Author Archives: jMark74

Friday 7/19/13 Maccabiah Results

First of all, thank you to the American readers who responded regarding the bizarre absence of American Jewish shooters at the games.  It seems as if we were simply unaware that shooting sports were available.  Also, there are already thoughts of developing relationships with the Israeli shooting clubs independent of the official Maccabiah Games.  I and others are going to explore all the options, and keep everyone informed.

Long time readers of the blog know that there are many excellent American Jewish international-style shooters we might have seen there.  In the teen and “young adult” category:

Sandra Fong, Danielle Fong, Abigail Fong – With  Sandra notably competing at the Olympic levels.
Hanna Black, Josh Black –  Hanna competes at the collegiate level in Air Rifle, Josh at the junior nationals level in Air Rifle and Pistol.
Jessica Levine – Won national awards at Camp Perry a few years back in smallbore.
Laura Spector – Olympic biathlete.
Sharon Barazani – Up-and-coming international shooter (not sure, she may technically have been born in Israel…?).

Adults:
Dmitriy Shteyman – International pistol disciplines.
Sloane Milstein – Air pistol.
The “Blackhawk Bagel Boys” – An entire 2011 team of Jews at the national championships in smallbore prone.

Sorry if I am forgetting anyone!

This does not even include dozens of American Jews like myself who compete at the amateur levels in center-fire sports, but would still be competitive in an international air or smallbore event.   My readers know this because I’ve been documenting them for several years now!  There are many Jewish NRA Bullseye shooters who shoot slow fire at 50 yards who I’m sure would do well at 10m Air Pistol, or already do.  Those of us NRA High Power shooters who shoot prone at 600 yards can also shoot a smallbore rifle prone at 50m pretty well.

So let’s get to Israel soon and show them what we’ve got!

On to Friday’s results:

10m Air Rifle:
Sergey Richter ISRAEL 626.1

Leor Madlal ISRAEL 625.0
Doron Egozi ISRAEL 607.0
Miron Bilski HOLLAND 564.9
Gilad Lavochkin GERMANY 521.5
Jeremy Griffiths  MAURITIUS 423.8

10m Air Pistol:

Alex Tripolski ISRAEL 571
Daniel Katz ISRAEL 564
Tamir Adler ISRAEL 554
Gilad Lavochkin GERMANY 552
Vered Zur Panzer GERMANY 530
Roman Gronski CZECH REPUBLIC 517
David Peer SLOVAKIA 456
Robert Gatner CURACAO 377
If you are, or know any of the above shooters, please contact me so I can profile them and add them.  If you are new to the blog, please take the time to browse the right side where all of the profiled Jewish shooters are listed.
Mazal Tov to all the competitors!

Correction and Survey for Maccabiah Games Shooting Sports!

One of our readers in Israel has informed that I was mistaken–there are indeed shooting sports in the 2013 Maccabiah Games!  The events are various international disciplines like air rifle, air pistol, prone rifle and rapid fire pistol. The reader tells me there are 7 shooters from various European countries.  So where are the Americans? Despite being The Jewish Marksman, I had no idea that shooting events were part of the games…I thought shooting had been dropped for lack of interest.  I think other American Jews also did not know.

I know that several of the top tier American Jewish shooters (including Olympians and national champions) have made trips to Israel in the past, and plan on going again in the future.  I have to think they would be happy to combine a trip with a few days of shooting in the Maccabiah Games.  WHAT ABOUT YOU?

I know most of us probably cannot afford the time and expense every year, but what if we organized as many as we could to go every few years?  Please send me an email (jewishmarksman at gmail dot com) if you think you would have interest, and we’ll see if we can organize something!

No Shooting Sports at 2013 Maccabiah Games

The 2013 Maccabiah games are about to get underway in Israel, and sadly there are no shooting sports.  Well, that is not entirely correct, as archery is apparently one of the sports.  My understanding is that it has been a number of years since any firearms shooting sport was part of the games, and archery has been off and on.  Interestingly, shooting sports were a part of the 2012 European Maccabiah games, and I did try to reach out to some of the European Jewish shooting sports competitors that participated (there were only a handful), but with no luck.  

As long time readers know, I have always been open to including archery in the blog’s coverage, but just have not stumbled across any non-Israeli competitive Jewish archers.  I’ll do my best to follow up on the Jewish archers in the 2013 games, but help from readers is always appreciated!

Jewish Marksman on Zimmerman Verdict

צֶדֶק צֶדֶק תִּרְדּף לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה וְיָרַשְׁתָּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ
אֲשֶׁר־יהוה אֱלהֶיךָ נתֵן לָךְ

“Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that the LORD your G-d is giving you.” (Deut 16:20)

Months ago, it became apparent to me that the state of Florida, the federal government and the media had begun a tyrannical scapegoating campaign against George Zimmerman.  I knew that I was watching a modern day version of the Deryfus affair, or countless other scapegoating campaigns we Jews have suffered for centuries.  Scapegoating in the Torah is the concept of projecting society’s sins upon the goat, then casting the goat away to symbolically wash away the sins.  So what sins did society try to pawn off on Zimmerman?  Deep down, those most outraged by the verdict must know that it is certainly possible that Trayvon Martin engaged in inappropriate violence against Zimmerman.  Whether Martin was a violent young man or not, those outraged by the verdict are simply unwilling to accept responsibility for American society’s sin of producing violent young men, of all races, by our failing public schools, families, and other institutions we are all responsible for maintaining.  It is so much easier to deny that a violent “gangsta” culture has infiltrated American youth, and blame George Zimmerman for the crisis.  How many times did we see the media show the pictures of Trayvon Martin as a young child, but refuse to show the photos of him exhibiting behaviors advanced by the youth “gangsta” culture?  That is simply unfair and unjust to George Zimmerman.  No, George Zimmerman is not Jewish, but Hashem commands us to seek truth and justice for all.  Although I have voiced criticism of star attorney Alan Dershowitz in the past on this blog, even he agrees that the government’s actions here were unjust.  I made a modest donation to Zimmerman’s defense fund, and he was kind enough to send me personalized thank you note you see above.

The fiasco surrounding George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin has severely tried my patience with the media, and the public generally.  In the mainstream media and social media, innumerable ignoramuses have blathered on about Florida’s self-defense statutes, plainly without any legal training whatsoever, and in many cases, without even bothering to read the laws.  Despite being characterized as “complex,” Florida’s self-defense laws are simple and straightforward to those who bother to read them.  There are some technical aspects regarding judicial procedure that lawyers may bicker over, but the general principles that citizens need to know are very straightforward.  Here I try and help.  To the intellectually honest who understand the law and objectively examine the facts, it will be obvious that the case against George Zimmerman was doomed from the beginning.

With respect to deadly force in defense of self, Florida statute 776.012 states that a person may use deadly force if that person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”  Re-read that 10 times if necessary, and think about each and every word.  Understanding that sentence is critical to understanding Florida law.  Florida law is not “crazy,” to the contrary, it is sane, fair and just.

1.  It is critical to understand that under Florida law, self-defenders are allowed to make reasonable mistakes.  Florida law examines what the defendant could have reasonably believed at the time she used deadly force, not whether deadly force was reasonable had all the facts been known.  This may seem odd at first, but after analysis it is clearly fair and just.  For example, if someone pulls an unloaded gun on you in a threatening manner, in truth they are not a threat to you, but you cannot know that at the time.  Suppose you shoot this person with the unloaded gun, using your loaded gun.  In fact, you have made a very unfortunate mistake as to the reality of the threat.  But, any sane person would agree that under those circumstances, the question is not whether your life was really in danger (it never was, remember–the gun was unloaded), instead, the question is whether you had a reasonable belief that death or great bodily harm was imminent.  In other words, you are allowed to make a reasonable mistake.  On the other hand, suppose a child points a clear plastic squirt gun at you.  You can tell it is only a water pistol, but have some unreasonable belief that the squirt gun is filled with deadly acid.  If you shoot the child, no matter how real the fear was to you subjectively, because the mistake was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances you would be acting unlawfully.

So for example, let’s consider the State’s allegations that after the fight, the wounds to the back of Zimmerman’s head did not look so bad, and a medical professional determined that he did not have a concussion.  It does not matter that these wounds were not “serious bodily harm” after the fact.  What matters is what Zimmerman reasonably believed at the time it was happening.  Notwithstanding that the blows didn’t cause any permanent brain damage or death, I think it was reasonable for Zimmerman to fear that at the time, and the six members of the jury obviously agreed.  I know the State tried to argue that the wounds were so light, that at the time Zimmerman was receiving them, he should have known they weren’t serious.  I think that argument is ridiculous, and obviously the jurors did too.

2.  It is critical to understand that a perception of an armed attacker is not a prerequisite to responding with deadly force.  Nothing in Florida law states that a defendant’s reasonable belief of imminent death or great bodily harm needs to be based on the perceived use of a weapon by the attacker.  Plenty of people have had their skulls bashed in, been strangled, paralyzed, and otherwise brutalized by nothing more than another person’s hands.  People who keep repeating the mantra that “Trayvon only had a pack of Skittles” are being intellectually and morally dishonest.  Bare hands can kill, and the real question is to ask exactly what Trayvon was doing with his hands.  Far too many refuse to ask that simple question, and refuse to accept the fact that Martin was indeed engaged in violence with his hands.

2. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) probably had nothing to do with the verdict.  (The so-called SYG law includes some procedural rules, but most Floridians understand it only as abrogation of the common law duty to retreat before responding with deadly force).  Under the aforementioned statute, a person “does not have a duty to retreat” in the face of a reasonable belief that death or great bodily harm is imminent.  This is repeated in 776.013(3).  Under the old English common law, a person had a duty to “retreat to the wall” before defending with deadly force, i.e. exploit all reasonably possible means of escape.  This may have sounded good in theory, but in practice the courts found it unworkable, and the second guessing by prosecutors and juries was incredibly unfair to citizens that had otherwise justly defended themselves.  So Florida and some other States did away with the common law, and explicitly removed a duty to retreat.  In most states, within your home you have no duty to retreat.  Florida extends the doctrine to the public square.

Rather than debate the wisdom of SYG, consider that it likely had no bearing on the Zimmerman verdict.  The evidence was clear that Martin had mounted Zimmerman, and thus, retreat was not reasonably possible for Zimmerman.  In other words, even if you think SYG is a terrible law and Zimmerman should have been required to retreat, that is a moot point because Zimmerman couldn’t have retreated from under Martin even if he had tried.  SYG was included in the jury instructions, so we’ll never know if the jurors agree with me on this point, but I strongly suspect they would, i.e. Zimmerman was trapped under Martin and couldn’t have retreated.

3.  Zimmerman’s following or “profiling” of Martin is legally irrelevant.  Frankly, I am baffled by the idea that somehow, because Zimmerman followed Martin or was concerned he might be a burglar, Zimmerman was not entitled to defend himself.  Even for those that think Zimmerman started some kind of fist fight or shoving match, under Florida law Zimmerman was still entitled to defend himself.  Specifically, 776.041(2)(a) states that even if Zimmerman “provokes” Martin’s use of force by following him, Zimmerman is entitled to defend himself with deadly force if he first tries to escape or defend himself by other means.  Again, the facts show that retreat was impossible at the time Martin began causing Zimmerman to imminently fear for his life (banging his head into the concrete).  So long as Zimmerman did not commit any actual forcible felonies (defined under 776.08) to provoke Martin, Zimmerman was entitled to defend himself.  Shoving, restraining, or taking a single swing is at most, a misdemeanor.  Following someone is not a crime at all (Florida does have a crime of stalking 784.048, but Zimmerman’s acts were unlikely stalking by definition, and one-time stalking is only a misdemeanor, and while aggravated stalking is a forcible felony, it occurs only in violation of a restraining order).

Thus, even if you somehow think Martin’s acts of violence towards Zimmerman were reasonable (albeit possibly mistaken under the circumstances) because Zimmerman somehow “provoked” Martin,  unless Zimmerman actually committed a forcible felony in the first instance, Zimmerman was entitled to defend himself with deadly force from reasonably perceived deadly force from which he cannot retreat.  Again, this makes sense to reasonable people.  If a person starts a simple fistfight in a bar, she should, with few conditions, be allowed to use deadly force against the defender who responds by jumping on top of her and  pulling out a knife.  Even if you believe Zimmerman started a “scuffle,” to argue that once Martin escalated the violence and left Zimmerman no opportunity to retreat, Zimmerman should not have been allowed to take action to stop his fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm is unreasonable.

As far as I can tell, nobody who paid attention to the evidence seriously believes that Zimmerman committed a forcible felony to “provoke” Martin.  However, it is not entirely clear to me why no instructions relating to 776.041(2)(a) were included in the jury instructions.  Perhaps nobody thought of it, or perhaps the defense did not want to plant any seed with the jury that Zimmerman may have provoked Martin, despite the fact that the State seemed to go with that theory.

4. The initial decision by the local police force not to arrest Zimmerman.  In most states, if you shoot someone in lawful self-defense, you will still be arrested nearly 100% of the time.  Whether you will be later charged with murder is another story, but initial arrest is almost always certain.  The police are not required to consider whether or not you acted in self-defense, and rarely will.  In Florida, things are slightly different.  776.032 prohibits Florida police from arresting unless they believe they have probable cause that the shooting was not justifiable by self-defense.  They can continue to investigate and gather evidence, but they cannot arrest until they have probable cause.  ”Probable cause” is an elusive concept.  There is Florida and federal case law discussing the concept at length, but I like to tell people that in layman’s terms it means “reasonably possible.”  This is a very low standard, much lower than “beyond reasonable doubt” that is required to convict at trial.  So technically, one could say the police should not have arrested Zimmerman until they believed it “reasonably possible” that his claim of self-defense was unsupported.  After reviewing the evidence at trial, I believe this decision could have gone either way, and do not fault the Sanford police for their decision.  There is no statutory bar against the State for simply bringing charges.  However, defendants are entitled to an immunity hearing, which essentially tries the case in front of judge solely to first determine if it will ever go to a jury.  Although it would seem that a defendant has nothing to lose by seeking such a hearing, there are complex strategical reasons why some defendants, like Zimmerman, might choose to forego the hearing.  We’ll never know if Zimmerman’s defense team made the right choice by forgoing the immunity hearing, but it all worked out in the end.

5. The burden is always on the State to prove guild beyond a reasonable doubt, including that the shooting was not in self defense.  An incredible number of Americans seem to refuse to acknowledge that our system functions on the principle that the State must prove its case to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt.  This includes proving that Zimmerman’s self-defense claim is unreasonable (technically, a defendant must only make a prima facia case of self-defense, then the State must rebut it to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt).  It is not enough that a juror thinks the defendant is probably guilty, rather, the juror’s perception must be that there are no reasonable doubts whatsoever.  How any rational person could examine the actual evidence (not the lies and half-truths told by the media) and not have reasonable doubts (and in fact believe Zimmerman is innocent) is beyond me.

6. Potential for Federal case against Zimmerman
Yes, there are federal criminal laws against committing violence against someone solely based on their race.  But the FBI investigation conducted at the outset of the case revealed Zimmerman was not racially motivated, nor was he a racist. The news outlet NBC is now the subject of a civil trial because they intentionally edited the 911 tapes to make Zimmerman appear racist.  In fact, Zimmerman never used any racial slurs, instead he only identified Martin as black because the 911 operator specifically asked about Martin’s race.  Frankly, I am shocked that the American public is not more outraged by NBC’s behavior.  Nothing Eric Holder’s DOJ does surprises me, but bringing a federal case against Zimmerman would only make things worse the (misinformed) angry public, because Zimmerman would undoubtedly win that case.

7. Potential for Civil Case against Zimmerman
In theory, Martin’s parents could pursue a wrongful death claim under 768.16-26.  The theory would be that Zimmerman was somehow negligent or reckless, and that negligence was the proximate cause of Martin’s death.  However, not only would self-defense be a defense to that claim, Florida adopts the concept of comparative negligence, i.e. Martin could be found to also have been negligent (or reckless) and his percentage of negligence would reduce Zimmerman’s liability.  But perhaps most importantly, 776.032 actually shifts attorneys fees to Zimmerman if he prevails in a self-defense claim.  Normally, plaintiffs attorneys are eager to take wrongful death cases on contingency…they and the plaintiffs have nothing to lose, and would normally not have to pay a defendant’s attorneys fees regardless of the outcome.  However, in this case if Martin’s parents lose their claim against Zimmerman, they could be obligated to pay Zimmerman’s attorneys fees!  That might make them and any attorney think twice about bringing the case, given that the theory of the case has already failed in front of a jury of six mothers.

I hope this post sheds some light on the laws of Florida that affected the outcome of the case.  It is important as Jews that we speak out against persecution of all kinds.  Just because the mainstream media and the government have attacked George Zimmerman does not make him guilty in any way, shape, or form.  Jews who know their history should know better.  Baruch Hashem, George Zimmerman is finally on the path to the justice he deserves.

Israeli Mauser Watch: Remarkable Israeli Mauser on Gunbroker

Right now on Gunbroker.com is a classic example of the type of Israeli Mauser that I really like, perhaps the best I’ve seen online.  German-made receiver, Stars of David stamps on the receiver and carved into the stock, stamped out Nazi markings, matching bolt and receiver, sling, grenade launcher.  Lots of pictures so check it out (click to visit)!

Also there is Hebrew word on the receiver and stock, and I’m not quite sure what it means, or if it is an acronym.  I can’t tell if the letters are מכלן or מפלן so perhaps one of my readers can help read and translate the markings.

With two days left in the auction, bidding has reached $650.  I suspect it will go for $900-$1200.

As always, buyer beware!

Jewish Marksman Shoots Another Personal Best

Over the weekend I competed in a 100 yd NRA High Power match.  I shot a 199-6x in the prone stage (laying on the ground with a sling), which is a personal best for me at 100yd.  In 100 yard matches, the 600 yard target ends up with a 1.75″ diameter 10 ring and 0.75″ X-ring.  You get credit for the higher point if your hole touches the ring line, so you can see that I probably benefited slightly by using .30 cal bullets ;-)  The hole circled in red was the one that got away.

A few interesting things to point out.  First, this was the first outing with ammo that I “fixed” using my new Hornady concentricity tool.  Within the green circle there are roughly 12 shots,  and I’ve never shot a group this tight at 100 with this rifle.  I really did not expect the concentricity tool to improve much at 100, but I think it did.  Maybe a .5 minute adjustment to the right and I might have squeezed in a clean 200.  Hopefully this will carry over to the 600 yard line later this month.  The second remarkable point is that although I practice on the SCATT system several times a week, I almost never practice prone or sitting (only off hand), and haven’t for several months.  Nonetheless, my prone and sitting scores keep getting noticeably better in matches.  Meanwhile, my off hand scores, while ever-increasing in practice, a sinking and unpredictable in matches, primarily due to nervousness at the outset of a match.  It confirms the belief that skills gained in offhand carry over to other positions, I just need to get my head on right in the off hand phase.  I’ll write more about the mental management training I’ve been exploring in future posts.

Third, I think the biggest factor is my becoming more particular and consistent with head position on the rifle, and maintaining it during a shot.  I’ve tightened up my cheek weld slightly, and maybe become slightly more concerned with keeping consistent head position than whether the bull is perfectly centered.  I think the outer 10s and the 9 came when I got a tired and a little sloppy with head position, although I still find that after 12 shots or so my body wants to fight that .308 recoil, and I start to anticipate the muzzle blast.  That is why the shots tend to go up from that centering point.  I think the next match I will take a 2 or 3 minute break after the first 10 shots to allow my body to recover and see if that helps.

Jewish Marksman’s Thoughts on the Tavor Rifle

Being the “Jewish Marksman” and all, I am often asked “when are you getting a Tavor?”  For those that haven’t heard of it yet, the Tavor is the newest rifle from IWI.  People in the online gun community refer to this new rifle as the new “Jewish rifle” or new “Israeli rifle.”  (Actually, the Wikipedia page suggests that although the gun was designed in Israel with the IDF in mind, the rifles to be had here in the US seem to be manufactured here as well.)  The IDF has almost completely transitioned from the M4 (the military version of the AR-15) to the Tavor.  Right now this semi-automatic is the hottest and most sought-after rifle on the US market, and they are slowly trickling in.  So why don’t I have one, and why am I not currently planning to?

As it turns out, I am currently putting a lot of thought into the Jewish Marksman’s home defense plan with respect to firearms, and have come to the conclusion that a SBR (short barreled rifle) or similar firearm makes more sense than our current plan, which relies on unshoulderable handguns.  To make a long story short, a shoulderable firearm is almost always more accurate for the user, and a SBR or SBR-like weapon is almost equally maneuverable.  The ATF defines a SBR as a shoulderable firearm with a barrel length less than 16″.  Thus you can put a stock on a Glock pistol, but doing so creates an SBR.  In my home state SBRs are legal, but a federal registration is required beforehand, along with a $200 stamp tax.  Some folks argue that a “bullpup” style rifle with the barrel set further back into the stock, such as the Tavor, offers the same maneuverability as a SBR but without the need for federal registration and taxes because the barrel is still 16″.  Further, proponents of bullpups point out that such rifles are typically more powerful than a short-barreled SBR in the same caliber (longer barrels means more complete powder burn, thus more muzzle velocity).  This is a fine theory regarding bullpups, but until the Tavor came along, many reviewers of other bullpup rifles found them ergonomically deficient.

But at the end of the day, I don’t see myself getting a Tavor, for several reasons.  For me, a rifle would be either for indoor home defense in the quasi-SBR role, or as a long range (600 yd) competition rifle capable of 1MOA or less with metalic sights.  So first off, I tend to not want to be an early adopter of firearms.  There are sometimes annoying “bugs” that need to be worked out of designs, and significant improvements are made in later generations.  Second, it is unclear what the market will be for replacement parts and barrels over the long term.  Compared to say, an AR-15 or AK-47 which has a humongous after-market parts industry, the future of the Tavor in that respect is completely unknown.  I’m sure the IDF has huge stockpiles of spare Tavor parts, but American distributors do not at this time.  Third, it is unclear how or if the Tavor can be customized for 1MOA-standard target shooting.  The AR-15 platform can be used to build world-class metallic sight target rifles, but it is unclear how to get there with a Tavor, and long range precision shooting is my primary sporting interest.  Fourth, I do not see traditional rifle cartridges as an ideal home defense option for my situation, and I have yet to see any reviews of a rumored 9mm conversion kit for the Tavor, nor does it appear that other 9mm versions of the Tavor will hit the US market anytime soon.  Fifth, the price of the Tavor equals or exceeds other SBR options, even factoring in the tax stamp.  Sixth, some of the SBR options I am considering, such as simply putting a removable stock on a Glock, are highly concealable even with the stock attached, and has the option of removing the stock when desirable for concealment or transport.  The Tavor is not very concealable, although there are some smaller SBR versions (not yet available to US market), but that puts us right back where we started with a tax stamp.  Now, if my home state made SBRs illegal (as I understand some states do), then it might be a different ballgame…the Tavor with a 9mm conversion kit might be a very viable candidate for the home-defense role.

But doesn’t everyone need a “range toy?”  Frankly, since I’ve been shooting .308 in a bolt gun in competition, I’ve come to enjoy, yes enjoy, recoil and muzzle blast as part of the fun and challenge of rifle shooting.  It’s the same fun one experiences shooting a .45ACP pistol as opposed to a 9mm.  And if I do go smaller in the future for competition, it will probably be to a .260 or similar cartridge, not the .223, which is simply not the best option for long range (although arguably the most economical).    So the idea of another .223 rifle for fun just doesn’t excite me, and certainly not so given how much more expensive the Tavor is over an AR-15 platform, which I already have.  Frankly, I’d rather just plink with a .223 bolt gun or even a .22LR AR-15, which again, I already have.  There are supposedly going to be Tavors made in .308 and even .300BLK, but again, what’s the excitement over the AR platform in either caliber (AR-15 or AR-10) to justify the price?  I like to go to the range to make hard precision shots that most people don’t bother with…I find it meditative and relaxing (some call it “yoga for Republicans”).  Some people go to the range to fantasy “role play” cowboys, police or Navy Seals, and the Tavor’s looks certainly lend itself well to that role, and to each his own.
   
As for a “battle rifle,” I’ll admit I’m not really qualified to opine in that area.  But it seems to me that for citizens who want such a rifle for SHTF scenarios, an AR-15 or AK-47 would be a better choice primarily because the American market is filled with aftermarket parts and has a huge ownership base, and the Tavor simply does not, even if in theory the Tavor were the better rifle, functionally speaking.  I know if me and my neighbors had to hunker down following a hurricane (or rioting in the wake of a potential George Zimmerman acquittal?), there are more than a few friendly neighbors with/from whom I could borrow/lend/trade AR-15 springs, pins, bolts, etc. (and troubleshoot) if need be within walking distance.  Tavor breaks down, you’re on your own unless you’ve kept enough spare parts around.  That could change, but could also take decades for the market to shift.  So for whatever ergonomic advantages the Tavor may have over an AR-15, for Americans I would still say the AR-15 is a better choice until Tavors and their parts come down in price significantly.

At the end of the day, the scales tip in favor of other options for my needs.  That is not to slight the Tavor, as the rifle has received nothing but outstanding reviews from sources I trust, namely MAC and Jerry Miculek.  But I think people ought to think long and hard before selecting a Tavor over some other (AR-15 based or otherwise) solution for their individual needs, especially if the rifle is to have duties other than being a range toy.  And if you really want one, if the rifle really does have mass US appeal, then I suspect prices will drop and a used market will open up, unless IWI has some plan to keep the number in US circulation low to maintain a higher price.  Also, like anything else in the gun business, anything successful will be cloned.  IWI is not the only manufacturer with bullpup experience, and improvements in its designs could be implemented by others.

Interesting New Option for Israeli Mauser Builds

As my readers know, I’m a big fan of the K98 Mauser large ring action.  I bought a stripped receiver with the IDF crest for just $50, so that someday I could build it out into some sort of target/sporting rifle, but at the moment I have no specific plans.  Old K98 actions, Israeli and otherwise, are very popular actions for building so-called “sporter” or “scout” rifles, which are basically carry-around rifles for general hunting and target shooting.  There are quite a few after-market stocks made for the Mauser action, and all kinds of barrels, even pre-threaded and chambered barrels the amateur gunsmith can install and head space with hand tools (although most of us would benefit from having a gunsmith with a lathe install the barrel).  Almost always a scope is mounted, which eliminates the ability for fast reloads with stripper clips, so each round is fed one at a time into the internal magazine.

However, there is a company here in Florida that has begun making the “bottom metal”, i.e. a replacement for the internal magazine that instead accepts external, AI patterned magazines.  I don’t know anything about the quality of the product or the company, I’m just letting readers know it is out there.  So if you really just *have* to build a Mauser sporter out of an old Israeli Mauser action, this bottom metal could really open up the possibilities.  If you know anything about this new system, please leave comments and share your experience.

Now that all said, Ruger has a .308 Scout rifle out now that also takes magazines and is getting great reviews, and Mossberg and of course Remmington make some very nice, and very affordable general purpose “sporter” rifles as well.  To build a Mauser sporter you’ll spend quite a bit more unless you’re a serious DIYer (you can install and headspace a pre-threaded barrel, bed an action, etc.), but you can end up with a rifle that is exactly what you want, and perhaps with deeper meaning to you than something off the shelf.  Also there are a number of companies making really beautiful wood stocks that take Mauser actions.  Personally, I am hoping someone will manufacture some sort of aluminum chassis system that will accept Mauser actions, so I could just drop it in and use it for NRA High Power and dabble in some tactical matches some day.  Unfortunately, right now there doesn’t seem to be much interest, so as far as I know nobody is making one…yet.

Jewish Marksman Tries Hornady Concentricity Tool

From dictionary.com:

con·cen·tric [kuhn-sen-trik]
having a common center, as circles or spheres.

When I first started shooting rifle competitively, I tried to be discriminating with how I spent my time available for the hobby.  I believe I made good choices.  For the first few years, all that really matters is developing good shooting technique.  The quality of the gear and ammo is of secondary importance, just don’t use junk.  As one progresses, development of technique is still important, but there is finally “bang for the buck” when looking at other aspects of the game, like mental training and ammunition quality.  I’ve seen a lot of new shooters over the years get into the game, and rather than work on technique they divert disproportionate resources to reloading, or the quality of their gear.  This is like the new tennis player who obsesses over the newest titanium racket and shoes, when in reality they would do just as well with an old wooden racket if they would just go out and hit the ball 100 times a day and practice, or the golfer who buys the best clubs and balls but only touches them once a month.  More often than not, these folks get frustrated and quit.  Top gear helps, but it only makes a tiny difference, and tiny differences only matter once you start reaching the higher levels.  Maybe I’m being premature, but I think knocking on the High Master door is the time for me to start looking at my kit.

Recently I posted about annealing my brass, and how I believe it made a significant improvement in my 600 yard score.  By significant, I mean approximately 3 points, which at my level is pretty significant.  But I still feel that I am not extracting every last point me and the rifle are capable of.  I’m still getting a few 9s just outside the 10, or 10′s off call.  At 100 yards, out of 20 shots I’ll get 15 within an inch but 5 that wander.  Now, that could be a million things that have nothing to do with ammo, but I have a “hunch.”  My loading bench kind of flexes, my dies always seem to loosen a bit, and a few other reasons make me think maybe my ammo is not world class.  
Frankly, I was initially skeptical about annealing or that it might have any effect on my scores, but it really wasn’t based on any facts or study…I just assumed that shooters don’t talk about it much, it probably doesn’t matter.  I’ve been equally skeptical about the concentricity of my ammo, and basically for the same reason. So I figured I’d dig deeper and take a fresh look into it, especially since I seem to recall a DVD I borrowed on reloading, where David Tubb, a champion High Power shooter, seemed to think it was pretty important.  
To back up a bit, concentricity is the degree to which the case head, body, neck and bullet are all perfectly centered around an imaginary line running through the middle of the length of the case.  Bullets, due the rifling of the barrel, spin like a top or, I guess more like a football.  I suppose it makes sense that you’d want the bullet to spin perfectly about it’s length and wobble as little as possible.  Apparently this has non-trivial aerodynamic effects on the path of the bullet as well.  And like anything else, you’d want it consistent. In theory, your fired case would come out your perfectly concentric chamber, then into your resizing die that keeps the neck and body concentric, and then you seat in a new bullet perfectly concentric with the case.  In practice, things get bent off center at various stages and the human eye cannot see the imperfections.  It is generally considered reasonable that if you spin the round along it’s axis, a dial indicator gauge should show that the bullet is not more than .002-.003 off that ideal axis.  I’ve also read that some shooters will mark the case head where the high spot is, then position the round in the chamber with that spot on top for consistency.  That’s a bit overkill for me at this point, I think.
So Hornady has a tool out which not only allows you to gauge how much your bullet is concentric or not, but to actually fix the problem by pushing the bullet towards center (bullets are only held in place by a friction fit in the neck, they can be manipulated with moderate force).  Now, if you have a really good reloading setup and good reloading technique, you might have not need for this tool because you’re already making good concentric ammo.  On the other hand, in the handful of years since this Hornady tool came out, there are quite a few believable testimonies online that it seems to work, and certainly does no harm.  The most common comment is that it reduces or eliminates “fliers” (shots the shooter believes were off for inexplicable reasons other than technique).  Others feel it tightens groups somewhat.  Some say the tool is incomplete, because it does not measure the case run-out, and some believe there is something to be gained by sorting cases and using the ones with the least run-out for the shots demanding the highest precision.  Hornady techs (this is hearsay but believable) say the most important thing is to get the bullet concentric with the case head, that the neck run-out is less relevant.  Of course, you are also at the mercy of the bullet manufacturer, unless you want to start testing the bullets for concentricity and sort them…  In the end, theory aside, the tool seems to work for quite a few folks, especially those whose ammo “needs help” and there are quite a few reports of the tool really helping factory ammo.  I have a rather frugal reloading press and die setup, so, I “bit the bullet” and bought one (from Amazon.com, where else!) in the hopes that my ammo will benefit.
I have a 100 yard match coming up, so I figured I’d test my 22 rounds for the prone portion (which simulates the 600 yard target by using a 2″ 10 ring and 1″ X ring).  Most of my rounds measured about .005″ of run-out, only a few were .003″, and a handful were a surprising .010″+.  The average was probably around .007 or .008.  Well that let me know, if nothing else, that my reloading techniques or set up is not as good as some of the serious reloaders out there.  It took me about 10-15 minutes to get all 22 of the rounds down to .002″ or less, a few with the dial barely moving.  The tool is very easy to use, and I think I will be much faster the next time now that I have the hang of it.  I’m not going to bother fixing my 200 yard ammo, and won’t bother with the 300 for now.

 So I can say that if you believe in the theory, this tool really works in terms of reducing run-out.  Will it make a difference on the 100 yard target?  We’ll see, but I suspect if there’s improvement it will show more at 600 next month.  I’m debating whether to take the time and clean my barrel first…

Jewish Marksman Shoots Personal Best After Annealing!

A few posts ago I talked about annealing my brass, hoping it might help out my 600 yard prone scores.  After annealing the brass, I noticed that both re-sizing and bullet seating was easier, and seating resistance in the press was more consistent.  So far so good.

Over the weekend I scored a personal best at 600 yards, a 193 with 6x.  That’s just 1 point shy of High Master land…  Actually the score doesn’t tell the whole story.  My first sighter shot was an inexplicable 7, and actually had me concerned that the annealing was having a detrimental effect.  I made no adjustments, assuming that round was a fluke, and followed with a second sighter almost in the same spot.  I have no idea how my zero could have been so off, unless the annealing had some kind of effect, but the fact the second shot was on top of the first let me know the system was performing.  It took me two shots, both 9s, to make the necessary sight adjustments to get a decent zero.  From there on out me and the rifle were hammering at 600 like never before.  I tired on the last few shots, and flinched a little on an 8.  That made me angry so I hunkered down and nailed two x’s as my final shots (the x-ring is 6″ at 600).  Well the point is, had my zero been better I think a 194, 195 or even 196 would have been in the cards.  It helped that there was very little wind (of the 20 shooters, 196-8x was the top prone score).  Unlike my previous outings at 600, where my windage would be good but my elevation would have inexplicable fliers into the 9 or 8 ring, annealing appears to have cured that elevation problem.

I am starting to feel like my road to High Master is gaining traction.  With the exception of standing, I’ve shot High Master or near-High Master scores in every position, just not consistently.  But my consistency is getting better, especially as I am getting more comfortable with the tube gun. I’ve also been doing more mental management training, and I’ll blog more about that soon.