Firearms Activities

My most recent hobby, and the one I spend the most time with these days, is firearms. I didn't even own a gun (although I grew up on a farm with them around all the time) until after President Clinton was elected. Then I purchased only the most politically incorrect ones. Amazing what a perceived shortage will do to your buying habits. Now I go shooting at least once a week, mostly pistol, but I enjoy rifle shooting too. I belong to a range, Weapons Safety, Inc. (WSI) as well as the Microsoft Gun Club, Interlake Rod and Gun Club, The Lewiston Pistol Club, and Palouse Practical Shooters. Most of the time I shoot at paper targets and steel "plates", but occasionally I shoot at things like exploding targets and milk jugs filled with water. But the event that I am most proud of my accomplishment in the Intermountain Tactical Rifle Team Championship.  And the most fun was when on May 18, 1996 and June 21, 1997 I shot my rifle at dynamite filled pop cans in the Blanchard Blast in Northern Idaho.  There are other types of "interesting" shooting events too.

Favorite Shooting Event

Reactive targets are my favorite type of shooting. The Blanchard Blast was fun, but it appears there are no more events planned by those organizers. Ever since my first taste I have been working toward a way of putting on an event of that type locally. Reactive Targets is a brief (yes, this is the short version) overview of my efforts.

Plate Shooting

This is me shooting plates with my Ruger P89 (9mm with 147 grain FMJ bullets) at WSI:

The object is to knock the plates (plastic or metal circles mounted on hinges) down as rapidly as possible. There are five plates. In early '96 when the plates were at 7 yards and with my Ruger my best time was 3.18 seconds (I got lucky). Usually they are at 10 yards and my best time with my Ruger was 3.86 S, but usually it was in the 4 to 5 second range. With lots more practice and with my new 1911 clone in .40 S&W I have had runs of 2.93, 3.01, and 3.05 in practice. In competition my best time is 3.32.  But this still doesn't compare to when I once saw Grandmaster IPSC shooter Richard Morgan drop them all in 2.44 seconds.

The Great Bullet Debate

I have done a bunch of literature research on the best type of bullet for self-defense purposes.  Basically there has been an ongoing debate on this for decades.  If you are interested, read my summary.

Six At Once?

I shoot in the NWPA (Northwest Pistol Association) league at WSI on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (two different groups). After shooting my prescribed number of rounds one evening the range officer commented about me having six rounds of brass in the air at once. I was skeptical that I was even coming close to such a feat. So I did the calculations (nerdy engineer that I am). Boring details available in the email discussion that followed. The conclusion was that unless the brass went higher than 9.5 feet I only had 5 rounds in the air at once. Here is a quick check on the numbers to determine if you are pumping the rounds out fast enough to have six at once. If you assume the brass is ejected at five feet above the ground and reaches a height of seven feet it takes a total of almost exactly one second before it strikes the ground. However many shoots you can get out in that time is how many you have in the air at once. If the brass goes to 9.5 feet it takes 1.3 seconds to st rike the ground. Again, however many shots you can get off in that time is how many rounds of brass are in the air.


I also shoot in IPSC matches, mostly in Idaho. IPSC is a fast moving game where you shoot at various "bad guy" targets while avoiding hitting the "good guys" targets. Frequently there is running and shooting from behind concealment or cover, and always fast shooting and reloading with live ammo. It's great fun. The biggest draw back is that you use up most of a day going to a match. But as a friend I took to his first match said, "We spend four or five hours standing around, and about forty or fifty seconds actually shooting, but those forty or fifty seconds are the most fun seconds of your life."

It may sound dangerous, but there are so many safety rules (see IPSC Rules) that must be STRICTLY followed that it is extremely rare that anyone gets hurt. The worst injuries that I have ever seen were pinched skin and minor cuts from getting your body parts caught in gun parts, mild hypothermia, and dehydration from the weather conditions (it's very rare that a match will be canceled due to weather). I've heard there was one death (very freakish accident) in the last twenty years or so that IPSC has been around. With the number of people involved (tens of thousands shooting dozens of stages each year) that probably makes it safer than skiing and bicycle riding in terms of serious injuries per hour involved.

The paper target currently being used is humanoind shaped with a square "head".  There are people that think we could get more shooters and have a better chance of getting into the Olympic games if we used a target that was not humanoid in shape.  There is serious consideration being give to eliminating the use of the current target in favor of a more "political correct" target.  See images of the targets and my thoughts on this.

I'm a member of:

National Rifle Association

Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership (even though I'm not Jewish),

The Second Amendment Foundation,

United States Practical Shooting Association and


International Practical Shooting Confederation.

Despite playing the character Militia Joe from Idaho in a public access television skit (Swine Before Pearls), I do not belong to any militias. I do have strong opinions in regards to the preservation of the Second Amendment and have concerns about the motivation of recent bans and attempts to undermine our inalienable right to keep and bear arms. It's painfully obvious to anyone that investigates the facts that the increasing restrictions are not about controlling crime and will have no positive effect in controlling crime. The real reasons for the restriction on firearms are most likely strictly political, with a small possibility of something more sinister. In any case, it is cause for concern and political activism. However, there are increasing (and alarming) numbers of people suggesting it may b e necessary to actually use firearms for armed resistance to government forces in the near future. Although I can envision situations where that might be the only recourse available I believe there are many non-violent options still available. After political activism, I personally favor civil disobedience - such as flagrant violation of bans on the cosmetics of firearms. But ultimately it can conceivably boil down to Lexington and Concord: America's first response to firearm confiscation. A very frightening thought. I hope the gun grabbing politicians value freedom and peace more than perceived political advantage.

See also, my philosophy questions. I think it is time to give serious thought to some difficult questions.

Last modified: April 01, 1999
Email: Joe Huffman.