Hello and Welcome to the first official Blog of Shooting Starr Sports! (say Yea now! ok just a smile will work fine for now;-) This is an introduction to Shooting Starr Sports and my journey down the road of life and this new trail into the “Blog-a-sphere”. First, I should tell you about my concept for this blog as it covers two primary areas, both of which are on shooting. Most people don’t associate the two of them together as they are different types of shooting activities. The first is on Firearms (aka guns) and how to shoot them, take care of them, and other fun stuff. The second is on Photography (aka Cameras) and how to shoot them, take care of them, and other cool stuff. My goal is to present useful, interesting, and hopefully occasionally humorous information about “Shooting”, regardless which one of these types of shooting you enjoy and participate in. For those of you who, like me, enjoy both types of shooting, I hope you find this site useful and one that you can relate to as well. Second, according to the “Blogging 101 rules” that I just read, at this point I am supposed to tell you a little about myself. What makes me think I know enough about either one of these subjects to write about them in the first place, let alone think what I have to say may be of some use to someone out there in Cyberspace. So here goes. The very short version is that I started shooting with a camera around the age of five which makes that about 55 years ago. My first gun shot was after that, around 10 years old, so call it 50 years ago. So I guess you can say that I have been involved in both for quite a while. But in this day and age that is probably not enough to satisfy your curiosity, so a little more info is called for. In the photography arena, I have shot professionally off and on for years. Back in the early 80s I attended Brooks Institute of Photography and studied Commercial and Under Sea Photography. I have taught photography including underwater photography and I am a PADI Underwater Photography Instructor. My firearms training started with my father and then hunting with my uncle and cousins as a kid. Then a stint in the early 70s with the 101st Airborne as an infantry and mortar-man. I am an NRA instructor for rifle and pistol and I shoot IDPA when I can. I have been fortunate to have studied with several of today’s top instructors in self defense and combative pistol shooting. In addition I am a certified Firearms Appraiser and I am working on my certification as a gunsmith. Ok, that’s a good overview of me for the what it’s worth. Now please read on for something more informative. Now, I will be the first to tell you that I don’t claim to be an expert at anything, but I would like to give you the definition of what an expert is as it was defined for me when I started my Civil Service in 1983. It was this, “An expert is any damn fool with a briefcase more than 50 miles from home.” Today it would be “An expert is anyone with a laptop (or tablet) more than 50 miles from home or if they telecommute from home”. So, I don’t claim to be an expert but, like most are you, just consider myself a shooter with a camera or my favorite gun at the time it doesn’t really matter which. We are all here to learn what we can from each other. And we can also learn from the real masters and professionals of today and from greats of the past. As for more about me, that will come as this blog progresses as it pertains to the current hot topics of the day or week. For the next couple months this blog will look at photography and firearms as they relate to our summer travels. We will pick up the journey in Chattanooga Tennessee. Specifically, Lookout Mountain. Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain were one of several key battlegrounds during the Civil War. The primary battle for the mountain lasted for months as union troops tried to take the top of the mountain. You can see in the photos from today, the views are phenomenal!! You can literally see for hundreds of miles on a clear day. This view is impressive from some of the strategically placed cannon positions around the mountain, which dominated the river valley and provided control of the river and the city of Chattanooga for the Confederate troops stationed atop the mountain. But as the union army advanced the cannoneers found themselves in an unusual position. Their targets were so far down the mountain, and the mountains was so steep, that after they had loaded the cannon and depressed the barrel to engage the enemy; the cannon balls rolled out the end of the barrel before they could even fire! Among other things, I am is a professional logistician. From the perspective of a logistician, the situation with the cannon balls rolling out makes me wonder. Was this a training problem? Did the troops not understand the ammunition and the gun well enough to overcome this? Or was this a supply problem because the Quartermaster issued them cannonballs instead of Grape Shot? The cannon balls could have been prevented from rolling out, if additional wadding had been packed in after the cannonball. So, it’s probably a combination of both training and supply. Now, in early battles around the world cannons had fired links of chain, and groups of shot made of iron called grapeshot. On Lookout Mountain it could have been homemade from rocks gathered there. And the gunners could have made stuffing for wads from old shirts or other materials and fired on the Union Troops creating a scatter shot pattern like a shotgun does today. This could have been very effective at Stone Mountain had it been tried. Perhaps, had it been widely used, it could at least added to the length of time that the confederacy could have held out against the advancing Union troops. If you’re wondering how does that relate to shooting today? Well, it simply means, make sure you have the right ammunition for what you intend to be shooting at. For example, what should you use in a shotgun for personal defense? You wouldn’t want number eight bird shot target loads to protect your life and your family in your home. And conversely, you would not want to use double 00 buckshot to hunt quail. So, match your ammo to the gun and your intended target. This is still a basic fundamental principle today. Now shifting gears, let’s talk photos. Because Lookout Mountain is a fantastic place for shooting photos. The following photos taken on the incline railway give you a good perspective of the ride up the mountain and back down again. FYI, all photos show on this trip were taken with a Canon 70D camera and a Canon 18-200 MM lens with a 1A Skylight filter. I forgot my polarizer and had left it in my camera bag at the foot of the mountain. A couple of useful tips for you. Talk to the conductor and they might be able to shoot some extra pictures for you (as they can move freely about the car) as I did, and he got some great shots as the cars are passing halfway up the mountain. But, if not, then be seated in the very front of the car when you load at the bottom of the hill. You can get some great pictures going up looking back down the rails towards the station at the bottom of the hill. But please note, if you’re sitting at the bottom of the car it’s a pretty steep climb to exit the train, as in over 70% incline. Not quite climbing a ladder, but close enough to hurt if you have weak knees or ankles. It is pretty tough walking up steep stairs and I’d recommend sitting in the back of the car from the bottom, so you are closer to the exit when you get to the top of a mountain. Just some friendly advice. Now for the ride back down the mountain. If you sit closest to the conductor at the top it makes it easier to get into the seat rather than have to walk down the stairs and you can look out over the tops of all the people in the car to give a real perspective as you go back down the mountain. And again, the conductor may be able to take some pictures for you from the top and out the sides of the car. When you get to the top of the mountain three blocks to the right is the Civil War Park. You can overlook the river valley from the gun emplacements that you saw earlier in this post. It is a great place for photographs and a nice walk. I highly recommend you take the guided tour with a park ranger if you have the opportunity. For those of you who have never visited Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain, I highly recommend them both. There is much to see on Lookout Mountain, including Ruby Falls. Ruby Falls is an unusual waterfall because it is inside the mountain in a cavern. The must see spot on Lookout Mountain is Rock City! Think gigantic rock garden on, in, and on top of the mountain. Plus, from the lookout point in Rock City you can see seven (7) states on a clear day! Or, at least so they claim. The photos below are only a sample of what you can see there.
In addition to Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga has a fantastic aquarium as well as a great downtown and river walk areas. So, take a trip to Chattanooga and enjoy yourself! That’s all for now. Please check back weekly for new updates as we wander the country. Take care out there in reality and here in Cyberspace, ShootingStarrSports