Queens Shoot Too: Featuring Taj from ATL, a Shotgun and a Frost White Caddy

Taj Anwar of Atlanta, was introduced to firearms early in life. Since then she's done almost everything right; she is licensed to carry, she knows her weapons and she regularly practices.
Taj Anwar of Atlanta, was introduced to firearms early in life. Since then she’s done almost everything right; she is licensed to carry, she knows her weapons and she regularly practices.

Q: What is your earliest memory of firearms?

A: My father put a gun in my hand when I was 10. He wanted to make sure I wasn’t afraid of weapons.

Q: Where there guns in your home when you grew up?

A: Yes. Both of my parents and step parents are licensed to carry.

Q: What was your parent’s attitudes towards guns?

A: That they’re tools to be used only when necessary to protect you and yours.

Q: What was your perspective as a child, and how has it changed?

A: I was never afraid of guns. The only fear I had was having a gun in my reach and not knowing how to use it. All the reason why I’ve trained on different pieces over the years.

Q: Briefly describe your first time shooting a gun.
A: I was 10. It was a revolver.

Q: Do you currently own a firearm? Why?
A: I own several. Like I explained earlier, they’re for protection only. I do like to train as a hobby, though.

Q: How often do you go to the range, and what is your attitude towards training?
A: I go to the range at least once a month. Training is essential to know how to use what you have. I also think training on how to disarm someone is key too.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who had expressed interest in firearms.
A: Do the research, get licensed and get trained.

Q: What aspects of the shooting lifestyle do you have questions about, if an?
A: None

Q: What skills do you think each gun owner should know.
A: How to break down your gun and clean it, and put it back together. You should know your gun inside and out, up and down.

That Time I went out Back To School Shopping and found a Gun Range

Shooting at the Master Gunman on my birthday.
Shooting at the Master Gunman on my birthday.

The Flinch.

I have been dry firing for months. In that time I’ve been to the range around four times. I’ve gotten good instruction. My grip has been changed, I’ve learned how to use the sights and I’ve practiced.

I have owned a gun since 1998. And I’ve learned more since I started this blog than I had in the previous 14 years.

But I had this flinch.

 

 

 

Flinches like California.
Groups like California.

At seven yards, I was shooting groups that were roughly the size of my hand and the shape of California, if Cali sloped down and to the left. Still not bad. If I shot like this in a crisis situation, each bullet would hit center mass. On the other hand, if I was shooting like this when I was slowly and deliberately aiming, the chances of me shooting this well during a crisis situation are pretty slim.

I’ve been training with Samuel Hayes, pretty regularly. He told me in one of our first meetings that he expected for me to be able to reach a decent level of accuracy before we would expand into draw and fire. And my bullshit ass, California shaped groups were wasting my time and his.

You can’t get rid of a flinch without getting in range time. You just can’t. You have to train until your body doesn’t anticipate the noise and recoil. So, all of the dry firing in my hot ass garage wasn’t going to make me much more accurate.

Anyway,  I made a wrong turn out of the Walmart on Rockbridge in Stone Mountain, as I was waiting for them to develop pictures from out trip to the Botanical Gardens as part of a Back to School project for my son when I stumbled upon The Master Gunman.

The shop portion of the Master Gunman was pretty small. There were a handful of Taurus’. (Tauri? Tauruses? What’s the plural of Taurus?)  and a S&W Shield in the case. If memory serves me, there were a couple of AK variants on the wall.

The real news was the shooting range. The whole thing cost about $35 dollars. Twenty of that was from that one box of 9mm bullets. I also bought three targets and rented ear and eye protection. Not bad, considering it about five minute’s drive from my house. Next time I’ll bring my own bullets.

The Master Gunman. If my favorite bar in Philly had a shooting range and a small selection of firearms, and no alcohol
The Master Gunman. If my favorite bar in Philly had a shooting range and a small selection of firearms, and no alcohol

The range… Let’s just call it rustic. How about high mileage. Tried and true? The targets hung from wire. You cranked them out and back again. Anybody who has ever had wind up windows in their car knows what I’m talking about. They’ve been around since the 80’s. Let’s call it retro.

I had shot thirty rounds before I realized that I didn’t have a plan. By then, I had cranked the target as far out as possible. I went out and bought two more targets, and borrowed a pen.

Below is a picture of the second target following a haphazard warmup. The target was at about seven yards. Notice the WTF’s. They were always the first shots in the group. I overthink the first shots.

Miscellaneous”

 

The group in the upper right hand corner was my best. By then I was over the shock of the first shot. I was also down to my last five bullets
The group in the upper right hand corner was my best. By then I was over the shock of the first shot. I was also down to my last five bulletsIf you took them away, the groups were respectable.Miscellaneous:
  • I’ve already said that I need to buy bullets. I also need to bring my own eye and ear protection. I found myself trying to see through a thick band of blurry distortion where the rent-a-glasses curved. As for the ear muffs, they were great. I hate the little squishy things that some ranges offer. Muffs are awesome. I just need my own. I’m sure they are diligent about cleaning theirs, but still. Cooties.
  • I like the place. I like it so much that I will try to make it there every week or two. Still, it isn’t the kind of place I would choose for a double shooting date. Quick Shot is better for that. Their waiting area is nice and big, and, last time I went, they had cookies. Stoddards would do in a pinch. But, if they are trendy clubs, then The Master Gunman is your corner bar. Not fly, but just as necessary.
  • I know Taurus is flamebait on Facebook, second only to Hi Point. But, they had a selection that was priced so nice that I was looking for an excuse to buy one.

 

 

Ken Park on Concealed Carry

Samuel Hayes introduced me to Ken Park at the Norcross Gun Range.

This is Ken Park.

This is him drawing and shooting the target six times with a Glock 34. The video doesn’t exactly say how fast. How about Hella-fast? I try to stay away from “hella” as an adjective, but it seems to fit.

Ken is a former Air Marshal, and current competitive IDPA shooter. He’s also a nice guy.

Full Size Glock with a light  on it. Are you sure you want to go out and buy that sub compact 22 cal micro gun?
Full Size Glock with a light on it. Are you sure you want to go out and buy that sub compact 22 cal micro gun?

When I came over he demonstrated how to draw a full size gun from cover. Cover, as you can see below, is a shirt from Armani Exchange. It was a tailor fit, snapped up the front and the gun, a Glock 17 with a light, was absolutely invisible.

What follows is advise on how to dress for concealed carry, from a guy who has gotten damned good at it.

 

 

 

Walk Before You Can Drive: Looking for Solutions for Driving With Guns

The universal vehicle handgun holster mount. There is no shortage of options out there for carrying a handgun on the roads of Georgia. The question is, what are you comfortable with? Photo from Tactical-Life.com
The universal vehicle handgun holster mount. There is no shortage of options out there for carrying a handgun on the roads of Georgia. The question is, what are you comfortable with? Photo from Tactical-Life.com

Fast, short video on AIWB seated weapon draw from Raven Concealment Systems Eidolon holster system, the “Every man’s Appendix rig”

Posted by Samuel R Hayes III on Monday, May 4, 2015

I’m new to carrying.

For the past two months I’ve been dipping my big toe in the pool; carrying every night as I take my dog on his nightly walks.

At first the gun and its holster were all I could think about. Is it printing? Is it falling? Is the safety on? It’s not really supposed to feel like this, is it? We are so used to everything being designed for maximum comfort that putting on something that prioritizes utility over comfort feels strange.

At first the gun and its holster were all I could think about. Is it printing? Is it falling? Is the safety on? It’s not really supposed to feel like this, is it? We are so used to everything being designed for maximum comfort that putting on something that prioritizes utility over comfort feels strange.

Call it progress, but I don’t think about it much anymore. Every night I rack the slide, activate the safety, put it in the holster and walk out the door. And every night, about 20 minutes later, I return. So far I haven’t dropped it. It hasn’t discharged, either accidentally or on purpose. My nights are just as predictable with the gun as they were before I carried it. The only difference is, I don’t feel quite as nervous about those things that I can’t predict.

I haven’t made the leap to carrying all day everyday. I’m can walk okay, but I spend far more time behind the wheel than I do pounding the pavement. I could put it in my glove box, right? I’m going to stretch across my 15-year-old daughter every morning with a loaded 9mm? Push aside juice boxes, plates containing precisely three chicken nuggets and catsup, and toilet paper (three children = a lot of sneezes.) and drop it into the center console? No bueno. I don’t want them to be afraid of guns, but I don’t want them to be casual around them.

Not to mention how difficult it would be to fish it out from the glove box on the one in a million chance that I need it.

Above is Sam Hayes of Caliber Training Group. He is wearing an Inside the Waistband holster from Raven Concealment. He’s not a little guy, but neither am I. It looks effective, not comfortable, but I don’t expect that anymore.

Observations from the First Meeting of the National African American Gun Association

Bass Reeves was an ex slave and renegade lawman pictured here among fellow Marshals on the bottom left. Keep in mind, there are three other Black lawmen pictured.
Bass Reeves was an ex slave who lived among the Seminole and Creek Nations in Oklahoma and became a Deputy U.S. Marshall in Arkansas. He is credited with bringing close to 3,000 men to justice. Pictured here among fellow Marshals on the bottom left. Keep in mind, there are three other Black lawmen pictured. The Atlanta Branch of the NAAGA is named after him.

I spoke earlier about the National African American Gun Association. Until recently it was an unknown quantity. A good idea (an organization established with the unique needs of Black gun owners in mind) in search of the right execution.

The first meeting took place about two weeks ago, at Stoddards Gun Range in Midtown Atlanta. It is a testament to the growing popularity of firearms that they were able to build a state of the art gun shop and shooting facility within walking distance of the High Museum of Art and some to the most expensive real estate in the city. Members arrived at around 9:30 am and convened in a meeting room just off of the showroom.

It was a Saturday morning. If you were in Atlanta, you might remember the driving rain that morning. Or, maybe you were sleeping. As I found a parking space behind the facility, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t really sure if anyone else would even show up.

There was about 15 people there. The NAAGA’s founder, Phillip Smith,  Sam Hayes of Caliber Training Group and 12 others. There was no “type”. One brother has locs longer than mine. He sat off to the side with a green ammo can and a soft sided case. The guy in front of me looked like my daughter’s favorite math teacher. There were five women. Two, I would later find, didn’t actually own guns, but were interested and wanted to find the right information.

They went over the fundamentals of firearm safety with a guy from Stoddards. There was an exercise to find your dominant eye, the five rules of safety and handling, and then we parted ways. They went to the range and I went to pick up my daughter from a sleepover.

This is what you need to know.

  • Membership is free. Just go to the site and find the tab that says, “Want to join.”
  • As of the time of the meeting, there were 50 members in Atlanta, and more than 100 nationwide, including Oakland and St. Louis.
  • Each chapter is named after  a famous African American warrior. For example, Atlanta is the Bass Reeves chapter.
  • If you’re in the Atlanta area, the next meeting will be called
  • Their next meeting is May 16, from 9am to 11am. They will be discussing Stand Your Ground in Georgia among other things. You should come and bring a friend. Guests are welcome.

If you’re interested sign up for your free membership and ask for information.

 

 

 

Kelli on #Queensshoottoo. A New Shooter who Took On Her Fear

Kelli contributed her story to #Queensshoottoo. She is a beginning shooter who has decided to  cast her fears aside and see for herself.
Kelli contributed her story to #Queensshoottoo. She is a beginning shooter who has decided to cast her fears aside and see for herself.

This week on #Queensshoottoo we are going to be going to the other side of the threshold. Dasia trains five days a week and is building her own rifle. Akua has been making bullets with her step-dad since she was 14. They aren’t common.

For every Dasia or Akua, there are hundreds of women like Kelli. She grew up in an anti gun family but decided to find out on her own. Now she is taking control of her education and discovery, visiting ranges and renting firearms.

She’s the first to admit that she isn’t an expert, but she’s on the right path.

Anyone that wants to own a firearm should go through training and not just training to shoot the gun but how to deal with situations that rise. If everyone had to take classes before owning a gun I feel like less people would be dead and more people would feel safer.

What are your earliest memories of firearms?

My earliest memory of a firearm had to be in a movie because I honestly did not see a real gun until high school.

Were there guns in your home as you grew up?

My mom has never had a gun and chances are she won’t ever.

What were your parent’s attitudes towards guns?

My mom doesn’t like guns, she doesn’t like violence.

 What was your perspective as a child, and how has it changed?

As a child I was afraid of guns. I’m still somewhat afraid of them because of the power behind them. I use to get so nervous when I would see a gun, my stomach would knot up. Once I used a gun my fear calmed down. I’m still not 100% cool with them because I don’t know about a lot of guns.

Describe your first time shooting a gun.

My first experience shooting a firearm, it was right after my 20th birthday and it was a revolver. I don’t know what model it was. It was my first time having a gun up and personal, I was very scared. I did not know how to hold it or anything. The guy that worked there showed me everything I needed to know. I thought when I shot it it was gonna kick back hard but it really didn’t kick back much. I was very shocked of how much easier it was. It was kind of addicting when I started shooting, thoughts of how I could protect myself where going through my head. It was such an amazing experience. When I ran out of ammo,  I was very sad.

 20150315_105419Do you currently own a gun?

I don’t currently own one because I want to do it the legal way with a license so I can carry it on me if needed but I will in the future.

How often do you go to the range? What is your attitude towards training?

I go to the range every once in a while, it’s not cheap and I love training. Practice makes perfect and a better chance of me defending myself if needed.

 What advice would you give to someone who was interested in owning a gun?

For anyone that’s interested in guns, educate yourself on them and always handle them legally.

 What skills do you think that every gun owner should know?

Anyone that wants to own a firearm should go through training and not just training to shoot the gun but how to deal with situations that rise. If everyone had to take classes before owning a gun I feel like less people would be dead and more people would feel safer. A lot of people don’t like guns but if they get educated maybe they won’t be so scared.

 

How Not to Suck at Shooting: You Need Schoolin

Michonne on The Walking Dead, tea-cupping a gun. She's going to mow down a dozen zombies. Don't expect the same results.
Michonne on The Walking Dead, tea-cupping a gun. She’s going to mow down a dozen zombies. Don’t expect the same results.

My father owned guns my entire life. In that time I remember him going to the range a handful of times. By range I mean an expanse of red clay and briars behind a friend’s house in South Carolina and the back yard of our family’s home in Virginia.

We called it plinking, and we didn’t accomplish a whole lot. I learned to load and shoot all of the guns. I learned a healthy respect by seeing what they were capable of. I got over my fear, and I learned some important lessons about safety. I guess, loading the magazines for his Mini-14 prepared me to load the Glock 17 that I eventually bought, but I’m pretty sure I would have figured it out.

Most gun owners will never go through the process of becoming an effective gun-fighter. People don’t think that you have to. TV and movies show us that if you are a good guy, God will bless you with infinite bullets and guide them to the skulls of your enemies.

We didn’t do accuracy. We did our best but my father didn’t know about acquiring a sight picture or proper grip. We never discussed draw and fire. To my knowledge he doesn’t own a holster.

My dad wasn’t alone. Most gun owners will never go through the process of becoming an effective gun fighter. People don’t think that you have to. TV and movies show us that if you are a good guy, God will bless you with infinite bullets and guide them to the skulls of your enemies.

On the Walking Dead, Michonne tea-cups her Beretta? and lands head shot after head shot. All of the good guys do, until the directors decide that a miss would advance the plot. Everybody thinks they are the good guy. And a whole lot of gun owners think that righteousness is a guarantee of safety and accuracy.

I thought I was an okay shot. Good enough to put a bad guy on his back. My first visit to the range with Samuel Hayes of Caliber Training Group not only showed me how good I wasn’t, but it also made me better. Not great, but better.

I learned to hold the gun by emulating the guys in the gun magazines. The devil is in the details. It’s easy to make your grip look like their grip, but there is a lot going on beneath the surface. If your learning strategy is trial and error, you will spend years trying to figure out something that a professional could correct in about five minutes. And there are some things that you will never figure out.

In the spirit of figuring it out, in a few weeks I will be going to Urban Gun-Fighting Combatives at Caliber Training Group. The course puts the gun into the context of urban combat. It includes an extensive look at non-lethal options. I am preparing myself to be humbled.

Speaking of grip, below is Bob Vogel. According to his website, he’s a World Champion Shooter. I don’t follow the IDPA, but I’ll take his word for it. The video covers a lot of the ground that Sam discussed with me at our first meeting. I don’t know if I’ll be extending my support index finger around the trigger guard though.  

New Shooter’s Mantra

If you're going to get your CCW, you need a good holster. Don't be this guy.
If you’re going to get your CCW, you need a good holster. Don’t be this guy.

Repeat after me. Get a good holster, get a good holster, get a good holster…

That message was driven home to me recently through a conversation with Samuel Hayes. Samuel owns Caliber Training Group, a school in Atlanta that turns gun owners into capable gunfighters. His message was clear. It isn’t enough to be armed.

I needed to hear it. I bought my first gun in 1998 after a tough night at the Philadelphia Tribune where I covered education and public policy. My editor told me to go to Germantown to find someone who had made a comment at a school board meeting. It was the journalistic equivalent of a snipe hunt. All I had was his name and a neighborhood.

I asked some people outside of a Chinese restaurant. The kind of place where they take the money through a slit in a thick Plexiglass wall, and then deliver the food through a bulletproof Lazy Susan. Then a young woman said, “Um, are you sure you want to do this?”

“What?”

“Come out here at night. Asking questions, out on the street like this. I don’t think you should be doing this.” Then she walked away.

I bought the Glock that weekend. A full sized 9mm. My intention was to keep it in my trunk in case my editor sent me on any more snipe hunts. The guys at the shop threw in a kydex holster that was so cheap that, if memory serves, I had to cut out the belt holes with an exacto knife.

I think I used it once, just to see how it felt. It was like strapping a brick to my hip with duct tape. Two guns later, it is still the only holster I’ve ever owned.

Get a good holster. Get a good holster. Get a good holster.

That’s my mantra as I begin the process of obtaining my Georgia concealed carry license. No more cheap kydex loop. No more slipping it into the pocket of a messenger’s bag, even if it fits. (That’s a story for another day.) This time I’m going to do it right.

Sam gave me a list of suggestions for quality kydex holsters. I’ll be digging into them in the coming weeks. In the meantime,

How do you carry?

What’s your experience with dirt cheap holsters?