Hello sir!

It’s been a while (again) since I posted, but the last few weeks have been something of a blur. Like most people, I’ve done a few house moves, but never a double move wherein home goes to one place and business another.

I’ve worked for myself for about 25 years and always based from my home. However, as last year drew to a close I had to finally concede that I was tired of having everything under one roof. I was finally ready to make home the place I go to relax.

OK, where are we up to? Well, to begin with, we needed to sort out the floor in the new unit. It had suffered a bit over the years and some parts needed repairing and the whole thing needed a coat of paint. My friend Mike, bless him, came all the way over from Oxford to help me for a weekend and made light work of dealing with the floor issues.

The paint we used was excellent but REALLY whiffy. Mike coped OK but I ended up high as a kit and looking like a mad thing.

The next time I went back (on my own the following week) to paint the rest of the floor, I kitted myself out with a proper fume mask.

Once done, I could start ferrying stuff across to the unit and preempt some of the hassle of the impending move. Some. When that day finally came, for the first time ever I copped out and hired a professional removals firm.

Then came the blurry bit as I sorted out both home and unit. Let’s just say it went OK, but I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience anytime soon.

As well as being a firearms dealer, I also translate and edit text for people. Throughout the entire move period, I had several deadlines to take care of, plus a gazillion micro-decisions to take about how the new RFD (registered firearms dealership) will work.

First things first, I needed to get my office desk all put back together quickly so I could continue working on my edits and administer anything else that needed doing, without the hassle of relying on just a laptop on my knee.

Then the unit needed some work doing on all its doors to make them more secure, make them work properly and give the place the beginnings of a facelift.

Next, up went Bench B, the largest of the three I currently have. You may recall if you follow us on Facebook, that Bench B was a pig to disassemble and not that much fun to put back together. When you’ve just inserted your hundred-and-fiftieth screw lying on your back under the thing, you start to seriously contemplate using it for firewood.

Bench B then needed refinishing as the varnish I’d used before wasn’t suitable. Three coats later, we are now ready to actually start UNPACKING BOXES!

Next it will be Bench A (the reloading bench), at which point I can start thinking about resuming life as a target shooter.

As 2018 draws to a close…

Well if you can’t be an English eccentric at Christmastime, when can you?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing his blog so far, so thanks to my good friends David & Christel at Shooting Shed for suggesting I start one. I don’t churn posts out at the rate some sites do, but hopefully what does appear is entertaining and interesting.

2018 is one year I will wave off with very mixed feelings. So much water under the bridge and a major loss for the family. I said in an earlier post that my father went into care back in May. Things trundled along more or less OK through the summer but, as time progressed, it became obvious Dad’s health was faltering.

Dad died in hospital at the end of October, so the intervening time has been rather a blur of arrangements and back-and-forth, culminating in a windswept and rainy funeral down in Cornwall. 

Taken in 2011. 80 years of age and he was on the bloody roof  with a wash-leather before I could stop him.

My father is a hard person to sum up in a few lines, because he was such a mixture. Despite having a fearsome temper, he seemed to be one of those people everybody turned to in a crisis. He could be volatile and grouchy, but also blessed with a terrific sense of humour.  When we all met up for a meal the night before Dad’s funeral, we spent much of the time laughing about some of his most unintentionally comical outbursts when my brother and I were kids.

We’ll all miss him badly, but the boys are coming over this year and we’ll remember with fondness the end of 2015 when, appalled by the cost of Christmas trees, the four of us got rather merry, sawed a dead branch off one of the trees in the garden, decorated it with baubles and then sat down to watch Die Hard. Yipee ki-yay, that was a good Christmas!

Dad and Scott proudly display the Christmas Twig of 2015.
Ermm… I think we were all still “merry” when we took this one.

This year’s tree is more traditional, but with a hobby-based spin. We have 30-40 Krag, 44 Magnum and a handful of 308 Win (all inert of course) gracing the tree’s branches. I am seriously wondering about selling Christmas tree ammunition next year, for people who shoot, or perhaps just fancy something a little out of the ordinary. 

Go ooooon. ‘Ave some ammo on yer tree. Ya know ya wanna!

Once again, son no. 2 – Ben – will be our chef and I guess I will probably be the chief washer-upper. There’ll be a litany of movies to watch (most likely including Die Hard again) and I think we might have a game or two of Exploding Kittens or Cards Against Humanity.

Christmas is a time for sharing.

Have a good Christmas break  and I hope 2019 brings the very best for you.

Bafflement

This weekend was a little different to normal. A local gun club I’ve joined was upgrading its range and needed a few spare bodies to help out. I don’t have any particular skills in fabrication or carpentry (just basic bodging) so didn’t really know what to expect.

The business end of an indoor range. Oddly like a theatre, but no velvet curtains.

As it turned out, I had one of the most enjoyable and rewarding days for some while. I’m still sore and stiff from lugging stuff about, but there’s nothing like a work day to get to know some of the other guys a bit better.

No matter how hard I try, I always want to look at the arc.

Judging from the comprehensive drawings that had been produced, a great deal of preparation and planning had gone into this work. Today’s task was to ensure the safest possible conditions for the club’s pistol shooters by installing a new set of baffles.

“Warning: emits stars and bangs.” What did he have for breakfast?

Even so, there were a few IKEA moments – ones when the blood drains from everyone’s faces because they think they’ve assembled everything back to front. Thankfully, we hadn’t. This structure probably tops half a ton, so not exactly Meccano.

Adjusting the angle on the big steel baffle before fixing it in place.

The really nice thing was that, if things did go slightly awry, nobody got rattled or lost their cool. It was all puzzled out by discussion, suggestion, trial and error and (much as I loath buzzwords) teamwork. There was also that kind of blokish banter (sadly not much of it printable) which made the time pass easily.

The other end of the steel sheet. It took at least seven of us to position it.

Firing ranges, by their very nature, need a fair bit of maintenance. Frames get shot to bits, debris needs regular clearing out and equipment has to be checked and periodically replaced. This project is part of an ongoing makeover to enhance safety and security at the range.

And in it goes. Palpable relief all round.

After a few hours’ work, the steelwork was safely in place. Supported at each end, bolted in multiple locations and then welded just to be absolutely sure. Now it’s in, it’s not going anywhere.

Job done! So much so that it looks like it’s always been there.

Members like me with muzzle-loading revolvers and long-barrel pistols and revolvers can now resume their sport. It’s a great little 25-yard indoor range and ideal for gallery load development.

More of that as it unfolds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 July

I recently watched 22 July, a Netflix original directed by Paul Greengrass and now on Netflix in the UK. It recounts the events of summer 2011 when right-wing extremist, Anders Behring Breivik detonated a bomb outside the Norwegian government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people. He then made his way to Utøya island, where a youth camp was under way. There, he massacred a further 69 people, mostly teenagers.

Viljar and his brother Torje flee the attack.

The film doesn’t shrink from the unpleasant details of what happened but, even having seen the trailer, it’s still shocking to witness. Due to problems getting emergency response teams out to Utøya quickly, Breivik got a full 90 minutes to roam about, shouting at “the Marxist elite” and picking off whomever he encountered.

Actual damage caused by the Oslo bombing.

In addition to those killed, Breivik also injured over 200 people in Oslo and another 110 on Utøya. It was the deadliest act of aggression on Norwegian soil since World War II.

When interrogated, Breivik claimed to be a member of the Knights Templar and that his “operation” was the first stage in a military coup d’état, intended to rid Norway and Europe of Islam and multiculturalism. The morning of his attacks, he had published a rambling 1500-page manifesto online, detailing his vision for transforming Europe, presumably in his own image.

The real Breivik (left) and Anders Danielsen Lie (right) who plays him in the movie.

When he was eventually confronted by police, Breivik calmly laid down his weapons and surrendered. Anders Danielsen Lie plays Breivik. Although Lie may not physically resemble the real-life murderer, he does infuse his depiction with a chilling air of narcissism and quiet superiority. In preparing for the role, Lie said he listened to quite a large volume of the interrogation tapes with Breivik. “Alarmingly normal” was how Lie described him.

Utøya island, in the middle of a lake =in Buskerud county, Norway.

Once the emergency services arrive and begin sorting through the carnage, the film picks up the simultaneous threads of Breivik, as he is detained, questioned and indicted and Viljar Hanssen, a 17-year-old high school student who survived multiple gunshot wounds on the island that day.

Viljar contemplates his future.

Viljar’s long road to physical and mental recovery forms a core part of the story. Narrowly surviving five bullets, he eventually appears in court to testify against Breivik. The role of Viljar gets a convincing and intense performance by actor Jonas Strand Gravli; when Viljar does eventually face Breivik in court, you’re almost living it with him.

Face to face with a monster. Vilja testifies against Breivik.

Another plot thread examines the role of Breivik’s lawyer in the whole affair. Bound by the principle that even the vilest of offenders deserves a proper defence, advocate Geir Lippestad (Jon Øigarden) decides that he will represent Breivik. It’s a costly move, affecting him and his family very deeply. We’re party to the soul-searching behind Lippestad’s decision, but also his tacit disgust at his client.

Lippestad serves as defence for Breivik.

Paul Greengrass shot his film in English but wisely chose an almost entirely Norwegian cast and authentic locations. The movie thus gets its mainstream audience but retains a feel of stark reality. Just a few minor changes were made to the facts to keep the narrative flowing smoothly. The principal cast is excellent, but there really isn’t a wrong note from any of the supporting actors either. 22 July is extremely well put-together. It’s not light entertainment but tells a harrowing story in immersive fashion.

Hard to watch, but this is what happened.

Greengrass is no stranger to this kind of filmmaking. His filmography includes The Bourne Ultimatum and United 93 (the story of the one aircraft on 9/11 that didn’t hit its intended target because the passengers assaulted the terrorists). Peril and how people react to it is clearly a subject Greengrass handles exceedingly well.

Paul Greengrass, directing two of the young cast.

I was particularly interested to see this film because I’ve a strong personal connection with Norway. I worked over there briefly and then went back again later as a student of Scandinavian languages. During that time, I lived in Telemark, coincidentally the same county in which Anders Behring Breivik is now incarcerated. It’s been some years since I last visited Norway, but I was pleased to find I could still understand some of the background Norwegian chatter in 22 July.

Just kids on a summer camp.

22 July shows us plenty of Norway, but without calling attention to the fact. Perhaps the most striking vista of all is on Svalbard where Viljar contemplates the future opening up before him, even as his assailant gets banged up in a prison cell. It’s a most effective piece of symbolism for what happened to Norway. A beautiful country that suffered something awful and yet managed to work through it, move on and look to the future without knee-jerking, blamestorming or politicising.

Norwegian PM, Jens Stoltenberg (in real life) comforting one of the survivors of Utøya.

I sincerely hope nothing like the events of 22nd July 2011 ever visits Norway again, but I admire the way the country dealt with it. They didn’t over-regulate law-abiding citizens to try and make people feel safer. They took what practical steps they could but recognised that you can’t legislate for the kind of lunatic who stole 77 lives for his warped notion of freedom.

Svalbard, home to Viljar Hanssen and his family.

Personally, I’d have seen Breivik strung up, but that’s just me. The Norwegians are much more measured. They took the long view and were determined to learn from their tragedy and get past it. What’s more, this way, Breivik gets to preach his rubbish to the same four walls for the rest of his days, secure in the knowledge that nobody’s listening.

 

 

 

 

The Marlin Jam

This is about the well-known problem with Marlin lever-action rifles. If you were expecting something about blues riffs or home-made preserves, you’ll be disappointed.

The carrier is the plain steel gizmo bottom centre in this image.

The Marlin Jam starts right at the beginning of the gun’s life when, even after just a few rounds, the underside of the lever (the lever cam) digs into the bottom of the carrier and creates a line.

The dreaded line.

This line worsens with time and eventually screws up the timing of the gun, with two rounds jammed together behind the chamber.

I’ve dealt with this problem a couple of times now and thankfully on both occasions with a new or nearly new gun. The procedure with older Marlins with a well-established line on the carrier is a bit more involved; it can mean more drastic measures, including a new carrier. However, you can prevent it from developing in a new gun/recurring in an older one by smoothing off  part of the lever cam as follows.

Normally, the arrowed edge is quite a sharp angle. That’s how it comes out of the factory. Here, I’ve taken preventative action and put a small radius on the edge to stop further damage.

The line, it’s burred edges taken down with emery paper and the whole flat gently smoothed over with very fine emery.

The rounded edge of the lever will no longer dig into the carrier and the line in the carrier, although still present, won’t get any worse.

I’ve only used emery on the carrier. 600 grit and then 2000 grit to polish. It’s not a good idea to start attacking the carrier with anything more aggressive as removing too much metal can make a bad situation very bad indeed.

I topped off my repair with some DSX, rubbed in well, and all was good to go. Action as smooth as butter now.

DSX Assembler grease. Ideal for a job like this. I treated the whole action with DSX before reassembly. Well worth doing. 

I love Marlins, but this one thing rankles with me a bit. It probably affects their bottom line too much to warrant fixing this issue, but these are good rifles and shouldn’t be allowed to leave the factory with this decades-old gripe still present.

Anyway, that’s how it’s sorted. There are numerous YouTube videos showing this in a lot more detail, but the above is how I fixed it.

Welcome to the JDR blog…

Strange to say, for someone whose background is in text work of various kinds, but this is my first foray into the world of online blogging.

What I’ll be talking about, I don’t know, but this is going to be as much a personal page as a business one. It might be interesting to lift the lid on what being an RFD in the United Kingdom is like and show various projects as they crop up.

I hope you’ll find the content entertaining and perhaps useful. Let’s see…