Don’t blame the front sight

I started noticing this in the 1990s, shortly after getting back into shooting, and it came as a flood after I got into the gun accessory business.

We’d get it over and over and over. People would call in, wanting a sight, or an optic sight dot reticle, that wouldn’t “cover the target”.

My first response soon became, and remains, “If you don’t want your sight covering the target, then stop covering the target with your sight.”

It’s as simple as that. I believe the problem is that it is SO simple, beginners can’t believe it, and expert shooters won’t allow themselves to believe it because important things take time to learn and are complicated.

Some of the most experienced shooters, for whom I otherwise have a great deal of respect, seem unable to grasp the simple concept; YOU choose your sight picture. It isn’t necessarily built-in by the manufacturer. Stop assuming.

Also, give me a front sight, or a reticle, shaped like my shoe, or a Ford F-350 with duals, or Bridget Bardot, and I’ll be able to shoot just as well with it after a little bit of practice, AND since I choose to not cover the target with it, the target won’t be covered.

People have gotten, and no doubt will continue to get, all kinds of pissed off at me for saying this, pleading their case that no, since the post, or reticle, is such and such an angular size, and the target smaller, then the target is covered. Wrong! Don’t make me draw you pictures.

Stop covering the target, and adjust your sights accordingly. Chances are you don’t need new sights, or a smaller dot reticle.

And don’t bother arguing; I very much doubt you can tell me anything I haven’t already heard hundreds of times. I spend a good part of every day talking to shooters from all disciplines ad of all levels of experience.

Powder storage warnings

Via email from Roger W. we have this from Hodgdon:

Powder Storage in Reloader Hoppers

Powder left in the reloader’s powder measure hoppers for extended periods, overnight or several days, should be avoided. Powder needs to be stored in original containers ONLY, when not in use. Numerous modern smokeless powders are double base in construction, containing both Nitrocellulose and Nitroglycerine.

Roger sent them an email questioned them on this (“Why not leave powder in powder measure hoppers for extended periods?”) and got the following reply:

There are a couple reasons.

Despite warning some people have multiple powders on their bench, they leave the powder in the hopper for long period of times and they forget or think they know which powder is in the hopper, they pour it back into the wrong canister and there will be a problem. this may seem like common sense but we see this happen every week from a phone call or an email.

Some powders that are made today have a very high Nitroglycerin content to them, when left in  powder measures for a period of time the Nitro will seem to eat the plastic. We have seen this with standard hand thrown powder measures and electronic ones that will get ruined.

Powder has a built in moisture content to it. the proper storage of powder is in the canister with the lid shut tight, this will help keep the moisture in the powder. Most likely there would not be a problem with moisture left in a hopper unless the lid is accidently not put back on.

Mike Van Dyke
Customer Service Representative
Hodgdon Powder Company
6430 Vista Drive
Shawnee, Ks. 66218
913-362-9455 Ext. 109

I have plastic powder measures that are yellowed and I attributed it to an interaction with the powder. But I have never seen any that appear to have been eaten. Still, I probably should be more careful about leaving the powder in the measure for extended periods of time.

Bullet versus glass

I thought I had posted about this first video before but I can’t find it so I’m going to do it now as a prerequisite for the second video.

Now, see what happens when you shoot the head of a Prince Rupert’s Drop with a .22:

Here is a frame grab:


Now, the awesome video of a bullet shattering against a small piece of very special glass:

Jeff K. told me about the video at the match last Saturday. Then this morning gonxau (‏@gonxau) sent me a tweet about it. Thanks guys.

Reloading report

I enhanced my program which parses my reloading log files. It now reports on a month by month and yearly basis instead of just by caliber.

Here is the result:


223 Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1998: 160 0 0 0 0 0 0 140 20 0 0 0 0
1999: 1777 0 0 181 578 25 0 0 0 0 140 653 200
2000: 43 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 43 0 0 0
2001: 47 0 0 0 47 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2016: 397 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 140 257 0 0
Total: 2424
30.06 Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1997: 180 0 0 40 20 79 41 0 0 0 0 0 0
1998: 150 0 0 0 80 0 0 0 0 0 40 0 30
1999: 90 20 70 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2003: 47 0 0 0 18 0 0 0 0 0 0 29 0
2016: 76 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 76 0 0 0
Total: 543
300WIN Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1999: 250 0 0 0 0 0 151 60 0 0 39 0 0
2000: 460 50 120 142 0 57 0 0 0 0 20 60 11
2001: 382 25 0 0 185 15 20 0 73 0 0 0 64
2013: 600 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 100 500
Total: 1692
40S&W Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1997: 31 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 31
1998: 11264 570 258 718 1577 1812 1710 402 0 0 1200 900 2117
1999: 2795 0 894 0 299 693 506 0 0 0 0 0 403
2000: 3187 795 0 0 0 0 1095 400 396 0 501 0 0
2001: 2295 0 300 497 300 0 0 1198 0 0 0 0 0
2002: 898 0 0 0 0 0 0 198 0 200 300 0 200
2003: 602 0 300 302 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2004: 1345 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 300 600 445 0
2005: 1059 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 659 400 0 0
2006: 1000 0 0 0 0 400 0 0 0 0 200 400 0
2007: 1136 0 0 0 0 0 0 118 518 300 200 0 0
2008: 2398 0 300 0 0 0 0 900 399 0 200 0 599
2009: 1702 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 102 300 900 400
2010: 1400 0 0 0 0 100 200 700 0 200 0 200 0
2011: 2300 300 0 400 100 0 500 500 200 0 0 0 300
2012: 399 0 200 0 199 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2014: 530 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 530
2015: 7012 1699 1630 1137 0 0 0 547 200 400 100 200 1099
2016: 17792 2197 700 1462 837 1899 1999 1000 1500 1000 1700 1500 1998
Total: 59145
9MM Rounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1996: 11274 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 10944 141 189
1997: 7374 300 0 0 1190 640 65 0 100 1088 804 1060 2127
2015: 2993 0 1066 1927 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total: 21641
Grand Total:

I was surprised how many rounds I reloaded in the first month of reloading (9mm, October 1996). That was the most in any single month. I remembered I reloaded quite a few, but I thought it was just enough for the class I was taking. My memory was wrong. I got my STI Eagle, chambered in 40 S&W, in December of 1997. My 9mm reloading stopped until 2015 when I finally got around to using up the bullets I had left.

This year was the most I reloaded in any single year with 397 of .223, 76 of 30.06, and 17,792 of 40 S&W for a total of 18,265 rounds.

This last month I only reloaded 40 S&W. They were mostly 180 grain Montana Gold JHPs for practice at indoor ranges. 200 of the 1998 total were 180 grain Blue Bullets.

The 200 rounds with Blue Bullets were actually 100 bullets I reloaded, and pulled, twice. The first time I misremembered the powder charge and had a third more powder than I planned (4.0 versus 3.0 grains). I pulled the bullets, set the powder charge to the proper amount and reloaded them again. When I weighed the powder charge of the last round I discovered it was only about a third less than what it should be (1.9 versus 3.0 grains). I pulled them again and spent probably 30 minute trying to find out why the powder measure would sometimes put out the proper charge and the the very next charge would be way low. It turns out there was a bullet in the powder measure. Apparently when I pulled the bullets from the first set I accidently dumped a bullet into the powder measure along with the powder. I believe it was blocking the powder dispenser some of the time and giving me erratic charges.

I reloaded those twice pulled bullets this afternoon and everything checked out. I’ve got a good start on the new year.


I was at the range today. I was practicing for the falling plate match at Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club tomorrow. I was about 50 rounds in when I couldn’t acquire the front sight in the usual amount of time. After a second or two of confusion I looked closer:

WP_20161230_12_16_30_Pro (2)

Bummer. It broke off. And I just replaced the fiber optic on it night before last. I looked around but couldn’t find the missing piece.

A replacement is $39.00 from Dawson Precision but I need to know the dimensions of the factory sight before I order a new one. I have a call into Dawson and I sent an email to STI so I’ll find out soon from someone. Until the new sight comes in I’ll be using a back up gun.

Falling plate match results

Last Saturday I attended another falling plate match at Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club.

The ferry ride was a little unusual, in that I don’t think I have ever been on a ferry when it was snowing:


The roads on the Island became quite slick even though I had AWD and good all-season tires:


And, of course, this means we had snow at the match:


In the video below I first have a video of Thomas shooting (I forget who he was shooting against). With his open class gun and shooting ability he is very difficult to overcome. You can see further evidence of this in the second match of the video. Thomas is on the left and I’m on the right. He has completed his plates when I have my first miss on the next to the last plate. I think I caught sight of his near completion and tried to hurry. Don’t ever hurry in competition. You can’t miss fast enough to win.

Here are the results:

Name Score
Thomas A. 11
Joe H. 9
Roy L. 9
Steve M. 8.5
Dave S. 8
Jeff K. 6.5
Mark A. 5
Ken W. 5
Nick W. 4
Mac M. 3
Morgan S. 2
Allen V. 2
Xochilt 0

Last time, overall, I was beat by Thomas, Steve, and Jeff. I had split the two match ups with Steve, won twice against Jeff, and lost a few others. Jeff did well against pretty much everyone else except Thomas and Steve. Hence I came in fourth. I didn’t’ feel too bad about it as everyone above me was shooting open class guns while I was shooting with iron sights.

This time we were split into two randomly selected groups instead of everyone shooting against everyone else. Jeff, Steve, and I were the best shooters in our group and Thomas was the best in his group (and overall, it’s quite obvious when you see him shoot). So, in my mind, it was all about beating Steve and Jeff for a chance to get into the shoot off between groups against Thomas. And with their open class guns against my iron sighted gun I knew it was going to be tough.

I again split with Steve but this time won all my other match ups in my group. Steve lost the one against me and had one win and one tie with Jeff. This gave me a half point lead over Steve and wining in my group. In the shoot off against Thomas I lost both, badly, but I still was awarded the second place finish.

For second place I received $13. I think this is the first time I have ever received money in a shooting competition. As the entry fee was $10, the ammo was probably $20, not to mention gas and the two ferry rides, I didn’t make any money on the event. I won’t be I going professional anytime soon.

Falling plate match results

Last month Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club had a trial run for centerfire pistol matches using falling plates. These matches will replace the speed steel matches during the winter. They are shot under cover so even with rain and/or snow the shooters can stay dry and mostly sheltered from the wind. There is even a wood stove you can use to warm up when you have a break from shooting.

The match went well and, as expected, there were a few organizational things learned which will be applied to the next match.

They way Holmes Harbor implements these matches is with two racks of six eight inch diameter steel plates at 13 yards. One shooter shoots at the left rack, the other on the right. The start position is with the butt of the gun on the bench in front of the shooters. The first shooter to knock all the plates down gets one point or 0.5 points for each in the case of a tie. Everyone shoots against every other person twice. The person with the most points wins the match. In the video below the first match is with some of the best shooters (Steve and Brian) who participated so don’t take this as what it takes to avoid being embarrassed. And notice that, as usual, you can’t miss fast enough to win. The way to do your best is to take just enough time to make every shot count.

I slowed down one of the strings so you can see and hear things. It’s kind of cool to hear the plate get hit by the bullet, then hear the plate as it falls then bounces.


Shooter Points
Thomas A. 26.0
Steve M. 21.5
Jeff K. 20.0
Joe H. 19.0
Dennis S. 16.0
Brian L. 15.0
Mark A. 14.0
Tony C. 11.0
Scott B. 9.5
Mac 8.5
Darrin R. 8.0
Dan L. 7.0
Lucas C. 5.5
Jim D. 1.0

Ammonium nitrate supplier

As I reported a few months ago Amazon was selling ammonium nitrate. I ordered some and last weekend I finally got around to testing it in reactive targets. I didn’t do any low velocity tests but it worked fine from 30 yards away with .223 ammunition.

What is a little more interesting is the sheet of paper I found in the box:AmmoniumNitrateForSale

I don’t know what the “new regulations” or if they have gone into effect or not. But Amazon is still selling AN at a price people wanting to make their own reactive targets can afford. And if Amazon stops selling it there is still Ammonium Nitrate For Sale which also has exploding target mix.

Quote of the day—Tracie

Did I get it?

November 26, 2016
This was after her first shot with a rifle. Which was at two pounds of explosives from 30 yards away.

[I’ve blogged about Tracie and Kurt before (see also here). A few months ago they were new shooters. On Saturday they came to Idaho for a Boomershoot Private Party and shot boomers. In the dark.

My answer to Tracie was, “I think so. Do you want to try again?”—Joe]

A short gun story

I received the following via email from Bruce L.:

A wild eyed 69 year old woman  walked into a crowded bar in downtown Washington, District of Columbia, waving an un-holstered pistol and yelled out, “I have a .45 caliber Colt 1911, with a seven round magazine, plus one in the chamber.

I want to know who’s been sleeping with my husband?”

A female voice from the back of the room called out, “You need more ammo Hillary!”

Obviously, it’s fiction. Hillary doesn’t know that much about guns.

Quote of the day—Beth Alcazar

He does not simply teach them to assume all firearms are loaded or to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Instead, he tells his students, “Assume the bullet is traveling down the barrel right now.”

Beth Alcazar
November 15, 2016
Treat Every Firearm as Though It’s Loaded…and a Bullet is Traveling Down the Barrel
[Via email from Paul Koning who said, “I thought the headline — and the explanation — makes an interesting point.”—Joe]

Steel match results

Yesterday I attended the steel challenge match at the Renton Fish & Game Club.

Here are pictures of the stages (and, it was raining, the mud):


Aim Small, Miss Small


In And Out

I was surprised to see a Hillary 2016 sticker on one of the vehicles at the range but less surprised after I got a little closer:


I came in second with rimfire pistol with iron sights (RFPI):

Final Name USPSA Class Division Time Stage 1 – Decelerator Stage 2 – Aim Small, Miss Small Stage 3 – Pendulum Stage 4 – In And Out
1 Paczosa, Connor U RFPI 49.68 12.88 12.11 13.17 11.52
2 Huffman, Joe U RFPI 67.65 15.20 14.82 19.92 17.71
3 Paczosa, Dan U RFPI 68.61 13.95 12.67 22.01 19.98
4 Komatsu, Jeff U RFPI 70.18 13.90 16.19 21.55 18.54
5 Mortell, Jeff U RFPI 77.37 16.01 17.55 22.26 21.55
6 Meboe, Isabelle U RFPI 89.40 20.40 23.03 25.43 20.54
7 Gile, Conner U RFPI 109.40 22.28 25.63 30.76 30.73
8 Meisner, Matthew U RFPI 118.42 23.18 27.86 29.37 38.01
9 Cox, Dan U RFPI 140.14 53.99 25.32 29.15 31.68
10 Blaylock, Chris U RFPI 146.01 53.83 23.64 39.38 29.16

In iron sighted pistol (ISP) I managed first place:

Final Name USPSA Class Division Time Stage 1 – Decelerator Stage 2 – Aim Small, Miss Small Stage 3 – Pendulum Stage 4 – In And Out
1 Huffman, Joe U ISP 86.65 18.91 19.81 24.38 23.55
2 Webb, Ron U ISP 93.86 20.12 21.98 28.06 23.70
3 Ellman, J.J. U ISP 159.09 27.50 46.51 49.75 35.33
4 (DQ) Dyment, Jim U ISP

My guns ran perfect.

My average time per hit with RFPI was 0.846 seconds and with ISP 1.083 seconds. This compares to the 0.6783 seconds and 0.8440 seconds at the match last month at Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club. The stages were much harder. Many of the targets were small and fairly distant compared to what we see at Holmes Harbor. This was reflected in the scores of others who frequently shoot at Holmes Harbor as well. For example Steve Mooney in the RFRO division (winner of the division) averaged 0.533 seconds per hit this month compared to 0.4728 last month. In OPN division Jeff Kanter averaged 1.239 seconds per hit this month compared to 0.9911 last month. So, Steve took 1.127 times as long, Jeff took 1.250 times as long, and I took 1.247 times as long with rimfire and 1.283 times as long with centerfire. So I’m pretty sure it was mostly stage design differences which account for the increased times.

On my wish list

A couple of days ago Annette posted about a shooting mat that is going on my wish list. I used to have one I really liked which was similar. But someone, who shall remain nameless, left it at on the shooting berm at Boomershoot one fall and it ended up spending the winter there. I cleaned it up as best I could but the fabric was damaged by all the exposure to sun, water, ice, insects, rodents, and growing grass. I looked and looked for another like it but couldn’t find one. I think the company went out of business. I finally bought another and I just don’t like it nearly as well.

Annette spends a LOT more time on the ground shooting a rifle than I ever have and as well as her calling out the features that I had looked for in a shooting mat I trust her judgment. She isn’t the only real shooter that recommends this mat.

Annette further informs us that if you use the discount code 30CalGal you will receive 15% off.

Maybe some of those people who want to give me a Christmas gift could pool their money and I would have a new shooting mat for next spring.