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National Concealed Carry Reciprocity—Is the Fruit Getting Ripe?

Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin

Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin

With the passage of Wisconsin’s concealed carry legislation this year, 49 states now have some sort of concealed carry law on their books.  Of those, 36 states have “shall issue” right-to-carry laws comparable to Wisconsin’s.  Only Illinois, which predictably also frowns upon open carry, stands completely alone in denying its citizens the right to bear their arms.

The 49 states that do feature some sort of concealed carry on their books have different regulatory schemes, different requirements to acquire a permit, and different rules about where guns may and may not be carried.  They also differ in one other important way—reciprocity.  Reciprocity is the legal process by which one state may recognize the laws of another, as they do with driver’s licenses for example.  Many states do in fact recognize permits from certain other states, but many others do not, or their recognition is limited to certain states.  Without recognition of an out of state concealed carry permit, a law abiding citizen must then obey the wide variety of state laws regarding firearm possession and transport for non permit holders.  This makes it legally risky for folks taking a simple family vacation from Missouri to Pennsylvania, for example, to bring a self protection firearm along with them.  There are websites online which can act as a guide for law-abiding gun owners to navigate this confusing situation, but the fact that they exist at all drives home the point that the hodgepodge of state laws are difficult to understand and follow.  And if you’re a trucker who sees several different states each week, the 2nd Amendment probably seems more like something you just read about online than a basic human right which could save your life someday.

U.S. House of Representatives members Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Heath Schuler (D-NC) have a solution.  In February 2011 they introduced HR 822, a national right-to-carry reciprocity bill that, if passed, would force every state to recognize the concealed carry rights of visitors with concealed carry permits from their home state.  That’s it.  No national ID card, no national database of concealed carry permit holders, just the radical yet simple notion that states should recognize each other’s concealed carry permits as they do a driver’s license.  Surprisingly, HR 822 has its basis in existing federal law.  Due to the Armored Car Reciprocity Act of 1993, every state, including Illinois, currently recognizes the permits carried by employees of Armored Car companies to carry firearms in their vehicles and on their persons.  How simple is that?

While this may seem like a simple change, getting the bill through Congress and signed by the President will be anything but.  Representative Stearns has filed a version of this right to carry reciprocity bill every year since 1995, which means that the bill has failed for sixteen straight years.  Like seeds planted in barren earth, each bill has withered and died.  But there are some indications that the bill’s chances are improving.  The landmark legal case of District of Columbia vs. Heller affirmed in 2008 that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right, not a collective right.  The Heller decision now backs up HR 822 from the standpoint of constitutional law, but more than that, it has helped turn the tide of legislation in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

While the BATFE and the Justice Department are reeling from scandals involving the government’s involvement in trafficking firearms from the United States to Mexico and Honduras, there are indications that this Congress is refusing to go along with gun control proposals.  The House of Representatives has adopted a provision protecting gun possession on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, and has shot down two anti-gun schemes by the BATFE and the Justice Department by removing funding from them.  By contrast, HR 822 now has 241 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, more than half the total number of members.   The bill is currently before the House sub-committee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security.  If it can be successfully attached to an important piece of legislation coming through that committee, it is feasible that President Obama would sign it into law as part of a larger package, as he did with a bill allowing concealed carry in National Parks in May 2009.

With every state but one having concealed carry on the books, more than half of the House of Representatives co-sponsoring this bill, a recent Supreme Court decision affirming the 2nd Amendment, and a president who has previously signed pro-concealed carry legislation into law, is national concealed carry reciprocity an idea whose time has come?  Cliff Stearns and Heath Schuler think so.  They have been watering this tree with care and have watched it grow over time.  Is the fruit of their labors finally getting ripe?  Will the mishmash of conflicting laws be replaced by a simple edict that the states are to respect the rights of each others’ citizens?

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Zombie Life in the Day of Team Cheaper Than Dirt, Part 3

David "Rampage" McCormick

David "Rampage" McCormick

Yesterday four of us managed to get ourselves cornered in an alleyway. Two of us laid down covering fire while the other two pulled a dumpster sideways, creating a choke point. We radioed for help to the remaining members of our team. We held off the crowd of dead heads for what felt like an eternity. Shortly afterwards, a truck pulled up at the end of the alleyway, and a towrope came flying through the air. We clipped the tow strap to the dumpster and jumped in. The truck tires squealed and we started sliding to safety, firing out of the side window of the smelly metal container. Next time I hope it’s a recycle bin instead.





Dr. Ravenblack

Dr. Ravenblack

Last night, Sharp-Eye showed me a rash she had developed overnight. I was in my make-shift lab all day, so I’m not sure what the group got into yesterday. Everyone seems to disclose just enough that is relevant to the situation at hand and hardly anything more. So, I’m quite pleased she feels she trusts me enough to tell me. Or maybe it’s just because I’m the only one with such extensive medical training. I dressed her wound and applied some Antiseptic from the first aid kit. To avert any suspicion, I encouraged the whole group to dress in long sleeves to avoid sun exposure. I lead them to believe that our first aid supplies are dwindling and that heat stroke is detrimental to our survival. In regards to the rash, I’m not too worried, though I did take a scrape of it to take back to my lab for dissection.




Earl "The Duke" Jenkins

Earl "The Duke" Jenkins

I’m not all by myself no more! I had to risk the sporting goods store because I was running low on filters for my Katydyn water purifier, and I wanted some other necessities, like clothes that don’t smell like burned zombie. And candy bars. I tried out the camera tripod spear and it works real good so I didn’t burn up all my ammo getting around. I’d already scavenged all the 9mm I could carry and I was shopping around for a new backpack when I heard the same machinegun as the other night, but this time real close. I got down on my belly and started yelling out as loud as I could that I’m Duke Jenkins, famous photographer and author, and I ain’t no zombie. I need to write a chapter in the book on how to not get shot when you run into people that are still, you know, people.

There’s a whole crew of these survivors and they seem alright to me. Not a good ol’ boy among ‘em, but if they made it this long they can’t be total idiots. And boy are they well armed, this feller that calls himself “Rampage” totes an M60 belt-fed machinegun around with him everywhere he goes, and it’s the same gun I heard the other night. Turns out they saw the fire from the gas station I torched too. None of ‘em has a radio or we might’ve found each other days ago, instead of me almost getting shot up in the men’s dressing room.

The Zombie Book, Chapter 4: Zombies, Machine Guns, and You

Earl "The Duke" Jenkins

Earl "The Duke" Jenkins

If you’re reading this, then you’re a survivor, because we all know zombies can’t read. And if reading this chapter saves your life, remember the name Earl “Duke” Jenkins, world famous photographer, journalist, and documenter, no wait, that ain’t right, documentarian? Is that even a word? Anyhow, I’m a world famous fact writer downer of this here zombie apocalypse, and ya’ll better remember the name of Duke Jenkins. So here’s some stories and advice from me to you about one of my very favorite topics: machine guns!

Even before the undead came (and monster truck shows ended) I knew all about machine guns. The littlest ones are called machine pistols, and I sure wish I had one. They’re just a pistol with a switch somewhere that takes it from pop-pop to yee -haw. The Germans and Italians made some HK and Beretta models that would shoot a 3-round burst, but the king daddy of machine pistols is the Austrian Glock 18, a true full auto that can dump its entire magazine with one pull of the trigger, if you’re desperate enough. Some machine gun dealers modified regular Glocks to go full auto in the past few years but I ain’t run across one yet. If I ever find one, my Viridian green laser  and 33 round magazines will go right on it. Anyhow, 9mm ammo is real easy to come by and works great at close range, and a machine pistol can be shot with one hand while you do something important, like locking a door behind you, with your other hand.

Submachine guns are like little rifles shooting pistol ammo. They weigh less than a rifle, and they have a stock so you can aim better than with a pistol. Now, I think the ultimate submachine gun for the zombie apocalypse would be the American 180, which looks like a tommy gun but in .22lr instead of .45acp. It feeds with a drum magazine on top that holds, get this, 275 rounds of .22lr ammo. Remember, at close range .22lr does just fine to stop them zombies right in their tracks. The American 180 was mostly used by prison guards, so if you’re holed up in a prison keep your eyes open for one. Around here, you can find HK Mp5 submachine guns in police stations or even the trunks of police cars if you get lucky. You do always search police cars for good scavenge, right? The Mp5s are accurate and controllable and don’t use up your 9mm ammo too fast. When you’re faced with an undead mob of shuffling zombies outside a gas station ‘cause you took too long in the toilet laughing at the funny papers, one of these is just the ticket to carve yourself a path to freedom. That was a close one, I had to drop a whole load of snack food and flee for my life. I hate running, damn zombies.

One more step up bigger and you got yourself the select fire assault rifle. Far and away the most common are M4 carbines and M16 rifles, in places where the military made their last stands you can find ‘em lying around everywhere. Try to pick up a clean one, they don’t work as good with gunk in the action. With a good red dot scope  aiming is fast and they are plenty accurate, so most of the time you’ll keep ‘em on semi auto, one shot one kill right? Except you can’t kill the undead, so heck I don’t know what to call it now. Anyhow, the .223 ammo they use goes through them soft zombie pumpkin heads real easy and if you take your time and wait for ‘em to line up, you can get a two-fer if you time it right. I do it all the time ‘cause I’m a real trick shot, sometimes if I get a two-fer I’ll reward myself with a candy bar right then and there. You gotta appreciate the little things in life, that’s what separates us from them.

The biggest machine guns of all are the belt-feds. I never got to shoot a belt-fed before the zombies came because the military was prejudiced against fat people and wouldn’t let me join up. One of the survivors I’ve been thrown in with totes an M60 and he showed me how to work it. You don’t want to have to load it in the dark or in a hurry, so he keeps it loaded all the time. I got to try it out once and it was more fun than a raccoon in a pillowcase. But it weighs 25 pounds, which is like carrying around four Mp5 submachine guns with you all the time, and the ammo for it is heavy too. The best thing about it when I tried it was that its 7.62 NATO ammo  hits so hard. Let me tell you, zombie heads and arms were flyin’ off everywhere and the rounds just kept going through even more zombies behind ‘em. I got so excited I forgot to look down the sights and I just watched where the rounds were hitting instead, and with all the noise and smoke and the long bursts I was laying down, well it was the best Fourth of July show since Travis Tritt at the state fair. You gotta pick up as many ammo links as you can after shooting it though, because if you run out of linked ammo the party’s over. Honestly, I love the M60 but its not worth the weight if you’re on foot. Go with something lighter and you’ll move faster and you won’t be tired and crabby all the time.

Well, its time for some shut eye so I’m done with this chapter. Till next time remember, you can’t have too much fresh water, fresh batteries for your lasers and flashlights, or fresh ammo. And never, ever give up! Keep on going and maybe one day you’ll meet me, Duke Jenkins, out there documenting this here infested wasteland. I always have a candy bar to share and I don’t charge for autographs.

Zombie Life in the Day of Team Cheaper Than Dirt, Part 2

Earl "The Duke" Jenkins

Earl "The Duke" Jenkins

Zombies woke me up again early this morning. It’s like they know I want to sleep in till noon sometimes and they just want to take that away from me too. I lost my temper and torched a bunch of ‘em at a gas station. It don’t usually stop ‘em and it smells terrible bad, but I enjoyed the show anyway. I should have been embarrassed, I screamed at ‘em the whole time like they could hear. “Its your fault there ain’t no more pro wrasslin! It’s your fault there ain’t no more NASCAR!” I sure made a scene, but nobody was there to notice.

I got a real fight coming up but I gotta do it. I stink real bad right now, I need some new clothes or I’m gonna start smelling like they do. And I can always use more ammo and food, so I have to head into town tomorrow and see if I can find me a sporting goods store and resupply. There’s bound to be more of those undead moaners around than I can easily deal with. If I have to shoot my way in, then shoot my way back out, I’ll have risked my life all day and still be out of ammo. And that don’t make no sense at all, but I’m going anyhow.


David "Rampage" McCormick

David "Rampage" McCormick

Working with these untrained civilians is proving to be quite an adjustment. They have no regard for military bearing, hierarchy or the chain of command. They insist on doing things their own way, and I find this unsettling. When it comes to neutralizing the zombie threat however, some have proven to be useful. We have set up safe areas around the city that are fenced off and electrified; these small areas have food sealed up in airtight containers along with basic medical supplies. Ammunition was running low until yesterday when we raided a local gun store. We managed to carry out several weapons, and I am anxious to try some of these new 00 buck shotgun shells on our dead head friends. At close range nothing beats a tactical shotgun. Laying waste to a large crowd of zombies in just the thing I need to let out a little frustration.




Dr. Ravenblack

Dr. Ravenblack

I never thought I would be a killer. I spent so many years studying on how to SAVE people’s lives. Not end them. Increasingly, I find it difficult to go with the team on scavenger outings. It is inevitable we all have to fight. Sometime when faced with the Reanimated, I feel hesitant to shoot. Survival instincts win out every time, though. I have become well versed in operating any weapon I am given. You have to, in this day and age. Dirty has trained me well on the tomahawk. I find it easy to sever the cortex of the reanimated fairly quickly and easily with the tomahawk. In my heart of hearts, I just know I could develop a cure. If I could just get to the lab…

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Zombie Life in the Day of Team Cheaper Than Dirt, Part 1

Sharp-eye "SURVIVOR"Sophie

Sharp-eye "SURVIVOR"Sophie

It’s been a hectic week battling off the zombies. We’re pretty certain we’re winning. However, I’m not totally sure. I’ve been working to get the team all on the same page and feel like there is still yet more to do. The work never ends. It’s a drudge at times, but somebody’s got to do it.

We press on, keeping the zombies at bay. Who knows. We may need these skills later down the road. Could it be “Zombieageddon”?

I discovered some of my team’s journals. I know it’s rude to read what others have to say, but in this case, never knowing if they’ll return from the field or not, I thought, why not? I decided this would be a good time to share some of their entries. Maybe this will help put the pieces together so we’ll all know what to do next.



Day 1

Dr. Ravenblack

Dr. Ravenblack

I’ve finally figured out the formula in which to measure my viral aerosol sampling of the dump site I recorded last week.


I’ve also been working on extracting hydroxicine, benzotrilyamate, and toxalymene from local plants in order to create a form of toxicalplymosis. I believe I can replicate the virus of the reanimated.

My compound so far: q-(prydoxyethal)-, 7-doxyethal-7-xneroutioxidie, stp-8-ry ethnayal, [9(X)-hydroxymil]-HrS,3rH-, Poxin-2a-y8


David "Rampage" McCormick

David "Rampage" McCormick

Dispatching these slow moving dead heads has become routine, but I don’t want to lie and say that I don’t get a small amount of pleasure out of my new found career. A favorite tactic of mine is to use bait. My team and I used to use human bait, but willing volunteers are becoming scarce, the zombies have resorted to eating any living thing they can find. Cats, dogs, cattle, and horses, are all on the menu. We found a goat one day and tied it to a pole on the inside of a warehouse. We rigged the doors of the building to all close simultaneously and once a large enough crowd of dead heads heard the dinner bell, we hit the switch and rained down lead from an upper railing. I used my ArmaLite M15A4CB, a few Magpul mags, and a Burris red dot fast fire sight to make quick work of our guests. Good times. We even made a game of it, Specter thinks he’s ahead, but we only counted claymore traps as one kill each, so the overall score is up for debate. Fortunately, we used a steel pet carrier from a burned out pet store for the goat, so the zombies could not spoil our dinner. There’s nothing like chowing down on a little goat after a long day of killing zombies.



Earl "The Duke" Jenkins

Earl "The Duke" Jenkins

So this here journal is to help organize my book thoughts and such. The book will sell better after all this is over because I was orderly with my thoughts while the apocalypse was on. I picked me out a new camera on scavenge because all good books have pictures, and I used some parachute cord to strap my Ka-Bar knife to a tripod leg so I have an extendable spear. Its kind of a bulky deal so I can’t carry a long gun no more, but I’m stocked up on 33 round mags for my Glock anyway so its all good.

I heard a lot of shootin’ yesterday, someone was really letting fly with a machinegun and not too far away from me. I burned up a set of radio batteries last night but didn’t reach anyone. I tried every frequency I could so either they don’t got a radio, theirs works on different frequencies, or… they didn’t make it. I hope they harvested a bumper crop of zombies either way.

How to Kill a Zombie with a Television

David "Rampage" McCormick

David "Rampage" McCormick

In my previous life, I was a member of the Air Force Security Forces. My typical day consisted of checking identification at a gate in some far off corner of the globe. I saw some heavy action in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have to take pills to sleep a full night. My tenure in the military was coming to an end, so I was looking forward to sleeping in, eating chips on the couch, and mowing my lawn on Sundays. A week before shipping home I heard something about a serious sickness that was going around in my hometown, but I wasn’t the type to get ill easily. After another six-month deployment, my plane landed and I drove my jeep through town to the front curb of my house. There was almost no traffic and several cars looked abandoned on the side of the road. The tall grass in my front yard looked like a Southeast Asian jungle. I grabbed my messenger bag out of the passenger seat and walked up the narrow concrete pathway leading to my front door. The un-kept grass was so tall I almost tripped over the pile of newspapers that had accumulated around my front porch. I looked down and saw several headlines alluding to a mysterious viral outbreak. I shrugged and unlocked my door as I took a huge step over the trash.

When I walked in I immediately noticed an overwhelming smell. It smelled like death. I had seen death a few times and I will never forget the smell it makes in the desert heat. I reached in my bag and pulled out my Beretta 92 and my Insight Technology HX120 flashlight, not sure what I would find. I cleared every room in the house, checking under beds, looking in bathtubs until all that remained was the kitchen. I moved quickly and quietly and for a moment, I forgot I was home, the rush of adrenaline you get just before a firefight had become all too familiar, and I could just as easily been clearing a random hovel in Kandahar. I reached the kitchen and immediately focused on the pantry. I put the flashlight in my mouth and reached for the doorknob with my left hand. I threw open the door and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Potatoes. I didn’t throw out the potatoes before I left. Ugh, it smelled like death and my stomach started having a mind of its own. I immediately leaned over the sink and dispatched everything I had eaten in the last couple of days. Six months in the pantry with no A/C; I really need to improve my domestic skills.

I set my weapon down and laid my forehead on the edge of the sink when an almost euphoric sense of well being came over me, it’s the kind of feeling you get after eating some bad chicken, and then getting rid of it. I let out a heavy sigh and reached for the shiny chrome faucet to wash down the half-digested grossness. When I looked up at the handle to turn on the water, I noticed something move in the faucet reflection. It was the shape of a man; his greenish silhouette was walking slowly in my direction, and that adrenaline rush hit me once more. My heart was pounding so hard I could feel my whole body rattle with every beat. I rolled foreword over the top of the counter to put some distance between us. I spun around as fast as I could and reached for my leg drop holster. That holster spent the last six months attached to my leg, and I had gotten used to it being there. To my horror, all I felt was an empty cargo pocket, and my sidearm was on the other side of the kitchen counter, right next to the intruder.

I quickly sized up my opponent. He was heavyset and wore a badly stained tank top. He was looking in my direction but not right at me. He had a blank expression and drool was pouring over both of his unshaved chins. It was right then that I recognized him, behind that blank stare I saw my neighbor Carl. He was a truck driver whom I had become acquainted with through several disputes about my overgrown foliage that was pouring onto his property. In response he often let his little rat dogs do their business on my front walkway. I began to do the math in my head. The virus I heard about, the newspaper headlines, and now poor Carl.

Just then Carl lurched forward over the counter with both hands, I had the strangest feeling that this fat dude wanted to take a bite out of me. I lunged to one side to dodge his hand and noticed my old 13-inch tube television sitting on my side of the counter. I grabbed it with both hands and slammed the glass end of the idiot box right on top of this clammy bloated head. He leaned back with the television still attached as I jumped over the counter to grab my gun. I put six rounds through the side of the TV effectively turning what was left of his brain into Swiss cheese. He slowly fell backwards into the pile of rotten potatoes and everything got quiet, all except for his left leg, which was twitching a bit. I put three more rounds into his leg, he finally stopped moving, and I began to calm down. I made a mental note, no need to worry about poodles pooping in my yard, and zombies don’t like being hit with televisions.

It’s Zombie Apocalypse Week at Cheaper Than Dirt!

It’s time to start eradicating zombies at Cheaper Than Dirt! We’ve been strategizing for weeks. We must end the apocalypse now! Won’t you join us?

Thomas “Dirty” Poole

Thomas Dirty Poole

Thomas "Dirty" Poole

Role: Engineer

When it comes to zombie survival, this primarily involves breaking obstacles so the team can keep moving and then setting up new obstacles to slow down the horde. This usually puts me pretty close to the zombies. When the opportunity presents itself, I try to get a smile out of the team with an explosion or two. I’m a survivor because I just don’t want to end up like one of them.

Weapons of Choice: shotgun—Mossberg 590A1 with bayonet; pistol—Glock 19; machete and tactical tomahawk

Shoots: Right-handed

Personality Type: I’m an explorer and a risk-taker. I also tend to “treasure hunt” a bit more than most others. I just don’t want to miss any really good supplies that could help keep us alive!

Best Zombie Kill: While covering a narrow doorway, I simply bayoneted the first zombie in the chest and held him at arms length. I did it because I was waiting for another few to stack up behind him in the doorway. I then fired a 1oz slug and dropped four at once. Rinse. Repeat. Ammo conservation is important with a shotgun!


Dr. Narcissa Ravenblack

Dr. Narcissa Ravenblack

Dr. Narcissa Ravenblack

Role: Scientist

I am an Epidemiologist who worked with a highly classified group of scientists developing a biological weapon, a project called Ninth Gamma. I secretly concocted an antivirus and have been taking it the entire time, which is how I was unaffected by the catastrophic event at the lab that released the toxins in the weapon.

All my notes, research, and vials of antivirus serum are secretly buried in cache storage behind the lab. I have failed to tell my current team of survivors that I have what I believe to be a vaccine to the virus. I am waiting for the right time to reveal my secret, so I can be hailed as the one doctor who saved mankind.

Personality Type: Megalomaniac, slowly descending into complete madness

First Zombie Encounter: When the lab exploded and released the virus. My entire team was infected.

Shoots: Right-handed

Favorite Zombie Kill: When I had to relieve the head of funding for Project Ninth Gamma of his condition with a jagged edge of a broken Petri dish.

Specialty: Excellent at fixing the team’s physical and psychological wounds


Earl “The Duke” Jenkins

Earl "The Duke" Jenkins

Earl "The Duke" Jenkins

Role: Photographer and novelist, documenting the Zombie Apocalypse for future generations, with plans to make millions off of the book and movie rights afterwards.

Weapon of Choice: Glock 19 with green laser and 33-round mags

Shoots: Left-handed

Photographs: Right-handed

Modus Operandi: Tends to hold camera in one hand, Glock in the other, and photographs zombies until the last possible moment before popping them in their gory heads.

Secret Shame: Once artfully photographed the grisly death of a politician rather than try to save him.

Thing he Misses Most about the Old World: Playing “Left 4 Dead” online with friends… all of whom later became zombies.

Zombie Kill of the Week: Zombie got too close during a photo shoot. Duke stunned the zombie with his camera flash, then impaled him with a Ka-Bar knife he has strapped to a leg of his camera tripod. Then took a picture of the dead zombie with the camera (and zombie) still attached to the tripod.

Favorite Conspiracy Theory: Lady Gaga was the first zombie, years ago. Many suspected even then, but nobody knows for sure.


The MeatGrinder

The Meat Grinder

The MeatGrinder

Role: Deployed in Afghanistan conducting anti-zombie operations to include vehicle interdiction, helicopter assault force, and foot patrols in hopes of finding the cause of the world’s outbreak. Responsible for 20-man reconnaissance/ surveillance team.

We currently have teams deployed in the Horn of Africa, Europe and South East Asia conducting similar missions in hopes of gaining intelligence in counter-zombie asymmetrical warfare.

Highly motivated to find the root of the outbreak which will in turn lead to a possible cure. It is also fun to waste zombies.

First Zombie Encounter: 14 July 2011 (female, approx. 23 to 30 years old, unable to determine due to decomposition, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan)

Too Close for Comfort, Those taken by the Zombie Apocalypse: Too many to list, I stopped counting after the first 100 team mates.

Weapon of Choice: FNH SCAR 17 (.308) with EGLM 40mm grenade launcher attached. Leupold 1.1-8X scope.

Shoots: Lefty

Little Known Factoid: Never bitten by Zombie

Closest Call with a Zombie: Vehicle convoy was ambushed IVO Asadabad Afghanistan. Lost everybody in my vehicle but was extracted via SPIES system from HH60 Blackhawk. During extraction operations, male zombie became entangled in SPIES rigging approx. three feet from me. I was saved by the door gunner who opened fire on zombie with Dillon precision Mini Gun.



David “Rampage” McCormick

David Rampage McCormick

David Rampage McCormick

Role: Former U.S. Air Force security forces who’s entire unit was wiped out by the zombie plague. Heavy weapons and entry team expert. Surviving to kill the maximum amount of zombie trash.

Weapon of Choice: M60/M4 or wooden bat with nails hammered in the fat end

First Zombie Kill: Hit him with the kitchen television

Shoots: Right-handed

First Zombie Encounter: Encountering my zombie neighbor in my kitchen

Personality: Team oriented soldier

Blood Type: O neg


Sharp-eye “SURVIVOR” Sophie

Sharp-eye SURVIVOR Sophie

Sharp-eye SURVIVOR Sophie

Role: Sharp Shooter

SURVIVOR is my middle name…I was stranded on some left coast island and managed to outwit and outlast the Zombies.

Weapons of Choice: Match set 1873 Bird’s Head SA Colt .45 (gotta have one for each hand); SA Model 92 .45 rifle; Browning 1885 .4570 High-wall

Shoots: Right-handed

Best Kill: Head shot at 800 yards, but can take ’em down at a mite over 1200 yards

Motto: Kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out







Personality Type: Rogue, loner

Shoots Pistol and Long Gun: Left-handed

Weapons Carried for Recon and Supply gathering: M24 – Rifle (carried in drag bag not on all occasions); M4 – Rifle; M9 – Pistol; Ka-Bar  Knife

Mounted and  Stationary: M60 – Machine Gun (one at each safehouse); M24 – Primary weapon

Closest Call with a Zombie: While taking a high position and providing high level cover for my old team the door leading into one of the safe houses was not securely locked down. By the time I heard them they were about five feet from me and closing in. I reached for my handgun but there was at least 25 to 35 on the roof top. Having my quick escape route I latched into my rappelling rope and bailed down the side of the building into my secondary safe area. This area is a fully enclosed location where the only way in is through the window. I stood at the window watching zombie after zombie attempt to fly.


Sgt. Eugene Tackleberry



Role: Assault

When it comes to zombie hunting/survival, this primarily involves going out and away from our group in order to survey the area. I’m a survivor in order to provide for my family, as well as help anyone else who is still among the living.

Weapons of Choice: primary rifle — customized AR-15 SBR with 10.5” barrel in 5.56x45mm NATO; secondary rifle — customized LaRue Tactical OBR in 7.62x51mm NATO; pistol — Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm with Apex Tactical DCAEK; whatever else I can or have to use.

Shoots: Right-handed

First Zombie Encounter: While engaging in a little target practice one day, there was a flock of zombies that started coming out from behind the target berm. At first, I didn’t believe what I was seeing, but once I saw them take out the guy who was coming back from setting up targets, it became pretty clear what was happening. Luckily, I had just finished getting set up at the 1,000 yard bench with my secondary rifle (LaRue OBR), and was able to pick off each one of them with single head-shots. No misses!

Personality: Will kill as many as is necessary, or desired, until there is no longer a threat to my family and/or myself (all-around “gunny”).

Best Kill: One Monday morning, I woke up and looked out of the windows in the back of the house. I saw my neighbor aimlessly wandering around his backyard, looking rather pale. Upon further inspection, it was obvious that he was a zombie. Since he had previously let his dogs bark almost constantly for approximately two years, I retrieved my AR and shot him…with very little hesitation.

Blades! Your Zombie Backup Backup

Thomas “Dirty” Poole

Thomas “Dirty” Poole

None of us like those days when we run low on ammo. It just seems like no matter how careful we are to conserve it, we’ll use up the last just as a big swarm hits. So, when I’m running out of triple-aught (because over-penetration is the name of the game!), or they’re too close for me to reload, I reach for a big blade.

The main defensive blade I’ve used since the outbreak is the machete. With zombies around it’s really pretty much just used like a sword. Real swords are generally a bit heavier, but then again it’s not that often that you can scrounge a nice broadsword from an abandoned hardware store. So, we make-do with what we’ve got. I got lucky in finding this one. At 18 inches long, it’s about average length for most machetes. Where this one shines is that it’s a bit more thickly constructed than most. I really like the knuckle guard, too. See, when slashing with a machete, things have a tendency to drag down the blade and hit you in the hand. This knuckle guard keeps the infected (or what’s left of them) from getting to me. In general, I would prefer weight to length in a machete. For example, if I run across one of the Ka-Bar Grass Machetes I’ll definitely be keeping it. It’s not quite as long, but it’s thicker. It would still do fine for a slashing defense, but it would pull double duty at chopping through obstacles.

Speaking of chopping through obstacles, the next largest blade I keep on me is a Tomahawk. In a fight, I tend to use it kind of like a shield– keeping a zombie at bay until it’s his turn for the machete. I’m just not quite ninja enough to just go in swinging with both arms. The tomahawk works great by itself, though. It doesn’t have the reach of the machete, but it’s got plenty of heft to work over a pack of zombies in short order. That spike does exactly what it looks like it will do, too. I don’t throw it! I like to keep my tools with me instead of tossing them into mobs of infected. Now, the even better reason to have the ‘hawk around is for getting through objects like doors, boarded up windows, drywall, etc. Pretty much any light-skinned modern construction is easy work for the ‘hawk. This is important because there’s been plenty of times where our group would have been overrun if we hadn’t been able to make a hole in a building to get away. If you play your cards right, you can make a hole just big enough for everyone to get through quickly. Once you’re all on the other side of the hole, the team can take turns defending the choke point you’ve created until you can block it back up or the threat’s over.

The other bladed weapon I keep close at hand for defensive use is the M7 Bayonet on my Mossberg. I think of it more as a “zombie standoff device.” See, with a bayonet your goal is to jab at the bad guy in your trench until he stops trying to hurt your buddies. With zombies, it’s not quite as easy because in order for that to work I’d have to do all my jabbing from the zombies’ noses up. Good luck with that! What I can do with it, though, is use it to keep zombies at arms length. The trick is I have to use it that way in a choke point. If I’m in a parking lot and I stick one zombie, the rest will just go around him to get me. If I stick a zombie in a narrow doorway though, I can lean into him with the gun and keep him from coming in and he’ll block the door and keep all the others from coming in, too. It’s not fun, (you know, because there’s a hungry guy at the other end of my shotgun taking swipes at me), but when ammo is tight and the team needs a minute to figure out how to keep moving it can be handy.

None of us likes the infected being anywhere near us, but the edge of my machete lasts through more zombies than an M&P9 magazine will. And I can just keep sharpening the machete.


Handloading Basics: The Equipment

So you want to load your own ammunition but don’t know where to start? There are a few basic bits of equipment that you cannot do without.

The Components

There are a dizzying variety of bullets, casings, primers, and powders for sale out there, but you need some of each before you can assemble a working cartridge of ammunition. Books, magazines, and Web sites catering to the handloading community are available to help you choose appropriate components for the cartridges you want to assemble.

Quick-N-EZ Tumbler

Quick-N-EZ Tumbler

The Tumbler

Tumblers clean empty casings in bulk. Take a plastic bag full of muddy casings you plucked off the ground, and pour them into a vibratory tumbler filled halfway with corn cob media. Flip the switch and walk away; after a few hours the casings come out clean and polished, ready to be reloaded. What could be easier?

The Scale

You will need a scale to measure the amount of powder you are loading into the casings. Electronic scales are more expensive, faster, and easier to use. Generally, they can measure within an accuracy of one tenth of a grain, which is one hundredth of a gram. Mechanical scales cost less and offer the same accuracy, but are more difficult to calibrate and tedious to use.

The Dies

The dies are the carbide metal cylinders that sit in the press and actually interface with the cartridge components. Up to four dies are required to assemble each round of ammunition. The size die has a long spike running down the middle to punch the spent primer out the back of the casing. While this is happening, the top of the size die re-sizes the shape of the casing precisely, ensuring that its shape is correct. In a press using an automatic powder measure, the expander die activates the powder pour while slightly expanding the mouth of the cartridge to make it easier to seat the bullet, which is the job of the seat die. If needed, the last die is the crimp die, which squeezes the casing around the bullet to hold it in place.

Lee Single Stage Press

Lee Single Stage Press

The Press

This is where everything comes together, and there are many varieties of reloading presses from which to choose. Single stage presses only work on one die at a time, so cartridges are not created as quickly as with a progressive press, which activates up to four dies at once. Progressive presses cost more and sometimes are not as precise as their single stage counterparts. If you want to make a ton of .45acp ammo for pistol shooting, the progressive is a natural choice. If you want to make match-grade .308 Winchester rounds with extreme precision, the single stage design is what you are looking for.

The Helpers

There are also some optional extras that come in awfully handy. They do not cost much extra compared to what you already have invested in the necessities, and they sure make life at the reloading bench a lot easier.

The Bullet Puller

Adjustments to the dies are made on a trial-and-error basis, which means while you are adjusting how far you want the bullet seated in the casing, you are going to “get it wrong” several times before your adjustments are done. Why throw away those bullets and casings if you don’t have to? Put your cartridge into this big plastic hammer, give it a sharp smack on the floor, and out pops the bullet. Sometimes it is good to be able to disassemble a cartridge without just shooting it!

The Case Trimmer

The case trimmer is generally not needed for pistol calibers; but for rifle calibers, it becomes important. The higher chamber pressure of rifle cartridges causes their casings to stretch and expand on firing. After resizing in the size die, these cases are taller than their specifications call for, and usually not all by the same amount. The case trimmer trims the mouth of each casing to exactly the same length, making it possible to create consistent, accurate rifle ammunition.

Hornady Powder Trickler

The Chamfer and Deburring Tool

The case trimmer will leave burrs and sharp edges on the inside and outside of the casing mouth. These are sharp enough to cut your hands, and inconsistent enough to grab each bullet slightly differently as it gets seated. Save your hands and make your rounds more consistent with this little tool that neatly cleans up the case mouth.

The Powder Trickler

The amount of powder dispensed by a progressive reloading press or by a dipper can be pretty inconsistent, and inconsistency is the enemy of accuracy. To build accurate ammo, you can intentionally dispense a little bit less powder than you really want, then use this device to “trickle up” a little powder at a time until you reach the perfect amount of powder needed to go into that casing.

It is hard to believe, but these few bits of gear are all you need to set up a custom ammunition manufacturing center in your own residence. Tailor-made ammo that matches your gun and shooting needs perfectly is within your grasp.

Interview with Top Shot Competitor Brian Zins

We recently sat down with legendary pistol shooting competitor and first runner-up on season two of Top Shot Brian Zins to get a little insight on his experiences on the show and in the shooting community. We got the inside track on his new line of ammunition and some great tips on shooting red dot with the .45

Brian Zins on History Channel Top Shot Reloaded

Brian Zins on History Channel Top Shot Reloaded

CTD: What made you pick up shooting to begin with?

BZ: Actually, it kind of found me, well, competitive shooting found me. I joined the Marine Corps in 1988 and I was one of the few expert shooters out of my boot camp class; and when I went to MP school, I was the top gun out of my MP school with the .45

CTD: Did you only qualify with the .45?

BZ: I actually qualified with the 1911 first, and then at the end of the school, the Berettas were coming into play, so I had to go back and qualify with the Berettas afterwards.

CTD: Wow, so they made you redo it?

BZ: Actually it was kind of nice. Most people only got to shoot one gun while they were in MP school. We got there and we had already graduated, and they were like “look we’re going to keep you guys for another week, we want to get you out and get you qualified on the Beretta before you take off.”

CTD: Very cool.

BZ: Yea after I got to my first duty station, like 17 of us all checked in at one time, they were kind of overwhelmed, they told us to go to the rifle range and do your qualifications, while we figure out where we are going to put you guys. I went out to the rifle range for a week and my coach said, “Hey I like the way you shoot, you seem very natural. I said thanks, but I just learned in boot camp seven months ago. He asked me if I could shoot a pistol, I said, “honestly I think I shoot a pistol a little bit better.” He said, “Alright, I want you to shoot our division match with us in February.” I said, “Okay, whatever a division match is” because I hadn’t even been in the Marine Corps for a year yet. I went and shot a division match and didn’t place my first division match. I later became the marksmanship instructor for the battalion and the following year I went back and took a bronze medal. I then went to the Marine Corps championships and took a silver medal. Later I was picked up on the Marine Corps shooting team for the summer program. They liked what they saw, and the next thing I knew I had orders back to Quantico. I spent the next four years in Quantico doing nothing but shooting for the Marine Corps shooting team.

CTD: Wow, that is a very impressive resume, for sure! What you feel makes you a great shooter? You mentioned earlier that you are kind of a natural at it, do you think it is just in the blood?

BZ: I think a lot of it just had to do with hand eye coordination. I grew up playing baseball as a pitcher and a third baseman; I also learned how to juggle at a very young age. I think that had a lot to do with it, the hand eye coordination when shooting is a lot more critical than it is with a rifle. The ability to hold a handgun out with one hand, and shoot a three inch tin ring at fifty yards, all while not jerking the trigger while you do it, I mean, there is definitely some learned skill. I am however naturally, not very shaky, So I guess I am a little blessed.

CTD: Tell us a little bit about your experiences in the Marine Corps, did the lessons you learned there affect your shooting today?

BZ: Absolutely, I had the fortunate advantage of being trained by some of the finest coaches out there. When it comes to marksmanship, gentlemen like Andy Moody, who was the NCOIC of the team back then. He is really the guy I credit with teaching me everything I know about shooting a pistol. I was young, he had been around shooting for a while, and he kind of used me as a test base for a lot of his theories. We have actually changed the way people shoot a little bit. I shoot red dots, and the old school of thought was to look at the dot just as you look at your front sight, well not anymore. You should look at the target, it is a one point aiming system so the theory there is to look at the target, but your dot in the middle of what you are shooting at, and squeeze the trigger without screwing it up.

CTD: It is amazing how many things can go wrong with just that little squeeze of the trigger.

BZ: And that is the other thing, we are getting people to understand a little bit better, the importance of trigger control. You are not supposed to just align the sight and squeeze the trigger, you are supposed to align the sight as you are squeezing the trigger. If you align the sights and then squeeze the trigger, the sights are going to move. So you need to put that pressure on the trigger before the sights are perfectly aligned, or you are going to screw it up, I don’t care who you are.

Brian Zins Signature .45

Brian Zins Signature .45

CTD: Even a natural would have to practice that quite a bit I would imagine.

BZ: The only way you could align the sights and put pressure on the trigger afterwards, without the sights moving, would be to put the gun in a vice.

CTD: Let us take a step back real quick if you don’t mind. What prompted you to join the Marine Corps?

BZ: I had actually started going to college after high school, and studied law enforcement, and I was making great grades. I had the feeling though that I needed to move, I needed to go, and my parents had done enough for me so I told them that I didn’t want them to be burdened with paying for my college education.

CTD: So it was mainly to take the weight off your parents’ shoulders in paying for school.

BZ: Yes, I wanted to take the burden off them but also, I come from a long line of military in my family. When we came to the country, the earliest known ancestor in my family in the United States was a Hessian mercenary here fighting against us.

CTD: Wow!

BZ: Yea, he actually was captured at the Battle of Ticonderoga in New York, and after the war he was released and he became a pig farmer or something in Ohio.

CTD: What a cool story! Do you find yourself missing the military, now that you are retired?

BZ: There are definitely aspects that you do miss after you 20 years. I would not say I miss the military as much as missing the Marine Corps. There is a kinship and a brotherhood in the Marine Corps that I don’t think the other services quite understand. You miss the marines. I would say that it is not about missing the Marine Corps as much as it is missing marines.

CTD: Well that is a good way to put it.

BZ: When I got out of the Marine Corps I went to work for a civilian organization for about 18 months. The Sense of urgency and work ethic in the civilian world, I mean, It is so different.

CTD: So you are very much from the “Lets get it done now” school of thought.

BZ: Exactly, it’s like with my ammo business, when we put in an order for brass, I usually expect it to be there when you said it was going to be.

CTD: Now that we are on the subject of your ammo, let’s talk about that for a minute. How did it get started?

BZ: Well my gunsmith-slash-doctor, said he wanted to start making ammunition. He told me he wanted to go into business with me, and it would be my line of ammunition. He said he would help with the funding, and getting everything up and running. He has the shop and the space to do it. So we have all our stuff, all our components, and we are making ammo. Right now, we are only doing match grade .45, 185 grain jacketed hollow point. We have a custom blend of gunpowder as well.

Gunny Zins Ammo

Gunny Zins Ammo

CTD: Do you see yourself branching out into other calibers later?

BZ: Yes, we have one machine right now, and we are looking at building some more. Ultimately, our goal is ten machines. We plan to produce all handgun caliber ammo. We do not plan to get into the rifle ammunition right now however. I can shoot a rifle, but I would rather shoot a handgun. That is my forte, and it’s what I am known for. We went with .45 caliber because that is the biggest round in the bull’s eye shooting world. After nationals, we are looking at changing things up a little bit. We are going to start producing 9mm and .40 calibers.

CTD: Very cool…

BZ: Yea we are trying to get some ammo into the action world, because some of those guys have contacted me already, and it is hard to find good, reasonably priced ammo for shooting action. Bull’s eye shooters can hand load each round, but when you look at the amount of ammo that it takes to train and shoot a match with action pistols.

CTD: There is no way you can load that many rounds.

BZ: Right right, you would have to give up one of a couple things; you could work, eat, load, shoot, and give up sleep, or something else would have to give.

CTD: Right, there really aren’t enough hours in the day. Tell us a little bit about your experiences on Top Shot. Did you have a good time?

BZ: You know what, Top Shot was great, I had a really good time, met a lot of great people, and made a lot of good friends that I still keep in touch with. Got to run into them at the annual NRA meeting, and it was nice to see them again. As far as the Top Shot goes, it was fun. It was different thought, sort of like being in a sequestered jury, no contact with the outside world.

CTD: That must have been somewhat disconcerting, but being a Marine it was probably like being deployed again.

BZ: Yea it was funny, you could tell the Marines in the house, and we were just like whatever. It was a lot of hurry up and wait.

CTD: Going in, did you think you were going to get as far as you did?

BZ: I would like to say when I left to be on the show I knew I would make the final four, unless It got to the point where the others players decided that hey, this guy is really good, we have got to get rid of him. We got together anyway and decided that we did not want to send a good shooter home because they are a threat. We wanted the better shooters to make it to the end, and that’s how we played the game. We honestly think the best two shooters in the house should make it to the final challenge.

Brian Zins

Brian Zins

CTD: Other than the finale, what would you consider to be the toughest challenge on the show?

BZ: Not including the 45/70 shot, you know where you lay down and shoot 200 yards with an antique. Poor Athena, she got thrown in front of the bus, you know. She weighs less than that gun does. She has to go up and take the first shot, she was of no use to us to be able to gauge for impact. She isn’t really a rifle shooter, let alone a big civil war era rifle.

CTD: Was it neat to be able to shoot so many different kinds of weapons?

BZ: Yes, that was one of the coolest aspects, not just to be able to shoot all the different types of weapons, but the different challenges themselves. The producers and the think tanks that come up with these contests have to be slightly demented!

CTD: They would have to be! All the things they put you guys through are crazy.

BZ: Exactly, like that unstable platform shoot.

CTD: That looks so hard, I can’t imagine doing that.

BZ: Yea that FN FAL was the first gun I shot out there—that stupid thing; that was a nightmare. I was doing so good in that challenge up to that point.

CTD: How did you prepare yourself for the show?

BZ: That’s the funny thing I didn’t really prepare, I didn’t do much of anything. The only thing I did do was go out, buy some throwing knives, and practice with them a bit.

CTD: As a former pitcher and juggler I imagine you got up to speed pretty quickly since they are so similar.

Brian Zins takes his 10th National Pistol Champion title at Camp Perry, Ohio

Brian Zins takes his 10th National Pistol Champion title at Camp Perry, Ohio

BZ: They are; but a bladed weapon is different than throwing anything else. To throw an axe or a tomahawk is so different than throwing a baseball or a football or whatever. The whole arm and body motion is completely different. I think throwing the knives in the back yard was probably the best thing I could have done. The last thing I did at home before I left, was to shoot tomatoes off the fence posts with the .45, and during the first challenge, we ended up shooting billiard balls off fence posts.

CTD: Guess you did your homework there! Were you prepared for the social aspects of the show? Living in close quarters can be uncomfortable.

BZ: Nah, being in the Marine Corps, and doing anti-piracy stuff on ships, close quarters and seeing the same people day in and day out isn’t really a problem for me. When you are out to sea for six or seven days, it was just like being in the house, you see the same casting people, producers and camera people day in and day out.

CTD: What was your favorite challenge?

BZ: I think my favorite challenge, because of the challenging nature of it, was probably throwing the tomahawk. That was something we didn’t get a whole lot of practice on. There were about seven of us and we had an hour to practice with five tomahawks. We had to cycle in and out at different yard lines and do this and that. We were all learning since none of us really knew what we were doing.

CTD: Was it daunting to compete against a line up of such good competitors?

BZ: No, not really; in the bull’s eye world, where I compete, I’ve been in world cup competitions in Germany and Croatia just to name a few. The most daunting part was, not knowing what their abilities were. I knew they were all there for a reason, but it was difficult not knowing what these people were really bringing to the table.

CTD: If you could do it all over again, would you do it?

BZ: I would have to say yes. It was so much fun when I got back. My friends and family would get together for watch parties. I had so many family members that I got to see. Every Tuesday was like a family reunion on both sides of the family.

CTD: I have to ask, did you leave them in suspense the whole time?

BZ: Oh I did, oh yea. The funniest person to watch was my mother, she was like, “You don’t have to tell anybody else, just tell me.” I said I can’t tell you because everyone else is watching your reaction. If you’re calm they are going to know either he’s going home or he’s safe.

2011 ProAm Super Squad

While the meat of the ProAm are the amateur shooters that travel from across the country to shoot the match, everyone really wants to see the Pro squad shoot. These are the best shooters in the business, and the opportunity to watch them do what they do best is on the same level as seeing Michael Jordan play when he was at his prime. The difference is that you don’t have to pay to watch Dave Sevigny win back-to-back ProAm titles.

Dave won both the Limited and Open division, with my Top Shot buddy Blake Miguez taking fourth place in Limited. Sig Sauer shooter Max Michel finished 2nd overall in Open, and you can see why from watching his blazing run on Stage 3. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at my shooting (not as good as these guys) as well as video that compares an A-class shooter to a GM to see the differences!

Why Shooting Sports are Important

Cheaper Than Dirt! sponsor banner at 2011 ProAm

Cheaper Than Dirt! banner at 2011 ProAm

Cheaper Than Dirt! has been a tremendous supporter of the shooting sports; obviously I am grateful for that fact! A couple of people have asked me though why the shooting sports are so important that major companies should spend time and money supporting and promoting them. I used to think it was a complicated question, but I realized that in reality the answer is quite simple.

Shooting sports, especially action shooting sports such as IDPA or USPSA, are sexy. They’re cool. In the industry, we agree that it is important to engage young shooters in our sport and passion to guarantee that we will still be able to do what we love in 50 years. However, kids these days are not as interested in hunting; they are not as interested in going to the range and standing in a static booth shooting one shot per second. I am the older part of a generation that has always had video games as part of our culture. Back when I was playing Wolfenstein 3D, games were not mainstream. They are now. “Gaming” is still a culture, but when the most recent Halo game made more money than Avatar, it is a sign that games themselves are part of the mainstream. Therefore, with that generation of kids that has grown up playing Halo and Modern Warfare, there is not quite the same appeal of that “stand in one place and shoot.”

Enter the shooting sports. Go to YouTube and do a search for “USPSA Video” or “IDPA Video”; or just go to the Down Zero TV Channel. Regardless of whether or not you shoot the games yourself, USPSA is the closest that the Airsoft generation can actually come to living in their own first person shooter game outside of joining the military and actually getting shot at. People running around like human NASCAR cars, but instead of a circular track we all have guns—that’s exciting; it is fun to watch, and hopefully it is interesting to the younger generation.

I preach this all the time, but I do believe that engaging the video game generation, the Halo fans and the COD: Modern Warfare fans are the key to preserving our shooting culture. Moreover, what better way to do that than letting them be the hero of their own first person shooter? Bring a new shooter to your next USPSA match, and you will be helping preserve our sport and shooting heritage for years to come.

Handle the Heat: Summer Survival

Summer is definitely upon us! This week saw heat waves all across the US. Here in Texas we have been having daily triple digit temperatures for quite a while. If you are going to be in the great outdoors for any amount of time this season, then you are going to have to take steps to handle the heat.

CamelBak Hydration Pack

CamelBak Hydration Pack

The single most important thing you can do when you are in the heat is hydrate. If you know ahead of time that you’ll be outside for a while, go ahead and increase your water intake early. Once you’re out, you want a way to carry enough water so that you can drink a little at a time over the whole time you’re out. One of the best ways to do this is with a CamelBak. I carried mine with me every day while I was a student. It slipped right into my backpack and I always had water while I was trekking across campus. I liked mine so much I gave one to my dad as a gift. He carries it with him every time his job takes him out into the woods. The wide mouth opening allows me to add ice while I’m filling it up. This keeps the water cool for a long time and even keeps me cooler if I’m wearing the camelback directly on my back. The 3-liter volume is enough to last me at least half a day.

MRE Star Ready to Eat Meals

MRE Star Ready to Eat Meals

One thing I learned the hard way is that if you are going to be out in the heat all day, water alone will not be enough. Take some type of sports drink along as well. You’ll need to start replacing the electrolytes you’ve lost to perspiration around lunch, if not sooner. Doing so allows your body to make better use of the water you’re drinking. For a meal in the field, it’s hard to beat an MRE. They’re light, easy to pack, and are calorie-dense enough to keep you going for the rest of your outing. If you do not hydrate and eat enough while you are in the heat, you can face dehydration and fatigue when you are only halfway through your day.

TRU Combat Shirt

TRU Combat Shirt

This summer I decided to switch to wearing mainly moisture-wicking shirts because they work. These shirts are better at keeping me cool and dry than more traditional fabrics. If I stay cool, then I don’t have to work as hard to keep from feeling fatigued. If your outdoor activities this summer will involve heavy brush or some other situation where you may want long sleeves, then do yourself a favor: get a combat shirt. The sleeves are ripstop which is fairly light for uniform fabrics, but still tough enough to deflect snags and scrapes. What makes a combat shirt special is that the torso of the shirt is made of a moisture-wicking fabric instead of ripstop. This way you will stay more comfortable than you would think you could with long sleeves.

At the 2011 ProAm

Live from the field (and by “field” I mean “my hotel room”) today I wanted to talk a little bit about the match that I’m in Florida to shoot.  It’s the ProAm, and if you do a Youtube search for it you’ll find some pretty amazing video; the match has risen to becoming one of the most popular action shooting matches in the country in the past few years.  The match is set up a little differently than most USPSA matches in terms of the divisions though.  There are two classes, Pro and Amateur, both of which support Limited and Open division.  The “Pro” division is actually fairly small, consisting primarily of people that have finished in the top 10 of any Limited/Production/Open USPSA Nationals.  These are the “real” GMs of USPSA, and this year’s Pro Squad is no exception.  The Amateur class basically consists of “everyone else” with shooters from D all the way up to GM competing for trophies, prizes, and glory.  The Pro squad is shooting for cash – each stage is worth $500, and the overall winner also takes home a cash purse, so for the big dogs there is serious money on the line.  The Amateur class however gets to visit the prize table, which is quite frankly pretty impressive.

As far as gear goes, the two divisions mentioned above are very straight-forward.  Limited is any gun that’s legal for USPSA Limited/L10/Single Stack/Production/IDPA ESP/SSP/CDP.  The catch is that you can only have 10 rounds in the magazine; so all shooters are handicapped to Production/L10 magazine levels.  This handicap carries over to Open as well, forcing guys used to running 31 round big sticks to do as many mag changes as Production shooters.

And believe me, there will be magazine changes.  One look at the stages shows that getting all the steel within the par times will be difficult for the Pro shooters, and will present a heck of a challenge for us mere mortals as well.  For the match, I’m doing everything I can to enhance my steel whacking odds – my Timberwolf has an enlarged magwell so I don’t foul any critical reloads, the black-on-black sights will show up quite nicely against white steel, and the competition trigger will hopefully keep me from mashing too bad.

For the match, I’m squadded up with my buddy from Season 1 of Top Shot Brad Engmann, so we’ll have the opportunity to get some direct comparison video between a GM and me on video.  It should be fun, and I can’t wait to hit the range tomorrow!