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Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Day In The Life...

I need some help understanding something.  After the Fort Hood massacre, it was difficult enough for me to believe that soldiers on our military bases don't walk around armed.  What I found out yesterday seems impossible.

I spent the day yesterday at an NRA Day At The Range function.  It's basically a sign-up day to increase NRA membership.  I offered to set up a "loop" of some screens from my First Steps Pistol Orientation class.  I set up a loop that ran for about 5 minutes, then repeated over and over (and over and over) all day.

It was pretty successful, with a lot of people coming through the gun shop, and the NRA got a number of sign-ups (including one Life Membership).  It also turned out well for me, as I signed-up one person for one of my upcoming scheduled classes, and two folks for my advanced class.

That leads me to my question.  One of the Advanced students is active-duty Air Force.  It has come to my attention (from another source) that aside from the firearms training received during Basic Training, the average, run-of-the-mill soldier/airman/sailor does not receive regular, on-going firearms training.

Can this be true?  This kid I'm going to be training recently returned from Iraq.  I have no idea (yet) what function he performed.  He may have been a bookkeeper, a cook or someone else well behind the fight, or he may have been located at a remote airbase right in the thick of it- I just don't know.

And it's irrelevant.

Why is this kid having to go to a civilian range and instructor?  How can our country send ANYONE in any capacity over into a war zone and not have them proficient in firearms usage?

Someone please help me understand the rationale behind this.

After the NRA Day, I went to Wally World to pick up some stick-on targets and other items.  I was wearing one of my NRA Certified Instructor shirts.

I'm up at the register, and the guy looks at my shirt, looks at the targets and asks, "So, dude, are these targets for air soft or something?"  I look at the NRA insignia and Certified Instructor patch on my chest, then look back at him and say, "No.  I'm a firearms instructor." 

I thought he was going to wet himself.  The look on his face made a good day, great.

I recently made a fairly large 90% silver purchase.  Well, it was large for me and it was actually a number of purchases.

One of them was an ebay auction for 90% silver dimes.  After my count of the dimes, I came up two short.  Now, we're not talking huge money here - the two dimes are worth about $1.40 each.

I emailed the guy telling him about the problem.  He emailed me back this morning, saying he was sorry for the problem, and would be sending me 3 dimes - two to fulfill the original order and one for causing me problems.

It is so refreshing to come across someone with some personal and business integrity. It is very easy to "talk the talk".  It may just be him working to maintain his 100% ebay rating, which is kind of the point, isn't it?  He's making sure his customers are happy.

He will receive glowing feedback upon my receipt of the coins.

Historically, I have only purchased silver bullion rounds - 1 ounce of .999 pure silver each.  These latest purchases are my first purchases of 90% silver coins - half dollars, quarters and dimes minted in 1964 or earlier.

I had a learning curve.  Instead of basing the price soley on the spot price of silver, you buy the coins based upon face value.  For instance, you may pay $13 for each $1 of face value.  As of late, this pricing multiple has been anywhere between $13 and north of $14 per $1 face.

A friend of mine gave me a spreadsheet that has formulas for determining what the multiple should be based upon the current spot price of silver.  You then decide how much of a premium over spot/face multiple you want to pay. 

To say the least, it is more confusing, but that's how things are done with the 90% coins.  There are some nuances involved as well.  For instance, even though AT MINTING ten dimes had the same amount of silver as two half-dollars, over time, the two half-dollars will generally contain more silver.

Why?  Because they were less heavily circulated when they were being used as money to buy goods and services.  Over time, more silver was "rubbed off" of dimes than off of half dollars.  To account for this, on some online coin shops, the multiple for half-dollars is higher than it is for dimes - usually a few cents per dollar of face value.

There really is something to this.  As I was counting and cataloging my recent purchases, my fingertips were quite "dirty" - covered with the black oxidation that occurs with silver.

Always learnin'...

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Shy Wolf said...

Looking at your dilemma from an historical perspective, it doesn't seem unusual for a Serviceman or Woman to be unfamiliar with pistol shooting after basic training. Unless their MOS calls for use of the sidearm as primary weapon, it's more than likely the norm. At least, it was for us back in the day. Our basic weapon was M14/16/60/MaDuece, and that's what we trained with. Pistols were not all that common outside the Spec-Ops as a 'serious' weapon.
The same seems to be true with those Vets returning today, Those in our club are in the same ranks: almost absolute novice in combat pistolcraft.
Those who were MPs have a bit more experience but are still quite a way behind our 'average' IDP shooters. The Spec-Ops people are very good, however.
The Ft Hood massacre was probably a 'norm' as was stated by the BC: the troops do not walk around armed, even if licensed to. A subject that surely should be addressed by the Higher Ups and Rank and File. After all, they're in the eye of the storm, they should be armed.

Chief Instructor said...

The more I've looked into this, it seem you are right - there is very little ongoing pistol training/usage in the military. That just seems odd to me. I would think you would want all service members to be proficient in both pistol and rifle regardless of your job or station.

With that in mind, though, this is perhaps a door opening for my business. I would have never thought that the military would be a potential customer for my civilian pistol training!