Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 10, No. 11 October 2002
And high time, too! The news has been so
generally bad, both worldwide and domestic, and we are definitely
in need of something cheerful. The opening of hunting season is
always that. I hope that you have your plans all made and that I
will get word back from you on your adventures.
Oddly enough a correspondent recently asked me to explain why I
thought that "modern man needs to hunt." Ancient or modern, man
hunts because he is a carnivorous predator. You have only to
examine his teeth, which are designed for shearing and masticating
meat. Most grass eaters have grazing and grinding teeth located
only in the lower jaw. Man does not hunt in order to eat - not
in the past and not now. Personally I always choose to eat what I
kill, but I know a good many hunters who do not feel that way. The
hunting instinct is a drive to place man in charge of his
environment, and it is so deeply ingrained that it stays there even
if he must live in a large, stone city. Not everyone feels this
way, of course, but to all I recommend the magnificent classic
"Meditations on Hunting" by José Ortega y Gasset. Even in
translation, this is a masterfully clear exposition of the hunting
spirit. If you do not know why we hunt, get your own personal copy
of this book (it is still available in print) and study it. Almost
every third or fourth line is worthy of quotation and a study by
itself. It will not change the mind of a grass-eater, but I do not
suppose anything will.
How many of you noticed the celebration of
the events of 9-11 in Riyadh? Wasn't given much publicity, was
So now we are engaged in a great Holy War,
testing whether our culture, or any culture conceived and dedicated
to the proposition of social sensibility, can endure. That sort of
paraphrase does poor justice to Mr. Lincoln, but I think there are
points that need to be made. Specifically, a Holy War cannot be
waged like a political war. In a political war you have a national
objective. The nation which has declared itself your enemy must be
subdued by force of arms and forced to submit to your way of
thinking. In a Holy War, however, there is no national objective.
The Moslem objective seems to be simply to destroy the infidel. I
cannot believe that any Moslem feels that by killing Christians or
Jews or agnostics at random he will win any sort of tangible
objective. These people may be awfully ignorant, but I still cannot
believe that they believe that killing non-combatant Jews will
eventually result in the displacement of Israel back to Brooklyn.
In the matter of Iraq, for example, if that nation and its nasty
dictator were to vanish overnight, the Holy War would still be in
full cry. I think we all agree (even the British) that Saddam
Hussein has got to go. But the ragheads still insist that we
infidels are the accursed of God, and they seek to flaunt this
without any prospect for amelioration. We see these people
complaining when they are "profiled" while making every effort to
make such profiling obvious. If a raghead does not wish to be
identified as a raghead, there would seem to be no reason for him
to speak like a raghead, act like a raghead, and dress like a
raghead. The best way for him to avoid being identified as a
raghead would be to stay back where he came from. It seems to me
that our advice should be assimilate or quit complaining.
There is no good solution to this unpleasant conflict, but kissing
the feet of the aggressor is not any sort of answer. Tolerance is
all very well but, like moderation, it can be taken to
We hear in professional papers that the
Marine Corps has just now rediscovered the 1911 pistol. It has been
around for some time, and its unchallenged supremacy has been
thoroughly documented. Now we have a tuned-up version being offered
by the armorers at Quantico which should do very well indeed in the
hands of those who understand close combat. Gunsite graduates do
not need to be told this, anymore than they need to be told about
the modern technique, but there are few of us. Isn't it annoying to
be talked down to by people who seek to explain to us what we knew
long before they took up the subject!
If you were king, what would you do with
this Johnnie Walker, the Taliban traitor? Twenty years in the
slammer will not cure his mind, nor achieve any sort of
restitution. He is a political/social nitwit, and sad evidence of
totally undirected innocence. We cannot correct that now, but
perhaps permanent exile to some rat's nest in Islam might serve as
an example. But you are not king, so speculation is
The resurgence of the 45-70 cartridge is
very interesting. It was an excellent round when it was introduced
back in the 19th century, and it still is. It was eclipsed by the
superb 30-06, and fell almost completely out of sight for almost a
hundred years, but that does not diminish its merit.
In my early youth it was scorned as kicking too hard, excessively
curving in trajectory, and perhaps lacking in residual penetration
when used on very heavy game. I do not know what to think about
recoil in this case. Recoil effect can be accentuated by bad stock
design, and many pieces designed to take the cartridge were
conspicuous in this way. But we have passed it on to students here
at school during past months, and we just do not find many people
who think it kicks too hard. Muzzle brakes can help this, of
It does shoot a curve, and thus is unsuitable for military area
fire at long range. But this hardly matters to a sportsman or, for
that matter, to a scout operating alone who shoots only when he
can't avoid it. The vast majority of game shots are taken at under
150 yards, and the 45-70 does just fine all the way out to 200.
Beyond that range we encounter a problem in marksmanship, rather
than ballistics. Only a very good shot can hit much beyond 200
meters, and very good shots are not common. Besides that, even a
good shot avoids long shots when he can.
One of the prime advantages of the 45-70 is its adaptability to
compact lever-action rifles, making it particularly suitable for
African professional hunters who shoot only in emergencies, and
then at short range. Mike Garrett, making the ammunition, and Jim
West, making the rifles, have brought the so-called "Co-pilot" into
recent prominence, and it could not happen to a nicer
If we can cast Denzel Washington as
Hannibal, I think we might try to cast Brad Pitt as Booker T.
About the only apparent reason for the
British disarmament of the people is fear of generalized armed
insurrection. Public disarmament in Britain has resulted in a
predictable increase in street crime. The Brits do not seem to be
especially insurrective at this time, but one never knows. Besides,
the disarmament laws have not completely removed shotguns from the
hands of the peasantry. That is an oversight which should be
brought up in Parliament.
The attempt by the education establishment
to castrate American youth has produced some very peculiar
attitudes. One is an announced "hatred of violence." It seems to me
that people who hate violence as an abstraction are living in the
wrong country. This nation we live in, still the last best hope of
Earth, was born in violence, and if there is any such thing as a
typical American man, he is certainly a violent man. Note American
football, a game which is popular nowhere but here. American
football is a perfect study in "orchestrated violence," and most of
us find it to be a marvelous spectacle. Uncontrolled
violence was the French Revolution, one of civilization's black
marks, but controlled violence is what made this nation
The term " blood sport" seems to have two
current meanings, enough to confuse most people. I regard a blood
sport as an activity undertaken for pleasure in which a mistake can
cause serious injury or death to the participant. Examples are rock
climbing, skin diving and motor racing, among others. To the bunny
huggers, however, a blood sport is the pursuit of a game animal
resulting in its death, such as quail hunting or fox hunting.
Precise communication seems to be a bit much to ask of the
We call the following new books to your
"The Soul and the Spirit" (second edition) by Lindy Wisdom.
This has some new material added to it and is somewhat more
And there is Barrett Tillman's "Above and Beyond," a
compendium of naval medal of honor cases.
And in case you have not got the second edition of "Gargantuan
Gunsite Gossip," we have that for sale, too. The two books now
are called GI and GII, respectively.
And one is not ready yet. I am putting together another anthology
of my own work, to be called "C-Stories." I hope to have
that available for sale by next Spring.
It appears that the Pentagon is at this
time seeking a couple of new small-arms cartridges to replace both
the 223 and the 9mmP. Funny nobody thought of that fifty years
Do not neglect to fire up your wit for
the occasion of the Tenth Annual Reunion at Whittington.
We can use appropriate anecdote, original verse (if beyond the
sixth grade level), music, and any sort of recitation by or about
our great patron Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
There will be shooting with rifle, pistol and sporting clay. We
hope to show you some innovative exercises, and we welcome
ingenious contributions along this line.
A correspondent from South Africa
contends that the modern technique of the pistol is a poor measure
of combat skill, since pistol fights take place at such short range
that sighting systems and precision shooting are not pertinent. In
my opinion, our friend is technically correct in that one has to
hunt long and hard to find a case study in which true shooting
skill was a factor. But we should go beyond this. A shooter who
understands the modern technique commands a degree of
self-confidence which enables him to think straight when the flag
flies. If he knows exactly what he can do and under what time
limitations, he need not think about technique. (The old-time
fighter pilot did not think about flying in a dog fight, but only
about fighting.) A practiced pistolero is totally
confident in what he can do, and is thus freed from any complex
legal, moral or technical considerations. If he decides that he has
to shoot, the stroke takes care of itself - but only if he is
master of that stroke. The modern technique solves the problem.
Unsighted fire is all very well and can produce startling results
with talented people who are willing to devote the necessary time
to the enterprise. We are not against it. We only feel that it is
an unnecessary affectation.
Family member Terry Allison has
again pointed out to us the irrelevance of group-size as a measure
of rifle equipment and technique. In its place we suggest an
exercise we may call the IRD, for "Initial Radial Dispersion." One
starts three paces back from the firing line, rifle slung and in
Condition One. Range is 100 yards or 100 meters. On signal, the
shooter advances to the firing position of his choice and fires one
shot - in no hurry. His score is the linear distance between
his exact point of aim and the strike of his shot. This distance is
the index of his efficiency. This is hardly a playtime exercise,
since when people show up to shoot they naturally want to shoot as
much as they can afford. However, it is a very satisfactory measure
of rifle, ammunition, sighting system, and shooter.
Have you noted that the people who
produce these wildlife television programs do not seem to be
outdoorsmen? They do not appear to be the sort of people who
actually enjoy the life of the wild, but rather people who are
happier on pavement in low-cut shoes. I do not wish to be unjust
here, but I do believe that just as only an experienced soldier
should write about war, only a woodsman (and preferably a hunter)
should write about the wilderness.
Does it not seem that we are overdoing
this handcuff business? To shackle a man deprives him of his
dignity, and this should not be done without sufficient cause. It
amounts to public humiliation, and should only be inflicted in
defense of life and limb, or as a result of conviction by due
process. The Romans, who were not conspicuously sensitive people,
conspicuously refused to shackle a Roman citizen. Kill him
possibly, cuff him no. But we live in an undignified age, and most
people do not seem to care.
The Moors (according to their own
pronouncements as far as we can translate them) feel that the only
good infidel is a dead infidel. Only by such reasoning can they
justify the random murder of non-combatants. They killed a whole
lot of people who were not at war at the World Trade Center. This
seems to have earned them Brownie points. By examination we may
conclude that a good Moslem earns one point for killing another
Moslem of a different sect, two points for killing a European
Christian, three points for killing an American, and four points
for killing a Jew. I may have this wrong, but then I cannot speak
At the behest of family member
Clifford Douglas, we are collectively at work on the "Ode to the
Rifle." We expect some good things in this line at the
In Louisville, which is in Kentucky, they
have a police department. This organization recruits, equips and
trains a police force intended to protect and serve the citizenry.
We now read a news item about a suspect who was shot neatly in the
back with a service pistol. The officer doing the shooting has
announced that he thought that he was shooting a "stun gun." A man
who cannot tell a stun gun from a service pistol should obviously
not be allowed to handle either. (It is also difficult to
hypothesize a circumstance in which a man should be shot in the
back with a stun gun.) It is quite possible, of course, that the
man who was shot deserved whatever he got, but a majority opinion
maintains that this is not a matter for the cop to decide on the
spot. If this officer is telling the truth, the police department
should be recycled, but it seems quite obvious that he is not
telling the truth, rather attempting in pathetic fashion to fortify
his posterior. Perhaps all three parties involved here - the
department, the shooter and the shootee - should be
As we have reported, one Miss Oxana
Fedorova was selected to bear the crown of Miss Universe in a
recent contest. What makes this noteworthy to us is the fact that
this copchick is a recreational pistolera. We
suggested to management here at Gunsite that she be brought aboard
for some shooting practice, building publicity for all concerned.
It now turns out that she did not like all the travel necessary to
the position and quit. Too bad. A pretty girl always brightens up
In the interest of precise communication,
let us call the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers an
atrocity, not a tragedy. The proper response to a
tragedy is sorrow. The proper response to an atrocity is
We have been criticized for referring to
what we are engaged in as a Holy War. But we did not call it that,
they did. When they refer to us as the Great Satan, that
is what we have got. But perhaps they did not call us that. Maybe
they called it something else and it did not translate well. But
there has still got to be some sort of justification for the
atrocities that they have committed. Those people died
intentionally in the act of killing infidels. If that is not a Holy
War, we will just dream up some other term which means the same
This airport security hysteria is
certainly a major victory for Osama bin Laden, living or dead. It
does not make any particular sense, but "something must be done,"
even if it does not make any sense. And what has been done has
practically ruined American commercial air travel. It does not seem
to occur to the bureaucracy that a good man does not need a hand
weapon in order to constitute a lethal antagonist. A properly
trained man can do more with his bare hands than most people can do
with whatever they may be able to smuggle aboard an airplane in
their travel kit. (Let us not pursue this line of thought lest the
security people require all passengers to be shackled in their
seats upon boarding.)
All hail to Kennesaw, Georgia! You
remember that is the town where all householders are required to be
armed. Crime rate remains at zero, unlike that of London.
"There is no way to make war safe; so the thing to do
is to make it unsafe for the other side."
This political correctness foolishness is
so silly that it is hard to take seriously, but there it is. It is
even miscalled, for it is neither political nor correct. It is
social censorship, the rule of the polypragmatoi (read
"busybodies"). Mr. Jefferson is quoted around the inside of his
monument at Washington as standing foursquare and forever against
every form of tyranny over the mind of man. As he declaimed, and as
I hope we all agree, the State may justifiably control our
actions - but never our thoughts. Sorry, Mr.
Jefferson, but all men are not created equal. ("All ya
gotta do is look.")
What are the first four articles of the
Bill of Rights? If you do not know, you should.
So far it appears that the three thousand
victims at the World Trade Center did indeed die in vain, despite
the President's pronouncement. That was Round One. Let us see who
dies in Round Two, and in what cause.
We have been dunned recently for various
worthy causes, including one which calls upon us to "feed the
hungry." This is doubtless a worthy cause, and I can offer a
suggestion from central Virginia where we recently were the guests
of family member Bob Crovatto. Bob is an enthusiastic
varminter, and he lays out those Eastern woodchucks by the hundred.
That is a lot of protein. I have never eaten a groundhog, but I
have eaten several rockchucks up in the Rockies, and I can testify
that they are quite salubrious. Bob did not seem anxious to harvest
these beasties for nutritional purposes. Maybe we need a
At this time Bob Crovatto has the only
fully operational Apitir pistol-shooting device in use. There
should be one of these at every major pistol school in the world,
but the one that we had here at Gunsite was torn down during the
malum interregnum and has not been rebuilt. We have good
things here, but as yet we do not have them all.
We are told that there is a problem with
seagulls at the yacht harbors of Monaco, where the rich and the
famous tie up their beautiful vessels. It seems that the birds
defecate all over the mahogany and brightwork. My suggestion is the
BB gun. I have often repelled seagulls on the wing in San Francisco
Bay with a BB gun. It works fine and it does not seem to hurt the
birds much; they just squawk and sheer off when hit.
"The best revenge is not to be like that."
I like to think that most of us in
America value political liberty above all other considerations, but
the media suggest that at least half of world citizenry prefers
security to liberty - if it comes to a choice. Of course it
does not come to that. As Mr. Franklin put it so well, those who
value security over liberty wind up with neither.
As we watch the English language
degenerate, we may contend that adjectives are like alcohol, while
adverbs are like opium. Both alcohol and opium are necessary, but
they must be used sparingly and with great care.
This foolishness about reparations for
slavery has got to take some sort of prize for inanity. Human
slavery has been with us since the beginning of time. It is the
natural course of social order. Without it we would probably still
be living in the Bronze Age, and such trivia as mathematics,
philosophy, religion, and art would never have been invented. As
Aristotle pointed out, most people have slave minds, and prefer to
be told what to do and where to line up for chow. Of course many
people are not like that, and they are the ones who have given us
civilization as we know it.
"Americans did not invent courage, but they did invent
aviation, and the melding of the two produced a heritage of aerial
valor that spanned most of the twentieth century."
Barrett Tillman, in "Above and Beyond"
The rains have come!
And high time, too. This has been the worst drought in memory, and
never has the land suffered so much. The Countess observes that you
can hear the ground sucking up the moisture as all nature hymns its
thanks. Let it presage a long, damp Winter, and several
normal years to build back our water table! Isn't it odd that
neither the Greeks nor the Romans personified a rain god the way
the Meso-Americans did? Now let us rejoice and be glad. Most news
is bad, but the weatherman is at last on our side.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.