Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 8, No. 4 April, 2000
The blossoms are at their best and the
buds show promise of an excellent fruit year. We had very little
winter, but we look forward now to a furiously active spring and
early summer, both here and abroad.
Construction proceeds apace here at the ranch, and though we are
not quite ready yet for the new era, we will do our very best to
bring things up to scratch as rapidly as the new construction will
allow. We have conducted one Master Series Rifle class
already, and are set to do a pistol session next week. There will
be more of these as the year passes, and we hope each one will be
better than the last. I plan to be imparting classic Gunsite
doctrine, as perfected in the past, with the masterful help of our
Master Series faculty. A number of critics have called in to
explain to Colonel Bob Young that we have the message all wrong,
and they, as former members of various sorts of special forces
units, stand ready to step in here and straighten us out. On the
matter of marksmanship doctrine we are not inflexible, but we wish
to be convinced in person by those who claim to be able to show us
the right path. The core issue in combat weaponcraft remains the
combat mind-set, as always. We study this matter continuously from
the field, preferably by means of first hand experience, though to
a lesser extent from press reports. Newsmen as a group do not
understand fighting, though they show no reticence in pretending
to, but we at least can get things like time, date and number from
their reports. (Isn't it fascinating that the news people are so
concerned with the caliber of smallarms and the mechanical nature
of repeating actions? This seems to be a new thing, as I do not
remember this degree of technical preoccupation before.)
There will be a hiatus now as we head off
for Africa again for a period of several weeks. Sorry about that,
but we will be able to bring back various interesting anecdotes and
observations upon our return.
Here at Gunsite we have always been more
interested in the performance of the individual than of the group.
When the individual shooter is shown that his individual
performance can be brought to near perfection, we feel that we have
done our job. Sad to say, there are those who remain convinced that
fighting is correctly and exclusively a state function, and that
the individual citizen has no business learning how to involve
himself in it. This notion is widespread but fortunately not
universal, and thus we stay in business.
We ask again if you have any interest in a
"Safari Prep," course as we hear continuously from Africa that it
is customary for the usual African sportsman to manifest truly
shocking incompetence in many important areas. We will not put on a
Safari Prep course in 2000, but we will set one up for 2001 if the
world is still in one piece by that time.
It would seem obvious by now that if you
want to get the most out of your Gunsite rifle instruction you
should bring a Steyr Scout to work with. Hits are achieved by the
shooter, not the rifle, but why not make it easy on
The rejection of basic American tradition
by the (British-owned) firm of Smith & Wesson is irritating but
not unexpected. It does appear that the company is in the process
of phasing itself out of business, but then it has not been a true
leader in the sidearms field for some time. I suppose those of us
who pioneered the modern technique of the pistol may be held
responsible for the gradual abandonment of the revolver principle
in American law enforcement circles. Years ago I might have thought
better of this development than I do now. Certainly the self-loader
is a more efficient sidearm than the wheel-gun, but it has brought
about the flowering of the "spray-and-pray" principle, to the
intense disgust of all serious shooters. Seen in this light, it may
very well be that the police should have stuck with the
Getting information off the Internet is
like getting a glass of water from Niagara Falls, according to
Arthur C. Clarke. Maybe he has a point there.
"Thought control." We thought we were
fighting against it, as exemplified by Hitler, Mussolini and
Stalin, but now a strident cadre of busybodies is doing its best to
inflict it upon us. No person of dignity will submit to being told
how to think, but dignity has all but gone out of style in The
Age of the Common Man. Freedom of speech may be guaranteed by
the First Amendment to the Constitution, but that does not mean
that we exercise it. Just try calling a spade a spade and see what
May it be suggested that a man who does
not hunt is like a woman who does not cook? Okay, I said it and I
The Gunsite gunsmithy is now at work on
the production of a custom clone of the 1911, built to my
specifications on a Springfield frame. Eighty of these pistols will
be produced and serialized 0 through 80 in gold out of respect for
my venerable 80 years. (Note, this is not to be confused with the
announced Gunsite Service Pistol 2000, which is similar but not the
I intend to take a few of these new
fangled "spray point" bronze bullets on a forthcoming pig hunt in
South Carolina. According to photos that I saw at the SHOT Show,
this bullet configuration combines radial tissue disruption with
full penetration in a very unusual way. Of course, I first have to
find the pig.
Note that there is no such thing as a
"wall of separation" between church and state stipulated in this
country. We do not have it and we do not need it. What we may need,
however, is a wall of separation between school and state. The
state has no business brain washing our children, despite the fact
that that seems to be what it does at this time, or attempts to do.
Education is not the state's business.
Recently a certain ineptizoid got stuck
in the rocks up on Camelback Mountain near Phoenix. He was
rapelling down when he discovered to his astonishment that he had
run out of rope. Municipal rescue attempts were able to fetch him
down off the rocks without damage, but now the question arises as
to who is to blame for this mishap. (According to modern sociology
no victim can be responsible for anything.) It occurs to us that
some smart accident attorney might bring suit against the rope
maker for making the rope too short. That idea is not sillier than
many we have seen as The Age of the Wimp carries
"Yes, we did produce a near perfect republic, but will
they keep it, or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the
memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the
surest way to destruction."
I suppose you know that the British have
recalled all of their SA 80 service rifles, which were
discovered to be unreliable in operation under severe conditions of
dust and precipitation. That piece was apparently British designed,
but insufficiently tested before adoption. The SA 80 took the
now standard 223 cartridge, which never should have been adopted by
any serious military power.
Which brings us to the subject of poor
old General Pinochet of Chile. This man saved his country almost
single handedly from communism, but that in itself is largely a
negative attribute in the eyes of the international left.
After some period of examination it
appears that the European Union is a rather evil organization. The
Swiss have been trying to avoid entanglement with it, but they are
pretty well surrounded. It seems that the EU has now decided to
ostracize Austria, presumably because the Austrians are not
terrified of the ghost of Hitler. The members of the EU are
evidently not terrified by the ghost of Stalin - but that is
We have given the matter a good deal of
thought here at Gunsite, and our conclusion is that a prospective
hunter of big game should put between one and two hundred rounds
through the weapon he intends to take afield before taking off.
This could prove somewhat burdensome if your weapon of choice is a
416 (at $6.00 a shot), but then we have never been very much
impressed by the 416. If you choose to hunt with a really heavy
rifle, you must be prepared to face up to the expense. Of course
you can practice with a lesser round without losing too much in the
way of preparation. One option might be to put in your 200 rounds
with your 308 and about 40 rounds with your heavy. Not many of us
shoot a lot of buffalo, so this does not seem to be a serious
You all saw those pictures of Mozambique
under water. We hear from our good friends in the eastern Transvaal
that no serious damage has been done, away from the Zambezi Delta.
We expect to be down that way next month and should wind up with
some pretty good sea stories on this subject.
Family member Ted Ajax has put
forth a nomination for the Waffenpösselhaft award for 2000.
This is a gadget which sets up an additional barrel and action for
your M16, but which takes the 50-caliber BMG cartridge. Just what
one might do with a piece of this sort is by no means clear, but as
we have often mentioned, if you ask what a weapon is for you may
make a lot of enemies.
We can report no progress on the matter
of an idealized sight system for the Scout rifle. Conversation is
friendly, but progress is not forthcoming. "These things take
time," I was once told in Austria. I believe it.
An Australian correspondent has
introduced us to a creature we had not run across in all our
wanderings. This is nicknamed the "Borneo beetle" by the Australian
Air Force people, and it is pretty alarming. It hangs out in trees
at the edge of clearings and walkways. When it detects approaching
movement on the part of a creature of any size, it launches to the
attack. If a target is small, like say a song bird, it kills it in
the air with its powerful mandibles and devours what nourishment it
can find from the wreckage on the ground. If it hits something too
big, like say a man, it rips out a piece of meat as large as it can
handle, about the size of a small French fry, and flies off with
it. This can be pretty annoying to the troops, who were forced to
resort to a stratagem. On field exercises they would pack pockets
full of steel hex nuts. When the troops heard one of these assault
bugs approaching (which was not too difficult because his flight
was noisy), they would throw a hex nut in the air in front of him.
With luck he would grab the nut, and finding it too heavy to carry,
he would be forced to land, prey in hand. This little beasty would
seem to be an excellent target for a 22 shot round, but, of course,
the troops did not have such things at hand while on duty in
Borneo. I suppose a badminton racket would be a handy defensive
instrument under these circumstances, but here again we do not
usually pack badminton rackets in our jungle warfare kits.
The Borneo beetle seems to be a most interesting creature. Perhaps
we should cruise down there and investigate.
In this era of the decay of good English
usage, we point out that the terms woman and lady are not
inter-changeable. "Woman" is a specific definition, similar to
"cow," "mare," or "hen." "Lady," on the other hand, is an
honorific, the feminine equivalent of "Lord." Consider, for
example, the significance between the adjectives "womanly,"
"girlish" and "ladylike." Not the same, are they?
Pop English may truly be a lost cause. I
have gone back and scanned several volumes of my collection of
Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan, etc.) And then I compare the usage in
these pieces to that in modern journalism. I need to make no
corrections, either typographical or grammatical, in any of the
Tarzan books or their companions. They may be considered juvenile
by some standards, but reading them carefully is a good way to
improve your English.
More or less by accident, we recently ran
across a small snippet at the end of a movie in which we discovered
the world's greatest marksman. The name is Whoopi Goldberg (!).
This one can shoot any sort of firearm, under any sort of pressure,
from any position, against the clock, without sights - and she
never misses! We heard she also took third prize in the Ugly Woman
contest. Show business is marvelous indeed!
"Under the administration of Rhodes, there were the
fewest laws, the widest freedom, the least crime, and the truest
justice I have ever seen in any part of the world."
Frederick Russell Burnham
Burnham was writing at about the turn of the 20th century, but we
have made much progress since then, haven't we?
We hear of another croc hit up in Chobe.
It seems this lad was walking down to the river bank to do his
laundry. He was a tourist, not a local, or he would have known
better. The way these innocents wander around the world with no
understanding of nature or life in general is what we used to call
a scandal for the jay birds. Well, at least they will not
reproduce, and I guess that is all to the good.
In keeping track of special agent Lon
Horiuchi, we note that the television people are understandably
reluctant to show his face. After killing Vicki Weaver with one
round to the face up at Ruby Ridge, he was put in charge of a
sniper team which went on down to Waco. Just what a sniper team
might be good for in that action is not clear, but Horiuchi has
maintained that his team never fired a shot at that time. Recently
released television coverage of that action shows four empty
cartridge cases on the ground at the sniper post occupied by
Horiuchi and his team. Apparently, someone else came in after the
battle and dropped the four empties at the spot where Horiuchi was
located. If he says no shots were fired, I guess no shots were
fired. After all, Agent Horiuchi is a West Point graduate, and we
can trust him implicitly.
We suggest that you do not bring to
school here any equipment which requires batteries to operate it.
(That is apart from your ordinary flashlight.) These dry cells have
a marvelous way of being dead when you need them. A friend of
Colonel Bob Young had the job of replenishing dry cells in the Gulf
War. He spent all of his time in his helicopter racing from one
point to another dumping off sacks full of dry cells, some of which
I am sure you all caught the story of
that excellent performance by a teacher in a class beset by some
loony student with a pistol. Where her male opposite number in the
other room hysterically told all of his students to hit the deck,
and did so himself, our heroine just walked up to the perpetrator
and took the pistol away from him. This girl has earned the Gunsite
silver medal for common sense. Way to go, teach!
For those planning to come to the new
Gunsite this year, we have several suggestions. First, get in
shape. Second, do not bring a nipping dog to the campground. Third,
do not bring a pistol which cannot be cocked. Fourth, read the
A correspondent recently sent us a novel
he had written on the subject of the breakdown of liberty in this
country. This work was fiction and, as you might suppose, it
included a good deal of high-toned violence, including gunfire. The
trouble is, the author evidently has never been in a fight and
knows nothing about the mechanics of fighting. He gets his
cartridges and calibers right, but he probably got those simply out
of reading gun magazines. He does not, however, know what happens
when a man gets shot. I suppose there are fewer and fewer of those
who do understand about this, as our wars recede into the past.
Still the number of street fights which occur regularly in today's
embattled society would seem to provide enough observation to clean
up this matter. My suggestion is that if an author chooses to write
about street violence, either with firearms or without, he send his
typescript to somebody who has been there for a technical
As I write this, I look forward to bison
short ribs for dinner tonight, prepared as the Countess can prepare
them. I reflect that we should shoot bison more often. It may not
provide the best venison in the world, but if our experience can be
useful, it is certainly among the best. Moreover, you may collect
about 400 pounds per shot fired.
Historian and family member
Barrett Tillman discovers that there are more than 30 incidents
involving the 1911 pistol in which the Medal of Honor was awarded.
That instrument represents a triumph of design, and it was just one
of John Browning's triumphs. Oddly enough, John Browning never
heard a shot fired in anger. (But then, Beethoven was
With deep sadness we must report the death of our dear friend
Finn - hunter, rifleman, author, distinguished outdoorsman and
Gunsite family member. Finn was a Norseman who became a PH
in Kenya in its great days and then resettled in Texas after the
demise of tropical Africa.
1932 - 2000
In the US he wrote freelance for various shooting periodicals and
his work was remarkable for both modesty and absolute
honesty - qualities somewhat rare in "specialty
We had the pleasure of taking the field with Finn on a several
occasions in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. He was a splendid
companion and we will miss him sorely.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.