I hate Rokons. I love Rokons.

 

I’ve been fascinated with these Rokon Trailbreaker two wheeled contraptions for a long time.

I saw my first one as a 10 year old boy, and the big tractor tires, solid looking aluminum wheels, and TWO WHEEL DRIVE made me NEED to have one. It took twenty years or so, but I finally acquired one, then two, then four, and they bred in my barn and I built various models and variations. I’ve been proud at the amazing places they would go and the distance they could put between me and the trappings of civilization.

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I looked forward to some of that distance this weekend on the Church Creek Ride. This was a ride organized online, with new folks and familiar folks, and was my first chance to get away and ride since Bob and I had went to Maine. Fresh air, fun, and motorbikes..what’s not to like?

Reality struck 2 miles into the ride.

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As many of you know, the more riders there are in a group, the slower progress becomes. We had a good number of riders, and progress was slow. The trail was significantly more difficult and technical than I had expected, and WAY more difficult than some of the other riders had anticipated.

About a mile in, we had to stop and fix Bob’s bike, as a fuel line was sucking air at the carburetor inlet because some asshole(Me)didn’t put a clamp on it when he put it together. Oh…and then we had to fix the recoil starter rope before it broke.

Another mile in Eli’s bike crapped out would burble and start, but not run. I sat in the trail, looked over his bike and pondered the situation.

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“HI!” The dude said.

I looked at him, mentally going through the list of folks I’d met at the parking lot, and this dude didn’t match my recollection of ANY of them.

The fact that he didn’t have a Rokon and was carrying some buckets made me ABSOLUTELY SURE that this dude just popped out of nowhere in the middle of the woods.

Now… It was a hot day, we were all hot and sweaty from wearing helmets and alternately riding and wrestling Rokons over roots, rocks, switchbacks, fallen logs, etc. This fella had on shorts and a tank top and looked as fresh as a June Daisy.

Two seconds later, his wife and three boys pop around the corner, and they started picking Huckleberries. It seems like Eli’s bike had died right in the middle of a Huckleberry field, and I was too distracted to even notice.

So… There I was. Troubleshooting Eli’s Bike in the middle of the woods, with three sets of beady eyes from those young boys fixated upon this strange man, the strange machine, and not a berry being picked between the three of them.

“I think it’s out of Gas.” one of the boys whispered to the other as Eli yanked it over again. I smiled at their troubleshooting abilities, and made another carburetor adjustment.

I tried to sell the bike to the boys, but they didn’t have any money. Mom didn’t want it. Dad liked it, but didn’t like that it wasn’t working.

I got antsy having to work under the scrutiny of the six eyed sibling microscope, and found a split on the rubber fuel line from the petcock. I cut the split chunk off, hooked the line back up, Eli fired it up, and we rode away.

I used to think these bikes were cool. But I had just got overtaken and overrun by the Brady Bunch with Berry Buckets! I woulda sold all of them right then and there…. but now I’ve got to wait 20 years until those boys grow up and get jobs and remember that weird motorcycle and actually have some money.

I’ll wait.

Mark Spreadborough

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Musings from a melancholy Predator.

It’s not hunting season here at FMO, but a few posts put me in an introspective place regarding hunting.

I kill things.

Growing up as a country boy, one becomes intimately familiar with the circle of life, and knowing when something has to die, and who has to do it, and why. Currently, as an Urban-working/Country-dwelling man, I’ve become aware of many different perspectives and lifestyles.

I thought I’d share mine.

Some things, I kill with a vengeance and celebrate their demise and celebrate my victory like a running back in the end zone. Mice, rats, opossums, porcupines, vermin and lesser predators that prey on livestock fall into this category.

Some animals present an opportunity, but I often pass. Raccoons and rabbits come to mind. I shot them often in my younger days, but I’m just as apt to sit and watch them as kill them anymore. I feel an obligation to know that my actions had benefit, and if that benefit is not there, I’m apt to let the status quo stay.

Large Predators…. I’d really, really like to kill a cougar. I’ve been stalked by one in the snow while hunting elk, and I’ve bought a cougar tag for the last 20 years. I’ve never seen one in the woods. I’d squeeze the trigger knowing I was saving some fawn deer and calf elk and not regret it for a second.

Bear… I’ve taken one. It was a great experience. I’d think long and hard about pulling the trigger on the next one.

Coyotes. It’s my duty to take them down if I have a chance to protect the hilltop livestock and pets. Wiley Coyotes live. Sauntering slackers don’t.

Food.

Deer and Elk. It’s what we eat. Hunting them is what we do. Here’s where the Melancholy comes in. I’m driven to hunt by an inner instinct I can’t explain. Fall comes, and I look forward to the hunt. Finding that buck or bull and putting him in the crosshairs is the climax for that annual primal rhythm.

“BOOOOOOMMMMMMM!”

The smoke clears, the sound of the shot echoing off the canyon walls fades away, the ringing in your ears starts to wane, and the Inner Predator that brought you to those footprints has left the scene, leaving the human standing there holding the rifle.

It’s the human left behind that has to reconcile his actions with his conscience, the animal he has killed, his Creator, and the Universe.

I suspect this part is much easier for many hunters, as the ‘Predator’ is much stronger in them.

To tell you the truth, for me, that moment of realization of what I have done, that the height of my endeavor, that the achievement of my goal has taken a beautiful creature off of the face of the earth makes me, for a long, thoughtful, introspective, painful moment, want to lay down my rifle and never hunt again. I ponder the creature I have killed and honor their existence and thank the Creator for letting us cross paths…

The Inner Predator comes back about then and kicks the wussy, watery eyed guy out of the way, and we get down to celebrating and extracting the harvest from the woods.

I won’t ever quit hunting because the melancholy becomes too much and tips the scale.

I’ll only quit hunting if the melancholy leaves and I’m left a mere predator.

Mark Spreadborough

Winter projects for the Firearms Enthusiast

I awoke this morning to uncharacteristic quiet and darkness…no glow from the alarm clock, no nightlight glow squeezing around the bathroom door, no hum of the refrigerator.

The power was out.

Since I couldn’t make coffee, the WiFi was down, and I didn’t have anyplace I needed to be, I cuddled up to my wife and we did what old married couples do when presented with some extra alone time in bed….we went back to sleep.

After a while, the power came back on with a vengeance and woke me up.  Every electronic doodad in the house beeped or blooped with excitement, lights came on, fans started blowing, refrigerators and freezers whirred to life to catch up…And I could make coffee.

Drinking my first cup, I looked out the kitchen window at the miserable weather outside, and I was glad to be inside.

Winter is a miserable time of year for a fair weather shooting enthusiast like myself.  Frankly, standing in the rain while it blows sideways at 34 degrees is not my idea of fun.  I decided to make a list of foul weather activities for the fair weather shooting enthusiast.

1.  Go visit your local gun store.  My favorite, Gator’s in Kelso, has a wood stove in the corner that makes it easy to stand around, soak up some heat, engage in some technical discussion, swap stories, and whittle away a blustery day.   You’ll find that the rest of the activities on your list may well lead you to your FLGS(Favorite Local Gun Store) also.

2.  Collect all the brass you’ve been saving.  Sort it.   If you reload, put it in the tumbler to polish.  If you don’t reload, take it to your FLGS as trading stock and get it out of your way.

3.  Reload your ammo.   Now is the time to get a good back stock of hunting ammo loaded up.   You’ll be too busy with mowing, chores, BBQ’s and such this summer, and fall will sneak up on you.   Load it up now  so you can practice and zero your rifle this summer, and hit hunting season with plenty of ammo and practice.  Head on down to your FLGS when you discover you don’t have the right bullets,  or your die still has a case stuck in it from last year, or the dog ate your shell holder.

4.  Detail strip, clean and oil your guns.   A good takedown from a cold, fresh perspective is a great opportunity to discover corrosion, wear, and loose fasteners.   If you’re like me, you probably ran a bore snake down your hunting rifle ‘just for now’ and it’s been sitting in the safe like that since October.  Pull ol’ Reliable out of the safe and take care of her and keep her Reliable.   Head on down to your FLGS to replenish your cleaning and maintenance supplies.

5. Clean your workbench.   Clean and organize all your tools, put them away in an orderly fashion.  Yeah…I ain’t doing that either.  I’ll head to Gator’s first.

6.  Check the dehumidifier in your safe.   Rejuvenate your silica gel, check and ensure your electric dehumidifier Rod is warm and working.  Go to your FLGS to increase desiccant capacity.

7.  Sort, organize and inventory your ammo.  Reload or visit your FLGS to fill deficiencies.

8.  Bolt that gun safe down.   I know you’re out there.   You bought that safe, and put it where it is, not 100% sure that it was going to stay there….so you never bolted it down.   Two guys and a hand truck can take away your entire gun collection in a few minutes, and then open that safe with their meth fueled frenzy at their convenience at their den of iniquity.   Face it..that safe hasn’t moved since you put it there.   Make sure it doesn’t.   Buy beer and call that buddy that works construction..he’s got the tools and he’ll help.

9. Inventory your guns.  Take at least three pictures of each..one of each side, and a very clear one showing the model and serial number.   Email the pictures to yourself via a remote email program like Yahoo, so those pictures will be saved remotely, or open a separate, private photo storage account like Photobucket, ShutterFly, or Flickr and upload them.   Hopefully, you’ll never, ever need to use those pictures, but they can be invaluable in case of a fire, natural disaster or theft.  Take that gun you found in the back that you don’t like any more down to your FLGS and trade it for something cool.

10. Avoid doing any of the above.   Write a Blog.  Head to Gator’s knowing you accomplished something today.  ;-

Mark Spreadborough
Fire Mountain Outdoors

Magpul pulling up stakes and heading out.

Hands down, Magpul is one of, if not my favorite company that makes accessories for the modern sporting rifle. Almost every rifle I own has some sort of Magpul device attached to it in some fashion or another. Whether it’s a detachable box magazine or a butt stock; Magpul makes some of the best engineered and reliable products in shooting sports.  Magpul, which has been based in Colorado since 1999; threatened to leave when their congress attempted to enact a ban on the very magazines that Magpul manufactured. For many people, myself included, it felt like a personal attack.

I was emotionally vested in this company and it struck a chord with me when Magpul threatened to leave The Centennial State. Magpul wan’t going down without a fight and with an implied middle finger extended, they gave away 30-round magazines for any Colorado resident that wanted one.  Congress soon passed legislation that banned anyone from buying rifle magazines with a capacity of 15 or more which accounts for most of Magpul’s sales.  But since  March of last year there has been nothing but crickets, no official word, just rumors. Some began to believe that Magpul most likely never intended to leave their base of operations. It was beginning to look as if they never intended  stick to their guns. (bad pun intended).Rumblings of a Magpul boycott were rattling across message boards. People that stood by them in their time of need were angry and as many of us know… gun owners are very passionate.

Well here it is 10 months later and I’m elated to announce there will be NO boycott of Magpul. In a press release today Magpul has officially announced that they are moving manufacturing and shipping operations to Wyoming and their corporate headquarters to Texas. I think some of the best news is that a staggering 92% of their staff will be making the move to the Wyoming with them. The same great people who work with them roday will continue to manufacture and ship the same products in what will hopefully will be a seamless transition. Bravo to Magpul for sticking to your word. Bravo for keeping on a majority of your staff and Bravo for continuing to make great products.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition…. so I can fill my PMags.

– Bob Crisman

Fire Mountain Outdoors

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The $200 ATF Tax Stamp Racket. It’s Stupid..but It’s cheap and NOW may be your time to buy one.

There are many reasons why needing a $200 ATF tax stamp for a suppressor is stupid.

     Hearing loss is a health issue with a BILLION dollar financial impact in the United States alone.    Employers spend millions and millions of dollars providing hearing protection and developing safety plans for their workers, yet hunters and recreational shooters have to pay a tax and wait for a device to protect their hearing?!
     Shooting noise is a volatile community issue.    All around the country, ranges are being shut down or tied up in lawsuits due to shooting noise…  and yet the government has made it incredibly cumbersome and expensive for shooters to purchase simple devices to abate the root cause of the problem.
    A suppressor or silencer can quickly and easily be fabricated by those with nefarious intent.  No hit man, thug or criminal is going to go through the paperwork, pay the tax and wait for ATF approval to obtain a suppressor in a legal fashion.   They will simply do a google search and fabricate such a device.   The Tax Stamp does nothing to prevent crime.
    All that said…   Here’s some evidence that reflects why the $200 tax stamp for a suppressor is really a bargain compared to the intent of the legislators that passed it:
I quote this from the ATF web site on their page about the History of the National Firearms act.
     “While the NFA was enacted by Congress as an exercise of its authority to tax, the NFA had an underlying purpose unrelated to revenue collection. As the legislative history of the law discloses, its underlying purpose was to curtail, if not prohibit, transactions in NFA firearms. Congress found these firearms to pose a significant crime problem because of their frequent use in crime, particularly the gangland crimes of that era such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The $200 making and transfer taxes on most NFA firearms were considered quite severe and adequate to carry out Congress’ purpose to discourage or eliminate transactions in these firearms. The $200 tax has not changed since 1934.
    Now, as you can see, the climate we are in now is not the only time that the political winds were blowing in the face of firearms enthusiasts.  Evildoers were doing their evil back in the day, with profits resulting from government mandated prohibitions fueling rampant bloodshed among criminals, with innocents often caught in the crossfire.  Then, as now, the tools the criminals used were blamed, not the criminals or the root causes that brought them to commit their crimes…   but I digress..
 
    Here’s why the $200 cost of the tax stamp is a value right now.
 
    The $200 fee was originally intended to be so astronomically expensive that it would severely discourage or eliminate transactions in these firearms or devices.   According to the Inflation Calculator at DollarTimes.com, $200 in 1934 is equal in buying power to $3,478.80 today.   However, I don’t think this is a totally accurate representation.  For instance, a brand new ‘middle of the road’ Ford car cost $495, where today a ‘middle of the price range’ Ford costs about $22,000.   Timbered land with a homesite here in Cowlitz County, WA, often sold for under $100 an acre in the 1930’s, where it now costs $7,000-$15,000 an acre.    In 1934 the average wage for a NYC plumber was $1.50 per hour.  Today the pay scale for a NYC Plumber is about $52 an hour.    A plumber would have to work nearly a whole month to afford a tax stamp in 1934, when he could buy one with a half a day’s wages today.
 
    So, as we can see, the punitive intent of the original 1934 tax stamp cost has faded, and inflation has dwindled the buying power of the dollar to the point that the outrageous cost of the $200 Tax stamp is now within reasonable reach of the average firearms enthusiast.  This makes that Silly $200 stamp a historical bargain!
 
    Now, here’s why I think it might be a great idea to buy one now.   We all have recently seen how the winds of political change can dramatically affect the cost and availability of firearms and their accessories.   During the recent political pressure to ban modern sporting rifles and their magazines, we saw rifles that normally sold for $500 selling like hotcakes for over $2000, and the shelves were bare and folks were clambering to buy them when they could be delivered.  $10 Magpul PMags were being sold for over $100 each, and the shelves were bare.   Ammunition prices went through the roof, and we still have not seen a full recovery to normal on that front, as evidenced by the lack of reasonably priced and available .22 LR ammo.
 
    Here’s another example that I think is more applicable.   Here is an advertisement from the 1970’s that shows Brand New Colt M-16 select fire weapons for sale for $236.00.  Now, to buy this,you would have to live in a state where select fire weapons are legal, such as Oregon, and you would have to buy the $200 tax stamp and get ATF approval to own such a weapon.   
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     Let’s fast forward to today, and check out this link:
     That $236 Colt M-16 is now selling for $22,595.  That’s right..dang near 1000 times what it originally sold for.     Wouldn’t you really like to have a time machine right now?!?!
     What changed?   The political winds.   The ‘Firearms Owners Protection Act’  of 1986.   The FOPA banned civilians from ownership of any fully automatic weapon which was not registered as of May 19, 1986.  Those folks who already had their weapons were now sitting on a gold mine, as the supply was now locked in and fixed, while the population, demand, and interest could only increase.
    How does this relate to Suppressors  and the $200 Tax Stamp?    I think it’s pretty clear that history is bound to repeat itself, and those that don’t learn from history are bound to make the same mistakes.     I was 16 years old in 1986 and unable to purchase a Tax stamp, and frankly, if I found $200, It likely would have went to my immediate need..  reliable transportation so I could get off the Mountain and go see girls!!  I do remember reading the pages of the Shotgun News and really wishing I could buy a transferable Auto Sear.
     I think if we look to California, Connecticut, Colorado, New York, New Jersey and other places, it’s very clear how the political winds of change can affect gun owners on a State level, and we can look back to 1934, 1968, 1986 and 1994 and see how they can change on a Federal level.
     Because of the silly tax stamp law, the production numbers of silencers are fairly low, demand is fairly low, and dealer stock is fairly low.   If there were to be a proposed change to the tax stamp cost to increase it to the punitive levels originally intended, or a law banning the sale or transfer of silencers, similar to what FOPA did to machine guns, all inventory would be IMMEDIATELY DEPLETED!  You thought it was hard to find an AR-15 in February of 2013, imagine the same level of panic, demand and skyrocketing prices over the small number of suppressors available!
     In summary, the whole tax stamp thing is a stupid racket that discourages the purchase and use of devices that minimize an expensive health risk, hearing loss, make better neighbors of firing ranges and firearms enthusiasts, and employ hardworking, earnest, innovative Americans.   That said, the current price of the stamp is a historical bargain, and I think if you’ve considered getting one, sooner may very well be better than later.
Mark Spreadborough
Fire Mountain Outdoors.

What a crazy year at FMO!

As the sun sets on 2013 we can’t help but look back and smile with great satisfaction on all of our accomplishments this past year. What started out as a creative outlet for Mark and I has grown into some kind of monster.   Six months later we are spending countless hours a week creating new and informative content for our Youtube channel, Facebook page, Google+, a new website and now a Blog!! How is this happen? Well it’s shaping up to be a great year and we can’t wait to share with all of you what we have in store for 2014. Thanks for all your Support . The FMO crew.Image