Monthly Archives: June 2010

Thoughts on Weekend Gun Show

I went to a local gun show on the weekend, hoping there might be a Mauser specimen or two to inspect to get a feel for condition, so that when I encounter an Israeli Mauser I’ll know how to evaluate it. Of course, I also went to find surprise deals.

I was quite disappointed. Not a single Mauser in the place. Nor was there much in the way of competitive target guns or rifles. I can summarize the show with three words: tacticool, tacticool, tacticool. Not my cup of tea.

What is “tacticool?” Tactical guns and gear are designed for specific military and police purposes. Usually these items are geared for “CQB” or close(d) quarter battle. Think of a SWAT team busting into a crack house, or soldiers street fighting in Afghanistan. There are weapons configurations specific for those purposes. For example, a rifle may be configured as a “carbine” with a shorter stock and barrel so the “operator” can maneuver easily in enclosed spaces. Pistols might have a slightly heavier trigger pull, due to the user’s stress and possibly the fact he might be wearing gloves. Laser aiming devices, red dot scopes, high powered flash lights and other doo-dads are often mounted on the guns.

There is a place for these platforms on the public market. Some configurations are good for home defense. There are shooting sports where weapons so configured are perfect. So I’m not knocking them. But it seems to me that these configurations make up the majority of guns on display in many shops, the magazines, and certainly at the show I went to. The term tacticool comes from the impression that these guns are marketed as being “cool,” as if owning one somehow unleashes your inner Navy Seal.

I guess what I’d like to see is greater emphasis in the firearms industry on marketing guns that real people can use to make shooting a regular part of their lives. I know too many guys with a closet full of tacticool guns and gear they never use. They’re not collectors, but they read the Maxim ad that said buying a DPMS AR-15 earns them their “man card.” If the salesman (and the industry) had steered them instead into a 10/22, they might actually get out and shoot more due to the greater ease of shooting and more affordable ammunition. The reality is that many people will not get into action shooting sports, and their shooting time will be spent picking off stationary paper. Indeed, many public ranges do not even allow rapid fire shooting! So what happens is they show up at the range with their CQB gear, stand in one spot, can barely hit the broad side of a barn, get frustrated, and the hundreds of dollars of gear stays in the closet.

Ah well, give the people what they want, I guess. It just disappoints me that we have a nation of so many gun owners but so relatively few become good shooters. The Obama election definitely boosted gun ownership and has made the public ranges a little more crowded, but when the current fad passes, who will be left?

10m Air Pistol Progress

First, I thought I would post a 10m air pistol target and explain a little about the sport. Typically 10m (32.8 feet) air pistol matches are held indoors, using very precise pistols that quietly shoot .177″/4.5mm diameter lead pellets at about 500fps. on average. In a vice, a good 10m pistol will create a hole pretty much the diameter of a pellet, but a little wider is fine too. At 500 fps., these pistols are safe to shoot in many environments without lead risk or extreme backstop needs. A garage works fine!

I train at home on a 5m scaled down target, then go to my local club which has a nice 10m air gun range with targets on pulleys for easy changes. In Europe, even small clubs have fancy-schmancy electronic scoring systems where three audio sensors triangulate the precise impact point of the pellet by listening for its sound as it flies by.

In ISSF competitions, a men’s match is 60 shots, for women it’s 40. There is usually time for about 90 seconds per shot, working at your own pace. So there is no rush. And because the competition is indoors, wind does not play a factor. In my opinion, 10m air pistol is one of the purest, but also one of the hardest shooting disciplines.

It is also one of the “cheaper” shooting sports. A competitive pistol can be found for about $400 (and hold their value well), and after that pellets run about $7 on average for a tin of 500. A cardboard box with rags inside can do for a trap, or else steel boxes can be found for about $20, or be homemade.

As you can see, the 9 ring on a 10m target is about the size of a quarter. The 10 ring is smaller than a dime, and the X is the size of a pellet. A shot that breaks the ring of the higher point counts, so the target above has two 10s and three 9s. I use cheap target paper and a relatively low velocity pistol, so I tend to get tears in the targets instead of nice clean holes. Good target paper from Germany or a slightly faster gun gives nice clean holes, but hey, who cares!

Today’s training session was a little odd. Here was the progression:

10 10 10 9 8 47 0.94
10 9 9 9 8 45 0.90
10 10 9 9 8 46 0.92
10 9 9 9 9 46 0.92
10 10 9 9 9 47 0.94
10 10 9 8 8 45 0.90
9 9 8 7 7 40 0.80

I started gangbusters with a 47, although I wasn’t pleased with the 8. I was clipping along nicely at 90%+ for the first 30 shots. I was on a pace to break 540, managing the fatigue in my hands and wrists, and definitely feeling the benefits of the strength training I’ve been doing for them. But then shots 30-35 came, and suddenly my hands and wrists didn’t feel strained anymore…they felt very relaxed. I couldn’t get a comfortable grip. The shots were not on call. So I decided the best thing to do was to call it a night and go eat dinner with friends. No sense in practicing bad habits when you are not shooting well. It took me roughly an hour to shoot the 30 shots, as I abandoned a lot of shots. While I was shooting I listened to the weekly Torah portion commentaries on my mp3 player (I like rabbis Silberberg and New).

Overall I’m happy with the progress. When my hand and arm are feeling fresh, I’m popping in 10s and 9s. My hold is improving where the 8′s are probably trigger errors as opposed to hold drift…I am getting a good 9 ring hold. I’ll stick to the game plan and keep building strength and endurance so I can last the full 60 shots. Before I was tanking after 20 shots, now I’m up to 30…halfway there!

Sometime soon I’ll write about Service Rifle training with the SCATT, and how my wife tolerates my AR-15 dry firing in the bedroom every night!

German Guns for Jewish Marksmen?

This morning I was nicely surprised to find that a German blogger wrote an article about this blog. I’ve been getting hits for the blog from all over the world. A lot of interest thus far comes from friendly Gentiles. The timing of the German blogger’s post is remarkable, because just last night I had planned to blog a bit about German firearms!

Off the shelf, German and Austrian manufacturers make the best precision target firearms and accessories today. I use an old Feinwerkbau 65 air pistol, and a 300S air rifle. Both are probably older than me and I had to reseal and re-spring them, but they will still shoot one hole at 10m. My smallbore (.22LR) competition rifle is an Anschutz. Most Olympians are using rifles and pistols from Anschutz, Steyr, Walther, and Feinwerkbau. Even the Israelis! (However, my competition AR-15 is all American, as well as my S&W revolvers, my 1911 and 10/22 fun rifle…)

Perhaps the quintessential symbol of the relationship between Jews and German guns is the “IDF Mauser.” Mauser is a German arms manufacturer of a line of bolt-action rifles and pistols from the 1870s to present. Interestingly, a Jew, Ludwig Loewe, once owned a company which in turn owned 50% of Mauser. Loewe and his family were destroyed by Antisemitism, and his estate seized by the Nazis. Mauser produced a rifle used by the Nazis called the K98. From Wikipedia:

Israeli Mauser

The use of the Karabiner 98k to establish the nation-state of Israel often raises a lot of interest among people and rifle collectors today. Many Jewish organizations in Palestine acquired them from post-World War II Europe to protect various Jewish settlements from Arab attack as well as to carry out guerrilla operations against British Army forces in Palestine.

The Haganah, which later evolved into the modern-day Israel Defense Forces, was one of the Jewish armed groups in Palestine that brought large numbers of Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles … from Europe during the post-World War 2 period. Many, though not all, Israeli-used German surplus Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles have had all of the Nazi Waffenamt markings and emblems defaced with over stamped Israel Defence Force (IDF) and Hebrew markings as part of an effort to ideologically “purify” the rifles from their former use as an infantry weapon of Nazi Germany.

As the Arab-Israeli conflict approached, the Haganah and other Jewish forces in Palestine tried to get hold of as many weapons as they could in the face of an arms embargo by British colonial authorities. One of most important purchases was a secret January 14 1948, $12,280,000 worth contract with Czechoslovak Government including 4,500 P-18 rifles, as well as 50,400,000 rounds of ammunition. Later, the newly established Israel Defence Force ordered more numbers of Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles, produced this time by Fabrique Nationale. These have Israeli and Belgian markings on the rifle as well as the emblem of the IDF on the top of the rifle’s receiver. The FN-made Karabiner 98k rifles with the IDF markings and emblem on the rifle were produced and sold “legally” to Israel after it established itself as an independent nation in 1948. The Israeli Karabiner 98k utilized the same bayonet design as in German service, with a barrel ring added. The Israeli bayonets were a mix of converted German production and domestically produced examples.

During the late 1950s, the IDF converted the calibre of their Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles from the original German 7.92 mm round to 7.62 mm NATO following the adoption of the FN FAL rifle as their primary rifle in 1958. The Israeli Mauser Karabiner 98k rifles that were converted have “7.62″ engraved on the rifle receiver. Rifles with original German stocks have “7.62″ burned into the heel of the rifle stock for identification and to separate the 7.62 NATO rifles from the original 7.92 mm versions of the weapon still in service or held in reserve. Some Karabiner 98k rifles were fitted with new, unnumbered beech stocks of recent manufacture, while others retained their original furniture. All of these converted rifles were proof-fired for service.

The Karabiner 98k rifle was used by the reserve branches of the IDF well into the 1960s and 1970s and saw action in the hands of various support and line-of-communications troops during the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. After the rifle was retired from reserve military service, the Israeli Mauser Karabiner 98k was given to a number of Third World nations as military aid by the Israelis during the 1970s and 1980′s, and sold as ex-military surplus on the open market.

I have seen pictures of these IDF Mausers, and they are really emotionally stirring. As the article mentions, occasionally collectors find them with swastikas still stamped on the receiver with the IDF emblem stamped elsewhere. Even rumors of sightings of some models indicating they were originally made in the work camps. When you really think about it, at least to me, those rifles represent the triumph of the Jewish spirit.
Occasionally I see fine specimens come up on the auction sites, but they aren’t cheap. And I don’t intend to turn one into a “safe queen” (a gun that is meant to be collected, stored in a safe, and never shot). I would really like to find (cheaply) one in shooting condition that I could use to compete for fun NRA High Power matches. But I don’t know a whole lot about them, so I’m still doing my research and figuring out how technically and financially feasible my idea is.

Update 11/24/12: I’ve been tagging my Israeli Mauser posts, where I’ve been tracking them on Gunbroker.com and also documenting my shooting adventures with mine (click here to see tagged posts).

Dmitriy Shteyman 2012 Olympic Hopeful in Pistol

This article in the Jewish Herald Voice describes US Olympic hopeful Dmitriy Shteyman, an American Jew (via Ukraine and Russia) with his sights set on competing in the 2012 Olympics in London. From the article:
Shteyman is a championship pistol shooter and instructor, and his latest target is the 2012 Olympics in London. The Jewish shooter took part in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, as a member of the USA support team, but hopes to make it as a shooter in 2012.

“This is my third chance to make the Olympic team, and it’s always a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Shteyman said. “I’m very excited to be able to compete against the best shooters in the USA.”

Shteyman, who has worked as a programmer/analyst for SYSCO Corporation for 13 years, is a bronze medalist in the USA Shooting National Championships and two-time national record holder.

He also coaches kids ages 8 to 18 (including one Jewish girl) at the 4-H Shooting Sports Club in Rosenberg. One of his 18-year-old students, who he has been teaching for three years, is a national juniors champion in the 25-meter Rapid Fire Pistol.

The article also mentions that Dmitriy will be going to the World Championships in Munich this year, so I will report on him as well as the Israeli shooters at that event.

Psalm 18:32, Ezekiel 22:14 and Jewish Marksmanship

“He trains my hands for war so that a copper bow is bent by my arms.” – Psalm 18:32

“Will your heart endure, or will your hands remain strong in the days that I will deal with you?” – Ezekiel 22:14

Strong hands are a major asset in the shooting sports. A firm grip helps to stabilize the firearm, absorb and recover from recoil, and arguably allows the trigger finger to better function independently of the other fingers (crucial for clean shot releases). And they give you a firm handshake! But even more important, many shooters forget that shooting is a repetitive activity and shooters are prone to repetitive stress injuries in the elbows, shoulders and wrists. Keeping these areas strong and muscularly balanced will help avoid injury which spoils the fun. “Shooters elbow” is a possibility, which could require downtime and in extreme cases surgery.

For training my grip I use the Captains of Crush grippers. I had an opportunity to talk briefly with a member of the Team USA pistol team, and he swore by them. The grippers are numbered by difficulty, right now I can close #1 about 5 times with my strong hand and mostly use the weaker #T for 20-30 reps. The Team USA shooter can close the #2 several times, which probably means his grip is four or five times stronger than mine….grip matters! (There are no absolutes in shooting, there are shooters who grip very lightly with excellent results. You have to figure out what works for you. For me, the firmer the better!)

I also like the Dyna-Flex and the old-fashioned wrist-roller.

Unfortunately, while I was focused on rifle the past year I let my grip strength go, but with 3-days a week training it’s starting to come back to me.

Jewish Marksman wins May Airgun Arena 10m Match!

Yours truly won the May 2010 Airgun Arena 10m Match:

Well, there were only 2 entries. In past months there are many more, I think the Memorial Day holiday probably was the reason for the downturn this month. So get yourself a 10m air pistol and join the fun!
Competitor Score
Jewish Marksman 535
Mcameron 511

Over at http://www.airgunarena.com you can sign up and, basically, enter your scores on the honor system. This is called a “postal match”, and is a great way to compete for folks like me who can’t find local air pistol matches (according to USA Shooting, sanctioned matches for me are a state or two away…I’ll wait until I’m shooting Master level to bother…).

Drop me a line if you are interested in recommendations for starter 10m airguns–don’t just go pick one up from Walmart or Outdoor World, as you’ll likely be disappointed with the accuracy.