Tuesday, May 17, 2016

                       2016 Armed Forces Skeet Championships

  Recently my great friend, co-worker and all around great American COL (Ret) Ed Gutierrez had a chance to compete in the 2016 Armed Services Skeet Championships held in Nashville, TN as part of the Fort Hood Skeet Team. The event is conducted by the Armed Forces Skeet Association (see link below). Below are some of the discussions I’ve had with Ed over the past few days about the match. For brevity’s sake, much of Ed’s praise and appreciation for the Great State of Tennessee during his visit and for the role Tennessee played in liberating his home state of Texas were left out of this post, but saved for a possible future post.

MOG: How long have you competed at the Armed Services Skeet Championship?

Ed: My first Armed Forces Shoot was in May of 1993 and it was held at the San Antonio Gun Club.  I earned a position on the active duty Army Skeet Team 2 that year while stationed at Fort Rucker, AL.  Unfortunately I had to take a 20 year break from the event due to assignments and deployments. I returned to the shoot in 2013 which was the year I retired and have returned every year since.  It’s a great event and I plan to attend every year if possible.

MOG: What changes have you seen with the Championship in that timeframe?

Ed: The biggest and most important change was the inclusion of Military Veterans and their spouses in the event. Prior to 2013 the championships were for active duty and retired military only. In 2013 the by-laws were amended to include all veterans and their spouses which allows them to compete side by side with the active duty and retired folks.  I believe it was a fantastic change and it brought many new shooters not only into the event, but more importantly brought them back into our retired military and active duty formations.  So far the response has been fantastic and everyone welcomes these new shooters with open arms.

MOG: What was your opinion of this year’s Championship?

Ed: This year’s shoot was awesome and the venue was great also. It was held at the Nashville Gun Club in Nashville, TN.  The range is located on the Cumberland River and provided some excellent scenery from the club house. Overall the shoots are getting bigger in terms of attendance, which is great.  This year there were over 150 shooters from all the services and the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps active duty teams were also there.  Great event and I was proud to participate in it.

MOG: How did you and the FT Hood Team fare this year?

Ed: The Fort Hood Skeet Team, of which I am part of, won the .410 bore Gun Championship this year, which was very nice.  By the way, Fort Hood is only one of maybe two or three bases that sponsor their teams. That is a big morale boost to know your installation supports you and your team. Personally I earned 4 individual awards and my team mates Don Miller, Monty England, and Ken Wagner also earned individual awards.  I am definitely looking forward to attending the next Armed Forces Shoot which will be in Jacksonville, FL.
                                                                     2016 Fort Hood Skeet Team
(L-R)  Jerry Provorse, Don Miller, Dave Wood, Ken Wagner, Ed Gutierrez, Monty England, and Ed Hughes.

  A big thank you to Ed for his service to our Nation's Army of over 30 years and for sharing his insight of the recent Armed Services Skeet Championships. We wish Ed and the Fort Hood Skeet Team the best of luck as they begin the process of getting ready for the 2017 shoot in Jacksonville, FL.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

                                                                                   Oh Oregon!

                                       The First Ever MOG State of the Year

  If I could paraphrase the first sentence of John Denver’s classic song “Rocky Mountain High” to fit me personally, it would be “I was born in the Fall of my 53rd year; coming home to a place I’d never been before”. That was the first trip I took to Oregon to hunt Black Bears with my bearded Brother Brent in the Fall of 2014. Driving up there that time from Texas and entering the State from the Idaho border, I felt something crossing the border that I’ve only ever felt in one other State: I felt at home. I felt like I belonged there and the further I drove into Oregon the stronger that feeling became. The only other place I’ve felt anything like that is in “Beautiful Northeast Tennessee”, and that should be the official, government sanctioned name for that part of Tennessee.

  I recently had the chance to visit Oregon again just a few weeks ago. The feelings returned shortly after leaving Boise, Idaho and crossing the Oregon border. The fertile farmland there in eastern Oregon remind me so much of the farmland in northeast Arkansas where my Grandparents farmed, but it soon gave way to high deserts and incredible views and winding roads as we drove towards Burns and then on to Bend.  We started seeing the trees getting bigger and bigger as we continued the drive to the Rogue River valley. Best name ever for a river and the best location ever for a river of that name. The valley fits the river that carved it and the river fits the valley, perfectly.

  It was for another chance to hunt Black Bears and for the time I needed to spend with my Brother and the woods that brought me back; this time in the “Spring of my 54th year”. It was a great hunt, though the bears outwitted me. The important part ….the part I needed more than filling my bear tag, was just being there. Just being there; with my Brother and the mountains and tall trees. Just sitting there after the hike in was the best kind of therapy and at night proved to be the best kind of sleeping medicine. Views you can’t imagine and my feeble attempt to put the words together to describe them or even the pictures I took fall far short. The views, their incredible beauty, are something only the eyes can show the mind. On the last day of the hunt as the sun was starting to fade beyond the far ridge, I felt as at peace as I have ever been. Just being there made it a very successful hunt. It was good for what ails me. It was good for my mind and for my body. It was good for my spirit. It was exactly what I needed and what I need more of.  Sitting by a small, cold stream that kept a couple of Oregon beers cold for us as we left the woods, I could only reflect on one thing………I will be back.

  The people there along the Rogue River have all been incredibly nice to me and are very patient as they try to understand the words coming out of my mouth. With English as my second language {Appalachian being the first} the folks there only occasionally looked down for sub-titles when I spoke. I am sure there may be disagreeable folks somewhere in Oregon, but I have yet to meet them. A big thank you to my Brother Brent and his friend Randy and Brent's Cousin Logan for their help in getting things going for the hunt and for their friendship. I appreciate it more than I can say. Thanks to Ali for making things so nice for my wife’s first visit there. Thanks to Brent’s incredible parents for their hospitality, friendship and for sharing the incredible views of Oregon with us and for raising such a great American and greater friend. Finer people, I do not know. Thanks to the folks at B N B Armory for their hospitality when I finally got to visit the gun shop that I had heard so much about. Great folks and it was great to talk and visit with them. Being there, seeing everything and enjoying every bit of every moment leaves me with an official apology to make my Brother Brent….”I’m sorry I talked you into re-enlisting for another hitch in the Army all those years ago”. You told me how incredible Oregon was, but I couldn't imagine how incredible until I saw it with my own eyes. Had I seen it for myself back then, I probably wouldn’t have re-enlisted either of us.

Oh Oregon……..I’ll be back!


Monday, December 28, 2015

                                                 A Hero Gone
  A couple of days after Christmas this year, America lost another part of the Greatest Generation when World War II Navy Veteran Paris Wright passed away in Kingsport, Tennessee. I wish that as a Nation, these men were given National honors and recognition for what they did for America and for the world. Americans know everything and far too much about “celebrities” and far too little about the men that saved the world. I would love to see those roles reversed and see our heroes taught about in our schools. I’d love to see their lives celebrated, their heroism touted and see their faces on stamps issued by the Post Office. They deserve it. They’ve earned it. We owe it.

  When our Nation called, Paris Wright answered that call and helped turn back Imperial Japan in the Pacific Theater. He knew the dangers he faced and he knew the dangers that faced America. Few people these days (and fewer by the day) have known the kind of existential threat America and the world faced back then. Paris Wright, like so many of that amazing generation, put his life on hold to step into harm’s way. He didn’t go into the Navy to make a career; he went to kill our enemies, protect America and liberate a continent that was held by an evil and brutal regime. Like so many others of that generation, he served until the job was done and then came home to resume his life, raise a family with his wife Ada and live in the peace he helped create for America. He worked and kept working long after what most folks think of as retirement age. That Greatest Generation knew only hard work and understood the value in it. They rolled up their sleeves and set out to make things right. Then, like true heroes, they came home and lived their lives quietly, worked hard and gave everything they could to make sure a prosperous and safe Nation was handed over to the next generation. 

  I was lucky enough to know him and his family and I know that my life has been better for it. In fact I don’t know where I would be in life without them. I was lucky enough to have his counsel and fortunate enough to see him being a father, a Grandfather and a Great-Grandfather and see the love and pride he had in his family. He was fortunate enough to see one of his Grandchildren follow in his footsteps and be there when she graduated Basic Training in the Navy and I was fortunate enough to hear him telling me about it and know the pride he felt on that special day. He was generous with his time, his food and his home; often sharing all three with the occasional stray kid that needed some of each. He was, without question the most ardent NASCAR fan I have even encountered and every race day was taken very seriously in his home. He had a sharp wit and remarkable sense of humor that never left him and I will miss that a great deal. I am thankful for him and his wife Ada and I am thankful for their family and for the place they allowed me to occupy in their lives.  As General Patton said in the quote below; we should be thankful that such men lived. That so many in our Nation and in the lands he helped liberate will not know of his passing, seems almost sinful to me. “Fair winds and following seas” Paris. Thank you for everything.

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
General George S. Patton

Sunday, December 13, 2015

                                                                          Just One More…..
  Talking with some friends and my Cousin this weekend, we talked about the new guns and different calibers coming out (or already out that we don’t yet own) and how it seems the gun companies always build something new and exciting to pull the money out of our wallets, checking and savings accounts. Then there came a discussion of what to say to that question that all gun owners of more than one gun are inevitably asked: “How many guns do you need?”

  My standard answer is that there is a difference between need and want. My needs would be around 10, but my wants are boundless. The truth is that I want one of each gun and two of most. The truth is that I keep 10 guns on my “Most Wanted List” and if I could buy all 10 tomorrow, I’d have 10 fresh guns on the “Most Wanted List” less than 30 minutes later.

  My needs would be a quality deer rifle in 30.06, a quality pump shotgun in 12 gauge (with a slug barrel just for the option it presents), a quality .22 rifle for small game and plinking, a varmint caliber rifle, a semi auto .45 and a revolver in .357. Prior to 1994, that’s pretty much all I was interested in. I was in the Army then and anything other than hunting guns didn’t hold my interest as much as they would after 1994 because I had the opportunity to regularly fire a wide range of military weapons.  In 1994 though, I realized that what I needed, needed to be expanded. I was young and ignorant of many things and I didn’t give much thought to what the brilliant Founding Fathers meant when they spoke about the Militia. Like I said; I was in the Army and figured I’d be off somewhere fighting in a war overseas if the Militia were ever needed here. Truthfully, it wasn’t until 1994 and especially after I retired that I began to realize what my responsibilities were to my Nation in terms of what the Founding Fathers expected of citizens.

  The expanded “need” list happened quickly as the things the NRA had long warned us about started to happen. The expanded “need” list included an AR with sufficient ammo and magazines. It included buying my first Glock; the Glock 21 and the compact Glock 30, because Glock stood their ground and refused to sign on with the Clinton Administration’s anti -gun policies; instead saying they’d take their chances in court. I set out that very day to support them. The list also included a home defense shotgun and concealed carry handguns and a few in the 7.62x39 and 5.45x39.5 ammo range. Still, that is a very modest need list. {If you have trouble getting to sleep, you can scroll down the blog to find the post on "Guns of the Militia" to read my views on which guns are suitable for duty}

  My want list is all encompassing. Rare is the gun that I’d look at and not want. There are a few, but they are not worth the time to mention here. There are guns that are works of art and I can’t help but want them. New calibers interest me and though I’m slow to adopt them, I still want them. The AR market has seen incredible advances in the last 20 years and they are so modular that any configuration and a wide range of caliber options are available. And I want them. I want them all. Over and Under shotguns are on the “Most Wanted List”, though they carry an elegance about them that would look strange in the hands of a semi-literate Hillbilly. Camo hunting shotguns and every bolt action known to man are on the list. Not to be lost in the world of “new and improved”, lever guns and single shot rifles and shotguns are on the list. Also on the list are the old military workhorses of years gone by. No collection can be considered complete or of adequate resource if it doesn’t include the M1 Garand, the M1903 Springfield, the German Mauser K98 and the Lee-Enfield in .303. New and modern or old and well used, guns are the one material thing on earth that I can fully understand their value and appreciate everything about them. Gold or diamonds (jewelry of any sort) or any other material thing, I know little about and understand less. But the gun……..there I understand the value and the importance.

  Whenever the question of “How many guns do you need” comes up; I just smile and say the one answer that I know to be true: “Just one more………I will always need just one more.


Monday, November 30, 2015

                                              One Last Time……
  This Thanksgiving in Texas we had perfect weather; perfect for me at least. It was chilly and rainy and overcast and that kind of weather always takes me back to the Thanksgiving’s I had at my Grandparent’s farm in Northeast Arkansas. It has had me wishing for one last Thanksgiving there. From my earliest Thanksgiving memories to the last Thanksgiving I had there; the weather and the times always felt perfect to me. Everything about it was perfect, every time. The family gathered there, the food cooking, the duck hunting that morning and the fireplace made me feel like I was in a real life Walton’s family.
  The hunting was almost always done with my Grandfather’s shotgun. It was an old 12 gauge pump that kicked like a mule, but he had no problem with me using it and I carried it with pride. If I had it today, it would be the most valued gun I owned. I loved cleaning it more than any other gun ever. My Grandfather would watch me clean it and I wanted to show him what it meant to me that he’d let me use it by taking as good a care of it as I could, every single time I used it. Even though it kicked like a mule, it never let me down. I let it down a few times with misses that should have had a Mallard falling into the water and it has me wishing I had one last time to hunt with it.

  Coming back from hunting, I would be as hungry like I hadn’t eaten anything in days.  The house would be full of the most incredible smells of food that was almost ready to eat and the bustling sounds of four or five cooks in the kitchen making it happen. My Grandmother being in charge and the primary cook, she’d give out tasks to my Aunts there helping and have that kitchen running with military precision. The food, every single time, seemed like the best food I had ever eaten and there’s never been anything like it since. The thought of it has me wishing I could be there enjoying that feast one last time.

  After the hunt and after the feast, the living room was the place to be. The fire in the wood stove would be going and my Grandfather would be answering questions and reminiscing about things in his life. My belly being full and the warmth of that wood stove, while listening to my Grandfather talking was always the most comfortable I have ever been. Never in my life have I felt more at peace and content as on those Thanksgiving afternoons. Thinking of the warmth of that wood stove has me wishing I could stoke that fire one last time.
  Times change, people move away or drift away and sadly some begin to pass away. A family is never quite the same after the Grandparents are gone. I know it was never the same for me. The Grandparents on the farm never had a TV and the radio they had was for the Farm report and the weather. They passed away before every phone was a computer and everyone looked at their screens instead of talking. In their house, there was conversation. I never missed the TV when I was there though. Everything always seemed perfect as it was and I can’t think of one thing I’d change about being there. It does make me want to go back to the farm; to be there in their house and to feel the memories of those days flood over me…….one last time.

Monday, November 16, 2015

                                       I Will Not Light a Candle

  As people in the civilized world come to grips with the atrocities perpetuated by the savages that struck Paris, Lebanon and Kenya over the past week; know that their supporters are celebrating and planning for more such attacks. It isn’t in my being to light a candle and attend prayer vigils to pray for the victims. I am useless in those areas and the good people attending candle light prayer vigils would probably not want me there praying out loud, because what I would be praying for would be the polar opposite of what the good and caring souls there were praying for. I would not be praying for peace in the face of an enemy intent on bringing war to innocent civilians. I would be praying for those savages to be wiped from the face of the earth. My prayer would be along the lines of Psalm 144:1 “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.” I would be praying for the Rights of civilized people everywhere to be restored to them. I would be praying that their God given Rights of self-defense be restored and that they would be allowed the use of arms in that defense. I would pray that the governments of Europe would finally listen to their citizens as they begin to raise their voices in protest. I would pray that if they didn’t listen to their citizens, that those citizens would rise up and throw out their own governments. I would pray that the tide be turned and the infiltration in Europe of radical Jihadists be stopped. I would be praying that the West would finally realize the existential threat we face and declare the resolve to end radicalism and 500 B.C. ideologies that are incapable of reform or coexisting with anyone. I would say my prayers would not be answered though and lacking that outcome, we must focus on what we can do.
  Know that the enemies of the West, the enemies of civilization itself, are preparing themselves daily. They are training their children to kill our children while the children of civilized Nations are being taught to tolerate the intolerant. Their hatred of the West and the Jihad they seek is preached daily in Mosques around the world. It is taught daily in Madrasas around the world, where precious little else is taught. Civilized Nations have allowed the debate to be silenced by allowing “political correctness” to be the only voice heard while dissenting views are shouted down, threatened and in some cases made illegal. It is considered hate speech to even speak out against these atrocities in some Western countries. Citizens everywhere must be allowed to speak freely and lacking government protections, be allowed the use of arms in defense of themselves and others.
  The first thing we need to do is to eliminate our fear. We should not recoil in fear when we see atrocities by savages committed against civilized societies. They seek to terrorize us by their actions to freeze us in fear. I don’t fear them, I loathe them. Their savagery doesn’t instill fear of them in me, it instills anger towards them. We should eliminate the fear some have of being called names for speaking out. We should refuse to be shouted down for speaking the truth. We should eliminate our fears of going about our lives after such atrocities, but we should go about our lives with knowledge and a plan of action should the need arise by being aware of our surroundings (situational awareness). Eliminate those fears and we begin to eliminate the effect of terrorizing the West.
  I’m writing these words in a land blessed with the freedoms and Rights bestowed on us by our Creator. I thank God daily for the brilliant Founding Fathers that gave birth to my Nation and put pen to paper of the Rights we each have been given; not by them or the government, but bestowed on us by God. These Rights and freedoms are not limited to those blessed to live in America though. They are the Rights and freedoms from God for every person on earth and I pray that people around the globe would read those documents and know that they have those Rights and that they would fight for them. It appears that many in Europe are waking up to this idea. Even the INTERPOL has suggested that an armed citizenry would be the only way to stop attacks from such evil savages. Perhaps they realize something that most governments around the world do not……..the Police can’t be everywhere and personal safety is almost always left up to the individual at the scene of the crime to deal with.
  I’m thankful for the good and kind people of the world. I am thankful for those that gather and pray for others and pray for peace. I wish them peace in their lives and hope no act of war is ever visited on them, near them or to their families and friends. I thank them for their prayers for the victims of an evil ideology. As they say their prayers, I will say mine. “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.”
  Go armed everywhere you can. Limit the places you go where you are denied the Right of self-defense. Stay alert and stay alive. Like it or not, the fight will be brought to us until we vow to fight back and defeat them and no amount of wishing will make them go away. Only brute force resistance and savagery returned in kind will do that.  

“Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” Luke 22:36


Thursday, September 24, 2015

                                                   Two Wrongs Can’t Take a Right

  Liberal attempts at gaining traction on gun control are sabotaged by their own stance on crime and punishment. Their policies, implemented by liberal judges, of the catch and release of criminals gives us a very dangerous society. What we see happen, during a period of left leaning Administrations is crime on the increase corresponding with a rise in gun ownership. We see repeat offenders on the nightly news with numerous prior convictions being arrested yet again. If those criminals had served their full sentences, they would still be in prison instead of being let loose on our streets with only a fraction of their punishment being served. If Americans don't feel safe in their homes, neighborhoods and cities, you will see folks that might not normally buy a gun, become gun owners. The Left, which is historically soft on crime, focuses on rehabilitation of the criminal instead of realizing that jails and prisons are there for punishment. Rehabilitation is for knee surgery, not for murderers, rapists and violent criminals. They have been at this “rehabilitation” philosophy for 40 years or more……..do you feel a violent criminal is rehabilitated after serving in prison today?

  Couple the “soft on crime” approach with what largely appears to be an anti-Police sentiment and we have a dire situation in many large cities and across the country. Police in many large cities have backed off of enforcing the laws on the streets out of fear that they will be targeted by the Politicians running the city should they be involved in a shooting or other deadly force encounters. We’ve seen this in Baltimore and New York City (where the Police turned their backs, literally, on the Mayor) and we’ve seen crime skyrocket in those cities in the past year.

  Another “wrong” that leaves the Left unable to garner support for new gun control laws is in the area of mental illness. Our streets and cities are filled with seriously mentally ill individuals that 40 years ago would have been institutionalized. We have a serious mental illness issue in America today. I see it almost daily with people acting in bizarre, unstable ways. Where the Left is wrong in this is the policies they have pushed, led by the ACLU and others, in focusing on the Rights of the insane versus the Rights of citizens just trying to go about their lives to live their lives and raise their families as they see fit.

  The things above leave the average American feeling vulnerable to the crime they see on the news each night in their hometowns and across the Nation. What is a single Mother to do when working and raising her children in a big city when she fears for her family’s safety? What is a woman with a restraining order against an abusive former boyfriend/spouse to do when she realizes the restraining order is only as good as the paper it is written on? What is an elderly retired couple to do when the home they’ve lived in for 40 years is now in what folks in the suburbs would call the bad part of the city (think Clint Eastwood’s role in Gran Torino)? What about truck drivers that have to make deliveries to high crime/high danger areas? The answer of course is that they turn to the one thing that can give them a fighting chance. The one thing that can make a single person superior in force to multiple attackers. The one thing that can protect them when the Police are minutes away and seconds count. The gun.

  I’d never give advice to anyone seeking to take away our Rights, but you can see from the few things we’ve talked about in this post that the policies of the Left are the very cause for the huge growth in gun ownership. Even their stated efforts for “common sense” gun control is met with a spike in people rushing out to buy guns. The boom in gun ownership among women in the past 10 years is something that doubles (or more) the numbers of guns bought by women in the previous 30 years. They are getting training and forming shooting groups and getting concealed carry licenses in record numbers with no slowdown in sight. Same with the elderly and those that must travel or do business in dangerous areas. They feel unsafe and vulnerable in today’s society. Like we talked about in the previous post; we don’t live in the 1950’s anymore and Mayberry thinking in a Walking Dead world will get you killed.

  If the Left wanted to get serious about gun control, they would be staunchly pro-law enforcement and tough on crime and punishment. They’d be fighting for tougher sentencing for violent criminals and ending parole or early release of violent criminals. If they wanted to get serious, they’d make this the safest country on the face of the planet. The best chance of gun control for them would be to make the single Mom in the inner city feel safe and secure to raise her family. The best chance of gun control for the Left would be to make it to where the elderly retired couple would never see their home of 40 years suddenly be in the “wrong part of town”. The best chance of gun control for the Left would be to make the truck driver making deliveries in Detroit to feel safe to go about his job. To make Americans feel safe and secure in their lives and in their homes would do more to lower the number of folks turning to the one thing that can help them survive. The things they should do, they cannot do though. The Left will remain the “Number 1 Salesperson of guns” because of their policies that drive the average citizen to seek to get that one thing that can actually help them when liberal policies completely fail them.

  President Obama is famous for saying that certain Americans cling to their guns and religion. The "certain types" of Americans that cling to their guns and religion are those that fear for their safety.  They cling to their guns and pray for the safety of themselves and their families.