SHOT Show 2020

No, I’m not there. Not sure if I would go if I could. I don’t do good in those kinds of crowds.

First, I will always recommend Guns, Holsters, and Gear’s exhaustive SHOT page for the latest and greatest.

Some thoughts:

It’s nice to see so many new revolvers. I like them from a nostalgic standpoint, even if I wouldn’t carry one. I don’t have the pull for the new Colt Python (especially not at that price point). I wish we were seeing more .22 revolvers. Yes, Taurus announced a new one, but I don’t trust their quality control. You never know if you are getting the greatest pistol ever or a danger to life and limb. (Yes, that’s hyperbole, but not much).

I’m kinda interested in Ruger’s Ruger-57 5.7mm pistol, and I wonder if it will set off a renewed interest in that cartridge. I’ll be honest, it’s not something I would carry, but it would be something I would keep in my safe for range trips.

I’m really interested in the S&W Shield 9EZ, but not for me. My mom really liked the 380EZ, and I want to see if she likes this one. Mostly because 9mm is a much better, more plentiful, and often cheaper cartridge.

Speaking of 9mm cartridges, I’m interested in Speer’s new Gold Dot. I’m using the standard Speer in my normal carry gun, but I’m thinking of these for my smaller M&P and my Sig P225.

Metal Tuesday – Avantasia – Rat Race

Avantasia is one of my favorite bands, and I love how “punchy” their songs can be.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part One – Chapter Two

Skull Island, Southern Pacific – 1000 Local – 14 July 2009 – Countdown: 2 years, 5 months, 2 weeks

“Here they come,” purred Sissy in a low voice. Jack Winchester grimaced and braced against the ridge of his firing hole as the mass of rotting undead staggered out of the tree line with outstretched arms. The zombies gave a collective moan as they sensed prey nearby. There was a fair group of them. Not bad for a first engagement for this mismatched team.

“Yeah, I’m counting about sixty of them,” Jack murmured into the throat mike. He tightened his grip on the M4 Masterkey carbine. Jack disliked the American M4 carbine, and the additional weight of the 12-gauge shotgun mounted under the barrel did nothing to improve his attitude. Mateo was probably right that the weapon was excellent for the close range fighting the team was expecting. Adrenaline pumped through Jack. He felt the familiar itch to attack. All Jack wanted to do was just throw down the ungainly carbine, draw his beloved Browning Hi-Powers, and blaze away at the oncoming horde of undead. Jack pushed down his instincts and tried to focus on doing his job. The team trusted him, even if he knew that they shouldn’t. Maybe he should have taken his meds before tromping out into the jungles of Skull Island. That was stupid. They just slowed him down.

“Roger Jack, I see them,” Mateo said. The shorter American sounded more comfortable in the leader role than he had at the beginning of the training. There was still a slight uncertainty. “Everyone knows their jobs. Hold your fire until Collin lets loose.”

“Hurry up, mate,” Jack whispered as he watched the zombies cross the burnt clearing at an agonizingly slow creep. The throaty, wet moans of the undead made Jack’s hands twitch. Jack took a deep breath and forced his hands still. The last thing he needed to do was accidentally drop the magazine out of his weapon – or worse, open fire early. Jack cursed the contract he didn’t read, and the insurance company that dragged him from Perth back to this wretched island.

The sudden thud of the explosion snapped Jack back to the fight. The five claymore mines were daisy-chained, sending thirty-five hundred steel balls slashing through the zombie horde. The front of the horde collapsed as their decomposing bodies were shredded. A few stopped moving as the hurtling steel balls punched through their skulls and destroyed the critical brains. As the smoke cleared, Jack saw most of the zombies were crawling along the ground. There were about twenty that somehow managed to stay upright through the carnage.

“Walking ones first!” Mateo shouted over the radio, “Jack and Quentin watch the crawlers. Any get too close, take them out!” The distinctive bark of M4’s erupted from the team’s positions, only to be drowned out by the throaty crack of Sissy’s L96 rifle. Jack brought his M4 up and placed the holographic reticule of the EOTech on the walking zombie closest to his position. A light squeeze on the trigger, and the zombie’s head exploded into a grey mess. Jack pivoted and found a crawler that managed to get close. Another burst stopped it cold.

Jack’s body wanted to move. He felt the tension building in his spine as his body screamed to move, to close with the zombies and fight the battle in bad breath range. Standing still was just going to get him killed. Two zombies angled towards Jack. He stood up and fired twice with the Masterkey twelve-gauge shotgun. The tension released as Jack was finally moving.

“Jack, stay in position. Service your targets,” Mateo said, the barest hint of reprimand in his voice. It was enough to enrage Jack.

“Let me work,” snapped Jack as he fired at another zombie. One of the crawlers stood up. Jack twisted to bring around the M4. Jack squeezed the trigger. CLICK. Without hesitating, Jack ejected the magazine and slapped in a fresh magazine. He pulled the charging handle and felt the weapon lock up. Jack knew he should be falling back and telling Mateo he had a weapon failure. Jack no longer cared about what he should be doing. He let the weapon fall on its sling as his reached down and drew his pistols. The Hi-Powers were natural extensions of Jack’s arms as he stepped out from his position and double-tapped the zombie with his right pistol. He flicked his eyes at the sound of shuffling. His left armed snaked out and double-tapped another zombie slouching towards him. Jack heard Mateo yelling over the radio, but he ignored it. He was in his element as he slid through the killing ground. Two more double-taps and two more zombies stopped moving with an unearthly finality. It was so easy. Why couldn’t the others understand how easy this was? No complicated ambushes, no high explosive traps. Just get in and blaze away until there were no more.

The zombie stood up from a small copse of burnt shrubbery. It was suddenly within arm reach. Jack just smiled as his racing mind realized he wasn’t going to get his pistol up fast enough. The zombie lurched forward with its outstretched hands. Its head exploded as an M4 cracked from behind Jack.

“You bloody piker,” yelled Collin, all traces of sophistication gone from his tone. “What in the hell do ye think ye’re doin’?” The dark commando expertly dispatched two crawlers. Before Jack could answer, Quentin stormed to the pair while firing his shotgun at the zombies. Collin’s face scrunched in anger. “No you blasted fool, fall back!”

“Relax Collin,” Quentin said, “I’m just here to fetch our boy.” Before Jack could object, Quentin snatched the drag handle on the of his vest and lifted the Aussie clear off the ground. Jack squirmed as Quentin dragged him back to the others. Collin covered the two with his M4 and some help from Sissy. The three team members were joined by The Steve as they crossed behind the team’s position. The Steve reached into his medical bag and pulled out a small black case. Quentin disarmed Jack and held him still as The Steve prepped a syringe. The Steve looked down at Jack with a sympathetic expression.

“Dude, you seriously screwed up,” The Steve said.

“No! Don’t you see? It’s the only way,” Jack screamed as The Steve plunged the syringe into Jack’s arm. Jack struggled, but Quentin held him easily. It took a few moments for the drug to spread its comfortable numbness across his body. Mateo loomed over Jack. The drugs made the normally average height Latino seem like a giant.

“That’s it. We’re done,” Mateo called out. He tapped the radio strapped to his back, “Tampa, this is Team One. Full eradication west of orange smoke. Extract at LZ Two.” Jack could see Mateo tossing a pair of smoke grenades as Sissy slid down the tree. She fired at the still approaching zombies as she scampered over to the group.

“Oh, Jackie boy, what did you do?” Sissy said as she joined the group.

The world went dark before Jack could answer.

[Zombie Strike Part One Chapter Three]

Friday Quote- Ryan Clecker

Calling for more gun control is an admission that gun control doesn’t work.

Tactical TJ Maxx

I have introduced my wife to whole subcultures she was unaware of prior to our meeting. This leads to hilarity when she then has to explain some of her husband’s foibles. Example:

Coworker: This good coffee. Where did you find it?

The Wife: Derek dragged me through the 5.11 store. (Editor’s Note: The coffee is Black Rifle Coffee)

Coworker: What’s a 5.11 store?

The Wife: It’s kind of like a tactical TJ Maxx.

List of 2020 Florida Gun Bills

Miguel has a helpful list.

Time to start writing, calling, and emailing your state reps and senators.

Even if they’re bought and paid for by Bloomberg. Like mine.

Metal Tuesday – Avenged Sevenfold – Beast & The Harlot

I’m not a huge Avenged Sevenfold, but I do like some of their stuff.

Monday Fiction – Zombie Strike – Part One – Chapter One

Skull Island, Southern Pacific – 0700 Local – 1 July 2009 – Countdown: 2 years, 6 months

Mateo Cortez looked down at the distinctive building growing larger as the helicopter descended. The fear and excitement inside him flared back after a year’s slumber. The imposing gray headquarters building with the white skull visage were just as he remembered. Mateo looked down at the jagged scar that ran up his right arm. It was a souvenir from the last time he was on this small Pacific island.

Oh well, Mateo thought, No one ever said hunting zombies was safe.

The helicopter gently touched down. The door slid open. Mateo pulled down the brim of his ball cap and stepped down from the helicopter. Two dark-suited men who looked like they just stepped off the Presidential Detail ushered Mateo off the landing pad. They didn’t say anything beyond simple one-word monotone commands as they led Mateo into the headquarters building. The last time Mateo was in this building, he had a spacious suite on the eighth floor. That was right before he competed in Zombie Strike! contest.

Forget all the posers who thought they were so tough doing the so-called “X-Games.” Running from bunker to bunker while fighting and evading hordes of zombies was the ultimate extreme sport. Not everyone who competed survived. Mateo not only managed to survive, but he was on of the few who managed to make it to the last bunker and collect the million dollar prize. He hoped the IRS and his ex-wife were enjoying the money. Heaven knew Mateo never had the chance.

The elevator plunged down so fast Mateo needed to grip the brass bar to keep from falling over. He wanted to ask what was going on, but he knew that was futile. The Secret Service wannabes who escorted him from his home in Florida hadn’t said anything beyond a half-dozen words. Mateo looked at himself in the elevator’s mirrored walls. The rigors of travel gave his normal light olive skin a wan appearance. His dark eyes were blood shot with his round face covered with a few whiskers. Good God, could he never grow proper facial hair? Mateo’s black hair was a little longer than his normal crew cut. The blue t-shirt and jeans were wrinkled and stained with over twenty hours of travel. Only his boots maintained their black shine. Mateo stopped his musings over his looks as he noticed the elevator was slowing. The elevator opened into a bare concrete hallway that ended at a red metal door. Mateo followed the two suits as they walked off the elevator and opened the door for him. Mateo took a step inside and froze as he saw who was sitting around a large mahogany conference table. There was something to be said for treading carefully amongst a pantheon of legends. Worse, they were all staring at him like they’d been waiting on him. Mateo slouched down into the empty chair next to the door.

“Relax bro,” said the hulking man to Mateo’s right. Quentin McLintock looked every inch the football linebacker he’d been at West Virginia University. Quentin had been an excellent linebacker – for a college player. He was in that horrible spot of being barely not good enough to make the pros. He flitted about the Canadian and European football teams before someone (Quentin never said who) convinced him to compete in Zombie Strike! Quentin was an instant fan favorite. There was just something unforgettable about watching a wall of a man use a twenty-pound sledgehammer to take out three zombies in one swing. Quentin smiled down at Mateo.

“We all just got here,” Quentin said, much to Mateo’s relief.

“Thankfully, with Mr. Cortez’s arrival, we can begin,” a bespectacled man said at the head of the table. His accent and clothes were unmistakably British, as was that impatient glower as the man looked at the people around the table. “In front of all of you are the standard non-disclosure agreements. If you’d be so kind as to glance them over and sign, we can proceed.”

“Perhaps you’d be so kind as to explain why we’re here?” purred Melissa “Sissy” O’Connell. Sissy O’Connell was sitting across from Quentin. Mateo was trying hard not to meet her beautiful brown eyes. Sissy was the pinup girl for Zombie Strike! fan boys everywhere. The blonde was gorgeous, charming, and absolutely scary with a sniper rifle. Mateo was feeling guilty for having that one picture of her on his computer back home. He hoped his discomfort wasn’t showing on his face.

“The better question is why you decided to kidnap us and drag us back to this – place,” Jack Winchester boomed, twisting the last word with pure hatred. Winchester was the only person to compete and survive in Zombie Strike! twice, once on the indivdual course and once as part of an all-star team. The brown-haired and bearded Aussie had been a gregarious and boisterous fan favorite. During the individual competition, Jack gained a following for his quick, witty banter and his matching pearl-handled silver Browning Hi-Powers. That man was killed slowly during the team competition as he saw his team get taken down one by one. After the team disaster, the ZS blogs reported Winchester retreated back to Australia. It was said Jack verbally attacked anyone who even brought up Zombie Strike.

“You were not kidnapped Mr. Winchester,” bristled Spectacles, “You were asked to fulfill the contract you signed.” The suits who approached Mateo used the same words. Mateo got into the car less because of the threat of legal action and more because of the money they were offering.

“Listen mates, we all signed the contracts when we won our prizes,” said the man to the right of Spectacles. Then, the man looked straight at Jack, “Apparently, all of us didn’t bloody read them too close.” The cockneyed London accent still seemed strange coming from the man whose skin looked just this side of slate. Collin DuBois was tall and lanky with a shaved head and a face which could be charitably called “strong.” He was also former SAS before leaving the family military tradition and entering the more lucrative consulting and contracting world. Mateo remembered the practiced ease DuBois slid through the jungles of Skull Island, only fighting the zombies when he couldn’t evade them. Throughout the competition, Collin demonstrated the expert infiltration techniques of the true operative.

“Yes, quite,” Spectacles said, not sure if to be annoyed or relieved by Collin’s comment. “All of you are under contract to MacKenzie & Winston for additional services. Now, your unique services are required.” He pointed to the NDA’s and the other packets sitting in front of each individual.

“Required for what?” Mateo asked. The lure of a quarter million dollars plus additional bonus got Mateo in the car and onto the helicopter. With that much, Mateo could finally pay off all of his debts and get a fresh start. Now, he was staring to wonder if he’d collect it.

“Dude, what have we all got in common?” asked the final person in the room, “All of us won the million dollar prize on ZS. The Steve understands. The Steve is waiting for the details.” Mateo arched an eyebrow in surprise. Sweet Mother of God, it wasn’t a stunt for the cameras – he really did act that way. Steven “The Steve” Mountain was a former Army Special Forces medic, and he’d been a superb one by what Mateo saw when “The Steve’s” team competed. “The Steve” was of average height, build, and looks. It was his constant talking about himself in the third person that made “The Steve” stand out to the audience.

“You need experienced zombie fighters,” Mateo said. It wasn’t a question. “So instead of recruiting an existing team, why did you bring us all in?”

“According to our analysis, each of you possess unique and complimentary abilities and skills, Mr. Cortez,” Spectacles continued, “Our analysts give this combination of individuals an extremely high chance of succeeding.” The man almost preened.

“Exactly what are we supposed to be succeeding at?” Winchester asked, the furious fire still burning in his eyes. The others locked their eyes on Spectacles as he cleared his throat. The Brit didn’t want to tell the group before they signed the NDA’s, but he was also not willing to stand against the collected group of proven fighters. He had some survival instinct.

“We’ve discovered a breakout of zombies on a small island some hundred and fifty kilometers from the Hawaiian islands,” Spectacles said, clearly uncomfortable. “The firm requests the six of you travel to this island and eliminate this infestation before it can threaten inhabited islands.” The six zombie hunters looked at each other as they digested what Spectacles was asking.

“How the bloody devil did a bunch of zombies get a thousand miles from here?” asked DuBois, his voice heated.

“Wish we knew,” answered a familiar voice from behind the group. Mateo spun his chair and smiled as Kenn Blanchard walked into the room. The host of Zombie Strike! was just shy of six feet, but the black fatigues made him look taller. The normal broad smile was replaced with a serious face. “Look y’all, this is why Zombie Strike! was created. Not just to create another reality TV show, but to find folks like you. Ones that could handle themselves when it got hip deep and smelly with undead.”

“I thought you had a team already,” Quentin mused.

“Tampa Team?” Kenn asked, “They’re good for quick strikes and such around the island, but this thing is going to be longer and nastier. That’s why we got the best of our winners.”

“I don’t like it,” Winchester stated, “And I don’t like a bunch of limey insurance people–“

“Watch who you call limey, mate,” warned Dubois with a serious tone, “To enlighten you, insurance firms are the ones most aware of what’s going on in the world, because they’re the ones who have to pay out. Not the bloody governments. Most of the firms have better intelligence sections as well.”

“Collin’s right,” Kenn said, “I’ve seen the information from M&W. I give you my word I wouldn’t have dragged all y’all here if it wasn’t important.” A general murmur of agreement rose from the group. Even Winchester wasn’t willing to dispute Kenn’s word.

“The Steve wants to know what the plan is,” Mountain said, pointing at himself with his left thumb in his familiar fashion.

“We’re going to need to start working together as a team,” Mateo said, remembering Jack’s team debacle. Much like the people around the table, Jack’s team was made up of previous winners. They’d been killed because none of them were working together. Mateo looked at each of the others with a grim look.

“That means we practice,” Mateo said, “Basic weapons drills first. Then get out there and actually work together.” The others looked at Mateo and collectively agreed.

“All right then,” Kenn said, “We’ve got rooms set up for y’all. We need to get working first thing in the morning.” The new team stood up from the table and walked to the waiting dark-suited escorts. Mateo hung back as the others traded greetings with Kenn before following their escorts. As “The Steve” left, Kenn looked over at Mateo with an appraising eye.

“What’s the matter, my brother?” Kenn asked.

“I can understand why everyone else is here. They were the superstars on ZS. Why am I here?” Mateo asked.

“That’s simple,” Kenn said with his familiar wide smile, “You get to be the leader of all of these folks.”

Zombie Strike Part 1 Chapter 2

Friday Quote – Matt McCaffrey

I doubt most people plaything the Powerball seriously believe they’ll win. Instead, people treat a ticket as the price of daydreaming about what they’d do with an enormous pile of cash. You can’t win without playing, so people pay a small amount as a way to justify spending their scarce time imagining their own Scrooge McDuck scenarios. For these people, the benefit of the ticket is greater than its cost.

2020 Goals

I looked back at what I wrote in January 2019, and I still stand by that I will make goals instead of resolutions. I did hit my goals for weight loss, but none of my writing goals. It’s amazing how much being married and being in Toastmasters cut down on my free writing time.

So, here are my goals for 2020:

  1. Toastmasters – Achieve Level 2 on Pathways in Toastmasters (I need to do two more speeches)
  2. Writing – Finish the third Irregulars story
  3. Writing – Re-post all of Zombie Strike (somehow in all of the blog issues the audio has gone into the ether)
  4. Writing – Put up blog posts four times a week
  5. Activism – Contact my state representative and state senator on all the bad gun bills hitting the 2020 Florida legislative session.
  6. Weight – Maintain my goal weight and keep my tracking streak for the year
  7. Professional – Improve my PowerPivot and Power BI skills with an aim at improving my standard reports
  8. Training– Get to one gun class this year.

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