Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 1, No. 2 June 11, 1993
- Editor's note:
- Items enclosed by [ ] were editorially removed from the
Gunsite Gossip, Vol. XIII, No. 10. To the
best of my knowledge this is the last issue of the "Commentaries"
that were published by Gunsite. (Barry)
Summer Solstice, 1993
It may not be exactly couth to open this
commentary on a personal note, but the situation seems to call for
it. I discover, to my disgust, that certain squalid fictionalizers
have started circulating rumors about my health, for reasons that
escape me. However, to set the matter at rest, I had a full
physical in March of `93 and seemed to disappoint the examiners a
bit when they could find nothing wrong with me, apart from a
cataract in my left eye. I have now been told, by various rumors,
that I have had a stroke, that I have meningitis, and that I have a
terminal cancer. All these people need is a voodoo doll to stick
[There is nothing physical whatsoever to interfere with my
continued performance of duty as I have done it for the past
seventeen years. The issue in this private war is not physical nor
economic nor professional rather it is moral. Time will
Note that Para-Ordnance is now promoting a
"slimline", version of their double-column 45s. The effort to
slimline a double column frame would seem discouraging, but
slimlining per se is an excellent idea, as we have developed it at
Gunsite. The only thing wrong with the 1911 pistol is that it is
just too big for some hands. The only thing it really needs is a
smaller butt, as with some entertainers we could name.
Members of the old Gunsite family
will be interested to learn that one of their number, Dr. Peter
Goldman, late of Springfield, Massachusetts, has now pulled up
stakes and emigrated to one of the country suburbs of Cape Town.
The Countess and I know that country fairly well, and we agree that
it is one of the most desirable places in the world in which to
settle. It marvelously combines a beautiful rural lifestyle with
all the necessary appointments of a big city. In Cape Town there
are magnificent hospitals, great libraries, a symphony orchestra,
and a ballet troop. In the countryside, the fruits and vegetables
are outstanding and contribute to some of the finest wines in the
world. The precipitous skyline in all directions is a never ending
delight to the eye. There is marvelous deep-sea fishing in False
Bay, and medium game is available in profusion at a couple of hours
The drawback, of course, is political. We simply do not know what
sort of a constitution will define life in South Africa in the
immediately forthcoming years. When you see, however, what is being
done to the United States' Constitution in Washington even as you
read this, it might lead you to consider taking your chance in
The only other American expatriate I know who lives in South Africa
is Peter Hawthaway Capstick. He may not be a Gunsite family
member, but he certainly qualifies for honorary status.
We wish good fortune to all concerned, and we expect to be visiting
with him down that way in less than a year's time.
[Many people have asked us why the last
issue they got of "Gunsite Gossip" was limited to four pages. The
situation is complicated but basically it goes thus: I prepare a
full six page issue at the regular times. This goes first to
Guns & Ammo Magazine, which has the rights of first
refusal upon what I used to call "Gunsite Gossip." Then I issue a
full paper to the new owner here at Gunsite and to several dozen
people on what is temporarily referred to as the "select list." It
is only those people who will read what you are reading now, since
I can count on the new owner to delete anything from my copy which
does not please him. That is the reason why "Jeff Cooper's
Commentaries" filled six pages last issue, but "Gunsite Gossip"
only four. I am bound by contract to write "Gunsite Gossip," but
what I write for my friends is my own business.
Note that the copyright restriction on the last page of "Gunsite
Gossip" does not apply to "Jeff Cooper's Commentaries." I am a
preacher, not a tradesman, and the further my word is spread the
better I like it.
Guru teach, Guru not sell.]
I wish to thank those two dozen or so
readers of Guns & Ammo who wrote in to tell me the
source of Theodore Roosevelt's quotation about "golden joys." As I
said the first time, I thought the statement must have come from
the ancients, but if it did it was borrowed by Shakespeare and put
in the mouth of "Ancient Pistol" in Henry IV. It is
interesting that the character speaking the line in the play had
nothing in mind similar to the feelings of TR, thus the quotation
comes across at a higher artistic level than it did in its original
In Detroit, not long ago, a suspect was
beaten to death by cops with flashlights, so immediately the chief
of police forbade his cops from carrying four-cell flashlights.
Presumably a three-cell light is all right. Here we have a classic
manifestation of definitive hoplophobia, "It's not the act, it's
the instrument!" How people can behave this way with a straight
face is beyond me!
Wasn't it depressing to note how D-Day
passed with no observation except by a couple of old codgers who
went to Omaha Beach in a memorial visitation. As the twentieth
century slides into its closing years, it seems obvious that
society as a whole has lost all sense of proportion. Can it be that
the whole human race is in need of another world war in order to
sort itself out? Ugly thought.
It turns out that representatives of the
Moscow Militia Trade Union believe that they should keep their
weapons at all times. They expressed the opinion of all personnel
for reasons that there have been more frequent attacks on militia
workers off duty. They are resisted by supervisors who feel that
allowing firearms off duty would lead to massive numbers of lost
weapons finding their way into the black market.
Militiamen, however, insist that by that way of thought citizens
should have their cars impounded each day after work, since many of
them drive while drunk.
Let us devoutly hope that reason may eventually pervade the
bureaucracies of Eastern Europe. We in the West, however, are not
setting them a particularly good example.
Down in Texas recently, we discovered the
magnificent "hill country." We had heard rumors, but we had never
visited before and we can attest that what is said about this
marvelous region "is all true, and more and better besides." High,
green, rolling and well-watered, it is uncluttered with people and
thickly populated with wild game. In addition to the native Texas
white tails, there are fallow deer, sikh deer, axis deer, aoudad,
mouflon, black buck, and nilgai. In contrast to the usual
visualization of Texas, there is so much water that it sometimes
gets in the way. The wild pigs are threatening to get the upper
hand. The occasional towns are strongly Germanic in tradition and
given to beer, pretzels, wurst and umpah music.
I refuse to tell people how to get there. Better they should find
out for themselves.
The media, with full aid and comfort from
the administration, are endeavoring to sweep the Waco atrocity
under the tug. We must not let that happen! The best treatment of
the episode I have seen appears in the periodical "The New
Vol. 9, No. 12 for 14 June, 1993. This is a magazine
that I rarely see, but I suggest you go out of your way to obtain a
"The Review of the News Incorporated,"
770 West Hill Blvd, Appleton, WI54915.
"Make no mistake about it; Gun control laws increase
the power of government and the criminal element over the average
citizen, and serve no other purpose. The Branch Davidians hadn't
assaulted anyone. They lived peacefully in the community. Except
for the federal gun laws, they would all still be alive."
"FBI Director William Sessions asserted that `the American public
expects that law enforcement will deal with those people who have
broken the law.' He is right. And that explanation includes -
and indeed should begin with - those federal officials who
violate both the spirit and the substance of the constitution they
are sworn to uphold."
It is a painful subject, but has anyone
at all seen anything resembling an autopsy report on the four
BATmen who were killed in the opening assault? If they would
tell us what exactly killed those people we would be better able to
decide the critical issue of who shot first.
[I wish to thank most profoundly the
innumerable family members who have written in to express
their concern over the way circumstances have altered at Gunsite.
Your thoughts are very comforting and I wish to reassure all hands
that all is not lost. There is a way out of this morass and the
Countess and I will find it.]
A group of us old codgers recently got to
kicking around the important questions about the reasons men fight.
Fighting, of course, can be hazardous to your health, and when one
puts himself deliberately at hazard he must have a reason. We came
up with the following tally:
- Protection of the home. This is probably the best reason, and
cannot very well be faulted on either political or religious
grounds. Men fight their best when they see strangers invading
their native fields, farms and cottages.
- Religion. Absolute faith in absolute truth is more powerful
than self-interest, and when God is on your side you need have no
fear of death.
- Professionalism. Elite units, such as Napoleon's Old Guard, the
British Grenadiers, the United States Marine Corps, the Spanish
Legion, have always distinguished themselves out of a sense of
group superiority. They were taught from the first that they are
better than other people, and it is then necessary for them to
demonstrate that fact beyond doubt.
- Loot. Men have always fought for fortune, and as much as it is
frowned upon in some circles, the loot motive lead the armies of
the steppes to conquer the world.
- Escape and Excitement. The life "of quiet desperation" which
seems the lot of so many can be alleviated by running away to sea
or joining the Foreign Legion. Men do not often choose to die for
the sheer excitement of it, but once they have fallen into the
cauldron they often do very well.
- Patriotism. The love of country is a difficult thing to
identify, especially when one is called upon to fight at vast
distances from one's country. Nonetheless, political idealism has
often served as a very good motive. The American Expeditionary
Force in World War One is a good example. It must have been pretty
complicated for a doughboy to explain to a Frenchman or a Belgian
just what he was doing in Europe, but he must have had some notion
that he owed his life to the Stars and Stripes.
- Pride. Pride is not quite the same as professionalism since it
is an individual matter. The Medieval knight, the Renaissance
duelist, and the fighter pilot are examples.
- "Peer Pressure." This is the lemming instinct, "Everybody is
doing it." I do not believe that this motive stands up well in the
face of terror, but it can certainly get people in the right place
to experience it.
Your contributions on this matter are invited.
[A good number of enthusiasts have
checked in to ask about the possibility of another Heroic
Recitation, but not enough to activate physical preparation. A
site must be selected, and one at which some shooting is possible.
Out of the wreckage I have salvaged some thirty odd acres over in
Ravengard which might suffice. And then, of course, there are other
schools where I am not forbidden to perform.
I am thinking of a date on or about Theodore Roosevelt's birthday,
which is 27 October. At such time as I have two dozen applicants
reasonably firm, I will proceed further.]
Nothing is interesting if you are not
Ian McFarlane, our man in Botswana,
reports that the bureaucracy in that third world country has
performed as expected by lousing up its new hunting regulations.
They took so long to decide on what everything that was to be done
was going to be done that it was impossible for the outfitters to
sign up clients in time. They have now gone back to the previous
system, which worked very well, but, of course, invited tinkering
by the pencil pushers.
The African nations realize, of course, that hunters are a better
source of income than tourists, but when you start turning things
over to committees it is unreasonable to expect good
In what may be the ultimate parody of the
age, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has prepared a
medal to issue to the BATmen of Waco (so help me!) I have
seen it pictured in the press. It is in the form of a star.
Shouldn't we refer to it as the "Herod Star?"
[On that subject, I reported a while back
that Gunsite had never trained a BATman.
I was wrong. Under
the new administration, one was certified, but not by me. The
change should read,
"No BATman has ever been given a diploma signed
by Jeff Cooper."]
We bear sadly of another fatality with
dangerous game. According to Howard Pollock, past president of the
NRA, Sam Foure, a park ranger, was killed in Kruger Park in April
by an elephant.
According to the story, Sam was backing away from a bunch of cows
and calves while escorting his fiancee, and in doing so he
practically backed into a bull. According to policy he whirled and
tried to fire a frightening shot over the head of the animal, but
he was inside critical distance and it just reached out and grabbed
At long last I had a chance to spend some
time with the distinguished gun writer Finn Aagaard. Among the many
good things resulting from that meeting was the discovery of how to
pronounce his name. I was informed that in Norse the double "a"
sound is pronounced "aw," as in paw, thaw, claw. Also, in Norse,
the terminal consonant is silent. Thus Finn's last name is
Have you noticed how modern adventure
action depends to a huge extent upon the notion of the unarmed
victim? If the adventure writer could see himself clear to fit out
his protagonists with proper firearms and the skill to use them,
however, he might not have any plot to work with. I note
specifically that no guns were permitted on the island featured in
"Jurassic Park," except in the hands of the PH, who naturally
wasn't there when needed.
I have never been taken with the idea of
selling a gun. When you possess a firearm, you possess something of
importance. If you trade it for cash, you have lost it - and
the cash in your hand will soon be gone. Sell something
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.