Saturday, April 30, 2011

A +1 Magic Gun Scope? and some recalls...

Saw this blog post elsewhere and wanted to cross-post it. This is one of those things that is a double-edged sword.

Yes, such a scope will greatly aid military and law enforcement shooters who have to get 100% accuracy regardless of any issues.

For competition, I think this will allow some folks to have a little bit of an edge. Granted, most folks aren't as accurate as their guns. But at the level of national (and some regional) shoots, the difference between first and third may be less than 1/8th MOA. This type of device could be the decider.

More concerning to me is that this scope could also aid what I have seen as a disturbing development within the rifle-shooting community as a whole. The belief that it is not only OK, but completely ethical, to take overly-long shots on game has been an issue to me for a few years as the level of gun technology has increased while the dedication of many hunters to their sport has declined.

Back when I was young and ignorant (as opposed to being old and ignorant now), I took shots I should have let go. My lack of ethical behavior at the time still bothers me. I have seen and heard of other, more experienced shooters taking these shots. I can only guess they have been spurred on by articles and advertisements pushing that some new gun and ammunition can make them a modern equivalent of Carlos Hathcock or the fictional Matthew Quigley. I say, "nay, nay..."

  • Practice, Practice, Practice... three zeroing rounds at the start of the season won't cut it. If nothing else, dryfire at a spot in the garage to practice - maybe even use the old dime/washer on the barrel trick to practice your trigger pull...
  • Know your limits... How fit are you to fire offhand at a deer 200 yards away after running 50 yards? try this at the range sometime...
  • Know your rifle... Do you have a range card? Is the ammo in your gun from the same lot? or did you just buy a different load from Wal-Mart?
  • Know the range... Use a rangefinder or practice known range estimation. Do you stand hunt? try using ranging stakes set every 50 yards.

OK, that's enough on that...

Friday, April 29, 2011

Musical Instrument Museum - Phoenix

Last week, we took a trip to Phoenix.

While trying to figure out what we wanted to do, a friend of my mom told us some great things about the Musical Instrument Museum.

Having already heard about the MIM through articles in the LA Times, the NY Times (a review I both agree with and would argue against in parts), and having spent much of my life as a musician (from piano to sax to electric bass to some percussion) and the last decade or so as a museum professional, I thought this would be a great idea! I'm always looking for good exhibit, signage, mounting, and other ideas to steal.

All-in-all, it was a great visit. I enjoyed it, my wife (another museum nerd), my mom, and (most importantly) my kids enjoyed it. Well, the kids did for awhile. Although the novelty wore off for them after about 30 minutes, they did enjoy the Experience Gallery (you'll see later).

The exhibits are laid out similar to some art museums or the various ethno-historical/anthropological museums. Each national/ethnological area has a selection of instruments from the area's peoples and musical styles. There is also a video screen in each section. The video screen plays a selection of performances utilizing these instruments.

One of my pet peeves in museums is the use of exhibit-related headphones. Partially, this is a result of not knowing who had the headphones last and if the museum staff is diligent in following their sanitization policy. The other reason - more directly tied in to the visitor experience - is that headphones can prevent groups from having a shared experience. Knowing this, imagine how thrilled I was when we were handed headsets after paying our admission.

I'll admit - in this case, I was wrong.

The headsets are tied into a wireless transmission that broadcasts immediately in front of the screens. This signal carries the audio for the video on the screens. This allows the visitor to listen to the audio without it being distracting or continuing after leaving the area of the exhibit.

For an example of this in action, watch the video. The back half of the video is the Exploration Gallery.

My main (and only real) complaint about the museum is the same complaint I had about a place where I used to work (and the main issue held by the NY Times reviewer). It's set up like a music store. There are all of the instruments, footage of them being played, and a place to try them out. However, there is little in the way of discussion of the development of the instruments, the musical styles, and the importance of the instruments in the various cultures. In many ways, it is an example of the museum version of "Here's all of our stuff!"

Now I know that this is more than a bit simplistic, but it does point out the one big issue. I am guessing that the big takeaway a lot of folks will have is along the lines of, "I didn't know there were this many instruments in the world." I doubt that this is what the Curators, much less the Director or the Chairman, former Target CEO Robert J. Ulrich, really want as an outcome. However, given the folks involved in the museum's curation and design, I would expect that there is something going on to improve this.

Jordan exploring his inner Babaloo! (I know - these drums aren't Cuban)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Can we just get over it??? He's American - even if he isn't an American like you...

I've been letting this stew for awhile, but then I go to Gawker and see Tea Party members being douchebags AND Donald Trump being a douchebag AND Birthers being douchebags... (Hey! A Trifecta!)

You may think he is some sort of Kenyan Socio-nationalist anti-imperialist muslim, but he is a Christian (maybe not your kind of Christian...) born in Hawaii! Regardless - even if he was born in Kenya, His mom was an American citizen, ipso facto, he is a Natural Born Citizen...

He may be doing stuff that people don't like, but he WON THE ELECTION! (by the biggest margin since Clinton '96)

As for Trump, I keep waiting for someone to pull a Joe Wilson... "You Lie!"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Driving while stupid...

During a traffic stop in Birmingham, Alabama, police made a disturbing discovery.
Appears someone thought it was a good idea to use a World War II Japanese "Knee Mortar" round as a paperweight... and yes, he was driving around with it in his car...

To top it off, the woman with the owner of the round was "shouting racial slurs" at the officers while they searched the car... nice.

This guy was one wreck away from a Darwin Award nomination.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guns, Museums, and Security

I have a presentation I give to museum professionals about firearms. It is a full-day seminar and it covers all aspects of guns and museums. I cover safety and identification, exhibition, legal aspects (I bring in the local ATF Industry Operations folks for this), and security.

My security discussion includes background checks for staff AND volunteers, key control, vault/case access, record keeping, and other topics.

Unfortunately, most folks only think of security in terms of this robbery in Roswell, New Mexico. Short of bars on the door or thick plexiglass or safety glass instead of regular plate glass, nothing would have stopped this crime.

However, the crooks are IDIOTS. The reasons?

  • Most museums have many things on exhibit that are more valuable than the guns. Most "Old West" guns are worth very little and the stories associated with them are usually just that - stories.  The resale value on these guns (Granted, I don't know what they took - although I can guess) is probably less than $500 each. This is based on the condition, quality, and type of most guns I have seen in Western Museums.
  • Most guns made before the turn of the century may have, ahem, issues with modern ammunition.Try using some hot modern .45 Colt in your 1870s wheel gun. Good luck with that.
  • Many guns made before the turn of the century use ammunition that is no longer available - well, at least at Wal-Mart... .45 Schofield, .44 S&W, .32 Short. or various .38s that aren't 'Special'. 
The most useful aspect of these guns to the criminals would be if all of them were manufactured before 1899, making them non-firearms. Possession by felons is then legal and these then fall outside of firearms law.

Have fun fencing them guys!