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Winter Shooting Sports: Embracing the Chill for Outdoor Excitement

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Some people like to hibernate like bears all winter long. Shooting sports enthusiasts, however, start lathering at the mouth when there’s a little nip of cold in the air. It’s their time to experience the great outdoors on their own terms. 

Still, the cold season comes with challenges that simply don’t exist during the warmer months – that’s part of what makes winter outdoor sports so rewarding. 

There are a number of winter shooting sports beyond what you might typically think of when we talk about “winter shooting sports.” If you’re the type of person who loves being outdoors and loves shooting, but gets bored quickly with the “same old, same old,” this list of winter shooting sports works as a guide for trying something new and fresh during the winter months. 

Ice Shooting

Ice shooting is a specialized target practice taking place on frozen bodies of water like lakes and ponds. Ice shooting is about precision marksmanship while standing on ice or on specially designed platforms. The challenge lies in maintaining stability and ensuring the ice is safe for shooting.

Note that this can be a very dangerous sport if not done properly for many of the same reasons that ice fishing can go wrong. Remember that falling under cracked lake ice can turn not just dangerously unpleasant, but deadly in the blink of an eye. However, if you’re able to maintain proper safety, this can be an excellent activity for those looking to get a little extra time outdoors during the winter months. 

Biathlon

Unlike most of the “Athlon,” this isn’t a summer track and field event, but rather a winter sport with a strong shooting component. The biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship. It sounds like a weird combination, but it has its roots in the military training of Northern Europe. This is a great challenge for people who like intense cardiovascular activity: Athletes must endure intense physical exertion while maintaining their composure (and thus, their accuracy) on the shooting range.

It’s also a great activity for any shooter looking to increase their stress tolerance and thus their ability to shoot under pressure. In the event that you ever have to defend yourself or your family with a firearm, you are going to be under absolutely enormous amounts of stress. While a biathlon is certainly not the same as defending your family against an armed intruder, it can help you prepare for that scenario by making you shoot under stress.

There are also variations of this sport that you can set up for yourself, such as the snowshoe biathlon and the snowmobile biathlon, both of which are about exactly what they sound like. 

Precision Rifle Shooting

If you’re a big fan of precision rifle shooting, then the colder winter months are going to be a dream come true for you. The dense air of the colder months provides additional stability for fired rounds. On the other hand, the extreme cold conditions can make accuracy a greater challenge for some. 

One of the cool things about precision rifle shooting during the winter months is that you will likely find your skills improved when the warm weather returns. Sure, you’re going to have to deal with the less dense (and thus, less stable) air of the warmer months of the year. However, on the other hand, you’re going to get a crash course in shooting under less than optimal conditions. 

Winter-Specific Equipment For Outdoor Shooting Sports

You will need winter-specific equipment and gear for winter outdoor shooting sports. Don’t assume that what works in October is going to work in January. 

  • Cold-Weather Clothing: Layer your clothing for winter weather, starting with moisture-wicking materials at the base, insulating clothing for a medium layer, and waterproof or water-resistant clothing for the outer layer. Don’t forget insulated gloves. 
  • Firearms: Cold weather has a serious impact on your firearms. You should use firearms specifically designed for the cold weather of winter months, as well as use lubricants designed for cold weather use.
  • Optics: The frigid temperatures of the winter months can fog up your lenses, severely impacting your optics performance. Anti-fog solutions like wipes exist. Lens covers are another way to help maintain clarity of visibility. 
  • Ammunition: If you are participating in cold winter outdoor sports, choose ammunition that is specifically designed for use in the colder months of winter. 

Staying Safe During Winter Shooting Sports

It’s not just that the winter months present special challenges for those practicing shooting during the winter months. It’s also that the cold itself can be dangerous, or cause dangerous situations. So if you want to stay safe, you have to remember the following:

  • Frostbite Prevention: Protecting exposed skin and extremities to avoid frostbite is absolutely necessary. Be aware of the early signs of frostbite, such as numbness or tingling, and take measures to warm up when necessary.
  • Cold-Weather Ailments: Prepare for cold weather problems like hypothermia and dehydration. Layered clothing and protecting your extremities will help with the former, but the latter means making sure you keep drinking while you’re out in the elements. 

Winter shooting sports can be a unique and challenging experience for firearms enthusiasts. What’s more, there can be quite a bit of carry-over to shooting during the warmer months of the year. Learn to love the chill and you can get a sense of achievement from winter shooting sports as well as a closer connection with the great outdoors. 

What’s your favorite shooting sport for the winter months? What’s the most unusual shooting sport for the winter months? Share your craziest winter sports in the comments below.

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Firearms

Protect Your Second Amendment Rights: Oppose SB 1160 and SB 1253 in California

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On Tuesday, April 2nd at 8:30am, the California Senate Public Safety Committee is slated to review two concerning bills that threaten the rights of firearm owners across the Golden State. As staunch advocates for the Second Amendment, it’s imperative for NRA Members and supporters of gun rights to take action. Senate Bill 1160 and Senate Bill 1253 pose significant threats, and it’s crucial to voice opposition to these proposed measures.

Senate Bill 1160: Annual Firearm Registration Requirement

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Senate Bill 1160 represents a direct assault on the rights of law-abiding gun owners in California. This bill seeks to mandate an annual re-registration process for all firearms with the Department of Justice. If enacted, firearm owners would be compelled to navigate bureaucratic hurdles each year and pay undisclosed fees to maintain their registration status.

This onerous requirement not only burdens responsible gun owners with unnecessary red tape but also sets a dangerous precedent for government overreach into the fundamental rights protected by the Second Amendment. Under SB 1160, failure to comply with the annual registration mandate could result in severe penalties, including fines of up to $1000 and the potential confiscation of unregistered firearms.

Upholding Second Amendment Freedoms: Take Action Against SB 1160

It’s imperative for Second Amendment supporters to stand united against Senate Bill 1160. This legislation threatens the core principles of individual liberty and firearm ownership rights. We urge all concerned citizens to contact members of the Senate Public Safety Committee and vehemently oppose SB 1160.

Senate Bill 1253: Restricting Firearm Possession without Firearm Safety Card

Another concerning proposal slated for review is Senate Bill 1253, which seeks to further restrict firearm ownership rights in California. Under existing law, individuals are required to obtain a Firearm Safety Card to purchase or receive a firearm. However, SB 1253 aims to extend this requirement to possession, effectively prohibiting law-abiding citizens from possessing firearms without a valid Firearm Safety Card.

This additional hurdle not only imposes unnecessary burdens on responsible gun owners but also fails to address the root causes of crime and violence. Criminals, by definition, do not adhere to firearm laws, rendering such measures ineffective at curbing illicit gun activities. Instead, SB 1253 unfairly penalizes law-abiding citizens and undermines their ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Defending Second Amendment Liberties: Oppose SB 1253

Senate Bill 1253 represents yet another attempt to erode the Second Amendment freedoms of Californians. By imposing stringent requirements for firearm possession, this bill unfairly targets responsible gun owners while doing little to enhance public safety. It’s essential for proponents of gun rights to take a stand against SB 1253 and advocate for the preservation of constitutional liberties.

Take Action: Protect Second Amendment Rights in California

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As the Senate Public Safety Committee prepares to review SB 1160 and SB 1253, it’s paramount for NRA Members and supporters of the Second Amendment to make their voices heard. Use the Take Action button below to contact committee members and urge them to oppose these egregious bills. Together, we can defend our cherished freedoms and safeguard the right to keep and bear arms in California.

Do you live in California? What do you do to oppose greater encroachment on your right to keep and bear arms? Leave your thoughts in the comments

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Firearms

The AR-15: A Versatile Platform for Every Shooter

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The AR pattern rifle, affectionately known as the “AR-15,” has become a staple in the firearms community, offering unparalleled versatility and customization options. From budget-friendly builds to high-end boutique rifles, there seems to be a configuration for every shooter’s preferences and needs. But with so many parts available, is there truly a rifle for everyone? And is there even a wrong answer to the AR question?

Diverse Builders, Diverse Builds

The AR-15 has evolved beyond just a firearm; it’s now a sport in itself, with enthusiasts eagerly assembling rifles tailored to their specific desires. Whether someone is aiming for the cheapest build, the most boutique setup, or a specialized rifle for a particular purpose like suppressor use, the AR platform offers endless possibilities. This diversity among builders reflects the platform’s adaptability and appeal to a wide range of shooters.

Navigating Budget Builds: A Personal Journey

Recently, there’s been a surge in interest in building affordable AR-style rifles, prompting many to explore budget-friendly options. One such endeavor involved sourcing parts directly from Bear Creek Arsenal (BCA), a company with a reputation for offering budget-friendly components. Despite initial reservations due to past controversies and quality concerns, the experience of assembling a rifle from BCA parts proved surprisingly positive.

Unboxing and Initial Impressions

Upon receiving the parts from BCA, there was a mix of anticipation and skepticism. However, upon inspection, there was a notable nod of approval for the quality of finish work, packaging, and overall presentation. While some parts lacked robust packaging, none arrived damaged, showcasing BCA’s attention to detail. Despite some vagueness regarding product specs, BCA’s use of 4150 CM-V and 416 Stainless barrels instilled confidence in the build.

Assembly Practices: Attention to Detail

Building the lower receiver proved relatively straightforward, but attention to detail was paramount. Proper torqueing of the castle nut, staking the end plate, and meticulous lubrication ensured adherence to factory specifications and optimal performance. The importance of using proper tools, lubricants, and assembly techniques cannot be overstated, particularly for critical components like the trigger and gas system.

Navigating Upper Receiver Assembly

While assembling the lower receiver was relatively straightforward, the upper receiver presented more complexity and significance. Attention to detail during barrel installation, gas system alignment, and muzzle device timing were crucial for ensuring accuracy, reliability, and safety. Thermal fitting techniques and proper torqueing procedures were employed to optimize barrel-to-receiver fit and gas system performance.

Range Testing and Final Thoughts

After meticulous assembly and function testing, the rifle was taken to the range for reliability and accuracy testing. Using a variety of ammunition types and optics configurations, the rifle performed admirably, showcasing respectable accuracy and reliability. While there were minor issues such as an over-gassed barrel, these were addressed with aftermarket solutions. Overall, Bear Creek Arsenal’s components proved to offer excellent value for budget-conscious builders, demonstrating that affordability doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on quality.

The AR-15 is a highly adaptable platform allowing builds for a wide array of preferences for all kinds of shooters. Whether building a budget-friendly rifle or investing in high-end components, the AR platform offers endless customization possibilities. While each builder may have their own priorities and preferences, the beauty of the AR-15 lies in its ability to accommodate them all, ensuring that there truly is a rifle for every shooter.

Do you own an AR-15? Have you ever built one? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Firearms

Mack W. Gwinn Jr.: A Tribute to a Firearms Pioneer

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Mack W. Gwinn Jr., a visionary in the firearms industry, passed away on March 11, 2024, leaving behind a legacy of innovation and dedication to his craft. Born in Florida, Gwinn’s journey into the world of firearms began with his service in the U.S. Army Special Forces, where he earned several Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star during seven deployments to Vietnam.

From Military Service to Firearms Innovation

Following his military service, Gwinn transitioned into the firearms industry, where he made significant contributions. One of his notable achievements was acquiring the rights to the Colt IMP-221, a stockless, gas-operated bullpup pistol initially developed for aircrew survival in the U.S. Air Force. Redesigning the concept to accept the 5.56 NATO caliber and standard AR magazines, Gwinn founded Gwinn Arms and introduced the Bushmaster Arm Pistol in the early 1970s.

Pioneering Personal Defense Weapons

The Bushmaster Arm Pistol, an innovative pistol-sized firearm utilizing an intermediate round, predated the concept of personal defense weapons (PDWs) by a generation. Although not a commercial blockbuster, the Arm Pistol laid the foundation for Bushmaster Firearms and left an indelible mark on the industry.

Legacy of Innovation

Beyond the Bushmaster Arm Pistol, Gwinn’s influence extended to various other firearms projects and inventions. He held patents for extended capacity magazines and developed concepts for firearms applications ranging from target pistols to recoil reduction systems. His ingenuity and curiosity led him to explore diverse projects, including vehicle design and accessory development.

Remembering a Trailblazer

Mack W. Gwinn Jr.’s passing marks the end of an era in the firearms community. His contributions to the industry will be remembered for years to come, serving as inspiration for future generations of innovators. In honoring his memory, donations can be made to the Maine Veterans Project, and condolences may be expressed to his family at BrookingsSmith.

Mack W. Gwinn Jr. leaves behind a legacy of excellence, marked by his unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of firearms design and technology. His impact on the industry will continue to resonate, ensuring his place among the pantheon of firearms pioneers.

Do you know Mack W. Gwinn Jr? How about his famous firearms? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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