Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 5, No. 9 August, 1997
Now again we can enjoy two of the great
luxuries of life - tomatoes fresh off the vine and corn just
minutes off the stalk. The haute cuisine has much to recommend it,
but no degree of artistry can improve on God's natural handiwork.
We must take note of these things consciously and carefully; all
too soon they will not be ours to enjoy.
Now we note a new 1911 clone from Israel
called "The Bull." At first glance it appears to be excessively
large and heavy, but it probably shoots very well.
5 August is "Lion Day," our own
personal holiday commemorating the lion that Danie van Graan
fetched up for us five years ago at Engonyameni. We note with
gratification that Danie was able to bring off another specialty
lion for Dan Predovich, our family member just returned from
his great adventure. All members of the Predovich tribe had a nifty
time "way down upon the Crocodile River." The van Graans have a
masterful touch in organizing these affairs, and we consider
ourselves very fortunate in having run across them. Family
members who plan the Great African Adventure should take
We discover that Karamojo Bell in his last
published article (The American Rifleman, December 1945)
declared that if he were to go back to Africa he would go by choice
with a 308. In view of the outstanding results my grandchildren
have had with that cartridge in Africa, I have no reason to
disagree with his choice.
If you plan to attend the Scout Party at
the NRA Whittington Shooting Center in New Mexico on 25, 26
September you had best make your reservations now. I have no way of
predicting the number of the faithful who will want to attend that
event, but accommodations are not unlimited. Steyr Mannlicher
promises to have ten of the rifles on hand for examination. (Some
40 have already been sold, without announcement of any price.) But
while there will be plenty of opportunity to fire the pieces, much
time must be devoted to the theoretical considerations involved in
the scout concept. So many new and unusual features are
incorporated into the Steyr scout that I discover it is going to
take me a full page of copy just to list them. I believe what we
have here may truly be called "a great leap forward," though I do
not want to run the risk of building the idea too much. Let us just
point out that the most outstanding attribute of the scout is a
characteristic which may be termed "friendliness." This is very
hard to describe, but it is quickly appreciable on
Now it appears that we have a very popular
movie being shown entitled "Men in Black." Naturally we
thought that the men in black are the Ninja - cop spooks who
show up in the middle of the night carrying squirt guns and wearing
black armor. Apparently in Hollywood they do not think about such
We were impressed with Scalia's ruling on
the Brady Bill, in which he pointed out that the purpose of the US
Constitution was, as much as anything, to save us from ourselves.
This is the point that the Political Left has never been able to
understand, but, of course, many of its exponents never seem to
have read the Constitution.
I am sorry to report that our ambitions
for updating the personal protection program of the National Rifle
Association have been vitiated by the new committee assignments
going into effect in September. T.J. Johnston, Leroy Pyle and I
constituted the sub-committee charged with re-writing and updating
NRA defensive pistol doctrine and bringing it up to modern times.
All three of us were fired, and I have no hope that the new
committee (still under the previous chairman) will be able to wade
out of the morass of antiquated precedent.
Well, we tried. I doubt if our failure will result in anyone's
death or dismemberment, but it will probably serve to embarrass
those involved in the personal defense program.
It is curious to note that it is
practically impossible to acquire a firearm that is fully ready for
use "out of the box". This means that when you buy a rifle or
pistol you must take it immediately to a gunsmith before you fire a
shot out of it. This keeps the gunsmiths in business, of course,
but we find it increasingly difficult to get a gun back from a
gunsmith once he has taken it aboard for modification.
(We hope that the Steyr scout will be ready out of the box. If so,
this will be one of its most outstanding innovations.)
In a recent issue of Magnum
magazine we were treated to the wistful wail of the African
professional hunter. Where else, the author asked, can you find a
job that keeps you out in the fresh air and sunshine from morning
til night, endeavoring to please a stranger whom you do not know
and who may kill you at any moment?
The life of a PH is indeed fraught. It appears marvelous at first
glance, but it has its drawbacks. Our friend Ian McFarlane of
Okavango once estimated that the job of an African PH was 50
percent public relations, 20 percent camp management, 20 percent
motor maintenance, and 10 percent hunting. Ian once told us the
tale of a customer who really did not want to get out in the bush,
but rather to lie around drunk in his tent all day while the PH
collected his trophies for him. Ian said that was the most fun he
had on a hunt for many years.
Back in an earlier day, the term "role
model" was not encountered. The term we used in my youth was
"hero." Now that there are no more heros we point up entertainers
as role models, and our appreciation of them is based almost
entirely upon the amount of money they amass. Now I have nothing
against money, (I think everybody should have some), but I cannot
conceive of it to be admirable in itself. A very wealthy man may
indeed be an admirable character and make use of his money in a way
that may enlarge his true worth. Howard Hughes and Jim Hall are
examples. But the idea of a role model seems personified in one to
whom the youth can look up and say "I want to be like that." It
seems tragic for the young to feel that the only thing worth doing
is to make money, totally oblivious to the question of character.
In that earlier day a young man could look at Theodore Roosevelt or
Blackjack Pershing or Thomas Edison and say "I want to be like
that." Today he is more likely to contemplate the wealth of some
illiterate slob who plays games or makes tasteless noise for a
living and say "I want to be like that."
Something is wrong here, and we cannot blame it all on
Liberation proceeds apace in South
Africa. It would appear that mayors as a group are leading the
- Lulamile Nazo (East London) charged with pointing a
- Mzukisi Mpahlwa (Grahamstown) drunken driving.
- Siphu Kroma (Oudtshoorn) drunken driving and driving without a
- Lungisi Nyembezi (Kokstad) driving under the influence.
- Patrick Sempepe (Tarkastad) attempted murder.
I guess this is social progress.
Of course, there is a good side down
there too. In Johannesburg recently, a felon fleeing from the
police racked up his car in the zoo. In attempting to escape he
jumped into the gorilla cage. What happened next is unclear, but
the felon apparently felt he was unpopular with the gorilla and
shot him three times (with his 9mm). The gorilla won this
engagement and was congratulated by the police. He was not
In further good news from South Africa we
find that car owners are increasingly refusing to be victims. Two
carjackers were shot dead in one week, as reported in Vuurwapen
The police response was,
"We cannot combat crime anymore now that our standing
orders have been changed and we cannot shoot criminals. Our hands
have been cut off. It is totally beyond us, so the public will have
to do it for us."
Street crime has certainly been increasing in South Africa, but the
good side of that is that you are encouraged to fight
In theory, one should acquire wisdom with
age, but sometimes it seems to me that the older I get the more
things there are that I do not understand. Among these things is
recoil effect. When you shoot, your launcher bounces back in rough
proportion to the momentum of the projectile and the weight of the
weapon. We all know this and we accept it, but it seems to me that
many people apply unnecessary concentration to what we used to call
"fighting the problem." It is true, of course, that a very powerful
cartridge fired in a relatively light weapon will kick. This kick
can be measured, and obviously it varies from one weapon to
another, but within reasonable limits its effect is far more mental
than physical. Fred Wells of Prescott has been building very
powerful weapons for many years, and I have fired a couple of them.
Fred says that the effect of the recoil of the weapon on the
shooter is 85 percent mental, and I am inclined to agree with
Recently a friend of mine, who is female and not at all used to
rifle shooting, decided that she wanted to get a piece for her own
use and was torn between the 308 and the 7-08. Somebody had told
her that the 7-08 will kick less, presumably because its 7mm bore
is smaller than that of the 30 caliber. If there is indeed any
difference in recoil between the 7-08 and the 308, it certainly
will be too minor for my friend to detect, yet she regards this
choice of calibers as a major problem.
I have heard both sides of the discussion about whether a big man
is better able to absorb recoil punishment than a small - or
vice versa. Pointless argument.
The fact is that the blow delivered by the butt of the rifle or
shotgun to a shooter is simply not heavy enough to bother with.
Anyone who plays contact sports is subjected to heavier blows than
will be delivered by the butt of his rifle, and more
The best thing to do about recoil is to ignore it.
Another thing I do not understand about
is the shooting stick. It appears that shooting sticks are the rage
now in Africa, probably due to the discovery by the professional
hunters that their clients as a group are conspicuously lousy
shots. In Africa, of course, one has a crew along to carry the
water bottle and retrieve the game, if any. Such a crew can also
carry shooting sticks. As it happens I whittled myself a set of
shooting sticks as a youth and discovered they are far more trouble
than they are worth. They can be useful in high grass, but ranges
in such cover tend to be short, and a reasonably competent marksman
ought to be able to handle the problem without cumbersome gadgetry.
I have hunted in that high grass on several occasions, and I have
always been able to find a convenient tree, shrub or fence post
when necessary. I took my first three buffalo in high grass, but in
each case the shot was taken from offhand without any artificial
help. A buffalo at killing distance is a big target.
But now I have even heard of people using shooting sticks with a
Family member and shooting master
John Gannaway has finally realized the ambition of a lifetime. He
has been "drawed" for desert sheep! For thirty years, John has put
in unsuccessfully for a sheep tag, and now he has it. I can think
of no greater challenge in the hunting field than the desert
Bighorn. John has done everything else that an Arizona hunter might
aspire to, and now has come the Great Day!
Tony Blair, the new Prime Minister of
England, has announced officially that his government's grotesque
gun laws are not expected to have any effect upon crime, but rather
to eliminate what he calls "the gun culture." If he succeeds in
eliminating the gun culture in Britain, he will presumably feel
good. Isn't that sweet? Well, we ought not to jeer too loudly at
the Brits. Just look at what we have elected!
From USA Today we discover that
there is a Senior White House Advisor named Rahm Emanuel. In his
words, "A gun in the hand of an adolescent is either an accident or
a crime waiting to happen." Whether he intends to say that all
adolescents are criminals, or just mechanically incompetent, is not
clear. A man who can say that must be an inhabitant of another
planet and thus cannot be expected to communicate accurately in
There may be a few people who did not
catch family member
John Milius' great work "Rough
- but not many. John has rendered a distinct
service to the Republic in presenting the case for heroism at a
time when we sadly need it.
Theodore Roosevelt was without doubt the greatest American of
modern times, and fully deserves his graven image on Mount
Rushmore. The great events of his life are too numerous and cover
too broad a scope to be rendered in one piece of cinematography,
but his adventures in the Spanish American War are enough to fill
one gigantic piece of movie making, and friend Milius has done full
justice to the task.
One cannot escape the conclusion that we produced better men a
hundred years ago - in all respects. To quote Chilton
"[The men who fought in those wars] were men indeed:
offspring of a culture in which physical strength and stamina,
resourcefulness, courage, and stoicism were balanced by
cultivation, learning, fluency in self-expression (written or
spoken), and the gentleness that used to be called
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.