Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 5, No. 7 June, 1997
So now June is busting out all over, as it
says in the song. The hot weather has already hit us here in the
Southwest. School is out, and the African hunting season is at its
best. Householders are comparing the progress of their tomato crops
throughout the land, we are still enjoying last year's venison, and
doing what we can about the delights of fresh mountain trout -
despite the heckling of the catch-and-release fishermen.
As to this matter of "catch-and-release",
it seems to have permeated all sorts of our social
activities - sometimes to the good, and sometimes not so.
Catch-and-release fishing is probably OK, albeit puzzling to the
non-fishermen. We have heard that it upsets the fish, but that is a
rather hard point to establish.
Personally I am rather fond of a form of hunting which has some
similar aspects. In this game one stalks and squeezes with maximum
care, but with chamber empty. When the striker goes forward in the
rifle of a good rifleman, the point has been established, whether
or not the piece was loaded. If you can shoot, you know where that
bullet went - or would have gone. I rather like this game,
though certainly not to the exclusion of the real thing.
I suppose we could call alcohol-free beer an aid to
catch-and-release drinking. Now it remains to produce alcohol-free
On the bad side is this current custom of catch-and-release law
enforcement. The cops catch'em and the courts release'em.
Being an old codger, I tend to disdain these half-baked procedures,
in most cases, as a form of social anemia.
As we approach the Glorious Fourth, we are
increasingly distressed to learn that large numbers of our young
people in school simply do not want to hear about it. They seem to
have been taught that war is so bad that even victory is to be
deplored. Such people are slave-minded, and they will not survive
as a race through the 21st century.
The first after-action reports from this
year's African adventures have begun to trickle in. One
correspondent, Bob Dickerson from Ohio, did all his proper reading
and preparation, and then went down there to get the full blast. He
says that his adventure started out great, progressed to
fantastic - and then got better. In our experience the only
really bad thing about the African adventure is the trip home.
Bob's outfitter opines that the 35 Whelen is definitely the best
all around choice for an African cartridge. He had not heard about
the 350 Remington Short Magnum, which provides the same ballistics
in a more compact package.
We hear good reports about the new Kimber
clone of the 1911 pistol. It appears to include a number of good
features, if not all those most desirable. Additionally, the length
of the front end of the frame prevents the press check. This is not
an important point, but one wonders why the designers would
introduce an unnecessary backward step.
We will doubtless see a number of the Kimbers at our forthcoming
pistol session at Whittington in July.
The Scout Rifle Session, to
include both the 4th Conference and the introduction of the Steyr
Mannlicher production scout, remains on the schedule for late
September. We will keep you posted.
Department of Absolutely Essential
The Czech word for beer is pivo
. More than one beer is
. Five or more beers is piv
The question "What is a good shot?", which
I address in "The Art of the Rifle," has been producing
various interesting responses. There is an association of
descendants and admirers of Alvin York who have informed me that I
need look no further than their ancestor, who is established in
their minds as the ultimate good shot. Certainly Sergeant York
could shoot, and he put his rifle skill to proper use as the
occasion demanded, but marksmanship skill is a talent with such
varied aspects that I cannot consider the matter closed. We stand
in awe of the demonstrated marksmanship of Alvin York and Sam
Woodfill and Billy Dixon and Marseilles and Rudel and Bell, not to
mention Jack Weaver, Elden Carl, Thell Reed, and Ray Chapman; or
Harry Reeves and Bill Blankenship. Our admiration does not settle
the case. I suppose all that can be said with certainty is that the
man who can do everything with his weapon that his weapon is
capable of doing - every time - is truly a good
Department of Bureaucracy Amok
"The National Marine Fisheries Service has recommended that
Congress allow the shooting of protected sea lions off the Pacific
coast in order to protect the endangered salmon, which is a
favorite meal of sea lions. The problem is the sea lions are
protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but the salmon
are protected under the Endangered Species Act."
Seems this girl wanted to go out for baseball in the capacity of
pitcher. Current rules require that any youngster playing as
pitcher must wear a codpiece - a tin cup protecting the
testicles. Trouble is, this girl does not have any testicles to
protect. No matter. Rules are rules. Wear it on your ankle,
We hear continuously of shooting failures
by the police because these items make news, whereas victories do
not. Thus it is refreshing to read of a neat tactical achievement
on the part of the Phoenix Police Department, who stalked a
professional bank robber for several months, finally catching him
in a traffic jam through full and accurate communications, and
neatly settling his hash when he chose to shoot it out. It is nice
to be able to cheer for the winners now and again rather than
sneering at the losers.
Doubtless you know that Swarovski can now
provide you with a telescope sight for your rifle which includes a
built-in laser range finder. The item is huge and expensive, and
its utility is highly specialized. You do not have to know the
exact range in any form of hunting that I know of, except for the
prairie dogs of the High Plains. This activity does not require any
hiking, since you conduct it from your car, so bulk and weight are
not important. On the other hand, the target is very small and the
range is whatever the shooter wants to make it. It does seem
problematical for that laser to range in on the head of a prairie
dog out there a third of a mile away, but perhaps it works. Here we
have a nifty birthday present for the kid who has
"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggy' until you
can find a rock."
We hear of a contest now being held on
the public sector side for an arm known curiously as a "police
rifle". This seems to be the proper niche for those curious
instruments which are in effect semi-automatic machine-pistols.
(Note the oxymoron.) I felt that there must be something you could
do with a semi-automatic squirt gun, and now I know.
Immersed as we usually are in Civil War
history, it is interesting to note how few of the men called up for
service in that war were able to provide their personal
weapons - especially at the beginning. Consider, for instance,
the case where Stonewall Jackson put a totally unarmed brigade into
infantry action with the mission to follow close enough behind the
assault elements so that men could pick up the weapons of those who
had been hit in front of them. I would have thought that the
mythical "average man" of that era would have brought his own
personal rifle to war. Here we have evidence again of the fact that
a disarmed citizenry is in deep trouble - at home or
A couple of correspondents have asked us
recently what we think of the Israeli "flat stance" in defensive
pistol shooting. If you have seen the training films you know that
the Israeli procedure is to rotate the pistol 90 degrees to the
left so as to make it easier to operate the slide when the pistol
is pointed at the target. It has been pointed out to me that a
number of cinema presentations have featured this technique -
apparently in an attempt to latch onto anything new.
It happens that Mossad, the Israeli attack squad, fancies the use
of the 22 pistol as a murder weapon. This is quite sound when the
pistol is used in a totally offensive mode, since the subject is
confronted just out of arm's length and hit ten times quickly in
the chest area. Ten 22-caliber holes in the thorax are fatal, as
any qualified thoracic surgeon will tell you. In employing this
system the weapon is carried in Condition 3 until the moment
of confrontation, whereupon it is drawn, pointed straight out and
the action is racked with the left hand. This is somewhat easier to
do if the weapon is held flat rather than vertically. Accuracy does
not matter and sights do not matter. Ten quick hits will do the
job, whereupon the agent drops the pistol at the scene (for the
laboratory to puzzle over) and walks quickly away.
Since the pistol is a totally defensive weapon, this Israeli flat
technique is of only academic interest to us.
In our political discussions we note a
certain confusion between the terms "liberty" and "freedom". The
semantic problem here is not insignificant because both liberty and
freedom are abstracts for which men are ready to die - some
men at least. I think this is one of those cases where we really
should understand our terms, but I wonder if our professors of
political science are fully prepared to tackle that
"Consumerism is a virulent form of materialism
developed in the United States, in which advertising insures that
demand is created for products for which there is no real
So now we have a rush in Congress, presumably at the behest of the
manufacturers, to require that American shooters install "trigger
locks" on their firearms. A trigger lock is another example of a
solution in search of a problem.
"Americans don't need the federal government to tell us
how to store our property in our homes. That is our responsibility
and it is one that we are willing to accept."
NRA Fax Alert 27 May 97
Furthermore, we Americans do not need the manufacturers of gadgets
prodding Congress to buy their products. And still further, we do
not need Big Brother
to save us from ourselves.
We have an amusing case from England
recently in which a woman driver was attempting to light her
cigarette at a stop light with the window down. When a street
goblin stepped up brandishing a handgun (as you know, handguns are
illegal in Britain), the lady driver proceeded to set him on fire
with her cigarette lighter. Now we may expect new regulations by
the leftist government in England banning cigarette
"We have now won the Cold War. It now remains for us to
win the war with ourselves."
Yes, indeed. As Pogo said,
"We have met the enemy and he is us."
I coined the term "hoplophobia" in 1962
in response to a perceived need for a word to describe a mental
aberration consisting of an unreasoning terror of gadgetry,
specifically, weapons. The most common manifestation of hoplophobia
is the idea that instruments possess a will of their own, apart
from that of their user. This is not a reasoned position, but when
you point this out to a hoplophobe he is not impressed because his
is an unreasonable position. To convince a man that he is not
making sense is not to change his viewpoint but rather to make an
enemy. Thus hoplophobia is a useful word, but as with all words, it
should be used correctly.
So now we hear from family member Steve Munden in Maine of
an affliction called "hooplaphobia". Our analysis would seem to be
an unreasoning panic in the presence of excessive partying or
dancing in the streets.
It certainly would be nice if we all made an effort to find out
what we are talking about.
The State of Vermont, "land of green
mountains", remains the state with the best gun laws in the Union.
This is a dreadful fact for the gun grabbers to face. It would be
nice if the State of Vermont printed on its license plate "Sweet
Land of Liberty" so as to proclaim the triumph of good over
In a new biography of Nathan Bedford
Forrest I discover that the general preferred his recruits to show
up with shotguns. Forrest was a great believer in close shock
calvary action, and one can see how a double-barreled fowling piece
might be just right for this sort of thing.
Forrest spent his war well over on the Western Front near the
Mississippi, where, it seems, most of his recruits provided their
own armament - as opposed to the more civilized Virginia boys
on the Potomac.
Family member Colonel Sverker
Ulving from Sweden reports that his scout rifle provokes
astonishment amongst the Scandinavian hunters. They insist that it
is too small, too short, and generally too untraditional to be
efficient in the field. And then they see it work - and they
go away muttering.
This is certainly a major consideration in the forthcoming issue of
the production scout from Steyr Mannlicher. We can expect
prospective customers to divide themselves among those who consider
the scout concept to be too utterly radical, and those who see it
as the wave of the future. It will be fascinating to find out which
view has the larger following.
Reports back from the Gulf War suggest
that the single-column, large-bore magazine of the 1911 stood up
well to the intrusion of sand, whereas the double-column,
small-bore magazine of the Beretta did not. I do not have
inconvertible proof of this, and I am not likely to get it, but
common sense would tend to support the point.
More on semantics. I have always held
that a "blood sport" is one in which the practitioner voluntarily
places himself in physical danger, and he does so for fun. You
engage in a blood sport for your own recreation, but if you make a
mistake you may well die.
Now, especially in England, it seems to be customary to call a
blood sport any activity in which blood may be shed, voluntarily or
According to my view, motor racing, rock climbing, and dangerous
game hunting are blood sports. According to the other view, any
form of hunting, plus such activities as cock-fighting and rodeo
are blood sports.
(Bull-fighting is not a sport, but rather a demonstration, and thus
does not fall into either category.)
To no one's surprise, the newly elected leftist government in
England is out to forbid any form of hunting - and possibly
fishing - in the UK
Well, "You pays your money and you takes your choice", but we
really should define our terms before we choose up sides.
When a commissioned officer takes the
oath, he swears
"To support and defend the Constitution of the United
States of America against all enemies foreign and
We know about these foreign enemies of the US Constitution, but who
are the "domestics"? For my money the most conspicuous domestic
enemy whom I have sworn to confound is the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms. (Note how they have tried to avoid the B in
that title. They are a bureau, but apparently they do not like to
be referred to as "BATmen". I understand they do not like to be
called the "F-Troop" either.)
It is not clear to me that the BATF does anything that needs doing.
Contrarily, it does a great deal that does not need doing. I do not
know how many people are currently employed by this unpleasant
agency, but I do feel it to be my duty to support the US
Constitution against domestic enemies by advocating abolition of
the BATF. I have been told by people in Washington that when I make
statements like this, I am laying my head on the block. So be it.
Better men than I have done just that.
We understand that cattle rustling has
taken on full military status in Africa up north of the Zambezi.
When thievery is conducted by hundreds of well-armed men and
results in the death of scores of people and loss of herds of
cattle numbering in the thousands, banditry has become elevated to
the scale of warfare. This sort of thing requires a command
structure, communications, supply, and reasonably competent
administrative procedures. That is apparently what is going on in
Kenya and Tanzania, but we do not go to those places
We are annoyed at these bleeding hearts
who whimper aloud over what they call to be "the sending of
American boys overseas to die under the command of foreigners."
First, the profession of arms is traditionally hazardous to one's
health. When one puts on the uniform he accepts the prospect of his
death in action. Ours is a volunteer army and people are not at
this time drafted into it. When they join up of their own free
will, they know - or certainly should know - that they
may well be killed in the line of duty.
Second, no one sends soldiers "out to die". Soldiers are sent out
to kill. As Patton put it,
"I don't want you bastards to die for your country. I
want you to make those other bastards die for their
The critical issue here is that of sovereignty. We would have
thought the case of Michael New would have brought this matter to a
head, but obviously it did not, and the government is still
weaseling on the question. Spc New was clearly guilty of
insubordination when he refused to go fight on a UN team. A much
larger question, however, is whether he could legally be ordered so
to fight. If United States troops are placed under the command of
foreign nationals, United States sovereignty is annulled. This
apparently does not matter to the Billary
crowd, but it
certainly should matter to all Americans who pledge allegiance to
the flag and pay their taxes to the government of the United
Forget this dying bit. The question is, "Who is in charge
Personal reports from the scene in South
Africa suggest that life is going on much as before the revolution,
but continues to degenerate in several specific areas. Television
has gone almost completely under, but our correspondents suggest
that this is not so bad a thing. Public education has decayed
quickly and radically, as has public health service. Corruption,
which used to be fairly commonplace at the upper levels, is now
less on high, but has increased by leaps and bounds at the lower or
local levels. Street crime continues to increase, but the good
thing about African street crime is that you can shoot back. There
are, to be sure, certain legal responsibilities to be observed, but
you can still carry your personal arms and you can still legally
shoot a runaway, providing that you can establish that was what he
The situation is probably not going to get better, but people learn
to live with what they must. A good man can face up to almost
anything as long as he is adequately armed.
On the subject of street crime, we
understand that a region in southeast Los Angeles around the
intersection of Pico and 37th street is now being considered by the
city council as a prospect for isolation as a war zone. The cops
cannot do anything in the face of massive civil resistance, armed
or otherwise. The presence of an armed enemy camp within the
borders of a free state is something rather new. It is possible
that this is something a free society cannot endure.
Interesting times we live in!
Our Arizona newspaper reports that the
Gila River Injuns - sometimes referred to in the vernacular as
"pesky redskins" - are now objecting to the proximity of the
newly titled "John Wayne Highway". Seems to us that if we can have
a "Cochise County", we can certainly have a "John Wayne Highway".
(It might be a good idea to declare a 100 year moratorium on racist
Recently Rifle magazine devoted a
whole issue to varmint hunting, which was a good idea except that
it ignored the prince of varmints, which is the baboon. This beast
is plentiful, destructive, obnoxious and dangerous to women and
children. (Consensus holds that he will not attack a full grown
man.) He is intelligent and wary, and the shooting is apt to be at
long range. His upper canines are longer than those of a leopard,
and in a group he can wipe out your whole corn crop overnight.
There are those who hold that it is uncouth to shoot baboons
because they are "so much like people". There are others who
maintain that this is the principle reason for shooting them.
In any case, babejaan is a very sporting target. 'Tis a pity that
he lives so far away.
The new name for that region of the
Transvaal surrounding Johannesburg and Pretoria, is "Gauteng". Some
wag has noted that in view of the current street crime situation in
Joburg, the appropriate anagram for Gauteng is "get a
Our family member Walt Mansell of
California reminds us that big game hunting differs from most other
sports in that its triumphs are re-livable. Your score on a deer or
an antelope or a lion is an event that does not die out of your
memory. When you sit in your living room and consider your trophy,
you can call back the occasion at length and exult in your
performance yet another time. It is possible that big game fishing
can match this, but I cannot call to mind anything else that might.
Victory in a tennis match or a motor race or a giant slalom is a
wonderful thing, but you cannot replay it. With your buffalo you
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.