Jeff Cooper's Commentaries

Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 2, No. 13          27 October 1994

Hunting Season, 1994

The Second Annual Gunsite Reunion and Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, held at the NRA Whittington Center in northeast New Mexico last week, was a splendid occasion. It was attended by an imposing selection of the faithful, and while those who missed it missed a good deal, we could not have handled many more than those who came. We had three days of shooting and two nights of recitation, and everyone was able to enjoy every activity he chose. We had forty-four participants, and sixty would have overstressed the facilities in the time allotted.

Dennis Tueller supervised the pistol shooting until he was called away by an emergency, whereupon he was spelled by Rich Wyatt, who saw to it that everybody had a marvelous time. John Gannaway and I supervised the rifle preliminaries, and David Kahn ran an abbreviated version of the Keneyathlon. By moving our timing around it was possible for John to give everyone as much sporting clay shotgunnery as possible, and he and I set up and ran the aerial rifle shooting event, which is always a delight.

It is interesting to compare trap shooting with aerial rifle shooting. A good trap shot expects to hit over ninety-five out of a hundred birds, which means that any miss is a great agony. On the other hand, when one attempts ten clays with a rifle, the hits are positively exhilarating and misses are not depressing. It is possible to opine that hitting a flying clay with a rifle is an unrealistic exercise, but learning to mount instantaneously so that the sights are on when the bird is horizontal is a most useful skill. Snap shots are not common in the field, but knowing one can handle them is immensely satisfying.

The evening recitations were absolutely inspiring. I do not know how long we can keep this up, but we have tried it now three times (including the first session at the Sconce Armory), and every time all hands came away floating six inches off the ground. It is most appropriate that we dedicate this event to Theodore Roosevelt. I feel sure he would have enjoyed attendance just as much as we all did.

All the recitations were appreciated, and special note should be taken of the original works prepared for the occasion by Paul Kirchner, Mike Taylor, and Lindy Wisdom.

We have already scheduled for next year, and if we can maintain our forward motion at the polls next month our third reunion will be the most joyful of the three. Whittington is hard to get to, which may be a great asset. If it were easy of access, the crowds would be unmanageable.

We hope to see you all again next year.

Dan Dennehy informed us at Raton that he finally had to "put down" his long-time friend and companion Martin Luther King. We all sympathize with Dan in his sorrow.

Family member Cas Gadomski from Alaska reports the use of Black Talon pistol ammunition on a large and belligerent dog. One round worked just fine. Doctor Martin Fackler is a great believer in the Black Talon pistol round. One dog does not prove much, but it may serve to bolster Doctor Fackler's opinion.

Recently in Washington I was impressed by the length to which people have gone to work up the M16 into a target rifle. The fact that the M16 (and its brother, the AR15) is now illegal does not seem to discourage the gadgeteers. Replacement barrels and replacement sights have come a long way, and that miserable trigger that comes with the gun is now replaceable with something very good indeed. I was treated to much discussion about the accuracy potential of the "poodle-shooter" when it was properly modified and specially loaded. I found this most interesting in comparison to the current state of the art with go-carts. The motor racing fraternity has now developed the go-cart into a pretty ferocious machine that handles like a feather, goes like a shot, and also serves to kill a number of aspiring boy racers. It is an impressive machine, but it is still a go-cart. These new glorified M16s are both impressive and expensive, but they are still "poodle-shooters."

"One of these days the talking will be over and the citizenry of the United States will decide whether or not to remain free."

Dan W. Shoemaker

I was mistaken in a previous issue when I mentioned that the M1 rifle had been banned by the new "crime" legislation. It is the M14 which is banned, rather than the M1, because the M14 has a detachable magazine and the M1 does not. None of this makes any sense, of course, because criminals do not use either M14s or M1s, but there never has been any point in trying to make sense with a hoplophobe. His mind is made up and he does not wish to be confused with the facts.

I also erred in my introduction to the Deneys Reitz trilogy, now available for sale from Wolfe Publishing. I said the young man was issued a G98 Mauser by the Commandant General. That was, of course, a G96 Mauser.


I note a recent tendency on the part of the unenlightened to hold forth about how difficult it was to shoot the Thompson "sub-machine-gun." After all it was of major caliber and it was fully automatic. We hear people reporting that it took a man of great weight and muscle to hold that muzzle down when firing a hot burst.

As the Thompson fades into the past I would like to point out briefly that firing that piece on full automatic was difficult only if you did not know how to do it. It is a heavy gun, and when one applies some 11lbs of vertical pressure with his supporting arm the piece suddenly unweights itself partially on firing, and the shooter tends to raise the muzzle and continue to raise it with each successive shot. This results in alarming muzzle climb and suggests to the shooter that the recoil is insupportable. In actuality, all one needed to do was to reduce the upward pressure in the left arm upon firing, allowing the piece to "ride on its recoil." This is easy, once you know the trick, and, in fact, it is so easy that one can learn to fire the piece one-handed without the supporting stock in one easy lesson. I guess this information should be filed away amongst the arcana of the middle nineteen-hundreds.

This from an FBI agent who must obviously remain anonymous:
"I wasn't surprised when I heard that Horiuchi had killed Mrs. Weaver. We were in the same class at Quantico. The man was a robot. He would do anything to please his superiors."
Well, Horiuchi is still at large. One wonders how much he pleased his superiors.

One reader wrote in to scold me for printing Jack Buchmiller's opinion that if Nicole Simpson had been to Gunsite she would be now a wealthy widow. This correspondent maintains that the implication is that Simpson is guilty. Well, yes, that is the implication, but neither Jack nor I constitute a court, nor will we sit upon the jury. According to English Common Law, the accused is innocent until proven guilty, but law is not necessarily justice, nor is justice necessarily legal.

We hear from people who should know that that thick piece of glass that was placed in front of Aristide upon his inauguration cost the taxpayers 25 thousand dollars. Almost one could not see through it, but it was claimed to be able to stop a 30-06. It takes a lot to stop a 30-06, and the disaffected Haitian remnants specialize in the 30-06 - you saw them on camera packing those M1s. A good friend and correspondent in Central America holds that, while no angel, Cedras was a considerable improvement over Aristide. One wonders how long the little fellow will last.

"Corruptisima republica plurimae leges."

Tacitus, Anals III 27, via Mark Moritz

(The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.)

Family member Ty Miller, who lives on Kenai, reports that he has plenty of white goats for the hunting up there. The Rocky Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus) may not be much of a trophy for your wall, but hunting him is one of the great thrills, as ordinarily you have to follow him up into his cliffs and crags, hanging on with your fingernails. Those of you who wish to turn up the wick in your hunting experiences should consider these Kenai goats.

Whenever we can stop cursing, we may come to realize that the ridiculous "crime bill" of the Clinton Administration may actually turn out to help our side, in that it reveals the total foolishness of our elected representatives, and has provoked a surprising amount of annoyance amongst the people at large. Any public representative who voted for that bill has been established as unworthy of the people's trust, and he has additionally encroached upon the rights and privileges of the American citizen. This gravels a great many people more than is understood within the beltway. Let us hope we are seeing the first squeezings of the grapes of wrath

It appears I have involved myself in an awkward conflict of dates due to the shifting of the winter meeting of the NRA to the first weekend in February. This is the date of the SCI meeting in Las Vegas. I do not ordinarily attend Safari Club meetings, but this time I am committed by previous promises to our great good friends the van Graans from South Africa, who are operating a booth which we are to man. It is, of course, dereliction of duty to miss a meeting of a board of which one is a member, but some of us have schedules that are laid on as much as a year in advance, and when one gives one a promise, that is binding. Be that as it may, mea culpa.

I am informed that the police force of the District of Columbia has now traded in 6,000 old Glocks for 6,000 new Glocks. Charming! The reason given was that they saw a chance to turn in "old guns" for "new guns." Is not the new always better than the old? Personally I cannot see what the DC police need with firearms. They cannot do anything about the homicidal streets with them or without them, and their accident rate indicates that a good many of them cannot master any mechanism more complicated than a night stick.

Since we are informed that these black ninja helicopters do not in fact exist, we may infer that if you shoot one down it does not count.

Though I tried, I could unearth nothing about the Vince Foster death that I did not already know. Since this case was immediately covered up by the White House, it is now unlikely that anyone will ever know for sure just how this man met his death. The official account is quite unbelievable, for perhaps a dozen reasons, but that is the account that will go down in the record and will probably turn up in the history books.

The result of this is that anyone is at liberty to make up his own story about this case, and even faint possibility will be more impressive than what we have been permitted to know.

As seems more apparent with every passing month, justice in this country is indeed "a respecter of persons."

We understand that Charlton Heston, speaking as the voice of God, says that he sent the Clintons to the people of the United States as punishment for their sins. It is, therefore, up to us to repent at the polls.

It seems time to bring this one around again:
"A clip is not a magazine,
A mag is not a clip,
And neither is a grip a stock,
And "stock" does not mean grip.
I do not mean to nitpick,
But improvement would be seen,
If we could bring ourselves to say
Exactly what we mean."
Also - to "decimate" means to reduce by exactly 10% (decimals and all that). It does not mean to "devastate."

It appears that I will be teaching the rifle at Whittington sometime in the early Spring of `95. Anyone interested should contact:
Rich Wyatt 3430 Wright St., Wheat Ridge, CO 80033. Telephone 303-232-0542.

While I was back in Washington I got into a big session concerning air guns, which are instruments in which I have rarely had any particular interest. But as it turns out there is a place for air guns. This is mainly a function of nosy neighbors, because in many parts of the East, shooting any sort of varmint is illegal. Air guns are not completely quiet, but they are pretty quiet, especially if they are fired from inside a dwelling through an open window. Air guns are not very efficient ballistically, but they will do for shots taken inside one's yard on small beasties such as rats or gophers.

New issue air guns come in various calibers - 17, 20, 22 and 25. They can be had with very good triggers, and quite considerable accuracy. The ones I saw were overlarge, but that seems to be inherent in their mechanism, since pumping air calls for a hand-operated air compressor which involves a lot of steel. Nine-and-a-half or 10lbs seem a bit much, but a 6lb air rifle does not seem to be in the cards. This is not vital because the air gun will normally be used "on base," so to speak.

It does appear that certain sorts of people feel it their responsibility to correct the sins of strangers. This seems to be particularly true of the over civilized who tend to congregate in the suburbs.

We recently heard of a man who got into an extensive legal hassle somewhere in the East because he bashed a rat on the head with a stick. If he had had access to a well-constructed air gun he might have avoided the whole problem.

One of the features of Barrett Tillman's annual Buffalo Wallow Assault Weapon Match and Croquet Tournament is the 300-yard "flop and drop" test. The object of the exercise is very simple. One must start standing and on signal assume whatever position he chooses and sock the head of a silhouette target at 300 meters. This year family member George Olmsted won the event in the extraordinary time of 8 seconds! We will not ask George if he could do it again. We will just congratulate him on doing it once.

A friend of ours stationed in Korea recently tried to get through the exit station at the airport in possession of his legally-owned personal weapons. Long ago we used to report an occasion of total administrative confusion as a "Chinese Fire Drill." The term was then replaced by "Father's Day in Harlem," which, in turn, was supplanted by "An Iranian Funeral." Now we have the latest in this series, which is "A Korean Security Check."

All this talk about "restoring democracy" to Haiti brings up an interesting point in political philosophy. Democracy, simply stated, is majority rule. No more, no less. Majority rule may be a good thing, but to make a god of it is to be politically simple-minded. Majority rule justifies three people in a lifeboat in killing and eating the other two. Some of the things done in ancient Athens in the name of democracy were frightfully oppressive, and we must remember that the Nazi Party was elected by a wide majority. To me it seems that the aim of government is the optimum balance of liberty and order. Democracy is one way of achieving that, but for democracy to succeed it requires the virtue of the people, as Montesquieu observed. Thus when we cheer for democracy we must remember that it may not be the best, but rather the least of several evils. Saying that we invaded Haiti to "restore democracy" is pretty silly, since the Haitians have never had democracy and would not know what to do with it if they got it.

Note that democracy is nowhere mentioned in either the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution. Let us by all means favor it, let us not make a god of it.

Family member Jack Buchmiller is now hunting around for a good choice for a heavy rifle for use in Africa. I have long personally favored the elegant 460 G&A Special, but at this time it is not the only choice available. The 470 Capstick and the 500 A-Square should be looked into, but I would not push for the 416. Certainly a 400-grain bullet will do. For that matter, so will a 220-grain 30, but I see no reason going for a light-heavy in place of a real heavy. In any case the search is on, and it is great fun. I am sure Jack will welcome all constructive suggestions.

Sign reported by Clifford F. Thies in Rocky Mountain National Park:
"Please do not feed the squirrels. If you feed the squirrels, they'll become overweight, and prone to disease. Their population will grow, and they'll lose their ability to forage for food on their own. They will expect you to feed them and will attack you if you don't. They'll become like little welfare recipients, and you wouldn't want to do this to them."

May all your adversaries be on full-auto!

The Guru

Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal use only. Not for publication.