For Day II in Raptor’s EPIC WEEK OF AWESOME (TM), I went and did something that I’ve been planning on and dreaming of doing for years and years and years: I went shooting for the very first time!

Went to Clayton’s Hunting, Fishing & Indoor Range in Horsham PA. Great facility, really nice and professional employees; if you’re local, I highly recommend them (not that I have much in the way of comparison, but still…)

Anyway, Clayton’s offers a one-on-one personalized firearms safety course, which is what I signed up for. Spent maybe 30-45 minutes in a classroom going over safety, shooting and firearms mechanics, etc. Very informative, and a heck of a lot more involved than I expected. Whoever called shooting “a point-and-click interface” lied: it’s freakin’ complicated!

Anyway, after my instructor went over everything and decided I was ready, we hit the range. He “only” set the targets 5 yards out, but it was still plenty tough. First firearm he had me use was a Ruger Mk. III in .22 LR. Fired about… I dunno, 30-35ish shots through that. Recoil was much greater than I’d anticipated (i.e. it actually had kick), but I got the hang of it pretty quick. No s*** this is one of my targets:

Dunno if you can read the writing, but that was an 8-round string. That circled cluster in the center? 4 rounds, all overlapping. Group is smaller than a dime. Yes, it’s only a .22 at 5 yards, but considering it was my first time, I’ll take it in spades. My instructor couldn’t believe I shot a grouping like that (heck, I don’t believe I did it.

Anyway, after I’d gotten the hang of the Ruger, my instructor swapped it out for a Kimber Stainless Target II in 9mm. Let me tell you, that thing is a whole ‘nother animal from the .22. Took quite a while to get the hang of the trigger. I can see why target shooters love the 1911 so much: the trigger is really light and barely moves.

I only fired 15 or so rounds from the Kimber, all on one target, but again, I don’t think I did too bad:

I only fired 5-round strings at max (most were 3-rounders), so that “cluster” below the bulls-eye is the result of multiple strings and not a single grouping, but again, I’ll take it in spades.

What did I think overall? Much different from what I expected. Recoil, at least for the 9mm, was a lot less than I’d anticipated. Noise from both guns was about what I’d figured, but I hadn’t expected the heat or pressure at all. And like I said, shooting itself is tough. Forget point and shoot, you gotta worry about sight alignment, grip, stance, breathing, trigger control, follow through… all while trying to hold a two pound chunk of steel steady out at arm’s length. My lesson ended about 2.5 hours ago, and my shoulders are still aching!

But even so, I had a freakin’ BLAST! Can’t wait to do it again!


Larry FREAKIN’ Correia!

Just got back from the book signing. Holy Cow. It. Was. Awesome!

First off, Larry is hands-down the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He’s real humble, down to earth, and always willing to chat it up with his fans (and pretty much anyone else too). He’s also hilarious. No lie, we spent half the time  laughing our heads off.

And it turns out it wasn’t just a signing, but actually a really big event. Larry filled us in on a lot of his upcoming work (cannot wait for MH Legion!) and took questions from the audience. And he answered every single one, and in great detail too. Didn’t brush anyone off, or give a quick-and-done-next answer. Even answered one of mine, which I gotta admit was pretty awesome.

Then the signing. He autographed every single thing that was requested, and yes I do mean thing: someone asked him to sign their Kindle. The whole time, everyone’s cracking jokes, telling wild stories, just generally having a good time.

And yes, I realize this post had devolved into rabid-fan-worship. I don’t care. I’m a rabid fan, and Larry is just that cool.

Speaking of Wild Stories, I met a fellow WeTheArmed.com member at the signing, goes by the handle of RevDisk. Now RevDisk has a habit of posting some pretty crazy stories on the forum that were supposedly true. Let me tell you, there’s nothing “supposedly” about them. They’re all true. And incidentally, I think RevDisk might actually be Skippy of Skippy’s List, aka The 213 Things Skippy is No Longer Allowed to do in the US Army. I actually asked, as some of his stories sounded familiar. Now he won’t confirm or deny, but given his reaction.. Anyway, Skippy or no, RevDisk is another awesome guy, one who I’m glad to have finally met in person.

And finally, while I did take a camera, I completely forgot to even take it out of the bag, let alone get a picture of myself with Larry. Dangit! But, as proof that I did actually make it to the signing:

Larry, if you’re reading this, thank you so much. It was an honor and a pleasure to meet you, sir. But please don’t wait three more years to do another East Coast book tour!

The Spark is Gone

I don’t usually do personal posts like this, but I think I owe you all this one. Consider it an explanation as to why I haven’t posted anything since Memorial Day.

My spark’s gone. My creativity, my creative juices, my inspiration, whatever you want to call it, whatever ability I had to take random thoughts & ideas and commit them to paper… I don’t seem to have it anymore.

Honestly, I haven’t written any substantial amount of anything of substance since… well… I can’t remember when. My “writing time,” if you can even call it that, has consisted of sitting in front of my computer, staring at  a blank Word Document/blog post for hours. And I can’t bang out a single sentence. Not. One. Lousy. Freakin’. Sentence. I kid you not, this blog post will be the most substantial thing I’ve written in a long time.

But here’s the thing; it’s not like I can’t come up with ideas. I can, and do, all the time. Literally. But as soon as I sit down in front of the laptop and fire up Word, or even pull out an ol’ fashioned notebook and pen… *POOF!* Everything’s gone. I got nothin’. All I can do is sit there and stare at a blank page/screen. Nothing comes, even if I try and force it.

So where am I going with this ramble? Honestly, I think my time as a writer is over. I’ve got nothing left. I’m sick and tired of trying to force stuff onto the page and failing miserably.  So I think it’s time to hang up the pen/keyboard/whatever. Unfortunately, this goes for Raptor’s Nest as well. I think this is going to be the last post I add to the nest. I’m not going to delete the blog, however.  If, by some miracle, my spark comes back, I might pick it back up again.

I don’t know what God has planned for me, but I don’t think being a writer is it anymore. I just pray I figure out what His plan is: writing’s the only thing I’m good at, or was good at, and I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life working customer service.

To all my readers, I’m sorry it has to end like this. Thanks for sticking with me. It’s been a nice run. Take care, y’all.


Close Call Tonight

Apologies in advance if this turns into a ramble and/or an incoherent rage-fest.

So my cousins & aunt & uncle came over for dinner this evening to celebrate the Forth of July. We had a great time overall; I haven’t gotten to see them in a few months. There was one dark spot, however, that put a damper on the whole night.

Mama Raptor took Aunt and Cousins out for a walk around the block to show them the neighborhood whilst walking The Dog. Papa Raptor, Uncle, and myself chose to stay behind and try to get Uncle’s camera connected to the TV so they could show us pictures of Cousin #3’s (who was absent tonight) high school graduation. This proved to be a mistake.

As the womenfolk were out walking (Cousins #1 and #2 are both young ladies), a black SUV full of teenage boys sped by them. As the vehicle approached them, the teens started shouting and “whoop”ing at them. Then one of the teens, who was apparently leaning out of the SUV’s window, threw a beer can at them, very nearly hitting Cousin #2 in the head. Unfortunately, none of the women had a cell phone on them, and none managed to get the SUV’s license plate as it sped away. They called the police as soon as they got home, but a preliminary search came up empty. Apparently there are a lot of black SUVs in the area.

Needless to say, I’m pissed. I’m greatly relieved that no one was injured, but I’m still furious. Partly, I’m furious at myself, because I think those little [EXPLITIVES] sped past me while I was walking about a month ago. They didn’t chuck a beer can at me, but they did speed past me, yelling and whooping and leaning out the window. Same road too. If I remember correctly, it was a black 4Runner, but I’m not sure and I don’t remember the plate at all.

If I ever achieve my goal of becoming Benevolent Dictator, any little [EXPLETIVES] who do stuff like that will be sentenced to a week in the stocks, and a sign will be nailed over the offender’s head reading “I AM A DRUNKEN LOSER. PLEASE THROW THINGS AT ME.”

On a serious note, part of the reason I’m so freaked out about this is because I can’t help but wonder, “What if those guys hadn’t sped off? What if they’d stopped and gotten out and continued the assault?” Both Cousin #1 and Cousin #2 are, as Mama Raptor describes them (rightly), “Beautiful Blondes.” A bunch of guys, intoxicated or not, might very well try to force themselves on them. To the best of my knowledge, neither them nor Aunt are really capable of defending themselves against a group of determined attackers. I know Mama Raptor isn’t. The possibility of such a thing happening, and right around the corner from our home no less, really scares me.

I know I’m beating myself up at this point, but I can’t help but thinking “I should have been there.” I don’t know what I could have done to stop it, but I still feel I should’ve gone with them.

This is a safe neighborhood, but as the police officer who responded tonight told us, the Township Police Department is really stretched thin. Several officers are out on medical leave, several more have retired, but the Township doesn’t have the money to hire any more officers. The K9 Unit’s been cut, as has the Officer Friendly program and the D.A.R.E. program, and every single officer with a badge is on the street right now, even one who is very sick with Lupus. Worse, the vast majority of the force is SWAT qualified, and as a result are members of a regional Tactical Response team that covers multiple jurisdictions, so if a SWAT call out happens, that will leave the Township’s streets virtually undefended.

As a result, I fear that incidents like the one that happened tonight will become more and more common. I can only pray that no one gets hurt, killed, or worse when they do.

Raptor’s Gun Wants, Part 2

I was looking over my previous post that covered the list of guns I plan on buying, and realized I made a serious oversight. In the Priority One (“Need”) category, I said I only needed one gun, a Browning Buck Mark .22 LR pistol. Now that’s all well and good (and I received compliments for my choice) but I realize now that a .22 LR rifle is probably just as necessary, if not more so, for anyone to learn basic marksmanship skills with.

With that in mind, I’m adding a .22LR rifle to my list. I thought about the Ruger 10/22, but as I understand it, their quality level QC has been increasingly iffy as of late, and I don’t feel comfortable enough in my knowledge of firearms to try buying a used one. Plus a .22 semi-auto doesn’t strike me as all that exciting. And while I’ll admit that lever guns are cool, they just don’t appeal to me all that much right now. So I’m gonna go with a good old-fashioned bolt-action rifle. Specifically, this one:

A CZ 452 FS. The CZ 452 has the reputation of being an all-around excellent .22 bolt gun, and really excellent value for the money. And I’m one of those weird people that absolutely loves the look of the full-length Mannlicher stock.

The only potential problem I see is that CZ is slowly phasing out the Model 452 and replacing it with the newer Model 455. I’ve no doubt that the 455 is a good gun (the early reports I’ve seen leads me to believe it is), I’m just concerned that they won’t make the 455 with a Mannlicher stock. I know that’s probably unfounded, but hopefully I’ll be able to pick one up before that becomes an issue. And if not, then oh well, I’ll just have to content myself with a “regular” CZ 455. 😉

Back To the Real World

And mountains of laundry await…

Yep, The Raptor Clan just got back from our annual family vacation. ‘Twas nice to have everyone all together again, and I daresay this will probably be the last time this will happen. Little Brother’s in college now, so we don’t see him much, and I just graduated (w00t!) so I’ll hopefully be heading out on my own soon (as soon as gainful employment and money allow it), so family vacations will soon become a thing of the past.

Anyway, we spent the week down in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Mama Raptor’s Sister owns a really nice beach house down there, and she graciously gave it to us for the week free of charge. It’s literally right on the beach. No lie, that house is awesome. I could rant and rave about it… but that’s a post for another time. One cool thing (in my opinion) about her place is that it’s pretty much spitting distance from Camp Lejeune, and right under the flight pattern for the USMC’s training exercises. We had AV-8B Harrier jump jets buzzing the house a couple times a day, and a CH-64 flew over the beach on Friday. That was pretty sweet.

Aside from the USMC, it was a nice and quiet week (not that I minded the jets, of course: that, to me, is the sound of freedom and I never get sick of it). Walked the beach multiple times a day, explored all the little towns nearby, discovered that I really like scallops, and ate more fried shrimps and scallops than any sane person probably should. Thank God I’ve got the metabolism of a hummingbird. Oh yeah, speaking of food, we found this great restaurant called (IIRC) Rucker John’s. One thing they had on the menu that I absolutely loved was a basket homemade croissants liberally drizzled in something called Honey Butter. Oh man, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried that.

One thing that happened on this vacation was quite unexpected. I had a revelation/discovery: I really, really want a sailboat. Not one of those dinky little Sunfish boats, but an honest-to-goodness yacht. I don’t mean a huge 150+ foot yacht that has dozens of cabins and needs a large crew to said, but a simple 30- to 40-footer that I could handle myself, with one cabin and a galley belowdecks. Something about sailing just… I don’t know… is enticing to me. Out there, all alone, peace and quiet, nothing but me and the ocean… that sounds pretty nice. I think I’ve even come up with the perfect name for my boat, too. Don’t laugh: it’s Serenity.

I said don’t laugh.

Anyway, I really like the south. Everything’s slower-paced, the people are really nice, the food is to die for (seafood in the east, BBQ further inland), Conservative politics, guns as an accepted part of society (seriously, how many gun stores do you seen on Main Street north of the Mason-Dixon Line). If the sailboat thing doesn’t work out, I think I’ll move down there…

Raptor’s Gun Wants

A conversation I had over dinner earlier this week and Mad Ogre’s recent post about his gun wants got me thinking: what guns do I want, I mean really want? Granted, I want pretty much every single gun ever made that I can legally own (and a few I probably can’t, the Glock 18 being at the top of that list). Unfortunately, I probably won’t ever be rich enough to live that dream, so I’m gonna have to prioritize.

Currently, I have no guns, but I intend to change that ASAP. But what takes priority? What should I buy first, and what can wait? Unfortunately, try as I might, I can’t come up with a definitive, I-will-buy-these-guns-in-this-order list. I have, however, managed to come up with several “priority levels,” i.e. I’ll probably buy a gun in this category before I buy one in this category.

So, anyway, that’s enough of me blabbing: here’s my list:

Priority One (“Need.”)

Only one gun in this category: a Browning Buck Mark pistol (.22LR). This will be the pistol I learn to shoot on. Inexpensive (base model lists for about $400 around me), well-built and reliable, negligible recoil and muzzle blast, and ammo’s dirt cheap)

NOTE: Guns in other Priority Levels not listed in any particular order.

Priority Two (“Must-Have”)

  • SIG-Sauer P239 (9mm)
  • SIG-Sauer P228 (9mm)
  • A full-size 1911A1 in .45 ACP (presently leaning towards a stanless Springfield Mil-Spec)
  • An AR-15 in .223 Rem/5.56mm NATO (would like one custom-built by Crusader Weaponry)
  • Remington 870

Priority Three (Want)

  • Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk1* (only reason this is here and not in “Must-Have” is because of ammo cost and scarcity)
  • M14/M1a
  • AK-47/AK-74
  • DSA-made FAL
  • Crusader Broadsword in .308 Winchester
  • Some sort of .357 magnum revolver
  • SIG -Sauer P220 (.45 ACP)
  • A snub-nosed .38 Special revolver
  • S&W Model 26/629 (.44 Magnum)
  • Steyr Scout
  • FN PS-90
  • FN FNP-45 Tactical
  • An Officer’s-size 1911 (3.5″ barrel, I’m thinking Springfield Ultra Compact)
  • Colt Delta Elite (10mm)
  • Aluminum-framed 1911 Commander in .38 Super

Priority Four (Would Like)

  • STI Perfect Ten (10mm, preferably customized like Larry Correia’s)
  • A Sharps Model 1874 replica from Shilo Rifles (either the Quigley or the Long Range Express)
  • Uberti-made S&W No.3 Schofield (.44 WCF)
  • Colt Peacemaker (or replica), any caliber.
  • Winchester 1873/1892  (or replica), any caliber
  • A full-size or long-slide 1911 chambered in 9x23mm Winchester.
  • Pretty much everything I haven’t already mentioned.

Really, the only thing I don’t want, and this is probably going to come as a surprise, is a .50 BMG rifle. Now don’t get me wrong, those things are freakin’ awesome, but once again it comes down to cost. The price of .50 BMG rifles has come down significantly in the last few years, to the point where a “baseline” single-shot .50 BMG bolt-action rifle costs around $3,000 (before you buy the optic, of course). The problem is the ammo: basic mil-surp ammo costs between $4.00-$5.00 a round, while precision-loaded match rounds cost anywhere from $7.00 to $10.00 a round. No matter how hard I try, or how rich I might be, I just can’t justify spending that much money on a single round of ammunition.