The January 10, 2016 edition of Warrior Connection was a discussion on gun safety / use and also crime control based on
THE CHRISTMAS GUN
Doug Rokke, Ph.D.
Major, US Army, retired
The Christmas tree lights shined brightly matching every color in the rainbow with beautiful ornaments hung from the trees branches and an Angel perched on high atop the tree. The bright red tree cloth around the base of the green tree contrasted with the multitude of Christmas gifts wrapped in glorious paper arrayed around the tree’s base. While clothes, tools, toys, and household items are always found, the magical almost mystical gift boys and girls from 7 to 97 look forward to each Christmas is the new Christmas gun either a rifle, shotgun, or handgun. The new gun may be a kit such as a black-powder Kentucky rifle or pistol that you need to assemble or it may be a fully assembled operational gun. Today we might add a crossbow or other archery equipment to that so sought after list of cherished items. Although the excitement of hoping for the unknown magical gift that may or may not be beneath the tree because of recent legal requirements is history it does not diminish the excitement of opening that package to find a treasured gun. I believe that each of us can remember when our father or mother or grandpa or grandma gave us our first gun at Christmas and the thrill that had us beaming like the brightest star in the heavens. As we opened the box and ran our fingers over our gift the tingling spread from our fingers to our toes and we hoped for good weather to go try out of new gun. So what do I do next? Each of us has asked that question with a gleam in our eye. Although, we might want to go outside immediately, load the gun, find at a tin can or other target, and shoot away there are prudent steps to take before we hear the loud report “music in our ears” of the new Christmas gun upon pulling the trigger.
Step 1: Read the manual from cover to cover and make sure you understand all characteristics of your new gun. It is also a good idea to learn all about the ballistics of each type of ammunition for your new gun. For more ballistics information and calculations please refer to the “ballistics calculator” at (www.winchester.com), ammo manufacturers publications, and of course the annual “GUN DIGEST”.
Step 2: Give your new gun a complete cleaning. That means learning how to and actually taking your gun apart and putting it back together at what is called in the military “field stripping” level. Some new guns are shipped with protective lubricants that must be removed.
Step 3. Without any ammunition any place around you or in the gun practice operating the gun until it becomes ingrained second nature. This should include dry firing with appropriate aides such as a snap cap- plastic. We want to know how each gun functions and how each trigger reacts or functions. Practice putting the safety on and off. Practice clearing or make sure you know how to clear malfunctions. Practice sight picture acquisition with your gun for different shooting positions.
Step 4. Identify and obtain the correct ammunition for you new gun. Make sure it is good usable ammunition not old crusty junk left around in your stash. Collect and try on all necessary safety equipment for eye and hearing protection.
Step 5. The moment has arrived. You are ready for music in your ears. Find a safe range location to shoot and set up your target ensuring safety at all times. Now you need to make sure your sights are set for your needs. Basic settings can be made prior to actually firing your gun but sighting in requires time and careful effort. While most guns are shipped at mechanical zero or approximately on target each person’s sighting needs vary. I suggest that you get a large piece of cardboard and put an 8” x 11” piece of paper with a target- a large black marker spot - in the center of the piece of paper and then center that piece of paper on the cardboard. Some rifle – scope combinations are shipped bore-sighted that means both the axis of the rifle bore and scopes bore are aligned but it does not mean it is sighted in. It will take effort and multiple shots using the same technique to get your new gun sighted in “for you”. Once sighted in it should remain sighted in “for your” own specific needs. Please remember each person must sight in the gun for their own use.
Step 6. Put the gun safety on.
Step 6. Load your gun. It is best to only load one of two rounds to begin with rather than a full quantity possible for your gun’s design.
Step 7. Get into proper shooting position.
Step 8. Obtain proper sight picture. Ensure the range is safe.
Step 9. Turn off the safety. Pull the trigger. Enjoy the music in your ears.
Step 10. Clean you gun and store it safely until next time!
The almost magical feelings associated with each new Christmas gun do not subside with age nor with how many guns are found beneath the Christmas tree but please remember to follow the steps essential to safely enjoy your new prized possession remain inviolate for all eternity. Now that you have your new Christmas “toy” it is imperative that you obtain proper instruction from qualified instructors with lots of practice. MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY NEW YEAR, AND ENJOY YOUR NEW CHRISTMAS GUN UNTIL THE SAME THRILL HAPPENS ONCE MORE THROUGHOUT YOUR LIFETIME.
Gizmos and Accuracy
Dr. Doug Rokke
Every rifleman and riflewoman seeks to excel. Consequently they may consider installation of all types of gizmos to improve their shooting ability or the capability of their rifle or handgun to place a bullet in the exact place they aim for. Today, adjustable butt stocks, forearms, handles, grips, fixed and adjustable open iron sights, glow in the dark fixed sights, battery operated optics, conventional glass optics (scopes), lasers, tactical lights, sticks, tripods, bipods, fixed rests, recoil pads, and slings can be purchased and installed on your rifle or shotgun. Some of these gizmos are also available for handguns. Besides physical modification of any gun, different types of bullets and gunpowder “propellant” combinations may be chosen and used to improve ballistic properties. The costs for each of these gizmos or various bullets /gunpowder/cartridges varies but they can significantly increase the basic purchase price, gizmo price, and operational cost of any gun that a rifleman/riflewoman shoots.
Some add-ons such as various fixed sights or optics such as a scope can help you improve your aim by helping you see the aiming point or target better through magnification or simple optics such as a peep sight. However, just because you can see the target better does not mean that your accuracy will improve. “Red dot or green dot” optics allow you to put a optical image on your target but the minutes of angle (moa) or area that the dot covers may not improve pinpoint accuracy, especially as the range or distance to the target increases. Laser sights can provide you a visible spot, but the moa or width of the laser dot highlighting your exact point of aim on the target increases as the distance to the target increases. Lasers also have a limited operational range and are affected by bright light conditions. This means that the visible laser dot will be wider or maybe not even visible as the distance to the target increases or the sun shines thus affecting actual bullet placement. Please note that for self defense purposes when you paint a target with a laser dot your psychological advantage is incredible. Although visibility of a laser dot on the target may help you designate an exact aiming point, basic principles of marksmanship must still be followed.
Adjustable or modified stocks may help the rifle or shotgun fit better to your physique. This improves your ability to hold the gun the same way each and every time that you pull the trigger therefore maintaining consistent sight alignment. Grips that are designed or fitted for your hand size will also allow you to hold the handgun better and thus improve stability and sighting in on the target. Although grips and specialized stocks improve the fit of the rifle, shotgun, or handgun to your specific physique, your accuracy will only improve if basic principles are implemented. Recoil pads fall under the fit and comfort concept with their primary goal of reducing felt recoil or shoulder impact. According to Sir Issac Newton “for every forward force these is an equal and opposite backward force”. Therefore the purpose for installing a recoil pad is to reduce the effects of this backward force. Your shoulder will feel better after numerous shots if you use a recoil pad. Therefore, you can improve your ability to hold your gun tightly against your shoulder improving accuracy. A properly fitted and used sling improves stability. Consequently you can decrease the diameter of any shot group and improve overall accuracy but only if you adhere to basic marksmanship principles.
Bipods, tripods, sticks, and rests are all valuable tools that can improve your overall stability. Heavy rifles and even some heavy handguns can affect you ability to hold them in precisely the same way each and every time without them wavering around like flag in a breeze unless you have adequate hand, arm, and shoulder strength. Sadly, some of us do not have the required strength and if we did it has decreased with increasing age and the onset of health problems.
The relatively new addition or use of tactical lights poses several challenges. First, the additional weight of a light just like a laser will affect overall balance and thus stability. Although the target may be more visible – illuminated under low light conditions, the now extremely visible light source at your body makes you a perfect target. The bright light may also interfere with your own night vision. Obviously target visibility can help you place your sights on the target but at what cost? Lights actually decrease overall balance or stability and thus may decrease accuracy. The added weight when a tactical light or laser is attached to the barrel or grip of a handgun can have a dramatic effect on your ability to shoot that handgun with consistent accuracy because they increase the need for increased hand, arm, and shoulder strength.
The selection of specific bullets, cases, and gunpowder, especially if you do your own reloading, can improve the consistency of a round performance through optimization of bullet aerodynamics by selecting a desired ballistic coefficient as a function of bullet shape, bullet mass (weight), and muzzle velocity. However, individual marksmanship ability still is the deciding factor for improving overall personal accuracy as a rifleman / riflewoman. Please remember that a bullet only goes exactly where it is aimed for at the precise moment it exits the muzzle but with the influence of muzzle velocity, drift, and drop. The Winchester ballistics calculator on the web site (http://ballisticscalculator.winchester.com) can help you understand how any bullet performs under varying conditions but accuracy still depends primarily on individual marksmanship ability.
Thus with all of different types gizmos that are available that can help you improve stability of your rifle or handgun, sighting in, and visibility of your target; cost factors and how well you want or need to shoot should be factored in as you select any of the gizmos for purchase and installation your rifle, shotgun, or handgun. But it all comes down to the basics. Do you know how to use your rifle or handgun as designed? Can you consistently apply the basics principles of marksmanship?
While some individuals can master these skills on their own it is preferable to complete a rifle/shotgun/handgun safety and marksmanship training course with qualified instructors. Guns Save Lives instructors conduct numerous courses throughout the year (www.gsldefensetraining.com). In conclusion, each rifleman / riflewoman needs practice, practice, and more practice in a safe controlled environment to improve and maintain accuracy no matter what rifle, shotgun, or handgun they shoot and what gizmos they have installed. But in the end shooting is simply always about having fun and the wonderful friendships each of us can develop and maintain with others who enjoy shooting. This weekend go buy a box of ammunition then shoot up a bunch of tin cans, punch holes in paper targets, or pulverize some clay birds with your friends or family members at a range or other safe area using any gun you have available. THAT IS ENJOYMENT!
Practical Ballistics for Self-Defense
The decision to use any rifle, handgun, or shotgun for self-defense entails legal justification according to state law and the selection of ammunition that will ensure that you win the gunfight. Just as old saying goes “you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” you should select ammunition that will immediately end any gunfight that you are in. That means knocking the person or vicious animal down and out with the first or second shot. This is commonly referred to as “stopping power”.
The two primary physics concepts associated with ballistics are kinetic energy “K.E.” and momentum “p”. The laws of physics require that energy and momentum conserved. That means that for protection we should select ammunition that deposits all of it’s energy/momentum into the target but that still has enough kinetic energy or momentum for penetration and to ensure the knock down-kill. Both kinetic energy and momentum are a function of bullet mass (grains) and velocity where:
K.E. = “1/ 2” x “mass” x “velocity squared”
“p” = “mass” x “velocity”
Another important factor is “expansion” or how much the bullet deforms upon penetration to create a mortal wound channel as it transfers all or part of it’s kinetic energy and momentum into the target. Ideally any bullet would enter the target (penetration), fully expand, and transfer all of its energy into the target and thus stop before exiting out the other side. That is why a 12 gauge shotgun with slug, double “0” buck, or even #4 shot is so effective at close range and the obvious first choice for self –defense. The wound channel is huge and usually mortal because virtually all of the shotgun shot’s or slug’s energy is transferred into the target over a large entrance diameter thus immediately ending the gunfight because the slug or pellets rarely penetrate all the way through the target.
However, for many reasons the handgun will be the weapon that is used in most self-defense situations- gunfights. Today, self-defense handgun ammo includes: .25 auto, .32 auto, 9 mm, .38 special, .357 magnum, .40 S & W, .44 magnum, .45 auto, and .45 colt. Gunfights with a handgun will occur within 25’ so we need to look at muzzle energy and even more effectively muzzle momentum and bullet expansion. Ideally we want to select a large caliber “heavy mass” bullet, with excellent expansion, and enough muzzle velocity to ensure penetration through clothing. High velocity, small diameter, and low mass bullets tend to zip right through targets at close range with minimal stopping power and create too much risk to bystanders. Thus the stopping power of a .45 auto/colt or .44 magnum is far better than for a .38 or 9 mm with a .357 magnum in between. As we select ammo please remember that any bullet less than 100 grains when combined with possible powder loads just does not provide the necessary energy required for a probable one or two shot kill. However, no matter what handgun and bullet caliber you select you must practice, practice, and practice after going through a certified qualification course to teach you the fundamentals. GSL instructors conduct numerous courses throughout the year (www.gsldefensetraining.com). Spraying rounds from large capacity magazines is simply too dangerous, inadvisable, rarely stops a gunfight, and is probably on shaky legal grounds too. Simply, if we face a situation where escape is impossible and the “perp” is ready, willing, able, and intent on killing us or our loved one then we want to end the gunfight immediately- hopefully with the first or second shot.
The selection of rifle ammo follows the same rational except ranges may be greater. Therefore, we need to look at muzzle velocity, kinetic energy, bullet mass, and expansion at ranges from up close to 100 yards or 200 yards. However, please realize that the legal justification for self-defense gunfights at long at ranges is questionable at best but may me required for vicious animals. Popular rifle ammo such as the .223 or 5.56 mm with low mass bullets less than 100 grains that while having a flat trajectory loose energy rapidly and usually pass right through the target with minimal energy transfer. That is why the readily available and dependable .30 caliber rifle ammo such as the .30-06, .308, and .30-30 are the practical choice and are found in reliable rifles. For more ballistics information and calculations please refer to the “ballistics calculator” at (www.winchester.com), ammo manufacturers publications, and of course the annual “GUN DIGEST”. In conclusion as you select a weapon(s) and matching ammo for self-defense it is important to remember the sole purpose when legally justified is to immediately end the gunfight with minimal number of rounds expended, minimal risk to bystanders, and mortal wounds to the target.
As the discussion regarding gun violence and crime control increases I suggest a very simple effective route to hopefully make a difference. We need to enact a new and very clear law at both state and federal levels such as follows that will be enforced for juveniles and adults. In other words any crime involving the use of guns automatically makes it an adult court issue.
- Upon conviction for carrying a gun or any firearm of any type during the commission of any crime the individual shall be sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole or probation.
- Upon conviction for carrying and firing a gun or any firearm of any type during the commission of any crime the individual shall be sentenced to natural life in prison without parole or probation.
- Upon conviction for carrying and firing a gun or any firearm of any type during the commission of any crime and wounding or killing any individual the convicted individual shall be sentenced to public execution.
Given gun laws and gun control do not work and are ineffective at preventing crime then it does not make sense to punish those who never violate the law or to limit second amendment liberties. Therefore, we must simply end the violence by punishing those to choose to cause us harm. PLEASE JOIN ME AS AN ADVOCATE FOR THIS. IF YOU DO NOT SUPPORT PUNISHMENT OF THIS TYPE FOR CONVICTED CRIMINALS PLEASE TELL ME WHY.
I thought I joined the military and went to war and became disabled in defense of our constitution and all or our precious freedoms under the bill of rights. I thought all members of congress took an oath as I DID to defend and support the constitution of the United States and that includes all of our precious freedoms listed under the bill of rights especially the 2nd amendment given that the 2nd amendment is our only insurance to sustain our entire constitution. NOW I LEARN THAT THOSE WHO ARE TASKED BY ELECTION TO SUSTAIN AND ENUSRE WE HAVE ALL OF OUR RIGHTS LISTED IN OUR CONSTITUTION WANT TO OBLIERATE IT. I thought that in our nation we only punish those who are convicted of crimes and not those who want to sustain our precious freedoms and possess a tool- a gun- under the legal right to do so. . I did not know the President, members of congress, or members of state or local governments could pick and choose which freedoms to defend and allow us to exercise. I also thought the Supreme Court has ruled that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right that can not be suspended!
Dr. Doug Rokke