A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, December 31, 2010


Munsterville was a gated community. A guard stood at the gate checking automobiles and their occupants as they came and went. Why, I do not know. Inside the wrought iron fence wet, stinking garbage lined the curbs, swept there by the wind when dry, only to be plastered there by the rain later. Shards of broken glass glistened across the streets. Crack was dealt openly. So was sex. There was no fear of the law inside that gate. Yeah, Munsterville was a gated community........The kind of fenced in cage that kept the animals inside. Even the ramshackle, crime infested and starving community surrounding Munsterville feared what was contained in those black bars.

Thus, when I received word that a patient was waiting inside for me, I was not without trepidation. I had worked all throughout the area surrounding M'ville. I was familiar with the risks. A po-po escort was out of the question, even though a nurse had been assaulted there only weeks before. The po-po only entered in pairs there....pairs of squad cars, at least four officers at a time, and only on raids. I thought about having someone ride along with me, there is security in numbers. The wrong person would have needed my protection though, and the right people were unavailable. If I would have owned a German Shepherd at that time I would have gone home and picked the dog up to reside in the Grand Cherokeee while I took care of the patient. Alas, Chester was not up to the task.

I always carried stored Little Darling's aluminum softball bat in the rear of the Jeep. It could perform double duty as a non-lethal weapon if needed. I knew I was most vulnerable when I left a home, not when I arrived. Upon leaving, any assailant would know about when I would be exiting, and certainly where I would be going.......Back to my vehicle. I had a convex mirror stuck on my hatchback glass just so I could see behind me right before I opened it to place my nursing bag inside. My nursing bag itself was actually a concealed carry soft sided leather brief case with a stainless .357 magnum in a hidden center compartment. In my SmartCarry holster was a Colt Compact. You would think I would have felt invulnerable. I did not.

I was entering Munsterville to care for a patient. I worried about the teenagers junkies and crackheads the most. The crackheads would bust out your car windows to steal change from your center console, and the junkies, on learning you were a nurse, would want syringes, and believe you were carrying medication dope. The kids would just swarm you like hornets on bicycles to get at your valuables, or to steal what they could to trade to the junkies and crackheads. Munsterville was indian territory, and I wasn't dancing with wolves.

The patient I was to see, Antonio, had no telephone. He was a paraplegic, bound to a wheelchair and fighting decubitus ulcers. To expect him to have a telephone so I could call ahead was to much to ask.

A fat uniformed "guard" manning the gate hailed me as my Jeep approached. I rolled down my window and told him I was going to apartment 234C. He scribbled down the information as I moved on. I suppose he would send out a search party in a few days if anyone came looking for me. I noticed there were banks of locked mailboxes just inside the gate. "Neither snow nor rain not heat nor gloom of night".........Just the derangement of a crackhead and the threat of not leaving in one piece.

Five or six kids jumped joyously on top of a urine soaked mattress and box springs beside a rusty graffitti covered dumpster. They stopped and stared in bewilderment as I drove past. Boney feral cats ran free, hunting rats and spreading disease. I tried to dodge the broken glass, and cringed as it grated underneath my tires. I drove throughout the place, trying to locate 234C. Not a single unit had a number. My Jeep crunched over more glass as I returned to the guard to ask directions. He referred to a crumpled Xeroxed map and directed me around the cul-de-sac.

I parked as close as I could. 234C was on the top of a "dog-trot" unit, so named because of open area between two quadplexes covered by a roof ajoining them. The rusty metal and concrete stairs to the second story units were underneath the roof. I scanned the surroundings before I got out of my vehicle. All was well. I exited, got my bag from the rear, and locked the Jeep. As I slogged through the mud and dead grass towards the building, a kid on a to small BMX bike waddled up. "What you want man?" he inquired.

I glanced his way and turned to face him. "I'm here for a patient. You know Antonio?"

"Yeah, I know Ant. What you want with Ant? You a doctor?"

"Naw man, I'm a nurse."

A nurse? You don't look like no nuss to me. I think you be five-0."

I smiled inscrutably. That could be a good thing. Maybe. "So what if I was?"

"So I'd"........ His words were cut short by a gesture from a young black man in a wheelchair, in the shadows underneath the dogtrot. I walked up and said I'm looking for Antonio.

"That's me," said the young man, his loose short jeans still sagging despite the wheelchair.

"I'm Xavier.....I'm here to take care of your wounds."

I struggled with Ant's wounds for over a year, going into M'ville each day to meet up with him. When I first met him, I explained that I did not carry dope or syringes. I asked him to spread the word. He must have, because my Jeep was never broken into. Ant's apartment was on the second story. His handicap was ignored by whoever rented him his apartment. He solved the problem himself by living with someone on the ground floor. I never saw his actual apartment.

As time wore on, I began to see other people in Munsterville. Ant was just the first.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Gospel According to John (Moses Browning, that is...)

1. In the beginning there was the 1911, and the 1911 was the pistol, and it was good. And behold the Lord said, "Thou shalt not muck about with my disciple John's design, for it is good and it worketh. For John made the 1911, and lo all of his weapons, from the designs which I, the Lord, gave him upon the mountain.

2. "And shouldst thou muck about with it and hang all manner of foul implements upon it, and profane its internal parts, thou shalt surely have malfunctions, and in the midst of battle thou shalt surely come to harm."

3. And as the ages passed men in their ignorance and arrogance didst forget the word of the Lord and began to profane the 1911. The tribe of the gamesman did place recoil spring guides and extended slide releases upon the 1911 and their metalsmiths didst tighten the tolerances and alter parts to their liking, their clearness of mind being clouded by lust.

4. Their artisans did hang all manner of foul implements upon the 1911 and did so alter it that it became impractical to purchase. For lo, the artisans didst charge a great tax upon the purchasers of the 1911 so that the lowly field-worker could not afford one. And the profaning of the internal parts didst render it unworkable when the dust of the land fell upon it.

5. And lo, they didst install adjustable sights, which are an abomination unto the Lord. For they doth break and loose their zero when thou dost need true aim. And those who have done so will be slain in great numbers by their enemies in the great battle.

6. And it came to pass that the Lord didst see the abomination wrought by man and didst cause, as he had warned, fearful malfunction to come upon the abominations and upon the artisans who thought they could do no wrong.

7. Seeing the malfunctions and the confusion of men the lord of the underworld did see an opportunity to further ensnare man and didst bring forth pistols made of plastic, whose form was such that they looked and felt like a brick, yet the eyes of man being clouded, they were consumed by the plastic pistol and did buy vast quantities of them.

8. And being a deceitful spirit the lord of the underworld did make these plastic pistols unamenable to the artisans of earth and they were unable to muck much with the design, and lo these pistols did function.

9. And the evil one also brought forth pistols in which the trigger didst both cock and fire them and which require a "dingus" to make them appear safe.

10. But man, being stupid, did not understand these new pistols and did proceed to shoot them-selves with the plastic pistol, and with the trigger cocking pistols for lo their manual of arms required great intelligence which man had long since forsaken. Yet man continue to gloat over these new pistols blaming evil forces for the negligent discharges which they themselves had committed.

11. And when man had been totally ensnared with plastic pistol, the lord of the underworld didst cause a plague of the terrible Ka-BOOM to descend upon man and the plastic pistols delivered their retribution upon men. And there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth in the land.

12. Clickto enlargeThen seeing that the eyes of man were slowly being opened and that man was truly sorrowful for his sinful misdeeds, the Lord did send his messengers in the form of artisans who did hear and obey the teachings of the prophet and who didst restore the profaned 1911s to their proper configuration, and lo, to the amazement of men they didst begin to work as the Prophet had intended.

13. And the men of the land didst drive out the charlatans and profaners from the land, and there was joy and peace in the land, except for the evil spirits which tried occasionally to prey on the men and women of the land, and who were sent to the place of eternal damnation by the followers of John.


Hat Tip


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Handgun Accuracy


Many people are under the mistaken belief that .22 rimfire handguns are far more accurate than their big bore brethren. These shooters this conclusion because they shoot more accurately with a rimfire. This is a natural conclusion, but an incorrect one. The larger handguns aren't less accurate, but the shooter often is because he psyches himself out.

Running an indoor range has certainly exposed me to the gamut of excuses that are used in an attempt to justify horrible technique. I don't know how many people come out of the range bay, walk up to me and say, "Your rental (Glock, S&W, Colt, Beretta, Sig, whatever) is not very accurate!" I then ask them if they have any ammo left. If they do, I go out, put out a fresh target at 25' and then put one shot right through the middle of the bullseye. That quiets them down... and then I spend a few minutes explaining how to properly hold the handgun, how to align the sights, and how to press the trigger. In five minutes the same shooter who was incensed at the inaccuracy of centerfire handguns has suddenly smacked the center of the bullseye. Now, his mouth suddenly hangs open in disbelief until he does it again, and again. It's great to see people like this really smile and enjoy the positive feedback that accurate shooting provides. And, it's really not all that hard to do contrary to popular belief.

One essential truism of shooting is that stress will magnify any flaws in your technique. While it is true that the only essential requirement for obtaining a precise hit is to have the sights perfectly aligned at the moment the gun fires, this oversimplification fails to clarify why good technique make accurate shooting easier. A good, solid grip on the handgun minimizes movement due both to recoil and the secondary effects of pressing the trigger. The proper method of pressing the trigger minimizes the chances of disturbing the handgun immediately before and during the moment of firing. Just as you can't construct a solid building on a shaky foundation, you can't turn yourself into a precision shooting machine if your foundations of grip and trigger press are flawed.

The proper grip eludes most shooters. While there are numerous excellent books on how to shoot a handgun which cover the proper grip in excruciating detail, I can vouch from my observations of hundreds of shooters a week that we as a nation have given up on reading and are indeed a nation of TV watchers. It's getting so I can identify a person's favorite action movie star by the way they hold their handgun. Those fans of violent action flicks and gritty inner city police dramas are entranced by the 'horizontal hold' where the handgun is canted 90º inward. Old cowboy movie aficionados like to shoot one-handed with their upper arm against their side, pointing more than aiming. Women especially seem to like the 'cup and saucer' hold, resting their gun hand on the palm of the off hand like Christie Love or Charlie's Angels. What have I learned from TV? That Hollywood in general has as much, or rather, as little expertise on the subject of firearms as they do on politics or the environment.

To compound the problems of a crummy grip, most shooters seem to think that the trigger is merely a big fulcrum that applies pressure to the base of the bullet. The harder they jerk the trigger, the faster that bullet will come 'shooting on out of there.' Or maybe they think they need to assist the handgun's recoil, as the Hollywood types do, for style points. Inexperienced people can't seem to understand that less can be better when it comes to pulling the trigger. Bad technique on the trigger is disguised when trigger pulls are short and light, but the rise in popularity of trigger-cocking pistols has certainly accentuated the problem. For instance, when I first bought a Glock, I swore at it for its inaccuracy. I couldn't hit a barn from inside with it (actually, I couldn't shoot a 6" group at 15' with it). What was the problem? It was me, of course. 'My Glock' now shoots consistent one-holers at 25' -- and so does yours or anyone elses' quality handgun.

How do you know if your technique is faulty? Lack of accuracy at close range during slow fire is a big giveaway. It is the rare gun indeed that won't shoot one-hole groups at 15' when fired offhand by a good shooter. The most common indication is when you constantly shoot low and perhaps to the left. Some shooters have adjusted their sights accordingly, and their symptoms will be the occasional shot high and to the right when they mistakenly forget to flinch and jerk. Of course, the best thing to do is to understand how to hold the handgun and how to press the trigger, and let the results speak for themselves.

The proper two-hand hold for a pistol is as follows: grasp the handgun with the gun hand so that the longitudinal axis of the bore exactly bisects the angle between thumb and forefinger. The gun should be grasped high enough so that the web of the hand is wedged up against the flaring backstrap (or grip safety, depending upon the gun) of the pistol, and the middle finger of the gun hand should be pressing against the bottom of the trigger guard (of course, the trigger finger is outside of the trigger guard until ready to shoot). The thumb of the gun hand is on the opposite side of the gun from the trigger finger, and is extended up at a slight angle from the vertical, as if you are giving the 'thumbs up' sign, resting against the slide (and perhaps on top of the frame-mounted thumb safety, depending upon the particular pistol). The gun hand holds the pistol firmly but not tightly, with the same amount of force used when holding a hammer or tennis racket, and squeezes the pistol grip from front to back. Now, take your off hand, extend its thumb up in the same manner as with the gun hand, and bring off hand to the gun so its thumb lies against the grip directly in front of that of the gun hand, also held vertically and against the slide. Both thumbs are now on the same side of the grip. Don't worry, the slide will not be retarded by your thumbs or injure them. Now, keeping the entire length of the thumb pressed against the area of the grip not covered by the gun hand, wrap the off hand around the gun so that the index finger lies underneath the trigger guard with the first joint directly under the trigger guard and the fingers touching. The off hand holds the gun hand and pistol firmly but not tightly, and squeezes the gun hand from left to right. Now that you have a proper grip on the pistol, recognize that it is virtually surrounded by your hands. This idea of 'placing as much hand on the gun as possible' lets you control the gun far easier and with far less effort.

To grasp a revolver properly, follow the instructions as above except that you will bring the thumb of the gun hand down over the middle finger, locking your grip on the gun. By the way, this is the same way you'd hold any handgun if you were shooting one-handed. Then, place your off hand so that its thumb is placed just behind the joint on the thumb and wrap your hand around as above. This hold will definitelylock your grip on a revolver, but it doesn't work nearly as well on pistols as the modification described in the preceding paragraph because of the differences in grip shape between the two designs.

Let's look at the proper technique for pressing the trigger. On double action guns, you want to maintain a steady and constant pressure without disturbing the sights, so that the gun goes off while you have the sights aligned. You can learn this by slowly pressing the trigger and forcing yourself to keep the sights aligned. A good trick is to have your shooting buddy load (or not load) your revolver or pistol and then you fire it. Since you don't know whether the gun will go 'click' or 'bang' any flinches or jerks will be woefully apparent. Single-action guns are far easier to master since they generally fire with less effort, meaning less disturbance will be transferred to the handgun. However, single-actions do not have a lock on accuracy and speed. You the shooter control that.

Now that you know how to squeeze the trigger and grip the handgun, what's next? How about practice? It is the rare shooter who will go out and spend a box of ammo trying to make each shot a bullseye at 15' and thus really learn how to accurately shoot a handgun. Think about it. If you can't put one shot thru the bullseye while taking your time, how are you ever going to put a bunch of shots on target quickly? The best drill you can possibly do when you go to the range is to load your revolver's cylinder, or place five rounds in your magazine, and then take your time and go for bullseyes at 15' with each and every shot.

Remember... hold the gun properly, align the sights, focus on the front sight, and press the trigger. If you're not sure you're doing this right, or you're not hitting the target, ask an experienced shooter. Better yet, find a qualified instructor and then take a lesson! You'll certainly have fun, and who knows? You just might learn something.

6 steps to becoming a crack shot!

1. Grip! Pick up your pistol and work the grip into position until it is correctly and comfortably sitting in your hand. Only practice and experience will help you determine what is correct. Nothing says you have to maintain a grip on your pistol throughout the entire match. In fact, most experienced shooters regrip the pistol for each shot.

2. Setup! Your trigger finger should never deliver any sideways motion when it's squeezing the trigger. To improve your squeeze, make sure the trigger blade is positioned so the natural movement of your finger is straight back. The center of your trigger finger's pad should be the only part touching the trigger blade. Smoothly squeeze (do not pull!) the trigger back. If your trigger finger isn't in the proper position, you do not have a proper grip. Go back to Step 1 to reposition your hand so your trigger finger is in the right place.

3. Hold! Your thumb plays no role. It just touches the grip. No squeezin'. No movin'. No nothin'! Your middle finger helps press the gun's grip into your hand so the gun rests comfortably in the area between your thumb and your index finger. Some people call this the web of your hand.

4. Shoot! Limit the time you hold the sight picture on the target to no more than five seconds. Not able to do it in five seconds? Stop immediately and start all over again by going back to Step 1. You don't want to stand there and hold the gun for a long period of time. You'll get tired, you'll hesitate and you won't have control over your trigger when you finally yank off your shot in frustration.

5. Breathe! Take several deep breaths, then one last breath and let half out. You now have about five seconds of calm until your heart starts to protest. This is when the shot must be taken.

6. Concentrate! Look at the sight picture and focus on the front sight blade instead of the target. Like a camera that focuses on a close object while making the object far away blurry, you are focusing on the sight picture while the target down range is not quite as sharp. The rear sight notch is also a little fuzzy, but because it is closer to the front sight, it is more in focus than the bullseye. That's how winners do it.

Proper grip and trigger control are the secret of shooting a target pistol accurately.