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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 43-----------JANUARY 2006



January 1, 2006

Happy New Year!!!!  Hope y'all are headed for a great 2006!

Pretty quiet as usual around here on New Year's Eve.  Somehow over the years, the party scene has lost some of its luster for us older folks.  (Hey, I only said it was quiet, not dull and boring!)

Again this year, Christmas was much more kind to me than I deserved.  Rick, Christi, and Jennifer were here on Christmas Eve for our traditional chicken bisque supper and gift exchange.

Jennifer had so much fun using our video camera to video the dressing of my little 2005 buck, and make those, "It barely has any horns!" comments, that we got her a little digital video camera for Christmas.  That, of course was the first gift opened.  I think we've created a monster.  Better watch your language and which of your itches you scratch when she's around with that thing!

Jennifer opening her new video camera

While our gift opening on Christmas Eve always includes a lot of surprises, some, between Little Heifer and I,  may not be such a surprise.  The conversation may be initiated by either one of us and goes something like this:

Ann asks, "Anything you'd really like for Christmas?"

I respond, "Yeah, how about you?

Ann says, "Well, yeah!

The conversation usually ends with, "OK, order what you want and I'll wrap it."

"Sounds great, you do the same, and I'll wrap!"

One package I opened that evening falls into this category, and may be of interest to the shooters and reloaders out there.  It contained a new PACT 'high speed' powder dispenser and electronic scale.  I haven't had a chance to try it out yet, but the propaganda says you just punch in the amount wanted, and it spits the powder into the scale pan with an accuracy of one tenth of a grain.  The scale communicates with the dispenser via an infrared port and tells it when to quit spittin'.

Since I am always trying new powders and bullets, and load for so many different calibers, this should be a great time saver.  When working up loads for testing, I usually charge three rounds each with four or five different powder weights.  These loads are then fired over a chronograph to track velocities and make sure they are within the parameters that the loading manuals say they should be.

Each fired round is also visually inspected to insure that none of the common 'excess pressure' signs are present.  (Sticky extraction, cratered, flattened, or loose primers, and bright ejector marks on the case head are examples.)  My procedure also includes shooting for group with each load as they are fired over the chronograph.  This gives me a hint about which loads may, or may not, merit further accuracy testing.

Since its a bit impractical to set up a powder measure to throw only three charges of a given weight, I just dip and weigh the charges by hand.  With this new toy, I can just key in the weight I want, and hit the 'dispense' button.

In addition to the the powder dispensing system, PACT was also running a companion Christmas special on their Professional Chronograph.  (The makers of reloading toys and gadgets sure know how to make us spend our money don't they?)  Only a bit more begging and groveling got me permission to order that too!

An interesting side note here:  When I called PACT to inquire about this stuff, I asked Pat, the guy who answered the phone, "Why should I buy your powder dispensing system, instead of the 'green' one on the next page of this magazine?"

Pat's answer: "Theirs is made in Red China, PACT is made right here in Texas,  ours has a lifetime guarantee, theirs don't, and ours is cheaper!"  'Nuff said!  I placed the order!

Now don't get me wrong here.  I have tons of reloading equipment and tools from the 'green' company, their products work fine, and their customer service has always been first rate, but in this case I thought Pat made a convincing argument.  Now on to the chronograph.

The chronograph part of the order didn't arrive before Christmas. (still hasn't, even as I write this)  But, I'll try to tell you what I expect from this purchase.  PACT has been making this model for several years, but have added a new feature that's unique; one that no one else is using that I know of.

In the very early days, chronographs were both cumbersome and very expensive.  (Of course this was long before my time.)  Early models used a set of two 'screens' that were essentially a sheet of translucent material with a network of lines bonded to each sheet.  The lines were of a conductive material that formed a complete electrical circuit from one corner of the sheet to another.  The lines were so spaced that the passage of a bullet of any size through the material, would sever at least one line, break the circuit, and thus allow for time measurement from one screen to another.

Those early chronographs did not have a readout that actually gave you the speed of the bullet either.  Instead, a series of lights or numbers had to be converted by using a chart or a complicated formula to determine actual feet or meters per second.  (We've come a long way baby!)

Today's chronographs use optical sensors to detect the 'shadow' of a bullet passing overhead, and time the passage from point 'A' to point 'B'.  The electronics then calculate bullet speed using this time element.

Optical sensors depend upon an ambient light change to detect this bullet 'shadow'.  Under certain conditions, the brightness of the sky and/or some kinds of cloud cover make it difficult for the sensors to 'read the shadow' and function properly.

Some of us who have used chronographs extensively, have been known to say words not fit for children, when we fire bullets directly over the screens and get an error message several times in succession.

In addition to the optical sensors on this unit, PACT has added infrared sensors as an alternate method of 'seeing' bullets pass.  These sensors will allow use of the unit where the optical 'sky screens' won't function.

One example would be at an indoor range with fluorescent lighting.  Fluorescent lighting cycles, bright to dim, faster than the human eye can see and looks like a steady light to us.  But, that cycling fools a chronograph with optical sensors into thinking that bullets are being fired over it faster that it can process.

Another claim is that the infrared sensors will function in total darkness.  I'll just take their word on that, 'cause I don't think I'm ready for shootin' in the dark quite yet!

Most all of today's chronographs will provide a digital readout of the actual bullet speed as each shot is fired.  After a 'string' is fired, they will also give you calculated results that include: number of shots, fastest speed, slowest speed, extreme spread, and standard deviation.

The "Shooting Chrony" brand I use now, will do all that and more.  It even has a printer that will print out all this information on plain adding machine paper.  (Do NOT tell Little Heifer that my current chronograph will do all this! - One chronograph is about need, two is about want!)

What the new PACT does add, is a complete ballistics program within the bench unit, along with its built in plain paper printer.  The unit has a database that includes most all bullets made today.  By using measured muzzle velocity for a specific bullet the program will give you downrange ballistics for various sight in distances, including bullet speed and drop from line of sight.  One more button will give you a printout of these statistics.

Also in the realm of reloading safety, redundancy should never be an issue!  By placing two chronographs in tandem, I can easily determine if one or the other is not calibrated properly. If they do give me substantially different velocities, I'll then have a heck of a time figuring out which one is wrong!  (See how easy it is to convert a 'want' to a 'need'.)

As soon as my busy schedule allows, I'll give these PACT products a thorough test.  I'll let you know right here in a future newsletter how they work.

Turning to other matters.

I've found that Hunter Education volunteerism could turn into a full time job if I'd let it.  We are now preparing for a mass enrollment weekend at the Spokane Sportsman's Warehouse for all six of our 2006 classes.  (See the Hunter Education Page)

The demand for these classes is incredible, and usually far exceeds the amount of space and volunteer's time we have available.  The enrollment will be January 7 and 8, and we expect the early hours of Saturday to be a madhouse.  Some are predicting we will fill all 130+ available slots within the first few hours.

My last gathering with some of my Idaho Hunter Education colleagues, resulted in my 'volunteering' to do a reloading presentation.  This will take place the evening of January 18 at the first of what is planned to be a monthly gathering of the Coeur d'Alene area instructors.  Actually, I was pleased to be able to do this presentation as it will give me an opportunity to show my instructional CD on metallic reloading to a live audience for the first time.

As a matter of note, I just redid the short demo of this program that's here on the website, so it works exactly like the real slide show on the CD.  If you are interested in taking a look, click on the 'Reloadin' Stuff' button.

I guess I've been mouthy enough to draw some attention from the Washington State Hunter Education officials.  The Eastern Washington Coordinator called the other night 'inviting' me to a conference in Ellensburg, WA on January 28 and 29.  They're calling this an "Instructor Development and Leadership Conference."  Upon my return, I'll hopefully be able to tell you exactly what that means.

I continue to send stories and articles to the folks at Outlook Magazine here in Spokane, and they continue to print what I send them.  As soon as I get a little more experience under my belt, I may try sending some material to someone who actually pays you for this kind of stuff!

If you would care to take a look at Outlook Magazine, you can now find online editions of the last few issues on their website.  Links to these files are found just under the picture of the latest cover.  The Outlook website can be found at:  http://www.spokaneoutlook.com/

I'm usually not much for internet chat rooms or discussion forums, but I have registered on one that you might find interesting.  About a year ago I got an email from a James Roberts from Northeast Alabama.  He had stumbled upon my website, and invited me to visit both his website and discussion forum.  After finding that James has bluegrass music for sound background on his website, I decided he must be OK.

When I heard from James, he had just started a new discussion forum on outdoor topics, and had only accumulated about 20 members.  The membership has now grown to about 80, mostly from the Alabama neck of the woods but also from New Jersey to Washington State.  So far I haven't seen any of the wild and crazy stuff that sometimes shows up on these things.  I have registered and occasionally post on the board under the screen name, Hillbilly.

You can visit the discussion forum at:  http://almtnman.proboards19.com/ or James' website at:  http://home.hiwaay.net/~stargate/

Man, I just realized that I really developed 'diarrhea of the keyboard' this month.  Better shut up!

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from one of those millions of stories that circulate on the internet.  I've changed the location to Missouri, to protect the innocent.


(Other than the change of location, this is supposed to be a true story.)

Recently a routine police patrol parked outside a bar in Northwest Missouri.

After last call the officer noticed a man leaving the bar so intoxicated
that he could barely walk. The man stumbled around the parking lot for a
few minutes, with the officer quietly observing. After what seemed an
eternity and trying his keys on five different vehicles, the man managed
to find his car which he fell into. He sat there for a few minutes as a
number of other patrons left the bar and drove off.

Finally he started the car, switched the wipers on and off (it was a
fine, dry summer night) - flicked the blinkers on, then off a couple of
times, honked the horn and then switched on the lights. He moved the
vehicle forward a few inches, reversed a little and then remained still
for a few more minutes as some more of the other patrons' vehicles left.

At last, the parking lot empty, he pulled out of the parking lot and
started to drive slowly down the road. The police officer, having
patiently waited all this time, now started up the patrol car, put on
the flashing lights, and promptly pulled the man over and carried out a
breathalyzer test. To his amazement the breathalyzer indicated no
evidence of the man having consumed any alcohol at all! Dumbfounded, the
officer said, "I'll have to ask you to accompany me to the police station. This breathalyzer equipment must be broken."

"I doubt it," said the truly proud Hillbilly. "Tonight I'm the
designated decoy".

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

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