Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 13, No. 4 April 2005
Torrents Of Spring
And Spring has definitely sprung - in
the Northern Hemisphere. We enjoyed a spectacular demonstration of
it here in the Continental Southwest, augmented by Autumnal reports
from Africa. Daughter Lindy's account of her ladies' party from the
Eastern Cape has provided much of interest regarding generalized
antelope shooting, and given us much to study in regard to
logistics and technique. We were amused by her pungent observations
upon the "long, old fashioned, wooden rifles mounted with
moonscopes." It is evident that beginners who can afford it set
forth after "plains game." Some of our graduates are deer hunters
who have started from stand-shooting on Texas whitetails. Any sort
of stand-shooting from a blind allows or encourages the use of what
is essentially a shooting-range rifle, as opposed to a true hunting
rifle. When you shoot from an elevated blind, as is customary in
both Texas and Europe, you need not concern yourself with the
handiness or friendliness of your weapon. In effect you simply sit
there and ambush your target. The field convenience of your rifle
is not an important element in this sort of hunting. Neither, for
that matter, is the power of your cartridge. Most shots are taken
from a fist rest at a stationary target, and the hunter's
fieldcraft and field marksmanship are not critical.
All sorts of hunting for medium game is rewarding to those who
practice it conscientiously, but this sort of "bean field hunting"
is more of a social arrangement than a challenge. These parties are
great fun and less expensive than many realize, but the skill
required and satisfaction afforded are somewhat of a secondary
nature than those of a major enterprise. The African hunt is always
a splendid adventure, but it can provide its own special thrill
when conducted properly and with proper regard for the proprieties.
True big game hunting graduates from the simple to the sublime. Its
rewards are always there for those who understand it.
"What is popular cannot be good because
not enough people are qualified to judge."
The foregoing idea may be attributed to Alkibiades, Heinlein or
Winston Churchill, depending upon your choice of
We were treated to all sorts of new and
ingenious items on display at the SHOT Show, and the NRA Annual
Exhibits. While much excellent equipment has been introduced to us
this year, there still remains a number of unanswered questions,
one of which is the availability of a really satisfactory rifle
case. Balancing weight and bulk against the protection of the item
itself remains to be solved. Many strong and secure items are
readily available but portable they are not. All sorts of wondrous
materials are available to us, but at the price of excessive weight
and the impractical utility. Titanium is both strong and light as
compared to steel, but for practical employment as airline luggage
it does not suffice - apart from considerations of cost.
Some of our bright graduate engineers might do well to attack this
problem. I am thinking of maximum strength plastic webbing,
protected by titanium points and a steel spine.
There is a very definite need for this item, and whatever its cost
might be that cost is less than might be met by ingenious
Let's see what we can do with that idea.
We wish that our current commentators
would refrain from confusing liberty with freedom.
Freedom is a material condition, whereas liberty is a political
ideal. Note that liberty as an ideal is frequently honored in the
works of our Founding Fathers, but freedom is not. This is not
quibbling. If we do not know what we mean by what we say, we will
never be able to know what we think.
Most of our big game animals are quadruped
grass eaters. This means that those beasts we seek as game animals
usually offer us broadside targets, since they tend to present
themselves to a pursuer at approximate right angles. When so
accepting a broadside target, we find that the vital zone of such a
target is presented in the lower third of the target's thorax. This
means that the kill zone of our target is usually located lower
than the median line of the thorax. Consider then that when we are
shooting at a quadruped grass eater, we must remember to keep our
shots low. Furthermore we must remember that at any predictable
distance, we are not shooting at a point but rather at a roughly
circular pattern. Witness your target group. When engaging our
target, we must place a theoretically circular pattern on the
animal's broadside, and this in turn means that if we miss we will
probably miss high, since half of our group size is going to be
located above its centerline. To take this further, we discover
that when engaging a game animal, our misses will tend to be
high - assuming that we are pretty good shots. Most misses in
the field, therefore, will be high misses, since we subconsciously
tend to "help the bullet." Since our misses on game animals tend to
be high, we must remember to avoid "helping the bullet" and seek to
keep our pattern low on the target.
This may seem pretty abstruse, but long years of big game hunting
have shown us the need to place our group size lower rather than
higher on our (quadruped) target. Bear this in mind when next you
are offered a target; the duffer's misses tend to be low shots
whereas the expert's misses (if any) tend to be high. I have seen
fine shots overshoot on mid-range targets, and the misses of the
"masters" - rare as they may be - are high misses. (Of
course, none of the masters ever miss under any circumstances ...
do they now?) Be that as it may, just remember that you are
shooting at a circle rather than a point, and keep the group
It turns out that there are four blood
types discernable upon Ötzi the Iceman. It suggests that our
Neolithic ancestors in Eastern Europe may have been as ethnically
diversified as they are now.
Must a youngster be necessarily started
with a 22? I think that depends a certain amount on lifestyle. If
you live in open space where you may shoot in your backyard, it is
probably better to start with a rifle, since the rifle is the
easier weapon to learn. If, on the other hand, you may have to
travel many miles to find an indoor shooting range, the pistol is
probably a better bet - at least a more practical one.
We have not found that it is necessary to start a youngster with a
22. In my own family we began, in one case, with the 30 caliber and
suffered no difficulties with that. Much, of course, depends upon
the methods of the instructor.
And I do not yet understand all this
public acclaim for volunteers and volunteerism. There is nothing
extraordinary nor heroic about going to war when your country is
involved. It is simply a fact which serves to repay the privilege
of being an American citizen. The millions who strive with only
moderate success to immigrate into this country can explain that if
This letter comes from a distinguished
Gunsite graduate now serving as an assistant division commander in
Iraq. It may clear up our national position now somewhat obscured
by our news media. It is not an official communication, but rather
a private letter.
"It isn't over yet, but today there was a resounding victory for
freedom and democracy here in Baghdad. Having been here for a while
now, many of us have grown weary of the hand-wringers, worriers,
pessimists, whiners, and host of others who have been telling us
for so long that all is lost in Iraq. Today we witnessed just how
courageous the Iraqi people can be and how much they love their
"After listening to the pundits tell us how terrible the Iraqi
Security Forces are, today I watched the Iraqi Security Forces
stand tall. They protected, 1,188 polling sites in Baghdad.
Although there were a number of suicide bombers who attacked today,
not a single one penetrated the perimeter of a polling site. There
were several Iraqi policemen, and several Iraqi soldiers who lost
their lives today. But they did not lose their honor or their
courage; none of the 30,000 plus Iraqi Security Forces on duty in
Baghdad ran away from danger today.
"At the site of our first suicide bombing of the day, voters did
not lose their courage either. They quickly lined back up at the
same site, spitting on the body of the suicide bomber as they
passed by in line to vote. A woman came out of line and took the
shoe of the bomber and put it on his face - a great insult to
an Arab. The same was true at any polling site that had violence.
Voters immediately lined up again to cast their vote. How many
Americans value their privilege to vote enough to show that kind of
"We have listened to many experts talk about how the Sunnis would
not participate in the election. Polling sites in Abu Guyreb were
moved to Gasaliya because the Iraqi Election Commission was
concerned about security in Abu Guyreb. We watched thousands walk
down the highway - Sunni Moslems - on the 7 mile round
trip to the polling sites so they could vote. All under the threat
that terrorists had been making that they would kill anyone who
voted. How many Americans would do that?
"All over Baghdad the story was the same and I could tell a dozen
stories of great courage and determination. Despite the enemy's
campaign of terror, despite danger, threats, intimidation, and the
sporadic incidents of violence and terror today, Iraqis turned out
in determined, large numbers to vote. The excitement was moving.
Even though the terrorists have said they will kill anyone with a
"marked finger" (when you voted your finger was dipped in ink to
keep people from voting a second time), voters paraded down the
street holding their fingers up in joy and overwhelming pride.
"When I told one Iraqi I was sorry that people had died or been
wounded today, he just said `freedom has a price, and this is the
price that we must pay.' And every Iraqi I talked to said thank you
to the United States for this opportunity, for this freedom, and
how grateful they were for our help.
"I am sure it will only be hours until you start hearing all the
`experts,' most of which have never been to Iraq, start trying to
convince us that today was flawed, failed, or somehow less than a
wonderful day and a blow for freedom. They are the same people who
say we are failing here, that you couldn't do an election on the
30th of January, and on and on. It is true we haven't `won' here
yet. It is not predetermined that we will win, and it will take
continued sacrifice and determination on our part. Those who hate
freedom and democracy will still fight, many to the death, to try
to stop this march to freedom and prosperity by the Iraqis with our
help. They are terrified of the thought of a free and democratic
Iraq that leads this whole region to a democratic future.
"But despite this, I encourage you from here in Baghdad, for at
least one day, to ignore the pundits and experts, to enjoy a day
where a blow for freedom was struck. Know that somewhere in the
world, because of the sacrifice of your friends, sons, daughters,
brothers, sisters, and countrymen; good won over evil, freedom over
terror, and democracy over despotism.
"Last June 30, Iraq was given its sovereignty. Today, they earned
their freedom. And we should all be joyful for that."
We have yet to receive any reports of the
use of the leopard light on the Steyr Scout rifle. The rail is
there and ready to go, but as yet no one has taken after a
night-baited leopard with a Scout. It is one of those various
progressive features of the weapon there to be used, if not fully
Whence this sudden anti-Christ! The US is
a Christian nation. Followers of other faiths (and
atheists excepted) are welcome abroad, but they do not make policy.
The moral and religious foundations of this country are absolutely
Christian as is easily discernable from the written efforts of our
founding fathers. It may be that a general lack of history is
destroying our sense of morality, but that need not be happily
accepted. The nuclear family with church on Sunday is the
groundwork of our social righteousness. Times may change, but that
does not mean that we cannot tell right from wrong.
I have as yet no valid opinion about the
45 short cartridge. This should take about a year's worth of field
What British police condemn as
"vigilante" behavior has produced an American burglary rate less
than half the British rate. And while 53% of English burglaries
occur when someone is at home, only 13% do in America where
burglars admit to fearing armed homeowners more than the police.
Violent crime in the US is at an all-time 30-year low.
Remember to schedule 23 - 25
September for this year's Theodore Roosevelt Memorial
Reunion. All seem to be in readiness and we expect our usual
pleasantries in honor of our hero and great President. Make your
reservations with Chad (or whomever is on duty) at the gatehouse at
Whittington Center (505-445-3615, ext. 207) to secure a room in
Competitor Housing Building #1. Our function will precede the
opening of hunting season and should be free from the shooting
restrictions previously encountered.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.