Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stick 'em Up & Stuff

No business travel this week so there hasn't been a lot to post, but tomorrow's Friday, then the weekend! Who knows what weirdness I'll find?

We had more snow this week but (a.) it wasn't that bad and (b.) not even news-worthy when compared to the New York area! Over two days the total here was about four inches and it's already gone off the streets. I thought I'd post a couple of pictures of the snow. The one at the top of the post was taken Wednesday morning as I was getting ready for work. What a beautiful sunrise!

My office building is situated right next to a geologic feature called a "hogback". A hogback is a layer of rock that at one time was pretty horizontal in the ground and because of upheaval broke through the earth's surface and is now at an angle of about 80 degrees. In the picture to the right you can see a portion of the hogback on the left and right side of the photo. The hogback is like a low fence that stands in front of the mountains. Looking through a cut in the hogback you can see the foothills of the Rockies. The snow transforms what is already a pretty sight into something I could spend hours just staring at.

OK, on to the "Stick 'em Up" part of the post....By now, if you're any type of normal person yourself, you have picked up on the fact that I have some, shall we say, unusual interests. After all, how many people do you know that would go all the way to North Carolina to take pictures of giant pieces of furniture? Or can converse on the intricacies of Muffler Man?

Well, another of my interests is shooting Olympic grade air pistols. It's an activity that is not really "mainstream" but one that I actually find relaxing. Some of you may be thinking, "OK, BB guns, I follow you", but you would be way wrong. This is not like your old fashioned BB gun, after all I did say "Olympic".

There is actually an Olympic sport of shooting air pistols! These are not "BB guns". They are pretty sophisticated mechanical objects and they are extremely accurate. The pistol I use is pictured at the left. It's a Baikal IZH-46 made in Russia. It has adjustable sights, adjustable trigger and even the grip can be adjusted to the individual user. The pistol has a muzzle velocity (speed at which the projectile leaves the barrel) of 500 feet per second and shoots standard lead pellets. In order to be able to do this in a confined space the targets are very small and are placed about 20' from the firing line. I have an area in my basement that I have set aside for this target shooting. As you can see from the picture at the right, the bull's eye is only about 1" in diameter. If you want to know how difficult it is to hit this target, just make a 1" diameter circle on a piece of paper, stick it on a wall somewhere and step back 20 feet....That's a leeetle spot. The "10" ring in the very center is what you strive to hit every time. It's only about 1/8" in diameter! People that compete in the Olympics are able to hit this spot 99.8% of the time.

As you can see, I'm not close to being that accurate but I'm not terrible either and I have one excuse as to why I'm not any better.

I am left handed. I write, eat, play sports and shoot naturally left handed. Several years ago however I began to experience macular degeneration in my left eye and as a result can't shoot left handed because that little black spot of a target hides among all the other little black spots I see when I use my left eye. Bummer, but hey, says I, I'll just retrain myself to shoot right handed and I have.

There was just one other problem I had to solve. The best way to shoot is to keep both eyes open, but focus only out of the eye you are aiming with. This is best because squinting to close one eye will cause muscle tension and can affect your aim. When you train yourself to do this, your "aiming" eye becomes dominant. That means as long as both eyes are open, that eye is the strongest and will "dominate" the other eye.... If I try to keep both eyes open, the left one, that's the one with all the extra black spots, takes over from the right one and I have a heck of a time figuring out which one to shoot at.

The solution is simple. Find an old fashioned eye patch. That way I can keep the left eye open and not have a bunch of extra black spots to choose from.

I said before that I find this relaxing and I do. To be any good at this takes lots of concentration. You have to block out all thoughts except getting that tiny pellet to go twenty feet and hit a 1/8" dot...or get as close to it as you can. If your muscles are tense your arm shakes and you can't hit the spot. If you hold your breath too long your arm shakes and you can't hit the spot. In a way this is like Yoga. You have to relax and concentrate....and you have to do it again and again and again. The target above had ten shots through it. One shot for sure was "errant" but the other nine, while not in the 10 ring are at least all grouped together.

I do this several times a week and if it doesn't relax me......if I'm having an exceptionally stressful day....I'll choose one of a number of pictures of people that might have caused that stress and blast the hell out of them!!!!!

Thanks for visiting.

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