Still got the shutter bug.

Even though it’s been at least a dozen years since I tripped the the shutter for a living (and five years since my last big gig), I can still pull out a good shot or two when needed.

Did a day’s worth of shooting for the day job over the weekend, and I’m pretty happy with the results.

Naples Gun Range VIP shooting range in Florida The Alamo by Lotus Gunworks Womens shooting instruction in Naples

Gear for the shoot, if you must know, was this cheap-o Chinese lighting kit, a flex reflector and my old D70.

Oh, and gaffer’s tape, foam core and a-clamps, because let’s face it, when you get right down to it, those are more important than the camera.

No, really.

Things might have gone a bit smoother on the shoot if I had access to my old reliable Speedotrons, but hey, time (and gear) marches on. Besides, I picked up the entire new system for the price of one flash head from my old lighting kit. Granted, I now have four 200w/s monoblocks instead of 9600w/s worth of lights that can (and have) lit up a basketball arena, but what I have works for me, and that’s the way I like it.

More than just a shot.

Tam resolves to take better pictures this year, and that got me thinking about my journey as a shooter, both with a camera and gun.

I had a photo-j teacher who had the most brutal method of critiquing student’s work I’ve ever experienced. He just asked “What did you want to accomplish with this picture, and did you succeed at doing it?”

That simple question would not only crush my soul, but at the end of each critique, it would leave me utterly convinced that should I give up my goal of being a photographer and give up seeing for all eternity by stabbing out my eyes like Oedipus Rex.

But I got better at it, and eventually made a living in the photo business for 10 years (more on that later). Having to defend my photos as more than just another pretty snapshot made me think about what I was putting into each shot. Why was I taking that shot? Why was I at a given location, and what did I hope to accomplish with my photos? Thinking about the shots I wanted to get before I even loaded the camera was a trick I could use when taking still lifes, portraits or even shooting the hectic pace of a pro basketball game.

It’s also something that I now do unconsciously. Even if I’m using my iPhone, I’m looking at lighting, background and composition to make them more than just grab shots. It doesn’t detract from the photo experience, but rather, pays off in photos that I believe capture the moment and will be a keepsake forever.

Now on to guns. As I said awhile back, I don’t just go shoot to have fun anymore, I go to work on something, be it draw time or getting rifle DOPE or a Dot Torture, and I accept that fact. I take guns seriously now, and that means changing how I use them. There will come a time, though, when time/money/effort will stack the deck against me, and I won’t be able to put in the effort to improve my shooting techniques. I’ll have to just roll with that I have at that moment, and while that is scary, it is is reality.

And the reality is, I wasn’t able to put in the time and effort needed to take my photography to a level needed to make a living at it. I was a *heck* of a photo assistant (the best in town, if I do say so myself), but I chose (and it was a choice) not to put in the effort needed to make the jump to tripping the shutter for a living. I could see where photography was going post-film, and I wasn’t ready to put in the effort to make it work.

Which is ok, because my post-photography life is pretty awesome right now. Yes, comparing snapping pics to shooting a firearm is ridiculous in many ways (even Bob Capa never had to defend his life with a camera), but in any process of self-improvement, you’re going to get to a place where you reach the end of yourself and accept your limitations. Mine was that I was a good photo assistant, not a good photographer. I’ve yet to find the outer limits of my abilities as a shooter.

Should be interesting when I do.

A Year To Remember

long range AR

Wow, what a year.

Right off the bat, I want to thank everyone who stopped by the blog. There are millions of things to read out there on the internet, and I’m always humbled that people consider what I blather on about here to be worth their time.

It’s been quite a year. Being on TV. Hosting an *incredible* SHOT show party. Writing some more stuff for Shooting Illustrated. Training with Paul CarlsonTraining with Rob Pincus. Getting hired to market a gun store. Getting hired to market an even cooler gun range. Shooting rather well (for me) in a 3 Gun match. Shooting at the home of the Bianchi Cup. Shooting my first-ever precision rifle match. Shooting over 60% in a classifier. Starting a dry-fire regime to not suck as much.

Gun wise, things were quiet. I won a lower at Superstition which I turned into a dedicated precision AR (it’s that gun that leads this post), and I bought another lower and a Sig brace from my last employer that will probably turn into a 9mm AR pistol.

Meeting Bob Owens and Katie Pavlich and Chris Cheng and so many, many more cool people. Seeing this amazingly beautiful country. Seeing snow fall once more, and then having the brains to leave it behind for warmer climes. Spending Christmas afternoon on the beach. Worshipping and singing in the choir in a small-town Baptist church of 100 people and a huge mega-church of 1000. It’s been a year like no other, and thanks once again for sharing it with me.

Now, on to 2016!

A Moment of Zen. And then a few more.

First, someone else’s pic of the Naples Pier. Haven’t been there yet, as we just arrived in-town.

1 naples pier sunset 5

Secondly, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone. Because of the new job, the holidays and our urgent need to unpack our life (again), posting here will be light this week.

Our plan is to spend Christmas Eve at church, Christmas morning at the beach, and then we’re not really sure where we’ll be having Christmas dinner.

Anyone have a good recipe for Caribbean-style roasted turkey?

About that new logo

New Logo for Misfires And Light StrikesBecause I now live in Florida, I felt I needed to update the look of the blog. The old design borrowed heavily from the logo for the Arizona Coyotes, but this time, I was going for something that looked like a 50/50 mix of a Travis McGee book jacket and the Art-Deco look of Miami Vice, because Florida.

I kinda like it. Makes me feel like I’m starring in my own 80’s police drama.

Now I just need to find a good deal on a gently used 308 GTS

And yes, that is my CZ P07 in there. If only there was a way to mix in references to the 9th Symphony, Nikon FM2’s and Belgian farmhouse ales, I’d have all my favorite things showing up in my logo!

80% is Zero Percent

So it turns out that Sierra Nevada Arms, the Rockethub project I supported a year and a half ago (!) is no more. Their phone has been disconnected, their website is “down for maintenance” and Facebook page is pretty much Tango Uniform.

Gone Daddy Gone Sierra Nevada Disarmed

Not happy. I completely understand that I was funding a business, not buying a product, but I invested my money based on good faith, and that faith was betrayed. As I said a year ago,

“At this point, unless you’re wanting the thrill(?) of building it yourself or want to get a firearm without the .gov on your back, just go buy a lower and spare yourself a lot of trouble.”

Well, now that finished lowers are going for just $45, there’s even fewer reasons to get an unfinished, incomplete, DIY lower.

Caveat emptor, as always.

Burying the lede

You would think that an anti-gun Governor would be popular in the town where Sandy Hook happened. You would think that the people closest to such a horror would realize that it is the means that caused this tragedy, not the motive or the opportunity, and therefore vigorously support an gun-banner like Daniel Malloy. 

And you’d be wrong

Colorado’s John Hickenlooper and Connecticut’s Dannel Malloy prevailed in hard-fought contests, urban areas in those states delivering the margins needed for narrow victories.

Malloy did not win the popular vote in NSSF’s headquarters community of Newtown.

The parents of Sandy Hook know what stops crime, and what doesn’t. 

Ghost With A Machine

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There’s now a $1200 mill that allows you to mill out an 80% lower at home with zero machining knowledge

Questions for the audience:

  1. How long before a major manufacturer sells an 80% lower and a milling machine rather than a completed AR lower? 
  2. People are using these to mill out AR-15 lowers and 1911 frames: How long before a company sells a package deal of an 80% frame/lower that can ONLY be made on a milling machine such as this, along with the parts needed to turn it into a firearm on your kitchen table?

Gun control laws are a product of mass production: It’s easy to legislate something that is produced en masse and can be easily tracked from factory floor to the sales counter. It’s not so easy to track something that can be handcrafted in a small shop, be it the blacksmith’s forge of 200 years ago or today’s desktop CNC mill. It looks like the future of gun ownership looks a lot like that past of gun ownership.