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


The Thrifty Shooter 2: More Ways to Save Money at the Range!


If you’re involved in the shooting sports, you know how pricey they can be. From the purchase of your gun, to ammunition, to targets, it seems every time you turn around you’re reaching for your wallet.

You can read my latest article with Women’s Outdoor News here, where I share more money saving tips for the range!



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!


Gear Review: P-Mate: The Reliable Stand and Pee Device

Product: P-Mate

Manufacturer: P-Mate USA


MSRP:  $5.95 / pack of 5


When I got the opportunity to review the P-Mate USA product, I knew it would be awkward, but if I could help one lady comfortably pee out in the wild it would be worth it. We all know guys have it easy in this department, but for women, peeing in the outdoors can get a little… well, messy.

A clean, available bathroom is not always in sight when nature calls. Learned out of necessity, I take pride in being a pretty good squatter; in fact my friends know I will pee pretty much anywhere if I need (discretely of course). As the mother of two daughters, peeing outdoors is also a skill that they learned early in life; now that they’re adults they’ve thanked me many times for this life skill that has come in handy many, many times. Some ladies just can’t seem to squat without peeing on their clothes or shoes. The P-mate takes the mess out of peeing.

Constructed of disposable, wax coated paper the P-Mate is designed for single use. Because of the wax coating, it will not get soggy nor leak. My first impression was that it was larger than I expected, but upon using the product, the size is efficient.


How it works:

  • The P-Mate comes folded, in a package of 5. Because they’re flat, you can stick them anywhere. They each also have a “fold line” if you wanted to further fold them to stick one in your pocket.
  • If wearing pants, you’ll have to loosen/unzip your pants, slide your underwear over to one side, place the P-mate and pee. Skirts make it easier, but there was no issue using this while wearing jeans.
  • Once peeing, your pee will run out of the front of the P-Mate. Avoid aiming at your shoes. Because the top is covered, you don’t have to worry about splashing or your shirt accidentally falling into the stream.
  • Dispose of your P-Mate properly. If you carry it in, carry it out. I’d recommend keeping a Ziploc for sanitary removal once you’ve used one. P-Mates are NOT flushable so please dispose of them properly.

Places I’ve put P-Mates for future use: my purse, backpack, glove compartment of each truck, my saddle bag, golf bag.

Keeping P-Mates in your glove box means they will be ready when you need them

Keeping P-Mates in your glove box means they will be ready when you need them.

Uses: Golfing, trail riding, hiking, hunting, biking, birding, long car trips, boating, fishing, snowmobiling, or anytime a clean toilet facility isn’t available.

Overall Impression: This is great for those ladies who either can’t or won’t squat in the woods. Since I tested the P-Mate in the winter, I did appreciate that I didn’t have to pull my pants all the way down; that was an unexpected bonus that I may not have realized if I had tested these during warmer weather. The P-Mate works as directed and fills a need for the outdoor loving female. It was easy to carry and easy to use. Make sure you have a zip lock bag or something to put the used product in; this will keep your personal belongings from getting a little wet in your bag until you can properly dispose of your used P-Mates.

The foldable P-Mate slips easily into a pocket.

The P-Mate slips easily into a pocket.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the P-Mate for free from P-Mate USA in consideration for a gear review 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.

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).

Modifying My Buck Mark

wpid-9614-DEFAULT-l.jpgI’ve had my Browning Buck Mark Camper for a few years. It was my first pistol, and I adore it. As you may have read a few weeks ago, I’ve been researching Red Dots to add to it in order to join the Pistol League at my club. After much research, I ordered a Buck Mark Reflex Sight.


I received the sight quickly but soon discovered I had made a rookie mistake; I would need a Weaver rail to attach it with. The rail came in the mail yesterday, so I got to work on it in the afternoon.

The installation went surprisingly easy. All I needed to do was remove the existing sight rail with the Allen key, install the Weaver rail, then install the optic.



I’ll play around with rail placement when I can get it to the range to sight it in. Unfortunately, it’s pouring so it won’t be today.

I’m excited to give it a try, it looks good and I think I’ll be happy with it. Now to practice so I can compete with the boys at the club!