31 Dec

Happy New Year, Christmas Party Pinata Smashing, New Shooters at G.A.T. Guns

Steven K. Ledin,

Happy new year!

Last year was another great one for my family and me, as well as for OpticsPlanet! I was fortunate enough to take lots of trips and a few hunts, including to Alaska for bear.  

I created plenty of sumptuous home-cooked meals using great equipment, and enjoyed a goodly number of fine restaurants. One of my favorite meals ever was superb sushi with great company at Cirella’s in Melvile, NY, where a few of us visited our Nikon Sport Optics friends in their corporate offices. 

Of course, the title holder for my favorite restaurant is still John and Emerald’s “Italian Kitchen” in Deerfield. Indulge yourselves there sometime and be happily amazed.

Burned lots of ammo, got some new guns. Turned 50. Lost weight. Wrecked my shoulder and elbow somehow. Learned a lot about business from my friend and latest mentor Mark, and about life in general from so many. My Shirley and I are blessed and healthy otherwise, and Rad is still with us, as are our families.

Young and innocent Steven

Our Western-themed OP Christmas party was a wild success, with contests in bull riding, roping, fast draw, and literally a smashing success, especially in the context of whiffle-bat-wielding mobs thrashing, destroying my hand made pinatas with abandon. They bashed 11 of them, and a more wild melee hasn’t been seen. I may have overbuilt them just a bit, but they had to hold a dozen pounds of loot or so from vendors. Nobody got hurt, and the vendor loot that spewed from the violently busted mache containers was often expensive and cool, like Surefire 6PX flashlights and Sonic Defender hearing protection, Browning pocket knives (coming soon),  and Serengetti and Bolle sunglesses, all wrapped in OP t-shirts to prevent cuts and contusions as they shot over the heads of the crowd like stinger missles. I also made a couple dozen splats of cow poop out of painted foam insulation with corn and peanuts and a smooshed boot heel print or two.

Took 5 friends to my favorite range last week, G.A.T. Guns, in Dundee, IL. Certainly one of the busiest weeks of the year to go, but our combined schedules made it necessary to go at that time. There was a short waiting list, and eventually we all got in. Most of the 5 were new shooters, or had little experience except Tony the Fireman from Florida. He did great, and I didn’t have to watch him. He was a big help and a very good shooter and shot.  G.A.T. has 3000 different firearms on display, and 24 individual, 25 yard shooting lanes for pistol calibers only. They have a large selection of rental guns if you have an Illinois FOID card.

Hot bullets and money shot out of a couple 1911s, a .40, a few 9mms, .38s, .357s, and several .22s. The ammo bags and the wallet got lighter quickly. Again the new girls did better than the new boys. As an instructor for over 20 years I can tell you that this is the case the majority of the time. I have a curious philosophy about this. I used our new OPMOD range bag prototype and it was superb again. Coming soon… we all need one or more, and they’ll be great gifts.

Completed another mannequin project, with four baseball players. It was my most challenging yet,  using marine bondo, steel exoskeletons, and balance.

Got steered into social media a lot this year, with many filmings for Youtube, and a few for Midwest Outdoors TV show, and a couple of interviews with Jim Slinsky with the Outdoor Talk Network. And a bit in print here and there.

I wish you all the very best and healthiest and most prosperous new year ever, and especially to our soldiers away from home during the holidays. I was there, I remember the feelings.


About Steven K. Ledin

Steve has never not known guns. Before motorcycles, money, or girls, they have always been part of his life. He was tenured as General Manager of one of the country’s largest gun stores and ranges, a buyer in a big box sporting goods store, and is currently OpticsPlanet’s Director of Product Intelligence. He was a US Navy gunners mate, and is an NRA certified instructor in ten categories, as well as an Illinois CCW instructor. He shoots competitively and has hunted from Alaska to Africa. He thoroughly loves life with his beloved wife, Shirley, and their three wildish dogs Tinker, TranRek (pronounced “Train Wreck”), and Crash Almighty. He is a stubborn stage 4 cancer survivor not yet ready to cash in his chips.

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