Range Day 2: 2023

Round Count: 46 shots fired, 0 malfunctions/ Uncleaned from previous when 56 shots fired with 0 malfunctions. Going back over my records, my weapon hasn’t malfunctioned since the summer of 2020–a span that has included at least 142 consecutive shots fired with 0 malfunctions. At least two of the range session featured the pistol without having been cleaned prior. One range report from late 2020 read:

My pistol seems to run more reliably when a little dirty. I haven’t decided whether that’s a good thing or not yet.

Opening Salvo

One of my New Year’s Resolution was to get into the shooting range more to reclaim the proficiency I had achieved by mid-2020. Since then, the Pandemic & related consequences like ammo scarcity & elevating prices–along with just the business of adult life–have limited my practice sessions to around five sessions since then. Luckily, two of those four occurred in rapid succession; those two being today’s session & another one last month. As with any physical skill, like a martial art or playing a sport, successive practices are a critical component to building onto the gains of the previous session as opposed to starting over again.

I laid out my goals for today as follows:

  • Increase range out to 25 yards ideally, 20 yards at minimum
  • Improve rapid fire (double taps at least) aptitude even out to range, 15 yards at minimum

I realize that gun ownership is a polarizing topic. But I came into the sport twenty years ago before that was even an issue, especially in rural America. Like any interest, it’s a solid way to meet people who share a common interests; and, in my experience, has served to create community more than to divide it. I know different people with different experiences will harbor correspondingly different feelings. I bring it up today because, for the first time since 2019, I actually got to shoot with a buddy. From 2018-2019, shooting with one or more friends was more the rule than the exception & it was nice to get back to the practice of maintaining friendships around this common interest.


One of last month’s goals was to come into my next session ready to start shooting at my normal 7 yards instead of the abbreviated 5 that I had been starting out with since the world reverted to normal (post-Pandemic). Another one was to assess my “cold shot” accuracy out of the gate. Cold shots are my initial shots without prior practice.

Why? Because–Heaven forbid–but if I’m ever forced to use my handgun to preserve my life–it will be my first 3 shots out of the gate that would determine my fate.

Results were good. Two of the 3 shots were close to center with one outlier falling outside the intended circle. However, in a real life situation, this bullet would have probably struck an adult-sized attacker somewhere on their body.

The first 6 shots out of mag one were a pass: nothing special, but adequate. Most importantly, 2 of my first 3 were right on. I had passed my own test with an above average score.


While my mag 1 results were promising, I knew that I had given myself a slightly unrealistic advantage by using the extended 8-round magazine which features more gripping area for the hand to enhance accuracy. In a real world situation, I’d be much more likely to have my 7-round flush magazine loaded.

To add this layer of realism, I attempted the same feat from the same distance of 7 yards with the smaller magazine. As I suspected, the results were less impressive but still adequate.


Wishing to rectify the potential problem revealed from mag 2, I reeled in the target to the more rudimentary 5 yard distance & used my 2nd 7-round/flush magazine. For today’s session, I had one 8-round/extended magazine along with two 7-round/flush magazines. In general, I try to rotate evenly through each magazine in order to evenly distribute the wear & tear in addition to ensuring proper function of each magazine. I take such great care to uncover any problems during practice so that if & when the time comes to use my gear in real life, I can have full faith in its functionality.

To jazz up my goals for mag 3, I decided to introduce 2 double taps. I believe I fired 3 sets of double taps & am happy to report two hits on bullseye under the additional stressor of rapid fire.


Satisfied that my performance at 7 yards was no fluke, I pushed the target out to that magic number of 21 feet. I believe I returned to the 8-round mag which is admittedly an advantage. I decided to double tap 3 times though to perhaps offset that advantage, thereby gaining a real world assessment of how ready I am for a real world defensive situation.

I am happy to report the following:

  • 1 hits on bullseye at 7 yards
  • 3 of 6 shots, even when fired in rapid succession, landed in the small circle which is the size of a small saucer; even shots a couple of inches or more outside of this range would more than likely strike a potential assailant somewhere on their body

Mag5 (10-yards)

I didn’t mark it down in my notes, but I’m sure I used my 8-round mag to tackle my first target at 10 yards–an entire THIRTY FEET! I loaded the customary 6 bullets into my magazine (although it holds at least 7 or 8 I just like to keep a set number in them during practice). I fired slowly to give myself the best opportunity to assess my aptitude at this distance under ideal circumstances.

To the left you can see the results. Two of the four shots proved ideal; the other two were passable for this distance.

On to the next objective.

Mag6 (15-yards)

And now–to address the day’s NUMBER1: OBJECTIVE–“from DOWN . . . TOWN!”

I don’t know what size mag I used, but I did make an effort to rotate the 7 round mags in for some of these tests at distance. That way, my test would give me confidence that I could perform in real world conditions as I generally carry the smaller, flush magazines.

I directed an acceptable three of six shots into the small square at a serious distance for a short-barreled pistol: 15 yards.

Mag7 (20 yards/60 feet)

“Here comes the BIG BOY!”

At this distance, the large rectangular paper target looks barely a centimeter in height. Keep in mind, that these sheets contain THREE small circular “targets” down both its right & left side. Aiming is a relative term for a small, concealable, portable handgun at this distance. However, in a real world scenario: if facing down a maniac with a rifle, this is probably what a potentially life-saving shot would look like. I aimed for the middle target on the left side & let fly four slow, deliberate shots.

Once I reeled the target back to “HOME” on the touch screen control system that adjusts the target’s distance, I was happy to report that I managed to impact the intended, miniscule circle once in four tries. The other three were all in a straight horizontal line just below the circle. At this distance, for a civilian who is not a police officer–for some “dumb American, reckless gunowner,” as the media would label me for owning a humble 9mm pistol, & not an “Elite Operator Navy SEAL”–this is damn good shooting.

Left: Observe the three bullet holes running left to right just below the red outer line of the target circle.

Right: Here is a view of the entire target circle including the area directly below it. One of the 4 hits within the circle occurred in the four shots fired from this magazine. This circle is about the size of both of my outstretched hands side-by-side & took place from 60 feet out.


For my last magazine, I loaded my customary 6 rounds. I had come to the range with a box of fifty 115 grain, FMJ Winchester “white box” bullets. These are the ones that are notorious for jamming, especially in a small single stack pistol like mine. Even more likely to do so since I hadn’t cleaned my weapon since my last session a month earlier–a deliberate dereliction of duty in order to assess the firearm’s reliability. I experienced 0 malfunctions in the 46 shots that I fired on this day; the other 4 bullets I had given to my friend who had run down to just two bullets on his last magazine.

I performed 2 shots at 20 yards slowly, connecting on one. At that distance, this is good.

I then performed two separate double taps after reeling the target in to 15 yards. I connected on one, which is acceptable considering the double tap is not a beginner’s move.

Final Takeaway

I realize that gun ownership among civilians is a controversial topic, both internationally & within my own country; hell, even within my own family. Now I understand the concerns of my average fellow citizen, especially if their only experience with firearms comes through the news media’s presentation of the issue.

Here’s what I believe:

For the most part, every household in a free country should be afforded to right to own a firearm. That said, not every household should own one. Moreover, there are certain individuals who definitely should not be allowed to own a gun. However, the fact that a handful of individuals should be denied this right doesn’t mean that the rest of us should be denied a right that we did nothing to warrant losing.

I believe that gun ownership is a responsibility. I believe in formal training & regular practice as well as secure storage. I encourage responsible ownership. Guns combine my interest in history & warfare as well as play on my interests in practical pursuits like physical fitness & the study of martial arts or other sports. Yes, I am aware that worse case scenario, guns can cause death; but they can also save lives. We, the people, dictate how the tool is used. I hope to do my part as a responsible advocate for legal gun ownership while I continue to enjoy sharing my time, experiences, & stories with people of a similar mindset.

Regarding my assessment of today’s practice, I’m doing a pretty good job. Regarding my aptitude, I’m not as good as I was in mid-2020. I’m so proud of the level I achieved then. I had taken formal on-hands training with a 1-on 1 certified instructor at the range. I had made numerous trip to the range with a retired Command-Sergeant-Major in the US Coast Guard. I had fired numerous shots at the range under the watchful eyes of a dutiful Range Safety Officer.

I’m not as good now as I was then; but I’m still good enough. And I the foundation to be that good again & even better, provided I put aside a little more time to do it. I’m happy to have the opportunity to pursue these goals safely & legally. It’s nice to have dreams, goals, & a community to share such things with.

And it’s nice to have a handgun that I can trust as much as I can trust my own aptitude to use it effectively should the need ever arise. I pray to God it won’t.

I remembered what I already Knew


Even when medical professionals see me for the first time, they are shocked to see the ghastly scars that mar my once heroic physique.

“Oh my GOD!” they exclaim, unable to hide their shock.”

“But you’ve read my history” I’d reply, a bit taken aback. “You know I’ve had surgery . . .”

“Yes,” they’d interrupt as their eyes revert to their natural size; “But they’re not supposed to look like THAT!”

Moments like that take me back to the severity of circumstances surrounding my emergency surgery & its immediate aftermath. It’s been 6 1/2 years now & I am yet to commit the entire ordeal to paper. I should do so soon or risk the memory fading away forever. That would be a shame. It’s a story that deserves to be told. It’s a story that could benefit others. I’ve already suffered enough for scores of other people; for at least anyone wiling to listen. There is no need for everyone to suffer for a lesson that I’ve already paid the price to learn; and one with a value I’m willing to share for free.

Barely in my forties and with a physique that still boasted of numerous repetitions in the gym over past two decades, I was shocked to discover that an unrelenting episode of indigestion & acid reflux were actually the effects of a recent heart attack.

A family memory has a well documented account of the immediate aftermath that followed this discovery. To read more on how it played out back then, you can visit that post & their blog via the provided link: https://normalintraining.com/2016/09/13/no-way-out/

I’d like to move forward to the insight that I’ve gained once the open would hardened into scars.

Scars Remind Me

I had a conversation with an old Army Ranger recently. I’m not insulting him, because “old” is how he had described himself. And I don’t mean to insult the military purist out there either, because this man had failed Ranger School & was never awarded either the tab or scroll. But he had served; & he had willingly endured the process. As a civilian who has some understanding of military culture, this old soldier deserves the title “Ranger” in my book. I realize that opinions will vary but this is my story, my word choice.

This old soldier was telling me about all the fist fights he had been in; very few of them having occurred while on duty in the Army. This really didn’t surprise me. I read Chris Kyles’ “American Sniper” before I watched the movie. As tough as Kyle was, most of his fist fights occurred off duty in bar fights over girls. I used to live in a military town myself & saw first hand how easily tensions boil over when a crew of military serviceman walk into a local bar or club & suddenly command the attention of all the hot girls. After a short period of enjoying the social scene myself, I made sure I was home by 10pm on weekends unless I was working. I wanted to be known as a white collar professional. It was too risky for me to get caught up in the chaos of flying fists & subsequent court appearances over something so petty. I wasn’t built for their life; there was no point in me pretending. While it didn’t take me long to realize this, I still had some first hand awareness of the situations my Ranger friend described to me.

I recognize how easy it is to spin a tale. Most men tend to exaggerate & to present themselves in more of an alpha persona than they actually deserve. However, this soldier seemed legitimate. Why? Because he didn’t just tell me about the fights he won. He told me about all the injuries he had sustained too & laughed them off as easily as he had laughed off his victories.

I decided it was time that I share something about myself. In American culture, it’s probably true to assume that most men think ill of themselves for not having played high school football. In Western culture, there’s even a more famous quote that suggests that every man (in Western culture at least) thinks ill of himself for not having been a solider. I believe this is true for most of us until we discover what it is we are meant to do. Well-adjusted males eventually establish what becoming a man means to them; so doing, they can live in peace. For men who haven’t quite found their way, society provides a blue print of what a real man should look & act like. For many of us, it’s often a difficult standard to uphold.

I was one of those men. Despite my prowess in gym & athletically sculpted physique, I have always been noticeably undersized. In addition, refute me if you must, but I am also a minority who has lived in largely rural areas of the American southeast. You can tell me that race has nothing to do with it but your opinion doesn’t override the over forty years of my life experience. I’m a minority & one that’s not particularly fashionable to be. To be brief, society often gives me a cursory examination & almost immediately categorizes me. Pretty woman, workplace supervisors, & other men tend to show surprise & even indignation when my performance proves me to be greater than their superficial stereotypes of me were. It was frustrating living in the prison of everyone else’s perception of the kind of man I was supposed to be; the kind of man they were comfortable allowing me to be around them.

Well, it was too late for me to play high school football to change their minds; so becoming a soldier was always the next best thing. As the years passed, it was obvious I would never do that either. For a long time, I longed to be heroic. I admonished myself for not being more like Chris Kyle or even the character of Shane Walsh from AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” I wanted the world to take me seriously. I didn’t want to be stuck being seen only as a man of words & ideas. I wanted all my doubters to realize that I could be a man of action too.

My War Story

“War is one of those things that, as a soldier, you look for & you look for & you look for. Then you finally find it . . . and it’s something you never look for anymore.”

Anonymous Iraqi Freedom veteran from National Geographics Documentary

Although I have been in several tense verbal altercations, stare downs, & handful of shoving matches in my day, I know that those situations don’t accurately summarize who I am. Moreover, even if they did, the world wouldn’t want to hear it anyway. The pretty girls would be much more willing to perceive me as a stellar accounting or ex-chess club president than a strong, visceral male. And other men who didn’t known me who almost assuredly write my tales off as examples of a Napoleon Complex. So I bypassed that handful of experiences. I wanted to be terse with this Army Ranger as he had taken up a good deal of my time & I still had a busy day ahead of me; but I wanted him to get an idea of who I was too. I planned to see him again. I knew there was a good deal that I could learn from this man. Still, it was important that he knew who I was too.

My Story (long version)

“I don’t have a ton of bar fights stories to share with you, unfortunately,” I began; “but I will tell you what the bravest thing I ever did was.”

“Okay, go ahead,” the old veteran agreed.

For more content based on my surgery experience & the reflections that they’ve inspired since, see: https://impurethoughtsblog.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/open-heart-surgery/

After my open heart surgery, they transported me to this recovery area that resembled a FEMA camp. There were at least half a dozen or so other patients placed in this large area with me, separated only by tend-like structures made of tarps & blankets. We were indoors but it had the feel of a wartime field hospital. I could hear other patients moaning & groaning all around me.

As for me, I was in constant discomfort. Looking back, I don’t know if it was because of my broken ribcage or my temporary anemia, but I lacked the strength to adjust my position in that recliner they had me in. The recliner was a little too big for me & I kept slipping down until I ended up in a position that left most of my upper body skeletal structure unsupported. If you don’t recognize how painful this is, our skeleton is the only thing preventing our 70% water composed body from floundering like a jellyfish. Moreover, those big muscles that we celebrate so much are useless if they can’t exert force against a solid bone. Anytime I tried to use my muscles, I’d feel the numerous fissures in bones that supported my torso. It was misery–& completely humiliating to feel this weak & useless.

The nurses would come around & ask me if I was in pain. As it’s human nature, I would respond truthfully at first: ‘Yes. Everything hurts.’

But I quickly recognized that to be a mistake, as the nurse would invariably respond with: ‘I’m sorry. What can I do to help?’

At first, I got them to help me adjust my position in the recliner, which was useful. Afterwards, however, it became clear that there was nothing these nurses could do for me. I had gotten myself into this mess. It was up to serve out my sentence while enduring the pain in silence. I wouldn’t even let them administer any painkillers more potent than Tylenol because I have had adverse reactions to them in the past & was not in a mood to take on yet another irritant.

After a while, when the nurse would come by & asked if I was in pain, I’d just whisper:

“Go help the next patient.”

“That was the bravest thing I had ever done.”

The old soldier gazed down at me in silence as he had about 3 or 4 inches of height on me. After a pause, he just nodded his head with a look of reverence in his eyes & said, “Amen to that, brother.”

We shook hands and I went on my way.

I had a cousin in the Army at the time of my surgery. The next time I saw him after it happened, I confessed that I had longed to become an operator that Chris Kyle or even a basic soldier like he was. I wanted the respect & acknowledgment that would come with it. I yearned for the self-assuredness it would bring. Most of all, I would be happy to shatter the glass ceiling in social status that American culture had placed on me.

But following my ordeal, I arrived at this conclusion:

But after all the pain & agony I’ve been through, I realize that the path it takes to follow in the footsteps of men like Kyle is one filled with more pain, agony, & disappointment. There’s nothing glamorous or glorious about the process. It’s not worth it to me to go through all that suffering just to become someone I’m not. I’ve already endured my share of suffering. I’m brave enough for the life I’m going to live.

For the longest time before my heart attack, I longed for an opportunity to prove my strength. I wanted to showcase my bravery. I wanted to demonstrate to all those pretty girls who automatically relegated me to the status of secondary male; all those men who automatically felt entitled to an award or promotion over me; all those doubters who thought they could size me up & instantly know my limits better than I knew my own–to prove that I was greater than their superficial stereotypes of me were.

I longed to prove myself in warfare.

But after my surgery, it’s aftermath, & the long process to indemnity; I’ve realized an important life lesson. Everyone has their own private battles to fight; and for most of us, it’s not in the setting of a warzone.

Regarding strength, it’s something that comes & goes physically. While it’s important to do our part both to build it up & to retain it, it’s much more critical to maintain strength of mind. Moreover, after what I’ve been through, I am comforted knowing that strength isn’t always something anyone needs to showcase regularly; we just need to have faith that we will all be strong when we have to be.

As far as my dream of becoming a soldier, I have given it up without looking back. My pursuit of a fulfilling life is enough of a challenge for me; and I’m as brave as I need to be to see that challenge through.

“Amen to that,” I’m sure my soldier friend would say.

There’s a peace that comes with knowing who you are supposed to be. Sure, it’s disappointing when people–especially the ones who we respect–fail to see the positive qualities in us. But you should hear this from someone who was unexpectedly at the brink of death & by God’s grace, came back from it to live a better live.

When you believe yourself to be on your deathbed, you suddenly become incredibly honest with yourself. There are only two opinions that will matter when you face this moment: the opinion you have of yourself, the life you’ve lived–and the opinion you believe God has of you.

May you find peace in who you are; and may I never forget the peace that I had already found six years earlier. We humans can be so weak of mind; we often have to remind ourselves the value of lessons previously learned. Luckily, God is patient.

Range Day 1: 2023

Round Count: 56 shots fired, 0 malfunctions

The day was Thursday, February 2nd. I am writing this entry five days later based on cursory notes that I took onsite along with memory. My phone was out of storage was I was unable to take photos of the results this time, which is unusual for me. If memory serves, I had last practiced on October 30th of last year; and a four month gap in sessions isn’t bad. However, it’s been been more like sixteen months since I shot my sub-compact 9mm, which is the firearm I shot on this day. On had fired my .38 Special revolver on October 30th. Since the pandemic & corresponding slow down in practice, I’ve discovered that I can go a full calendar year between practice sessions without a noticeable drop off in performance. Since it had been sixteen months since I last shot the 9mm, I guess a bit of a drop off was to be expected–which I did notice, unfortunately.

First Impression

I started out at 5 yards out, aiming for the middle target on the left side. I was true on my first 3 shots without even the benefit of draw firing. This was encouraging, because if I need to use my weapon for self defense, it would be a cold shot–without the benefit of a practice dry fire. This trend has held true over the cast couple of years. My first shots are typically my most accurate. I should try cold shots out at 7 & then 10 yards next time, which is more what I did before Covid19 took such a bite out of my practice sessions.

Still Needs Work

Sadly, my form became sloppier the longer the practice session went. For the record, I fired off 62 rounds in a about 44 minutes of range time. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a race; I adjusted distances between magazine changes & took notes when needed. Still, I had an hour to complete everything I set out to do for the next few months, so I was aware of the clock. Perhaps I began to rush or it was just fatigue that revealed the resurfacing of a few bad habits–not on every shot, but here & there.

  • Muzzle drop when anticipating recoil.
  • Forgetting to recoil upwards.
  • The hand over hand grip felt a bit awkward at times & sometimes required extra time to set properly. This is probably attributable to my overwhelming dependence on my revolver for every day use, which requires a different grip.

I spent the second half of my range session concentrating to weed out these bad habits as well as a) assess rapid fire scenarios & b) long distance accuracy.

Final Takeaway

  • Self defense distance is still proficient as I was accurate at medium speeds out to fifteen yards.
  • Accuracy dropped significantly outside of fifteen yards but was still acceptable. I hit a torso-sized target twice in seven tries at a distance of 20 yards; striking the right shoulder once & the left bicep once over those seven shots.
  • For comparison, I used to be as proficient at 25 yards as I am now at 15–meaning I hit the circle (a target about the sizer of a small saucer, a bit larger than my outstretched hand, about 40% of the time (typically twice in five shots).
  • Follow-up shots need more work as well as re-developing accuracy out to 25 yards.
  • It would probably help to practice with this same weapon within 90 days.
  • RELIABLITY–part of this day’s assessment once in this department, as shooting a single stack 9mm semi-automatic, especially a sub-compact one like mine, requires consistent grip discipline in order to ensure reliability. I had noted over the years that most of the malfunctions that I had experienced with this pistol were 115 grain, FMJs–primary of the Winchester “white box” variety. I experienced no such issues on this day with a variety of bullet types.
  • 115 grain Winchester white box–30/30 with no failures; 115 grain Fiocchi (gold tips) –10/10 with no failures; 124 grain Remington Target in Green/White box– 16/16 (ok’d to carry); Sig Crown-V 124 grain HPs (look like Gold Dots)–6/6 (ok’d to carry).

Calibration: OCT 30, 2022/S&W 642

The last time I fired this revolver was less than a week following the 2020 Presidential Election; nearly 2 years ago. As this is my primary EDC/home security tool, I wanted to a) assess my current aptitude/accuracy & b) ensure proper function of carry ammo & all stand-by ammo. By stand-by ammo, I mean the handful of rounds that I had out of the boxes in speed strips either in my car or in my night stand for emergency re-loads. All my other ammo I keep mostly stored in the original boxes with dates of purchases (to ensure that I expend oldest rounds first) & properly stored in waterproof/airtight steel cases locked away.

I had heard some scarce complaints about my top tier Self-Defense load–Hornandy Critical Defense FTX, standard pressure–that the primers went bad after two years or less after purchase. I read this on a forum, but other than that, most of the user reviews were positive regarding this cartridge. Nevertheless, I had to see for myself whether or not I could trust this ammo given my storage situation. It’s possible the plaintiff did not store his ammo properly.

Bypassing any suspense, I’ll say now that all 5 loose rounds performed flawlessly. I will continue to trust this bullet design as my top tier SD round. There’s no reason to mistrust it’s shelf life given my storage habits. These 5 bullets were loose, in ammo cars in cars–in a small box near by bed stand with the windows opened nearby during the summer, etc–for two years–& no ignition problems for me.

Here is the firearm I used in the day’s session. It’s a Smith & Wesson 642 Centennial J-Frame. It weights about 15oz unloaded. That featured, combined with its completely enclosed hammer, make it a very safe & attractive option for carry. However, it’s light weight & sub-2 inch barrel require practice to achieve accuracy past “contact distance.”

Key Facts

  • Range time was 1 hour for $20–online reservations only, a hold over policy from the Covid-19 era which caught me off guard
  • Accustomed to purchasing 30 minute sessions during the Covid-19 era, I came only prepared for a 30 minute session which I extended to 35 once I realized I had paid for an hour. While the small .38 special was reasonably comfortable to shoot, it would have been less enjoyable to continue shooting far beyond that. Still, I would have taken advantage of the rare range trip had ammo scarcity not been such a concern (.38 Spcl bullets are almost NEVER available post the supply shortage & ammo shortage during the Covid-19 era).
  • In 35 minutes, I fired 42 shots–a record for a single range session with my small J-frame. I typically consider 35 shots a full days work for that firearm.
  • Bullet Manufacturers used: 158 grain LRN “gold tips” were MagTech that came in a blue & white box of 50. After my range session, it looks like I’m out of this particular ammo now. The manufacturer doesn’t use the term “gold tips;” it’s just a way for me to distinguish between those & the Armscorp bullet of the same weight & design.
  • Armscor 158 grain LRN “dull tips” are actually my newest bullets, purchased around spring of 2022. I usually like to shoot the old ones first but I wanted to run a few samples of this ammo at the range before trusting it anywhere else to assess reliability & accuracy. They performed identically to the MagTechs.
  • The 130 grain FMJ were mostly Remington UMC. I left the remaining 20 rounds in the original box in my range bag. It had been opened for a while & I didn’t expend all 30 of the 50 rounds during this session. I don’t think I have another box but the 3 boxes of AE in the same weight & bullet design should work just as well.
  • The aforementioned Armscor ammo is listed as “FMJ” on the box but looks more like LRN. (Note to Self) Look for 158 FN as an option for deep woods carry.
  • (Note to Self) Look for another box of Hornady CD FTX & purchase even as high as $30/box–just one box.

  • First shot with this firearm in almost 2 years to the day
  • Distance–5 yards
  • Target: Pumkin at Top Left
  • Aimed just above the nose, struck slight right
5 yards5 yards5 yards
Cylinder1: 158 grain LRN Gold TipsCylinder4: 158 grain Dull Tips
Cylinder2: 158 grn LRN Gold Tips X4, Dull Tip X1Cylinder5: 158 grain Dull TipsX4, 130 FMJX1
Cylinder 3: 158 grn LRN Dull Tips

BOTTOM: This was my first shot at 7 yards. I aimed for the nose & struck just above at the bottom of the pumkin stem. It looks like two shots in the same hole but it as just one; I guess the way the paper crumpled just bade the hole look like it came from 2 bullets.
Cylinder6: 7 yardsCylinder7: 7 yards
130 grn FMJ X 3, Hornandy 110 grn FTX (std) X 2158 LRN Dull Tips X 3, 130 FMJ X 2
Cylinder8: 10 yards

Final Takeaway

  • My proficiency had not fallen off much inside of 21 yards, which is typical purely self-defense range.
  • All the ammo that I had been keeping loose for potential re-loads performed flawlessly, even the ones I had kept in a speed strip in my car during all manner of weather conditions.
  • I shoot the 130 grain FMJ the most accurately with the 158 grain LRN the next most accurately.
  • I shoot the 110 FTX least accurately but still well enough for self-defense proficiency.
  • At distance, I managed a 9.5″ group in a straight vertical line during my very first shots at 15 yards, which I consider reasonably proficient. However, two years ago, I was able to place a group of that size out to about 20 yards with this same handgun–reaffirming the trend that the first skill to go to distance shooting.
  • The next skill to go is trigger control.

Looking Ahead/Still needs Work

  • Work on accuracy at distance: as I lost accuracy, I had to remind myself of two fundamentals that have helped improve immensely over the last 4 years: a) sight picture-trigger pull-bang (keep a consistent, smooth trigger pull) & b) allow the weapon to recoil straight up/don’t fight the recoil after the shot
  • Regain consistent accuracy out to 20-25 yards; although I can retail self-defense proficiency within 8 yards or so even after 2 years of zero practice. This is encouraging to know. I depend on 2 different handguns chambered in two different calibers. With ammo prices increasing, ammo scarcity common, & the busyness of frequently working 50-60 hour weeks–I often go longer than desired between practice sessions with the same handgun. At least I know I can still responsibly defend myself within the common self defense distances as long as two years after practicing. I don’t plan to let that much time pass, but there will be times when I’ll have no chance. For the record, I have been to the range twice since November of 2020 including Sunday’s session. But the previous session, I used my compact 9mm, which is much easier to shoot accurately than the .38 Special. Ideally, I’d like to go once every 3 months on a good year & rarely go more than a year without at least on practice session moving forward.
  • I will use 130 grain FMJ as my general purpose round confidently, which is a benefit because it’s the easiest design to find & most economical.
  • I will use the 110 grain FTX as my top tier SD design; which seems poised to thrive in the role in indoor home defense. The bullet design consistently fully expands while penetrates rather shallowly (10-12 inches max). While the lower penetration would make this gun a fail for FBI field agents, it makes me feel safer about using it indoors to avoid over-penetration into the next room or worse.

David & Goliath

I frequently dream about the house of my childhood, where I lived from the time my parent’s brought me home from the hospital until I was almost twelve. We moved during the first semester of 6th grade. Although this era of my past occurred so many years prior, I typically take my current age & form during these dreams, which often involve encounters with the supernatural.

I do not own the rights to this photo but borrowed it for creative, non-profit purposes (see section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976). To locate the original source of the photo, please click on the photo itself.

It happened at the Yellow House on the Hill where I grew up. Many of my dreams, and especially the scary ones, frequently occur there. Even after all these years . . . when I was a child living there, I was convinced it was haunted. And not just haunted, mind you–but reaming with otherworldly entities. In my childhood mind, there was something bad lurking around every corner–down the stairwell to the basement, behind the bush leading to the backyard, in the bedroom that I just walked away from. Now that I’m spiritually mature & worldly, with over twenty years of lifting weights & partaking in all you can eat buffets under my belt–I realize how silly an idea that is. But one thing is for sure. Even if that house was never haunted, I still am. Even after all these years, the muscle memory of that fear still cries out to me when I’m most vulnerable & least on guard–they reach out to me in my sleep.

To get an idea of the house’s layout, think of the main level extending left to right from the viewpoint of the main road that runs in front of it. Standing on the road, you will see the extreme left side of the frame which houses the master bedroom & a utility area where the laundry & washer are. Scanning all the way towards the right, you will see the living room. From my parent’s room on the left, you will see the house gradually transition from night time to day time, meaning the bedrooms are all towards the left of the house. In the middle we get the kitchen & dining room & all the way on the right, we get the living room. In my childish mind, I thought of it this way: when it was dark, we stayed on the left side of the house. When it was light, we stayed on the right side. Where ever we weren’t, that’s where “the others” dwelled. Someone strong like my mom or dad could break the rules & go into the living room at night or into the bedroom when it was daylight; but if someone small & weak like me were to try, I would do so at my own risk! The other entities that shared the home with us didn’t take kindly to having their space violated. They wanted us to respect the rules; otherwise, they would make a point to show up where they weren’t supposed to be!

Now that you understand the layout, you should know that my parents kept a makeshift prayer area in their master bedroom. It didn’t amount to much more than a clear space on the carpet with a plastic runner laying over the main footpath which allowed us to kneel down in prayer before a large cross that hung on the wall. This cross wasn’t just any routine cross that you’d typically see in homes. It was as large as the ones you see hung up in the front of most church’s. I have no idea where my parents got it, now that I think of it; but as a child, we never questioned such things. More more key aspect to note. My parent’s were raised as devout Catholics in the Philippines. I bring up the Philippines because the way Catholicism is practiced over seas versus the way it’s practiced here can be noticeably different. My parents came up in the late forties & into the early sixties. They grew up against the backdrop of the Japanese invasion from WWII. Their upbringing had an almost post-apocalyptic filter to it, at least when compared to how my contemporaries & I were brought up in the great USA. To my point, Catholics don’t use crosses, they use crucifixes. These are crosses that contain the dead body of Christ before his resurrection, covered in grime in blood. Just that this imagery sink in for a moment.

Although I haven’t been inside that house for over thirty years, during the dream, I am my current age. My niece, who was a pre-teen at that time, is a pre-teen in the dream; around the age of eleven. My niece held onto the innocence of childhood a bit longer than some of her peers, and in the dream she behaves more like a child than a teen–innocent but extremely vulnerable.

Somehow my niece & her parents are visiting during the dream. The two of us are alone in the utility area of the master bedroom. I’m distracted with a chore while she wonders off to explore. I still hear her cheerful, young voice as she tries to maintain a conversation with me. In typical adult fashion, I’m too pre-occupied to listen to exactly what she’s saying & simply respond with an occasional, “U-huh.” Until her cheerful voice turns into a scream of horror!

Jolted back to the present, I whirl around to peek through the threshold of the utility area and into the master bedroom. Just feet away from me, standing on the plastic runner that acts as a mat when the family kneels in prayer, stands the Devil himself. I’ve faced the Devil in my dreams before, but never in this form. He is wearing feudal era armor like a Samurai warrior, complete with sharp spikes protruding from numerous areas. It would be more painful to me than to him if I gave into my instinct to charge him & rain down furious punches upon his torso & stomach area. He was way to tall for me to punch in the face as he stood about 8 feet tall. He held my niece in his left hand high above his shoulders as she wailed, kicking & screaming. My bewilderment dissolved into rage, and I demanded the Devil lay my niece down. With a primitive roar, I crouched down into a 3-point stance & charged the monster like a berserker warrior . . . to my shock, the fiend stopped my assault with the gentlest effort of his right hand, similar to that scene in The Matrix when NEO first stopped bullets by simply raising out an opened palm. It was as though I had run into a forcefield–no harsh impact, no thud–just instant paralysis. There was a humming silence in my ears, the kind you hear when you’re around technology that’s constantly running. The rageful drumbeat of war in my head had been replaced with, ironically, a quiet peace; but a peace than came with the fear of helplessness. The Devil then lifted me high into the air, and the higher he raised me up, the taller he became! The devil now stood at least 10 feet tall & he held me high overhead at an stratospheric 13 to 15 feet. I could even hear the wind whirling as if around the cliffs of a mountaintop as the ambient noises of earth’s surface drifted away far beneath me. I struggled against the fiend’s iron grip but for all my effort, I could only manage to swing my feet back & forth & scream. I heard a diabolical laugh that boomed like thunder from all around, not just from the Devil’s face as he pulls me close to it. Deep inside the dark opening of the feudal helmet I only saw two narrow spheres of burning white light. Without a word, he flung me towards the ground so far below. This time, I felt the impact as I land with a loud thud!

I quickly tried to regain my footing, as I held my right hip which had been injured in the fall. Still not having risen to my full height, I watch the Devil drift backwards away from me without even moving his feet–as he effortlessly glides along the thick carpet like an ice skater. My niece is still kicking & screaming in his left hand. A sensation of deep dread sinks in as the inevitability of my failure becomes clear. I scream out helplessly as the Devil vanishes into thin air taking my niece with him.

I fall flat on my face in wretched agony. I had never felt so weak before. The Devil has stolen away my niece from my care & I didn’t even land a single punch.

My older brother was going to be pissed!

If you mess with The BULL . . .

Mean Mark Callous is a SKYSCRAPER of a man! Standing 6’10’, weighing 310, & with hardened muscles that only come through genetics & living the blue collar working class lifestyle that has forged the Mean Machine until a disgruntled bully! Mark has no patience for glam boys with their “gym muscles” who seem to bask in the limelight. As such, the “Rock Star” becomes an ideal target for his rage.

But the “Rock” is no push-over. He didn’t become the People’s Champion without his own path of blood, sweat, & tears. At 6’5″, 260 lbs–the former D-I college football player has had his own share of hard knocks that have made him such a formidable force in the ring. He has earned the nickname–“The Brahma Bull.”

And you know what they say about bulls. When you MESS with the BULL, you get the HORNS!