Monday, March 28, 2011

Holster Project Update

"Skin that smokewagon and go to work!"
~Fictitious Wyatt

Holster Collapse
I think I'll go ahead and wet mold the holsters. I read up the trick of wrapping your guns in plastic wrap to protect them.  I'll do that tonight.

I strolled down to the hardware store and picked up a couple brass plates, a scratch awl, tin snips, and a leather punch. Cost: $30.

If I had purchased new holsters, the cost would have been $300 and would have taken 3 to 6 weeks for delivery. So I'm already $270 ahead, plus I'll have unique holsters. Victory is mine!

I had no idea how easy it was to shape brass plates with tin snips. This project is going a lot easier than I thought. The snips also made short work on the holster leather that needed trimming.

All I'm waiting on now are some copper rivets and a riveting tool from Tandy leather. There are no leather crafting stores in the South Bay, so I had to order them online. This raises the cost to $46, but I'm still $254 ahead. I also will have yet another tool, and about 50 extra rivets for other projects.

I also installed a panel in my bucket that lets me separate out the empty cases and hulls from the rest of the bucket. I used the zenith of the civilized world, shoebox cardboard and duct tape. Cost: Negligible.

Cowboy Gun Carts

"Circle the wagons and load your guns!"
~Wagon Masters, circa 1870

When I first started visiting SASS matches I was struck that everybody has a gun cart. It's a wheeled cart that holds your long guns, plus your ammo, supplies, tools, drinks, and usually has a place to sit down. At the time I thought that was kind of silly, but I was wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrongity, wrong wrong! I'm just using a six gallon bucket with a seat lid on it, and carrying my rifle and shotgun by hand. However, the rules state that long guns must always be pointed up. That means I have to make two trips every time we move from one stage to another. I missed the description of the shooting instructions on my second stage because I had to go back for my bucket! The folks with the carts just drop their long guns into their racks and wheel to the next stage.

A lot of these carts have built in work trays, so you don't have to wander off and find a place to sort things out. I was always looking for a horizontal surface to put my task on. I've decided that a gun cart is a necessity for a serious shooter.

There is a company that makes gun carts, but most of the carts I've seen were either built by the owner, or built as part of a cottage industry. There are also many plans available for sale on the Internet. Usually they're either made of wood, or welded up with angle iron. This makes them pretty heavy and bulky, but very sturdy.

I'm really looking forward to getting to the Ranchito (and all my tools) and making my own cart. I have some ideas for my own version. I'm really liking my bucket seat too, so I'll be making something that looks more rustic but incorporates a place for my bucket. I've got tons of cedar on my land, so I'm going to rough it out using limbs and branches, and only buy some wheels. Ideally, it would also work as a cart for hauling out deer carcasses, or maybe even on a pheasant hunt with Pop.

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Tar isteach agus a chur orthu!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

First Cowboy Action Shoot

"Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!"
~A Fellow Fat Man

I attended my first match at my local Single Action Shooting Society club down at Coyote Valley Sporting Clays last Saturday. I had an awesome time, and I can't wait till next month.

I was planning on taking lots of pictures showing the action, but there was never a slow moment. It's not just about taking your turn to shoot. If you're not loading, shooting  or unloading, there's plenty of other tasks; counting misses, picking up brass, making sure the guns are unloaded, filling your shell holders, grabbing a sip of water, etc. About the time you think you have a minute to take pictures, it's time to move to the next stage!
Coffee round the campfire.
My overall time was something like 276 seconds over four stages. That's about 70 seconds per stage, but I shot 3 of the stages clean (no misses). The winner's overall time was 87 seconds, or something equally disgustapating. Yeah, I'm snail-ass slow. On the other hand it was my first match, and the winner was some kind of national competitor or something. Meh. I'm only competing against myself.

The thing that slowed me down the most (besides my fat ass) was getting the empty hulls out of my double shotgun. The other shooters have their chambers polished, so they just do this backwards jerk thing and the empties fly right out. I have to pick the hulls out with my fingernails. About 60 seconds of my time was the ten to fifteen seconds it took for me to pick them out. Sometimes I'd have to shoot 6 or 8 shells to knockdown the targets. Five seconds spent picking hulls per reload really adds up. My first gunsmithing project is going to be polishing the chambers on my shotgun, so I can do that jerk trick.

One serious problem I had was my holsters. They kept collapsing after I drew the guns out, making it tough to get the guns back in. Of course, my first instinct was to buy new holsters. However, I don't throw money at my problems anymore. I'm going to get some thin brass plates and fix them, forcing them to stay open. I'm also going to look into wet-molding them. I'm not worried about ruining the holsters, I'm  worried about the process ruining my guns; wet leather and guns don't mix. I'll post pics as things go along.

However, I had a KICK ASS TIME! I can't wait for next month! The best part was getting faster as the day went by. As I climbed that experience curve, I had more and more fun. My rate of fire was way higher by the end of the day, but I was still hitting every target. It was kinda tai-chi-ish. I was going slow at first, yet correctly, so I wasn't missing, but I was easily picking up speed as I went along.
Fine, upstanding citizen.

I don't have a lot of experience with cowboy guns either. I've always used 1911s, DA/SA pistols, and semi-auto rifles. I never really got into shotguns either, so this makes my learning curve doubly steep. For example, during a practice session I tried to fix a problem with my rifle by racking the lever. On an AR-15, if the gun just goes click it means you've got a bad round, so you rack the action and keep going. Turns out the safety on my cowboy rifle was on, but the hammer still dropped and went click. All I had to do was turn the safety off and re-cock the hammer with my thumb, but my instinct took over and I racked the live round out onto the ground. That counts as a miss, and you're not allowed to pick it up. Oh well.

If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to try cowboy action shooting, the Coyote Valley Cowboys have a program where they'll rent you the guns and supply all the ammunition you'll need for about $100. They're really nice folks, and you'll have a great time. It's a great way to give cowboy shooting a try.

Tar isteach agus a chur orthu!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Permanent Record? Pffftt Yeah. Right. What. Ever.

"I hate high school, man! I can't wait to get out and just be a man, man. This is so fuckin bogus, man! I'll show you! This wasted 4 years of my life! Who needs a stupid old diploma! Who cares, man! This is all bullshit man! I'm free, man! Screw you, high school! I'm never going to school again!"
~Me - 1984

Fast forward 27 years. I had to go back to my old high school and get my transcripts sent to MSC. I can confirm that those chairs are engineered to make you feel insecure and inadequate. When I stood up, I felt like a adult. Sitting on *those chairs* made me feel 16 and surly again. It's the combination of the kindergarten colors, and the fact that they're exactly 80% the size of a real chair. So those chairs unleashed surly teen Me who promptly started running around the base of my brain stem, rocking out to Pat Benatar, and rolling up a new D&D character.

When I got a look at my transcripts, my mature self was appalled, but teen-Bubba was cheering! Looking at my transcripts you would have assumed I was still saying "Welcome to Sizzler, can I take your order?"

So I'm kind of perversely proud of how well I've done. However, if I could go back I'd kick my ass. Now that I really DO want to go back to school and get an education, I'm screwed! Even though I have the money and will, I'm so far behind the curve on the education track I don't have enough time to catch up and still have enough time to have a career afterwards.

Soooo... If you're graduating high school and you think college is a waste of time, that you're gonna go out and "keep it real," at least get an AA degree at your local community college. It makes everything easier later on, when you figure out what you really want to do.

On a side-note, your high school won't give you a copy of your own transcripts, it's against the law or something. But they will let you read them over in private. And it's probably illegal to take 30 or 40 pictures of them with your camera phone. So whatever you do, don't take pictures of your transcripts with your camera phone and mail them to yourself!

Tar isteach agus a chur orthu!