Monthly Archives: March 2011

Israeli Ice Hockey Players – Jewish Marksmen?

What does ice hockey have to do with marksmanship? Having played ice hockey as both a youth and adult, I can assure you that shooting a puck past a goalie takes a great deal of precision. A player can make a “wrist shot” with great precision, and also a “slap shot” which can travel over a hundred miles per hour. Either way, a good goalie will only a few inches for the player to hit, so learning to shoot a puck takes the same kind of mental practice and skill as rifle and pistol shooting.

Which brings us to the remarkable recent victories of Israeli youth hockey clubs. Israel’s pee wee (11-13 year old) hockey team from Bat Yam won an international tournament in Quebec. Interestingly, as the article points out, many of the kids practice exclusively on roller blades. Another Israeli team from Ma’alot just won big tournament in Ohio, at the highest AAA level.

Mazal tov!

P.S. I think the Israeli national team jersey looks awesome.

Ruth Betty Blum – Collegiate Rifle Champion

Using google searches, I sometimes come across Jewish shooters who have left this earth, and their passion for shooting sports was strong enough that their families felt it worthy of mention in their obituary. As I find them, I will schedule them in advance to post on the shooter’s yahrzeit. I think these obituaries are interesting, because they show that Jews from all walks of life can have an interest in shooting sports.

Below is the obituary of Ruth Betty Blum, who “was a champion on the college rifle team during her years at Oshkosh State Teachers College (now the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh)”:

Ruth Betty Blum

March 18th, 2005

Former longtime Oshkosh resident Ruth Betty Blum (nee Zimmerman) died in her sleep at her Sarasota, Fla., home March 1. She was 82.

Born at her grandparents’ home in Green Bay to Morris and Sarah (Miller) Zimmerman, Blum lived in Oshkosh from the age of six months through most of her life. While growing up, she worked in her family’s store, Zimmerman Clothing, on Main Street.

According to her family, she was a champion on the college rifle team during her years at Oshkosh State Teachers College (now the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh). She graduated with a double major in English and biology, then taught English, biology and driver’s education in Seymour, Wis., for two years.

On July 4, 1947, she married Dr. Harold J. Blum, who died in 1998. During their 51 years of marriage they traveled extensively to Europe, Israel, Mexico, the Far East and through the Panama Canal, among other places. In 1980, they began spending winters on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fla. In 2001, she moved her summer residence to Monona, Wis.

She was a lifelong member of Congregation B’nai Israel and its Sisterhood, as well as Hadassah. She was an avid reader with a special fondness for mysteries, and an ardent Green Bay Packers fan. She also enjoyed boating, baking, Broadway plays, opera, dancing and chocolate, her family said.

She is survived by sons David Blum and Dr. Marc (Kathy) Blum, both of Oshkosh; daughter Carla (Dr. Ismor Fischer) Blum of Madison; sister Fern Lois Shapiro of Encino, Calif.; and seven grandchildren.

Religious director Gary Wolfman officiated at a memorial service on March 6 at Congregation B’nai Israel in Oshkosh.

Memorials to Congregation B’nai Israel, P.O. Box 904, Oshkosh, WI 54902-0904, would be appreciated by the family.

Alexander Danilov – Pistol Champion (and Ambassador for Shooting Sports!)

Alexander Danilov is an Israeli pistol shooter, and one of the best in the world. As his surname suggests, he is one of the many immigrants to Israel from Russia, and originally competed on the Russian team. His accolades are well documented Wikipedia (some highlights):

  • Alexander Danilov (born Nov. 10, 1969) is an Israeli pistol shooter, who was a member of the Israeli shooting team at the 2000 Sydney Games and 2004 Athens Games.
  • Danilov has been among the world elite in both the free pistol and air pistol shooting events.
  • Danilov finished in 2nd place in the 50-meter free pistol at the 1995 European Championships.
  • In 1997, Danilov (competing for Russia) finished 5th in the men’s air pistol event at the Munich World Cup.
  • Danilov then won the gold medal for Israel at the 1999 European Championships in the 10-meter pistol in Germany.
  • Danilov won the air pistol event at the European Championship in Munich in 2000.
  • He captured the bronze medal at the 2001 Atlanta World Cup.
  • He finished fourth in the World Cup circuit 2002 tournament free pistol event in Finland, and second in the air pistol overall in the World Cup competition.
  • He came in 9th in the 2003 European Championships in the 50 meter pistol.
  • 2004 saw him come in 3rd in the Bangkok World Cup circuit event.
  • On August 5, 2004, he won the Czech Grand-Prix meet with 668.7 points, a new Israeli record.
  • In the 2004 Olympics Danilove came in 15th in the 50 meter free pistol.
  • Danilov’s wife, Olga Danilova, is a former short track speed skater who competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The picture above from the Sydney 2000 Olympics is the best I could find. If you look careful, you can see he is holding a free pistol.
Interestingly, via Google I found his name mentioned in an article that demonstrates one of the reasons I run this blog. The article was written in 2008 by Jane Herman for the online publication, which describes itself as “News and Views of Reform Jews.” Ms. Herman writes in her article about how discovering that Jews like Danilov and Guy Starik compete in shooting sports somehow contributed to her challenging her preconceived notions about guns. She begins her article describing how she originally harbored typical anti-gun sentiments shared by too many Americans, and too many American Jews in particular. She writes:

When I’d recovered enough to ask some questions, I learned that this particular gun owner doesn’t hunt, but he does own both long guns and handguns that he uses for sport shooting. I subsequently learned that shooting is an Olympic sport requiring tremendous precision, skill and training. With a bit more help from Google, I also learned that Israelis Alexander Danilov and Guy Starek are both distinguished competitive marksman. The former, a pistol shooter, won the gold medal at the European Championships in Germany in 1999 and the latter, a free rifle competitor, placed 7th at the 1995 World Championships and 4th at the 1998 World Championships.

Even with this knowledge, I was extremely disconcerted, not so much because someone I know owns guns, but rather because I–so quickly and so wrongly–had jumped to the conclusion that the weapons are handguns and thus are “bad” in every way. I like to believe that I view the world through lenses that bring various shades of gray into focus, and I was distressed and disappointed in myself that, in this instance, I had seen it only in the starkest shades of black and white.

Now, I get the sense that Ms. Herman, aka “JanetheWriter” probably has not purchased a firearm or joined the competitive shooting sports. But her article points out the powerful example that we Jews in the shooting sports can set–we change the hearts and minds of our brothers and sisters who are simply misinformed about the nature of firearms and the shooting sports. Imagine the impact it would have had on Ms. Herman if this blog had been around in 2008 when she wrote her article; she would have discovered that not just Israelis compete at the top levels in the shooting sports, but plenty of American Jews as well.

Jewish Marksman likes SmartReloader Products

So far I am satisfied with some new reloading products I’ve recently acquired from a company called SmartReloader. Generally, when it comes to reloading supplies, I am pretty much a “Lee” man–I think Lee Precision makes great products and offers great service at great (i.e. cheap) prices. I do have a few products from other manufacturers, such as RCBS, but only because Lee didn’t offer what I needed at the time. You can spend more on presses that (arguably) offer more features, but for pistol cartridge reloading in particular, Lee is tough to beat in terms of value. I had some concerns about whether my Lee Loadmaster press and Lee .223 dies were up to the task of reloading accurate rifle cartridges for NRA High Power, but that concern is gone given how well my ammo has performed off the Lee press, dies, and powder measure. I even use the Lee Zip Trim and other case prep tools. Can’t argue with my recent Master scores, and the great groups I’ve been shooting in prone.

However, in the past year or so a new supplier has entered the market, SmartReloader. As far as I can tell they are a European company, that seems to have a “house” brand line of products. I noticed a few of their items were available at Natchez Shooters Supplies, one of my favorite online retailers. I first purchased the SmartReloader media separator, which is $10-$20 cheaper than other brands. Since then, I’ve picked up their funnel, case care kit, and trickler (although mine came in black, not yellow). All the SmartReloader gear is a little cheaper than the competitors. So far, I’ve only had a chance to use the media separator and case care kit (actually only the small primer pocket reamer and uniformer).

The media separator works fine, a nice replacement for the plastic pasta strainers I was using before. The primer pocket tools seem to work fine. I use them only when a primer gets mangled during insertion, or refuses to seat below flush. I lightly ream and uniform the pocket a bissel, which usually solves the problem for the one out of ten cases that have a primer seating issue during reloading.

All of the tools I have so far from SmartReloader are simple tools where precision is not critical and there aren’t any moving parts. I’m not sure I would dive into one of their presses, and especially not their electric powder measure and scale unless I was sure that they offer robust US support. In the case of Lee, any issues I’ve had have been addressed with prompt emails and great customer service. So far, SmartReloader doesn’t have much of a track record (or at least one I can find online), and I am not the kind to take the risks of an early adopter.

I’m certainly not disparaging any other line of reloading equipment. It’s a little funny how loyal we shooters can be about our reloading equipment, and how many on-line flame wars break out in the forums about who makes the best reloading presses and dies. All I can say is that for my Bullseye pistol and High Power rifle needs, Lee has done the job at the lowest price. But keep your eye on SmartReloader for some of the accessories that Lee doesn’t offer.

3/28/11 Update: I used the trickler and funnel tonight, both work fine.

Torah Portion Vayikra and Jewish Marksmanship

This week’s Torah portion is parshah Vayikra, Leviticus 1:1-5:26. (Click here for the parsha in a nutshell from Chabad):
“In the Parshah of Vayikra, which opens the book of Leviticus, G-d speaks to Moses from the Tent of Meeting and begins His communication of the laws governing the bringing of the korbanot, the animal and meal offerings that are the central feature of the service performed in the Sanctuary.”

Of particular note to target shooters is:

No leaven… [shall be present] in any offering of G-d (2:11)

The rabbis explain this passage as follows:

Leaven, which is dough that has fermented and risen, represents self-inflation and pride, and there is nothing more abhorrent to G-d. In the words of the Talmud, “G-d says of the prideful one, ‘He and I cannot dwell together in the world.’”

I find that there is a direct correlation between my scores and humility. The more self-worth and self-importance we attach to our results on the target, the less likely we will shoot well and enjoy the sport in the long run.

Match pressure comes from caring about scores at a personal level. To care about a match score at a personal level implies your sense of self and identity is somehow tied into the results on paper. Maybe you think about how others will perceive you based on your score? Maybe how you perceive yourself is based on your score? It is very hard to do, but the key is to remember what is indisputably true: your score on the target has nothing to do with who you are as a person. If a high score is something you need to feel good about yourself, or to justify the time you’ve spent practicing, then your life priorities are out of balance.

That’s easy to say, but tough in practice. But I do believe that at the core of match pressure, especially the kind that makes you shoot worse than you do in practice, is pride of some form or another. Match pressure still sometimes throws me off, especially when I start thinking about moving up in classification as a result of the score I hope to shoot that day. That means I still have some improvement to make as a person before I can improve as a shooter.

And with that, Shabat Shalom!

Hap Rocketto – Jewish Marksman and Marksmanship Historian

I was pleasantly surprised when Hap Rocketto contacted the site, not only because he is Jewish, but also because he gave a long list of additional competitive Jewish shooters I will be telling you about this year. Even better, he had a profile already composed, saving me time (I have so little of it lately!). First, Hap himself is a great rifle shooter:
Hap Rocketto was rated a Distinguished Rifleman in 1981. He is one of few who have been a member of both Service Rifle and Smallbore Rifle All National Guard Rifle Teams, where he served as both a coach and shooter. An NRA Smallbore Distinguished Position Rifleman he has earned Presidents Hundred honors three times, has been a member of numerous open and National Guard national championship teams, the 2002 Three Position Intermediate Senior National Champion, member of the 2007 US Championship Indoor Four Position Championship team as well as a multiple National Record holder. He is a member of the 1600 Club and has served as adjutant of the US Roberts Team as well as captain and coach of the US Drew Cup Team. Rocketto was a member of the 1973 and 1985 US silver medal winning US Maccabiah Rifle Team and a member of the Connecticut Shooters Hall of Fame.

Aside from his shooting accolades, Hap is well known shooting historian, and his articles appear in numerous publications as well as online sources. I particularly enjoy how his writing style brings his subjects to life, and he knows exactly which details to mention such that by then end of one of his pieces you feel as if you have personally met the person he covers.

I have previously cited to his work when I wrote about Morris Fisher.
But here are some sources for his other works, which I am sure you will enjoy:
Hap’s Corner on the Rifleman’s Blog