Thursday, September 14, 2017

second guessing


If the Second Coming was anywhere close to our frequency of Second Guessing, Baby Jesus would be visiting at least once a week if not daily.  Don’t we all second guess ourselves?  I’m not talking about the Mental Pygmies who have such a high opinion of themselves and others of their ilk ( hint, hint, officials who trained officially and are officially correct because they were an official ) that they wouldn’t recognize the truth or A Better Way if it didn’t present itself in an “experts” book.  I’m talking about folks who can think for themselves and if that means rejecting common wisdom or slaughtering a sacred cow or two, then all the better.  So, all those cheese dingus’ that visited over from FaceButt and gasped in horror that ‘Murica wasn’t being saluted as number one with a hundred years of energy dependence, I’m emphatically NOT talking about you.  You would never second guess your decisions, because they were formed while listening to Former Alcoholics Masquerading As Religious Icons Living In Texas ( and how is that recommendation to all Freedom Loving ‘Muricans to move there working out right about now?  I have a hard time believing Glen actually lives there.  Or, I should say, ever leaves his air conditioned buildings.  Have you ever been to Texas?  Sure, everything IS bigger there.  Biggest heat, biggest humidity and biggest natural disasters ).


And don’t think I’m all butt hurt because so many people dare to disagree with me.  Hell, how many times do I disagree with myself?  If you ain’t learning something new every day, you’re not learning.  If you keep learning, eventually you discover you were full of crap about a lot of stuff.  I actually WANT to be wrong as it means I’m actually getting closer to attaining a modicum of wisdom.  Perhaps right before I die.  I’m butt hurt because folks follow Winston Churchill’s dictum on most people picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and hurrying away as if they saw nothing when they encounter the truth ( Not that ‘Ol Winnie was beyond rushing past it himself when he was recalling his less than stellar moments which lead to many deaths of his countrymen or Commonwealth citizens.  Of course, in his defense, they were just a bunch of wogs and commoners ).  The more folks learn the better their chances of survival.


Which isn’t looking good right about now.  I’d wager a jelly filled donut that ninety-nine out of a hundred preppers are unwavering foot soldiers in the Rawles/Beck Brigade, the Fracking Fags in the frontal place of honor in the parade of fools sporting wood in jingoistic fervor saluting the Imperial colors and fondling the Stormtrooper carbine with FLIR scope.  When I try to helpfully suggest to them that they are flaming moronic Jerry’s Kids they turn on me trying to kill the messenger.  I’m shocked, shocked I tells ya!  So, please dear God let him get back to the point of this damn article before I fall asleep again, it isn’t a bad thing at all when you have enough mental flexibility to second guess the perceived conventional wisdom.  And really, isn’t this just common sense anyway?  Myself, for instance, even being a pretty clueless anti-social nerd at eighteen, did actually get a few things right at that dumb ass age ( not that it is your fault when hormones make you stupid ) and not from intelligence or wisdom but simply from my early exposure to reading and the insight that there are many different points of view on everything.


This is why I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid in the military.  And that is why I started studying nutrition.  When a subject tickled my fancy-and there is never any rhyme or reason behind that-I dive right in and immerse myself and while I had no problem with the Army diet of iceberg lettuce salads, and the only three fruits seeming in existence, apples, bananas and oranges, with accompanying all protein and fat with simple carbohydrates, I wondered if it was actually all that great for me ( despite being delicious, as I constantly crave meat ).  So I read the heck out of alternate nutrition.  Being at the graveside of the Hippie era, there was still a lot of literature available.  For years, if I wasn’t reading about survivalism, libertarianism, politics or economics, it was nutrition.  I experimented with a lot of different diets.  Because I wasn’t JUST accepting any one view.  I kept second guessing my conclusions.  And that was even before I realized one diet does not fit all people.  Or even both genders.  That is just one example.  Question everything.  Hell, I KNOW I’m preaching to the choir here.


But wait, there’s more!  If you order in the next twenty minutes, I’ll throw in Second Guessing your second guessing!  Weee, what fun.  As good as second guessing is, it is also a bad thing done to excess.  Isn’t everything?  Except loving me.  There can’t be too much of that.  But everything else, yes.  Now, I’m not talking about Reinforcing The Message.  For instance, let’s say you made some really dumb ass decisions in your life and you are living in Sacramento California.  I know, right?  You know that those old ass levies will never get repaired because the state is broke and while the city is the state capital, all the money gets priority down south or to the west ( L.A. and S.F. ).  You watch levies breaking in New Orleans and now in Houston, and you begin to think perhaps you really, really, honestly need to get away from your own levies.  You already knew that you need to move, so it isn’t second guessing at this point.  These are probably the bulk of our ponderings.  We know we are doing something wrong and we are reminded.  Like, when I went on a lacto-vegetarian diet prior to the point I stopped growing and I was weak and anemic.  I fired the grill back up lickety split ( this was back when meat, especially beef, was very affordable on any budget, so it wasn’t frugality but that nutrition knowledge quest that found me in that position ).


When all the ammo was hard to find ( and, no, even though I have plenty of free space here to fill up with words, I shan’t expose you to my bloviating on that subject.  For now.  I probably used up my quota at the beginning of the article, blathering on about Yuppie Survivalists as is my wont about every third day, when I’m restraining myself.  Otherwise every day.  Actually, now that I think about it, THAT was probably why you don’t want two articles a day!  You were worried you wouldn’t have time to recover in between my rants on Yuppies or Peak Oil.  Ya gotta get a solid nights sleep to put up with that!  Yeh, buddy.  I know stuff ), that was just a reminder to get some more for yourself, it wasn’t second guessing your stockpile ( I’m going off into another aside here, and just mentioning our previous discussion on the poll that was taken on our survival positions.  The average amount of ammo was a thousand rounds total.  And don’t you DARE lie to me!  I know a lot of that is rimfire.  I know this stuff ain’t easy, but you know as well as me that just isn’t enough.  Please rethink your budgeting ).


Second guessing is questioning the original decision.  Like me constantly questioning my rifle arsenal.  The best decision at the time, it isn’t holding up under current conditions all that well.  No more spare parts, no more guns themselves ( I’m of course talking about the Lee-Enfield, not the rimfire.  Two years ago I bite the bullet and bought the correct type of rimfire rifle, bolt, and bolt back-up, to replace the semi full of plastic parts ).  I’m not questioning the awesomeness of the Enfield, or my arsenal itself.  I have bayonets galore, more than enough ammunition, scopes and reference books and all the rest.  I can rush into the apocalypse well equipped.  I have complete faith in the rifle as long as I stay within my skill range.  No, I only second guess if I should replace it with something LESS awesome but which will have a longer survival rate post-apocalypse.  Every thing else being equal with ammunition, parts wise and rifle availability long term, you can’t come close to the AR15.  Would I want to spend the money on it?  Does it compare to the Enfield?  Of course not.  I also can’t dismiss the possibility.  The day of reckoning just might come.


But Second Guessing can get to be nothing more than just self-flagellation.  Should I move?  There have got to be other places, better.  If I did it before I can do it again.  Right?  Weeeellllll….I don’t know.  Sure, you could move.  Nothing stopping you, especially self-employed or retired ( just don’t be in debt, because you never know when SS can be canceled, or all your customers become homeless ).  Except, how can you know that the second guessing won’t take you from the frying pan into the fire?  It is all well and good to tweak your plans, wargame them to assure you aren’t overlooking something, but it you start second guessing for no reason other than paranoia that goes beyond reasonable, you are probably doing more harm that good.  In the words of Idaho Homesteader, who has been off grid over two decades, sometime you have to stop prepping and start living.  Not that we ever truly stop.  I’m budgeted for low cost frugal living and I can still spend the occasional extra buck or three stacking the preps just a wee bit higher ( I don‘t know if 26 gauge metal wire is thick enough to be good for anything, or if it will prove to be invaluable, but for a $1.50 in the Wally floral section, for almost 300 feet, it seems a good stockpile item ).  But the life changing preps you can overdo easily.


If you can admit that most of us are flaying wildly about making decisions, with minimal knowledge, that most of us overestimate our own abilities and underestimate the danger from everyone else, hell, you can’t achieve anywhere close to perfection anyway prep-wise.  I always had cause to second guess my other relationships, but I never second guessed my basic need for companionship.  Hell, BTN wives are better than no wives at all.  Perhaps we should be looking at prepping like having wives ( or spouses, if I must begrudgingly include Royal Minions, Female Auxiliary Brigade-not because I don’t want to say thank you for being here, just that I have to remind myself to include the gentler sex in our discussions ).  You’ll never have perfect, just closer or further to the ideal, but not having any is so much worse.  Not that this is an excuse to prep LESS, you are not getting off that easy.  No, it just means if you have a wife, or your preps, as close to perfect as possible, you would be a damn fool to start looking at the other side of the fence for greener grass ( to mix metaphors, which is always fun-especially if it confuses everyone ).


To return to my case with my rifle choice, let’s say I had the extra three to four thousand it would take to have another arsenal with the same ammo ( an AR bolt-so no extra ammo needed ) and accessories, but with three instead of four guns and an inferior round ( although you can’t discount the lower powder requirement as being a plus ).  I can’t shoot any further.  Being of marginal skill, I’ll stay comfortable at 100 yards, with 200 being about the max.  What am I gaining?  Better parts availability.  Not a small deal, but my ammo should run out prior to weapons breakage anyway.  I’m flogging myself mentally for a perceived advantage that shouldn’t even matter.  That is what second guessing does to you.  Of course, I can claim this is a professional hazard and be excused.  It does help the writing, trying to explore all permeations.  But you know what else it does?  Drive you friggin nuts for no clear advantage.  I hope other hobbyists have these same dilemmas with their equipment, otherwise I’d feel slightly the ass.  But only slightly, since the make and model of scale railroad isn’t life threatening.  I just want company in my misery.

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  1. To improve marginal shooting skills there is no other way, you have to spend that ammo. And you have to spend it right otherwise you are wasting it. Spend some quality online time reading and watching what the pro's are doing, learn some tips.

    Be advised, there are no magic potions, just lots of little tweaks here and there. Your gun has to be right, and that can be difficult if not time consuming and perhaps frustrating. If the gun ain't right no amount of skill will make it shoot better.

    Get in a comfortable sitting position at a table inline with your target.

    Place the barrel on some sort of stable platform, even a grocery bag full of kitty litter is better than nothing. The best is a barrel mounted bipod.

    Place the buttstock in a comfortable position in your shoulder *pocket*, work it till it feels comfortable.

    Grab the pistol grip but do NOT put your finger on the trigger.

    Line the sites up with the bullseye and pay attention to your posture, maintain a comfortable sitting stance, adjust yourself accordingly.

    Now breath normally and observe how the front sight position changes in it's relation to the bullseye. When you breath in the barrel tips down, when you breath out it tips up. You are going to pull the trigger when you breath out and the barrel tips up. Adjust yourself so that when you breath out the barrel rises to the center of the bullseye. Practice that over and over, and hold your breath for a few seconds when you are bottomed out. Remember, that is when you are going to fire.

    Once you get that aspect under control put your finger on the trigger of that UNLOADED gun. When the timing is right, when the barrel rises to the center of the bullseye, dry fire that trigger.

    Slowly squeeze the trigger (don't yank it) and hold it all the way back and don't let go. Letting go, or backing off the trigger, causes the end of the barrel to move and you'll make a poor shot. Squeeze and hold. Only after the bullet has hit the target do you release the pressure on the trigger. Do that dry fire exercise over and over 100 or more times til it is wrote memory.

    You HAVE to be comfortable through out the process. Pay attention to every little aspect of your body. If one foot is in an improper or uncomfortable position it will occupy subliminally a small part of your brain and it will be an internal distraction. Same with your elbows on the table. How is your hat sitting, do you need to take it off? What about your glasses, are they setting as perfect as possible, are they squeaky clean, got any back glares? Are they sliding on your nose?

    Like I said, a thousand tiny things will mess you up. Half of good shooting has nothing to do with the gun.

    Learning your gun, intimately, which can only be done with many, many hours relating with it, is imperative to good shooting and to all the other things that go into controlling your firearm.

    Clearly, you have done none of this. This is why you fear your gun and your emotions related to it. This is the bane of unfamiliarity. You conjure up all kinds of fears, mostly phantom, some not so much.

    I think your repeated claim of shooting all your ammo and not having any to defend yourself is a confession that you are not vary familiar with the working aspects of your guns. Only you can change this dynamic and thereby change your fears related to it.

    If you don't like to shoot guns, I can understand that.
    If you can't afford ammo, I can understand that too.
    What I can't understand is how you can attribute the fears you harbor toward your gun and your lack of familiarity to it, to others in your recommendation of what guns they should possess.

    Beginning carpenters often hit their thumb and fingers with the hammer, professionals seldom do.

    1. I think you confuse my lack of familiarity with my actual acknowledgement that I'm excercising the 80/20 rule with firearms. I know it would take WAY too much to get any better with it and am comfortable with that. I don't overvalue my skill and will take that into account tactically. You as a professional are looking at a novice expecting more from me than I do myself. And I'm not sure how familiarity negates logistics suddenly.

    2. "I'm not sure how familiarity negates logistics suddenly."

      I never said *suddenly*, I said the opposite.
      Nothing worth doing happens suddenly, but if you plan and stick to it, success will happen.

      The enormous amount of trees on my 5 acres precludes me from having a range as it would be too expensive to remove the trees. My neighbor 2 doors down has the same problem but he did manage to carve an 80 yd range out, and that is where I usually shoot. To shoot farther than 80 I have to drive 45 mins to a small military base and use their highly regimented range. It's a very nice range but all of the army-like rules where me out. Plus, being around a bunch of other shooters always makes me a little nervous. Almost like I'm back in basic training again. Oh yeah, they also charge $7 and hour, so there's that. There's lots of vacant farmland around here but the terrain is such that finding long flat space is difficult, and because the people are spread out so far almost nobody knows anybody else. What I need is 100 acres in Montana.

    3. Not "suddenly" as in learning the skill, "suddenly" as in a new observation. I know my shooting skills are bare minimum. So have most shooters been since the gun was invented. Most tactics reflected this-now that just means more lead in the air. It can mean point blank, etc. To get close to novice sniper good requires too much investment. I have no illusions of the mythical American dead eye shot. We are actually in agreement here but I guess butting heads as we come from it different directions. Our minds must be wired different.

  2. Sorry I can't comment longer but

    1) Re: Diet. I'm now convinced it's not a "one size fits all" thing. Additionally I also am convinced that what worked for you back then won't necessarily work now, what works now may not work in the future

    2) Re: 2nd guessing yourself. A psych experiment was done on people buying lottery tickets. The testers would offer twice people leaving with a new (random) ticket from the store twice what they paid for the (emphasis RANDOM) ticket. The vast majority refused to part with the ticket that "could be the big winner". Remember the numbers are RANDOM.

    3) Re: 2nd guessing firearms. I suspect most of that 2nd guessing is because guns are the fun part of prepping. I'm teasing out an article which revolves around the hunt for "Teh best" (no stealing!) (Typo intentional)

    Anyway - I have to drive my car that I'm making payments on to a job that depends on imported good & distributing those imported goods around Australia via trucks and planes. I do hope there's no hiccups to the petroleaum industry :-P

    1. Maybe with the refinery issues in Houston, more crude will come Oz's way. A little lick the can for you.

    2. Hold on tight Dingo. Australia is rich in ressources, it will lways have something to barter for the Juice :)

  3. I know of no other area of human endeavor more full of nonsense than that of small arms and their use. This is partly due to the difficulty of collecting hard data, but mostly to the ownership being so very much wider than serious use.

    Most, by far the most, of even top level training facilities are just dude ranches with guns instead of horses. I've trained at the best, taught at a couple of pretty good ones, and ran a small, exclusive facility here for over ten years. Have a couple of ranges on this property for pistol, another for shotgun, several (out to 450 yards) for carbine and rifle.

    Now listen to the truth: nothing I can tell you here will make you a better, however defined, marksman. Nothing.

    As a joke, I deliver this line on the first day of my classes:

    To be world's champion gun fighter you have but to properly align the front and rear sight (not 'site,' damn it!) on the center of mass of your target and depress the trigger so as not to disturb sight alignment.

    Got it? That’s all there is to it. Class dismissed.

    Or, I can write endless articles for Gun and Ammo with the same result for the student/reader, except I’ll make some money.

    I already have some money.

    1. Can't seem to not use "site" rather than "sight".

  4. In line with your article, there are two definitions of the "Tetris Effect" (at least in France, judging that two definitions appear on the french wikipedia but not in the english one)

    The first definition is what happens when you go to bed after hours of playing a game, you still see the shapes of the game in your head.

    The second definition (provided in the french wikipedia article) is pertaining to Artificial Intelligence. The winning strategy in Tetris is not to find the optimal use for the piece that appears, because you don't have time to think about it AND place it. When time is a factor, a less optimal but more timely decision is superior.

    So my answer to your blog entry is that we keep second guessing ourselves because first guessing is always suboptimal. We had to do "it" (whatever what it might be) like that at the time because we had to take a decision with not enough time to think it through. This also pertains to relationships...

    INTx types (MBTI theory) are familiar with this because they take forever (somtimes literally) to make a decision, which is NEVER the optimal one. Like a cow regurgitating half-digested food from one of their stomachs back into the mouth for further processing, INTx always mull on past decisions. If they're not their own, then they are other people's decisions.

    We say it's a hobby but in fact it is a survival strategy rooted with an real-world experience of trauma, usually at a young age. School is traumatic in itself for an INTx person, for they experience more shit than other types due to the differences in reasoning patterns (other pupils are seen as dumb and cruel, which is often the case at a young age).

    So we carry this over to adulthood, but instead of obessing about the schoolyard bully we obsess about other potential harmful things. The bullies, themselves, have the opposite option of the Tetris Strategy. When INTx obess about how they missed the optimum, the bully acts immediately without thinking too much. Which is why they love groups sports like football.

    It is also a way to lose at Tetris until he decides to invest more time in thinking. (in theory both types can reach the optimal time-brain mix, the INTx by lessening the brain component, the bully by lessening the time component).

    1. Aren't Marines told something like "make any decision, even if it is the wrong one"? That would be an optimal strategy for split second decisions.

    2. Yes I completely believe that Marines are being told this, for their best interest.

      In a combat situation there is only so much a distant micromanaging officer can do.

      However, how the Marines got there in the first place and what information thet received is the officer's responsibility (and the chain of command's) and then the officer better spend some long time working on this, well ahead of the enemy.

      (From the Starship Troopers movies, the officer of the warship : "Bug batteries. According to Military Intelligence, it will be random and light."
      (neighbouring ship explodes)

    3. And what would you know about what Marines are told? Much less what it might mean within a culture about which you seem to be quite ignorant.

    4. Wow, show your ass much, dude? Jarheads are not forbidden to talk about their super secret activities. There is no "non-disclosure" agreement signed. And my son was in the Crotch and went over to Iraq. I forgive you.

    5. Ave-yeh, I remember that part in the movie. Good stuff. MI should be some that second guess themselves.

  5. An english article about the Tetris Strategy in decisionmaking

  6. It looks like you are crossing over to the dark side. (AR)

    What a flip flopper.

    People need to get real.

    How many times do they think they are going to pull that trigger and not get shot back?

    1. Did you not catch the part where I had turned it into a bolt? Only way I would use one. Plug the gas port, no more jamming. No more jamming, a nice mid-range marksmen. No recoil helps for those of us not great shots to begin with. I do hate the round, of course. And no, I'll never give up my Enfields until I'm old and crippled. If I do get old, or I survive through the Enfields ammo ( doubtful ), then a bolt AR might be just the ticket.

  7. I’ve read previously that many of the old wests gunfighters were not particularly good shots, but had other factors going in their favor. The reason stated was that ammo was quite expensive to the average person at the time. I looked through my 1897 Sears, Roebuck & Company Catalogue, and picked two rounds; the .45 Long Colt, and the .45-70.

    .45 Long Colt per box of 50- $.84
    Per 100-$1.57

    .45-70 per box of 20- $.80
    Per 100-$3.80

    The average laborer earned about $9 a week in 1890 (See link below). So in consideration of this, it would seem unlikely that ammo would be spent shooting at targets for hours on end, as portrayed in the typical 1950’s western. I couldn’t find an inflation calculator that went as far back as the 1890’s, but I found one that goes back to 1913 (interesting choice of year to start at). Figure that the $.84 box of ammo went up by half by the year 1913, and that’s a $1.26, and in 1913 dollars, that’s the equivalent of $31 today; a lot of groceries back then.

    Sorry, I’m stretching this out far more than it need be. My point is that the old timers made the most of what ammo they had. They didn’t take frivolous pot shots at 500 yard targets, and made every bullet count. Get good enough to be able to hit a man sized target in a vital point at perhaps 100 or 200 yards and call it a day. There will be no target practice post collapse, because you won’t have that option. Long range sniping is a specialty skill and not a practical use for ammunition for most survivalists post collapse.

    1. Typical wages today. Two ounces of gold a month. One box of pistol ammo is $15. One hours wages, give or take. If I recall correctly, gold was $20 an ounce then. Two ounces a month wages then, also. Four hours labor for ammo. I'd wager shipped food was far more for a budget percentage than today, non-industrialized growing and imported Pacific guano for fertilizer. With more hours of wages ( and, remember, you had to eat enough to fuel yourself for a hard labor job ) going to food, you had less disposable hours for that ammo, so in effect it might have even been higher.

    2. For me 30 cal ammo is an hours wage post tax a box.

      For those that didn't think it through that doesn't mean I can afford to buy 40 boxes a week

      223 /5.56 is of course cheaper however I don't have a delivery device (firearm) for said cartridge.

    3. Yeah, that probably wasn’t the best example, and I wasted a lot of words providing it. Maybe a better comparison would be the purchasing power of a dollar then vs now. I don’t know how accurate that inflation calculator is but let’s say that the cost of a box of bullets would buy a weeks worth of food, or even a half week of food. Well, it would then seem unlikely that someone would simply blow off ammo in such a way on some cans. That’s our future, but far worse since the ammo won’t be replaceable.

      Also, I would imagine that the smarter folks trapped more than hunted. And of course we can’t forget that prior to the 20th century 80% of Americans made their living through some form of ranching, farming, or agriculture.

      In other words, it took until now before it truly hit me, but now I can totally relate to your anti semi-auto stance.

    4. When I wrote that, I forgot that most worked more than a forty hour week, so it took more hours to buy. But, given less compensation per hour, every thing was probably better calculated by a days labor. So, 1/8th now vs. 1/3 back then, two and a half times the cost then. That is with ammo cost more now than twenty years ago. Heyday of industrialism with dirt cheap manufacturing, perhaps 1/16th a days labor, then 1/3rd, or in current terms a half hour now compared to 2 1/2 hours wages, if they did work just eight hours. So, five times the purchasing power then? Just spitballing, of course. But, yes, bottom line, too expensive to practice. And if everyone did practice, demand would raise prices back then.

    5. 3:28-one thing they never calculate is how much more effective 30 cal will be once ammo gets scarce, so I think the cost savings will evaporate.

    6. If your target is a 150# human target without body armor at 100M, a torso/neck/head hit is going to be a "stop", even if it ends up not being an instant kill. Doesn't matter much if it's a .30 or a .243 or .223, as long as it takes enough fight out of them that the women and children can finish them off without any real danger.

      In the era before good optics (vernier peep sight IS good optics) on a rifle, "flat shooting" was a big deal. A 2800fps bullet doesn't have time to fall as much as an 850fps bullet on the 100M flight. That's why the ammo boxes have details about shot placement + and - inches above below the point of aim at (100M). The fast bullet is relatively "flat shooting" while the slow bullet will need to take a "rainbow-like" path to hit the target. The rainbow path requires precise ranging for distance because that bullet is coming down from a high angle at extreme range.

      See "gyrojet" (pistol that fires a small rocket) as a possible solution to a non-problem. OTOH this: is a high-cost non-replaceable solution to real problems that you might encounter is the post-civilization world.


    7. At a 100 yards ( meters! Blech. Commies ) are we likely to hit the neck, head? On a good AR, sure. Others? Hmmmm.