Take a little Al Gore, perhaps a little too much single malt scotch, stir in some Jim Downey and hand it to a rather compulsive, data/knowledge addicted former physicist and you get my connection to BBTI. It has been a wild ride.
Starting in 2000 with no knowledge about guns or ballistics I had the pleasure of getting this rather large crazy experiment going. What began as some idle speculation and curiosity eventually became actual research. Along the way I have met interesting people, gotten involved in fiery debates, poked politicians and even dabbled in the world of firearms related design and patents. All of this has not made me a great shooter or a guntech wizard. But I have learned enough to appreciate those people that are, as well as expanding my understanding of the amazing artistry and technical aspects of firearms.
The money, time and effort (at times grueling, frustrating, physically punishing and hilarious) the four of us expended to gather and share the information here – information that I thought would be of interest to only a few thousand other data junkies – has been well repaid by the interest shown by the millions of hits to the web-site. Simply to have become part of the rich history of firearms would have been enough for me – but I also got a bunch of data!
Following an MS in solid state physics in 1988 from the University of Iowa, I am currently involved in creating woodfired ceramics, regularly playing bass in a band, weeding 20 acres of timber and 20 acres of prairie – oh, and making life "interesting" for my wonderful wife and providing opposable thumbs for our Great Dane.
My dad was a cop, and a hunter. I quite literally learned how to safely handle firearms before I could ride a bicycle, and have been addicted ever since. When Jim K first turned his interest to firearms, I was able to offer some sage old advice - knowledge which was mostly decades out of date. When we got to talking about hard data, I shared his interest in finding out what was available, and then his interest in doing the research ourselves. I'm still a long way from knowing all that there is to know about guns, ammo, and ballistics, but I have had a hell of a great time learning more these past few years.
In 'real life' I am a book and document conservator by profession, which requires very careful consideration of detail and a willingness to do tasks others find mind-numbingly boring. This has proven useful for the BBTI project. I have written a novel set in 2052 which a lot of people have liked, and a care-giving memoir which is still relatively unknown. I'm also somewhat compulsive about blogging and writing for Guns.com. And you can find me on Facebook and Twitter.
All I can say is that it's taken me years to develop a fine appreciation for black powder and the arms, muzzle and breech loading, hand and shoulder, that use it. All at a whack I find myself involved up to the eyeballs in testing dozens of the latest hi-tech samples of modern smoke-free defensive ammunition. It's almost enough to make a person weep, except for the lack of sulphur.
At least the past 40 years obsessing over the subtleties of cartridge design, internal and external ballistics before I ascended to my current brimstone nirvana have paid off in learning how to run chronographs, computers and medium-sized hammers, and that's been put to some use in this series of empirical tests.
(Steve is also the cartridge and proof mark consultant for the German Gun Collectors Association and can often be found on weekends beneath a large cloud of blue smoke at Cowboy Action shoots across the Midwest.)
My getting involved with this project was a matter of fate. When I was 13 years old I got introduced to firearms and began my life-long pursuit and fascination with learning as much as I could about all types of firearms. The historical aspect of firearms interests me as to how each came about with their development of the designs, engineering and mechanical operations. I am a knowledge junkie and have a photographic memory which has helped me store all this information over the years. A local gun shop owner took me under his wing during my teenage years, teaching me the importance passing on the heritage and tradition of firearms to future generations. During years of professional experience I have been able to blend my prior knowledge of firearms with the real world practical application of weapons. And I have come to realize the importance of the right of self-defense in our society.
This is where fate came in. I became a fan of a local rock cover band about two years ago and got to know Jim Kasper. We found out about our mutual strong interest in firearms and the rest is history. Jim invited me on the second big sequence of ballistics testing and let me tell you I will never forget that experience. Meeting Jim D and Steve was great - we all come from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives in life not to mention firearms but as a group we complimented one another, each learning from one another during this process. I believe that providing this ballistic data information to the public can be very useful in the decision making process as to what type of weapon and ammunition are best used depending on the individual's needs and application in the real world.
(Keith obtained a B.S. degree from Illinois State University in 1989 in Criminal Justice Sciences and soon thereafter became a police officer in a mid-sized police department (45 officers) in Iowa. With that department he has served as a certified firearms instructor and armorer for more than 16 years along with being involved with their tactical team for the past 15 years.