Sunday, August 28, 2005


Forgive me father, for I have sinned.
I have purchased.........a mini van.
I did not intend to purchase........a mini van.
I resisted with all my might, but in the end I gave in to temptation -- and my wife.

I tried to get a family car. I tried to get a family truck. I even suggested an economy car.

None of these were approved by She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Has anyone seen my spine? I know it's around here somewhere.........


Friday, August 26, 2005

Chrono testing, part 1

Chronograph results - test batch 1

Date: August 21, 2005
Time: 1pm
Location: Buckeye Hills Shooting Range
Temperature: approx 100 degrees
Humidity: approx 25%
Elevation: approx 1000 ft
Barometric pressure: unknown
Firearm: Browning BT-99
Caliber: 12 gauge
Barrel length: 32"
Choke: Improved Modified

Load 1: Winchester AA case, Winchester 209 primer, 15.6 grains 700x, Claybuster CB-1100-12 wad, 1 ounce # 7 1/2 shot

Average velocity: 1166 fps
Max velocity: 1181 fps
Min velocity: 1148 fps
Velocity spread: 33 fps
Standard Deviation : 13.70

Load 2: Winchester AA case, Winchester 209 primer, 15.6 grains 700x, Winchester WAA12SL wad, 1 ounce # 7 1/2 shot

Average velocity: 1151 fps
Max velocity: 1164 fps
Min velocity: 1140 fps
Velocity spread: 24 fps
Standard Deviation : 9.15

Load 3: Federal Gold Medal case, Winchester 209 primer, 15.6 grains 700x, Claybuster CB-2100-12 wad, 1 ounce # 7 1/2 shot

Average velocity: 1126 fps
Max velocity: 1142 fps
Min velocity: 1100 fps
Velocity spread: 42 fps
Standard Deviation : 17.33

Load 4: Winchester case, Winchester 209 primer, 17.5 grains 700x, Winchester WAA12 wad, 1 1/8 ounce # 8 shot

Average velocity: 1170 fps
Max velocity: 1176 fps
Min velocity: 1164 fps
Velocity spread: 12 fps
Standard Deviation : 5.54

Highest average velocity: Load 4
Smallest velocity spread: Load 4
Lowest standard deviation: Load 4

I think I see a pattern developing here...........


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Playing the numbers

In case it wasn't made clear in my previous posts, I reload all of the shotgun ammo that the kids and I use in competition. Like any other competition shooter, once I found "the load" that my guns liked I chiseled it in stone and never changed it: Winchester AA hull, Winchester 209 primer, 16.9 grains of IMR 700x powder, Pattern Control purple 1 ounce wad, 1 ounce of #7 1/2 extra hard shot. I didn't have a chronograph when I discovered this load so I have no idea how fast it was moving. The manual said that it should less than the 1200 fps maximum allowed by the ATA at the time, so I didn't really worry about it. This load would put almost 80% of the pellets into a 30" circle at 35 yards and would turn clay targets into smoke if I did my part. Notice that I said 35 yards instead of the standard 40 yards. At the time I developed this load (21 years ago), I shot very quickly and had a very short handicap so the targets didn't get very far away. Hence the shorter patterning distance.

Pattern Control has changed the design of their purple wad. It doesn't freakin' work anymore. I can't even crimp the cases closed without having shot dribble out like a damn salt shaker.

For the last few months I've been using Claybuster CB-1100-12 wads because they are cheap and easy to find where I live. I hadn't gotten around to patterning them yet, assuming that the wad wouldn't make that much of a difference.

It does.

I happened to need wads at a time when the Sportsman's Warehouse was out of Claybusters and bought a couple of bags of Winchester WAA12SL wads instead. My scores and the quality of my target breaks went up immediately, then went back down when I switched to the Claybusters. As Mr. Spock would say......."Fascinating." It was time to do some patterning.

Like any good reloader, when I switched components I dropped my powder charge so that I could work back up to the previous level, changing the 16.9 grain load down to 15.6 grains. If I didn't like what the chrono told me I would bump it up until I got the speed I wanted. I assembled 4 loads to try out:

Load 1: Winchester AA case, Winchester 209 primer, 15.6 grains 700x, Claybuster CB-1100-12 wad, 1 ounce # 7 1/2 shot

Load 2: Winchester AA case, Winchester 209 primer, 15.6 grains 700x, Winchester WAA12SL wad, 1 ounce # 7 1/2 shot

Load 3: Federal Gold Medal case, Winchester 209 primer, 15.6 grains 700x, Claybuster CB-2100-12 wad, 1 ounce # 7 1/2 shot

Load 4: Winchester case, Winchester 209 primer, 17.5 grains 700x, Winchester WAA12 wad, 1 1/8 ounce # 8 shot

Yes, load #4 is very different from the rest. This is one of the "standard" trap loads that has been around since the beginning of time. I figured I'd give it a try and see if there really was a reason it's been around so long.

I had to work as an RSO at the range last Sunday, so after the range was closed I set up all my equipment and did the chronograph and pattern testing. Stay tuned for the results..............


Friday, August 19, 2005

Shoot wrapup

I know...I know. "You've been home 4 days and you're just now writing the shoot wrapup from last weekend?" This was the first week of school for the kids and I had jury duty for the last 3 days. I was busy. Do you want the wrapup or not?

This trip was done a little differently than the last few and was quite a bit more fun. Instead of staying in a motel during the shoot we teamed up with my Greg, my assistant coach, his daughter Megan, and their 30' fifth-wheel trailer. Sure, at a motel you have a pool, a shower, and cable tv, but nothing quite compares to staying at the range in a camper. Watching the sun rise over the trap bubbling on the stove.....swapping stories with the other live-in shooters....and the best part: stepping out the front door with your shotgun and walking directly to the line to shoot. As they say in the commercials, "It doesn't get any better than this." Of course, one by-product of staying together like this is that the kids are all firmly convinced that all adults are crazy. Perhaps the midnight serenade of "The ant and the rubber tree plant" had something to do with it.

Greg and the kids all shot 400 targets over the 2 day shoot - 200 each day. Greg and Megan had never shot competition trap before and both did very well for their level of experience. In fact, by the time she was finished Megan had improved here scores by almost 50%. I really think her main issue at this point is vision. She wears a pair of very stylish, very small prescription glasses that look nice but simply do not have a large enough field of vision to use effectively for aerial shooting. A good set of prescription shooting glasses (or contacts) will allow her to see the target much more clearly and should improve her scores dramatically.

Kathy and Nathan got their butts kicked in the Saturday singles event by some kid named Josh that we had never seen before. They didn't let it get them down and went out for the doubles event (two targets thrown simultaneously) with fire in their eyes.

They tied for first place in their division.

It was starting to rain by the time all the scores were in, so they flipped a coin to see who got the title and Kathy won. She's planning to frame the quarter.

Josh was back for the Sunday singles event and beat them both again, but not by much. The Sunday handicap event was Nathan's last chance for a trophy that weekend and he wanted it bad. He buckled down and shot his highest score ever, beating his sister by 2 broken targets. He practically danced his way to the scoreboard.

How did I do? Well........some good, some bad. I shot all 6 events for a total of 600 targets. I learned that it is very distracting for me to shoot with my kids, simply because I keep trying to be a coach when I should be concentrating on my shooting. After blowing the first singles event and the first handicap event, I got my head on straight and broke 96 out of 100 targets in the doubles event, winning my class by 1 target.

Saturday's singles event went well, but in the class I shoot in 97% just isn't good enough. You can usually get away with missing one target, but missing three generally puts you out of the running for the trophy. Still a good score, but not quite enough. I broke another 97 out of 100 in the first Sunday handicap. That score was good enough to win my class and increase my handicap as well, moving me back to a 26 1/2 yard handicap. (27 yards back is the maximum) A storm blew in while I was shooting the second Sunday handicap and I spent more time watching the lightning than the targets, coming out with a score of 91 out of 100 from my new handicap distance. Not in the money, but any score above 90% from way in the back is a good score.

I ended up winning enough money in the purses that all of the entry fees for both kids were paid for, with two event titles to boot. The kids won one event each, and even took home some $$ themselves. As far as I'm concerned, prize money = fun money so we all trotted down to the bank on Monday to cash our prize checks together.

The money and trophies are nice, but the smiles on the kids' faces are worth a whole lot more. It was a damn fine weekend.


Monday, August 15, 2005



Sunday in Prescott

Friday, August 12, 2005

Road trip

Sometimes I think I take this coaching thing too far. This weekend the kids and I are going to Prescott for a weekend trapshoot. We're being accompanied by my assistant coach Greg and his daughter Megan. Today while I was waiting for a query to run at work I started thinking about how the 5 of us should be arranged on our squad.

Greg is an experienced sporting clays shooter but he's never shot registered trap before. Megan is at about the same level of experience as my kids.....lots of practice, but minimal competition experience. That leaves me as the logical choice for squad leader on post 1. All of the kids need to learn the squad leader routine, but not quite yet. I think they need to be comfortable with what they are doing before they start having to keep track of what other people are doing.

Nathan can't shoot next to me because I screw up his timing. I shoot very quickly, and if he is following me on a squad he tends to speed up and try to shoot the way I do. He'll eventually be able to do it, but right now he just doesn't have the experience. Speed comes with practice and cannot be forced. That means that Nathan needs to be on post 3, 4, or 5.

Megan shoots left handed, so posts 4 and 5 are easier for her than for a right handed shooter. She also needs the most help in boosting her scores and her confidence level. Starting her off on the easy angles (for her) and letting her finish up with the 'feel good' straightaway targets on station 3 would probably help with her confidence level. That fills post 4, leaving 2,3, and 5 open.

Greg is Megan's dad and also a coach. As a result, it's going to be hard for him to shoot with her and be able to resist the temptation to analyze her shooting and coach her on the line.....a big no-no in competition. If Greg shoots immediately after Megan, he may be able to keep track of how she is doing but he won't have time to do anything about it. He's also an experienced shooter and won't be thrown off by starting with hard right angles. Station 5 for Greg.

Kathy has a tendency to look at me after she misses a target to get feedback on what she did incorrectly. We've been working on breaking that habit but she still needs some help. Putting her to my immediate right will have her standing with her back to me and make it both more difficult and more easily noticed if she breaks her concentration to do a "Dad check" after shooting. Station 2 for Kathy.

That leaves station 3 for Nathan, which fits well with his need to not shoot immediately after I do.

The OCD approach to shooting. Of course this will all go to hell during the handicap events because I can't shoot with the rest of the group, but we'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

Have a good weekend everybody. I'll be back Monday.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005


The kids are finally home. Not without drama, but they're home. The original plan was for me to drive to Oklahoma City (halfway point) and meet my ex there to exchange hostages...err, excuse pick up the kids. We've been doing this for several years. She and her current husband drive to OKC from Kentucky, my wife and I drive to OKC from Arizona, whoever has the kids hands them off to the other and away we go. Pretty simple, really.

This year it had to be different. There wasn't enough drama during the summer, so we had to have the drama at kid-swap time. I received a phone call at work from my 11 year old son at 4:45 pm the day before we were leaving. To say that he was not happy would be quite an understatement. Instead of calling herself, his mother had him call to tell me that she couldn't bring them to OKC.

Why couldn't she bring them to Oklahoma City?

She didn't know where it was.

I'm not talking about the location in OKC where we were supposed to meet....I mean the city itself. Couldn't find it. Didn't know how to get there.





I suppose I shouldn't be too upset about this. The roads in Oklahoma are so bad that it always seems like OKC gets farther away every time I go there. Maybe someone decided that moving the city to a different part of the state would be easier than fixing all the damn potholes in I-40.

I ended up buying a pair of last minute, hideously expensive plane tickets to get the kids home. Several people have suggested that the whole scene was an elaborate ruse to get me to pay for transporting the kids because my ex and her cohort didn't have the cash to hold up their end of the bargain. I don't know and I don't really care. All that's important to me is that my kids are home where they belong. It would have been nice if she'd had her crisis a week earlier so that I could have saved some $$ buying the tickets in advance, but if wishes were horses we'd all be neck deep in horse shit. They're home.

And we've already made a trip to the range to break in their new shotguns. ;-)


Friday, August 05, 2005

Accidental death

From Fox News :

Most Accidental Child Deaths Happen at Home
Monday, August 01, 2005

By Jennifer Warner

Next to your car, your home may be one of the most dangerous places for your child.

New research shows that aside from motor vehicle injuries, children are more likely to die from an accidental injury they sustained at home than in any other place.

The study shows that despite recent reductions in unintentional injuries at home, more than half of child deaths caused by accidental injuries in a known location happen at home. The top causes of accidental deaths among children at home were fires, submersion in water, suffocation, poisoning, and falls.

Researchers say child deaths due to intentional injuries and child abuse may get more attention, but child deaths caused by unintentional injuries at home occur far more often, and most could have been prevented with adequate safety measures and supervision.

Where Accidental Child Deaths Happen

In the study, which appears in the August issue of Pediatrics, researchers analyzed injury-related deaths among children under 20 from 1985-1997 using National Vital Statistics System Mortality Data.

The results show that more than 14,500 children died each year from unintentional injuries. Of those, 65 percent of the injuries were caused by motor vehicle injuries, railway accidents, or medical complications not coded for location of injury occurrence. The other 35 percent of unintentional injuries happened in a known location.

Of the more than 5,100 unintentional injuries that happened each year in a known location, more than half (55 percent) of the injuries happened at home.

Researchers say the rate of fatal accidents at home decreased by 22 percent from 1987 to 1997. The majority of unintentional injuries sustained at home were preventable, such as injuries due to fire, drowning, or poisoning.

The death rate due to accidental injuries in the home was highest among infants under 1 year of age and children aged 1-5 years compared with other age groups.

Boys were nearly twice as likely to die from unintentional injuries sustained at home as girls. Black children were also twice as likely to die from accidental injuries at home as white children.

Researchers say the racial differences in accidental child death rates may be due to substandard housing, lower levels of education, and poverty. They say strategies to develop and enforce health-based housing standards could dramatically reduce the number of accidental child deaths at home.

By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES: Nagaraja, J. Pediatrics, August 2005; vol 116: 454-461. News release, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Aside from my normal interest as a parent, why am I posting this? Because firearms are not mentioned at all in this article. That is a good thing.

__ a good home

Anybody need some home decorations?

Wanted: Good, large home for vast animal collection

Ted Sliger's legacy stares at you in haunting fashion, hundreds of fixed eyes lovingly preserved but looking for a new, long-term home.

The 400 antelope, Gila monsters, a golden eagle, and even an Alaskan wolf are content for now at the Buckhorn Motel and Museum in east Mesa, their home for several decades at the historic former mineral baths.

But with Sliger's widow, Alice, now 98, and the immediate family uninterested in carrying on the family tradition, the animals' future is very much in doubt.

Go read the rest if you're interested, but remember that the stuffed bald eagle requires a federal permit!


Thursday, August 04, 2005


Like many other houses in our area, the Shotgun Manor has an American flag flying out front. I positioned the floodlights around our driveway so that they would illuminate the flag at night so that we can display it 24/7. Arizona can be a very windy place, so I have to replace our flag every few months due to wind damage. This replacement cycle makes sure that we almost always display a fresh, good looking flag. Almost.

On special holidays the clean, new flag get taken down and replaced with a ragged, faded, dirty, torn and scorched flag.

Why do I do this? Because that ragged old flag was the one flying over our house when it burned down.

A little over two years ago, my wife and I came home from dinner to find our house surrounded by fire trucks and hoses running through the hole where our front door used to be. It only took 14 minutes for the fire to gut the house, and it was still burning in some places when we got home. The neighbors said that at one point the heat was making our roof move like waves on the ocean.

My memory of the hours immediately following the fire are a mixture of blurred movement punctuated by moments of extreme clarity. I remember the smell of smoke in the house, the sweat dripping from the faces of the firefighters, the feel of soggy insulation under my feet as I walked through the wreckage......but I have no idea what period of time those memories cover. It could have been 15 minutes, or it could be 3 hours. I simply don't know.

One of the memories that sticks out is the realization that our flag was gone. It hangs right next to the front porch so that every visitor walks by it on the way in and out. It's absence registered with me, but I dismissed it rather quickly as I had other things to worry about. I remember thinking that it must have been knocked down by the hoses or the people rushing by. It wasn't until the next day when we were sorting through what was left of our life that I found out what happened to the flag.

It was folded neatly and sitting in a part of the garage that didn't burn. One of the fire fighters who responded to our fire took it down, folded it, and stored it safely out of the way while the fire was being put out. The flag was slightly burned, soot stained, and torn in several places....but it survived the fire because someone cared about it.

I fly that flag on holidays as a reminder to myself and to the world that no matter what happens, we will still be here......because someone cares.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Use the right tool

Last weekend I decided to attempt a recoil pad install on my daughter's new shotgun. Her new Citori had the original 14 1/4" length of pull (LOP), which is rather long for a 5'6" 13 year old. She shoots very well with my 14" LOP 1958 Superposed, so I removed the original 1" pad from her gun and intended to install a 3/4" pad........shortening the length without cutting the stock.

Although I've been shooting for over 20 years, I've only recently started attempting to do my own gunsmithing. Perhaps I should rephrase's only recently that I've started doing my own gunsmithing and not had it look like a neanderthall did the work with a large hammer and a sharp rock. My only previous attempt at installing a recoil pad was about 2 months ago when I updated the pad on my old Ithaca model 37. I did the shaping with a rotary rasp on a cordless drill and the result was.....well.......ok, the result was really crappy. I looked through my latest Brownells catalog and found some pad shaping jigs that were intended for use with a belt sander. I don't have a belt sander, but I do have a sanding block and lots of time. So on Saturday night I scribed the outline of the stock onto the new pad, and, in true redneck fashion, opened a beer and went to work with a stack of sandpaper and a pocket knife. Four hours later I had cramps in both forearms and this thing that might someday be a recoil pad. I decided that on Monday I would pay the $50 and have a gunsmith do it. Maybe he'd let me watch.........

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. I had finished mowing the yard and trimming the bushes and was straightening up the garage when my eyes fell on my Ryobi bench grinder. Hmmmmm. It's not a belt sander, but I wonder how if it would work? Would it actually shape the pad or just rip big chunks off?

I rooted around in my "this might be useful someday" box and found an old recoil pad of rather dubious origin that I didn't mind destroying. I fired up the grinder and touched the pad to the 'fine' grinding wheel. Holy crap. It worked perfectly.

I quickly snatched up the thing that I had created the previous night and scampered over to the grinder. Less than 15 minutes later I had a completed pad that fit as well as the original pad. Not perfect, but presentable. If I had started with the grinder and not wasted 4 hours screwing around with sandpaper I would have had a better finished product, but this one is just fine.

This is one of those things that makes me twitch: I'm happy that I figured out how to do it, but I'm pissed that it took me so long to figure it out. Maybe next time I'll spend more time studying here before I start.


I see the moon.....

I'm not sure why I thought of this tonight, but when my son was about 3 years old he used to sing a song every night when he went to bed. The actual lyrics are:

I see the moon,
And the moon sees me.
God bless the moon,
And God bless me.

His song didn't quite come out that way......he did it like this:

I see moon,
moon see me,
God bless moon,
God bless me.

My kids (who aren't so little any more) will be home in 5 days. I'm not sure who is more excited.....


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