What happens when a federal correctional officer, a retired professor, a house-husband, a police detective and a retired automotive technician meet in Dayton, Ohio? Four days of non-stop shooting, eating, and talking, with enough BS generated to fertilize the entire state of Nebraska! The 2005 FFGT followed in the tradition of last year’s model in that online friendships were immediately reinforced in person. There was no awkward period of meeting new people – we were kidding and harassing each other and talking non-stop as soon as we met. That never changed. Beyond that instant bond, this year’s get-together was two days longer than last year’s and we did a whale of a lot more shooting! I think it was unanimous among the three of us who attended both the 2004 and 2005 gatherings that 2005 was better – way better – than last year’s very enjoyable meeting. Mark Freburg deserves a lot of credit and thanks for shepherding this event and for his countless trips to the hotel and range, taxiing us all over the Dayton area! Jerry Webb also made a number of trips to Dayton to plan things out with Mark and gave much more of his time and energy to running the educational aspects of the get-together. Absent either of them, it just wouldn’t have worked!
So how did we spend all this quality time? Monday was the arrival day. We met for dinner and then relaxed in a quiet courtyard outside the motel. Some lit up pipe or cigars and we talked until bedtime. (Monday we actually went out for pie after dinner, not visiting the courtyard until Tuesday. --Mark) Tuesday and Wednesday, we breakfasted together at the hotel and talked some more. We shot in the morning and we talked. We ate fast food for lunch and talked. We shot in the afternoon and talked. We cleaned up, went out to dinner and talked… and then back to our favorite courtyard again to talk until bedtime! Thursday morning saw the same routine, but after lunch, people started dropping out of the picture. First, Jerry headed for home and the rest of us went gun shop browsing until it was time for Herb to catch his flight. Then more browsing by Mark, Kim and me. By Friday morning Kim was gone, so Mark and I talked about everyone else over breakfast and then I hit the road, too.
Thanks to Mark, our various shooting excursions were all accomplished at his club, a very impressive facility with lots of well-tended grounds, a solid clubhouse/indoor range building and a number of outdoor ranges devoted to different shooting pursuits. We started out Tuesday morning in the indoor range. Jerry Webb led that session with a demonstration of light-assisted shooting. We examined tactical lights, discussed the different ways of using them with a gun and greatly profited from Jerry’s low-key instruction and demonstrations. We all took turns shooting in reduced light situations with hand-held tac lights, as well as gun-mounted white lights and lasers, courtesy of Jerry and Kim Foster.
Tuesday afternoon was pretty much a bunch of informal blasting with each other’s guns on the outdoor pistol range. This range had a number of hanging steel “clangers”, plates that rang and bounced when hit – there must have been fifteen of them in different shapes and arrangements. All were about ten to twelve yards away, although we could move in closer if no one else was behind us. We shot guns ranging in size from an 8 ounce Kel-Tec P32 to a 4 pound-plus custom PPC revolver with a very broad assortment of both revolvers and semi-autos in between, from .22 rimfire to .45 ACP, with many different SIGs and lots of snub-nose revolvers in the mix. Mark’s son Eric joined us for a while, mostly shooting his Ruger Mark II (and his 1911 and his .45 revolver and his Hi-Power. --Mark), a chip off the old block, albeit a much narrower chip!
A number of interesting things started to impress us - not the least of which was Herb Schlossberg’s shooting. “Old Surehand” just stood up and nailed the targets with every shot regardless of whose gun or what caliber he was shooting. Nothing fancy or flashy, just a rhythmic “clang, clang, clang” whenever he stood to the line! I had gotten some small indication of Herb’s ability at last years gathering, but he really nailed it down this time! Unfortunately, his good shooting pretty much blew away my own “old age and dim eyes” excuse for poor performance. Not only that, but the lunch-time help at Wendy’s and Arby’s gave their senior discount to Herb automatically, but not to me! I think I’m starting to dislike Herb! Kim Foster also showed some talent for and experience with tactical shooting. His quick and sure engagement of targets and rapid-fire capability were very apparent.
Wednesday morning found us on the .22 range. This range has a roof, benches and a concrete floor at the shooting line and knock-down steel targets from close-in to distances of 50 yards or more (maybe closer to 100 yards? --Mark). As we did the afternoon before, we all blasted away at the targets with our own and everyone else’s guns, but .22s only this time. Bob Snyder drove up from Columbus – in a miserable fog – to join us for the day, bringing a Ruger single-action revolver along for the .22 action. We enjoyed his company shooting and at dinner, but can’t really consider him a get-together participant since he was there for less than 51% of his share of harassment. Sorry, Bob, but them’s the rules!
There was a large complement of various Ruger .22 semi-autos in use as well as my own Hi-Standard Sharpshooter. To my embarrassment, the Sharpshooter decided that this would be a good day to shed its magazine’s welded-in base plate – and in front of all those snotty Rugers! Luckily, I had one spare magazine, although a less-reliable aftermarket unit, so I could keep shooting.
Mark brought his own “dueling tree” to add to the range’s target layout. If you haven’t seen one before, his is a stand with four swiveling metal targets on a vertical post. Shoot one target on the left of the post and it swivels around to face you on the right – shoot one on the right and it swivels back to the left. We shot a series of two-man elimination matches using this, starting with two targets on each side of the tree. In nine seconds from the starting beep, whoever had put more targets on his opponent’s side was declared winner. After lots of ties, tie-breakers, hooting and jeering, Jerry Webb was eventually declared the winner. Resplendent in his patterned 5.11 vest and Tommy Tactical cargo shorts, Jerry graciously and humbly accepted this honor.
Jerry’s unique vest deserves further description here. It is an otherwise conventional 5.11 tactical vest, pockets crammed with all kinds of shooting and cop stuff, yet unusual in its very tasteful mauve-on-taupe pattern with abstract pixel arrangements reminiscent of tiny spring flowers. We all agreed that Jerry cut quite a dashing figure in his vest – it suited him! The cargo shorts were plain khaki and clashed somewhat with the bony knees peeking out from beneath them, but overall Jerry looked somewhat like a real tactical operator.
After lunch, we returned to the pistol range, where Jerry put us through a number of shooting-on-the-move exercises and demonstrated some hostage situation maneuvers and some ideas on shooting from the ground after being knocked down. By the end of the afternoon it was pretty hot out and we were happy to stand in the shade to watch Jerry demonstrate for a while. Not that we didn’t do a bunch of blasting on our own and with each other’s guns, but much of the afternoon was spent practicing Jerry’s suggested movement exercises and watching his demos.
We must have gotten a lot of sun - I felt drained by the end of the day. Back at the hotel parking lot, I swear that I saw Mark dancing around outside his car with his vest off and sidearm exposed, singing something like “I feel pretty and witty and armed!” But that might have just been a heat-induced hallucination.
After a big Mexican dinner (washed down by Tecate beer for those that needed to restore their body electrolytes or flush their urinary tracts), it was back to the courtyard for more deep discussion, and then off to bed.
On Thursday morning we returned to the indoor range for a session of retention-position shooting. This can be dangerous to attempt without guidance, so Jerry worked with us one-on-one, first explaining, and then taking us through the exercise step-by-step with unloaded guns. He only allowed us to live-fire when he was convinced we understood the concept and the safety aspects and applied those aspects. I was impressed by Jerry’s patience and dedication to ensuring that we got it right without hurting ourselves. I should add that, in all of the get-together’s exercises, Kim Foster, who is also an instructor, backed Jerry up and added his own insights.
So what did we get out of the 2005 Firearms Forum Get-Together? Simply this: shooting instruction, shooting practice, shooting fun, good food, good fellowship and the kind of light-hearted harassment that only good friends can provide. This group, coming from such different backgrounds yet joining together, reminded me of something that happened long ago. One day I came upon three young punks beating up an old man. As I watched, I realized that one of these youths was Black, one was Appalachian and one was Hispanic. It gave me pause to think that if these children can learn to play together, isn’t there hope for society after all?
Yeah, it was a great get-together!
FFGT 2005 Photo Gallery
One of our early morning breakfast scenes at HQ Holiday Inn. L to R, Jerry, Kim, Bob, Stu and Herb:
On the Ranges
Herb shows off his SIG P228:
Mark enjoys an ice tea while Herb looks on:
Stu takes a breather on a hot day for September:
Old Surehand shows us how it's done:
I think someone yelled "Hey Jerry, look intelligent" here:
The Tactical Duo discussing rappelling off moving semi-trucks, no doubt:
As the best .22 shot, it was only fair we put Jerry to work sweeping up the rimfire range:
Herb relaxing in between tearing up the targets:
Mark interrupts Jerry and Kim and makes 'em pose for the camera:
Kim apparently had a secret; how else do you describe that grin?
Bob with his "low key" shooting box:
Jerry and Kimber:
Stu and Taurus .38 Special:
Mark with Springfield .45:
Jerry shoots on the move:
Jerry sets up a shooting stage for the gang:
Jerry guides Bob as he shoots on the move:
Shooting from the ground. Jerry says "don't do it this way."
Indoors Jerry demonstrating the Half Hip shooting position:
Kim explains an alternate version of the same position:
...then proceeds to kill the bad guy:
Stu gives it a try:
Someone said something funny:
Just a few of the guns that made it to the FFGT: Witness, SIG, SIG, and at top, Glock: