Category Archives: Firearms

Guncraft Training Academy 2-Day Basic Handgun Course

This May I attended Guncraft’s 2-Day Handgun Course. The course met up at the Burro Canyon Shooting Range, and it was my first time up in that area. To get there, you take the 210 East and exit Azusa Avenue, and drive about 20 minutes up into the canyon. It is green up there! You pass a few dams, and it is part of the Angeles National Forest. It looks like there would be some great camping up there.

Here is me on the way up:


…and a few landscape pictures:


I arrived at Burro Canyon at about 9:10am, a little early for our 9:30am start time. I found the office and checked in, and made my way over to the shooting bay we had reserved for the two day class. Burro Canyon’s facilities are pretty primitive – just portable toilets and a trailer for the office. I later learned that they did have a flush toilet for women and handicapped, but it wasn’t hot and the brown rooms weren’t that bad. Do bring hand sanitizer, because they didn’t provide any. The shooting bays are maybe 100 yards, backing up to a hillside with gravel berms on either side.


Guncraft’s training was great! They took us through everything you need to know to be a competent shooter. All training was from the holster, and Guncraft made sure everyone was safe as they learned how to manage coming in and out of the holster. We practiced balancing speed with accuracy, and talked about the consequences of actually defending yourself.DSC00742

This is what happens when I refuse to speed up. I am a member of “trigger slappers anonymous” – I want the gun to go bang when *I* want it to go bang. If I go slow, I don’t miss. Fast is another issue.

The second day brought more practice, and a crack at their simulated shooting “house,” which was actually pretty clever. That’s all I will say, because you have to go experience it yourself!!

In 2 days, the guys at Guncraft can teach you everything you could possibly need to know to own and operate a handgun. Although this isn’t “required” for you to own a handgun, I think that every gun owner owes it to themselves and those around them to take at least the two day class, if not the four day. I highly recommend Guncraft!

You can check them out at

In Response to “4 Reasons I’ll Never go to Front Sight”

I recently attended my first course at Front Sight, in March of this year. A few weeks later, I see this opinion piece, entitled “4 Reasons I’ll Never go to Front Sight.” I disagree with Caleb’s assessment in a few ways – but I don’t disagree with his conclusion. If he never wants to go to Front Sight, that’s totally fine – it’s discouraging other shooters that might benefit from the program that I don’t like.

1. Weaver

His first reason for decrying the ways of FS is the “doctrinal Weaver” stance that is taught.

So we all know that the “Weaver” stance was developed by LA County Deputy Sheriff Jack Weaver, sometime in the 1950s. Jeff Cooper wrote about it in some of his articles, and Gunsite was originally built around the Weaver stance.

Of course, there are other stances out there. Isosceles, Modern Isosceles, and more…but which one is right? I don’t think any of them can be “right” – it is probably more like “whatever works.” But there must be something to this Weaver stance, if it is still being taught not only at Front Sight, but somewhat recently at Gunsite, and by others…

But it seems Caleb’s real problem is that FS teaches Weaver as “the only way.” Well, a class has to have a curriculum, and I don’t think it is a good idea to teach a group of beginners a bunch of different stances from the beginning. My feeling is that you should learn one stance well, and then try others, and then shoot whatever works for you. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and Weaver seems like an ok place to do that.

“…go to Gunsite. They started it.” Asserts Caleb. Well, that’s fine as an opinion, but I disagree with the idea that only the group / person that “started” a method can teach it. That seems like kind of a crazy rule, right? I mean…I ride (horses) modern “hunt seat,” but I’ve never trained with Bill Steinkraus or George Morris. Not that I claim to be very good, but I certainly get the idea of how that style of riding is supposed to work!

But it sounds like even the lauded Gunsite teaches some form of Weaver, so learning it as a foundation can’t be that horrible of an idea!

2. Pricing

Caleb complains that Front Sight’s “prices are insane.” Well, the fully refundable airfare rate on your favorite airline is pretty crazy, and so are most hotel “rack rates,” and so is the MSRP on your car…list price on your favorite backpacking tent…need I go on? Front Sight’s 4 day defensive handgun class is advertised at $2,000, against Gunsite’s “mere” $1585. With a little research, it is pretty obvious that you can get that FS price down to at least $500, or even less if you buy a membership. So the price isn’t really a great argument.

BFE, Nevada?

Well, for me, BFE Nevada is driveable – and Washington is not. InSights is out for me because I’d have the cost of airfare and a hotel much more expensive than the one in BEF Nevada. Caleb seems to speak favorably of Gunsite – but that’s in BFE Arizona, so I don’t really see the difference, other than an extra 2-3 hours of driving for me. FS is actually closer to the Las Vegas airport than Gunsite is to the Phoenix airport. So…what? Nevada is BFE and Arizona isn’t? I think it depends on where you live!

3. Quality of Instruction

Caleb complains that the FS alumni that come into his classes are just mediocre and have to be re-taught how to shoot – and the same with the instructors. Well, that’s pretty anecdotal evidence, but I’m sure that was the case with those individuals. There were several in my FS class that came in as scary shooters, and left as scary shooters. Some came in horrible and left mediocre – and that’s ok! No one is expecting FS to produce an expert shooter in 4 days, right? So that doesn’t really convince me.

Of course it is better to learn from an expert. But when? Probably not from the ground up. It’s kind of like buying a really expensive match-grade 1911 when you’ve never shot before. Do you really need that $4000 1911 as your first 1911? (Well, yes, but that’s beside the point)

4. Dr. Ignatius Piazza

Well, Caleb’s got me here. Piazza has serious litigation in his recent past, and has employed some litigation tactics himself that I, as an actual litigator, vehemently disagree with. It is almost enough for me to boycott the place. Piazza has made some serious missteps in creating his “dream” of a shooting resort, but after actually spending some time out there, it looks like the “shooting school” part of the operation is just fine.

I have read the documents from the 2005 class action suit, and does put a huge question mark in my mind. That litigation was specifically about the sales of those “home sites,” which were purchased for up to $300,000. Piazza settled this one out for about $8 million, without admitting or being convicted of any wrongdoing.

Is he a Scientologist? I’m sure he is. Do I care? Not really…there wasn’t a hint of “recruiting” anywhere to be found in the FS curriculum. As long as you leave me out of it, you can be whatever religion you want. But Caleb seems to be really stressed out about supporting Scientology…but I wonder, how many Tom Cruise movies has Caleb seen? Do you watch the Simpsons? Because Nancy Cartwright is a Scientologist. So was Isaac Hayes…and we also have John Travolta, and I’m sure, a BUNCH of others.

The better point, though, is that, believe me, Scientology has its own money. Your $500 FS membership isn’t that exciting to the church.

The marketing? Yes, it reeks of Ponzi scheming used car salesmen. It goes into my spam folder and I never see it. So, is the 4 day defensive handgun class worth $2,000? Probably not. Is it worth maybe $200-$1000 to buy a lifetime membership that lets you go out and play in the pretty decent catalog of classes offered at FS? YES. Will that hotel ever be built? I have no idea, but for the price I paid for my membership, in 4 days I’ve already gotten my money’s worth. But I don’t think they’re going under tomorrow, either.

I, personally, felt that I got excellent instruction. I went from not being able to hit much at 10 yards, to being able to (given enough time!!) make the bullets go where I want them to go – including a nice headshot. I couldn’t do that before. A few days after my FS class, I went to a local gun club meetup. At 7 yards, we had a little competition – who could rack up the most points, with one shot to each tiny bullseyes on the page. Guess who won? ME. One other guy tied my score, but I won by number of Bullseyes. These are all experienced shooter so…well, you be the judge.

Now I think Caleb probably knows what he is talking about. I’ve read his other blogs and really enjoy them, and I’d LOVE to have him come train me for 3-4 days, one on one. My only point here is that FS serves a real purpose – and I think it’s a good one. We could definitely do without the crazy, Piazza style spam emails, but if you get a membership for a good price and actually use it, it is a good deal.

Front Sight Four Day Defensive Handgun Review

After messing around at my local range for a year, a friend turned me on to the FrontSight brand of training courses. After purchasing a membership, we signed up for our first class – the Four Day Defensive Handgun. As the class approached, my husband and I packed up all of our gear (handguns + backup handguns, and 600 rounds of each caliber), and when March 20th rolled around, loaded the car and drove into the desert.

Here is me, my husband Mark, and one of my besties, Brandi, hangin’ at FS:


You approach the town of Pahrump about an hour after turning off Interstate 15 onto CA-127. The 127 is a two lane “highway” through the desert, where you will see few cars but lots of really great desert views. In March, there were some desert blooms and green patches. I’m sure in the summer it is awful!

After reading lots of reviews, we decided to stay at the Best Western. They have a good Front Sight discount, so make sure you ask. The room was clean and just fine, but our neighbors were inconsiderate jerks. The upstairs neighbors stomped around until 11pm or 12am, and the next door neighbor started up his radio at 5am and never turned it off. Finally, on the last night, they moved us upstairs where it was MUCH quieter. You have to schlep your stuff up stairs, but that was worth it for the quiet.

The complimentary breakfast was fine, and had waffles, eggs, potatoes, biscuits and gravy. I ate it the first day, regretted it, and went back to the protein breakfast bars I packed.

We also decided to pack a giant cooler with sandwich stuff to pack for our lunches. This worked out very well until we switched rooms, and I didn’t realize the little mini fridge was turned way down – so nothing really stayed cold on the last night and I didn’t want to risk it. We purchased lunch from the Beach Café truck onsite (same company that provides the pre-ordered lunches) that day. We had chicken strips, and they were great! So that worked out fine. Where the cooler really came in handy was for drinks – having a steady supply of freezing cold water and ginger ale (heat pisses off my stomach sometimes) was amazing.

Our Gear

For my Front Sight course, I brought my M&P Pro in 9mm with a Salient Arms flat trigger, with a trigger pull weight of about 4.5 pounds. They did test my trigger to make sure it wasn’t below 4 pounds, which isn’t allowed for these classes. I also purchased the BladeTech IDPA pack, which included the OWB Kydex holster and a magazine pouch. This was perfect for the class.

My husband brought his M&P Pro CORE in .40, stock trigger (6 pounds?), and the same holster set up I had.

A note on BladeTech – my husband thought that he had the right holster for his Pro CORE. At exactly 2 weeks, we realized it didn’t actually fit! I submitted the order to BladeTech and let them know it was a rush, and they had it to me lightning fast, no problem. Five stars for BladeTech’s customer service, they were just fantastic.

For clothes, we packed mostly 5.11 cargo pants with CoolMax-type shirts. I found I wanted to be in a tank top the whole time, so I washed them in the sink to re-wear. I had also packed long sleeved sun shirts and short sleeve CoolMax shirts, but the tank tops were the best for me. Take a few options. My husband wore CoolMax t-shirts or polos.

For our “concealment garments,” we packed long sleeved button down hiking shirts. MISTAKE. The day I practiced with my Patagonia down jacket was my fastest day out of the holster. I wish I had realized that BEFORE the skills test. My husband had the same experience, and shot it with his Carhartt jacket. Next time, I’ll buy what they were calling a “shoot me” vest – because it is obvious you’re carrying if you’ve got one on, and you’ll be the first one bad guys shoot.

For shoes, we both wore our normal hiking boots. Even with those, my feet were feeling it by day 2, but toughened up and were fine by day 4.

Day 1 – The Arrival

You’re told to get to the gates between 7am and 8am for weapons check and check-in. We arrived right on time, parked, and headed over for inspection. You wait in a line, and, when it is your turn, head over to a table where they check your ammo and weapon to make sure it complies with their rules. No “pocket pistols,” .22s, triggers lighter than 4lbs, things like that. After, you head to check-in where they find you in their system and send you to a range. We were assigned range 1A, after a little snafu.

They couldn’t find us in the system. We had originally registered for the March 21 Two Day Defensive Handgun, and later called and switched into the Four Day. Well…looks like the office switched us into the February 21 class! Oops. They were able to accommodate us anyway, so it was fine.

After check-in everyone heads to the classroom for a “lecture”.

The lecture is given by Brad Ackman, who has been with Front Sight for…well, a long time, I guess. We went over some waivers we had to sign, including a “Dry Practice Protocol.” Very important.

After the classroom lecture, you head out for “Range Activities.” We were on Range 1A with Range Master David Jones, and line coaches Carol Beneux, Miles, Jack Cummings, and Nick. I can’t remember everyone’s last name…possibly my brain is fried.


The day starts off with going over the Front Sight firearm safety rules. These are IMPORTANT. No one wants to go home with extra holes, that’s just not fun.

  1. Treat every weapon as if it were loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard.
  4. Be sure of your target and what’s in line with your target.

You have to break two of these before anyone can actually get hurt, so I think it works well. After going over these rules, they go over how the range drills will work. The class works in two relays, with one relay on the firing line, and the other relay just behind working as student coaches. They also went over various range commands, such as: “range is clear,” “firing drill” (present to the ready, load, and once you are satisfied with the condition of your weapon, slowly and safely back to the holster), “dry practice drill” (present to the ready, unload), “unload,” “turn and face,” “STOP,” “reset your action,” etc.

The first real procedure you learn is the chamber check/magazine check. You bring the firearm in close, move the slide back 1/4” to allow you to see if there is a round in the chamber, and pull the slide forward. Then you check the magazine, removing one if there is one in there, or sticking your finger into the magazine well if there isn’t to make doubly sure there isn’t. I think this is really smart, because loaded chamber indicators can malfunction, and you can do this on every single weapon.

The class is then taught the Front Sight specific ways of loading and unloading. You’ll learn that there, and it is called “indexing.”

The Stance

Front Sight preaches the Weaver Stance. From Wikipedia:

The Weaver stance has two main components.

  1.    The first component is a two-handed technique in which the dominant hand holds the pistol or revolver while the support hand wraps around the dominant hand. The dominant arm’s elbow is slightly bent while the support elbow is noticeably bent straight down. The shooter pushes forward with his/her dominant hand while the support hand exerts rearward pressure. The resultant isometric tension is intended to lessen and control muzzle flip when the firearm is fired.
  2.    The second component is the positioning of the feet in a walking stance, with the off-side foot ahead of the strong-side foot. A right-handed person will have the right foot angled out to approximately forty-five degrees to the side and to the rear at shoulder length. Most of the weight will be on the forward foot, with the forward knee slightly bent and the rear leg straight. The shooter’s upper torso should be leaning forward at the hips, putting the shoulders just over the forward foot. The rear foot will help catch the force of recoil, as well as allow for rapid changes in position. A left-handed person would reverse the footing.

I was shooting…well, let’s call it jacked-up isosceles. They fixed me and I had to FIGHT to get that stance the whole weekend. Sticking a magazine under my left armpit helped to keep my from “chicken winging” it.


With that, we shot a few rounds. I sucked. Then I sucked some more. Then they sat us down and told us the “three secrets” of marksmanship…

  1.    Sight alignment
  2.    Sight picture
  3.    Trigger control

For me, it’s my trigger control that stinks so bad. Dave noticed right away that I want the gun to go BANG! when I say to…so I got to work on taking out the slack and slowly building pressure to get a true “surprise” break. When I did it, I couldn’t miss. When I get in a hurry? Mess. Hot. Mess.

They also help you figure out which of your eyes is dominant – and, lucky me, I’m cross-eye dominant. Oh well. I already knew that. I’m working on retraining, but not that weekend.

Next: Lunch!

We brought our lunch, but ate in the classroom for the air conditioning. The lunch lecture covered the “combat mindset.” Honestly, I was a little sleepy, but it was the same lecture as many I had heard before.

Back to the Range

From then on, we learned how to present properly from the holster. That entails 5 steps. Do it right, and you’re fine. Do it wrong, and they’ll give you a “red gun” (plastic) until you do get it right. We also learned “after-action” drills, and sent some more rounds down range. Or as Carol put it – “turn some money into noise!” Totally.

Classroom Lecture

At 5:15 we were sent in for a classroom lecture about the moral and ethical decisions associated with the use of deadly force. Message? If it isn’t worth dying for, it isn’t worth shooting for.

Considering I’m an attorney, the implications are rather well known to me. An interesting lecture, but I would rather have been sent off to go to sleep early.

Day 2

At 8am, we arrived back on the range. Today we learned the tactical and emergency reload procedures, along with the three types of misfires. We also learned about “failure to stop,” which is when, after a controlled pair, your attacker keeps coming. A single shot to the cranial-ocular cavity will stop that.

Lunch Lecture

This lecture was a presentation by Sonic Ear, to try to get us to buy some $2500 custom ear protection. Super, super awesome product and they are really amazing, but for $2500….eh, I’m ok with muffs and my custom molded solid plugs.

Back to the Range

We next worked on Designated Head Shots (timed), and continued working on drills and technique. I was wiped by the end of this day.

Classroom Lecture

This was the introduction to “Monsters, Inc.” and the procedure for clearing a room, or house, or enclosed area. Interesting, but when the gun safe sales person jumped up to try and sell me an over priced safe, we took off.

This was the day that killed me the most. When we got back to the hotel room, I was EXHAUSTED! I was really freaked out by how tired I was, but I got some sleep and, despite my jackwagon loud neighbors, felt much better the next day.

Day 3

On day 3, concealment was introduced. It is a little tricky to start, but doable. I recommend just getting a “shoot me” vest (because the bad guys will shoot you first, it is so obvious you are carrying) so you don’t have to stress about getting your garment in the right place. I brought a sun shirt, because I knew it would be hot, and it wouldn’t flip back fast enough. The day I wore my Patagonia Down Jacket was the fastest day for me.

Day 3 is also “Monsters, Inc.” day. You get to go practice clearing doorways with a red gun, and then do a loaded tactical drill in their “tac house.” It was very fun, and I scored 100%.Image




Later that day, we did the “ragged hole” drill, where you stand at the 7 yard line and shoot 5 live rounds into about a 2 inch black square. You shoot 5 live rounds, then do 5 dry presses, and then 5 rounds again. My first 5 were better because I was just too tired by the end of the day!


I’ll call that one a “win” for me.

Day Four

Day four brought our man-on-man steel competition. I was all amped up and wanted to do well, and I did ok, losing by time only. The person that beat me went on to win the entire challenge, so I guess that’s ok with me!

We also finally made it to the skills test. I wanted to at least graduate with a 70%, but I basically got excited, threw my slow and steady strategy out the window, tried to go fast, and dropped 20 points on accuracy and a crap ton of points on speed.

I was PISSED. I’m very, very (VERY!) competitive, and I wanted a good score. Earlier in the day, our range master had warned us that even he didn’t DG the first time, but after going home and doing 30 days of dry practice (angry dry practice), he was able to get it done. So that’s what I’ll do…ANGRY DRY PRACTICE.

I fully intend to eventually pass with a Distinguished Graduate score, so I can go on to some of the advanced classes.



Hotel: If you stay at Best Western, even though an upstairs room means you have to schlep you stuff up stairs, get it because if your neighbors are elephants, you’ll be really pissy in the morning when you are tired and have to go to the range.

RV: The little group of RVs/trailers that were right outside the FS gates on BLM land looked like they were having a blast. I’d love to do this, but I’m unsure about water / sanitation. You’d have to be totally self-contained for 4-5 days, or take time to go into town and dump/refill. Not sure if that would work for me. It sure looked fun!

Food: We brought our own lunches, but on one day the food got too warm and we had to get food from Beach Café. I got chicken strips, and they were really good! I think their lunches would be fine.

Tacos el Charo: YUM!! YUM YUM! And cheap, with a super nice owner/manager who let us know that if we didn’t have a lot of time to eat, just call ahead and she would have it ready for us. Awesome.

Carmelo’s Bistro-Pizza-Fine Pasta: No. Fail. It looked good, had good Yelp reviews, but the pizza had a weird rubbery mozzarella layer that just wasn’t good – and the mushrooms were canned! Ew.

Steakhouse in the Nugget: This was pretty good. I had a 6oz filet which was great, and my husband had prime rib, also good. Great sides, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the stuffed mushrooms. Maybe we should just skip the Pahrump mushrooms from now on!

Edited to add: I was being so careful to include everything that happened, I didn’t tell you what I really thought! Our Rangemaster was David Jones, who got an assist from Carol Beneaux, Jack, Nick, and one other I’m spacing a name for. They were GREAT! There was no “boot camp” atmosphere (not that that would have bothered me, I learn “boot camp style” just fine), and they really, really want you to become a better shooter. I really can’t think of anything I would change, other than there being less people in the class so we could move a little faster – but being a beginner class, that obviously wan’t going to happen.

I would recommend this class to everyone, beginner to advanced. They kept telling me, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast!” and it is true. Everyone can benefit from slow, very technical and correct, practice. So GO!

***If you are interested in attending Front Sight, contact me — I have memberships available!***


No, Prof. Donohue, the Second Amendment is NOT About Restricting Gun Rights

In a recent article, Professor Donohue from the Stanford School of Law stated the following in support of the proposition that the Second Amendment is really about restricting an individual’s right to bear arms. He stated:

“The founding fathers had no idea how powerful–and destructive–today’s weapons would become…”

 Of all of the anti-gun arguments floating around today, I may dislike this one the most. In my opinion, those that push this argument have not truly thought about the state of Constitutional Law today. Even the US Supreme Court minces no words on the issue:

“Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844, 849, 117 S.Ct. 2329, 138 L.Ed.2d 874 (1997), and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 35–36, 121 S.Ct. 2038, 150 L.Ed.2d 94 (2001), the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.”

D.C. v. Heller, (2008) 554 U.S. 570, 582.

Even the US Supreme Court thinks that you are being “frivolous” by using this argument.

By extension, if this argument were valid, where would that leave the First Amendment? There was no internet in 1798. If you wanted to exercise your freedom to speak, your choices were to stand on the street corner and yell, start your own publication (not likely), or write for an established publication. Those writing in widely distributed publications were generally well educated, and overseen by editors. This is likely the type of free speech the Drafters had in mind when setting forth the First Amendment.

Today? Kids have access to far-reaching social media, and actual deaths have been triggered by the advent of “cyber-bullying.” I’m pretty sure that this was not the free speech the Drafters were looking for. So…what? Do we see anyone arguing that the First Amendment should be restricted, or that bloggers / social media subscribers should submit to a background check? No? Well why not?

Because clearly the First Amendment was written to protect almost all speech, save a few exceptions.

And so it is with the Second Amendment – it was written to protect an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, with a few exceptions.

“It’s Not Like Anyone is Trying to Take Your Sporting Guns”

This blog is inspired by something someone said on Facebook yesterday. While, of course, I responded with the face that the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with the “right” to participate in a sport, or hunt, it got me thinking.

Could you buy an Olympic qualifying rifle or pistol in California? Let’s find out.

The rules for all Olympic shooting sports are set out by the ISSF – the International Shooting Sports Foundation. They have lots of rules on caliber, performance, and modifications. I started really digging into the research, and found that I didn’t need to delve any further when I found a document entitled “Olympic Pistol Exemptions from “Unsafe Handgun” (§12125 PC) and Assault Weapon (§12275 PC) Statutory Provisions.”

Some of you may not know what an “unsafe handgun” is. Well, in California, according to Penal Code section 12131(a), on and after January 1, 2001, the Department of Justice shall compile, publish, and thereafter maintain a roster listing all of the pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed upon the person that have been tested by a certified testing laboratory, have been determined not to be unsafe handguns, and may be sold in this state pursuant to this title. The roster shall list, for each firearm, the manufacturer, model number, and model name.

But, California (you may ask), what is an unsafe handgun? Penal Code section 12126 defines the term “unsafe handgun” as meaning any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 12001, for which any of series of enumerated criteria is true.  The criteria are categorized by handgun type:

For a pistol:
(1) It does not have a positive manually operated safety device, as determined by standards relating to imported guns promulgated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
(2) It does not meet the firing requirement for handguns pursuant to Section 12127.
(3) It does not meet the drop safety requirement for handguns pursuant to Section 12128.
(4) Commencing January 1, 2006, for a center-fire semiautomatic pistol that is not already listed on the roster pursuant to Section 12131, it does not have either a chamber load indicator, or a magazine disconnect mechanism.
(5) Commencing January 1, 2007, for all center-fire semiautomatic pistols that are not already listed on the roster pursuant to Section 12131, it does not have both a chamber load indicator and if it has a detachable magazine, a magazine disconnect mechanism.
(6) Commencing January 1, 2006, for all rimfire semiautomatic pistols that are not already listed on the roster pursuant to Section 12131, it does not have a magazine disconnect mechanism, if it has a detachable magazine.

So that’s your primer. California has gone way out if its way to create an entire secondary level of “safety” testing for pistols sold in the state, which sits on top of the already stringent testing done by all gun manufacturers because, obviously, they don’t want to get sued!

Under these regulations, none of the Olympic/match grade pistols could be sold in California. Apparently someone realized that and came up with the “Olympic Pistol Exemptions.” Mmmm hmmm. So it is unsafe because they haven’t paid the protection money registration fees to the State of California…except for this list that is safe because they are used in Olympic competitions.

So the answer to my question is no – you can’t buy an Olympic qualifying pistol/rifle in California, unless it is on the “California approved” exemption list. Which was last updated in 2011. So…if you want the latest and greatest in shooting equipment, and you live in California – you’re out of luck. Just look at the Olympic swimsuits. Those things change every year! New fabric, technology, cut…well, if your pistol even changes color, it’s off the list, so any innovation is going to put our California athletes at least a year behind other competitors.

Interesting to think about.

Shot Show 2014 – a Firearm Extravaganza!

This was my first Shot Show. Like I’ve said before, I’m a bit of a gear whore…so, for me, Shot Show was getting to actually handle the newest gear/guns, and see a bunch of stuff that’s not technically allowed in my state (so I would normally only get to drool over the catalog).

We’re trade show veterans, and we’ve been to NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), ISC (International Security Conference & Exposition), NECA (National Electrical Contractor’s Association) and Dwell on Design many times. We know to make a plan, wear comfortable shoes, pack a back-up battery for the cell phone, and bring a good backpack (because those little canvas bags they hand out just don’t cut it). For those of you that aren’t trade show veterans, let me elaborate:

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. I am not at all kidding about this one. I had just purchased 2 pairs of black Born boots for a New Orleans trip, so I had some cute and comfortable shoes to bring with me. If you have to choose between cute / comfortable – choose wisely.
  2. Bring a good backpack. I know, they’ll hand out those cute branded bags on the show floor but…trust me…they won’t have the capacity to hold all of the cool stuff you’ll want to carry. Get a backpack with good straps and a lot of room. Don’t forget water and hand sanitizer!
  3. Back-up battery. You will want to take lots of pictures (if the show permits) and post lots of updates to make your friends jealous. Pack a back-up for your phone so you don’t run out of juice right when you need it.
  4. Make a plan. This year’s shot show featured 12.5 miles of show floor! Grab a map, prioritize the booths you’ll visit, and go!
  5. Fitbit. This is optional, but fun to track your steps. We were averaging 12,000 steps per day!

Here are a few highlights from our experience:

Our first celebrity meet & greet was Les Stroud “Survivorman.”


I am a huge fan of Les, and he was a really nice guy. When my husband mentioned he is an Eagle Scout, Les immediately brightened and said he had spoken at many BSA events and given several commendations. I’m pretty outgoing, but I get tongue-tied in front of people I respect as much as Les. I started to tell him what a big fan I am, and then kind of laughed and said “well, probably the same thing the last 10 people said!” Les did think that was funny, but reassured me that he appreciates the viewers and support. I’ll be framing my signature and taking it in to work shortly…

Next up…THE GUNNY!!


I first became a fan of Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermy around 2002 with his show “Mail Call.” Viewers would write in and ask questions about military technology, and Gunny would go out, find the answer, and usually give us a great demonstration. My grandpa, who raised me, was also a Marine, so I’ve got that in my blood! Semper Fi!

Finally, wandering around on our last day of Shot Show, we bumped into Jim Scoutten from American Shooter. If you’ve never watched the show, I have to tell you – go watch it now! First, Jim has a fantastic voice. FANTASTIC. And it is as good in person as it is on the show.

Jim Scoutten2014

Of course, there was a ton of guns / gear to check out. I’m a recent convert to the cult of 1911, so of course I had to go check out Smith & Wesson’s 1911PC.


After finally getting to hold the thing (since it isn’t on the CA Roster), I can vouch for how great this thing is put together. Everything fits, and the feel and finish of the total package is fantastic. I wasn’t able to shoot it, but from the live reviews I’m seeing, this is one great 1911.

Next up…fun gear! First, I found Tenzing. In only their second year at Shot Show, this is a gear maker that I’m really impressed with. I have a heck of a time finding hunting/gun packs that fit my 5′ tall self…and these fit the bill.


Dyneema panels and room for a rifle! What more could a girl want?

I also found these great gun cases from Shady Lady Shooting. Finally, fancy cases with NO pink! (They do have pink, if that is your thing)


Our next rifle will likely be a .308, and this one is a good candidate…


Finally…if Batman had a Yamaha, this might be it:


We had a great time at Shot Show 2014, and we look forward to next year!