Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How to Maintain Your Gun

Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog post is not meant to substitute for professional advice. It is meant to educate new gun owners about gun safety and gun maintenance. I'm not a gun weapon's expert. I'm a mom, who understands that many new gun owners can feel intimidated wielding the power of a weapon. I had the same trepedation and questions about owning a gun, and my hope is to educate people who are new to gun ownership about how to use, clean and safely store it responsibly. This post is for people who are interested in becoming responsible, first-time gun owners. I understand both mindsets from both sides of the aisle quite well. If you would like to know why my position changed, you can read the first part of the series, here. I'm not writing this to engage in a political debate about issues with gun control. Should you feel the need to rant about this issue in the comments section, do so amongst yourselves. I'm not going to respond. 

Three years ago, I did a series on gun ownership that started with "Are you Thinking of Owning a Gun" and followed with Thoughts on Gun Selection and Ownership." I was too ill to post the third part this series, so my apologies for having taken so long with its third. In this final part, I will discuss ways to maintain your weapon. 

Maintaining your weapon is similar to taking care of your vehicle. You need to give it some attention, so that it doesn't fail you when you need it most. The most common problem with weapons that don't function properly is the gun jamming, due to a lack of maintenance. There are two important things that must be done to a gun in order for it to function properly: Clean and lubricate. Even if you don't use it often, you should maintain at least a monthly ritual of cleaning and lubricating it.

How to Clean Your Gun

In order to clean your gun, you must first learn to disassemble it, or if you want the gun verbiage, "field strip it". This might require some time to do, but with practice it will be easier to remember the main parts of a gun: Slide, Barrel, Frame and Magazine. If you're just as forgetful as I am about remembering the different parts, I found that the following sentence will help me remember the anatomy of a gun: Silly Boys Forget Manners. The anatomy of a gun is a follows:

Slide- helps strip (or remove) the next round from the magazine and ejects the spent shell casing. The sights (what you look through in order to aim at your target) are also located on your slide.

Barrel- the long, cylinder part from which the bullet is fired through.

Frame- the "body" of the pistol. It holds all of the parts together and also contains the action and trigger.

Magazine- the container that holds the rounds (bullets), and just so you know, for the love all gun owner's everywhere, never, EVER, call the magazine a clip. Hollywood does this quite a bit, and it drives gun owners nuts. I once called it a thingy-ma-jingy clippy thing, and I actually made my husband's teeth grate, ha! It was as if I had spat on the holy grail of gun terminology, sheesh! So seriously, don't call it that, unless you want to look like a total noob. 

To clean the weapon, watch the following video to see how to disassemble each piece and clean the frame:

How to Strip and Clean Your Gun





Lubricate Your Gun


A properly lubricated weapon will function properly when needed. Your pistol, like your car, should always be in good working condition. After cleaning your gun, it's important to lubricate it in the following areas:  

Barrel, slide rails/frame rails, and the action (which is the only metal part towards the back end of the frame that makes contact with the back end metal part of the slide- see video below). You can either use oil or grease to lubricate those parts. My husband prefers TW-25 grease because unlike oil, it doesn't run, stain, and stays where you put it, but I suppose that really is a matter of preference as long as your weapon is lubricated properly. My preference is Frog Lube, because of its minty smell and non-toxic formula. 

To clean your weapon there is a safety precaution you must take before you strip it, and that's to ensure that there is no bullet in the chamber. Most gun accidents with guns going off occur because the owner forgets to clear the chamber when cleaning it (see Stripping your weapon video above). Below is video on how to clean and lubricate your weapon. 

Cleaning and Lubricating Your Gun




Maintenance

When it comes to maintaining your weapon the important thing to remember is to ensure that the recoil and magazine springs are working properly, because they are the ones that wear out the most and therefore most often need replacement. Simple disassembly will allow you to replace these parts yourself. In your owners manual, which comes with all new guns, you will have a schedule as to when parts should be replaced. Follow this and your firearm will give you years of reliable service. If replacing certain parts makes you uncomfortable, take it to a gunsmith.

Remember that a monthly cleaning ritual will help your gun work properly. Never put away a dirty gun. It is important to clean and lubricate it after each use. I can't stress that enough. When it comes to storing, always make sure it is secured in a safe or lock box, especially if you have kids. I'd personally would like to try the biometric ones, but I haven't researched enough about them, yet, so I'm going to refrain from commenting about that for now. If you have one you use, I'd like to hear what your opinion is about traditional combination types verses the new, biometric ones. 

I hope that this series on gun use proved helpful. I'm not a proponent of open carry as I stated in the second post of this series, but if you are interested in concealed gun carry, my recommendation is to choose a concealed gun training professional to help you with this process. I have one to recommend for the San Antonio area if you are interested in inquiring about his classes. Full disclosure, I know him personally, he is a friend of mine, and he is sincere about helping people learn good gun safety. He is also patient with women. His name is Robert Suttner with El Tejon and you can find him on Facebook. 

Good luck and be safe!  

Friday, September 14, 2018

Can You Practice Krav Maga When You Have Adrenal Fatigue?

Update: I added an extra graphic below 11/26/18

Hi! I’m back. It’s been awhile. I’ve been gone so long, I’m having to re-read some of my old posts just to refresh my memory about what I did or said. I’m just dropping in to give my readers an update. As most of you know, I haven’t been myself for a very long time. Particularly jarring, is that when doctors can’t find a diagnosis, it’s difficult to climb out of the vicious cycle of self-doubt and loneliness that comes from feeling like you know something is wrong, but the rest of the world can’t see it. You feel misunderstood for the most part, like a complete failure in others, right before hopelessness creeps up to give you a good kick in the pants. Giving up the things you love to do and having to paradigm shift your goals and pursuits, because you simply can’t keep up like you did before is especially unsettling, not to mention what effect that has on the people who love you. Those unrealized hopes and dreams are lost forever, and the only thing you have left is asking yourself one question:

Is what I’m going through going to defeat me or define me?

Thankfully, I chose the latter, but it didn’t come without it’s set of giant-size obstacles, and when it came to practicing Krav Maga, I think I also went through the several cycles of grief which started with denial, anger, bargaining, depression, to finally acceptance of the fact that I was going to have to place it on hold for a while. I needed to find a solution to the dark cloud that loomed over my health. It’s humbling and sobering all at once, and if you’ve been following my recovery to health blog, about how I found answers to my problem out the fog, pain, and fatigue, then you know I fought hard to beat this monster and won.

If you’re new to this blog post, you might want to refer to previous posts about what stress and overtraining did to my body, to get some context about what I’m saying, but to sum up briefly, I’ve been healing from metabolic damage for the last five years. This caused a conglomeration of symptoms that gave me adrenal fatigue, low vit D levels, methylation issues, joint pain, irritable bowel syndrome, sleeplessness, inflammation, weight gain, fibromyalgia, and brain fog. This didn’t come up suddenly. I’m a carrier of a mutated gene (MTHFR) that expressed itself in a very negative way due to years of unhealthy eating choices, chronic stress, deferring sleep, and past trauma. Basically, I ran myself to the ground until my body simply said: STOP! Which leads to the question posed in the title of this blog:



If I have adrenal fatigue, can I practice Krav Maga?

The clearest answer I can give is to stop until you have fully recovered. If you do, then consider withholding severe stress drills until you can get your cortisol hormones levels (the hormone that helps you battle stress) to a state of balance. Otherwise, you’re going to keep running yourself to the ground, repeatedly. Not to mention that when your cortisol levels are shot, so is your ability to lose fat. I’ve gained up to 75 lbs. all over again, ugh. If you're going through something similar, please listen to your body's signals and what it is telling you. Trust me when I say that's it's so easy to get wrapped up in that whole, "No pain, no gain, pick up your big girl panties, and suck it up mindset," especially when other people seem to be doing this without breaking a sweat. Continuing, when your cortisol levels are shot, would be counterproductive, and perhaps even detrimental if not addressed.

Everyone has a basic understanding that it’s important to eat well, stay hydrated, and get good, restful sleep, but so many people disregard this simple advice. Your body knows what it’s telling you. It requires rest, sleep, a reduction in stress, eating well, and a host of other things to get it back to a state of balance, and that’s where we all need to be. It’s those little things that count that are going to help you recover much faster. I tried to get back to Krav Maga in the last five years, and each time I did, I paid a heavy price. I was wiped out, got flu-like symptoms, and the pain and inflammation over my body lasted longer than three days. So, I stopped. Yoga, Pilates, walking, cycling, swimming, in moderate amounts, saved me, along with a host of other things that included bioidentical hormone treatment, genetic testing, etc. To read more about that visit my health blog, here.

I’m now focusing on weight loss again. It’s hard to believe that when I first started Krav, it was Krav that helped me drop down the weight, but the over-training coupled with life stressors and other issues, did me in, and I couldn’t continue a self-defense system that I really loved and enjoyed. Yesterday, I went back and took a self-defense class to try again. Although the adrenal fatigue is gone, I live with this constant fear in the back of my mind that it might come back. It’s very unsettling, because I can’t afford it. I’m an independent author, and I also freelance for other businesses to earn a living. Having the brain fog creep up again, would be a cost to my livelihood.

So, I didn’t go to this class without trepidation. My 
former partner, who I passed the instructor test with, invited me to take one of his classes. It also took a little nudging and encouragement from my wonderful husband, who offered to partner up with me. Reluctantly, I agreed. I taped up my creaking knees and stepped inside. I struggled to keep up and my strikes were short of disappointing, but things felt slightly differently this time. I also paced myself and did what I could. I could see others in the room, there were people there half my age, slimmer, and so much stronger. Somehow, I found myself in similar territory, like I did when I first started, sigh. 


I think…no, scratch that… I know I weigh more now than when I initially started training in Krav Maga. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. But I remembered something that I learned early on when I first became a practitioner of this self-defense system, and I had to talk myself through the following: 

The blows you take and your ability to get up and keep going are far more important. You may get knocked on your a**, but you have to get up and stay in the fight. The only competition in this room is with yourself, no one else, so do what you can, give it your best, and keep moving.


I got a few bumps and bruises from holding the bags, and
Krav Maga Kisses
holding the bag for my husband
who kicks like a mule
although I woke up sore today, I don’t feel sick. Also, I can tell that the muscle soreness is coming from not having practiced for so long. It no longer feels like I’ve been run over by a semi. That's progress! 


I believe I can do this again, but at a few years shy of 50, I must be cautious I don’t over train. I can’t give up. It’s what Krav Maga does. It teaches you to embrace survival over victimhood, and that type of mindset is what’s going to prepare you for this: 


Although there is great beauty in living, life can sometimes be a real sh** sandwich, and if you find yourself each day taking another bite, you can’t throw your hands up in the air in despair. Find an opening. Figure out a way. Escape, and keep moving forward!

Till next time…

Monday, December 21, 2015

Thoughts on Gun Selection and Ownership

Last post, I discussed the reasons why I felt the need to own a gun. As a reminder, this post is for people who are interested in becoming responsible, first-time gun owners, and I’m not interested in engaging in a discussion about gun violence, gun control, or the myriads of reasons as to why one shouldn’t have one, so if that is your purpose for reading this post, please troll along.

Back to the topic of purchasing a gun, perhaps you’re overwhelmed with what to buy and where to buy one? First off, I cannot stress how important it is to note that when you do, it must be done so legally and according to the laws of your state. NEVER buy a weapon through a friend of a friend without going through an FFL (a Federal Firearms Licensee- in order to transfer firearms across state lines, someone who holds an FFL serves as the intermediary between the buyer and seller. Most gun dealerships and gun ranges have an FFL license, but it is always good to ask).

People have different reasons as to why they buy certain guns. Mine are the following:

Affordability 

A gun can range in the low hundreds to the thousands. I live by the motto that you generally get what you pay for, so I don’t go cheap with my weapons. My life and the life others may depend on it, and the last thing I want is a gun with cheap springs that may cause it to jam on me. With that said, I don’t want it to break the bank either. Generally, something in the mid-range price tag is what I look for, but it must serve certain practical purposes. That’s where practicality comes into the picture.

Practicality 

I usually ask myself the following questions. Can I shoot it, and if
Photo credit
conceal carrying it, would it be obvious I had one? Personally, I would LOVE to own Rick’s 357 Colt Python revolver from the Walking Dead, but it’s not practical for me to carry such a long-barreled revolver around around. In Texas, starting this January, open carrying, will be allowed. I don’t know how you feel about that, but I’m not interested in promoting that I have one. With the current situation the way it is, and this being such a divisive issue, I personally feel that doing so is just inviting a fight, and/or removing the element of surprise by enticing someone to try and overpower me for my weapon. I’m a short woman who obviously has a concern about this, but if you’re a 6’ wall of muscle who doesn’t have that concern, then more power to you about open carrying. Your gun, your choice!

Accuracy
 

Believe it or not, buying a gun for aesthetic reasons can be costly. Being able to grip it and handle the recoil (how the gun snaps from your grip when you shoot it) determines the accuracy of the target, so it’s important to feel comfortable gripping the weapon. Certain gun ranges will allow you to rent different types to try as well. I recommend doing that before you buy one. Last week, my husband and I went to the shooting range and I tried the following: Glock 19, 3rd generation (9 mm), Ruger LCP .380, a Sig Sauer P229 (.40 caliber), and a Glock 22, 4th generation (.40 caliber).

9 mm Glock
9 mm Glock: I have small fingers, so I found that the third generation Glock, which has a bulkier and wider grip, made the trigger control more challenging and shooting the target less accurate. 3rd Generation Glocks seem to have that issue for people with smaller-sized hands and shorter fingers.

Ruger .380, a compact-sized gun
.380 Ruger: This is a much smaller weapon, which works well for close range situations. It makes a great concealed weapon that can easily slip into one’s pocket, which I don’t recommend carrying there without a holster, but I had issues with the recoil. Because it’s so small and light weight, shooting it comes with a rather sharp snap. I have arthritis on my fingers and wrists, so during cold spells or temperature changes, using this little trouble maker, really takes a toll on my wrists.





P229 Sig Sauer double action trigger
The P 229 Sig Sauer: This has a double action trigger. Basically, the trigger is a little tougher to shoot on the first try but sensitive on the rest. It took a while to get used to that and gripping it made it difficult to take the first shot since the trigger is harder to pull back. 


Fourth generation Glock 22 (.40 caliber): This is a full-sized
Glock 22, .40 caliber
weapon, which is much bigger than the Ruger. I had an easier to handle grip that felt less bulky than the third generation. Out of all the others, I had better accuracy with this one and the recoil, or snap, was more manageable when shooting.

Once you find the caliber that you are comfortable with, buying it is the next step. There are brick and mortar stores or you can do so online. So perhaps you're wondering, what's the next step? 

Brick and mortar stores

Pawn shops, Academy, Bass Pro Shop, or local gun shops you can Google in your area are good places to start. In Texas, generally all you need is your driver’s license and a form you fill out for a background check. Brick and mortar places ensure that the gun purchase went through the proper legal channels to acquire one. Be aware that each state is different, so it’s best to ask the store what the procedures are. Some states like California, for example, won’t allow you to purchase guns that hold over ten rounds of bullets. Thank God, for Texas, is all I have to say about that!

Online

Be wary of buying a gun online. Unless you already know exactly what caliber you feel most comfortable with, it’s difficult to determine the condition and warranty of the gun when buying something you can’t physically see yourself. There is an online forum called the Sig Forum, which is a discussion board for gun owners, that also has a classified section in which gun owners will sell you their used weapons as well. Sometimes you can find some really good deals there if you know what you are buying. My husband frequents this forum the most, because it is privately owned, there are no ads, and people seem the most helpful when you have questions. A note of caution when purchasing online, please be sure to never accept a purchase from anyone wanting to mail you the gun directly, unless you want to get yourself in a heap of trouble with ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms). Today’s federal law requires a handgun to be shipped to an FFL licensee where you would provide the necessary credentials to accept it.


I hope this provided you some useful information on what type of gun to buy and where. The next part will include information about where you can learn to use and maintain a weapon. If you enjoyed reading this and would like to be notified when the next post goes live, please feel free to subscribe to my post.