Sunday, February 28, 2010

e-Postal Match Design Considerations

Now that we are entering our fifth year of e-Postal Handgun matches, I've learned a lot about the actual design of the matches. I thought it might be useful to try and point out some ideas that worked in the past, and some that didn't quite work out as planned.

One thing that just about every past match seemed to have in common was that it was a lot harder than it looked. The legendary "Fly Swatter" target looks like you could hardly miss, yet I'm sure it has nearly brought grown men to tears! A little of the "Harder than it looks" is OK, but if it's too difficult, a lot of entries end up in the garbage can instead of being sent in, as some shooters think they have shot poorly, when in reality, it was just plain difficult to get a high score, and they had actually done just fine.

Here's some thoughts from previous matches:

1. Don't make it so difficult that it discourages people from sending in their entries.

2. If using concentric circle type targets, many rings of narrow width are better than a few wide ones. This way small variations in accuracy will show up as variations in total score.

3. Split optic sight centerfire , iron sight centerfire, optic sight rimfire, and iron sight rimfire into different classes. Other classes can be fun, too, like air pistol, revolver, snubbies, Saturday night specials, whatever! Encourage entering with several different handguns.

4. Make the targets printable on a standard 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper from a PDF file.

5. Keep the distance at 25 feet to 10 yards, as that is a comfortable distance for most shooters, and most ranges can accommodate that distance.

6. Including some strategy into the target design can add a challenge. For example, multiple sized targets with large ones of low value and small ones of high values. That way you have to decide if you want to take the easy safe scores or risk going for the smaller high value target even though missing it scores you a zero, or even a penalty.

7. Rather than just a plain old basic target, try to incorporate a theme into the match design, something that sets it apart from standard target shooting.

8. Keep the scoring system simple.

9. Keep the number of shots to not over twenty to keep the ammo cost down.

10. Try to get an entry on to only one or two targets. This saves paper, and also cuts down the number of scans needed to submit your entry.

11. If you design your own target, make sure the lines and edges are clear, sharp, and has a lot of contrast so it's easy to score. If you use color in your target design, check to make sure it photocopies and shows up well in black and white. Certain colors will show up as the same shade of gray, and what stands out in color may disappear completely in black and white.

The whole idea is for the e-Postal matches to be fun shooting for shooters of all skill levels shooting all sorts of handguns, from antiques to the latest and greatest.

Of course, these ideas can be used to put together a fun shoot/contest out at your club range too, so feel free to have a go at it, too.


Friday, February 26, 2010

e-Postal Match "Seein' Stars"

It's time for the monthly e-Postal matches to get underway, and we're starting out the series with a version of a match from a few years ago but with some slightly different rules. The name of the new match is "Seein' Stars", and I'm sure some of us will be "Seein' Stars" long after shooting the match! This match is a real challenge as it's relatively easy to do fairly well, but nearly impossible to max the score.

This month we have seven classes, so there's a place for just about everything. It's time to drag out all those handguns that have been unused all Winter and limber 'em up!

TARGET: The same target is used in all classes. The target can be downloaded from here:

It is an Adobe Acrobat PDF file. When you print it out, the biggest star should measure 4" inches across. If you print it out and end up with something different, try un-checking "fit to page" in the print settings.

CLASS ONE: Any rimfire handgun with no more than a 12" barrel, iron sights.

CLASS TWO: Any rimfire handgun with no more than a 12" barrel, optic sights, no magnification.

CLASS THREE: Any centerfire (non-revolver) handgun with no more than a 12" barrel, iron sights.

CLASS FOUR: Any centerfire (non-revolver) handgun with no more than a 12" barrel, optic sights, no magnification.

CLASS FIVE: Any revolver with no more than a 12" barrel, iron sights.

CLASS SIX: Any revolver with no more than a 12" barrel, optic sights, no magnification.

Any handgun with no more than a 14" barrel, any sights, scopes, laser, whatever. This class is primarily for target pistols.

If you have something interesting to shoot that doesn't quite fit in the above classes, go ahead and enter anyway.

: 25 feet, or Ten yards, which ever is available at your range.

SHOOTING POSITION: Standing, un-supported, off-hand, one or two hands on gun permitted.

SCORING: In each class you are allowed ten shots at the target. Each star can only be counted once, no matter how many times you shoot it. Touching the black counts as a hit. The target has a perfect score of 320.

Ties will be decided based on the highest number of hits solidly in the black and not touching the edges.

Mark your score on each target with a legible pen, along with the class and type of gun used. Don't write your name on the target, only the name you want to appear in the results, as your target may get posted on Mr. Completely.

STRATEGY: Are you better off to risk trying for the fifty point star, and risk missing it, or should you play it safe and be sure to get the easier ones of lower value?

MULTIPLE ENTRIES: You can enter more than once, in fact, it is encouraged. Shoot everything you own, and everything you can borrow! Take a buddy to the range, get him entered, then borrow his gun and enter that! The only restriction is that you can only enter once for any given gun, in any individual Class. You can shoot the target as many times as you like, and send in the best one.

Different calibers in the same gun count as one gun. For example, .38SPL and .357MAG are considered as one, as would be .44SPL and .44MAG. Different guns of the same caliber and barrel length can be entered.

PRIZES: Nope, it's just for the fun of it and the bragging rights! HOWEVER, there WILL be a random drawing of all the entries to win a $50 Gift Certificate from Cheaper Than Dirt. (Very cool....)

SUBMITTING YOUR ENTRY: Take a digital photo of, (or scan) your targets, and email the picture, along with:

1. Your score.

2. The name you want used when we post the results.

3. Gun description - Brand, model, semi-auto, revolver, black powder, caliber, barrel length, and type of sights

4. Class: Class One, Two, Three, four, five, six, or seven.

5. Anything interesting or unique about your entry that other shooters might enjoy hearing about.

Email it all to b l o g (at) w h i d b e y (dot) c o m

If you can't scan or send target pictures, send everything else to me in an email, and we'll arrange for either fax or snail mail for the targets.

The rules are subject to revision as needed, should the need arise.

All entries must be received by Midnight on Monday, March 29th, and results will be posted within seven days, or less.

If you have any questions, leave the question in the comments to this post, or send me an email, or both.

Have fun!!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Curing Failure to Eject or Extract

I got the following email, and I decided the answer would make a good post, as maybe it will help some of you to sort out one of the most frustrating things that can happen with a semi-auto pistol.
I've been searching the Internet to no avail to try to find out how to remove the extractor on my PT92 for cleaning. I put 400 rounds through with no problems and normal cleaning - but then had two failure to extracts in last 100 rounds today. I think (hope!) it's just a dirty extractor - but it sure is a bear to try to clean under there with toothpicks. I'd like to take it apart and really make sure it's clean under there. Can you send along the process? Other ideas on on failures to extract this early in the round count on a PT92?
To start with, I should define a couple of terms. When I talk about "Failure to extract" I am referring to the gun firing normally, but the expended casing remains in the chamber. "Failure to eject" refers to the gun firing normally, and the expended casing gets out of the chamber but stays in the gun, usually wedged sideways between the slide and barrel.

Failure to extract and failure to eject can look a lot alike, and have different causes most of the time. The only time the extractor actually extracts the casing is if the round fails to fire and you rack the slide to clear the chamber.

If the round fires as it should, the gas pressure drives the casing out of the chamber, pushing the slide back. The primary purpose of the extractor is to hold the casing against the face of the slide so when it is hit by the ejector it sends the empty spinning out of the gun. If the ejector was gone or broken off, for example, it's possible for the empty casing to stay against the face of the slide and end up riding the slide back into the chamber. Often the slide tries to pick up the next round, though, and you often end up with a pretty good train wreck of a jam.

A light powder load, a stiffness in the movement of the slide, a really dirty chamber, or a too heavy slide spring can all look like a failure to extract, with the expended casing not getting out of the chamber. "Limp Wristing", not maintaining a firm grip on the pistol, can also cause failures to eject. A worn or binding extractor is more likely to cause a failure to eject, rather than a failure to extract, in most cases.

If you have a Taurus PT-92, and it's like mine, the extractor is held in buy a small pin that goes through a hole in the extractor. There is a coil spring under the extractor. I suspect the Beretta is the same, although I don't have one at hand to look at. The extractor shouldn't need to be removed very often at all.

Hope this helps.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Puyallup Steel Report

Last Sunday Keewee and I drove to Puyallup, roughly two hours travel time, to the Paul Bunyan Club's steel match. The weather was absolutely fantastic for February, with blue sky and pleasant temperatures. There was a bit of frost on the ground early, but once the sun came out it warmed up nicely.

The good weather brought out the fair weather shooters too, so the attendance was good. John and Debbie were there from KRRC. James and Scott, two absolutely amazing revolver shooters were there, and as we usually do James, Scott, and I were on the same squad. We always try to get squadded together as we have so much fun picking on each other all day! Today was no exception. Our times are usually pretty close, but to be fair, they are shooting centerfire revolvers and I'm shooting an open class rimfire race gun. I keep reminding them that they are both thirty or forty years younger than I am, though, but they don't give me any slack, regardless.

For not having shot since last Summer, KeeWee shot amazingly well. My main High Standard race gun gave me a bit of trouble, though. The trigger bar was hanging up a bit and not always grabbing the sear, so when I pulled the trigger noting would happen. I made a quick trip to the safety area and cleaned under the trigger bar, and also increased the "Grasshopper Spring" tension a little, and the gun ran fine the rest of the day. This week I'll give it a much more thorough going over, as I suspect the trigger bar might be developing a small burr that needs to be polished off.

Throughout the day Scott had been running sub-totals on the scores, and between the three of us it all boiled down to the final stage. It was five large 18" by 24" plates side by side, but varying a bit it distance off the ground. After both Scott and James shot the stage, Scott had just barely edged James for total score. It was within a second between them, if I remember correctly. I was the last of the three of us to shoot, and Scott figured that I needed to average 1.98 seconds per shot string for four of the five runs to edge Scott's time. Of course, both Scott and James were all over me on that. Pressure? What pressure? They reminded me that if I failed I would have been beaten by a couple of old antique revolvers! Scott's revolver, a S&W 627, I think, is hardly an antique, but they certainly didn't want to ruin their trash talking with the facts!

Any sub two second run is a special run for me, but to put together four runs out of five, all sub two, would be quite a challenge! I've been experimenting with a slight change in my grip for situations like this, where I can trade off a little accuracy for a little bit more speed. This looked like a good time to give it a try, although I'd never tried it in a match before. On an extremely fast stage like this one, the time to get the first shot off is critical, as it can be a big chunk of your time. You have to start raising the gun on the "Front" of the buzzer's buzz, and try to get the shot low on the first plate, thus not wasting time raising the gun any higher than necessary.

I tried to put all of the"Thinking" part of the stage out of my mind and let muscle memory do its job. I had the shot sequence fixed in my mind. The far right hand plate was quite a bit lower than the far left hand plate, so it would be a quicker first shot. The buzzer sounded, and I managed to keep all five shots on the plates. "One point six six" the timer announced. Faster than I had wanted to go, and faster is usually riskier. Do I want to slow it down a bit and be a bit more certain of the accuracy? The first run had felt pretty smooth, so I decided to not change anything except to work on the time to the first shot a bit. "One point five six" the timer announced following the second run. The second run felt a little less smooth, but not too much so. I decided not to change anything for the third run, but work a little on being smoother. "One point five two!" he called. I now had three good runs on the books, it was time to take a safe one and be sure. After all, any sort of a gun malfunction or a miss could change things totally. My fourth run came in at 1.88 seconds, still pretty fast for me! I finished up with a 1.68, if I remember correctly.

What a fun stage! I love it when you do your homework, practice the stuff you need to practice, pick the right approach to the stage, the gun runs flawlessly, and then it all comes together for you. The 1.52 is an all time personal best on five separate targets.

After the match John, James, Debbie, KeeWee and I all headed over to the Hangar Restaurant at nearby Thun Field.Not only are their hamburgers delicious, it's right next to the light aircraft gas pumps and in a good position to watch the planes landing and taking off. In addition to the more common general aviation planes, we saw a Kitfox, a Stearman, an assortment of RV's, and other homebuilts coming and going.

After a good lunch and conversation, it was back on the road to head back to Whidbey. Once back on the Island, we stopped at the DQ for some ice cream for desert.

We had a good day!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Flights To Holland - H E L P ! ! !

Last year KeeWee and I fley from Seattle to Amsterdam and back to participate in the European Steel Challenge Championships in Winterswijk, Holland. Europe is rather expensive, and particularly Amsterdam, and with the weak US Dollar, this year it's even worse. Last year we bought round trip flights for $611 each, but this year the same tickets are over $1,100 bucks each. To make it a bit more difficult, the only non-stop flights are on a KLM route operated by Delta. I don't want to run the risk of losing my suitcase and race guns with a plane change in a gun-unfriendly city or country, so I'm sticking to the non-stop flights.

I've been watching the regular on line travel sites like Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak, and several others. I've also been checking flight consolidators, all with no good fares. They all are about the same. Interestingly enough, when I check the seating charts, the plane is nearly empty, with less than forty sold seats on an Airbus A-330. The dates I need to travel on are May 12th to Amsterdam, and may 18th or 19th returning.

Do any of you out there have any good ideas? Perhaps someone who works in the industry? I realize once the seats start filling up you better buy tickets or you won't be able to get seats, but so far it's not full. I don't want to wait until the very last minute and have it turn into five grand a ticket, for sure!

H E L P ! ! !


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kitsap - The Forest Fire Danger Was Low.......

I went over to the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club on Saturday for their monthly Fun Steel match. KeeWee was smart enough to stay home and stay dry, but I've been getting cabin fever not having shot a match since last November, so off I went. The drive over it rained. The drive back it rained even heavier. All day long it rained. Fortunately, there are shelters at each shooting bay so you can stay out of the rain, at least, until it's your turn to shoot. It wasn't particularly cold, though, so if you could keep fairly dry it wasn't bad at all.

For the time of year and the weather, turnout was quite good, with almost forty entries. John has put in a lot of work keeping the steel shooting going at KRRC, and each year the entries increase.

The stages were either out of the Steel Challenge book, or similar to Steel Challenge stages, with a bit of John's "Evil Genius" thrown in to mess you up! A couple of the stages looked a lot easier than they were, and when you tried to shoot them as fast as it looked, you definitely paid for it!

Since it was raining all day I didn't take any pictures. We all had a great time, though, in spite of the rain. It was great to see all the familiar faces.

The KRRC Fun Steel matches are even month, year round, on the second Saturday. If you've always wanted to try shooting steel, these would be great matches for you. You don't need to draw from a holster, although there is a class for you if you want to. Safety is carefully enforced, but the matches are intended to be informal and fun, and they definitely are all of that!

Why not try one out sometime?

Friday, February 12, 2010

First Match of the Year

Well, tomorrow morning, not particularly bright, but definitely early, I'm off to slog my way to the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club grounds near Bremerton , Washington, for their Fun Steel match. I haven't been to a KRRC match since November, or was it October? Way too long, and it's about time I go shoot a match for a good "Reality Check" as to how much work I've got to do to get my shooting, and myself, back into shape for the upcoming season.

I've got a full schedule planned, with State Championships in Washington, Arizona, and Idaho, the Man of Steel Match in Oregon, the European Steel Challenge Championships in Holland (If I can come up with the $$$ to get the plane tickets), and the Steel Challenge World Championships in California. Mixed in between all of that I plan to shoot every club steel match I can get to, between KRRL and the Paul Bunyan club in Puyallup, Washington. And last but not least, we plan to shoot some Steel Challenge Stages at this year's Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno in September. That's always fun!

Anyhow, first things first, and I need to not look beyond tomorrow's steel match at KRRC. If you are going to be in the area, stop by and say HI!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Little Bit Closer

A couple of nights ago I attended the Board of Directors meeting at Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club, my home club. I put on a presentation proposing that a a large and currently vacant area on the club grounds behind the rifle range be excavated in such a way as to create eight full sized multi-use pistols bays. Much of the current club activities are oriented towards the club's shotgun activities.

At the present, all of the lead shotgun pellets land in some scrub trees and are virtually impossible to recover. It had been proposed to build a really large berm on the shotgun ranges to catch the lead so it could be recovered and sold. To build a berm, of course, requires a lot of dirt be brought in. To build eight full sized pistol bays requires a lot of dirt be taken out. Digging out the pistol bays would provide the dirt for the berm, and also provide a whole new range area for shooting activities we currently can't do. Sort of a Win-Win as I see it.

I explained a bit about Steel Challenge, IPSC, SASS, IDPA, GLOCK, and lots of other uses. The consensus was that it was a really good idea, and it should be done once the permits finally go through at the county. We could do the dirt moving ourselves, and we have a number of members with excavators, backhoes, dump trucks, and so forth that would volunteer to do the job.

Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun is already an excellent club, and with the pistol bays it would become a world class facility. We have our own restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, dance floor, RV hookups, shotgun ranges, a rifle range, and a pistol range. The Rifle and pistol ranges have covered shooting stations.

With the new pistol bays we would have the facilities to put on state, regional, or even national level matches in the future. Here on the South end of Whidbey Island we have numerous restaurants, a State Park campground, tons of bed and breakfasts, and a couple of motels. A really good match should be able to draw from all over the Pacific Northwest.

First we've got to get the permits and move the dirt. After that, the sky's the limit!

e-Postal Match News

The e-Postal match series is starting up on the 1st. of March, and the first match will be hosted right here by yours truly. We will have one match a month clear through next November.

For those of you unfamiliar with the e-Postal match series, here's how it works: Each month a different gun blog will host the match. The host will think up the target and make it available for download. You can usually expect something challenging, harder than it looks, and more often than not like something you've never seen before! In short, lots of fun!

The rules and course of fire will be on the host's blog. You download the target, print out the rules, and head out to the range. After shooting the targets, you either scan them, or take a digital picture of them, and email them to the e-Postal match host. Once the match is closed, the host will tabulate the scores and post them on the host's blog. What do you win? Nothing but bragging rights, so that tends to keep everyone honest!

However, this year we have a big surprise! Cheaper Than Dirt (You DO follow their website for good ammo prices, accessories, their blog, and a ton of other resources, don't you?) has generously donated a $50 gift certificate to each month's e-Postal match, to be awarded by random drawing to one of that month's entrants. Still no incentive to fudge on your scores, but quite an incentive to send in several entries, each shot with a different gun, of course!

All the details will be with the rules on the first match of the year, coming up right here in a few weeks.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Firearms and the Law Class Coming Up Soon

There's a class coming up shortly that some of you might want to attend. It will be held at the Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club not far from Langley, on Whidbey Island. Here's the info:

A Class On


By Federal Way Firearms Lawyer



3334 East Brooks Hill Road,
Langley, WA 98260

February 23rd., from 5pm. To 8pm.

In today’s world, if you carry a gun, have a gun for home defense, like to hunt, or even just shoot in local club competition, it is essential that you have a good understanding of the laws pertaining to firearms in our state. Even if you don’t own a gun but think you may want to get one someday, this class is for you. This class will provide information that will help everyone from beginners to experienced gun owners. Even if you have taken other classes that focus on the laws of armed self-defense, the classroom discussion will help you to review and anticipate important issues.

The class will include, but will not be limited to:
  1. Who should carry?
  2. Concealed carry and open carry options, including Washington State case law pertaining to unlawful display of a weapon.
  3. How to carry your weapon.
  4. Deploying deadly force.
  5. When and where you can carry.
  6. How to interact with law enforcement before, during and after an incident.
  7. Threat response planning for home & business.
  8. Stress psychology.
  9. Preparing for the aftermath of a justified self-defense scenario.
The presentation will include topics such as stopping home invasions, use of force and interacting with law enforcement after an armed encounter with deadly force.

The cost of the class is $49.00 per person, but if you bring your spouse, their ticket is only an additional $25.00, so be sure to bring your wife. This is a class you both should attend! Tickets will be available at the door.

There will be absolutely no handling of weapons during class or on the premises. Thus, your pistol, if any, should remain in a holster or other secure location while in the class.

We promise a class that is interesting, fun, and that will keep you safe, out of trouble, and out of court!

For further information contact:
Michael McInerney at 360-221-7574
Mike Gallion at 360-321-6258

Mr. Knapp has practiced law for twenty years, with a focus on criminal defense. Mark is a member of the NRA, Washington Arms Collectors, and Paul Bunyan Rifle & Sportsman’s Club in Puyallup. He competes in steel target matches, IPSC competition, and some occasional rifle competitions. His website is

Monday, February 08, 2010

Boeing 747-8 First Flight

As I'm typing this I'm following the streaming video of the first flight of the new Boeing Freighter, the 747-8. It is now taxiing out to the runway, runway 34L at Paine Field, in Everett, Washington. Once it's airborne I'll go have a look outside, as Paine field is just a short distance East of me, and it's not unusual for the Boeing test flights to fly over the house.

I'll keep you posted......

12:39pm -- It's in the air! COOL!

Dang, they took off to the North, did a 180 and headed south for a couple of miles or so, then did another 180 and headed back North. They are now just East of the North end of Camano Island. I wonder if they are going to go to the same area between Oak Harbor and Port Angeles over the Strait of Juan De Fuca where they test flew the 787 on its first flight.

You can track their flight and see their location on a map HERE.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Blonde Password

During a recent password audit, it was found that a blonde was using the following password:


When asked why she had such a long password, she said she was told that it had to be at least 8 characters long and include at least one capital.........

All credit and/or verbal abuse for this to Loco.

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