Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 8, No. 8 August, 2000
Fresh garden tomatoes, ripened on the
vine, and corn only minutes off the stalk! What luxury! Summer is
not our favorite season, but we certainly enjoy the good things
about it, and these are those.
The European gunmakers are turning out
new-model 45 auto-pistols in startling numbers. What, then, have
these people discovered? Having been married to the 9mm Parabellum
cartridge for most of a century, it seems unlikely that they now
regard the 45 ACP as a superior round. It is probable that the
Parabellum is increasingly prohibited for sale to civilians since
it is considered to be a military cartridge. The result, I suppose,
is good, but I see none of the new guns as needful improvements
over what we already have. As you have noted over the years, the
Parabellum cartridge is effective about 50 percent of the time,
where the major-caliber pistol is up there closer to 90 percent. Of
course if you place your shot with particular care, a 22 will do
the job, but sometimes one gets excited.
The curious indifference of many Americans
to the fate of Elián Gonzales may be due simply to ignorance. As
stated in a recent issue of The National Review, "Most
Americans do not know what life is like in a communist country."
Certainly they will not learn about that from television, and that
seems to be the only evident source of information.
We note that Eric Hefnerr, the new world
champion of IPSC, shoots from what may be called a modified
isosceles position. Both arms are slightly bent, but the support
arm does not seem to be used to apply counter pressure. This hardly
matters since the weapon involved generates almost no recoil
whatever. It is long and heavy, with a bulky optical sight and an
elaborate recoil suppression system. It also shoots the least
powerful cartridge that can qualify as "major caliber." Does this
matter? Probably not, since the "practical" element has been long
removed from practical pistol competition. This does not mean that
we shall start teaching or justifying the isosceles position, since
we regard the service pistol as a weapon, rather than a
For those of you who have asked about the
recovery of our pistol from the Swiss customs, we can report that
the weapon was returned to the South Carolina club and issued as a
prize as promised. Of course it had not been used to harvest an
impala or a warthog as planned, so just say that it might have
We are informed by our friends in Switzerland that this annoying
affair has been traced to the incompetence and inexperience of a
particular administrator. We find those from time to time in all
Perhaps you know of the book
"Unintended Consequences," by John Ross, which narrates the
fictional account of violent resistance to the infringement of the
right of the people to keep and bear arms in the United States.
Turns out now that the BATF is doing its best to suppress the book,
since those people care no more about the First Amendment than they
do about the Second. We hear mutterings from several sources about
the possibility of a serious backlash against these obnoxious
people in their unconscionable behavior. The BATmen should
be, of course, abolished, but let us pray that this can be
accomplished without violence.
NOTICE! NOTICE! NOTICE!
Due to circumstances beyond our control,
the 8th Annual Gunsite Reunion at Whittington has been
moved one week back to 20, 21, 22 October. We hope that this
announcement does not come so late as to wreck your schedule, and
we hope to see you all there.
NOTICE! NOTICE! NOTICE!
We hear of a fatal hyaena attack somewhere
up in Bechuanaland. We are asking for details, but information on
this sort of thing is not easy to get. Many people in Africa feel
that news about the dangers of the bush are bad for the tourist
business. I find that odd. The crowning zest of the African
experience is that Africa is still Africa, and non-combatants
should stay out of the good locations. There are plenty of
game-viewing lodges and regions where the non-hunting tourist can
look at the animals. Such people should go there and stay out of
those last hunting edens which are still available to us.
New Goreism: "You're taking me outside my
depths with this." Would that we could leave him there!
We imagine you are familiar with the tale
of Sir Samuel Baker's hyaena contact. It appears that he and Lady
Baker were asleep in cots in a tent, feet toward the open fly.
Flossie took first notice of the dog-like head and rounded ears
silhouetted in the opening. She stealthily nudged Baker, who picked
up his rifle and fired, one-handed, between his toes - laying
out the beast in fine style.
Moral: Do not get separated from your rifle.
We will mention again - and keep on
mentioning it - that practical rifle instruction is a somewhat
vigorous activity. Do not sign up for it unless you are in
reasonably good physical condition, or you will embarrass
I have sometimes been asked what I
consider to be the prime attribute of a gentleman. One may not pick
singly, but certainly one of the more important elements is that of
an adventurous mind. Adventure is an important part of life, even
though, as Bilbo put it, it sometimes makes you late for dinner.
Not everyone has the luxury of indulging in adventures, but without
an adventurous mind it does not matter whether he has the
opportunity or not. I think one acquires an adventurous mind from
reading. I have not read as broadly as I might have, but I got a
good dose of adventure from the works of G.A. Henty, Sir Walter
Scott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, Zane Grey,
and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Of course few people read for recreation
anymore, so we find that adventurous minds are increasingly
It seems that the concealed carry policy
now in effect in 30 states is unfair to goblins. They cannot tell
who is armed and who is not, and when their intended victim shoots
back it hurts their feelings - along with other
It has long been accepted that not even
God can change the past, but this point has not got across to the
film makers, especially Mel Gibson. His recent movie "The
Patriot" seems to have upset the limp left to a great extent.
These people appear to be much concerned that a patriotic American
revolutionary might arm his adolescent sons in order to fight for
the cause. The movie has many good points, and establishes Gibson
as a real master of the tomahawk. Perhaps we can get him to hold a
class over here.
"The more convenient the medium, the
crummier the message."
All the family were pleased to
learn that the Defense Department has got around to awarding the
Medal of Honor to Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. The papers have not been
signed yet, and signing will be a painful act for our current
president, in view of his announced revulsion with the
We note that the new CEO of
Smith & Wesson opines that we shooters are a "vulgar and
radical minority." Well now, ain't that a shame!
One reason that many people do not
understand about proper stock length on a rifle is that very few
people study the snapshot, and pay attention only to slow-fire
shooting. Much mountain and desert hunting is slow-fire, but
sometimes the hunter finds himself in scrub, orchard/bush, or even
deep forest. Here the need for the snapshot becomes obvious. It
also would appear to be useful in urban infantry warfare, if
reports from Somalia may be credited. We have seen a lot of
snapshooting recently in Africa, where we have hunted largely in
bushveldt, and we find that the snapshot may be practiced empty to
good effect. You do not have to go to the range to practice your
snaps. Just stand at Standard Ready, across the room from that
postage stamp, and count "one," two," and "three" as the striker
goes forward. If those cross-wires are exactly subdividing that
postage stamp when the striker moves, you have a pretty good handle
on your snapshooting.
We note with some amusement that the
colorful local magazine, "Arizona Highways", was banned in
Moscow in 1965 on the grounds that it propagandized the idyllic
landscape and lifestyle of Arizona. This apparently made the poor
suffering comrades unhappy. Shucks!
In the last rifle course we had four
Savage scouts, which did not work out well. Curiously enough the
owners of these rifles felt that they were being discriminated
against - apparently by me. Well, I did not buy them their
guns. Clearly this is no time in history for anyone to be sporting
a thin emotional skin. Homemade scouts are interesting, instructive
and expensive. Some work better than others, but that is hardly a
reason to complain to the management.
I now have in my possession the first
prototype of the new 80th Birthday Gunsite Service Pistol,
and a very nice item it is. The line forms on the right.
I have always been an amateur historian,
and in German-speaking countries I am properly designated an
"Historischer." But history has fallen upon evil times. Both
fiction writers and film makers seem to make it up as they go
along; the reason, I suppose, is that history is "politically
What the Clinton administration has done
to the unisex army is dreadful to consider. Training standards have
become so low that anything that is hard tends to be rejected.
People are getting out of the service because the training is hard.
Throughout history recruit training has always been hard. Men have
reserves of endurance that they do not realize, and this must be
illustrated to them personally or the other side is going to win.
Remember that saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough get
going?" The current version seems to be, "When the going gets
tough - cry!"
The Department of Overdone Adjectives
One morning last week I leaped out of bed
and into my computer-programmed shower. Then I enjoyed my award
winning breakfast, checked the condition of my digital pistol and
fired up my tactical tricycle in order to get on with the day.
It is said that when Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald were cleaning
up their technique in Paris they used to read each other's
manuscripts and strike out adjectives and adverbs. Only if meaning
was lost did they put them back in. This is an excellent exercise
in English composition.
I must insist there is a better word than
"girl friend" for one's current mistress. "Paramour" works pretty
well, but if that sounds too dressy there is always
We rarely go to movies anymore, and when
we do we are impressed by the fact that the people who seek to
portray violence have apparently never seen any violence. In Mel
Gibson's "The Patriot" we note that it is policy to snarl
when you are loading your handgun. Maybe we should try that on the
range. When you change magazines you should grimace in order to get
the proper effect for your director.
Anyone who thinks he is going to get the
Israelis and the Arabs to sit down at peace together should first
try arranging a peaceful settlement between the fossa and the
The best rifle stories I know are
"Brown on Resolution" by C.S. Forrester and "The Sergeant
and the Bandits" by John W. Thomason. Strangely enough I have
not read any really good pistol stories, though there is a
convincing if minor incident in "For Whom the Bell Tolls." I
have by now personally acquired quite a lot of good pistol
anecdotes. The trouble is they have no plot. I must look into this
matter and write something worthwhile while there is still
The Safari Prep course is now scheduled
for early spring of next year. People have been asking what it
covers. We have a tentative syllabus on our desk, but it needs
polish. Essentially we will discuss the things you need to know in
order to get your money's worth out of your expensive venture. We
will include shooting with your African rifles, but shooting is
only a part of the exercise.
We may be a "vulgar and radical
minority," but perhaps we are not actually a minority.
I do not know if I can believe it, but I
am told now that a two-star general is being disciplined for the
"sexual harassment" of a three-star general. Should this be listed
under fantasy or science fiction? I have known a couple of
three-star generals, and maybe half-a-dozen two-star generals well
enough to form an opinion, and this news is in-comprehensible. A
three-star general constitutes a major element of military power,
suitable for bringing about changes in the political structure of
the world. Making a pass at a three-star general is somewhat akin
to pouncing upon a carrier battle-group. Sex is one of God's better
ideas, but this is ridiculous!
Is it possible that an honest-to-God
backlash is taking form in the sticks? We hear mutterings and we
devoutly pray that those unintended consequences of John Ross may
never be forced upon us by people who just do not understand about
We were recently told by a correspondent
that a self-loading pistol which cannot be cocked is perfectly okay
because he uses one and he shoots up a storm. Well, Jack Weaver
never shot anything but double-action and he wiped out first-rate
auto-pistol users by the score. Clearly anything can be done by a
man who starts with a great deal of talent and then applies himself
to it for much of his life. Thell Reed can hit those iron chickens
at 50 meters reliably from a waist-high-point without using the
sights. I have seen him do it. I have also seen pool sharks at
work, and I have watched Pete Sampras play tennis. Marvelous things
can be done "the hard way," but that does not mean that the hard
way is automatically the good way. If you are a good-enough swimmer
you do not need a life jacket when you go boating, but take one
The trouble with the gunmaking business
is that guns are too permanent. When you acquire a good gun you
probably never need to buy another. Hence the faddism we see in the
magazines and the shows. When everybody who needs a rifle buys his
Steyr Scout, the market can shut down - except for elephant
hunters, buffalo hunters, and prairie dog specialists. I guess we
shooters will just have to breed faster.
"I miss civilization - and I want it back."
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.