Science with Crossbows

From today’s seminar: “Of course, you cannot do this experiment in ordinary atmospheric pressure. It will explode. We observed this. It was quite messy.”

Also, the presenter was a German scientist with a group trying to model planetary accretion. Their experiments needed to propel marble-sized samples into a 1kg dust target in vacuum. The found the best way of doing this was with a small holder mounted to an arrow which was fired from a crossbow. The crossbow was placed in the vacuum chamber and was fired remotely. The holder and arrow would be stopped as soon as they were no longer accelerated by the bowstring and the samples would then fly out of the holder to the target.

It’s worth pointing out that the title of the presentation was “What can Wilhelm Tell teach us about planetary accretion?”

I imagine the paperwork needed to approve the purchase of the crossbow for the lab went something like this:

Item: Crossbow
Quantity: 1
Reason: SCIENCE!

Swiss no longer keep military ammo at home

It is well known that the Swiss are a prickly bunch: military service is mandatory for able-bodied males and those military members keep their army-issue rifles at home.

They also keep a sealed package of 50 rifle rounds to enable them to fight to the nearest armory if the need arises. Well, they kept ammo at home: during an enjoyable evening with a friendly Swiss couple in Z├╝rich the topic of military service came up. My friend mentioned that sometime last year, the military took back the sealed ammo box and soldiers no longer keep military-issue ammo at home.

Of course, privately owned ammo and firearms are allowed, and both recreational and competitive shooting is about as common here as baseball is in the US.

There’s been discussion in the legislature recently that military rifles should no longer be kept at home (for safety purposes, say advocates of the restriction), but not much progress has been made along those lines: keeping
military rifles at home is widely felt to be a Swiss cultural institution.

I’m famous!

Ok, no, not really famous…but one of my old photos has been making the rounds on Facebook.

To answer the inevitable questions:

  1. Yes, her reloading technique needed work. It was the first time she’d fired an AR. She’s improved in the intervening years.
  2. No, I’m not taking cover behind the side door/window. I’m bracing my arm against the A pillar, so I’m right where the windshield meets the hood. Should I be further forwards, and thus more protected by the engine? Probably, but I’m being a gentleman and yielding the best cover to the lady.
  3. Yes, I should probably be less exposed.
  4. The picture was intended to humorously illustrate Tamara‘s quote, “A true gentleman provides covering fire while a lady is reloading.” (I forgot the exact wording when I captioned the photo. My apologies to Tam.), not to be a serious demonstration of shooting skills.
  5. The point was not that she’s reloading the rifle for my use and that she remains under cover during the gunfight — I’m providing covering fire for her while she reloads her own rifle, after which she’ll engage the enemy.
  6. No, she’s not pointing the AR at my head. She’s about half a meter to my right and the rifle is pointing up and downrange.
  7. Yes, a full-size AR-15 is a bit too big for her. Since the photo was taken, we’ve purchased an “M4gery”-style AR with an adjustable stock and a shorter barrel for better balance.
  8. Yes, I’m left-handed. She’s not (hence why the reloading looks so awkward).
  9. I’m shooting an XD-45.
  10. That was one of our first dates, and we were out shooting in the Arizona desert with friends. I may be able to dig up the coordinates of where we were if anyone is interested.
  11. I married that woman, and am the luckiest guy in the world.
  12. Is a Camry ideal cover? No, but the big chunk of American1 steel aluminum under the hood is certainly better than nothing.
  13. Why is the Camry in the desert? What, you expect we’d walk way out there? The Camry can handle the road and suited my everyday driving purposes.
  1. The 2006 Toyota Camry was made in the US from more US-made parts than most of the vehicles made by “American” brands. []

Google Question of the Day: Are Silencers/Suppressors Legal in Arizona

Every now and again, I look through my logs and occasionally find something interesting. This week, it’s a question that a lot of people have been asking: Are silencers/suppressors legal in Arizona?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Arizona has no state-level laws that I am aware of regarding the ownership of NFA-regulated items like silencers/suppressors. So long as you obey Federal law in regards to the purchase, storage, and use of those items, you are free to buy, own, and use NFA-regulated items in Arizona as you see fit. Consult your friendly local Class III Federal Firearms Licensee (ask your local gun shop if they can point you in the right direction) for more details.

When I purchased my Gemtec Outback II .22LR suppressor a few years back, the process was relatively painless and only took about 30 days from start to finish, including approval by both the Pima County Sheriff and the ATF.

Posted in NFA