Saturday, July 11, 2015

Off For a Few Weeks

To the faithful readers of this blog... I'll be heading off to Europe on a much-needed vacation for a few weeks. Fear not though, I plan to carry my camera when visiting museums and historic sights and perhaps I'll find something interesting to talk about. See you guys and gals next month!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Handgun Shooting Analysis

In today's post, we will study the causes for inaccuracies when people shoot handguns. There is a handgun shooters chart, that helps shooters analyze what they are doing wrong. There are various variations of the same chart, but here's one public domain version, as designed by the US Army Marksmanship Unit.

Handgun Shooting Analysis chart, courtesy US Army Marksmanship Unit. Public domain image.

The above chart is designed for a right handed shooter. For a left handed shooter, the chart is mirrored vertically (e.g.) "Thumbing" is on the left, "Finger not on trigger correctly" is on the right etc.

The chart is pretty self-explanatory. For instance, if a right handed shooter is shooting too much to the left of the target, he or she is not placing the finger on the trigger correctly. However, some of these terms may need some explanation, so we will study those below.

Thumbing: When the shooter is squeezing the trigger, he or she pushes the right thumb and/or left thumb against the side of the frame, causing the front of the handgun to aim to the right (for a right-handed shooter. A left handed shooter will push the front of the handgun to the left). This causes the shots to end up to the right of the target.

Tightening grip when pulling the trigger: The shooter is tightening their hands along the grip, as the trigger is being squeezed. This causes the front of the gun to dip low and to the right.

Breaking wrist: This is caused because the shooter anticipates the recoil of the gun and does not lock the strong wrist properly. If the shooter tries to mimic the recoil, he or she breaks the wrists upward and shoots above the target. If the shooter tries to counteract the recoil, he or she breaks the wrists downward and the gun fires below the target.

Jerking: This happens when the shooter tries to fire the trigger as soon as the moving sights cross the target, adding excessive pressure to the trigger. This causes shots to end up low and to the left of the target.

Finger not on trigger correctly: This is caused when there is too little finger on the trigger. The trigger finger should cause the trigger to pull straight backwards. However, if there is too little finger area on the trigger, it will pull the trigger sideways and cause the shot to end up to the left of the target.

Pushing: This happens when the shooter jerks the trigger finger forward, just as the gun fires. The solution is to practice a proper follow-through and hold the gun steady during and after the trigger is pulled.

Heeling: This is caused by the shooter putting too much pressure with the heel of the hand, while the weapon is being fired.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wacky Non-Functional Firearms

In today's post, we will look at an unusual object, something that is designed to look like a firearm, but actually isn't. We will look at something called a "scare pistol".

First, we will look at the origins of such a wacky invention. This class of "weapon" dates back to the 1880s. During this time period, the streets of Paris, France, were a dangerous place to be. Several criminals were roaming the streets and committing muggings and assaults, especially on women. Many women were urged to carry a small firearm with them, as a means of self-defense. However, some of these ladies did not wish to pull the trigger on another person. Seeing an opportunity, some French and Belgian manufacturers began to make "scare pistols" for these ladies.

A Scare Revolver from the 19th century. Public domain image.

The above looks like a commonly available Lefaucheux pinfire revolver model of that time period. This particular model is even made of brass and beautifully enameled and gold-plated. However, a closer look at the revolver reveals some interesting details. For one, the trigger cannot be pulled and is merely screwed on to the frame. The cylinder and hammer are non-functional as well. In fact, the only part of this so-called "revolver" that works or even moves, is the lanyard ring at the back of the handle!!

The idea behind manufacturing such a useless weapon was that even the sight of a firearm would be sufficient to scare off your average mugger (at least, that was the theory at that time). Therefore, for people who would hesitate to pull a trigger on another person, they could walk around with a non-functional, but realistic looking firearm.

The contents of a so-called "scare revolver" model. Public domain image.

In the above image, we have another so-called "scare pistol", Pulling back on the hammer causes this "revolver" to break at the cylinder. Inside is a mirror, a pair of functioning scissors, some needles, a thimble, two spools of thread and a crocheting hook. The front of the cylinder is a functioning pin-cushion and what looks like the shell extractor rod is actually a pencil. The butt of this "revolver" contains a small bottle to store perfume. This device is actually a scare revolver that also doubles as a functional sewing kit for carrying out minor repairs on clothes!