About the Blog

Educating fellow Jews about the sporting and defensive use of firearms. Especially Jews in North America, too many of whom are instilled with the belief that guns aren't for nice Jewish boys and girls.

If you know of notable Jewish shooters that should be documented on the blog, even if it is only at the local club level, I am happy to report and profile them. And don't be shy if that person to be documented is you! Please drop me a line at jewishmarksman at gmail dot com. Also follow me on twitter @JMarksmanship.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

10m AP Progress: 535

View Part 1
View Part 2

Today the distribution improved:

10 17
9 23
8 18
7 2
6 0


The sevens are almost gone! They happened when my hold drifted. Today the biggest problem was my grip was still a little stale from yesterday. It was difficult to get a consistently steady sight alignment...I could feel my grip fade during shots. The grips on the 65 do not fit me well, but I want to use them as is a little longer before I start making changes. For now, I will continue to stay the course and keep getting stronger. My hold is in the 8-ring and my triggering is getting better. The 65 is a little nose heavy balance-wise, and as my grip faded the nose would drop.

2010 ISSF World Cup: Mens Prone 50m

Three Israelis had a great showing in the final event:

13th Place-Gil Simkovitch: 597- 43x
20th Place-Guy Starik: 595- 39x
33rd Place-Sergy Rikhter: 594- 34x

Mazal Tov! I hope the entire Israeli team had a fun visit to the US, and wish everyone a safe trip home!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

10m Improvement: 522

As I wrote previously, Service Rifle is still taking most of my daily training, but I've been trying to get back to my old air pistol form. I shot another AP60 today. The score improved only slightly over last week from 519 to 522, but the groups were actually much improved. Last time, the distribution was:
10 12
9 27
8 11
7 8
6 2
and this time:
10 15
9 20
8 17
7 8
6 0

I was glad to get rid of the sixes. However, I had about 7 9's turn into 8's. Also, I am still shooting 7's.

My theory today was to go with lighter grip pressure, thinking that way my grip would last longer through the match. That theory was a complete bust. It lead to an unsteady sight alignment as trigger pressure was applied, which lead to jerky trigger pulls. I also had a little trouble getting zeroed.

So for my last 20 shots, I just decided to grip firm and keep the trigger moving. By then my forearms were tired, but here's how it went:
10 10 9 9 8 46
9 9 8 8 7 41
10 10 10 9 8 47
10 10 10 8 7 45

The 47 was actually my highest string of the day. So despite the minor improvement in score, I see light at the end of the tunnel as my grip strength and endurance continues to improve. I am also getting used to the FWB65 trigger, which is a long rolling trigger as opposed to a clean-breaking 2-stage trigger. I'm confident that if I can sustain a firm grip throughout the 60 shots, the 7's will disappear and I'll be popping more 10's and 9's. Another improvement that didn't show up in the score was a number of tight groups of three or four shots touching. As I develop a more consistent head position and get those groups centered, the scores will increase dramatically.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Morris Fisher - Greatest Jewish Marksman?

Today on The Rifleman's Journal (and also here) there is a great story about Morris Fisher, one of the greatest rifle shooters of all time. A summary of the article doesn't do justice, just go and read it! If you must have the bare bones summary from Wikipedia:
Morris Fisher (May 4, 1890 – May 23, 1968) was an American sports shooter who competed in the 1920 Summer Olympics and in the 1924 Summer Olympics. He won a total of five olympic gold medals. He was the author of Mastering the Pistol (1940) and Mastering the Rifle (1940).
He was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and died in Honolulu, Hawaii. Fisher frequently competed in shooting tournaments while on duty as a United States Marine. He retired from the Marine Corps as a Sergeant Major and in April 2009, he was inducted into the United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame.

So of course I ask, with a name like Morris Fisher....was he Jewish? I believe so, but could not verify 100% using Google. Here's what I found:

1. Books.google.com gave me some hits, but only snippets are available:
a. American Hebrew and Jewish messenger, Volume 115, Issue 4:
b. Studies in the American Jewish experience: contributions from the fellowship ... By Jacob Rader Marcus, Abraham J. Peck:c.
-->-->Jews and the Olympic Games: sport : a springboard for minorities By Paul Yogi Mayer2. Aside from the book snippets, a web site listing prominent Jews does identify him as Jewish (go to sports, then shooting).

3. On the blog Grunt.com blog I found someone posted "I think I read he is in the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. VERY interesting Marine. " However, I could not find him in any Jewish Sports Hall of Fame lists on the Internet...

The snippets from the books are the most persuasive, but if anyone has more proof please let me know! Perhaps someday Google will publish the entire pages...or a Jewish genealogy buff will help me out.

2010 ISSF World Cup Results: Womens 50m 3P

Great shooting by three Israelis today:

27th Place-Ella Sternberg: 576- 23x
38th Place-Yael Kan-Dagan: 572- 22x
56th Place-Anat Tzur: 563- 15x

I believe tomorrow is the last event, Men's Prone, with three Israelis competing.

Mazal Tov!

I don't know how observant of the Sabbath the Israeli team members are (and possibly Jews from other countries competing?), but I'd be interested in my readers' opinions on whether competing, or shooting in general is allowed on Shabbat. I don't think the athletes are professionals, so technically it is not work. An air rifle uses no gunpowder, but tomorrow's event is .22LR (gunpowder)....is causing the gunpowder inside the cartridge to fire a no-no on Shabbat?

Personally, I view precision shooting as the kind of relaxing leisure that Shabbat was intended for.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

2010 ISSF World Cup Results: Mens 3P 50m

Good showing for the Israeli men today!

44th Place - Sergy Rikhter: 1156- 42x
51st Place - Gil Simkovitch: 1152- 48x

Tomorrow is Womens 3p 50m with three Israelis set to compete.

Mazal Tov!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

2010 ISSF World Cup Results: Womens 10m Air Rifle

Today the Israeli women did some great shooting! Results:

20th Place - Chen Tal: 394- 29x
37th Place - Ella Sternberg: 391- 26x
42nd Place - Yael Kan-Dagan: 391- 25x

This was out of 73 contestants! The competition was fierce...consider that first place scored 398- 34x and the Israeli women weren't too far behind!

Mazal Tov!

If I read the schedule correctly, then tomorrow is men's 50m 3 position rifle, with two Israelis set to compete.

Monday, May 24, 2010

2010 ISSF World Cup Results: Rikhter 16th in 10m Air Rifle

Results here. Israeli shooter Sergy Rikhter's score was 594- 46x, which means a score of 594 out of 600, with 46 of his 10s in the "x". The x on a 10m air rifle is about the size of a period on a printed paper. Mazal Tov! Women's 10m Air Rifle coming up Wednesday with four Israeli women competing.

You can watch summaries of the finals here. There is also live coverage on the main issf site, but I can't find if they have replays of the entire event's coverage.

The summary coverage is not great, but it's interesting to see all the variation in the left hand position on the rifle, and the way each of the top shooters finds their own style and position.

Also, it seems to me that Israel has no World Cup entrants in any pistol event....I have no idea why that is.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jewish Marksman Returns to 10m Air Pistol

I explain to American Jews unfamiliar with shooting that precision marksmanship is actually a mental sport--a combination of chess and poker that you play against yourself. I recently decided to return to practicing 10m air pistol, and by occasionally blogging about my progress, I'll establish a record that others can examine for my mental approach.

About a year ago I made the decision to transition from pistol to rifle, primarily because there are more rifle competitions in my area. I wanted to spend a year focused on rifle shooting only. It has worked out well, and now I feel I have time to keep shooting rifle and get back into pistol. I'm going to focus on 10m air pistol. 10m air is, in my opinion, the ultimate in pure slow fire pistol. No wind, no expensive equipment needed, no nonsense.

I sold my PCP air gun to finance a competitive Service Rifle. The air guns I have now are a FWB65 springer, and a Tau-7 co2. Both were world-class guns about 20 or 30 years ago, and can be picked up today between $300-400. Each will still shoot one-hole at 10m and have excellent triggers, which is all I need to get started. I put a lot of work into restoring the FWB65, so I'll start with that gun.

When I left air pistol I was shooting between 550 and 560 (out of a possible 600...to even consider any kind of regional competition, you need to be shooting in at least the upper 570s) or approximately 92%. My goal is to hit 560 within six months.

So I hit the range today. The results:

10 9 9 8 8 44
10 9 9 9 8 45
9 9 9 9 8 44
10 10 10 9 6 45
9 9 9 9 8 44
10 9 9 9 7 44
9 9 9 8 8 43
10 10 9 8 6 43
9 8 7 7 7 38
10 10 9 7 7 43
9 9 9 9 7 43
10 10 8 8 7 43
10 12
9 27
8 11
7 8
6 2

Well, a 519 is not horrible (86%). I can see that I started strong, shooting closer to 90% for the first 20 or so shots. But I definitely felt my hand, wrist and shoulder fatigue after that. I tried making some adjustments, like gripping harder and trying to get off quicker releases, but right now I don't have the crisp muscle-memory to rely on. I forced shots I should not have. I also felt my sight picture was not consistent, which tells me my head position and stance are inconsistent shot-to-shot. Looks like I have my work cut out for me!

I can see that simply eliminating the sixes and turning them into 8.5s will get me four or five points, and turning those sevens into 8.5s will get me another ten or so. By just eliminating my bad shots, I can pick up fifteen points. When I don't see what I like, I'll put the pistol down and begin the sequence over, rather than force a shot.

The major thing I need to work on is rebuilding my grip, wrist, arm and shoulder endurance and strength. For now, that is all I will focus on. The reason being is that my first twenty shots showed me that I can still execute when my hold is steady and my arm feels good. By just getting a little stronger, it will improve my ability and confidence, leading to better shots.

This task is fairly simple. I'll just use hand grippers, a wrist roller and a 5lb. dumbbell for 10-15 minutes a day.

Wish me luck and mazal tov!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jewish Marksmanship in Hollywood, Florida

The State of Florida, especially its south-eastern coast, is well known for its large Jewish population. The city of Hollywood, Florida boasts a particularly large Jewish population and nearly a dozen synagogues, and is also home to many Israelis. On Saturday mornings, the city provides assistance with traffic lights along Stirling Road to keep things orderly for the hundreds of orthodox Jews making their way on foot to schul.

As the orthodox make their way to Saturday morning prayers along Stirling Road, they walk right past the Hollywood Rifle and Pistol Club. On any given Saturday and Sunday, both Jews and Gentiles can be found on the range there, competing in NRA certified matches. The club is not a "Jewish" club, but has a large number of Jewish members. I have been to the club several times for competitions. The people at the club are truly remarkable, comprising folks from all walks of life.

Although the club posts its history online, several of the Jewish members shared an unpublished aspect of its history with me. As many know, at one time South Florida was not very Jew-friendly, with some hotels in the 20's not allowing Jews and country-club discrimination lasting even longer. Unfortunately, the Hollywood shooting club shared some of this animosity. The story goes that a Jewish woman married a non-Jewish club member--she happened to have been a collegiate rifle champion. The husband brought his wife to a match, and several of the members made it known that a woman, and particularly a Jewish woman, was not welcome. She persisted, and ended up regularly out-shooting the men in rifle competitions. Fast forward a few decades, and now the club is roughly 50% Jewish. I overheard several Gentile members espousing stronger Zionist views then I hear from some American Jews.

Many of the Jewish members are active members of the club's board of directors. Several have earned Master classification in disciplines like Conventional Pistol (Bullseye) and Small Bore Prone Rifle. Several Jewish members go to the National Matches at Camp Perry almost every year to compete.

Unfortunately, the membership's average age is somewhat north of 50 years old. Young people, not just young Jews, nowadays have little interest in precision shooting sports. That doesn't mean they don't own guns, but if they compete, they are drawn to the "tactical" shooting sports that (supposedly) simulate combat or police scenarios. However, I did meet a few thirty-something Jews at the club, and as these things tend to go through cycles, maybe it's just a matter of time before young American Jews find a renewed interest in precision shooting sports.

If you're ever in Florida on vacation, send an email to the club and consider participating in their matches, which are open to the public. Their Fun Pistol match is a great time, even though it is not an NRA certified match. Many of the members linger afterward for cold beer and political debate that is just as competitive as the match!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Revolver vs. Semi-Auto Pistol for Defense of the Jewish Home

I've blogged before about my views that a revolver is a superior choice for most folks if they are choosing just one firearm for home defense. I recently had a discussion with a nice Jewish boy, who was considering which first gun to buy for home defense of his young family. Based on his Internet research, he had resolved to purchase a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

I asked the following questions:

Q: Will the gun be kept in a safe?
A: Yes, a quick-access safe.

Q: Will it be kept with a loaded magazine inserted?
A: No.

Q: Will it be kept with a chambered round?
A: No.

Q: Do you expect that your wife will be able to use it if you are not home?
A: Yes.

Q: How frequently will you and your wife practice?
A: Him, "hopefully" every few months. Her, once or twice a year.

The biggest flaw in his plan, I explained, was that it was unnecessarily risky to assume that his wife, who would practice the least, would be able to load the magazine and chamber a round under stress. Moreover, that she would be able to avoid and deal with a malfunctioning semi-auto. The truth was, I had my doubts about his capabilities as well.

His response was to insist that the task of readying the weapon was "easy", based on his dozen or so trips to the range to shoot with others. My response was that many things are easy when we're calm, but stress makes us forget things and loose fine motor control. In times of danger, we need things to be as simple as possible, or else we need to train very hard to develop automatic habits that will function under stress.

I offered my experiences from competition with semi-autos, where under stress, there will inevitably be a competitor who forgets to take off the safety, load his magazine, chamber the first round, etc. Having recently made the transition to shooting a semi-automatic rifle in competition, I make mistakes all the time. In Service Rifle competition, during the rapid-fire stage, time is limited but not critical, so when I practice I don't worry much about magazine changes. The result of not practicing is that at least once every other match I swap magazines during a rapid-fire string and forget to release the bolt. Only after pulling the trigger and realizing nothing went bang do I fix the mistake.

The nice Jewish boy pretended to listen, but I could see all of this was in one ear and out the other. He'd been seduced by the image of the semi-auto. In his mind, revolvers were old-fashioned relics, not far removed from revolutionary war muskets. He admitted he had never handled a revolver, but felt it was important to have the superior capacity of the semi-auto. I was going to ask him why, given that nearly all private self-defense incidents require only 1 or 2 shots, the capacity of the semi-auto outweighed all the advantages of a revolver. Instead, I just wished him luck on his purchase.

When I offered advice on how to find the best deal, only then did the nice Jewish boy listen carefully, and actually took notes!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Eight Israelis Entered into ISSF World Cup USA, 22 - 31 May 2010

The ISSF World Cup will take place this month at Fort Benning. Eight Israelis are set to compete:

Name M/W DOB Event(s)
COHEN Adi W 6 FEB 1989 10m Air Rifle Women
50m Rifle 3 Positions Women
KAN-DAGAN Yael W 17 JUL 1982 10m Air Rifle Women
50m Rifle 3 Positions Women
RIKHTER Sergy M 23 APR 1989 50m Rifle Prone Men
50m Rifle 3 Positions Men
10m Air Rifle Men
SIMKOVITCH Gil M 13 JAN 1982 50m Rifle 3 Positions Men
50m Rifle Prone Men
STARIK Guy M 3 MAY 1965 50m Rifle Prone Men
STERNBERG Ella W 7 DEC 1985 10m Air Rifle Women
50m Rifle 3 Positions Women
TAL Chen W 29 SEP 1987 10m Air Rifle Women
MQS 50m Rifle 3 Positions Women
TZUR Anat W 17 OCT 1986 50m Rifle 3 Positions Women

Mazal tov to all of the Israeli shooters, enjoy your stay in the US and keep 'em in the 10-ring!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Have I got a deal for you!

For the Jewish Marksman, the only thing better than getting a deal on a firearm is getting one for free:


Mazal tov!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

American Jewish Marksmanship and the IDF - Mike Hartman

I recently blogged about the fact that competitive marksmanship is a martial art. The soldier who can shoot his enemy from the longest distance wins.

Apparently, the IDF owes much of its modern marksmanship approach to an American Jew, Mike Hartman. From this 1998 article:
A 29-year-old captain who recently assumed the helm of the IDF's Sniper School, Hartman formerly headed the army's Marksmanship School, which he reorganized from scratch. He was "in charge of shooting for the whole Israeli army," he recalls.

"Every bullet that's shot in the army is [fired the way] I taught someone to do."

This is no small feat for any immigrant, especially an American who left the California beaches 10 years ago in search of himself and wound up in an IDF uniform.

Hartman, who had never used a rifle until he came to Israel, turned out to be a crack shot. When he joined the army a decade ago his bullets hit in a small grouping on the target and shocked the staff. His commanders would bring people just to watch this neophyte shoot. Hartman has won the IDF shooting championship six times.

Historically, Israeli soldiers have been notoriously bad shots. The first time the vast majority of Israeli youth shoot a weapon is during basic training.

"When I was in basic training we did only two days of shooting training," says Hartman.

"Now there is a schedule for every step in the army. There is a list of exercises that every soldier must do," Hartman adds.

Recruits now have a total of 42 lessons in seven weeks of training and are recording a stunning 86.9 percent accuracy rate on the range.

"When I started we were around 5 to 7 percent. We would hit the target five out of every 100 shots fired. And now we are close to 90 hits out of 100.

"We are by far the army that shoots the best in the world," Hartman continues. "What the army has realized...is that a soldier is not a soldier if he doesn't know how to shoot."

Four years ago, when Hartman took over the Marksmanship School, "no one in the IDF thought marksmanship was important."

The first thing he did in his campaign to improve marksmanship was to create an awareness of the need for proper, orderly training. Then he designed a course of instruction that he believed would turn the soldiers into professionals.

"My field is motivation. If you are not motivated to shoot you are not going to hit the target, even if you know what to do. You have to want to hit the target.

"I try not to offend anyone, but I'm in a position where I have to go to high-ranking officers and tell them they've been doing a lot of stuff wrong. Tell them to wake up and smell the coffee. We're doing things better now," he says.

I found a slightly different story about Hartman here (Google cache):
Mike Hartman was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Beverly Hills. At 18 he moved to Israel and for the past six years has been Israel's national shooting champion. Now 27 and a lieutenant in the IDF, he heads the army's marksmanship unit and trains the shooting instructors.

"I love the army and I love my work," he says. "I wake up every morning with a smile on my face. They think I'm a little crazy, but I couldn't be happier."

Hartman joined the IDF through hesder, a program for yeshiva students who also do army service. He spoke virtually no Hebrew when he had his first meeting with his commanding officer, who was skeptical when this brash California kid said he wanted to be an IDF sniper. "The guy didn't know what to do with me, but they tested me and saw I was good," Hartmen says. He had been practicing with a BB gun in the backyard since he was six, but until the recruitment test had never shot a real gun.

In June 1994 Hartman participated in a shooting contest in Switzerland with soldiers from 15 countries. "The target was 10 meters away and we had to hit it with a Crossbow dart gun. I can't stand to watch people shoot wrong, so I kept stepping in and helping the others aim. The other Israelis were throwing things at me! I was last up and was really nervous. I knew that if I lost, my friends would be mad at me for helping the other guys." Hartman got the only bullseye. Hartman has already left his mark on the IDF, revamping the many programs used to train soldiers to shoot. Next fall he'll return to university at the IDF's expense to earn a BA in philosophy. "I love everything to do with the mind," he says. "I meditate, for concentration. I think that's why I'm the best shot in the army - I know how to concentrate."

"I give everything I have to the army, but the internal satisfaction I get back is tremendous," he says. "I feel I'm giving something to this country. I could have been a rich lawyer in Beverly Hills. Instead, I'm doing something with my life." (From _Jerusalem Post_ Magazine, 13 Oct 95)
Regarding his contributions to Jewish Marksmanship, Hartman says:
"I'm not upset that I didn't go back home and become a lawyer. I may not be as rich. I don't have a house or property; I don't even have a girlfriend," he says. "But the inner satisfaction...If I can save one life with what I teach, then maybe that is why I am in this world."
We American Jews live in the best country in the world with respect to access and freedoms to learn how to handle firearms. We owe it to our fellow Jews to continue the tradition begun by Mike Hartman. Competitive shooting is a safe, fun, relaxing, and constructive hobby that may one day save lives. Our Jewish presence in American gun clubs and marksmanship competitions also sends a message to our fellow Americans that we share their beliefs in freedom and liberty.