Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 1, No. 8           29 September 1993

Hunting Season

Now here we come to October again, which is certainly the finest month of the year, in most of the northern hemisphere. Despite the rather disgusting states of affairs which we observe throughout the world and the nation, hunting season gives us a chance to renew our faith in the grandeur of life. In addition to the joys of the chase, we can look forward to absorbing the snap in the air which comes with the change of seasons, in the turning of leaves, and in setting for ourselves tasks which seem somehow more fundamental and satisfying than those of our daily lives.

Let us all thank God for hunting season, one of the endangered aspects of life which may serve to preserve our sanity.

Most of you have seen my report on the Tenth Annual World Shoot of IPSC held in September at Bisley in England. I will not repeat that notice here, but I will point to a number of side effects which were evident and most enjoyable. Among other things, I discovered Slovenia (?). This country, newly freed from behind the Iron Curtain, comprises the northwest segment of the Balkan Peninsula. It is defined by the Slovenian language, which is like no other in the area except for its Slavic base, but one can get by there, to a certain extent, with German, since Slovenia was part of the Hapsburg Empire for centuries. I talked at some length with the Slovenian regional director for IPSC and I was much attracted. The country seems to be heavily forested and well-watered. It also seems to be a great place for hunting, and I was informed that there are four thousand registered hunters on the lists. We talked at length about the Scout Rifle concept and about practical rifle competition soon to be held in the country. Unlike almost any place else in Europe, there seems to be room in Slovenia - enough space in which to establish serious shooting ranges. I have not worked out any details as yet, but I am going to see for myself about verifying all of these goods things.

At Bisley I was privileged to spend some time with General Denis Earp, ex-chief of the South African Air Force, who is now Director of IPSC for South Africa. We spoke of many things, but one that interested me was that he is a one-gun hunter - he uses his 458 for everything - thus avoiding the need to pack extra ordnance when in the field. As he puts it, "The 458 will kill a springbok just as well as a lion, so why bother with anything else?" I have never been an admirer of the 458 Winchester Magnum cartridge, but I think the general may have a point here.

I discover in my historical wanderings the curious fact that for people long deprived of table salt, gunpowder may serve as a passable, if not superior, substitute. Upon reflection, this is not so terribly outlandish. The principle ingredient of black gunpowder is KNO3, which is, in itself, a salt. As a matter of fact one way you identify KNO3 - "salt peter" - when searching for ingredients, is to taste it. It is a salt and it tastes salty. When you have done without salt for a long period of time, you may not notice that it does not taste very good. (I guess the minor ingredients of gunpowder, charcoal and sulphur, may be simply disregarded if your need for salt is overwhelming.)

We read that an unfortunate young German tourist who had elected to "sleep out" near the Etosha Pan was recently scarfed up by a couple of lions who slipped him out of his sleeping bag in the middle of the night.

It is certainly not a regular thing for lions to eat tourists, but tourists should remember that it does happen, and there is not much that can be done about it.

We read in the Washington Times of some character in the vicinity of Washington, DC, who has raped three different women, always wearing black and armed with, of all things, a cross bow. Now how does one go about his sexual jollies when he is armed with a cross bow? Apparently the instinct to fight back has been all but bred out of the American people. Either that or the law of the survival of the fittest has been repealed.

As we approach the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt we are tempted to enjoy as much of his writing as we can. I was shown the quotation that follows in connection with the popular discussion of "The Multi-cultural Society."
"The one absolute certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to be become a tangle of squabbling nationalities."

So now we are putting two valuable policemen away in the slammer for hammering upon a drunken muscleman who was violently resisting attest; whereas the federal agent who shot Amy Weaver squarely in the face with a sniper rifle while she was holding her baby in her arms is walking around loose. That strikes me as most curious. If this is indeed "democracy", perhaps it is time we were looking around for something better.

Bumper sticker seen in Prescott,
"Forget 911, dial 1 357."

I see no real reason for gender categorization in the shooting sports. There is no reason at all why a man should be able to shoot better than a woman, yet we see ladies' classes and ladies' prizes as practically universal in shooting sports. For physiological reasons, it is necessary to separate boy swimmers from girl swimmers, and boy racers from girl racers, but the management of a firearm grants no edge to a man over a woman. If we have decided to slip girl fighter pilots in amongst the boy fighter pilots - as it appears we are about to do - there seems to be no reason to separate boy rifle shooters from girl rifle shooters - yet we continue to do so.

The Tenth World Shoot at Bisley was completely dominated by what the shooters call "race guns", which have almost no resemblance to sidearms. These pieces are characterized by vast size and weight, by recoil reduction devices, by very light loadings, and, most of all, by glass reflector sights. I studied the matter at some length at the World Championship, and I conclude that these electronic sights provide quicker pickup of multiple targets while being slightly slower on the first shot. Since the courses of fire do not require initial speed, but do call for the highest possible speed in engagement of multiple targets, they are a definite advantage in the kinds of contests which are being offered by IPSC today. The fact that these devices are totally impractical for any defensive purpose means that they are out of concept with the true notion of "practical" shooting. I suppose this is no disaster in itself, but it has two very significant faults in considering the serious use of the sidearm. First, and most troublesome, is the fact that it relieves the shooter from the responsibility of concentrating on his front sight, since his front sight and his target are visually in the same plane. This means that the aspiring shooter will never learn how to manage a duty gun as long as he does all his work with an optical sight. A second serious matter is the cost. The "rooney guns" which dominated the World Championship are fearfully expensive, thus keeping newcomers who might become interested from entering the sport. Another aspect of this type of shooting is the blatant encouragement of "spray-and-pray" which is the curse of the age. This was most apparent when I saw a great champion, with international reputation, spray so copiously at a pair of pepper poppers that he hit the wrong popper and lost the point. Regardless of medals won, this is not a serious way to shoot a pistol. This is not a serious way to save one's life.

Recently we glimpsed a bright red Ferrari driven by a conspicuous "flash bird" with top down. The combination of the brilliant color of the car and the bright golden mane of the driver was set off by the personalized license plate, which displayed the two words, "WAS HIS."

It would appear that the media are desperately attempting to sweep Waco under the rug. Let us hope this takes more sweeping than they can handle. The success or failure of the National Health Plan or of NAFTA are trivial considerations compared to the menace of the federal ninja making war upon American citizens on no stronger grounds than suspicion of bad behavior.

We are thankful for the policies of Colonel Bob Brown, publisher of Soldier of Fortune, who is determined not to let the matter drop.

We simply must do something about these fat men with face masks and MP5s who shoot down unarmed citizens. Personally, I would not think that the American people would stand for this, but then I am a member of an older generation which took the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution with more than a grain of salt.

I hear that small arms ammunition in South Africa has practically disappeared from the store shelves. Either people are wisely stocking up, or some arm of the government has decided to cut off the supply.

In that regard, I advise you to keep your own stocks in good shape. Our enemies may not be able to abrogate the constitution just yet, but there are economic and political means by which they may dry up our ammunition supply.

"When two opposing sides of an argument are presented, one by an honest man and the other by a liar, the liar usually wins, simply because he is not inhibited by the truth."

The Guru

I was fascinated recently to read in a bulletin of the NRA Members Council of Laguna Niguel and South County, that one Boyd Gibbons, Director of the Department of Fish and Game, is strongly opposed to hunting dogs with bears. Upon reflection one can see that the hunting of dogs with bears in California might well cause problems. Among other things, those bears can go right through a chain-link fence, to say nothing of a house trailer. At least if you are going to hunt dogs with bears you should confine your sport to the most remote parts of the state.

We read in a recent news item from Britain that officers from Scotland Yard's elite firearms team foiled an attempted armed robbery on Barclays Westminster Bank. These highly trained specialists were armed with MP5s and achieved conspicuous success. There was special praise for Police Constable John Benson, who shot himself in the groin as he jumped from a Landrover to chase two of the suspects.

"He did a great job," said Detective Superintendent Albert Patrick.

A great job indeed! One wonders how he would do a bad job.

I was treated to a great example of the wonders of modern technology when I landed at Heath Row and discovered that my luggage had not. After a short conference with the lost luggage people the computers were brought in, and in no more than thirty seconds the attendant explained to me, with an air of triumph, that my luggage was located in Dallas, Texas, USA. Wonderful! On previous occasions when my luggage was lost, it took quite a while to discover where it was. Now they can tell you almost immediately. Of course that does not get you your luggage.

Those of you who are honing your rifle skills should bear in mind that while you certainly should put your target out with one single shot, the true test is your ability to make that second shot ready instantly. No matter what the circumstances are, when you fire a shot for blood it should become so automatic for you to snap that bolt that you do it without thinking. By choice you should be reloaded and back on target before your empty strikes the ground. I have personally been defeated by failure to observe this rule in the field. Do not let it happen to you.

It has been suggested that the reason that our federal ninja wear face covering on raids is that they are not American citizens. The suggestion is that UN troops of other nationalities are being employed on these nefarious affairs so as not to be liable for prosecution in the United States. Now this may be a farfetched idea, but when the feds will not level with us we must be free to draw our own conclusions.

I thought it was fully understood by now that when making an arrest you do not tell the suspect to do anything - such as raise his hands, drop his gun, or turn around. You tell him not to do anything - to remain absolutely stationary. When the sheriff who killed Donald Scott told Scott to drop his gun, Scott moved his hand, whereupon he was killed. That may have been exactly what the sheriff wanted, but Scott was guilty of no crime and only appeared with a pistol in his hand when people broke into his house without warning, which is a perfectly natural reaction.

I note with some dismay that the deputy in question has been exonerated of all suspicion in this occasion.

In viewing the current dismal state of our society, we can admire the wisdom of our Founding Father John Adams, who said,
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and a religious people, it is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."
Montesquieu insisted that the essential element of democracy, without which it could not operate, was public virtue. Public virtue is not with us today; thus it may well be that the collapse of our political and social order is not far off.

Awhile back we reported that when one has a proper license in South Africa, he may carry his pistol only if it is concealed. I have been corrected in this by a couple of authorities who have informed me that if a pistol is worn openly in a holster designed for the carrying of that pistol, it is legal. The idea is that you may not wear a pistol stuck in your belt.

Our Theodore Roosevelt Reunion and Oration Party now has a list of thirty aspirants. We look forward to it with great pleasure, and we only wish that the birthday of the great man were properly celebrated throughout the nation and not just at our shooting center. Remember that the dates are 29, 30 and 31 October, and get your application in now to Mike Ballew at Whittington Center if you are coming. It should be a truly joyous occasion.

Can anyone reading this paper come up with anything - any single act - that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has done that needed doing? Even if it were not suspected of committing atrocious acts against the people of this country - as it is now - it is not apparent to me that any of its other activities are in any way contributing to the welfare of the Republic. And yet, even without atrocities, it is costing us money. Here, if there ever was one, is the right place to retrench.

God only knows what is in store for the future of South Africa. The press would have us believe that Mandela is as good as dictator already. This may be true, but I am not convinced. I cannot see that there are too few men of goodwill in the Republic to allow it to become totally trashed, as have all of the other nations to the north. Mandela himself may prefer to preside over a ruin than to see his nation prosper, but we can seriously hope that Mandela does not speak for the majority - of any race.

Finn Aagaard, just back from Africa, speaks as follows:
"If a political solution that everyone can live with can be arranged, the Republic's potential is unbounded. Just think of what South African initiative, technology, know-how and drive can do for the rest of Africa! I would venture that South Africa is black Africa's last, best hope."

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