Archive for the 'shooting' Category

Yes, We Built A Walk-In Gun Safe

It’s been a very busy spring. Flannel Man (FM) has been hard at work getting up early everyday to work on building the walk-in gun safe with his dad. Since we converted our house from an oil burning furnace to a geothermal heat pump last fall we no longer have a big 225 gallon fuel oil tank taking up space in our basement.

FM had been eying that space up for a walk-in gun safe because he would only have to build two new walls. I know putting in a walk-in gun safe sounds crazy but we really need it. Because both FM and I shoot multiple types of competition both indoor and outdoor we need a lot of rifles. And since they are all custom they don’t fit well in the standard gun safe meant for hunting rifles. Plus, FM has a small collection of old military rifles & pistols. So to fit our collection and allow for future expansion we would need a very large custom gun safe that would cost as much as FM’s truck! Being the cheap savvy DIYers that we are we decided to build one instead.

As fare as resale value goes we aren’t too worried about it. We plan to be here for a very long time and when it comes time for we/our children to sell the house they could always advertise it as a very secure wine cellar…or a walk-in gun safe. I mean it is Wisconsin half of the men I know are jealous we have one!

We started out by buying +80 cinder blocks, rebar, cement mix, grout mix, and mesh ladder (to reinforce the grout joints). FM and Papa Flannel laid the first row of blocks then drilled holes in the basement floor to hold the rebar in the cavities of the block.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5 & 6

Before installing the door FM put a plaster-like bonding agent on the outside of the cinder blocks. The bonding agent seals everything up and is meant to be painted but we’re fine with the white color it came in.

Using some of our tax return from our geothermal system we ordered a vault door from a company out in California. We ordered a standard size and then upgraded a few features (interior release, left swing, digital lock, and improved heat resistance). The door is made of steel and has a poured ceramic in the door to withstand a 2300 degF fire for 1 hour. It has 14 steel bolts and weighs a total of 600 pounds! We needed four guys to move it into place but moving it was surprisingly fast.

We used lag bolts designed for concrete to fasten the door frame to the walls.

Everything was going good but the door seemed a little out of alignment with the frame and was sticking. But Papa Flannel had a great idea to stick some shims in-between the door frame and the door where it was sticking then close the door hard. Apparently it works well on regular doors but on this vault door it got stuck, very stuck…while FM was inside. With all of us pulling on the door and FM pushing weren’t able to get it open for a good 10 minutes! For a while there we all thought FM was a goner. But he’s out safe and sound now.

The wood door in the back right is our garage which makes the truck really easy to load and unload with our heavy equipment!

Next its onto the inside. Building shelves, painting the walls with Drylock, and dehumidifiying the space.


Memorial Day Weekend

Flannel Man and I didn’t work very much on the house over the long weekend and it was nice to take a break. Saturday we did some yard work and burned some more tent caterpillars. [Note to ourselves: Don’t burn things on the asphalt part of the driveway unless you want a soft, gooey mess when you’re done.]


As FM was mowing the yard he ran over a small stick and punctured a tire on the riding lawn mower resulting in a three foot wide patch of shaved dirt that raps around our patio. It took him about 25 feet to figure out what he’d done.

Then Saturday afternoon we went kayaking at the nearby Indian Lake. It’s a little known county park with hiking into the bluffs and fishing in the lake. It’s popular with the locals since it’s one of the few parks that you can bring your dog and the best part is it’s free.


There were sparrows flying all around us on the water and I was impressed that our little point and shoot camera was able to catch this picture:


Sunday we woke up bright and early to go shooting which was a problem for FM since he was only able to get one hour of sleep because of his second shift schedule. Sunday’s match is one of the longest matches that is still run in the US. Instead of the typical 80 shot match it is a 100 shot match. It may not sound like much but it adds a couple hours onto an already long day. For having not shot in four years I did pretty well. It was fun to be shooting together again. I saw a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in a while, it was just like old times. This was also the day we met R. Lee Ermey.

Here are a couple shots of FM at the 200 yard line:


Monday we shot the long range portion of the match and at the 800 yard line I was second overall. Not to shabby. FM had some issues with his new front sight so it was a rough day for him. Hopefully, he’ll get everything figured out before the big Midwest Palma Match coming up.

Since the match on Monday was only a short match afterwards we went to see the new Indiana Jones movie. It wasn’t near as good as the first three movies and finished with a cheesy happily ever after ending. Then we went and got the lawn mower tire fixed while we shopped for a weed whacker. FM couldn’t wait to have one so he could trim up all the areas he couldn’t mow. Hey, whatever makes him want to trim the grass is fine with me.



Our Celebrity Encounter

This weekend Flannel Man and I shot next to a celebrity. The one and only bona fide celebrity I’ve ever meet besides Charlton Heston. You’re waiting for a name aren’t you….it was R. Lee Ermey! What?! You don’t know who he is? He was only the in-your-face Drill Sargent from Full Metal Jacket, the helicopter pilot from Apocalyspe Now, the host of the History Channel’s number one show Mail Call, and a voice for military characters in Toy Story and The Simpsons. Flannel Man and I shot down the line from him all day and didn’t even realize he was there until the end of the day. It’s not everyday that you run into a movie star on a range in Wisconsin. He came with a famous highpower shooter who is a former national champion from California to shoot with a Wisconsin “friend.” They are all sponsored by the same shooting related company so that’s how they met each other.

After the match everyone was waiting around for the results and to my surprise The Gunny (as he’s known) decided to sit next to me instead of sitting at an empty table. We chit chatted about how Flannel Man and I meet because of shooting, that he grew up in Kansas, and of course our new house. He was really nice and well..mild mannered (but don’t tell anyone else that ’cause I don’t want to wreck his reputation).

I was able to get a picture of all of the Marines who shot that day after the match.


I later realized I had caught The Gunny in a couple of my other shots too. It looks like he was having a good time shooting offhand…



When Tent Caterpillars Take Over


The focus of this blog was supposed to be about our home and the remodeling we do to it but I’m starting to realize it’s hard to filter everything out. Case and point was this weekend we went to sight in our guns at the range. Why do we have to sight in guns do you ask? Well, because we’re competitive highpowered rifle shooters. What does this have to do with home improvements? At the range we saw exactly what can happen when you let tent caterpillars take over.

It was shocking and sad all at the same time. Our home range is one of the best in the country. The club owns over 360 acres much of it untouched. Buffer zones are the key to keeping ranges alive otherwise people will knowingly build houses next to the range and complain about the noise. And even though the range was there first the range will eventually get shut down. This has happened to hundreds of ranges in our area and now only a few good ranges are left.

Anyway, the road to the range is a small gravel road that has two houses set back in the woods on one side and farmland on the other side. As we were driving down the road we noticed the huge tents of caterpillars everywhere. It was unlike anything I’ve ever saw before. Some of the tents were as big as my head! The tent caterpillars had gotten out of control and had spread to the neighbors, the trees on the edge of the farmland across the street, and onto the range. It looks like the caterpillars hadn’t quite made it to all of the land the club owns, but they had a good hold on the first couple acres.

I can’t even imagine what it would take to get rid of them at this point. We would have to cut down hundreds of trees and burn them, which is almost impossible because we only have a few drivable trails through the woods. So I guess there isn’t much we can do but to let them spread to the rest of the property. If only that neighbor had taken care of the situation when it started on their property we wouldn’t be in this mess. How could they let this get that out of control? Fortunately, with the sandy soil the range has about half of the trees on the range are pine trees that the tent caterpillars won’t touch.

I wasn’t able to get pictures of the really infested areas but here are a couple pictures from the range:



This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
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