Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 6, No. 12 November 1998
The Sixth Annual Gunsite Reunion and
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial was an even more resounding
success than the previous five. The amount of histrionic and
literary talent possessed by the Orange Gunsite family is
quite amazing. In addition to the various declamations, both as
original work and selected from renowned artists, we had two
renditions from Shakespeare that were quite enough to blow you off
your perch - one by Amy Heath and the other by Colonel Clint
The theme for this year's gathering was "honor," a word less
frequently used by our citizens at this time. The words Duty,
Honor, Country are inscribed above the portals of our service
academies, and yet I wonder if our mythical "man in the street"
would be able to define them. So we spoke about honor, especially
as exemplified by our patron hero, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. We
attacked the subject from various directions without, of course,
coming up with a flawless definition of the term. But the fact that
we have difficulty defining it does not mean that we ought not to
think about it, especially at a time when our nation has been held
up to ridicule throughout the civilized world by the behavior of a
conspicuously dishonorable man. A very popular tattoo in the 19th
and early 20th centuries was "death before dishonor." To make that
statement today in or around the District of Columbia would be to
provoke dirty jokes and raucous laughter. To this level we have
The situation in which we find the United States of America -
the last best hope of Earth - is the worst since Valley Forge.
We cannot, on that account, give way to despair. We must fight back
at every level and by every means. And the first weapon is the
vote. The forthcoming election will demonstrate whether the people
of America are worthy of what their forefathers gave them. Those
forefathers were extremists in every sense of the word. Let us hope
that we need not put the matter to a test again. However, if it
comes to that, let us all vow to be worthy of the task.
It seems to be firm now that Steyr
Mannlicher will not go to a left-hand version of their new
bolt-action, as used in the scout. You lefties may just go to the
Blaser R93, which is certainly no tragedy. The 93 is not a scout,
but it is a delightful rifle nonetheless - one of the
outstanding artifacts of the day.
The shooting games at Whittington were
great fun, marred only slightly by unnecessarily brisk winds. The
basic pistol tests showed very clearly how easy it is to lose one's
edge through lack of practice. I emphasize again that one need not
go to the range to conduct his pistol practice. The difference
between a qualified marksman and a duffer is that the former knows
where his shot would have gone if his weapon had been loaded. Thus
he can put himself to very profitable exercise in his own quarters
without firing a shot.
We noticed also that too many people seemed to think that
elementary gunhandling is a superficial requirement. Part of this
was due to the fact that a good many participants had not been to
school. We have made it a practice in the past of allowing only
those people to shoot who have been to school and acquired
certificates. This year we thought to relax that a bit, and I was
shocked at the result. Next year we will apply the basic
rule - "If you haven't got your ticket, don't get on the
The balloons and the rifle clays are all the more entertaining for
being a Whittington exclusive. I do not know of any other place
where you can try flying clay birds with your rifle. (Marc Heim
distinguished himself by breaking four out of five with his Steyr
I must apologize to the great state of
Texas for getting my story garbled about the decimation by the
Mexicans of the Texan prisoners. I have made much worse mistakes
than that in my time without attracting nearly as much rage from
On the tactical walk, which is operable if
not yet complete, we noticed that the hunters had all the
advantage. Hunters seem to develop a "situational awareness" that
city slickers cannot match. People who do not regularly take to the
woods can be counted upon to walk right by targets in plain sight.
I guess city dwellers cannot be bothered with the perils of their
On the subject of the perils of one's
surroundings, we note that a young park ranger was instantly killed
just last month in the southern end of the Kruger Park in South
Africa. He had been given the job of protecting a bunch of tourists
on a night game watch. The only sound the tourists heard was the
clatter of his dropped rifle. One correspondent expressed surprise
that the leopard had been able to get so close without being
noticed. I do not know very much about leopards, but I do know that
the leopard owns the dark. At night a leopard moves like smoke
through a fog.
It is nice to know that tourists in African game parks are
protected by armed rangers. There is some question as to what
protects the protectors.
We have been out on a night prowl in just that part of Kruger Park.
It was a very fine experience.
We hear of a Glock problem in New York
caused by repeated failure to function in many different instances.
This is rather interesting in view of the fact that the Glock
appears to be a conspicuously reliable pistol. It does need,
however, a stiff wrist. If you limp-wrist a Glock its slide may not
retract fully. This suggests that probably there is no trouble with
the pistol, but there may be trouble with the training
Family member Paul Kirchner informs
us that you can get the deluxe version of Ortega's "Meditations
on Hunting" from "amazon.com" for $40.00. The regular price is
$60.00. Jump at the chance!
If you visit the Jefferson Memorial in
Washington you will note that it is your civic duty to be
politically incorrect. In gold letters around the inside of the
rotunda President Jefferson declares unalterable opposition to
"every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Political correctness
is neither political nor is it correct. It amounts to social
censorship, and the sooner we spit it out, the better.
The behavior of our federal and state
ninja in their conduct of firearms investigations is quite
peculiar. They seem given to explosive speech and foul language. In
every case we have heard about recently the people who break down
the door on the possibility that there may be an improperly
registered weapon in the house give forth with language which makes
law enforcement look bad. There is a curious violence about this
whole matter which is hard for me to understand. In the two most
flagrant cases - Waco and Ruby Ridge - all they had to do
was ask, but when it appears that there may be even passive
resistance to these midnight riders, they seem to lose all sense of
balance. They not only disgrace themselves by their speech, but
they frequently resort to physical force with no cause at all.
Family member John Schaefer was on the receiving end of such
an action in New Jersey recently, and he gave us a clear
description of it at the reunion. And just last month in Taft,
California, an honest shopkeeper, with no previous record of any
kind, wound up dead behind his counter. The ninja reported that he
had killed himself and then they had shot him three times after he
was dead. I cannot put much credence in that story, but that is
what appeared in the papers.
Apparently a certain kind of enforcement type in this country
operates in deadly fear, warranted or not. Up till now I have not
heard of a victim who shot back and killed the law enforcement
officer. (An exception was the initiation of action by shooting a
pet dog at Ruby Ridge.) These people seem terribly afraid. One
wonders of what.
On 15 October USA Today ran a
photograph of a Albanian militiaman in Kosovo packing a Steyr
Scout. He was apparently leading his troops. I guess the word gets
"One of the common failings among honorable people is a
failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people
can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them."
South Africa has long had a problem with
illegal immigration across its borders from the north. This has
grown since the revolution because of the almost total deactivation
of the police and border guards. The army (the South African
National Defense Force), is now in charge of patrolling the
borders, and it arrested 2,601 illegals during 1997 and another
2,159 so far in 1998. It turns out that the army is now getting
some help from the wildlife, as there are now eleven cases of
illegal immigrants being scarfed up by lions in the dark as they
try to sneak around check points. These are reported, and it is
likely the total is much higher. In extracting somewhat out of
context I can quote: "Three illegals were killed by lions within a
matter of three weeks, and the KNP officials are concerned about
their safety." To quote Dr. William Gerrenbach, "The problem is
caused not by the lions, but by the illegal immigrants." Now, there
is a man who has his priorities straight.
Colonel Bob Young, our neighbor from just
up the road, has taken off for far places for a whole month devoted
to enlightening the ignorant. This is a excellent way for a Master
to acquire a pleasant amount of spare cash, but "Ya gotta know the
"You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get
yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go
about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in
their struggle for independence."
C.A. Beard, via Harold Hayes
On the way over to Whittington, the staff
decided to define "The Four Wimps of the Apocalypse," as follows:
Timidity, Avarice, Sensitivity, and Ignorance.
We got into some discussion about the matter of sensitivity, since
it seems to be definable in several ways. We do feel, however, this
exaggerated social tenderness manifest in the school system
definitely deserves a place on the list.
Note that street crime is on the way up
in Britain, whereas it is on the way down in the United States. We
may attribute that to the attitude manifest in the two nations
toward the personal ownership of firearms.
"Day by day, case by case, the Supreme Court is busy
designing a constitution for a country I do not recognize."
Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scallia
My own personal SS rifle, which was
previously designated "Old No. 6" after the original press
demonstration at Whittington, I have now renamed "Galatea." Galatea
is a true treasure, and one of her most outstanding features is a
superlative trigger personally adjusted by Elmar Bilgeri from the
factory. Now it comes to pass that the factory is unwilling to put
triggers like that on guns to be sold over-the-counter. At 26
ounces on the final break, it is deemed to be "unusual" and an
invitation to mishaps in the hands of the unenlightened. Therefore
you are unlikely to have, at this time, that trigger in your scout.
Solution: Send your piece to Gun South in Alabama and tell Einar
Hoff that you want a "Jeff Cooper trigger" in your gun. There is a
factory technician at Gun South who can do this job. Moreover when
you take delivery on your scout, either before or after the tuning
job, take the butt spacers out. One of the prime advantages of the
scout is compactness. Extra stock length does you no good.
Gun South, PO Box 129, Trussville, Alabama 35173, (205)
I am now informed that there is a
specialized security detail in evidence around the Pentagon after
dark wearing black uniforms. Now black is an excellent color for a
dress uniform, as demonstrated by the SS before and during World
War II, but black is a very poor color for a fatigue uniform.
It does not make the wearer look smart, it just makes him look
scruffy. Plus that, a black fatigue uniform makes its wearer highly
visible except in pitch black, where target identification is the
Bumper sticker: "Help Stamp Out Sleaze"
These bunny huggers used to be simply
comical, but it appears they are no longer a joke. They feel they
cannot make their case in the courts, so they resort to popular
disturbance, including vandalism, arson, and serious property
damage. It is getting to the point where if they do not like what
you do they feel justified in preventing you from doing it by
force. Anarchy has its points, but this is not one of the good
"Who wanders unarmed deserves what he
It is not only the cats who are doing the
killing in the African bush. We now have a case in which an
American sportsman was squashed after dark by an elephant up in
Zambia. From what I make out in the story, it was a clear case of
Condition White. The first principle of personal defense
is alertness. If you are not alert, decisive and fast, you should
not be surprised if something gets you.
We now have 24 steel reactive targets
either on station or in production for the tactical walk at
Whittington. About half of them have been paid for by the faithful.
Note that if you choose to buy a target your name will be attached
to it for all to see. Everyone who tried the tactical walk enjoyed
it, which is no surprise since we have used similar exercises
before to everyone's satisfaction. The targets are expensive, of
course, and they are subject to vandalism, but I think the
situation at Whittington will prove satisfactory to all. As with
our original "fun house" at Orange Gunsite, this sort of shooting
exercise may become popular worldwide. As of now there are some
excellent field reaction courses on military establishments, where
money is no object, but as far as I know the private trail walk at
Whittington is unique at the present time.
Family member Frankie Lou
Nicholson of Nebraska tells us she ran across a counterman at a gun
store who explained to her that high velocity in a rifle cartridge
"enables you to miss quicker."
We note an unfortunate tendency on the
part of the unenlightened to categorize firearms, particularly
rifles, by caliber designation. The first question asked is, in
examining a firearm, "What is its caliber?" apparently not
realizing that most commercial offerings can be had in a variety of
different cartridges. This habit, I guess, is the backbone of the
industry, wherein a new cartridge is always greeted with glad
little cries, regardless of whether it does anything that needs to
be done. In my opinion, there is no reason at all for such items as
the 264 Winchester, the 280 Remington, the 338 Winchester, or the
8mm Remington. Still, if you can tell your questioner that the
rifle that he is looking at is chambered for a new and exotic
cartridge, you have really grabbed his interest. I will doubtless
be criticized on this very point when the 376 Steyr appears;
however, I think that here we have something that is demonstrably
useful. The 376 Steyr is ballistically very much the deceased 350
Remington Magnum, which, though it did not sell, was an excellent
round. Its caliber is 376, rather than 350, simply as a
rule-beating device - the rule being silly and worthy of
evasion. The 376 Steyr has no belt, and it is no longer than the
350 Remington Magnum or the 308, making it suitable for use in a
scout-type action. In a light rifle, it will kick. (As I was told
the 350 RM would when I first bought it.) But those who are
recoil sensitive are advised to stick with a lesser weapon. It may
jar loose the reticles of telescope sights, but there are
developments in the works to obviate that. The 376 Steyr cartridge
is apparently ready for production, and it should be just about
perfect for Alaska, as well as very handy in Africa.
We got into a pungent discussion with
family member Larry Berry as to the curious fact that a
great many people who consider themselves shooters do not shoot.
Apparently a certain kind of personality enjoys owning firearms,
but he feels that shooting them is not part of the play. He will
quote you ballistics and group sizes, but he will very rarely go to
the range and shoot recreationally. Very frequently he thinks that
the number of guns he owns is the measure of his personal worth,
whether or not they are particularly good guns. Hence a properly
designed general-purpose rifle, such as the Steyr Scout, frustrates
such a person. He does not want a rifle that will do everything. He
wants to have a different rifle for every day of the month -
not to shoot, but to talk about. Well, to each his own, and as long
as a man is a recreational shooter and gun owner, he is on our side
and we both vote the right way - or so I hope to
Our great good friend Danie van Graan of
Engonyameni reports two buffalo kills now with his "Co-pilot." That
little gun is, like the Steyr Scout, a triumph of design. It is
definitely a specialty item, but for people with that special need,
it is the perfect answer.
We continue to be depressed at the level
of weaponry skills manifested by our law enforcement establishment.
Some cops are quite good with their weapons. Most are not. In the
19th century it was customary, especially in the western United
States, for a peace officer to furnish his own weapons, and I think
there is much to be said for that. A man has more confidence in the
gun that he picked out and trained with himself. There is an
additional advantage that there would be no need for police
firearms training, since the officer would not be hired until he
could demonstrate that he was fully qualified with the weapon of
his choice. Now there is a way of saving money that no one has
brought up till now!
We regularly see the English publication
"The Week" and we admire it for the breadth of its interest
in world affairs. It is filled with odd and curious notations about
international activities and it is quite thorough in its
examination of the United States scene.
We discover, however, a curious and unsavory aspect of the British
culture, and that is the proliferation of foul language by people
whom one would have thought to be "respectable." A good bit of the
coverage in "The Week" periodical is given over to the
activities of celebrities, and if we are to believe it, people in
prominent positions today actually prefer to be disgusting in their
speech. Obscenity does not lend force to one's language, it merely
reveals a paltry vocabulary. When I was a lad, cadets at the
military academy and midshipmen at Annapolis were required to
memorize a speech made in Congress by a gentleman from Arkansas
(what else?) in which he was taking offense at the idea of changing
the pronunciation of his state. This declamation starts out, "Mr.
Speaker! Mr. Speaker! May God damn your paltry soul to hell!..."
And it continues for a page and a half using what must be
considered a masterly command of objurgation. The gentleman does
not use the same word twice. If you wish to use obscenity well,
note his example.
During my years in the military it was customary to use gutter
language under field conditions, if not on the platform. I suppose
that is true today, but the monotonous use of four or five
obscenities is more dull than forceful, and I gave up the practice
as soon as I achieved some degree of sophistication.
But "The Week" analyzed this phenomenon and pronounced the
idea that the use of foul language establishes the speaker as "one
of the boys," and thus permanently identified with the masses, as
opposed to the classes. I suppose a celebrity feels that his
popularity is what makes him a celebrity, and he cannot be popular
unless he appears to be a vulgarian. If this is the truth, it is
certainly a very sad truth, for we who are fortunate enough to use
the noble English language are personally befouled when we
desecrate it. In my opinion, it is far better to be a snob than a
Victims almost always die in
Condition White. Do not let that happen to you!
Let us not forget about Spc New, who
received a Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD) from the Army because he
refused to obey orders to fight for a foreign power. We can hardly
blame the Army for this action, because Spc New was clearly guilty
of insubordination, and we cannot have an army in which the lawful
nature of orders is open to discussion by subordinates. The
principle here, however, is important. It is a perilous thing to
dispute the legality of the orders of one's superior officer, but
men of honor have sometimes felt the need to do it.
Election time is upon us. VOTE!
Your dignity depends upon it.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.