Monday, April 30, 2007

Cigar Deals

Like Judge, I too enjoy a "Cuban Tree" from time to time. Since we're buddies, we pretty much share a lot of similar tastes and while not exactly the same, we agree on a few cigars. I whole-heartily recommend the Curly Head from Arturo Fuente, however as they say, variety is the spice of life. What is a guy to do that's in search of quality smokes at wallet-friendly prices? Here's what I do.

First, subscribe to the online cigar dealer "newsletters". Yes, its essentially SPAM from them trying to get you to buy their products, but sometimes you'll find a really good deal in that ad. A couple I use are;

  • Cigar International - Located in quaint Bethlehem, PA I've been ordering from them for a few years and really like the service. Fast delivery, good selection, bargain prices. I've actually been to the storefront when I was on business.

  • JR Cigars - A lot like CI. I've found good deals and their prices are fine, especially on accessories and shipping. For whatever reason, I just use CI more.

  • Thompson Cigar - A little more well known as they tend to advertise in men oriented magazines. Pretty decent pricing and good service, I don't use them much, but I know at one time, Judge used their "Cigar of the Month" service.

Through CI's weekly ad, I found one of the very best smokes I've ever had, the Nestor Reserve Maduro,

a box-pressed 93 rated maduro torpedo that is like smoking chocolate

with its creamy taste. At $50 for 25, you can't beat that with a stick! Through JR's I found one of my other all-time favorites for a steal, the Onyx Reserve No.4 in tins of four for $6 each. This is another VERY good smoke (94 rating from Cigar Aficionado) for not a lot of jack. Alas, they don't have the tins any longer, but their regular price is still very good.

So I guess what I'm getting at is that the not-so-wealthy cowboy can still afford premium smokes by being willing to try something new and keeping your eyes open for the deals. Like most things in life, some of the best stuff is off the beaten path.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hooten Holler

In less then a week Copper, Jose and I will be throwing lead down range at the SASS Kentucky State Championship. I was sitting here looking over my list of items to buy for the trip next weekend and couldn’t help but laugh;

  • Cigars
  • Beer
  • Shotgun Shells

Now that’s what I call a weekend!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Robert Conrad, My Hero

I remember my introduction to TV fondly. I remember watching Hogan’s Heroes at my grandma’s house while wearing footie pajamas. I remember my parents sending me off to bed before Soap came on TV. I also remember staying up late and catching reruns of what I believe to be some of the greatest shows on TV. Sure these shows aren’t really the greatest, but as a little kid getting to stay up past his bed time and watching late night horror movies hosted by Sammy Terry, they become the holy grail of TV viewing. I’m of course referring to Star Trek, Space 1999, and The Wild Wild West.

Well, I just found that they have released the Wild Wild West on DVD. I know this came out a while ago, but I’ve been busy so sue me. As I said above I loved the Wild Wild West with the sci-fi western genre mix and my hero Robert Conrad. I thought he was great as Pappy Boyington in Baa Baa Black Sheep and when I discovered the Wild Wild West I just couldn’t get enough.

So now that they have the first season on DVD I guess I’ll just have to pick it up…or maybe wait for Fathers Day (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more)

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Curly Head

No, I’m not about to go on a Don Imus like rant. I’m talking about one of my favorite cigars, the Arturo Fuente Curly Head. I have been smoking cigars for years and I’ve sampled a number from cheap machine rolled to top of the line Cubans, but I find generally that I smoke on two occasions. First, when I’m doing something outdoors such as golfing, mowing, or shooting. The second occasion is when I’m celebrating.

I want different cigars for these different events and I generally skip around a lot. Often sampling many different cigars in a single outing, but the Curly Head is a day to day cigar that I keep coming back to time and again.

First, the Curly Head is inexpensive. Averaging fewer than two bucks a cigar you can afford to smoke as many as you like. Hell, you can pass them around like it was your first born for that matter! The stick is put together well with a natural wrapper, some veining, and an extra length of wrapper tucked over the foot to keep it all inside. The cigar is bandless which helps give It a rustic look and one I especially enjoy while cowboy shooting. It’s generally a soft cigar that holds up well to different types of environments, but don’t get too surprised if it comes apart slightly on you.

Because it’s not a tight cigar the draw is very easy and unfortunately on occasion too easy. If you are not careful you can overheat this cigar in a hurry. But the real bang for the buck comes in the flavor. It’s a smooth smoke with an easy finish and it leaves a little sweet taste on your tongue. I’m not good at describing flavors, but many describe the flavor as vanilla.

The Curly Head has become my everyday smoke and while it’s sometimes called an introductory cigar that’s fine with me. I like my H. Upmanns, Davidoffs, and Cohibas, but for smoking while cutting the grass…nothings better.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fontier Cartridge

Or rather @#&*@##!!!

Yesterday I shot Frontier Cartridge Duelist for the first time and I must say, I suck at it. Everything went OK except for my rifle shooting which just was plain awful, I guess you really do need to take more time to see the targets, who knew? Anyways, the day was otherwise an absolutely gorgeous day with a light breeze and pleasant temps and a group of Illinois cowboys paying tribute to a fallen comrade, Zeb. I'm not really sure why I got the pleasure to shoot with them all, but I was honored to lead them through the stages written in honor of Zeb.

Due to the record attendance at TVR, I was shooting with a lot of unfamiliar faces especially since Judge and Copper Quincy had to work to protect Bloomington from the invading horde (Little 500 weekend). Its nice to shoot with your usual pards, but its refreshing to learn some new names and faces. A couple of fellers I've only really shot with on the same posse at the KY State shoot is Gibbon Bote Barrels and Pee Wee, they brought along a relatively new shooter Miss Sassy Saparilla who had some trouble in her first match last year with an AD, but kept with it and is certainly improving. I had to rat her out yesterday and got her the bonehead award for grabbing the wrong shotgun and sliding a 20G shell down the barrel of a 12G. Like I told her, don't sweat it, I've got three of the damn things!

J. Mark Flint is also a very good guy to posse with and brings all sorts of enthusiasm and class to the shoot. I at least am proud that I edged him out in FCD, his problem was the same as mine, he wouldn't slow down for the rifle. His better half is easy on the eyes too, so he'll always have a place on my posse :)

After the shoot, we headed up the hill to pack up the guns and then had a rather long and moving awards ceremony where it was announced that every April shoot at TVR will be a memorial shoot honoring any cowboys no longer with us. I think that's a fine idea. Following the ceremony, we had a pitch-in and stuffed our faces with plenty of wonderful food and a few libations. The blackberry-raspberry sqeezins' from Buckshot Williams (Zeb's nephew or cousin) was absolutely one of the finest alcoholic beverages I've tasted. Good thing I didn't get to hold the bottle or I'd be laying in the pasture somewhere right now I'm sure.

One very fine day of shooting and eating and drinking and rememberin'

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Universities and Guns

The tragedy at Virginia Tech has some resonance with me since I work at a University that is also a "gun free zone". Just the other week I was pondering the fact that the policy which disarms me as an employee, makes my workplace the perfect place for (as I was thinking at that point) terrorists to come in and take over a building and have several hundred ready-made hostages. Our campus, like VT's is a very large campus, spanning several square miles thus making it impossible to stop criminals from bringing weapons to harm people. Further, the University police and local police agencies almost certainly don't have enough officers to control the entire campus (Judge may argue this being part of one of those agencies).

From my own perspective, what happened at VT, could happen easily enough at my University and there isn't much that could be done to stop it. "or is there?" I currently don't carry at work because I like money and the University gives me money for working for them and if I carry at work, I can be fired for doing so. So its an economic decision, I give up part of my security for money, many gunnies do it as well I'm sure, I certainly don't like it, but unless I get another job, that's my fate right now. After the shooting at VT, many pundits have opened their yaps about how lack of concealed carry enabled Cho to murder so many, or how Viginia's lax gun laws (no 7 day waiting period) made it too easy for him to get a gun, or the police and administration didn't respond fast enough.

BULLSHIT to all that! nobody knows what would have happened.

What I do want to point out is that the logic behind banning carry at a University is flawed. I don't see what changes me from a regular Joe citizen who's allowed to legally carry anywhere in my home state except for Casino's, on grade school grounds (Universities don't count as schools) and Federally restricted areas (National Parks etc) to a person who cannot be trusted to carry at my place of work? Really, what's the difference? The always excellent Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy has an excellent argument for at least giving Faculty and Staff a way to defend themselves and the students (if it is deemed that students are too irresponsible to have a gun).

If Virginia and other states have found that it's safe to let law-abiding citizens carry guns on streets, in shopping districts, in parks, and the like, why wouldn't it be equally safe to let law-abiding professors and staff to carry guns in the university? What magic is there about a university that makes guns in law-abiding citizens' hands (again, let's even set aside college students, if we think they are unusually likely to behave foolishly) more dangerous at a university than elsewhere? I know there are some university professors who are, er, a bit odd. But wouldn't the average professor — or average university employee generally — who wants a concealed-carry license to carry on campus be at least as responsible as the average citizen who wants a concealed carry license to carry outside campus? Given that licensees don't start shootouts over fender-benders, and that gun store employees, police officers eating lunch, and other law-abiding people who are routinely armed don't start shootouts over arguments, why should we think that armed professors (to be precise, that small group of professors who chooses to get concealed carry licensees) would start shootouts at faculty meetings?

Read the whole thing

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wild Bunch Stage

So here is what I’m thinking. Wild Bunch Side Match Stage; the shooter will need two (2) main match pistols and one (1) main match rifle. In addition they will need one (1) 1911 style pistol and one (1) approved pump or lever action shotgun capable of holding four (4) or more rounds. The Shotgun and 1911 style pistol will be provided if necessary. All ammunition restrictions apply.

Rifle loaded with ten (10) rounds held at Cowboy Port-Arms. Two (2) main match pistols with five (5) rounds each, holstered. 1911 pistol with seven (7) rounds loaded in magazine, chamber empty, staged on the table in the second shooting position. Shotgun with four (4) rounds loaded in magazine, chamber empty, staged on the table in the third shooting position.

The shooter will start at the first position with the rifle held at port arms. When ready call out “I said the WHOLE Mexican Army”. Shooter starts by shooting the 4 rifle targets in a 3-2-3-2 pattern. Restage the rifle safely. Draw the first pistol and engage the 2 pistol targets in a 3-2 pattern starting on either end. Draw the second pistol and engage the 2 pistol targets in a 3-2 pattern starting on either end. Holster and move to the second position. Pick up the staged 1911 pistol and engage the single dump target with 7 rounds. Restage the 1911 pistol safely. Move to the third position and pick up the shotgun. Knock down the 4 shotgun targets. No make ups are allowed. End of Stage.

What do you think?

Friday, April 13, 2007

BAG Day Compromise

Well, there is no way I can justify springing for a new firearm right now, what with vacations and everything on the horizon. So, I’ve decided to make a compromise…are you ready Jose?

I want to get my Sig P226 fixed up. Nothing fancy, just a detail strip, check-up, and a spring replacement job, Oh, and of course I’ve got to add these.

So Jose I guess I’ll need to spring for a manual along with the springs and of course the special cake topper. Are you up for it?

UPDATE: BAG day heroes at Cowboy Blob's

Hey, I suppose my S&W Model 19-3 counts as a BAG day purchase.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Classic Cowboy

Arguments over the classic cowboy category abound and everybody has an opinion on the topic. I always believed that classic cowboy was intended to cover a wide range of cowboy characters from the classic cow puncher to the old west bartender to the gambler and banker. Any character you might run into in a historical setting should be fodder for this category. The category forces a stricter dress code and an adherence to larger calibers. It was never meant to be a category for the serious competitor but for the shooter who was looking for more of a historical experience. I have been trying to convince Jose for awhile now to shoot classic cowboy. So here are the rules for you Jose.

Any Main Match revolver with non-adjustable, traditional sights. Revolvers must be shot duelist style. Revolver calibers: .40 caliber rimmed cartridges or larger may use any SASS–legal ammunition. Rifles: Any 1873 or earlier manufacture SASS–legal rifle or a replica thereof. Shotguns: SASS–legal external hammer double barrel or lever actions.

Costuming: Must choose at least five of the requirements listed below. All clothing items must be worn appropriately during all shooting events and awards ceremonies: Chaps, spurs, cuffs, tie or scarf worn loosely around the neck or with scarf slide, vest, pocket watch with full length chain, jacket, sleeve garters, knife, botas, leggings, braces; no straw hats allowed. No Buscadero or drop holster rigs allowed. All boots must be of traditional design with leather or smooth rubber, non-grip enhancing Soles. Hats must be worn for the entire match.

It looks like you would need to add a vest to your ensemble and some spurs and you would be set for classic cowboy. You could be the giant doorman at the saloon.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions: a man of honor. What better could be said of someone then he was a man of honor. Words like honor and integrity are lost in today’s high speed world of text messaging. The one true goal is to reach the top first, climbing on the bodies of friends and enemies alike. We have lost something special in our world and I feel strongly that without the concept of honor we are only at the beginning of a very long dark passage.

Sophocles said “Rather fail with honor then succeed by fraud” and once again I am sure that reading these words it’s very easy to give a harrumph and say “but of course” these decisions are simple. However, we quickly step from our homes and fail miserably to apply this simple concept to our lives and actions. How do we live our lives with honor? Socrates told us over 2400 years ago: “The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.”

Making the decision to be an honorable person isn’t always the easiest. It is uncomfortable, difficult, and at times dangerous. Making the decision to act honorable cannot be done in the face of adversity. It must be practiced like every other skill. You must live with the concept of being an honorable person day in and day out, when it is easy, when the decisions are simple. Only then can you decide to turn away from the easy path and take the hard and difficult road to honor when it is most important.

The taste of honor is bittersweet. Like a lone man who saves himself from the abyss only one person has any idea how heroic it was. Joseph Addison said it best: “Content thyself to be obscurely good. When vice prevails and impious men bear away, the post honor is a private station.” I am a Man of Honor.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Five More

Now let’s take a look at my top 5 westerns made after 1970. The real reason I separated these is because I’ve seen almost all of these in the theatre and it makes a difference. These movies had a meaning to me that the older ones just missed. I didn’t feel it was right to have the classics like The Searchers compete against all of the emotions tied up in the feelings I “grew up” with.

5. Silverado (1985) Lawrence Kasden hit this one out of the park. It has all of the elements of the classics along with a great cast and fun dialogue. Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum, John Cleese, Jeff Fahey, and Brian Dennehy round out the excellent cast of this fun loving action filled epic.

4. Open Range (2003) I loved this movie and you should pick up the DVD and listen to the commentary. The real life physical pain that Kevin Costner was going through made the emotional pain of his character come out perfectly on the screen. This movie has one of the best shootout scenes filmed so if you love action check it out for this part alone.

3. Blazing Saddles (1974) “Work, Work, Work,” “What in the Wide Wide World of Sports is a going on out here!” “Telegram for Mongo, Telegram for Mongo” Written by Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor this comedy western spoof has it all. You might not be able to quote 80 percent of the dialogue today, but it’s still probably the funniest movie even made.

2. Unforgiven (1992) It all builds up to the last 10 minutes, A tremendous character piece. It won Best Picture and Best Director for Clint Eastwood and a Best Supporting Actor Award for Gene Hackman. This is a must see movie and even Jose who doesn’t like westerns likes this one.

1. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) I just can’t get enough of this movie, Hands down my favorite western of all time. This is a gun movie as Josey carries multiple pistols and even a sniper rifle that he uses to introduce the bad guys to a “Missouri Boat Ride”.

Honorable Mentions include Lonesome Dove, Dances with Wolves, Tombstone, Wyatt Earp, and The Shootist, any of which could have and maybe should have made the list.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Favorite Westerns

Jose brought up Unforgiven in his post the other day and it made me think about Westerns. I love movies and I’ve always found westerns to be some of the best films made. When you talk about lists like “Top 10”, or “Best Of” it’s so subjective, but here I go anyway. I’m going to give you my 5 favorite Westerns…but wait, I’m going to put a time frame on the movie. For today I’m going to give you my 5 favorite Westerns made prior to 1970. I feel like everything made after 1970 has a modern feel to the movie. Here we go:

5. Support You Local Sheriff (1969) I love this movie. James Garner at his finest and probably the first comedy western I remember seeing. Every time this is on TV I have to sit and watch. Jack Elam is perfect as the reluctant sidekick and with a supporting cast of Walter Brennan, Henry Morgan, Bruce Dern, and Joan Hackett the acting and comedy is first rate.

4. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966) Everybody has seen this one, and they should. It’s the best of the Spaghetti Westerns and a classic. Probably remembered the most from this film, however, is the score. Ennio Morricone’s original score can be heard in everything from Hollywood blockbusters to commercials and we instantly know where it’s from.

3. The Searchers (1956) I think its John Wayne’s finest move and works on so many levels. I like a lot of The Duke’s stuff, but this one just has…depth. It has to be John Wayne’s best acting performance, and the cinematography is a wonder. The story is complex with solid performances all around. Truly a special film.

2. Will Penny (1968) What I like about this movie is the normalness of it. I feel like watching this film puts you in the mind and heart of being a cowboy. This was Charlton Hesston’s favorite film as a portrayed an ordinary cowboy working a line shack in the winter. This is another Joan Hackett film and I must admit to just recently discovering her as one of my favorite leading ladies.

1. Warlock (1959) I’ve talked about this one before so feel free to browse the previous posts. I love this movie for the look, feel, story, and action. The acting is not the best, but pretty fun non-the-less. This as my number one proves just how subjective these lists can be. It’s MY number one and the hell with the rest of you.

Forgive me if your favorite isn’t one of these top 5. I left out such greats as Stagecoach, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache, Shane, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. But maybe Jose will pick up on a few of those. It’s your turn Jose.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Match Calendar

Just in case there are any Cowboy groupies out there, I created a Google calendar of the matches I may attend this year and put a link to the calendar in the Links section. I would have embedded it in the sidebar, but I can't get it small enough to go in there and not look like hell. It would have been nice though.

UPDATE: OK OK, I think I may have it. I widened the sidebar as well as the entire blog-page itself. That allowed me to do the embed and not have it look terrible. Not entirely readable, but you'll be able to click on calendar events to see what's what.

The internets is weird

So I'm searching YouTube for some videos from the Shooting USA TV show and come across a CAS video from Texas via Japan. Enjoy.

The Comanche Valley Vigilantes is the home of the SouthWest Regional every year, something that Judge and I have talked about going to. This video shows some really good looking stage props, I think it'd be a bunch of fun to go shoot there.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

1st vs 2nd

Via David Hardy at Of Arms and the Law, CNN had a program about the betrayal of CCW holders in Virgina by the Roanoke Times.

Cudos to CNN.

While Miguel says the paper doesn't have anything to gain by publishing this info, it does gain two things 1) a controversy that brings traffic to the website and thus readership 2) it advances the anti-gun agenda by outing all the CCW holders the reporter equated with sex offenders and pedophiles.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

United we Stand

José and I are both lovers of the leaf…Cigars that is. And, if you’ve noticed we’ve even added a link to Cigar Aficionado’s Blogs. While these little tidbits of information may not appeal to all of our readers I tend to keep an eye on what’s being written. It’s a pleasure to come across a hidden gem of a cigar and I can’t think of shooting without smoking.

Gordon Mott had an interesting post today about the tobacco bans in NYC. He talked about feeling pity for the poor cigarette smoker bundled in the cold outside the no-smoking workplace just trying to get a quick fix. He went on to talk about the differences between cigar smokers and cigarette smokers and how one was or wasn’t related to the other. The talkbackers took this a step further by pointing out how for years they had been asked to leave smoking establishments because the cigarette smokers didn’t like the cigar smoke. What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?

Well, I couldn’t help but see a correlation between what’s been going on for years in the gun community and what is going on in the tobacco community. Jim Zumbo started a firestorm with his comments and we all find ourselves divided between the hunters, the tactical shooter, the gun collectors, and the competition shooters. While there is no 2nd amendment to protect one’s right to smoke I still see the same divide and conquer tactics and the “as long as it doesn’t affect me” attitude.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Hooten Holler Roundup

Also known as The 2007 SASS Kentucky State Championship! This may become a yearly event for me, its a fun shoot with lots of good shooters, many of whom I regularly shoot with, a terrific atmosphere and its fairly close. The only problem with the shoot is there's no real close lodging, the nearest available lodging is 30-40min away.

Hooten Old Town as I've written about before has a "town" build up next to the range, unlike most shooting ranges where the "town" buildings are just facades and the stages are shot in and around those buildings, the buildings at hooten are real. There's actually a mercantile and church, though the rest of the buildings pretty much disguise for cabins that individuals have built and own to an extent (the range is privately held by Old Man Markum). Its pretty cool and unique none-the-less.

So far I know I'm going and Copper Quincy is coming as well as several Thunder Valley Shooters and Judge may come if he solves a conflict that may keep him home and its not his wife like usual (I kid I kid).  Anyway, if you're a CAS shooter looking for a great weekend, come on down to Hooten on May 4th.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Change of attitude

A recent post by Xavier about a CHL holder who shot someone that bumped into him on a bus got me a thinkin', something I try to avoid mostly.  I thought about my own attitude when I have an iron strapped to my hip, the way I act and what I say around the general public and I certainly don't do or say some of the things I would normally do or say.  I suppose I feel that there is more responibility I am burdened with because I now posses the means to easily take someone else's life.

As Bill Muny (aka Clint) said in Unforgiven "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have."

Besides being one of my all time favorite movie quotes, it is, for me, introspection.  I do think like all persons who carry should about the situations that one may face where I'd clear leather (draw my gun for the novice).  For starters, it'd never happen because I was indignant over some asshole bumping into me, insulting my mother or family, walking on my lawn or cutting me off in traffic.  In short, because someone is an asshole, doesn't mean I get to shoot them down, however unfortunate that may be.

An excellent post by Porta at The Cathouse sums up pretty well my feelings on the matter with this quote

"A handgun is for getting me out of situations that I would not have gotten out of if I did not have one. It is not for getting me into situations that I would not have gotten into if I did not have one."

I don't think I could have said it better given a hundred years.

A Jeffery Boyd from Solsberry, IN doesn't get it, apparently, since he got involved in a road rage incident in my hometown of Bloomington on Friday March 30.  From the Herald Times (subscription required)

According to police reports, Boyd was driving in the area of Fifth and Adams streets. Near that intersection, a white Geo merged into traffic ahead of Boyd’s Ford Bronco — complete with a “Jarhead” license plate — and cut him off.

The local rag can't help itself from taking a swipe at the military by pointing out the Jarhead license plate.  After some road rage driving and arguing.

During the argument, passengers in the Geo said Boyd brandished a 9mm handgun and began waving it in the air from the Bronco, the report said.

Boyd reportedly told the Geo driver that he was going to hurt him and the passengers — including two children, ages 7 and 10.

Why would a person act in such a manner (mind you I've thought of killing many drivers in this town since most are completely brain dead).  His response to police was and I kid you not.

According to the reports, Boyd told police he was trying to teach the Geo driver a lesson, telling him that he should be careful who he messes with, “because you never know when a crazy person might have a gun in the city.”

Really?  And what if the Geo driver had a gun and was as just as stupid as you Mr. Boyd?