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May 05, 2008

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Amateur Hour

A week ago, I watched a timed shooting event at the club that tolerates my presence. It involved five-man teams who were required to run down a 50-yard hill, then up another 50-yard hill, grab five rounds of ammunition, run back to the firing line and shoot, offhand, at a 1/3-size target of a bighorn sheep. I watched with delight as a couple of them frantically hauled on the triggers after shooting the first time, not realizing that they had failed to work their actions to get a second shot into the chambers.

Stress is the great finisher of the unpracticed shooter. After the battle of Gettysburg, 27, 574 muskets were collected from the field. Of these, 24,000 were loaded; 12,000 were at least double-loaded, and of these, 6,000 had anywhere between 3 to 10 charges down the barrel. The soldiers who had left them behind were so terrified that they loaded without realizing they were not firing.

Last week, a New York City judge returned a not guilty verdict in the trial of three detectives who had fired 50 rounds at a car with three unarmed men inside it. One of the three detectives fired a total of 30 rounds--a whole magazine, reload, then another one--with no return fire coming at him. I'm not entitled to pass judgment on people who wear badges, but this does not sound like New York City has a training program that amounts to anything. Overall, in actual combat, the NYPD has a hit ratio of 20 percent--two hits for every ten shots they fire.

If you knew that the surgeon who was about to operate on you got 20 percent of all his test questions right in medical school, how happy would you be about it? I think Mayor Bloomberg, who is concerned about the misuse of handguns, should chip in a few billion and buy his police force enough practice ammo for them to become competent.


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WA Mtnhunter,

No, I have never been shot at. But I do not need to be Rambo to know that firing 30 rounds from a pistol at a target from which no fire is coming is beyond excessive. A number of people I talk to on a regular basis who HAVE been shot at think so too. You can also add the fact that several very different stories were given by the officers involved. And I don't just mean the small variations that are common to all events like this. There is a reason why almost every event such as this of an unarmed civilian being gunned down in a hail of bullets comes from the NYPD and not the numerous other big city police forces. I have always given the benefit of the doubt in situations like this but there is no way someone can justify this as inexperiences, nerves, etc. Don't forget, these were not simply rookie beat cops, either. They were trained, experienced, undercovers. They definitely knew better. This is a case of nothing more than a bunch of thugs who know perfectly well they have a liscense to kill, given to them by Mr. Gun Control Bloomberg. Which is my biggest problem with this whole thing... you know perfectly well that if a civilian even got caught carrying a handgun around in that city he would be thrown before the court and hauled into jail where he would be lucky to ever see the light of day again. WE have absolutely no right whatsoever to defend ourselves. THEY have absolute right to gun down as many civilians as they please with no fear of punishment.

Coming from someone who was born in NY: F*** that s***-hole of a city, f*** it's dictatorial mayor, and f*** it's Keystone Kops/Gestapo mutt policemen!

james t

was it new york or somewhere else that the cops fired over 50 rounds killing a guy on his wedding day, and wounding at least one other person? i believe they were unarmed as well and the cops all got off. do we still train cops or just give them guns and say have at it?


I'm sorry that you drink MSM koolaid! These officers believed, at that time, that their lives were in jeopardy. They reacted. After all of the smoke cleared, a judge determined that that fears were well-founded. He had all of the facts. You don't. If there had been evidence that their acts were malicous, they would have been found guilty. They weren't.
Granted, they at some point, lost control. But they certainly did not wake up that morning with the intention of murdering someone. Actually the victim was to be married that day. Had that not been the case, this incident would've been page 2 news.


Jim in Mo, it was the Finns that fought the Russians in the "Winter War" of 1940. It was one the great david versus goliath stories of the 20th century


What happened was that those guys were drunk, so the cops were watching them. Then one of the guys said "go get my gun," Then some how ( I dont remember) a car hit some other car and glass exploded. For this reason the cops thought they were under fire and started firing back. I admit, there was some overkill, but like sombody said before-they need more training, not punishment-and racism has nothing to do with it.

Jim in Mo.

WA MtnHunter,
It was Will Bill Hickok that said Take your time but be quick about it.


Are you saying that judges never make poor decisions and juries never botch a case?

I guess I better change my opinion of OJ Simpson; I guess he didnt kill his wife after all.

All those Hollywood starlets getting off with no jail time and 5-hours of community service for thier 8th drunk driving convictions are really being punished fairly too...


If you can't trust a judge to interpret the law, who can you trust? The police asked for a trial by judge. No jury was impaneled. A brilliant move by their attorneys, IMHO.
I'm not crediting their competence. They certainly didn't act with prudence. All I'm saying is that they did not enter that bar with the intention of murdering someone. They perceived a life-threatening situation, and reacted.


Well, with 23,053 Federal casualties and 28,063 Confederate casualties, it would seem that some were actually firing their weapons. Although more were probably killed by cannon fire than musketry. An interesting comparison of stress and fine motor skills. Stress was routinely introduced during the firearm training section of the academy where I took my training. The wise often say train like you fight...
Practice, practice, practice. There is no substitute. As a hunter, I would promote respect for the game animal about to be "taken" (PC for today's listeners). For the officers that fired upon those men: before a verdict is given, walk a mile in those moccasins. I'll bet there was a very real reason the men in the car were detained.


Stay tuned to this one! Texas has the "Castle Law" - It is legal to shoot an intruder who breaks into your home or is caught stealing your possessions. In Laredo, a 66 year old man awoke to noise in his house and found 3 teenagers in his kitchen (they had broken in) When one of them made a threatening move towards him, he shot him. The teen was 13. The man has been charged and will go to trial.

Jim in Mo.

That man will be acquitted if the story plays out as you have said, especially in Texas. I have the feeling there's something more here since the homeowner has been charged and going to trial, somethings wrong.
What caught my attention was the Castle Law. We finally got it in Mo. But you still have to play by the rules. If you let someone in your house and just because they piss you off you can't pull this Castle Law excuse. Thats crap and gives honest gun owners a bad name.
Please don't think I'm getting on your ass, your just saying what you've seen.

Dr. Ralph

Thomas those bowling pin shoots are a blast! I was introduced to them by one of my friends mom when she pulled out a .357 Mag with an 8 or 10 inch barrel!

Yeah Blue Ox I'm thinking Buck Fever on steroids, having never been under fire myself...

51,000 died in Gettysburg so I'm wondering what happened to the other 23,500 weapons? If you were in Gettysburg and your gun didn't fire for some reason while cannons were going off, people were being bayonetted and screaming their last dying breath, shots were going off in your ear and everywhere else, and thousands of wounded, dying, and dead soldiers were surrounding you all the while fully expecting to catch a mini- ball in your face would you realize you hadn't even shot? They used extremely light charges by today's standards in heavy guns.

If I were a cop my mindset would be that every car I pull over is full of gangbangers on crack... shoot first ask questions later. Glad I'm not in that position because I have a strong sense of preservation. The truth is until you face the situation you have no way to predict how your body will function under extreme duress.


Unfortunately Gettysburg was but one of many many battles where thousands of Americans killed or maimed thousands more Americans. I had a great great grandfather who lost an arm at Gettysburg and was hauled back to Virginia after somehow surviving the quick battlefield amputation. He was discharged near Richmond, given a bottle of laudanum, and supposedly walked back home to Alabama. His good luck was that he did not sustain an abdominal shot as those soldiers were triaged, maybe left a canteen of water, and abandoned on the site to die. I have often wondered what went through the minds of those souls on the front line of Pickett's charge as they took the first step toward the Union forces so far across that field.


Dr Ralph,

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the standard 58-cal mini load was 80-grains of FFG black powder. Modern NSSA shooters duplicate this load with 50-grains of FFFG.

I hunt with 100 grains of FFFG with the standard old fashion civil war mini. I also use this for silhouette shooting. Rifle: 1863 Remington 58-cal Reproduction.

This load, bullet, and the civil war rifled muskets are deadly and accurate by any standard

Will Becker

How many of you would react the right way when confronting a killer? It's easy to judge a cops actions,but he or she has only split seconds to act.



Sorry, I meant I use 90-grains of FFFG with a 58-cal mini for hunting and silhouettes.

Clay Cooper

I like my 50x209 Magnum Encore rock! Hornady .429 diameter 265 Grain Soft Point in a Hornady Magnum Sabot and 160 grains of 777 powder @ 2250ish FPS!

Dr. Ralph

In my mind "today's standards" consist of three pyrodex pellets in some kind of synthetic stocked in line fast twist scoped rifle primer firing wunderkind that knocks the crap out of you, deaf or not... 80 grains of FFG is like shooting a .30 carbine except for the smoke and I'll bet there was plenty of that on the battlefield.

tim t

From someone who has been under fire (rifles, not pistols):

It is extremely stressful - and thats why you train hard. You need to be able to do well in "shoot or don't shoot situations". And you need to be able to kill who you are shooting at. Training needs to be as absolutely stressful as you can make it. It won't compare with the real thing, but it will help to prepare you.

Hindsight is always 20/20. In retrospect, they didn't necessarily need to get shot. But I don't know what the officers could have done better. They were undercover at a club that was being investigated for prostitution and drugs (I know, why aren't they going after the real criminals, instead of the peaceful pimps and old hippies that were there.) A man (criminal that is, who had been arrested for, among other things, weapon possession) gets into an argument, says "yo, go get my gun," and goes to his car. Cops follow him out to ensure he doesn't kill anyone. A cop identifies himself as a cop, and tells them to get their hands up. The driver, (another criminal actually, for you guessed it, weapons posession) floors the car and hits an undercover police van. What would anyone else here do? What do you think the officers should have done? Sounds to me like they did ok.

I'm not a pistol guy, but I think they did ok. Think about it, a scenario at night, with glare from streetlights hitting windows, mirrors? They made 27 hits out of 50 shots. Obviously poor hits, but hits nonetheless. And this wasn't a training scenario, the was real life. Does anyone here know anyone who can do that? On a moving target, at night? I don't.

As a part time resident of Brooklyn, I am thankful for the cops. They are doing what no one else is willing to do. They are willing to take action to protect not only themselves, but everyone else. Even protecting suspected criminals inside a place they were investigating to ensure they didn't get shot. Not bad boys, not bad.


Exactly! 50% of the doctors out there graduated in the bottom half of their class. Scary! If the bottom half of the cop class is on the streets, that's really scary!!!!!

Del in KS

Clay Cooper,

My Knight .45 cal inline will do 2500fps with 3 pellets and a 209 primer. Damn thing is very finicky about accuracy and only shoots one bullet well. You have to clean the barrel after each shot because of the crud ring that forms near the breech plug. I have treated it with ultraborecoat which I'm told will prevent the crud ring from forming. Loaned the gun to Ultracoatings inc so they could take some pics. We will shoot it when it comes back and let you know what improvements it made.


How you can get 2500 fps out of any black powder, non-cartridge rifle is a ballistic feat of the first order.

I don't know how it's possible to break 1500 fps. Physic's doesn't support it. I must be missing something. Where are the pressure's needed for that velocity?

Other: aren't sabots designed to upset after 125-yards? If this is the case what's the reason for pushing velocity over 1500 fps?

Del in KS

Mark 1,

Use a high pressure plastic sabot with a bullet that is smaller than bore diameter. For powder use 3-50 grain Pyrodex OR 777 pellets. The gun must have a very strong breach made for the resulting high pressure. DO NOT TRY THIS WITH A GUN THAT IS NOT RATED FOR 3 PELLETS BY THE MANUFACTURER. All things being equal a 45 cal will develope more pressure and velocity than a 50 cal. My gun has a fluted stainless barrel.

Del in KS

Mark 1

BTW my 50 cal Lancaster style pennsylvania flintlock longrifle will do 1700 fps with a patched round ball and 100 gr FFg. It has a 39 inch Getz swamped barrel.
One other thing. The plastic sabots used with the inlines will fly off the bullet a few feet from the barrel. It has enough velocity and energy to break a chonograph sky screen that is set up too close to the gun. I have a broken screen to prove it.


Del in KS,

Many thanks.

I seem to recall there was a civil war era rifled musket that shot a special mini that was cast with a twist to fit the rifling. I remember that particular rifle has a real "crack" to it over and above the generic 58-cal muskets.

From what you describe the new in-lines must be designed to provide pressures above what a traditional muzzleloader w/hollow base mini's can handle.

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