Tips for Improving your Firearms Skills

Shooting firearms isn’t something you should take lightly, whether they’re a small gun like a pistol or an assault weapon like a tactical carbine. The requirements for licensing and safety training are different for each state, but your approach to the situation should remain the safe regardless of what your state wants you to do. You need to go through rigorous safety training and practice until you can determine that you will hit your prospective targets with the utmost certainty. Firearms give you no room for error, so the preparation you put into your time using them will decrease the amount of mistakes you could potentially make. It’s important to remember that you cannot eliminate all mistakes from your repertoire. All you have to do is rely on your training to determine each maneuver you will make with firearms. When something goes wrong, you should not feel guilty as long as you did everything you could to use your weapon in the safest fashion possible. Guns are only a problem when people use them improperly or for malicious purposes. If you fall into neither category, you have nothing to worry about. Improving your firearm skills is a matter of your motivation and the technique you use.

shooting-rangeYour success in using firearms depends on the credentials of the person who is doing the training. It’s ideal to have a more experienced instructor help you throughout the process, but sometimes they’re not as easy to find. You have to take it upon yourself to learn how to shoot your firearm accurately and operate it safely. If you’re interested in taking your gun hunting, you have to practice shooting over and over to make sure you can hit a target when the time comes. A lot of preventable accidents occur during hunting season. Hunters become too overconfident in their shooting abilities and fail to realize the differences between firing a gun on the range and taking down a deer in the middle of the forest. The regulations associated with firearms differ from state-to-state, so you can’t rely on the government to control the situation. Younger children absolutely should not operate a firearm under any circumstances. If it’s necessary for them to shoot a gun, an adult should always be there to ensure they follow safety protocols. Sometimes a child can get too excited and forget what they were taught about gun safety in the process.

Firearm skills should be treated like any other skill type. You have to work hard to perfect them and even when you think they’re as good as they will get, you need to keep practicing to keep them in shape. This is especially true for people who wait too long before they fire a gun again. Your skills can become rusty, so it’s essential that you refresh your memory about current safety regulations and what you need to do to fire your gun accurately. Firearms give you no room for error. Overconfidence shouldn’t come into play with this tenuous situation.

Fiscal Cliff Consequences for National and State Parks

In this time of drastic budget cuts and re-distribution of funds everybody is making their push for what should stay and what should go. Obviously if you’re on this site you can probably predict what we’d push for. Public lands preserve the best parts of our country and give us places to escape from the grind of daily life.

I personally am not very good at being politically active, but this is something that will drastically affect and in some places eliminate outdoor adventures. Please contact your representatives in Washington D.C. and let your voice be heard. For some interesting statistics about the possible reduction of funds check out the story on the adventureblog

Stuck Between an Elk and a Hard Place

This is guest post by Brad Colburn, you can connect with him on twitter 

If you’d asked me three years ago if I thought I would come face-to-rack with an elk I would have laughed in your face.  At the time, I was living in Baltimore City and teaching in one of the toughest schools.  The prospects of seeing wildlife of any sort – outside of squirrels and rats – was unfathomable.

Well, life sure has a funny way of thrusting you deep into the unknown.  Three years later my fiancé and I are frozen in our tracks.

Why?  We inadvertently stumbled into the path of a herd of Elk.  From one cow’s body language she was none too thrilled…and that wasn’t the first peeved elk we came across that cold October night.

So, how’d we get to that magical moment?

Two days prior, I touched down at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport after a grizzly 5 hour flight from Maryland.  Regina nabbed me at baggage claim and we headed back to the apartment she’d started to settle into already.  Regina accepted a job in management at a top outdoor retailer in Phoenix back in August.  I still had some loose ends to tie up back in Maryland, so she drove cross country to the Valley of the Sun knowing full well that our adventures would begin soon.

The next morning after a bacon-infused breakfast we began to pack for our first adventure; an overnight trio to The Grand Canyon.  I never really had the chance to see The Grand Canyon.  My trips as a child were limited to the Eastern seaboard.  I was used to lush wooded areas and the Appalachian Mountains thirsty for hikers.  This trip to the canyon was going to be something.  I wasn’t expecting it to be overwhelming.

The drive to Grand Canyon National Park is a healthy 5 hours from Paradise Valley, Arizona.  You’ll rarely get bored during this trek.  Arizona is unique in this way.  If you start in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area – like we did – you’ll go through a small stretch of urban areas. The next thing you know, saguaro cacti are whizzing by your car window as the High Desert welcomes you.  For those not in a region where cacti are prominent, they’re like your ordinary tree. Except they hurt…a lot.

On a side note…the arms on a saguaro cactus act as an age verifier like the rings on a tree.  It takes 75 years before a saguaro cactus will grow an arm.

For several hours, those saguaro arms point you in the direction of GCNP.  But before you get there, you will enter scrub brush country.  This is the classic “cowboy” area.  Random cattle rustlings are a very real possibility.  We’ll save that story for the next article.

Once you claw your way through the scrubs, you’ll eventually reach civilization in the form of Flagstaff.  Flagstaff is worthy of a series of journal entries, and time may tell if we get to them.  For our purposes, we visited a small trail shop called Peace Surplus.  Some gear stores are very streamlined.   This place?  The exact opposite…and that’s why I liked it.  No matter how tidy you keep your gear it’s going to get messy and jumbled.  You’ll have to scramble around to find your headlamp for that midnight cat hole run on day three of a long weekend excursion. Going to Peace Surplus is like getting lost in the Narnia of Gear.

Another noteworthy thing about Flagstaff is that it’s the last chance you’ll have to reasonably fuel up before making the last leg of the GCNP journey.  Gas and food prices increase as you approach the Canyon.

After we fed the Scion, we ventured north. Around Flagstaff is where the desert and scrub turns to forest.  At this point in the journey I started feeling more at home.  I was looking out at trees, greenage, and government-controlled forest fires.

As quickly as it appeared, the cleansing fire’s smoke disappeared.  It was almost like a velvety purple curtain had been lifted, because just within the line of sight was our pinnacle; Grand Canyon National Park.

I can’t put into words the buzz in the car as we received our tourists map and instruction from the park rangers at the tollbooth.  We barely heard what they said as we pulled off towards our lodge.  Once we checked in we grabbed a quick lunch and a nap. The elevation change from Phoenix can really effect you.

I barely slept.  I had been dreaming about this moment since I was in grade school learning about this mile deep wonder.  I hurriedly gathered myself for the night and we were out the door.

We arrived at the South Rim just in time to enjoy the last precious moments of sunset. The Canyon resembled a dusky blue and purple ocean with scattered whitecaps kissed by the sun.  Even in the low light, I was awestruck.  Just knowing what was in front of me was enough to take my breath away.

We continued to stroll along the South Rim and came around to the side of the El Tovar Lodge.  As we turned the corner, we saw flashbulbs and hushed excited chattering.  We soon realized what had everyone’s attention.

We were standing five feet away from a behemoth of a bull elk.  He stood about six feet tall at the withers and had a rack about as big across.  We lost count of the points.

For an outdoors adventurer just starting to dig into Arizona, this creature was majestic.  More people with their cameras began to appear and the elk was beginning to show signs of aggression.  We decided to make our exit and continue exploring the south Rim.  We took up a trail that wound around the eastern side of the rim out of the way of man made lights and distractions.  One magical moment switched my mindset over from East coast to Arizona in an instant.

As we continued on the moonlit trail, the wind started to pick up.  We drew our hoods tight and trudged on.  Out of nowhere, we heard someone whisper loud and harsh off to our left.  We looked at each other, and then gazed ten feet over to the canyon ledge.  A gust of wind had swooped through the canyon.  With whatever currents fly through the canyon, the gust of air was pushed upwards and out with such a force that it resembled human speech.

Immediately after that, we heard the bugling of elks.  If you’ve never heard this sound before…well…you need to experience it.  It’s the bluegrass equivalent of animal noises:  the elk’s bugle is high and lonesome.  Once you hear it, you are transported to another world.

At this point I had more adrenaline coursing through my veins than a hiker on his last gas.  We made our way to dinner.  We could barely talk about anything other than the night’s events.

We had no idea that breakfast the next morning would top that by leaps and bounds…

Proposal to Expand Canyonlands

Many Utah business owners combined with national outdoor companies yesterday to pretition President Obama to expand the area around Moab and create the Greater Canyonlands area. The expansion would create a 1.4 million acre wildland federal land. The petition is an attempt to preserve the Canyonland and Arches Nation Park areas as these are crucial for Utah tourism and the economy. Thos who signed were brands like Camelbak, Patagonia, Eastern Mountain Sports,, prAna, Black Diamond, Rim Tours, Petzl, and Canyon Voyages Adventure Co.



National Geographics Top Adventurers of 2013

It’s getting to the end of the year when everybody is coming out with lists of the best whatever and so on; so if you spend time to vote for anything this year make it the Top Adventurer. The polling goes through National Geographic but here is the list and a quick synopsis of what they’ve done.

1. Felix Baumgartner- Clearly the most well known of the top ten but just to recap- Baumgartner jumped from a small helium balloon 128,100 feet, or about 23.5 miles. He became the first human to break the sound barrier without mechanical help-ever.   Delivering one of the best quotes of 2012 he said- “I wish the whole world could see what I see,” said Baumgartner. “Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you really are.” Full interview here

2. Renan Ozturk- Artist, film-maker, and mountain climber- Renan Ozturk has been documenting trips for quite some time. Recently he and two others were the first to ever climb Mount Meru aka the Shark Fin- in the Himalayas. Meru is viewed as a religious symbol of the center of the universe and had never been successfully climbed along the steep ascent. In 2008 Ozturk attempted the climb and documented it only to be forced to turn back 150 meters from the top. He returned in 2011 and finished the climb, scaling the sheer cliff and going down in the history books.

3. Steve Fisher- A native of South Africa, Fisher became the first ever to navigate through the legendary Inga rapids in the Congo- the most difficult rapids in the world. Second only to the Amazon river as far as volume is concerned, the Inga is also in the war torn country of the Democratic Republic of Congo. A group of seven adventurers had attempted the rapids in 1985 but disappeared- either because of the river or perhaps being caught in the crossfire.

4. David Lama-  The mountain of Cerro Torre in Italy has quite a history- saturated with controversy stemming back to Cesare Maestri who put in many bolts on the mountain and launched the issue of ethical climbing behavior. No one has ever been able to climb the peak without the help of Maestri’s bolts until David Lama. At the spry age of 22 Lama free climbed the mountain.

5. Mike Libecki- This guy has a whole slew of firsts and adventures that he accomplished this year- here they are in rapid fire succession.

  • First ascent of Borneo’s West Kalimantan
  • Snowboard in Afghanistan’s (that’s right Afghanistan) Koh-e Baba Mountains and then kite skied over some mountain lakes.
  • Stand-up paddleboarded in Franz Josef Land, right by the North Pole- paddling in between islands and climbing mountains solo that had never before been climbed.
  • Made a new climb on a granite mountain on Greenland’s coast.
  • He is currently heading to Antartica to climb more stuff that has never been climbed before

This guy loves the adventure and the unknown,  his favorite saying is:

“Death and/or old age is coming…..we must live sweet.
The time is now. Why ration passion?
Dream big…..and climb those dreams.
After all, it is not only life, but the quality of this life.”

6. Lizzy Hawker- Trail runners, I give you your Michael Jordan, Mohammad Ali, and or Jackie Robinson of running. Hawker recently ran the Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc; it’s a French race if you couldn’t tell. It’s a 103- mile race that puts runners traveling through the mountains of France, Italy, and Switzerland.  Oh ya, and she won it- five years in a row- which as you probably have guessed by now is unprecedented. Last year she set the world record for women’s distance run in a 24 hour period with 153.5 miles.

7. Josh Dueck– This story is more about just being the first to do something, it’s about not letting a disability slow you down. Dueck became a parapalegic after a skiing accident- refusing to let that stand in his way Dueck became a pioneer in a new sport. This year he became the first person to do a back flip in a sit-ski.

8. Shannon Galpin- Mountain biker and humanitarian Galpin has been bringing attention to woman’s rights in the war-torn country of Afghanistan. Teamed up with a group of photographers, she is a voice for change using art and photographs. She is also the founder of Mountain2Mountain, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding woman’s rights and oppurtunities for education. Galpin has taken advantage of bike riding and rode 140 miles in the Panjshir Valley to raise money.

9. Jeremy Jones- For years Jones has been an inspiration to snowboarders and skiiers alike for his innovation and seeming fearless desire to push his sport farther. He has now become the face of backcountry snowboarding, making several films and founding his own company dedicated to the sport. Jones took these risks in 2009 and now they are starting to pay off, the sport is growing thanks to the help of two films he put out Deeper, and Further. Always pushing the envelope, Jones is the face of backcountry snowboarding.

10. Ramon Navarro- Chilean surfer Navarro rode what he and many others are calling the perfect wave, this past summer in Fiji. His ride is being deemed the best tube ride ever, and even though I could describe it to you- the video below is way better.


I personally don’t know who I’m gonna vote for, with so many history making accomplishments it’s hard to say but if you want to vote click here, oh and you can vote everyday. The competition is run through national geographic and if you want more info about the nominees or honorable mentions you can go here.

St. George and Outdoor Winter Climbing

For all you enthusiasts and beginners alike looking for some last good outdoor climbing before the winter really gets dirty may I suggest St. George. While we were there we met some Canadians who had made the trip to enjoy the warm weather. The geographic location of the city is what makes St. George such an ideal spot for climbing or just vacationing in general. It sits in southwest Utah, just a short drive from Las Vegas in case you want a temporary break from the outdoors.  It enjoys the red rock formations and warm weather, characteristic of that area of the country.

Oh and one more thing, everything is so close together! We stayed there for just one night and were able to go to three different spots while never having to drive for more than twenty minutes. A lot of these spots are pretty accessible and do get a lot of traffic but that’s why you go in the late fall/winter!

For those of you that have not yet experienced the goodness that is St. George, here are some cool spots you can go for your first time.

1. Pioneer Park Slot Canyon- Now for those of you who have been to St. George, I know what you’re thinking, Pioneer Park is more of a family friendly park then a good climbing spot, but hear me out. In the park there is a slot canyon on the northeast side that widens near the base and that is where you can climb. There are about three or four routes that are all fairly challenging. However, the great thing about these routes is that you can climb around to the top if you aren’t comfortable top roping.

Bottom view of corner climb shown from above in previous photo. Bolts visible.

2. Chuckwalla Wall- This has got to be one of the most popular climbing sites in St. George. There are a lot of routes and a wide range of difficulty- therefore it gets a lot of traffic and most of the holds are pretty chalked. If this is on your list of places to climb, now is the time to go. It was just us and one other group climbing while we were there, and it was about 60 or 70 degrees the entire time.

3. Black Rocks-  This was our third and final stop but it was legite nonetheless and definitely worth a visit. Black Rocks is a nice break from most of the climbing in St. George because it’s not sandstone. It also has the widest variety of difficulty of any of the sites we visited. I’m pretty sure the rock is basalt and the area has a shady side and a sunny side, routes range from a 5.7-5.13’s. It readily satisfies many different levels of expertise.

Avalanche Slides Happening Already

Three people in Montana were caught up in an avalanche yesterday. Now is a dangerous time because the snow is thin. Read up on the story and some wise words of warning check it out-


Kite-Boarding in Hurricane Sandy

So while most people are trying to lay low during Hurricane Sandy, this guy is taking advantage of the weather. Now I’m not a mathematician but this dude is hauling.  Originally posted on CNN you can find the story here on grind tv watch video below

Four Essentials of Any Trip- Diamond Fork Hot Springs

This last weekend me and some friends decided to go somewhere we’d never been- Diamond Fork Hot Springs up Spanish Fork Canyon. I’d heard a lot about this place and was really excited to go – but we never made it- gasp! Ya so this post is going to serve as just a reminder that when you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before, be prepared.

1. Have a good idea of how long it will take you to get to your destination, and then make sure you have scheduled enough time to do it. That was our main problem, its a 2.5 mile hike to the springs and by the time we found what we thought might be the trail head it was 11:30 pm. We hadn’t planned on staying the night and we weren’t 100% sure that we were even at the right trail.

2. Make sure your group is fully aware of the demands of the trip. I have to hand it to my friends, they weren’t exactly avid outdoors-men, and I could sense their dismay when I told them that the hike would be longer than expected, and then again when they found out it will be pitch black, and then again when we couldn’t really find the trail head, ha ha. With all of this being said though they never complained or suggested giving up, I was the one who eventually pulled the plug.

3. Don’t forget to bring the proper equipment! With just a short hike I hadn’t really planned on bring anything but my swim suit for when we got to the springs. Comically enough I hadn’t thought to bring a flash light, not one of my prouder moments.

4. Don’t plan too much and don’t be surprised when the plans you do have fall through. This was the only thing that didn’t make the trip a total failure, everybody had the right mind set and so when we didn’t end up at our destination we still enjoyed the adventure of driving down Spanish Fork Canyon and being in good company. Part of the reason of camping and the outdoors is the adventure, and to RELAX! Don’t overload your trip with things to do or it will feel more like a chore and check list than a vacation.

We have every intention of going back to Diamond Fork Hot Springs and having a good time, natural hot springs are a perfect destination for any time of year- but fall and winter is fantastic. They are usually not very long and are a good day trip, just keep in mind the four points above for trips like this or any kind of trip really and have fun!

Welcome to iwrite Outdoor

Welcome to iwrite Outdoor, this site is dedicated to discovering and reminiscing about the adventures in the untamed wilderness. Featured on this site will be information about camping sites, whether they are known by many or just a handful of people. Also posted will be information including but not limited to camping gear and activities such as fishing, hiking, rock-climbing, bouldering, hunting, outdoor cooking, and general tips on how to better enjoy God’s green earth.