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.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lawrence N. Freedman (a.k.a. "Super Jew") - Jewish Marksman and Green Beret

Today, December 22, marks the death of Lawrence N. Freedman in 1992, a US Special Forces Green Beret who was killed in the line of duty at age 51. Among the many skills he possessed, Freedman was considered on of the top snipers in the US Army:
But as a sniper he was nearly without peer. Once, remembers Gale McMillan, a maker of specialty weapons, the two of them were testing night scopes at Camp Perry. It was a night so dark it swallowed up the faces of their watches. Freedman lay down, steadied his arm on a sandbag, and fixed his scope at a target no larger than a quarter at a distance of 250 yards. He squeezed off five shots. When they examined the target they found a single ragged hole through which all five bullets had passed, McMillan says.
Freedman was proud of his Jewish heritage, and took the nick-name "Super Jew" among his comrades. Please take a moment today to visit some web sites that discuss more of the life of this great American Jew:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jewish Marksman Resolves to Conquer the Wind

"And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord led the sea with the strong east wind all night, and He made the sea into dry land and the waters split." Exodus Ch.1, v.21

Hashem parted the red sea with wind so that the Jewish people could escape their oppressors in Egypt. Nowadays, that same wind oppresses novice long range rifle shooters like me!

Last weekend I made it out for only the second time to a true High Power Match on a 600 yard range. At the 200 and 300 yard stages I shot my usual low Master scores, but 600 was a nightmare. I waited for breaks in the wind and hit a few 10s and Xs, but when forced to shoot in the wind I had no clue. My target saw 8s and even a 6!

I think I did the right thing by spending a couple years on reduced 100 yard courses, mastering basic technique. Having shot a few High Master scores, I know I can physically shoot a 10 on demand most of the time. My 2012 New Years resolution is to get out to more 600 yard matches and master the wind. For me, this means leaving the house at 4am to drive to a weekend 7am match two hours away! But if the Jews could spend years wandering the desert, I guess a couple hours drive isn't so bad...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Richard Bogath - Jewish Marksman and Blogger

Blogger Richard Bogath runs the blog "Jews Don't Shoot Guns" which describes itself as:
The realities of a Jewish shooting enthusiast having been told by other Jews that "We (Jews) don't shoot guns". Sharing experiences as well as reviewing and testing equipment related to shooting sports.
His recent posts describe his latest pursuit, NRA Bullseye competition. Check it out! (http://www.jewsdontshootguns.com/)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Norton Schwartz - Air Force General and Jewish Marksman

Wikipedia tell us that:
Norton Allan Schwartz (born December 14, 1951) is a United States Air Force general who is serving as the 19th Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He previously served as Commander, United States Transportation Command from September 2005 to August 2008. As Chief of Staff, he serves as the senior uniformed Air Force officer responsible for the organization, training and equipping of nearly 700,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces serving in the United States and overseas. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the general and other service chiefs function as military advisers to the Secretary of Defense, National Security Council and the President. He assumed his current assignment on August 12, 2008.
...
Schwartz grew up in Toms River, New Jersey, the son of a typewriter salesman. The first Jewish Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Schwartz was a member of the U.S. Air Force Academy Jewish choir before his 1973 graduation. In 2004 General Schwartz was awarded the Jewish Community Center's Military Leadership Award. In accepting the award, General Schwartz said he was "proud to be identified as Jewish as well as an American military leader."
That's all well and good, but most important to this blog's readers is the fact he earned the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon. The ribbon is awarded for proficiency with either a service rifle or handgun, but we don't know which one in General Schwartz's case. I do not see a bronze service star on his ribbon in the photo, which would indicate he earned the ribbon with both weapons. I suppose for now it will be a mystery that perhaps one our readers can shed some light on!

Thanks to reader Brad_in_MA for suggesting a profile of General Schwartz!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Great Post on Israel as Symbol of Inner Strength at Women of Caliber Blog

The Women of Caliber Blog describes itself as follows:
Women of Caliber is committed to empowering women physical and firearm self-defense, for women – by women. This education is in part through a proprietary shooting method which teaches accurate and competent execution, even in climatic scenarios. Women of Caliber also teaches the UT Concealed Firearm Permit Classes. Additionally, Women of Caliber is actively involved in Second Amendment rights and defending the Constitution of the United States.

The Women of Caliber Director of Training holds the most extensive NRA discipline certifications than any other female in the Western States.

Its administrator, Kellene Bishop, recently posted at length about the parallels she sees between women and Jews as historically oppressed, and the liberating effect that having the ability and will to defend yourself provides. She gives an extensive and educated description of the role firearms and other weapons played in the Jews' ability to declare Israel's independence. She also talks about her site's logo and its symbolism. Her post is worth a read by clicking here.

Her post reminded me of an old post of I pic I made here...



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jewish Marksman's Links on Semi-Auto Failures

I've blogged before about my views on revolvers vs. semi-autos for civilian self-defense. I continue to be very much in the revolver camp, primarily because they are vastly more reliable than semi-autos. For typical self defense purposes, the greater capacity of semi-autos is a moot point.

Note, I'm not a semi-auto "hater." I use them for sport. In fact, the sports I compete in allow for one do-over when a semi-auto jams. But I don't rely on semi-autos for defense and I advise others to strongly consider revolvers.

It amazes me the amount of denial out there about semi-auto reliability. I can't tell you how many conversations I've had where someone insists their semi-auto has run perfectly for them. However, when I start a serious cross examination, the answer always changes to "oh yeah, well it did have a few failures to feed with a certain type of ammo, but that wasn't the gun's fault," or "oh yeah, well I did have a few stove pipe jams but that was my fault not holding the gun properly," or "oh yea, well I did have jams with older magazines but that was fixed when I put in new springs," and so on.

Are revolvers perfectly reliable? No, but both by inherent design and the fact they've been around much longer, they are far more reliable. Whereas most of the time I suspect a semi-auto owner is not being truthful when telling me his gun has run through thousands of rounds without a hiccup, I will always give the revolver owner the benefit of the doubt.

I thought I might maintain an ongoing list of links to blog posts describing various reliability difficulties with semi-autos, which I will try to update occasionally:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Justice Elena Kagan - Jewish Markswoman?

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, simply by virtue of being an Obama appointee, is generally presumed to be hostile towards Second Amendment gun rights. There may be some debate as to whether this is a fair portrayal. But in any case, we do know she has joined the ranks of Jewish shooters:

She recalled paying a courtesy call on Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) shortly after her nomination to the court by President Obama in May 2010. Risch asked her about gun rights, and remarked she may not realize how important the issue was to some Americans, especially in his home state.

She admitted never having owned or fired a gun before. “But I told the senator if I was fortunate enough to be confirmed, I would go hunting with Justice Scalia.”

And she has, joining her conservative colleague on an excursion to a Washington-area shooting range and on several hunting trips, until now never reported. Her host at the synagogue event was surprised.

“You’re Jewish,” deadpanned Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg.

“Yeah, but it turns out, it’s kind of fun,” said Kagan, laughing.

I think her comments suggest she has an open mind about guns serving a positive role in society, which is a good start.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Jewish Marksman's Shooting Update

For those following my NRA High Power adventures, the past couple months have been boring on the surface, but big developments are hopefully brewing. My last two matches were roller coaster rides, both just barely squeaking by with Master scores. But I made a number of very significant changes (at least in my view) to my off hand and prone positions, and am starting to see the benefits of my experiments.

For standing off hand, I switched from using the magazine as a palm rest, and now hold the rifle more or less around the delta ring, with my thumb on the right side of the barrel and my fingers on the left. My left elbow rests on my rib cage instead of my hip. The position has proven much more stable. My scores don't show it, because I'm still tweaking the exact position of my elbow and my NPA (natural point of aim) is not stable yet. However, the rifle settles very well and on the scatt I am getting much longer holds in the 10 ring. The problem in matches has been that I get a little too aggressive and pull the trigger on any halfway decent stable sight picture. I definitely have the hold now where I can reject the shot, adjust my NPA and try again. In practice I am routinely getting 95-98 on the scatt. Soon things should come together in a match.

In prone, I finally figured out how to get the rifle out of my palm and more onto the fat of my thumb, which really lets me straighten my hand out more as well. This has really improved circulation in my support hand, so that now it doesn't fall asleep as quickly, sometimes going the whole 20 minutes with no circulation problems. My slow prone is good with this.

I'm dealing with a minor issue where my rapid prone zero moves down mid-string, I think I don't keep a consistent cheek weld shot-to-shot and am probably not seeing the sights right. So my first shot or two will be an X, and then the shots will form a knot at the bottom of the 9-ring. Either that, or I am not getting the same cheek weld after the reload. Either way, an easy problem to fix with a little practice and trying to be conscious of it.

So I made Master this year, but its looking like a few things need to be tweaked before I'll make High Master. I am hoping by April I'll have done it. I have 3 other rifles waiting for me to shoot (one being the Garand!), but I just can't bring myself to put down the AR-15 until I get that High Master card!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rabbi Judah HaChassid - Scholar and Marksman

He lived between 1150-1217, and wrote "Sefer Hachasidim," the Book of the Pious. According to Chabad:
"Sefer Hachasidim," the Book of the Pious, is undoubtedly a most valuable contribution to Jewish religious literature of all times. It was not only the most popular and widely read book of Mussar (Jewish Ethics) during the Middle Ages, but it is still a highly inspiring collection of thoughts and principles of the orthodox Jewish faith.
But just as important to this blog, Rabbi Judah was an expert archer!
We are told that in his youth Judah was anything but a scholar. He preferred to wander in the fields and play with bow and arrow. He is said to have captured many prizes in marksmanship in contest with the nobility of the Rhineland.
Here a some biographical links for those interested in learning more about his teachings:
http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/111829/jewish/Rabbi-Judah-HaChassid.htm
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/9020-judah-ben-samuel-he-hasid-of-regensburg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judah_ben_Samuel_of_Regensburg

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dr. Irwin Ruderman : Veterinarian and Jewish Marksman

The VCA Staten Island Animal Hospital website lists Dr. Irwin Ruderman as its Medical Director, and includes an interesting biography. Of most interest to our blog is the following excerpt:
[Dr. Ruderman] got his Veterinary Technician license in 1975 and earned his B.Sc. in Zoology in 1976. While at Ohio State he lived over an animal hospital working full time and going to school part-time. Veterinary school took Dr. Ruderman even farther from home - Milan, Italy. Not only did he move to Italy but he also had to learn to speak, read, and write the language first. Many are surprised to find a Jewish veterinarian fluent in Italian! Six years in Italy also gave him a appreciation for Italian wines.

Some of his hobbies, just like his medicine find origins in the East: Bonsai, collecting Japanese swords and sword fittings, fishing, and target shooting.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Jewish Marksman Learns His Lesson on AR-15 Barrel Cleaning

And you shall have a designated place outside the camp, so that you can go out there [for use as an outhouse]. And you shall keep a shovel in addition to your weapons; and it shall be, when you sit down outside [to relieve yourself], you shall dig with it, and you shall return and cover your excrement. For the L-rd, your G‑d, goes along in the midst of your camp, to rescue you and to deliver your enemies before you. [Therefore,] your camp shall be holy, so that He should not see anything unseemly among you and would turn away from you. Deuteronomy 23:13-15
Cleanliness is an important concept in Judaism, and I recently had an eye-opening experience with barrel cleaning. Go to any Internet gun forum, and you'll find that if you ask "how should I clean my barrel?" you will get a different answer from every person. The advice that has always appealed to me most, however, is to use the least abrasive techniques so long as accuracy does not suffer.

For my small bore rifles (.22LR), this has meant to rarely clean a barrel. Although there is debate, the general consensus is not to clean a small bore barrel unless it seems to loose accuracy. And even then, a mild solvent with cotton patches should suffice. If fact, most small bore barrels are believed to shoot better a little dirty. With .22LR rounds, the bullets are unjacketed lead at relatively low velocity, so there is no need to worry about copper and lead fouling, and only mild carbon concerns.

High Power center fire barrel cleaning is another story, because copper jacketed bullets will schmear copper in the rifling, and there is heavier carbon fouling. After every few matches, my cleaning practice was to first run a few patches of carbon solvent through the barrel. Then I had the idea of inserting a foam ear plug into the muzzle, and from the chamber end, filling the entire barrel with copper solvent, and letting it soak for 15 minutes. I'd pull out the plug, and all kinds of blue (ammonia dissolves copper into a blue liquid) and black gunk would spill out. I followed this routine for 1500 rounds on my AR-15 barrel, and it kept hammering out master and high master scores! Why change?

Then, slowly but surely, my scores started dropping. Suddenly, I found I could not shoot master scores, with wild off-call 7s and 6s showing up on my targets. And my zero seemed to keep moving. Oy veh!

At first, I thought it could be (a) the recent switch I'd made in bullets, (b) that the barrel had met an early end in its life, or (c) something was off with my technique. A little experimentation disproved (a), and using my lower with a .22LR upper disproved (c). That left me very concerned that the problem was the barrel. 1500 rounds was a little early for a barrel to die.

I had a talk with some fellow club shooters, and within seconds they diagnosed the problem. Each exhibited shock when they learned I had never put a brass brush to my bore in over 1500 rounds. Apparently, it was common knowledge that an AR-15 barrel needs to be subjected to a brass brush and JB Bore Paste (a very mild abrasive cleaner) every few hundred rounds!

Sure enough, after a good scrubbing, my barrel can group again! At a recent match, despite my zeros being totally off I almost shot a Master score again, and now have my zeros back for next time. No wild sixes and sevens! Mazal tov!

Aside from the JB Bore paste tip, I also got advice on which solvents to use after each match. I purchased some and am happy that many modern solvents are much less toxic and odorous than solvents I've used in the past. I'll report back on the success of my new cleaning techniques in a few thousand rounds.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

L'Shana Tova!

Today marks the begin of the Jewish New Year! May you all have a sweet new year, and may all your shots be 10's and X's!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Budd Gardstein - Jewish Gunsmith

A gunsmith is a person who repairs, modifies, designs, or builds firearms. Good gunsmiths have encyclopedic knowledge of firearms and their components, metallurgy, woodworking, machining, and history. Today we meet Budd Gardstein, a Jewish gunsmith and learn more about him and the work he does:

1. Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?
I grew up outside of White Plains N.Y. I now live in Laurel County Kentucky, in the southeastern part of the state bordering Tennessee and West Virginia. Here, kids walk the hills and streets with .22 rifles, 20 gauge shotguns, and fishing poles and nobody thinks anything of it. It’s a different world and I love it.
2. What do you do for a living?
As a gunsmith, I repair and restore guns, whatever my customers need: repairing broken stocks, hand-fitting custom scope mounts in the machine shop, and fine woodworking. I also do blacksmith work. Lastly, I am a certified Kentucky Firefighter-- as a Gunsmith-Blacksmith I work to keep the guns firing hot all the time, but as a Firefighter I work to go to the source of the fire and fight it to put it out!
3. Who introduced you to firearms? How old were you the first time you went shooting?
As an adult, through military service. I served 4 years in the Air Force, including a year in Vietnam.
4. How did you get involved in gunsmithing?
It started by wanting to work on my own guns, and with a lot of effort I expanded out. I went to school in the days when they had shop classes. I took mechanical drawing, drafting, wood shop, metal shop, auto mechanics, and machine shop. Literally, anything I could get my hands on. I have always been working with my hands, and of course, I love good tools: Both hand and power. I learned well, adapted well, and I improvise as needed. To put it bluntly, I can fix almost anything.
5. Are you involved in any shooting clubs or sports? Have you earned any awards or classifications?
I do participate in Single Action Shooting Society (SASS “Cowboy Action Shooting”). But here in the Kentucky Hills people shoot as part of everyday life.
6. What do Jewish family members and friends think about your gunsmithing and gun ownership? How do customers and shooting buddies respond to your being Jewish?
I do not have much interaction with other Jews in the area. My customers have no clue about Judaism, I don’t think it crosses their minds one way or another.
7. What do you like most about your job?
I work on people's guns that are their dreams. Some of the projects that come here have been in the family for generations, and have stories and emotions attached. Many are being given that special attention so that they can be handed down to grandchildren. We talk with everyone. We coined the phrase “Junk or Heirloom? You Decide, We Repair. I heard years ago “The Difficult We Do Immediately, The Impossible Takes a Little Longer”. One of my Blacksmith books talks of a man’s concept of “you have to be more stubborn than the iron”.

Many of the jobs that come here wind up more complicated than thought of at first. Often customers bring or send me guns that appear Dead On Arrival. They might be rusted solid, broken, missing vital parts. Some have not worked in a generation. Some would say that these are impossible jobs, some would not even talk with the potential customers. There is a lot of satisfaction in bringing a dead gun back to life. We are problem solvers. People’s treasures come in with all sorts of problems, and we talk with them. We try very hard to make the broken dream whole again and come true. The smile on the clients face shows me that we made the dream come true. That is very satisfying.
8. Have you ever done any gunsmithing work on a firearm with any sort of Jewish connection?
I don’t remember if I worked on Jewish guns, but I have worked on UZIs and clones.
9. Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers? Interesting stories, words of wisdom?
The biggest thing we should ask ourselves is what is our attitude towards defense of ourselves and others? Do we assume that people around us are safe, or should we be prepared for the enemy and other dangers at any time, as Torah tells us? And what about the safety of others, are we people who depend on others and just rely on 911 in an emergency, or should we be the answer? As a firefighter, we run in to fire when others run out…isn’t that part of what being Jewish is all about?
Check out Budd's web site (http://www.buddsgunsmith.com/) which I've added to the links at the right. If you need a gunsmith, give him a call!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Saving Shekels with a CLE .22LR AR Upper

I've written before about the cost of ammunition for high power rifle competition, coming in at $0.25-0.30 a round. Match grade smallbore (.22LR rim fire) ammunition, by comparison, can be had for $0.08-$0.10. "Practice grade" smallbore ammunition can be had for $0.03-$0.05. Shooters of various disciplines seek out rim fire ammunition to practice with because it's cheaper, quieter, and has less recoil. In the case of high power rifle practice, savings are amplified by the saved barrel life on a match rifle, which may only have a "match grade" life of a few thousand shots. In contrast, a smallbore barrel lasts practically forever--hundreds of thousands of rounds.

For those unfamiliar with the AR-15 rifle platform, it consists of two main sections: 1) an "upper" which consists of the barrel, bolt carrier, and upper receiver, and 2) the "lower" consisting of the serialized receiver, trigger group, and butt stock. The upper can be removed and replaced with one of a different configuration, or even a different caliber. So one option with the AR-15 is to have a dedicated .22LR upper. Another less expensive option is a .22LR conversion kit, which uses the existing upper and barrel. Conversion kits are fun, and perfect for some disciplines. But their accuracy is nowhere near as good as dedicated .22LR upper with a match chamber and a twist rate (1/16) intended for .22LR as opposed to .223 (1/7).

I've had a .22LR Service Rifle upper for my AR-15 from Compass Lake Engineering for roughly a year. In the past I used it to practice rapid fire sitting and prone stages with a "practice grade" rimfire ammunition, Eley Sport. It would produce good groups, but random fliers would appear, which I would just ignore. But having recently started with NRA Smallbore Prone matches, I began to wonder what kind of results I could get shooting prone with the same ammo I use in my bolt action Anschutz smallbore rifle, Wolf Match Target. So I decided to use the recent Labor Day holiday to give it a go.

All of my testing was performed from the prone position with a sling. The results were outstanding, yielding great 50 yard groups as shown above. I only had time for one 100 yard go, but again the results were outstanding. The target below is somewhere between 15 and 20 shots in a medium right-to-left wind. The lone 8 was caused by me figuring out the windage adjustments are not as fine as the Anschutz sights, but once I got it dialed in I was able to hammer out 10s. With better wind calls I'm sure the 9s will merge into 10s.

I'm so pleased with the results, I'm going to use the CLE .22LR upper with my AR-15 instead of my Anschutz at this weekend's smallbore prone match! In theory, it should be harder to shoot well for several reasons. For one, the shorter sight radius, which is the distance between the front and rear sight. In theory, the longer the sight radius the more precisely one can aim. Also the CLE has coarser sight adjustment clicks than the Anschutz, as I believe my Anschutz has the older 1/6 minute clicks whereas I know the CLE has 1/4 minute clicks (which seemed to match my need to use roughly 20 clicks on the CLE to come up from 50 to 100 yards, versus 38 clicks up on the Anschutz sights). My AR lower has a 5lb. trigger, although it's a 2-stage trigger with about a 1lb. second stage let off, wheras the Anschutz second stage is probably about half that. Lastly, the CLE uses a Service Rifle front post sight, compared to the Anschutz being outfitted with adjustable iris apertures.

But all that theory aside, because I spend so much time practicing with the AR-15 as opposed to my smallbore rifle, everything feels more comfortable and familiar.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Kehat Shorr - Jewish Marksman and Munich Massacre Victim

September 5, 1972 is a day Jews must remember forever. On that day terrorists took 11 Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich Olympics, and ultimately killed them in what has been called the Munich Massacre. Today, not many Americans (and surprisingly some American Jews) have forgotten this barbarous act committed by Israel's neighbors.

One of the athletes killed was Kehat Shorr, described in a memorial site as follows:

Kehat Shorr, an expert marksman, was born Feb. 21, 1919 in Romania. At 53, he was a civil servant in Israel’s Defense Ministry, living in Neve Sharrett, a suburb of Tel Aviv, with his wife and daughter, when he attended the 20th Olympics in Munich in 1972 as a marksmanship coach.

Shorr had participated as a coach in several previous Olympics, and was himself several times a marksman national champion in Romania. When he made aliyah to Israel in 1963, he founded the marksman discipline in Israel and became the national coach.

Shorr, along with 10 of the delegation, were taken hostage by members of Black September, a Palestinian terrorist organization in the early hours of Sept. 5. Two teammates were killed in the initial assault, while the remaining nine were machine gunned during a two-hour firefight between German police and the terrorists at F├╝rstenfeldbruck airfield, 12 miles outside of Munich.

During the tense negotiations between the terrorists, who sought the release of more than 200 prisoners from Israeli jails, Shorr appeared once at the window of the apartment where the hostages were held. That was the last time he was seen alive.

In June of 1941, Romania, as part of the German Axis, joined the invasion of the former Soviet Union. Shorr was marked for internment, but managed to hide in the Carpathian Mountains with other Jewish partisans who made periodic raids on cities to rescue other Jews in hiding.


Another article provides this account:

He was 53 when he died. He lost a wife and a daughter in the Holocaust.

He was born in Romania. He devoted himself to shooting, and his achievements were impressive. He immigrated to Israel in 1963 and settled in Tel Aviv. He joined the "Hapoel" team and quickly became its coach.

Shorr devoted his time and skills to training young marksmen. He contributed significantly toward raising the standard of marksmen in Israel, thanks to his organizational and professional aptitudes.

He trained the national team for the Twentieth Olympics Games in Munich.

He was buried in Kiryat Shaul's cemetery.

Please take a moment today to remember Shorr and all of the victims of the Munich Massacre.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Martin Joseph Fettman - Astronaut and Jewish Marksman

According to Wikipedia, at least 13 Jews have visited space, and Martin Fettman is listed as one of them. According to his bio, he's a Veterinary Pathologist, and with regards to space travel:
Fettman was selected as a NASA payload specialist candidate in December 1991, as the prime payload specialist for Spacelab Life Sciences-2 in October 1992. He then flew on STS-58 in October 1993. Since the flight, he has made over seventy public appearances representing space life sciences research before higher education, medical, veterinary, and lay organizations, and visited over twenty K-12 schools around the United States and Canada. He is presently a member of the NASA Advisory Council Life and Biomedical Sciences and Applications Advisory Subcommittee.
But most importantly, according to his NASA bio, his recreational interests include "pistol marksmanship." Mazal tov!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Black Hawk Bagel Boys - First all Jewish Team at Nationals

Baruch Hashem, the Black Hawk Bagel Boys were able to assemble a squad and compete at the 2011 National Matches in Camp Perry, and are believed to be the first all Jewish team ever assembled for that match! Mazal Tov!

The team was comprised of Randy Schwartz, Steve Rocketto, Don Lerner, Hap Rocketto, Larry Hoffman, and Dennis Lindenbaum. Dennis Lindenbaum blogged about the Camp Perry experience as well, so visit pronematch.com to learn more.

If you can't make out the logos on the shirt (click on the picture for full-size), here they are:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bring enough gun.

I recently had a conversation with a former IDF sniper who has emigrated to the US and is considering a handgun purchase, and possibly (hopefully!) getting involved in target shooting. We got around to discussing rifle calibers. I'll spare readers the gory details, but he described his firsthand observations of the superior stopping power of .30 caliber rounds versus .223. Put simply, hit a man with a .308 based round and he goes down. You might need several hits with .223.

Stopping power of a given bullet in a given cartridge in a given firearm is a complex topic, but one good metric is the simple physics formula for muzzle energy, E=.5mv^2. For a modern standard-issue US military .223/5.56mm round, somewhere in the ballpark of 1,282 ft·lbf (1,738 J) is typical. Back in WWII, our boys carried .30-06 Springfield rounds with over double that energy, 2,820 ft·lbf (3,820 J). A modern .308/7.62x51 round used by snipers and some infantry semi-auto rifles packs roughly 2,619 ft·lbf (3,551 J). By comparison, Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum handgun packed around 1,200 ft·lbf (1,600 J) of energy, slightly less than a .223 rifle. The 9mm handgun your local sheriff caries has, at very best, 519 ft·lbf (704 J) of energy, less than half the power of a M16/AR-15 .223-based rifle.

I don't hunt, nor have I ever served in the military. In my mind, a bullet is nothing more than either a) the caliber required by a rule, or b) a piece of equipment you try to use to gain an aerodynamic or weight advantage in the wind. For instance, if you shoot NRA Smallbore, you shoot .22LR by rule, and all match-grade ammo pretty much uses the same weight and shape bullet. If you shoot NRA High Power Service Rifle class, you shoot .223 or .308 depending on which model rifle you use, and you can experiment with different bullet weights and styles in your rifle and how the wind plays with them. In the Match Rifle class, you can shoot whatever caliber you want, and new caliber/cartridges come along every few years with bullets that have less drop and are more slippery in the wind. Some matches, such as Palma, require competitors to use certain bullets so there is no "arms-race" among competitors to gain an advantage through bullets with better aerodynamics. There is actually more to bullet choice, but to me as a target shooter, it never really crossed my mind that different bullets are more lethal than others in war or for hunting.

In fact, up until a few weeks ago I never had handled rifle bullets larger than .223 because I had no need to. But now with the Garand (and some .308 projects on the way...) I have had to buy some .308 bullets and got to see .223 and .308 side-by-side for the first time, as in the picture above. Yeah, compared to the .223 the .308 is a beast.

I find it interesting that in WWII and Korea our soldiers used the .30-06 cartridge in the Garand with .308 bullets, with lethal effect. When full auto infantry rifles became the military's way of thinking in Viet Nam (i.e. "spray and pray" usage of rifles by soldiers as opposed to training soldiers to be precise marksmen"), the switch was made to .223 because a soldier can carry more of it, pound for pound. And surprise, surprise, .223 ammo is cheaper than .308. There is, apparently, some serious questioning of that thinking going on, and it seems many troops would rather be armed with a .308 based rifle than a .223, and the .223 has been especially disappointing in Afghanistan and Iraq. I don't know if it's true, but some web sites report that the .223 was designed to wound, not kill, the idea being that by wounding an enemy soldier you also remove two of his fellows from the battlefield who have to carry him away. That thinking, if true, assumes a certain set of values in your enemy, who if he has those values, makes you wonder why you're fighting him in the first place. Today, I don't think our enemies and Israel's enemies have those kinds of values. Much better then, in my estimation, to arm our soldiers with a rifle designed to kill with one shot. And further, to revitalize the concept of a marksman versus a full auto random lead dispenser.

Meanwhile, as a target shooter, I like the idea that that a .308 gives me an extra .08" diameter over a .223, and therefore more likely that a shot near a line (well, within .04") will break the line and give me an extra point! Also the extra velocity and weight helps keep the wind from blowing my 10 into a 9! Mazal tov!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Smallbore Prone Match Progress(?)

This weekend I shot another NRA Smallbore Prone match. Going in, I was feeling confident that I had ironed out some position issues and would improve on my disastrous last outing.

The first course of fire consisted of 20 shots at 50 yards, and 20 and 100. I finished with a 394/400 (98.5%) with 16x. I even cleaned one of the 2 100 yard targets. The momentum continued into the next course of fire, 40 shots at 100 yards. On my second set of 20 shots, I almost cleaned both the top and bottom targets, but somehow an 8 (gasp!) appeared on my target out of nowhere...still not sure if it was me or a flyer. I finished the 100 yard stage with 397/400 (99.25%) with 16x. At that point I was shooting an 98.875% with the possibility to make an Expert class score! The NRA small bore outdoor prone classifications are:

Master........................................ 99.50 and above
Expert ........................................ 98.50 to 99.49
Sharpshooter ............................. 96.50 to 98.49
Marksman.................................. Below 96.50

The final stage of the match consisted of 40 shots at 50 meters. Unfortunately, the wheels sort of came off at that point. I imploded with a 386/400 (96.5%) with 18x, finishing with an aggregate of 1177/1200 (98%) 50x.

So what happened? What didn't! Primarily a failure to plan and prepare.
  1. The prone match moves slowly, starting at 9am and finishing around 1pm, which means it goes through my normal lunch hour. I didn't bring any snacks, and really found myself hungry and tired by the time the final leg rolled around. I should have brought healthy snacks.
  2. It was also super hot, and I probably should have drank more water.
  3. Also, the sweatshirt I wear under my coat was soaked by the last leg, which kind of makes you feel like you are moving inside the jacket and sling (not sure if you really do or not, but it sure feels that way) and is sort of distracting. I should have brought a second dry sweatshirt.
  4. Also, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to re-wet my eyes with the moisture drops I like to use 15 or 20 minutes before a match. I wear glasses not contacts, but I feel the drops keep the eyes lubricated and supple throughout a match. So I did this just seconds before time started, used 2 drops per eye instead of 1, then had to wait 10 minutes for my eyes to dry to the point I could see anything but a blurry sight picture. So I felt rushed to get my 20 shots off in time. I should have remembered if it ain't broke don't fix it after I had just shot a phenomenal (for me at least) 100 yard match!
  5. After my first bad shots, I should have recognized the signs of anticipating recoil. When I shoot high power, I visualize myself just absorbing the recoil. I remind myself before every shot at the end of the match where 60 shots and explosions inches from your face start to take their toll and bait your anticipation/flinch reflex. But shooting smallbore, I didn't think about it. But after 80 something shots of .22LR, even that whippersnapper of a cartridge will start to cause anticipation. I didn't recognize the problem until too late, and should have used visualization at the end of the match to avoid it. I discovered the problem on my last 5 shots of the match, visualized absorbing the recoil and proceeded to shoot a 50 with 3x.
  6. Although it wasn't a huge factor, up until the last leg of the match there was a bench rest shooter on the range who had a flag set up, and I was using that flag to read the wind. I don't have much experience reading mirage, and just prefer flags. Well, that shooter left for the day and took his flag with him, so I was screwed for the last leg of the match. I need to practice reading mirage.
There are a few more things I could improve on, for example I seem to end up shooting 9's on the first shot transitioning to a new target. Unlike high power where all shots are on the same target, in a small bore prone match you move between 4 targets at 50 yards and meters, and 2 targets at 100. I don't like moving, and the position change distracts me from just taking the shot. I need to not think about that so much and just change and shoot.

Otherwise, I'm happy with the performance. I had zero practice with that rifle for a couple weeks, and still came in and improved on last month's score. Next month it would be nice to shoot an Expert score!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jewish Marksman Gets a CMP Garand

Jews were not saved from complete annihilation during the Holocaust by diplomats, negotiations, or international sanctions. When American troops liberated the Jews from concentration camps during WWII, in their hands was a rifle which General Patton described as "the greatest battle implement ever devised." It was that rifle, the M1 Garand, and the powerful .30-06 rounds it fired that saved the Jews. The rifle served American and other armies for many years, by the US as late as Viet Nam. Interestingly, supposedly there are a few M1 Garands or its little brother the M1 Carbine floating around still used by tour guides in Israel!

My local NRA/CMP High Power Rifle club has informal Garand matches, and there are other nearby clubs that hold official CMP matches. So I thought it would be fun to own a piece of history, as well as join in those matches. Getting a rifle from the CMP seemed like a no-brainer. On its website, the CMP describes itself:
The Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) is a national organization dedicated to training and educating U. S. citizens in responsible uses of firearms and airguns through gun safety training, marksmanship training and competitions. The CMP is a federally chartered 501(c)(3) corporation that places its highest priority on serving youth through gun safety and marksmanship activities that encourage personal growth and build life skills. Links on this page will lead you to more detailed information about the CMP and its programs.

Statutory mission. The federal law enacted in 1996 (Title 36 U. S. Code, 0701-40733) that created the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearms Safety, Inc. (CPRPFS, the formal legal name of the CMP) mandates these key “functions for the corporation:

(1) To instruct citizens of the United States in marksmanship;

(2) To promote practice and safety in the use of firearms;

(3) To conduct competitions in the use of firearms and to award trophies, prizes, badges, and other insignia to competitors.


The law specifically states: In carrying out the Civilian Marksmanship Program, the corporation shall give priority to activities that benefit firearms safety, training, and competition for youth and that reach as many youth participants as possible.
Yes, you read that correctly, federal law empowers and requires the CMP to promote rifle marksmanship and sell off surplus rifles to the public (the actual statute is here)! By law, the rifles, including the M1, must be sold at "fair market value." Indeed, the prices are very fair, and if you buy a CMP Garand you get a great value for your money. The rifles are sold by grade, with price varying accordingly. I decided to go with a CMP "Special" grade, which should hopefully prove to be a good shooter.

Ironically, in 2009 the South Korean government announced plans to sell around 100,000 M1s to American collectors, the rifles having been originally given to the South Koreans by the US Government, but the Obama administration is blocking the South Korean sales of these M1s. As the Washington Times editorial argues:
It’s hard to see how these M1 rifles could be considered risky when they already are offered for sale by the U.S. government through the Civilian Marksmanship Program. In fact, the federally sponsored CMP puts on summer camps that teach boys and girls how to handle the Garand properly and safely. In the past seven years, there hasn’t been a single accident. Many of the participants go on to serve their country or take part in shooting sports at the collegiate and Olympic level. It’s more likely that the administration is seeking to win the admiration of gun grabbers.
I will report more as I learn to operate and shoot this rifle, as at this stage I haven't the slightest idea how to operate it yet. I am definitely looking forward to the stouter recoil of the .30-06 cartridge over the .233 I currently shoot in the AR-15.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Understanding Jewish Opposition to Gun Ownership Part 2

In Part 1 (click here) I advanced the premise that Jewish opposition to private gun ownership is not so much a function of being Jewish, per se, but rather a function of general "progressive" liberalism which most American Jews identify with. This post will attempt to lay the groundwork for explaining the diversity of views within the Jewish community on gun ownership, and the natural correlation with varying political views.

Within American Jewry there are three major "streams" of belief: reform, conservative, and orthodox. For my purposes here, two will suffice, we can consider only reform and combine conservative and reform into "conservadox." The Wikipedia description of reform Judaism hints at where reform Jews will likely fall on gun control:
In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the surrounding culture. Many branches of Reform Judaism hold that Jewish law should be interpreted as a set of general guidelines rather than as a list of restrictions whose literal observance is required of all Jews.
Ergo, if the "surrounding culture" holds a certain belief, then very likely you can find a Reform Rabbi who will preach it as if it were a Jewish principle, even if the position is not well supported in light of the holy scriptures and centuries of scholarly comment. "Compatible" as used in the definition is code-speak for "politically correct." Just as a progressive judicial activist views the Constitution as a "living" document, Reform Rabbis view the Torah (Old Testament) the same way. Most Jews in the US identify themselves as belonging to the Reform movement.

Conservative and Orthodox Jews approach secular society differently than Reform Jews. From Wikipedia on the Conservative movement:
The term conservative was meant to signify that Jews should attempt to conserve Jewish tradition, rather than reform or abandon it, and does not imply the movement's adherents are politically conservative.
And Orthodox:
Orthodox Judaism's central belief is that Torah, including the Oral Law, was given directly from God to Moses and applies in all times and places.
(Now, even among Jews you will find a lot of debate about these definitions, and how we label ourselves. A Jew might belong to a Reform synagogue, but actually hold beliefs that are traditionally "orthodox" and cringe at his Rabbi's liberal sermons, yet he might also eat pork in violation of the kosher laws. And an Orthodox Jew has been known now and again to marry a non-Jew, which is perfectly acceptable by the Reform movement but a no-no by the orthodox. Frankly, I don't think an American Jew who labels himself as "politically conservative" can be, deep down, a Reform Jew because the American conservative movement is steeply rooted in traditional Judeo-Christian values...nonetheless you will meet politically conservative Jews who consider themselves Reform Jews, primarily because they don't keep kosher and sometimes work on Saturdays. To me, the observance of rituals are not the true test, rather, the foundations of one's beliefs are the more relevant standard. To me, if you're a Jew and politically conservative, then you really aren't a reform Jew despite how you label yourself. And if you're a secular progressive (e.g. abortion on demand), then you aren't a conservative or orthodox Jew no matter what you label yourself. Granted, its all semantics, but I'm trying to peel away the layers of the onion for the non-Jewish reader.)

So generally speaking, within Reform Judaism there is a tendency, if not pressure, to conform Judaism to secular society. Whereas, for conservative and orthodox Jews, the idea is that secular society would gain much by adopting traditional Jewish values, as G-d gave them to Moses. For the most part, conservative and orthodox Torah values are highly compatible with conservative Christian values, which is why conservative and orthodox Jews feel a political kinship with evangelical Christians, especially on issues surrounding Israel. Reform Jews, who have, so to speak, hitched their wagon to secular progressives, are of course bothered by conservative evangelical Christians, who as Obama voiced for all secular progressives, "cling to guns or religion." Reform Jews, like secular progressives, have a history of indifference or outright anti-Zionism when it comes to Israel issues.

Hopefully this post gives the non-Jewish reader a bit more flavor for the idea that the majority of Jews in the US belong to the Reform movement, which by definition seeks to harmonize itself with contemporary secular society and treat the Torah as a "living" document much the same way that some Supreme Court justices believe the Constitution should be interpreted to create harmony with contemporary progressive sentiment. The recent Heller decision illustrated the way the conservative majority carefully examined the intent of the framers of the Constitution through the lens of history and the philosophical views of the day, whereas the liberal judicial activists sought to interpret the plain text of the Second Amendment into something other than what it actually says. The exercise parallels the way a Reform Jew and a Conservadox Jew would read the Torah.

I hope I have not offended any one with this post, I am not the one to say which branch of Judaism is "correct," for as the Talmud asks, "how do you know that your blood is redder than his, perhaps his blood is redder than yours?"

In the next post, I'll discuss how the different branches of Judaism discussed above interpret the Torah as to private gun ownership.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Understanding Jewish Opposition to Gun Ownership Part 1

Readers often arrive at this blog using search engine key words, and I have tools that show me those key words. Often, web surfers arrive here relying on terms like "Jews 2nd Amendment" or "Jews Gun Control". So perhaps I can shed some light on the issue for those that come here looking for answers.

Within the firearms community there is bewilderment as to why so many American Jews oppose 2d Amendment freedoms, and why Jewish politicians are often at the forefront of oppressive gun control legislation. The basic reasoning goes that Jews, as victims of the Holocaust, ought to be at the forefront of civilian rights to protect themselves from crime and oppressive government. The Warsaw ghetto uprisings, a source of pride to many Jews, ought to be instructive as well. Further, the history lesson is not limited to the Holocaust, as virtually every country where Jews have lived has either failed to protect them from violent hatred, or actively participated in their oppression or murder. Why then, do so many American Jews a) choose not to own firearms, and b) encourage legislation to stop others from owning them as well?

(First and foremost, there are many American Jews and politicians who support 2nd Amendment rights...click here to see the list I am compiling).

In my view, there are fairly simple answers to these questions. The first overriding principle is that the majority of American Jews identify themselves as "liberals" or "progressives." As I am neither of these, I find it extremely difficult to explain this tendency without resorting to, shall we say, politically incorrect language... However, Norman Podhoretz, a contributor to the excellent Commentary magazine, has written a book on the topic and has talked on the subject:
http://www.booktv.org/Program/10987Link/2009+Miami+Book+Fair+Norman+Podhoretz+quotWhy+Are+Jews+Liberalsquot.aspx

http://www.booktv.org/Program/10803/Why+Are+Jews+Liberals.aspx

So, simply put, many American Jews oppose 2nd Amendment freedoms for much the same reasons as other liberals and progressives. Such liberal and progressive Jews are primarily driven to oppose gun rights by their secular views, not their Jewish beliefs or identity.

That answer may be unsatisfactory to the extent that it fails to explain why, despite adhering to secular progressive doctrine generally, such American Jews don't make an exception for 2nd Amendment rights given their personal history. Further, I know many readers are curious as to where the Jewish religion stands on 2nd Amendment issues. In later posts I will address these topics.





Sunday, July 17, 2011

Did the Jewish Marksman Find His Smallbore Prone Position?


I've been "dabbling" in NRA Smallbore Prone, but despite better sights, a more accurate trigger and more accurate ammo than my Service Rifle, my groups have not been better than I can do with my AR-15 and .22LR upper!

Until this weekend, when I made some head position and sling changes which (finally!) eliminated almost all pulse and allowed for fairly quick releases. My 50 yard targets are above, the inner ring is the X and the outer the 10.

The only problem with the position is that my wrist and forearm fall asleep after about 10 minutes. That is a mixed blessing, because really there should be no muscle tension whatsoever in the left arm. However, there is no neural feedback as to whether the arm is tensed or not. That caused me to throw 2 nines at 100 yards where I work a little slower. So I think I may need a more padded glove, or to simply take a short break after the first 10 shots to let the circulation flow in my hand again:
Not great, but getting better. If I can get in just a little more practice before the next match, I think I can make a run at Expert classification in the next few months. The wind was blowing left to right on the first target, and I failed to notice the flags...need to fix that!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Josh Black: Air Rifle Champion

Josh Black recently represented the tribe at the National Junior Olympic air rifle competition in Ohio, where he "won the championship in the 14-15 age group." Mazal Tov! You can read all about it in this great article (click). About shooting, Josh had this to say:
"I just love the sport," said Black, who was introduced to competitive marksmanship as a 12-year-old. "I've loved it from the first time I tried it. There's such a feeling of satisfaction when you hit the target. I enjoy the challenge, too. You're always trying to do better than you did the last time. You're always trying to beat a personal record or improve upon your last performance."
Josh's father chimed in with his view of shooting sports:
"It's actually quite a grueling thing," Scott said. "(Josh) practices five days a week for a couple of hours a day — at least. What he's doing, basically, is practicing the same thing — over and over and over again. Every other sport emphasizes movement and power, but not shooting. In shooting, the less you move, the better you perform. So you learn to concentrate and really lock in (on the target.) You learn to be calm. You learn to immediately forget a bad shot."
The article also mentions his sister Hannah who "earned a $2,500 scholarship by winning the American Legion air rifle championship last summer in Colorado Springs, Colo."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Jewish Marksman Celebrates the 4th with His .45!

What better way to celebrate Independence Day than spending time at the gun range, exercising the constitutional right that guarantees all others?

Earlier this weekend I shot a High Power match, and had a bad day. Nu, at least for me a bad day is a Master score. I am really hoping my lower back gets healthy soon and I can make a serious run at High Master before year's end. Right now sitting position is a little painful...my back either needs to get better or I need to move to a more upright sitting position. I'm only 36, oy veh!

But on this 4th of July, I could have gotten in some much needed smallbore practice, but I just HAD to shoot my .45ACP revolver! Before I committed to NRA High Power Rifle, I shot Bullseye Pistol. In a nutshell, a portion of the match is shot with a .45 caliber pistol, one handed, 50 yards slow fire and 25 yards timed and rapid. I migrated from a 1911 semi-auto to a revolver, and was working my way up the classifications when my club sort of dropped the match. I was shooting Expert and flirting with Master. But the club recently started up the match again, and I've been considering attending a few matches. So last week, I loaded up 50 rounds of a 50 yard load, and 50 rounds of a 25 yard load, popped them into moonclips and figured I'd see how my pistol shooting skills are after a couple years of barely touching a pistol.

My loving wife encouraged me to hit the range this morning before our 4th festivities got underway, as she and the baby were sleeping in anyway. So I shot the .45, a S&W 625 5" revolver, and was really surprised that I still have it on a 50 yard target one-handed! The 7 and 8 were my first two shots, and after I adjusted windage, I was effortlessly hammering home 10s and 9s. Even with the 7 and 8, I scored a 93, which is an Expert score. My 25 yard shooting was pretty good, 10's and 9's shooting timed fire single-action and rapids double action. I let loose only one or two eights out of 50 shots, easily Master caliber scores (95%+). I was also happy at how my revolver performed, it always makes me chuckle how guys pay thousands for an accurized 1911, when my $600 used revolver easily holds <3" at 50 yards. If you want a challenging pistol sport, try Bullseye. One handed, 50 yards, 3.5" 10 ring!

Precision aside, as the president of the club, Chuck Wachsmuth, wisely opines about .45ACP cartridge, "Sometimes it just feels good to shoot the Big Gun!"

Indeed. Happy 4th!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Any Readers have Information about Shooting Sports at the European Maccabi Games?

The 13th annual European Maccabi games are set to begin in a couple weeks. Shooting sports are scheduled for July 7 and 8: Free Rifle, Free Pistol and Air Pistol. Unfortunately, my emails are not getting through to the organizers.

If you have any information please let me know. Even better, if you are a participant please contact me so I can ask you about the experience! Email me a jewishmarksman(at)gmail.com

Good luck to all the competitors!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Calling all Jewish Archers!

This week I received an email from the Israel Archery Association. Please read their message below. If you know of any Jewish archers interested in getting archery back into the Maccabiah games, please contact them! I would also be interested in adding them to the blog along with our rifle and pistol athletes. Here is the message:

Archery in 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel?

Tel-Aviv June 2011

Shalom!

Every four years, the Maccabiah Games are held in Israel. They are the world´s largest and best Jewish athletic competition, drawing participants from every corner of the globe and in a great variety of sports, in an impressive display of Jewish unity and spirit.

Thus far, archery has not been included in the Maccabiah Games due to an insufficient number of participants. We, members of the Israeli Archery Association, have decided to remedy the situation and have our beloved sport included in the 2013 Games. In order to do so, at least four national teams of three-four archers must apply for participation no later than July 2012. To this end, we are seeking active Jewish archers throughout the world.

If you are an active Jewish archer and are interested in representing your country in this event, please contact us at archery.maccabiah@gmail.com.

We hope you will join us in helping Jewish and Israeli archery achieve the recognition it deserves.

Sincerely,

The Israel Archery Association