Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 4, No. 13 November, 1996
While we here in Arizona have not yet
actually put any venison in the freezer, we are about to -
with luck, of course. We have had the first freeze and the first
snow, and the season of the happiness of pursuit is upon
Bear incidents continue to proliferate.
One of the better ones is related to us by family member
Bill O'Connor. He tells of a lawyer (this is not a lawyer joke) who
told one of his law school classmates that he was heading for the
Brooks Range in Alaska on a fishing trip. When asked how he
intended to be armed he sneered Disney-wise at his friend and said
that there was no need for that sort of thing. As you may have
read, he and his friends ran into a mother grizzly with a cub and
he was quickly killed. Friend O'Connor paraphrases Kipling thus:
"But the female thus accosted
rends the lawyer tooth and claw
for an agitated grizzly
is more mighty than the law."
Among the new 10mm pistol cartridges, the
"Cor-Bon .400", as reported to us by Dick Davis of Second Chance,
is supposed to put out a 165-grain bullet at 1300f/s. Dick
comments: "If we open it up to a 45 caliber and increase the bullet
weight to, say, 230 grains, we might have a real
We hear from neighbor Colonel Bob Young
that the penalty for possession of a hollow-point bullet in the
great state of New Jersey is $1,000 per bullet. Sometimes it seems
that New Jersey should be treated as suggested for Somalia -
surrounded by an impenetrable wall and allowed to stew in its own
This is indeed a bad time for the
Republic. We on the right have the issue of character available as
our Sunday punch, and yet our party leaders decline to use it. You
can't win if you don't fight.
I wish to thank all those good friends who
signed petitions for my nomination to the Board of Directors of The
National Rifle Association. As it turns out, I have been nominated
by the Nominating Committee, somewhat to my surprise since I have
been rejected by that body in the past. I have a feeling that I am
viewed somewhat askance in Washington, since I have never been one
of the boys, and I do not have a Washingtonian mentality. However,
I am now up for election again, and we shall see how the membership
feels about this.
Dr. David Kahn continues to struggle with
the promotion of the Keneyathlon, or "Hunters' Rifle
Course." The basic problem seems to be that this type of contest
does not appeal to hunters, but rather to SWAT team members who
insist on using target equipment in what is not intended to be a
target shoot - but using it well. David feels that he may
re-organize the whole enterprise into what amounts to a SWAT
contest, since that seems to be what people want.
We have an interesting philosophical problem here. We know how the
hunter uses a rifle (though he often uses it very poorly), but what
exactly does a policeman need with a rifle? The only scenario that
comes to mind is that of hostage rescue, since the rifle is not a
defensive weapon and the police should use it only to save the life
of an innocent being held at gun point. The totally egregious use
of the rifle by the law enforcement arm looms as that of Lon
Horiuchi, who appears to have murdered Vicki Weaver in cold blood
when he himself was in no danger, and who now walks free and draws
his salary on the taxpayers.
Be that as it may, Dr. Kahn plans to re-organize the
Keneyathlon under the new title of Proskopathlon,
signifying approximately a tactical shooting contest, of varying
and unstandardized format. Tentative dates for the first offering
are 28 - 30 June, 1997, and the location is Gillette, Wyoming.
We wish it all success.
It has been suggested by family
member Dan Predovich that it is about time for another Scout
Conference. If we hear sufficient enthusiasm for this project, we
shall try to set upon a date and a place. It would certainly be
nice if we had the production scout from Steyr Mannlicher to show
off at this occasion. I will agitate for this again at
Among the various events conducted at
Whittington during the recent Gunsite Reunion and Theodore
Roosevelt Memorial was the Rifle Bounce. This is an
excellent enterprise and deserves standardization, being simple,
quick and easy to administer. As the Presidente may be used as a
quick and general test of pistol skill, the Rifle Bounce can
be used as a quick measure of general rifle competence.
The test is conducted on steel Pepper Poppers placed at 100,
200 and 300 meters from the firing line. Three firing points are
specified, three paces apart, and the shooter attempts to hit each
target from a different firing point. The shooter starts outside
the first firing point with his rifle at "Ready" and carrying six
cartridges. On signal he leaps into the first firing point, knocks
the 100-meter target down, bounces to the second firing point and
takes down the 200-meter target, and then bounces to the third
firing point and engages the 300-meter target. He is allowed six
shots only, and if he does not take down all three targets with six
rounds he has no score. If he does knock down the three his score
is his time in seconds. An elapsed time of 30 seconds is good.
Twenty seconds is excellent.
If the Rifle Bounce is used as a contest, shooting is
entirely free-style in accordance with the principles of practical
shooting competition. If it is used as an evaluation of rifle
skill, the 100-meter target must be taken standing erect, the
second target from kneeling, squatting or sitting, and the third
target from prone. A shooting sling is permissible, but a bipod is
not. As a point of caution it should be noted that a Pepper
Popper will not be knocked down by a low hit if it is properly
calibrated, thus a clang does not necessarily signify a valid
If you regard yourself as a good rifle shot, I suggest you give
this one a try. The world's record was held by Russ Showers at 18
seconds for quite a long time, but this has now been lowered to
about 15. If you can produce a 25 on demand, you can join the
"Can it really be true that two-thirds of American
women do not care whether or not the President of the United States
is a habitual liar? If so, what is the chance that they will teach
their children to value the truth? If a person is not truthful,
then reliable communication with him becomes impossible. If
children do not tell the truth, why teach them to talk and write?
Yet, children learn primarily by example. If their mothers
successfully support a liar for President, why should the children
be expected to be truthful?"
Dr. Arthur B. Robinson in "Access to Energy"
Napoleon may have got off to a scruffy
start as a Corsican corporal, but he did develop a good deal more
class than Bill Clinton. When the Emperor wanted a special girl in
Warsaw he sent a Field Marshal to pick her up. Clinton sent a
couple of enlisted men.
I have gradually come round to the
conclusion, over several decades of endeavor, that marksmanship
cannot be taught "in bulk." To be an expert marksman the shooter
must first of all possess the desire to excel. No matter how much
the public sector may try, the individual may not be ordered to do
so. If he does have the desire, he may be tutored individually by a
skillful instructor, and he may, through diligent practice,
eventually become an expert, but no training system designed for
departments or armies can hope to develop artists - and
marksmanship is definitely an art.
The study of history shows us that really good combat riflemen come
from a cultural base in which rifle shooting is practiced as both a
sport and a means of sustenance. See what the Boer farmers did to
the British regulars at Majuba Hill! Those farmers had no
discipline, no organization, and no training, but they had been
conditioned from childhood to hit what they shot at. The Redcoats,
on the other hand, were fetched off the streets of London and
Manchester and taught what they knew about shooting in regimental
It appears to me that fighting men are best recruited from people
who have proved their weaponcraft in advance, as with Theodore
Roosevelt's Rough Riders, or the law enforcement officers of the
Old West. I should avoid getting personal, but I must point out
that the very first time I fired the Marine Corps rifle course at
Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania I scored 13 points above Expert.
As our civilization decays, we have lessening opportunity to
acquire young men for our public defense who know anything about
guns or fighting. Our consolation may be that our prospective
enemies are no better off.
If machismo is lost, only money is left.
One wonders if time may be ripe for a "male backlash" such as
suggested in Sir Henry Rider Haggard's famous novel "She."
Those of you familiar with that excellent fantasy will recall that
"the people of the rocks" portrayed therein were a matriarchal
society in which women made all the decisions and inheritance was
traced entirely through the female line. According to the story,
this procedure got totally out of line every second generation or
so, and all the females except the very young were put to death.
This seems rather extreme, but after all, the race portrayed was
one of the "lesser breeds without the law."
The Countess treated us to an excellent quotation from Longfellow
at the reunion, to the effect that man and woman may be likened to
the bow and the bowstring - "useless one without the
Some years ago we encountered a young man
who inherited from his father's estate the modest sum of $600 and a
semi-sporterized 1903 Springfield. This was not much of a legacy,
of course, but on examination it took on a certain charm. The line
occurred to me: "They're ain't many troubles that a man can't fix
with six hundred dollars and a thirty ought six." The monosyllable
"six" needed addition, so I tried "seven." The line had a nice lilt
to it and I thought it might serve as the basis of a somewhat
nostalgic poem. I did not feel up to writing the whole poem myself,
so I suggested the task to our number three child Lindy, and she
came up with "Grandpa's Lesson."
- Pappy took to drinkin' back when I was barely three.
- Ma got pretty quiet. She was frettin', you could see.
- So I was sent to Grandpa and he raised me up real good.
- He taught me what I oughta and he taught me what I should.
- I learned a heap 'o lessons from the yarns he liked to
- There's one I won't forget because I learned it 'speshly
- "There jist ain't many folk who live a peaceful, carefree
- Along with all the good times there'll be lotsa grief and
- But ain't many troubles that a man cain't fix
- With seven hundred dollars and a thirty ought six."
- Grandpa courted Grandma near the town of old Cheyenne.
- Her daddy was cantankerous - a very greedy man.
- He wouldn't give permission for a fancy wedding day
- 'Til grandpa paid a dowry--biggest ever people say.
- Her daddy softened up when Grandpa said that he could fix
- Him up with seven hundred dollars and a thirty ought six.
- Grandpa herded cattle down around Jalisco way.
- Ended up behind some iron bars one dusty day.
- Seems the local jefe craved my Grandpa's pinto mare.
- Grandpa wouldn't sell her so he lit on out of there.
- Didn't take much doin' 'cept a couple special tricks
- plus seven hundred dollars and his thirty ought six.
- Then there was that Faro game near San Francisco say.
- Grandpa's cards was smokin' hot and he took all one day.
- He woke up nearly naked in a ditch next early morn'.
- With nothin' but his flannel shirt, and it was ripped and
- Those others were professionals and they don't play for
- He lost seven hundred dollars and his thirty ought six.
- He begged some woolen trousers off the local storekeep
- Who loaned him both a pony and a rifle on a dare.
- He caught those thievin' cardsharks at another Faro game.
- He got back all his property and also his good name.
- He left one bleedin' badly and another mostly lame.
- My grandpa's trusty rifle shoots just where you choose to
- Grandpa's slowin' down a bit and just the other night
- He handed me his rifle and a box sealed up real tight.
- He fixed me with them pale grey eyes and this is what he
- "You're awful young but steady too and I will soon be
- I'll bet this here old rifle and this honest money too
- Will come in mighty handy just as readily for you.
- There jist ain't many folk who lead a carefree, peaceful
- Along with times of happiness, there's always woe and
Lindy Cooper Wisdom
- But ... aint many troubles that a man cain't fix
- with seven hundred dollars and his thirty ought six."
We hear from the British press that it is
now "too late to disarm the US public." God save the
Michael Howard is "Home Secretary" of the
UK, sort of a national chief of police. In his words, "Gun
ownership is a privilege, not a right, and the use of firearms in
self-defense is not acceptable for civilians in this country"
(presumably it is okay for a soldier). So much for The Land of Hope
and Glory! Die if you must but do not shoot back.
Mr. Lincoln's famed dictum is doubtless
correct, but we should remember that "You can fool most of the
people, most of the time."
All the talk about "self-esteem" in kids
is beside the point - when what they need is
Perusal of the current crop of outdoor
magazines emphasizes the crying need for the release of The Art
of the Rifle. Maybe all those "gun writers" in the
illustrations really do hit what they shoot at, but if so they are
certainly going about the task the hard way.
"Never do your enemy a minor injury."
The question has arisen as to why we seek
all the power we can possibly control in a handgun but do not
demand the same from a rifle. The answer hinges upon the difference
in principle between the two instruments. A pistol is an emergency
defensive weapon designed to turn someone off who is trying to kill
you at close range. This is an emergency for which you cannot
reasonably expect to be prepared. You will normally be extremely
excited and possibly not entirely in control of your nerves. Your
first shot must hit hard. It must prevent your assailant
immediately from doing what he is trying to do - which is
usually trying to kill you. Pistol cartridges are not very
powerful, and to meet the violent emergency demand of a lethal,
close range confrontation you should choose a pistol cartridge that
will give you the best possibility of an instant stop, even if the
hit is not perfectly placed.
The situation is entirely different with the rifle, which is
essentially an offensive weapon used at a time and place of the
shooter's discretion. The rifle shooter "freezes himself cool" and
places his shot with surgical precision. If he has properly studied
the anatomy of his quarry, he knows exactly where the vital zone
lies, and he plants his bullet just there. Therefore it is rather
pointless to push for excessive power in rifle cartridges, since
almost any popular center-fire round will do a good job on either
game or enemies if it is properly used. (I make an exception of the
buffalo, whose extraordinary resistance to gunfire puts him in a
Thus when I hear, as I did at Whittington, that the 375 is the
lightest cartridge which should ever be taken to Africa, I jeer
long and loud. History tells us that it seldom has been lack of
cartridge power that caused grief in Africa, but rather lack of
shooting skill. Our daughter and our grandchildren have cleaned the
slate in Africa, mainly with the 308/180. Jack O'Connor did
likewise with the 270, as did our cousin Steve Lunceford.
I do not claim that rifle power is inconsequential, but rather that
it is less important than the salesman would have you believe.
Anyone who can't do the job with a 30-06, using proper bullets,
probably just can't do it with anything.
By the time you read this we will have
elected the government we deserve, or at least the government that
a majority deserves. A view of the current scene, as depicted by
the press and the tube, suggests that those people really do
deserve what they got, but that does not make it any easier for you
and for me to accept. As always, the important thing is to keep
one's sense of humor - without which one had best never have
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.