I looked for several things when I was selecting the weight bench that would be used with my Valor Fitness BD-41 Power/Squat Rack. First was the frame construction. I wanted the least amount of nuts and bolts and the most amount of welds. It needed to be able to handle the weight. I wanted at least 600 pounds. Next, I didn’t want to be replacing the cushions in a year, so it had to have heavy duty mat and stitching. And lastly, I wanted 2 part adjustment of the seat and back.
A quick Google search and I found several that seemed to meet my list of demands, but unfortunately without getting to put my hands on the weight bench, I couldn’t tell if it was going be sturdy and rugged enough. I’ve been lifting in commercial gyms for years and have grown accustomed to commercial grade equipment. I lucked out and was able to get my hands on the Fitness Gear Pro Utility Weight Bench.
It didn’t take long to realize this bench was exactly what I was looking for. Very few nuts and bolts, which also translates to easy assembly. Very heavy duty steel construction and cushions, and both the back and the seat adjust. The weight bench is also rated to 600 pounds.
The benefit of having the back panel adjust is obvious, but several weight benches don’t allow for the seat to adjust or to be tilted. When lifting heavy weight on an incline, the tilted seat is a must-have for both the ability to lift the heavy weight properly and safely. I can’t imagine sliding off the end of the seat while holding 150 pounds plus is a good idea. The back and seat lock firmly in place with the spring loaded adjustment locks.
One thing to note is the Fitness Gear Pro Weight Bench is a bit on the heavy side. This can be good and bad. It means it is heavy duty but more difficult to just pick up and move. It does, however, have a front lifting handle and wheels on the rear of the bench. I have not had problems moving this around my home gym, nor does Brittany, but it could be a problem if you had to move it up or down stairs, or in very tight spaces.
* Heavy duty
* Back and seat adjustment
* Holds 600 pounds
* Front lifting handle and rear wheels
* Very stable
* Hard to maneuver in tight spaces
I’m actually very happy with the Fitness Gear Pro Weight Bench and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a heavy duty, commercial quality bench.
A lot can be said for training with live ammo at the range – there is no substitute. However, I can’t always get to the range, can’t find ammo, or just simply can’t afford 10 boxes of ammo every other week. For this reason, I started looking for an alternative and finally settled on Laser Ammo’s Smokeless Range 2.0 Simulator.
The smokeless range allows a shooter to practice drawing, shooting from different positions, stances and moving, speed and transitional drills, and moving targets. It helps to not anticipate recoil and helps with not pushing or pulling the barrel.
The Laser Ammos Smokeless Range comes with the camera and unlock code for the software. The shooter would need to supply the computer, projector and screen, or TV, and the laser. The laser can either be a (SIRT) Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger Training pistol or a laser bullet insert that is used with an actual firearm like the one I use here. I’ll do a review of the two different lasers, computer and projector in the near future. In the mean time, If you would like any information about them, just leave a comment.
Setting up the range is rather easy. I use my laptop for the computer and place it next to the camera on a small portable table. Plug the camera in to the computer using the USB cord, and the computer in to the TV/projector using a HDMI cord. Fire up the software, enter the activation code, use the auto calibration feature and you’re ready to go.
Originally I started out with a 55 inch TV in my office which worked “ok”. In order to use a TV, a plastic covering is needed for the camera to be able to pick up the laser shots such as the one here. As I said, it worked ok but was a bit fuzzy and made it so you couldn’t use the TV to watch TV without removing the covering. When I purchased the smokeless range, I had the intent to purchase a projector down the road which I have now done and it’s 10 times better. Using the projector, the targets are life size, clear and frees up the TV.
The Laser Ammo Smokeless Range 2.0 is the basic package offered by Laser Ammo. There are several upgrades that can be added on at a later date including a video scenario trainer which is actual recorded video rather than computer generated graphics.
I did have one issue that required me to contact support. The auto calibration was not able to calibrate and kept reporting the room was too bright. Turned out that the location I have the projector screen is above the French doors to our deck and light was coming in at the bottom of the screen. This was easily fixed by simply pulling the screen all the way down to the floor.
The range is actually a group of 10 ranges or drills:
Marksmanship drills include: Transitional Drills, Tracking Drills, Speed Drills, Moving Targets and Matching drills
Recreational training drills include: Dueling Tree, Trap Shooting, Target Shooting, Can Toss and Bomb Blast
Each of the 10 ranges or drills have several settings that the user can adjust making each drill completely customizable. Settings like: type of target, speed of moving objects, one or two simultaneous shooters, size of target, and many more. I have countless hours using the range and still seem to be able to come up with new options to make it challenging.
I would imagine one of the most important things people want to know is does it help. YES! My speed and accuracy have improved more than I ever expected. How do I know? The range records my shooting times and scores so I can compare then and now.
If you would like to learn more or purchase the range, you can do so here on Amazon.
When I first started carrying a concealed firearm, I was seriously worried someone would be able see the firearm “printing” and potentially cause a problem for myself. I also thought I’d never get used to the feel, how it digs in to my skin and how tight I had to keep my belt. Over time I ended up purchasing several different holsters trying to find the right fit and feel while keeping the gun hidden and more importantly secure.
I finally ended up purchasing the Crossbreed Supertuck IWB holster. It wasn’t love at first sight by no means but as I started wearing it, changing the position, 3 o’clock, 4o’clock, 5 o’clock, and also changing the position of the belt clips on the holster, It finally started to feel natural and stayed very well hidden to the point I can wear the holster all day and not really know its there. I never forget it is there of course.
As the name suggest, supertuck, this holster is designed specifically so the wearer can tuck in the shirt they are wearing and still have the firearm concealed. I don’t personally use it for that reason as I don’t tuck in my shirts very often, but have tested it on a couple of occasions that I had to dress up and it worked perfectly. The main reason I choose to wear this holster is comfort.
The Crossbreed Supertuck holster is made of black cowhide leather backer and a molded Kydex retention pocket. I know a lot of people are against using leather holsters or in this case partial leather holsters due to negligent discharges caused by leather that starts to curl or bend as the holster wears in. I’ve had mine for several years and it is still in the same shape as when I purchased it other than a small curl I bent in the bottom corner for comfort Additionally, I have tried over and over to get the holster to contact the trigger but have not been able to do so. I have more than 8000 draws and re-holsters with this holster as I not only shoot at the range, I shoot on a virtual range inside my house with a laser insert sold here on Amazon. I’ll post a review of the lasers and the virtual range soon. I also feel that the leather backer is more comfortable than plastic or metal against my skin.
Another thing I was worried about was the Crossbreed holster being partly made of Kydex and scratching the firearm. While I cant say it does not do this, after 8000+ draws, it is very minimal and not noticeable unless you look for it.
This holster is a passive retention holster which means there is no locking mechanism or strap that keeps the holster in place rather the design of the Crossbreed keeps the gun in place. While I have not stood on my head or rolled around on the floor while wearing the holster, the gun has never came out of the holster or even slid up slightly. I chose this style because of the speed of draw plus there specifically is not a locking mechanism that could accidently cause me not to be able to draw. This also means it would be easier for someone else to draw however, its concealed so that really isn’t an issue in my opinion.
As you can see from the picture, I carry a full size 9mm with double stack 15 round magazine and it is very easy to conceal under a semi loose t-shirt, polo or button up.
The holster can be purchased for a wide range of firearm making it one of the best holster out there for inside the waistband concealed carry. To get additional information or to purchase the Crossbreed holster you can do so here on Amazon
To find more great reviews and other information on outdoor gear, sporting goods and shooting gear go to JCBower.com
When I started designing my home gym, I knew the power rack would be the main piece of equipment and would get the most use. I wanted to have a power rack that would be the most versatile and heavy duty rack I could find at a reasonable price.
Being certified as a personal trainer for a great deal of my adult life, I had a very specific idea of what I wanted, or should I say needed, and I wasn’t going to settle for less. I was looking for a power rack that came with a Lat pulldown and cable pullies of course, but also more specific features, such as double slide bars on the cable pullies and cables wide enough apart to allow full range of motion during all exercises. You’ll notice the Lat pull doesn’t have the double bars – it’s not needed due to the amount of weight used doing Lat pull downs. Much less weight is used during some exercises on the cables, such as side lateral raises, and a single bar is not smooth enough in my opinion.
Additional features I wanted were a pull-up bar that allowed for varying grip positions and the ability to use different types of plate weights. While Valor Fitness has different options for their pull-up bar, this particular rack has the best configuration for what I was looking for to be able to change up the grip as well as the ability to use and store both the Olympic and the one inch adjustable weights I have.
One side note to mention is that the power rack can be purchased on Amazon as just the rack itself, or as a power rack with cables, or as a power rack with Lat pull down, or as I ordered it, all three.
Valor has a more “home owner” rack than the BD-41, the BD-7. It’s a bit less heavy duty and has less options but is still note worthy due to its lower cost by $300.
The BD-7 and the BD-41 are the same size, I believe, so honestly for the extra $300 for the BD-41, you get a much heavier duty frame system including cross braces needed when lifting heavier weights and the multi position pull-up grips.
The machine is very sturdy even under heavy weight. I have the machine sitting on a rubber puzzle mat that I also purchased on Amazon and the Power Rack does not wobble or shake due to it.
According to Valor Fitness, “500 lb. max load if using the bar catchers outside of the cage, 650 lb. max load if using the bar catchers inside the cage, 750 lb. max load for safety bars. 200 lb. max load on the Lat Pull and on each side of the Cable Crossover”. I don’t recommend this but I’ve had more than 200 on the Lat pulldown just to give an Idea how strong it really is
Several accessories can be added after the fact such as Dip handles, dumbbell holders and additional barbell racks. I have yet to order any of these as I’ve really not needed to as it comes pretty well set up. You will, however, need to have or buy a bench and barbell as the machine does not come with either. I’ve included a link to the weight bench that I use.
This rack is by far the best piece of home gym equipment I have ever used. Its not commercial gym good, but it’s pretty close. Here is a link to the same Valor Fitness power rack I use.
Days are getting shorter which means night is coming sooner. If you enjoy riding your bike in the evening, you need a bike light for safety. I recently purchased the Vont ‘Pyro’ Bike Light Set from Amazon and was pretty impressed.
The bike light set comes with a clear front light, rear red light, 4 rubber straps, (2 of the which are replacements), and 2 USB charging cords. The lights seem to be of good quality and the company says they are waterproof which seems to be the case.
Attaching the lights to the handle bars and seat post are very easy. Slide one end of the rubber strap under the clip on the back of the light, wrap it around the bar and hook it on to the second strap clip. The bike light strap is rather tight so it holds the light in place quite well. Additionally, the lights can be clipped onto clothing, such as a pants pocket or a shirt pocket. To turn the light on, simply push the button either on the top or bottom depending how you mounted the light. The light has 4 settings: high, low, fast strobe and slow strobe.
The bike light seems pretty bright but not as bright as some that I have had. It does brighten up the area, as you can see from the image, but it’s more of a glow. However, the light itself could be seen from a very long distance, and being seen is the main point of the bike light.
The main drawback, as with most rear facing bike lights, is it needs to be secured to the seat post or rear forks. As I have a bag underneath my seat, it secures to the forks and this causes the light to angle up at about 45 degrees rather than aim straight back. It still has plenty or rear-facing light, but is something to keep in mind.
In all, I’m happy with the light set. It’s bright enough to see where I’m riding, more than bright enough to be seen by other bikes and motorists, easy to put on and take off to prevent theft, and small enough to go in my pocket. Really just an all around good light set. You can find this light here on Amazon.
To find more great reviews and other information on outdoor gear, sporting goods and shooting gear go to JCBower.com
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have on my sunglasses. Living in South Florida makes sunglasses a must have at all times. I purchased the Oakley Flak 2.0 sunglasses about 6 months ago when I decided to update from my Oakley Speed Jackets.
As always, the sunglasses from Oakley come with a nice protective case which I always use to store the sunglasses when not in use. The glasses I purchased came with a hard case and two replacement nose pieces.
An additional feature of the Oakley Flak 2.0 Sunglasses is that the earsock, the rubber part that goes over the ear, is interchangeable or replaceable and comes in many colors allowing you to personalize the sunglasses to your taste just like the lenses themselves are interchangeable or replaceable. The lenses are made of a Plutonite which is a purified polycarbonate making them far more shatter resistant than glass lenses. Here is what Oakley has to say: “Oakley’s Plutonite Lenses offer top UV Protection filtering 100% of all UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light up to 400mm. Oakley’s lightweight Plutonite lens material offers superior comfort, clarity and protection against impact and ultraviolet radiation.”
That being said, the one drawback to the Plutonite lenses is they will scratch more than glass lenses but wont shatter if and when they are dropped. The replacement lenses are not very expensive and can be swapped out literally in seconds. I have a set of clear lenses that I use when shooting. You can get replacement lenses here. Make sure you only get real Oakley lenses as there are a huge amount of replicas that may or may not have the same features and fit as OEM Oakley.
I like the fit of the sunglasses on my face and also how they fit over the ears. The curvature of the frames allows the earsocks to pass by the side of the head without touching or putting any pressure on the temple. The lenses and frames in the front of the sunglasses blocks out almost all light and gives a great field of view without interfering with peripheral vision. Additionally, they are also very light.
I would recommend these as well as buy them again when my current pair wears out. I would say the Oakley Flak 2.0 are as good as the Oakley Speed Jacket sunglasses, all be it a bit smaller. You check them out or purchase them here from the Oakley Store on Amazon.
To find more great reviews and other information on outdoor gear, sporting goods and shooting gear go to JCBower.com
When I decided to build my home gym I learned very quickly that space would be at a premium. A complete dumbbell set to 100 pounds was out of the question not to mention the shear cost of that much weight. It didn’t take me very long to conclude I would need adjustable dumbbells just like the regular plate weights used for the barbell. I already had some experience with adjustable dumbbells such as the Bowflex SelectTech dumbbells , and the Power Block Personal Trainer Set
Although both sets of dumbbells are good quality and will do the job, I found a couple things I didn’t like that set the Yes4All dumbbells apart. The main issue is the PowerBlock and Bowflex weights both rattle and move around while you are lifting whereas the Yes4All plates are held securely in place when in use. The second thing I didn’t like about the PowerBlock dumbbells is the users hand is actually inside the weight block and may cause injury should the user have to set down or drop the weights quickly.
The dumbbells arrived in 5 or 6 boxes that were pretty heavy but well packaged. They shipped 16 – 10 pound plates, 4 – 5 pound plates, 4 – 2.5 pound plates, 2 dumbbell bars, and 4 screw on collars with rubber O-rings installed in each collar with 4 additional replacement O-rings. The O-rings are the mechanism that secure the weight plates and keep them from rattling as described earlier. Although they sent replacement O-rings, I’v been using my dumbbells for about 18 months and I am still on the first set of O-rings.
The weight plates themselves are very consistent in weight, size of center hole and overall size of the plate and doesn’t have any sharp edges to get snagged of or cut by. Additionally the metal is very clean and seems to stay that way as my hands never get dirty while using the dumbbells. One thing I did notice when I first started using the dumbbells was small flakes of chrome from the bar were coming off the area where the collars screw on but this stopped after about a week and I can’t notice where the flakes came from. May have just been part of the manufacturing process.
Swapping the plates to change the weight is rather simple. Unscrew the collar, slip on the next plate and screw the collar back on. There are various weight combinations you can purchase, I bought the 200 pound set and it works great for me.
I would definitely purchase these again and would recommend to anyone looking for a good quality, space saving dumbbell system for their home gym. You can learn more or purchase these dumbbells here on Amazon
I’ve always liked the finished look of rubber matting on a gym floor. It gives it that gym kind of feel. The gym flooring from BalanceFrom is an interlocking, double sided, textured floor mat that is 24 inches by 24 inches and is a 1/2 inch thick. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes, but the ones that I have are black.
The gym floor mat is a little softer than the mat in a commercial gym which gives it superior sound deadening quality but the softer material allows small objects like women’s high heals to leave marks – but as long as you’re not working out in heels, your good.
The high-density EVA foam gives the gym floor tile a non slip moisture resistant surface on both sides and and the company says it doesn’t contain any toxic phthalates. What I noticed is it didn’t make my home gym smell bad.
More about the gym floor mat
Each piece of gym flooring comes with 4 sides that interlock with another floor tile, plus two smooth removable end pieces for a finished look. There are more than enough end pieces included that I ended up with about half of them left over.
Installation was very easy using a utility knife and a strait edge longer than 24 inches. I also put a piece of wood under the mat I was cutting to keep my knife from dulling on the concrete floor. I was able to install the gym floor in a room that is 20 feet by 12 feet in about an hour and a half including clean up.
To wrap it up
My experience with the gym floor mat from BalanceFrom was positive. Very easy to install, finished product looks great, already spilled water and it dries right off, cleans very well just using a Swiffer, which you can order here from Amazon.
The only con I have experienced so far is the issue with high heels or I imagine anything small like that would leave a mark. It’s not a bad mark, but I know it’s there.
I would definitely recommend this gym flooring for any home gym but not for heavy duty commercial use. However, it would work great in a private training studio for yoga or personal training. Although I have not had this product outside, it seems to be more than durable enough to hold up to the weather but would recommend gluing it down or taking it in when the winds kick up. I purchased the gym flooring from here on Amazon.
Introducing the Twin Jet scuba diving fins from Scubapro. The Twin Jet scuba diving fins come in 4 different colors: black, yellow, gray and blue, and can be purchased in sizes: small, medium, large and extra large. Additionally, the Twin Jets have the option of having an adjustable strap for when wearing boots or full foot when barefoot. Two buoyancy options come with the fins, although not all colors have the same buoyancy option. The black Twin Jets fins are negatively buoyant with slightly more ridged blades while the yellow, blue, and gray are slightly positively buoyant.
What does Scubapro say?
The patented design of the split fin, according to Scubapro, is “inspired by the dynamic propulsion of real-life marine creatures (these fins’ unique split-hydrofoil shape was inspired by the actual tail fin of a humpback whale).” Also, according to Scubapro, the design is supposed to reduce drag while providing greater propulsion with less effort.
At first glance, you will notice the Scubapro fins are slightly wider than many other fins and seem to have wider foot pockets on the the adjustable strap model. This model also comes with quick connect swivel buckles on both ends of the strap.
I purchased the black twin jet fins with the strap as I dive in Michigan in “cold water” and need the thermo protection that boots provide. I also purchased a blue set to be able to loan when we go snorkeling but I primarily dive with the black. The strap is made of very rugged and strong material and lasted more than 500 dives before breaking my first strap.
Donning the fins is very easy whether in the water, on land or on a boat. I leave the quick disconnects connected but set the straps very loose. Folding the strap under the foot compartment, I slide my foot in, fold the straps up and tighten. For doffing, simply release either disconnect and slide your foot out. One thing to remember is that the black fins will sink if you let go, so make sure you hold on to them at all times while in the water. The blue, gray and yellow will float, however very slowly if you are at depth, and will remain afloat at the surface.
Once in the water, one of thirst things I felt was the smoothness of the kick and the ease of movement. The fins did not try to sway, nor did they try to bend my foot back unnaturally. I’m prone to cramps in my calves if I’ve been away from the water too long, but don’t get as many cramps, if any, with these fins.
I’ve used these fins a tremendous amount of times in a chlorinated environment and have not noticed any ill effects caused by the chemical. I do, however, wash all of my gear each day I use it.
Pros: 4 colors, 3 colors float, very durable construction, smooth kick cycle, good propulsion, minimal effort, easy donning and doffing
Cons: Solid color – each fin has just one color pattern, black fins negatively buoyant, replacement straps are a bit pricey at $27.00 each. Order Replacement Straps on Amazon here.
Sum it all up
The Scubapro Twin Jet split fins are one of the best fins, if not the best fin, I’ve used in my 20 years of diving in both cold and tropical water (I now live in Florida). As mentioned above, the black fins, which is what I have, will sink if they get away at the surface, but do so very slowly so I wouldn’t shy away for that reason.
Would I recommend or buy again?
When, or maybe I should say, if, the Scubapro Twin Jet split fins ever wear out, I would definitely purchase them again, as well as recommend these to anyone looking for a quality pair of fins
If you feel these fin are something you are interested in, check them out here.