Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 10, No. 5 Springtime 2002
Well, Spring is upon us without doubt. But
this is a tough year for the human race, and "The flowers that
bloom in the Spring, tra la" are rather hard put to cheer us up. It
is vital, of course, to keep one's sense of humor, but at this time
there does not seem much to be humorous about - racially,
culturally, nationally, nor geographically. Be that as it may, we
must not let the deterioration of advancing years nor the
foolishness of the ragheads dismay us.
And it is foolishness. It is hard to accept the fact that
something may be laughable and deadly at the same time, but that is
the way things are.
Reports we get from Afghanistan and
surroundings suggest that our lads are shooting pretty well. But
field reports must always be taken with a certain amount of
suspicion. We are told that current marksmanship training in the
services makes no use of the shooting sling and is necessarily
confined to the M16 rifle. We must offer our bemused
We did not discover much at the Safari
Club meeting which was of general interest to the shooter. But
there was at least one item which fairly well took us aback. This
is a double-barreled, bolt-action rifle, made in Austria
at great trouble and expense. You can get it in any standard
caliber if you have sufficient money and lots of time. What do you
do with it? I guess you astonish your friends with it. How does it
work? Well, you load both barrels and when you work the action you
extract the cartridges in both barrels, whether or not they have
been fired, and when you close the bolt you feed a new round into a
fired barrel, if any. There are two triggers, one behind the other
as with a conventional double-shotgun. When you press the first
trigger, you fire the right barrel. When you press the rear
trigger, you fire the left barrel. When you work the bolt, you have
two empties on the ground and two fresh rounds in the chambers.
(There are two or three rounds in each side of the double magazine,
depending upon the cartridge chosen.)
This is truly an astonishing development. It goes to the head of
the list for the Waffenpösselhaft award for the first decade
of the 21st century. I can get you the brochure on this piece if
you want to order one. I guess all orders will be placed by Arabian
oil sheiks who have most of the money in the world and not much to
do with their time.
Let us remember that the term
"double-action" implies double action - that is to say,
two different means of causing ignition. A double-action piece may
be fired either by cocking it first or by pressing the trigger
through without cocking. If the weapon cannot be cocked without
employing the trigger-cocking system, that is a
single-action piece, rather than a "double-action only"
example. Not that it matters very much.
Somehow it has always seemed difficult for
us to take a bearded man seriously unless he is riding a
It is necessary to recall when the new era
began back following World War II, we sought to devise new and
superior means of obtaining hits with a handgun under diversified
pressure. Prior to that time, marksmanship was evaluated primarily
by slow-fire efforts on ring targets. This taught people to shoot
in a certain way, but it did not teach them much about fighting
which, after all, is the mission of the sidearm. In trying to
remedy this situation, we devised a new set of criteria as an
attempt to make marksmanship realistic. We did this as
amateurs - for love of the sport, and sport it was.
Techniques became standardized and challenging, but what we
developed were systems suitable for enthusiasts rather than for
So competition, first national then international, produced a very
high level of skill for those who enjoyed this sort thing. But the
skill so developed became increasingly unrealistic as we lost sight
of the fact that the "service pistol," the "duty pistol," the
"combat pistol" is an instrument intended to stop unexpected fights
at distances rarely greater than across the table.
It was thereby discovered that to stay alive in a lethal encounter,
the shooter did not need to be a virtuoso, but rather a coarse,
short-range practitioner. Thus we have developed a new series of
sidearms, plus a technique for their use which solved a mass
problem in a practical way.
We are unlikely to make marksmen out of employees, drafted or
conscripted, since a good marksman must be essentially a hobbyist.
We can, however, turn a peasant into a pretty rough customer in a
fairly short time, if only we get him to think straight. This sets
forth the question of "mind-set," which in lethal combat is more
important than marksmanship.
Thus we have come the full circle. I have been fortunate enough to
ride it through from its inception in Southern California to its
present condition. At this date a trainee on the public payroll is
not likely to impress an old-fashioned target shooter, nor a 1960s
combat master. He does not need to. What he needs is to stay alive,
and reports back from "the rock pile" suggest that he is doing
pretty well at that.
Due to cancellations there are still
spaces in the Masters Series Rifle Classes. Perhaps you do not need
such practice. On the other hand...
In an age when we produce more and more
college degrees and less and less education it is not surprising to
learn that there are many folks out there who think that the US
Constitution includes some sort of guaranteed "wall of separation"
between church and state. That phrase came from Thomas Jefferson
and nowhere appears in the Constitution. The Constitution insures
that the United States may not "establish a religion" such as the
Church of England or Islam. It certainly does not rule any form of
religion out of public life.
"A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon
the character of the user."
The Founding Fathers set forth to
establish a government of laws, not men, and they did a fine job.
There is a problem here, however. Laws only have force as long as
men obey them, and if you read the US Constitution carefully you
will find that in its Bill of Rights there are several laws which
are conspicuously violated today by the government. Right
now both the President and the Congress seem intent upon ignoring
the First Amendment, and hardly anybody in Washington has paid any
attention to the Tenth since the reign of Roosevelt II. So what
then? Apparently we can indeed get by by heeding some of the
constitution but not all of it. We recently saw a sign in a
restaurant which declaimed, "Public apathy is an increasing
problem, but who cares?"
We adopted the 223 cartridge, I am told,
because a soldier can carry a lot more 223 ammunition than he could
308. Somebody pointed out that if you are stuck with a 223
cartridge, you need a lot more ammunition.
Reports from "up front" tell us that
there is a large demand for a 45-caliber pistol for use in what
amounts to guerilla warfare. It appears, however, that there is no
stock of 45 caliber pistol ammunition available for issue. I think
this situation might be remedied if we could just bring ourselves
to let the boys buy their own.
And let us bear in mind that they are not boys. If they are not
men, God help us!
The home is the fount of both morality and ethics.
It is thus the essential element of civilization.
Romantic love is the basis of the home.
"The date" is the foundation stone of romantic love.
Possibly I am wrong here, but it seems the present degenerative
state of civilization may be attributed at least in part to the
demise of the date.
We saw in the press that recently a
suicide bomber was blown up by an Israeli rifleman who shot him in
his bursting charge. Perhaps. But perhaps not. I do not know what
explosive these ragheads are using, but I do know that it is very
difficult to fire C4 by hitting it with gunfire. I had occasion to
mess with this matter back in my irregular warfare days, and I
eventually abandoned the idea of firing TNT, dynamite or C4 with a
rifle bullet. In the case reported, I assume that the bomber
discovered himself to be detected, and when the troops aimed in on
him, he touched himself off.
It is said that not even God can change
the past. Apparently this idea has not been fully accepted in the
I have been happy with the Safari Prep
course, but it simply does not draw with the shooting public. The
safari customers assume either that they know enough already or
that their professional hunter will arrange for things. Both of
these assumptions are dubious. From Africa we are deluged with
accounts of idiocy committed by customers in the field. I guess
such people are simply unaware that they could profit by learning
something about what they are going to do before they do
Films from the Land of Canaan suggest
that the spray-and-pray technique is commonplace on both sides of
the Holy War. Well, that is one way of taking advantage of the 223
The Scout situation is not everything I
would desire. The Scout rifle is a very good idea, but like most
ideas, its worth depends upon its execution. "Sweetheart," which
rides on the wall in my armory, was once entitled by a
knowledgeable visitor as "the best rifle in the world." Sweetheart
is a prototype scout, and a very fine instrument indeed. It may be
regarded as a progenitor of the Steyr Scout, as finally
manufactured some five years ago. "Galatea," which is one of the
early factory Scout rifles from Steyr, rides within reach as I
write, but you cannot buy its exact duplicate at this time. You
cannot get that trigger over the counter. What they may sell you as
a Steyr Scout may come in the wrong finish, with the wrong
bolt-handle, in the wrong caliber and featuring a strictly
pedestrian trigger. However, in view of the problems of the
importer at this time, you may not be able to get anything at all.
The last I heard the pipeline for 308s was empty. You may be able
to find a "376 Scout," which is what the factory calls the Dragoon,
and this is a nifty instrument, but it is not Galatea. Domestic
Scouts will not feature such nice little items as the double
detente, the trigger adapter, or even the scoutscope. Well I got
mine. "Pull up the ladder, Charlie, I'm aboard."
I used to think that a good shot was
automatically a good man, because the essence of good marksmanship
is self-control, and self-control is the keystone of good
character. It is difficult to prove a proposition like this, but I
am going to hold onto it until convinced otherwise.
When I used to teach irregular warfare at
Quantico, I borrowed a doctrine from Lord Dunsany in his book
"Guerilla." The guerillero does not fight - he kills.
Guerilla warfare is usually conducted with what we might call
"spare parts," over- and underage types, wounded, and disabled.
Such people cannot be organized into combat units with which to
confront regular forces. If a guerilla actually gets into a fight
he will almost certainly be wiped out, so he by choice takes the
initiative, strikes and vanishes. This sort of thing enrages
regular armies, as it did those of the French in the Peninsular
War. It usually results in savagery on both sides. It is an ugly
thing, but it will not go away just because it's ugly.
Our British source tells us that people
using cellular phones at the wheel are 30 percent more dangerous
than drunk drivers. It is curious the way people throw statistics
around when they have no method of verification.
The kneeling position, both illustrated
and taught over the years, is a pretty poor show with either rifle
or pistol. There is almost no field circumstance in which the
shooter gains anything by "dropping to one knee," as our great
patron TR was want to do. I have killed only once from kneeling and
that was because I was clinging to a 45 degree slope and shooting
around the contour. In almost every other case, we have the sitting
position, which is almost as fast and considerably more precise,
and now from Vietnam we have the "Rice-Paddy-Prone" or Military
Squat, which is both faster and more precise than any form of
Yet I have now met a firing line in which more than half the
students were shooting with one knee on the ground, and no support
to the left arm. This achieves exactly nothing except to lower the
sight line, which is rarely important. But we see it in the
magazines. We see it in the films, and now, by God, I have seen on
the range! Let's call that a 21st Century development and change
"If I were King," we would now hang
Robert Hanssen, with all due ceremony, on the monument grounds. But
we would simply drop Johnnie Walker over the side without further
We have seen with sadness that the nifty
Remington 600s and 660s were simply too far ahead of their time. It
has been suggested that people didn't like the way they
looked. Now what difference does it make how a rifle
looks? The fact that something looks funny does not mean
you will not become accustomed to it if it works better. Witness
the Porsche. Those 600s did feature a really poor sighting system
involving a pointless plastic rib. That was the basis of Scout 1,
and the sights came off almost at once. The 600/660s introduced two
excellent new cartridges, the 6.5 Remington Magnum and the 350
Remington Magnum, both of which were real advances. A 660 in
caliber 6.5 gave you a Pocket 270, ideal for mountaineers, and the
350 Remington Magnum proved out to be a nearly perfect cartridge
for Alaska. Of course Alaska is pretty remote and the word does not
get back from there to the hardware stores of the US.
Well you can get ahead of yourself! The Porsche might have
but did not, for which we give thanks. I sincerely hope that the
Steyr Scout holds up on the market. It certainly will hold up with
shooters. We have a good lot of cases of astonished delight from
Africa, but whether it holds up in the hardware stores remains to
One family member has suggested
that these Israelis have acquired their use of the 22 rimfire in
riot control from my writings. This is possible. I never intended
to keep my teachings secret, but I hardly take credit for inventing
the idea for a 22 in such work. Its advantages are self-evident and
quite apparent to anyone who thinks about it.
It is essentially illegal to fight back
in Britain, so street crime seems to be over the top - mostly
committed by half-grown children.
Just how does one go about fighting a
nuclear war? If you haul off and erase City A, your adversary will
most likely retaliate by erasing City B on your side, and then
what? Who wins? Who loses? Who decides? I have yet to see any
serious work on the strategic use of weapons of mass destruction. I
have asked a couple of experts about this, so far without any
One correspondent has raised the question
of Raven terminology in connection with the establishment here at
Gunsite. I have spoken to family members in the past,
meaning those people who had come here to school when I was in
charge of it, and who were philosophically my children in matters
of marksmanship. In those days the school colors were orange and
chocolate brown, but that color scheme was abandoned by the first
purchaser and replaced with gray, giving rise to the terms "Orange
Gunsite" and "Gray Gunsite." My friend suggests that since it has
become so complicated we use the term Raven to include all those
who have been educated here at Gunsite or who have been deeply
influenced by others who have had their teaching here at Gunsite at
any period - in other words, people who have derived their
attitudes about marksmanship from the fountainhead here in Arizona.
He proposes that we call all these people "Ravenfolk." Good
What drives our adversaries? I do not
think it is race, though race certainly is an element in some
cases. I do not think it is religion, though religion is obviously
a part of the story. I think it is more simply the root of all
evil, which is envy. Envy is indeed the root of all evil.
It should be trained out of people of good character, but good
character is not overwhelming us, at least not at this
Should airline pilots be armed?
Group-thinking leads to trouble here. Certainly no one should be
armed against his will, but with equal certainty no one should be
forbidden to arm himself if he so desires. Personally I would be
much happier in a commercial airliner in which both the pilot and
the attendants were qualified pistoleros. That situation
cannot be achieved by legislation, but neither should it be
forbidden - by legislation.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.