Shooting with Sons

Shooting, including hunting, tactical training, and target practice, is both enjoyable and educational. It is a good way to enjoy friends and family, and to provide for and protect yourself and those you love in times of need. Safe shooting should be a core skill for all interested Americans.

Last week I went to the gun range to shoot with one of my sons. Over the years, members of our family have spent many hours on ranges and hunting grounds from Alaska to Germany. Shooting is a useful skill and a pleasant pastime, and we were glad to find the range open again after COVID-19. As we use our weapons, we try to keep several factors in mind:

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My Favorite Runs

Enjoyable walking, running, and cycling areas in the USA

After retiring from the US Army on 1 September 2016, I took a new job in Tennessee. My schedule prevented me from doing one of my favorite things, running, since 12 September. Today, however, I took a glorious 5-miler in the Wolf River Nature Area outside Germantown, TN. Running there reminded me of some of my favorite places to run, bike, or walk, throughout the United States. These trails are relatively easy, and located close to urban areas. Unlike some of the trails considered “Best in the US” for running, these are short and accessible to casual walkers, runners, bikers, and hikers.

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Soccer Tips from Coach Mark

How to give your players a fun and developmental soccer season.

I have coached soccer for school aged boys and girls for about three years and served as a sports medicine physician for a wide variety of sports for six years. Whether I am the team coach, the team doctor, or just a fan, I always have five goals for the game, in order of importance:

  1. No one gets hurt.
  2. Kids have fun.
  3. Kids learn leadership, teamwork, and character.
  4. Each child gets to play every position.
  5. Our team wins.

To accomplish those three goals in soccer, I have included some information for players and parents to learn. Practices are twice per week and games once per week. Players should practice at home five or six days per week.

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Archery and the Christian Life

Sports like archery can teach us a lot about life as a Christian. Really, anything can, if we only have eyes to see and ears to hear. 

During a recent flight to San Antonio I was reading Marshall Hodgson’s classic The Venture of Islam (V1) and considering the spread of Islam in the world. I pondered the Muslim Arab victories over the Byzantines at Yarmuk (636 AD) and the Sasanids at Qadisiyah (637 AD), and the Muslim Berber victory over the Visigoths at Guadalete (712 AD). Many factors contributed to the success of The Faithful, and one of the greatest was their use of archery.

Just as something as simple and powerful as the bow and arrow can transform the political and religious world, it can also inform the Christian life. The purpose of the bow is to propel an arrow accurately and swiftly into a target, whether a hay bale, a deer, or a man. There are several steps to do this effectively:

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Archery – Foundational Skills

Want to shoot like Robin Hood? Here are some tips to get you started. 

Archery is a fine, fun and relaxing sport. During our courtship, Nancy and I would spend hours at the outdoor range just shooting, talking, and enjoying the sights and sounds of nature around. She would pack a lunch and the days were delightful. I highly recommend picnics at the range rather than expensive restaurant lunches and movies during which no one talks to really get to know a person.

For those interested in learning the basics of archery, here they are.

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Reflections on the Martial Arts

Martial arts are good for fitness and self-defense, but they are better for building character. 

My hands ached and my forearms were a little bloody as I gave the final bow to the master of our dojang in my test for the black belt. An odyssey that began as a second grader in karate class to deal with bullies was complete.  My childhood karate ended when the money ran out, so I tried again with tang soo do and kenpo in college and tae kwon do in medical school. In both cases my training was cut short. During my first tour in Germany, I started tae kwon do once more, but stopped after only a few months. I had tried four times to learn an Asian martial art, made it as far as blue belt, quit, and started over again.

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Surfing the Nations

In Wahiawa, one of the poorest areas on the island of Oahu, a group of Christian surfers is transforming their part of the community. Working through a nonprofit called Surfing the Nations, they have replaced a porn shop, liquor store and brothel with a coffee bar, antique shop and meeting room, home of the Surfer’s Church. Neighboring apartment buildings have also been renovated. 

Surfing the Nations (StN), founded by long time surfer and associate minister Tom Bauer in 1997, is a non-religious non-profit organization with the motto “Surfers giving back”. Sensitive to the fact that surfers are commonly associated with “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” rather than social good, Bauer wanted a group that would help change that image at home and abroad. To this end, in addition to the work that StN is doing at home, it is active in many countries worldwide, “anywhere with a surf” as Bauer chuckles. 

Volunteers from all over the world work with StN in periods ranging from a few days to two years. The youth choir from our church, the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia, volunteered in late June, 2013. Jens, a furniture carpenter and wood shop teacher from Sweden, brought his family for one month for their family vacation. California was well represented among volunteers, and our east coast kids’ vocabulary soon included “gnarly” and “stoked”. No one at StN, not even Tom Bauer and his wife Cindy, is paid. Everyone pays their own way, receives their support from home churches, or gets income from StN’s weekly visits to the local swap meet. 

StN volunteers renovate buildings, clean trash, landscape, teach Bible truths, host kids carnivals, and serve their community in many other ways. Every Thursday a team goes to the First Samoan Assembly of God under the H1 highway in Honolulu to feed malnourished locals. When our team was there, 650 persons received free and healthy foods, including fresh eggs, fruits and vegetables. It is the largest regular food distribution on Oahu.

All is not work, however. StN volunteers teach surfing if they know it and learn surfing if they do not. Then they become teachers for new volunteers and for those they encounter on StNs mission trips abroad.  Puena Point near Haleiwa is an outstanding bay for teaching aspiring surfers. From our group young and old, skilled and not so skilled took to the surf and had a great time.

Surfing the Nations is a non religious non-profit run by Christians for the betterment for Hawaii, and for all those they touch. It combines adventure and service, and is a sterling example of “surfers giving back”. Visit them at  

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