Dry Fire – Why You’ll Want to Make the Time

Finally, it’s spring. If you’re like me and live above the Mason-Dixon line, getting to the range this winter was almost impossible. Sure, we had some nice days, but we also had a boatload of snow on the ground, and I belong to an outdoor range. Two years ago, the first signs of spring made me regret falling behind on my practice over the winter, but not this year. I promised myself at the onset of cold weather that I’d keep up my skills with dry fire throughout those freezing months, and now that the snow has melted and it’s getting warmer, I’m sure glad I did.

To read the rest of my article on Women’s Outdoor News, click here!

 

Gear Review: MantisX

As a firearm instructor, I often run across gadgets that claim to improve your shooting skills. There’s usually a lot of hype to get you to buy, but then once you do, you realize you’d have been better off spending your money on a private lesson with a professional.

So I usually look at new products fairly skeptically, as I did when I received an email late last year, telling me that the new MantisX Firearms Training System would be debuting at the 2017 SHOT Show.

I visited the MantisX booth at the show, and found that it was certainly was one of the most innovative and interesting products I ran across there. I asked for a sample to test, and found that it truly is a game-changer.

Read the rest of my review here:

Range365 Gear Review: The MantisX

Range Games: Have Fun While Practicing Your Shooting Skills

Tired of the same old drills or unorganized plinking? Whether you’re shooting steel or just hitting paper targets, any day at the range can be fun. But did you know there are plenty of range games you can have a blast with while still working on your marksmanship?

Read about them here, in my Armed and In Charge column at Women’s Outdoor News, sponsored by LaserMax!

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http://www.womensoutdoornews.com/2017/01/range-games-fun-shooting-skills/

My Five Biggest Regrets of SHOTShow 2015

by Annette Doerr

I am back. I am recovered. I had an amazing time hiking the miles and miles of trail that is SHOTShow. But I will admit… I have some regrets. In fact, I have five.

1.     I was honored and flattered to be one of the selected media outlets to be invited to attend NSSF Media Day at the Range. Media Day, if you have never been, is an amazing day at Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club in Boulder City Nevada, held the Monday before SHOTShow opens. Attendance is by invitation only. This was my second time at the event so I should have learned my lesson last year; but I never gave it a thought. I did not bring my own eye protection. Crosman was wonderful in supplying every attendant with a pair of safety glasses and I thank them for that. But shooting the Stoeger M3K directly into the sun about blinded me. I will never go to a range, near or far, without the addition of tinted sunglass-type protection. Ever.

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2.     As for my ears, I KNOW those little foam plugs don’t work well for me. I know this! Did I bring my ears with me? Sadly no. I spent half the time trying to get my foamies to do their job. I don’t know if I have some type of weird ear defect making the plugs not work right, but I will also never enter a range again without proper hearing protection. If I had been shooting .22lr all day, maybe the foamies might have been acceptable. But that Daniel Defense DDMK18 at full auto, and the Stoeger M3K 12-gauge, were no match for the little orange foam pieces. (Plus, with my hair up, they show in every.single.picture!)

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While I am thankful they were provided for us, I should have remembered from last year that they just do not work for me. Never again.

 3.   SHOTShow draws wonderful people in and out of the actual industry. The manufacturers, the attendants, media etc; the show floor is chock full of very cool and famous people. I regret not asking for a photo with some of the people I ran into. I scroll through other attendees Twitter feeds and Facebook pages and see their picture standing with someone famous that I also saw (or even spoke with) but didn’t ask for a picture. It comes down to shyness I guess. I didn’t want to bother them with fangirl photo’s. Do I regret this? Sure! Will I change this for next year? Not likely, it’s just not in my nature. (I would love to insert a photo here, but I don’t have any!)

 4.     Pictures, more pictures! I regret not taking more pictures on the show floor. Afterall, I had media credentials; I had the proper credentials to photograph on the show floor. Did I? Eh, I took a few, with my iPhone. I left the good camera back in the room. She came with me to Media Day at the Range, but after that she stayed back in the room. Why? I thought it was heavy and a pain to carry around. I regret this because while my iPhone is convenient and takes decent pictures, there is no substitute for a good camera while covering a trade show.

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5.     While I was honored to be invited again this year to the Women’s Outdoor and Shooting Industry Dinner (also know as GunGirlDinner), I once again did not network as much as I would have liked. Put me on the range with a group of guys and I’m happy and confident. Put me in a room full of women… #notsomch. If I had a few close girlfriends who were going, it may have been different. But for someone somewhat shy, I was painfully uncomfortable. I was lucky to buddy up with a wonderful women that I met early on that evening who was also attending solo, so we used the buddy system and networked together and enjoyed ourselves; right up until she left early. Should I have been uncomfortable? Heck no, this was a room full of my peers. Was I? You bet I was, and it was apparently obvious because I was rescued by a “WONderful” woman who saw I was alone and refused to let me linger on my own (and you know who you are! Thank you again for the rescue!).

Overall my four days at SHOTShow were wonderful. My husband and I had a terrific time. I saw some old friends, made some new ones, and met a few wonderful friends that I only knew online prior to finally linking up at SHOT.

Were there regrets, sure there were. Would I do it all over again? Of course, it’s SHOTShow after all! It is what you make of it. I just need to work on a few things before next year (and make a packing list so I don’t forget those eyes and ears!) But all in all, it was fantastic, and like the song says:

Regrets I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

A Little Slice of Heaven in Midtown Manhattan – The Beretta Gallery

One cold, blustery winter day, I ventured into New York City. We had lunch at a nice pub and then set out for a place that not many know exists in the heart of midtown Manhattan… The Beretta Gallery! Yes, Beretta has a retail location in the heart of Manhattan. Due to the storefront’s location, I had no expectations of what they would have in the store (but obviously I was hoping for firearms). 

 The store itself had a beautiful street level storefront display window. It was classy and upscale; just as you would expect from a Madison Avenue storefront. We wandered around the store, perusing Beretta’s lovely line of clothing, but a bit disappointed at the lack of firearms; not a single shotgun, not even a fake one used for display purposes… sigh. But, over to the side, neatly tucked out of the way were stairs.. and there were no signs to indicate that going up them was not allowed, so we acted like we knew what we were doing and traversed them to the second floor 

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The Beretta Gallery
718 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10065

The second floor of Beretta was just as lovely as the first. We wandered aimlessly around, still hopeful that there might be an alcove at least displaying some of Beretta’s finest firearms. Instead I found some hunting accessories and clothing. There were many knives and multi-tools on display, but alas, no firearms. However, there was another staircase.. 

As a last ditch effort we climbed up the final flight of stairs onto the third level. As we turned the corner the sky opened up and Angels sang… there they wererifles, shotguns, and shooting accessories. It was a little slice of Heaven in the heart of midtown Manhattan! 

Like a kid in a candy store I touched and drooled over the fine firearms on displayI am not sure how many people actually ever make it up to the third floor, it is the kind of place that you have to be intentionally looking for to find. The salesman was a delight. He answered our questions, helped us compare the various options, and gave us recommendations on what to look for when purchasing a shotgun.

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A gun-girl’s dream store!

The store displayed every type of shotgun and rifle from the entry level pump action, to a finely hand carved and detailed model that retailed for $180,000! (And he let me hold it, and it was BEAUTIFUL!)  

Because of New York City’s very strict firearm laws, the store no longer displays pistols. It would be illegal for anyone who does not hold a current New York City firearm permit to even touch a pistol in the store. As disappointing as that was, there were plenty of long-guns to take in.  

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Everything from entry-level to off the chart custom shotguns and rifles.

If you find yourself looking for something fun to do in New York City, stop by the Beretta Gallery, and head straight up to the third floor… that is where the “good stuff” is hiding!  And if you win the lottery, I highly recommend that beautiful $180,000 model.. I’m guessing it is still available!  

Exercises to Improve Your Accuracy

If you are new to the world of shooting, perhaps you have not put much thought into the connection between physical conditioning and your shooting accuracy. Strengthening your “shooting muscles” can go a long way toward improving your accuracy and keeping yourself healthy.

ImageWhether you shoot pistols or rifles, you need a strong upper body. Target rifles can be downright heavy, especially after shooting for a while. While pistols are much lighter, the fact that you are holding them with your arms extended in front of you, generally with no support, you can fatigue quite quickly. In a match or in a defensive situation, the last thing you want is to feel fatigued early on in the game.

Below are some basic upper body, core strengthening and cardio exercises, which can be performed at a gym or in the privacy of your own home generally without fancy or pricey equipment. Nobody knows your body better than you do, so why not spend a few minutes researching alternatives and additional exercises if you would like to target some areas more thoroughly.

Core strength: Your core muscles are the underlying muscles of your torso, running from your hips to your shoulders. Core strengthening exercises include the muscles of your abdomen, back and your pelvis. Crunches, planking, yoga, sit-ups etc. all make for a stronger core.

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Grip trainers can increase hand and forearm strength.

Grip trainers: Grip trainers are designed to strengthen your hands. A strong grip on your firearm will help counter recoil and you will feel less hand fatigue after shooting. Inexpensive grip strengthening gadgets are available everywhere these days and generally run in the $10 to $20 range. Since they exercise the hand, they are great to have around the house for you to pick up and use while watching television or talking on the phone.

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The forearm is made up of many muscles that you use while shooting!

Forearm strengthening exercises: One way to combat forearm fatigue is with wrist curls. Sitting down, place one dumbbell in each hand. Rest your forearms on your thighs, with your hands hanging over your knees, palms facing up. Raise the dumbbells by moving only your hands, hold, lower and repeat. Be sure to keep your arms still. After you have done your set, turn your hands over so that your palms now face down. Repeat the exercise this way, pulling the dumbbells up. Try to increase the number of repetitions with each new workout.

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Dumbells, free weights and bands can all be effective in strengthening your upper body, arms and shoulders.

Arm and shoulder exercises:  To be a competent shooter you need to have good arm strength. Whether you are shouldering a heavy target rifle or shooting a pistol, your arms will get tired if they are not in shape. The stronger the arms, the longer you can hold them in a shooting position, the less movement you will have and the steadier your shots will be. Lifting weights will tone and strengthen these very important muscles. You will want to focus on all of the major muscle groups of the arm and shoulder.

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Kickboxing is not only a great cardio workout to get your heart rate up, it is also a lot of fun! Practice those defensive skills!

Cardio: Cardio exercises are designed to get your heart rate up, which in turn improves your stamina and physical endurance. Examples of cardio include: running, biking, treadmill, Zumba, kickboxing etc. Any exercise that increases your heart rate for an extended period of time can be considered as cardio; but do not forget to stretch, warm up, and properly cool down, your muscles will thank you!

Dry fire exercises: While technically not a physical exercise, dry firing when done properly and safely can improve your muscle memory. I often practice drawing and re-holstering while keeping my eyes locked on the target, not my weapon.

Even if you do not own a set of weights, there are items already in your home that you can use if you think outside of the box. Here are some ideas for homemade fitness apparatus:

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Lift..then have lunch! Soup cans make great barbells

  • Empty and clean milk jugs or laundry detergent containers filled with sand or water can double as weights or kettle bells. You can vary the amount of sand/water to change the weight.
  • Fill some sandbags, they make great weights.
  • Stairs! Most of us have them, you do not need a fancy stair climber just run up and down them a few times!
  • No treadmill? Hit the road!
  • Disposable water bottles filled with water or sand make a great alternative to weights. If you fill them with water, you will have something to drink while you are out for a run.
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Think outside the box, equipment doesn’t have to be expensive

Do not discount different types of exercises such as yoga and Pilates. Both are excellent for core strength, and yoga especially is excellent to help you control your breathing, which as we know is an important part of shooting.

You do not have to spend hours in the gym, but improving your physical fitness will pay off even when you are not shooting. Adopting a healthier lifestyle and getting into better shape is something we should all shoot for! (Pun intended).