Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 3, No. 12 October 1995
Black October, 1995
These are the times that try our
patriotism, as evil walks grinning abroad in the land, and Justice
hides her head in shame. "Murder will out," was the old saying. Now
it appears that murder is in, and the taxpayers are footing the
bill. What once was "The last, best hope of Earth" is now the
laughing stock of the world, as we truly get the society we
Now we head for the annual reunion and
celebration of Theodore Roosevelt's birthday at the Whittington
Center the weekend of the 21st. The great man's birthday is
actually on the 27th, but this year we celebrate a week early in an
attempt to avoid the onset of the cold weather that socked us two
years ago. As usual, we will enjoy shooting with rifle, pistol and
shotgun, and we plan to enrich the entertainment with a good supply
of helium-filled balloons (not, we hasten to say, for the
The evenings' entertainments need not be in verse nor original, and
they need not be memorized, though these things earn extra points.
What they should be, of course, is appropriate - powerful
statements of which Theodore Roosevelt would approve. In these bad
times we need all the inspiration we can get.
The video tapes "Armed Defense,"
which I cut in connection with Quad Productions, are available for
sale at $79.00 for a set of four. Address:
doXa Enterprises, PO Box 62176, Colorado Springs,
As we enter upon hunting season I would
like to point out again that hunting should not be a competitive
exercise, despite the best efforts of the Safari Club to make it
so. Except in the rarest circumstances, the hunter has practically
nothing to do with the size of his trophy - he takes what is
offered, as long as it is presentable. I find the "tape measure
hunter" to be bothersome, and tape measures were forbidden on the
Babamkulu expedition. A man who shoots game in order to out-do some
other hunter has missed the point completely, or so it seems to me.
Good trophies are nice to hang upon the wall, but they are there
only to remind you of great memories, not to brag about. Speaking
personally, I have several record-book trophies, but while they
give me pleasure, they do not give me as much pleasure as a number
of fairly commonplace heads that resulted from extraordinary
moments afield. As Ortega put it, one hunts in order to have
hunted, and the hunting experience is essentially inner-directed.
This has nothing to do with record books, or the impressions of
Up at a cop session at Bakersfield, we
were treated to the usual round of extraordinary cop stories. One
such involved a goblin who unbelievably accepted nine pellets of
double 0 amidships without apparent distress. He was annoyed,
however, and called out to the shooter, "What did you do that for?"
We hunted around for a good answer to that question, and finally
settled upon, "My foot slipped."
Family member and Orange range
master Mike Waidelich has now become a firm advocate of the Glock
pistol. This has puzzled me because I consider that trigger action
is the most significant single element in the precision efficiency
of any firearm, and the trigger on the Glock is customarily so bad
as to be practically unworkable. But Mike does not agree. He
explained to me that pistol engagements within the law enforcement
establishment customarily occur at such short range that precise
bullet placement is not important. He maintains that he can teach
anybody to center a human adversary with the Glock trigger at any
reasonable range - say 10 meters or less.
The other points that recommend the Glock to the police
establishment are low cost and readily available modular parts. The
Glock people will furnish you with spare parts immediately, where
most other manufacturers hem and haw.
These points are important. They are not enough to turn me into a
Glockenspieler; but then, I am not a police range
Our great good friend Carlos Widmann, of
Guatemala, recently underwent some minor surgery on the underside
of his jaw, which resulted in a bandaged throat. When asked by a
friend on the street what had happened he replied, "A man did a
number on me with a knife." The friend was aghast and asked if
Carlos had been mugged on the street. His response was that he was
done in by the bill presented by the doctor. What his friend did
not realize is that Carlos Widmann is not "muggable." Street punks
would do much better to pick on something easier; like, for
example, a loose leopard.
We are informed by a good friend in Sweden
that the allowance for private ownership of ammunition in that
country is 25,000 rounds per each weapon owned. We found this hard
to believe, and checked it further. The figure is correct -
25,000 rounds. Basically, we are opposed to arbitrary limitations
on private armament, but somehow we do not find a 25,000 limit all
We have messed around somewhat with the
pistol ghost-ring pioneered by Louis Awerbuck, and now available
from Steve Wickert in Prescott. It is, indeed, an aid to failing
eyesight, but it poses its own problems. It seems okay for
deflection, but not as good as conventional sights for elevation.
We will bring an example to Whittington, where the faithful can try
it for themselves.
We were recently entertained by a
correspondent in Maine who sought to enlighten us on this matter of
girls teaching girls. I have always maintained that since there is
no difference in technique between the genders (when it comes to
shooting) mixed classes are not only acceptable, but desirable. The
writer, however, gives me a lecture on what might be called "female
bonding," which has always struck me as somewhat questionable. I
distinctly remember one outstanding young lady of my acquaintance
who, when it was pointed out that she did not have any close girl
friends, sang out with "Who needs girl friends?" The renowned war
correspondent, Elaine Shepard, had somewhat the same feeling when
asked by a commentator, if she did not feel uncomfortable being the
only female among a group of about 400 news-types. Her response
was, "Well, that's about the right balance, isn't it?".
To each his own, of course, and if the girls like to get together
for their shooting, I am hardly one to object. As for me and mine,
however, mixed classes will remain the norm.
I am sure you have noted that competitive
shotgunners start each string with finger on trigger, in blatant
violation of Rule 3. Given the circumstances under which people
compete with shotguns, this does not seem to be hazardous - in
and of itself. However, the precept is that people operating
violent machines should keep their cotton pick'n fingers well clear
of the "Go button." I think the shotgunners are wrong. They gain no
speed from this procedure, and they set a bad example for the
Despite the best efforts of the
hoplophobes, the US remains way ahead of most other jurisdictions
in the matter of firearms freedom. Recently an English jeweler,
whose shop had been raided twenty times in twenty years, repelled
borders by seizing the firearm of one of the bandits who broke into
his shop. With the captured firearm he shot both of the bandits,
though not fatally.
This was in England, and, of course, he was immediately in a great
deal of trouble. He was fined 2,000 pounds for "illegal use of a
firearm," 100 more for possession of ammunition which was related
to another weapon, plus 1,050 more pounds for prosecution costs.
This whole affair is costing the jeweler over $6,000 in American
money, plus his attorney's fee.
Just how this sort of idiocy is justified in the eyes of the
British courts is unclear, but though we find a lot of domestic
jurisprudence pretty bad, such things can get worse.
In the course of our recent police
conversations, we discover an alarming lack of range discipline on
most police ranges. It seems that an unfortunate number of range
masters know about safety rules, but are either unable to enforce
range discipline or are unwilling to do so. I fear that this is
further evidence of the "Us-Against-Them" attitude. Many seem to
hold that the safety rules apply only to other people. This is most
distressing in connection with Rule 2, when we see people in
authority pointing weapons in all directions, and permitting
students to do so, on the grounds that the pieces are unloaded. For
decades we have insisted that the four basic safety rules apply to
everybody all the time. Perhaps we should have insisted even more
forcibly that they apply to range masters and trainers, as well as
to the common people.
Is "Taking the Fifth" an admission of
guilt? The legalists will insist that it is not, but what is one to
think? When people such as Horiuchi and his associates decline to
be questioned on the grounds that to do so might tend to
incriminate or degrade them, one may ask how can one be
incriminated by telling the truth, if he is, in truth, not guilty?
Personally I think that when a man takes the Fifth he is also
taking upon himself the burden of proof of his innocence.
I take this opportunity to thank all of
the good wishers who have called in or written to sympathize with
me in connection with my recent eye surgery. I appreciate the
kindness, and I can point out that the operation itself was not
distressing, and as of now my shooting shows no signs of
I have just had the chance to examine
daughter Lindy's 1903 Springfield, as customized by Robbie
Barrkman. It is a very nice piece but, not unexpectedly, it fails
to make scout weight. Of course, we never expected anyone to make a
true scout using a big military action. But even with the
Springfield action, a "pseudo-scout" in 30-06 should be held to
7.5lbs, including telescope. Lindy's rifle goes 8.25, which is not
disastrous but still a bit much. Scout I, which now belongs to
daughter Parry up in Colorado, comes on at just under 7lbs ready to
go. We are still working toward that, and hope great things from
the Mannlicher people at Steyr, if we can last that long.
I remain bemused by this fascination for
overcapacity magazines manifest in the marketplace. I have never
heard of a case in which a participant in a pistol action profited
by the ability to shoot again, and again, and again. Certainly,
there are occasions in which an individual law enforcement man has
had to contend with a group of miscreants, all of whom were equally
dangerous, but one can hunt the records long and long without
finding good examples. Recently family member Tim Lloyd from
Australia handed me an account of a shooting up at Conneston, north
of Alice Springs, back in 1928. In this adventure the constable in
charge was set upon several times by what is called Downunder a
"mob" of aborigines. He was carrying a 6-shot, major-caliber
revolver, and on one occasion he got five one-shot stops out of his
cylinder. If any of the family run across cases which
justify the utility of an overcapacity magazine, I would appreciate
We were recently amused at a report back
from Africa that a professional hunter down there had decided to
use one of these Star Finder terrain location devices to get him
back to camp. As has been known to happen with machinery, his
device somehow got askew out in the bush and he got himself
thoroughly lost. If he had asked me, I could have told him that
your best base locator in the African bush is a local African. His
bump of location beats electronic gadgetry every time.
Have you heard the term "Blue Suicide?"
That is the police code for a shooting death brought about by the
victim. It is not at all uncommon. It occurs when a citizen becomes
inclined to take his own life, but lacks the viscera to do it
himself. He then provokes the police by the use of deadly force
until they shoot him. "Blue Suicide" - I knew there must be
such a term but I did not know what it was until now.
I recently had occasion to discuss the
matter of his upside-down kill with Joe Foss, one of the few
remaining American heros. You will recall that Joe is sometimes
listed as the only American aviator known to have killed an enemy
aircraft while flying flat on his back. The point here is that the
50-caliber Browning machinegun is prone to feeding failures when
inverted, since the recoil action is usually not sufficient to pull
those heavy belts. Joe pointed out that the guns will usually jam
if the airplane is simply rolled onto its back, but that on the
occasion under discussion he was at the top of a loop, and that the
centrifugal force involved was sufficient to maintain one positive
G at the top of the maneuver. Keep that in mind the next time you
try this stunt.
It is probably hopeless to expect people
to use the right words for things, and the matter is further
complicated by people who claim that whatever meaning they wish to
attach to a word is right in their case. Still, the use of the word
"shrapnel," when that is not what is meant, and the use of "clip"
in place of magazine and such-like barbarisms are annoying.
Take the matter of "safari." This is originally an Arabic word
meaning, approximately, "journey." The safari is a journey from one
place to another, and in the good old days when animal transport
was ruled out by the tsetse fly, and motor vehicles were
unavailable, one hiked when he wished to go from one point to
another. If the hike was long, provision had to be made for
supplies, and these supplies had to be carried on the heads of
local porters. These porters had to be fed, and while they could
survive on a ration of coarsely ground meal, what they wanted was
meat - nyama. Even today it is delightful to see how the Bantu
relish meat. On a true safari one fed the troops with his rifle.
With a big outfit there could be fifty or more bearers, all of whom
were conspicuously meat-hungry. This meant what you packed along on
such a trip was ammunition, and you used a lot of it. That was a
safari. We do not do that anymore. When we go to Africa we go
hunting, but to call a modern African hunt a safari is an
unfortunate mistake. What is really an abomination is the term
"photo safari." People who use that term should be required to eat
their own pictures. Wildlife photography is a great art, but let us
please call it by its right name.
One of those black helicopters
dropped in at the Gunsite airstrip on 23 September. It turns out it
was not black, but a very dark green. It was not entirely unmarked,
having "US Army" printed in very small letters on its tail. Well,
at least it did not have BATF anywhere in evidence.
One theory we recently heard was that the
masks worn by the ninja are there to prevent lawsuits by citizens.
A citizen cannot sue a sovereign state without its permission, but
he can sue an individual agent if he can identify him, thus the
agent wears a mask to avoid being sued. Cowardice seems to be the
curse of the Age of Aquarius.
The absolute essence of good marksmanship
is concentration. If you maintain it, you hit. If you lose it, you
miss. It is as simple as that. Now then, how do we maintain
concentration? I was recently discussing Horiuchi's shooting at
Ruby Ridge, as described in the official reports. I raised the
question as to how a man as good as that could have pulled off a
shot like that unless he intended to do so. My friend, who has
considerable experience in these matters, insisted that when a man
gets excited he cannot expect to do his best with his rifle. While
I have never shot a man with a rifle, I have considerable
experience in shooting under conditions of great nerve pressure,
and I can report that, in my case at least, excitement does not
enter into the matter. If one's reflexes are properly programmed,
he is only excited before or after the moment of truth. Even then
the excitement may not live up to his expectations. ("Weren't you
excited?" "No, I was too busy concentrating on my trigger.")
People are different, and thank God for that, but to blame one's
bad shooting on the fact that he was excited at the time is not an
"Do what thy manhood bids thee do:
From none but self expect applause.
He noblest lives and noblest dies,
Who makes and keeps his self-made laws."
Sir Richard Francis Burton
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.