter for your vehicle's cigarette light, which can usually be found for less the ten bucks.

Another solution, which is quite inexpensive, is a battery-powered back-up USB power source. We picked up several of these Rayovac 7-Hour USB AA-Battery Powered Chargers for less then ten-bucks each a whole back and they come with a set of four AA-batteries.  I've tried one of ours and it actually lasted for almost nine hours of continuous use on a discharged cell phone, which it did bring to a full charge.

I also purchased one for my daughter who is away at college and has already experienced an eighteen-hour power outage.  Keeping those iPhones, iPads, iPods, and iWhatevers charged is critical in an emergency, so for anything short of the zombie apocalypse... pick up some... Back-up USB power for your technology.