Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 9, No. 5 May, 2001
Spring has sprung. And even the political
situation, while far from perfect, is far better than it was last
year at this time. We hoplophiles have acquired a sort of breathing
space, and while we can never relax our guard, we can tighten our
belt, straighten our tie and keep up our practice.
The situation here at Gunsite continues to improve, and our
programs for the coming months seem to be very well on course. We
just finished our first Safari Prep course and enjoyed it
thoroughly. I expected more ladies in the group and I also expected
more basic competence amongst the students. I had announced that
one should not sign up for Safari Prep unless he was quite
competent with the rifle, but evidently we do not all seem to have
the same standards of competence. One should not enter a motor race
unless he knows how to drive. One should not aspire to create a
first-rate kitchen unless he knows how to cook. And one should
certainly not take after big game unless he knows how to shoot.
Apparently I did not make it clear that the Safari Prep course was
not a shooting course, but rather a course in "adventure
management." Well, we will square that away next time
I think it is about time we set up an
essay contest on the nature of hoplophobia. Just what causes this
aberration and how is it developed? I would be willing to
contribute some prize money if we could get the matter
We are somewhat annoyed at the tendency of
the media to refer to an observation aircraft as a "spy plane."
Over the years the term "spy" has acquired a negative connotation.
A spy is one who pretends he is something he is not. He wears the
wrong uniform. He claims to be on your side when he is working for
the enemy. This is not the same as observation. An observer seeks
information, but does not pretend to be on the other side. If that
aircraft in China had been displaying the red star, it might
properly have been called a "spy plane." This does not make much
difference perhaps, but words do influence people's attitudes, and
spies are traditionally shot when discovered. If that P3 had been a
"spy plane," it would have been quite in accordance with military
tradition for the Chinese to have shot the crew. It would be nice
if the news people would watch their language.
The new Ruger 480 is certainly an
interesting artifact, but it does raise the question "what is it
for?" (That, of course, is a rude question.)
Pundit Chilton Williamson observes that
there is no more American way of spending a snowy Wyoming morning
than listening to Rush Limbaugh while loading ammunition. Our
friend Rush sometimes gets a little overblown in his presentations,
but certainly his heart is in the right place.
Shooting Master John Pepper points
out to us again that one does not look through a telescope
sight, but rather at it. The image of the target is
projected upon the reticle so that both image and reticle are in
the same plane. This is the principle advantage of a telescope
I suppose all the faithful by now have
seen the sniper movie. "Enemy at the Gates" was a particularly
clumsy title, but the film itself had some good points. One must
never take a movie as an authoritative glimpse of history, but the
thing that was quite apparent in this case was the shortness of the
ranges involved in the shooting. The notion that sniping is
conducted "way out there" is quite common, but perhaps not quite
sound. In the ruined city of Stalingrad it is unlikely that anybody
ever took a long shot. The action was mainly a matter of "across
the street." Thus these fantastic machines that are turned out now
as "sniper rifles" may be artifacts in search of the wrong goal.
"Minute of moose," to use John Gannaway's phrase, is more to the
point. As always and forever it is the man, not the machine that
achieves the results. IT IS THE SHOOTER NOT THE RIFLE THAT GETS THE
People who study these matters tell us
that we should change our pistol ammunition about every six months.
I suppose there is justification in that, but I have had occasion
to use World War I pistol ammunition with complete success,
though I would not suggest this as a policy to be
A long-eye-relief telescope doth not a
scout rifle make. There are about seven other essential attributes.
Scout One enjoyed great success on its first outing. At that time
it was equipped with iron sights only.
You may not believe this but we were
informed by good authority that those PETA people (People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals) sent a task force down to Equatorial
Africa to convince the locals that they should become vegetarians!
From what I have seen of them, I think it would be easier to
persuade the Bantu to give up sex than to give up meat. Sometimes
in this connection it seems that the onrushing tidal wave of
ignorance has reached a point where vast numbers of people are
totally unaware of the nature of the world they live in. I do
suppose that all sorts of things are being taught to young people
in school, but a general course on "The Nature of Things" does not
seem to be on the list.
Family member Bob Mihan of Idaho
points out that the installation of a small lock-washer on that
unfortunate cross bolt "safety" in recent issues of lever guns is
cheaper, easier and more politically correct than a spot weld. Good
We caught a recent news item to the
effect that 75 percent of the people of the District of Columbia
may be categorized as "minority." Let us see now, if 75 percent
make up a minority, I suppose 25 percent would make up a majority.
Possibly we should reorganize our government on that
Now that "those people" have moved out of
the White House, one wonders if it is now going to be easier or
more difficult to find out just how Vince Foster was
Piracy continues to be on the rise in
various parts of the world, though not so much in the Caribbean as
elsewhere. It is burgeoning in Indonesia and along the Guinea
coasts and Somalia coasts of Africa. It seems to me that a
well-tended 30 caliber Browning machinegun is the ideal answer to
piracy on the high seas. I propose that answer is too "low tech"
for today's times.
If the Chinese fighter pilot, Wang Wei,
is an example of the breed, we take that as a good development. If
Chinese fighter pilots are incapable of keeping distance in the
air, it is nice to have them on the other side. Should we add the
term "Chinese fighter pilot" to what we used to call "a Chinese
fire drill"? We should not get our hopes up, however. The rest of
that crew may be more skillful.
Rumor has it that George W. Bush's
nightlight companion is a GSP. I cannot verify that, but it is a
Herewith are a couple of good quotes from
our patron and hero Theodore Roosevelt.
"There should be at least ten times the number of
rifles in the country as there are now."
"A vote is like a rifle: Its usefulness depends upon the character
of the user."
We hear of people who are now requiring
the tactical load in competition. Here is a total
misconception of the exercise. The so-called tac load is used when
there is time. If one is to reload against the clock, he naturally
will not use a tac load, but rather a speed load. One simply does
not tac load when he is in a desperate hurry (as in a competitive
exercise). But expecting people to think as we proceed into the
21st century is clearly a bit much.
SHOVELS by Art Hammer (of the Gunsite African
A murderer serving life-without-parole for five separate gruesome
murders escaped from his Oregon maximum-security prison this past
week. He stole a car and made his first stop outside Pocatello,
Idaho. He watched a residence and saw a family pack their suitcases
into their car and leave. He immediately pulled his vehicle into
their driveway, then broke into their house from the rear.
Unfortunately for one, the traveling residents realized they had
forgotten something for their trip and returned within a few
minutes, finding their house broken into. The father confronted the
intruder (not knowing the felon's history) and ordered him to
leave. The felon said he just wanted some food and clothes. At this
point, the father rattled the felon with a shovel across the head.
One more smack with the shovel ended the conversation. When the
police arrived, the father was in the backyard with the felon lying
at his feet. The father was resting, leaning on the shovel. After
the police picked up the felon the family continued on their
Many important questions arise. Which shovel is best for
self-defense? A dirt shovel? A snow shovel? A coal scoop? Is a
lightweight model with a shortened grip better? Would this make it
a "concealed shovel"? If the shovel had been purchased at a
nationwide home-improvement retail chain, would they have to issue
new policies and have a press release expressing regret? Could the
father's shovel be construed as an assault shovel? The father used
only two blows. If this shovel had been capable of more than ten
blows, would that make it an evil shovel without any sporting use?
(My son claims that no shovel has a sporting use.)
The police did not confiscate all the father's shovels. He may have
more. He also did not keep a safety lock on the shovel. Rumor has
it that his children had easy access to the shovel without parental
guidance, though there is no evidence that they ever used it
without constant parental supervision.
The father has not suffered any post traumatic syndrome. In fact,
no member of the family has sought psychiatric counseling. Believe
it or not, that very night they all attended the state high school
basketball championships in Boise. The father didn't even care to
be interviewed by the press and go on Larry King Live. How
will a plaintiff's attorney in a wrongful recapture case present
this to a sympathetic jury? (Wait. This is Idaho. There will be no
sympathetic jury. Heck, there won't even be a lawyer to entertain
such a case.)
The father happened to be an American Indian living on a
reservation. The felon was white. Could this have been a hate crime
caused by centuries of social injustice? Or since the father had a
home and the felon had none, was this a case of economic class
So many questions!
More thought is required than I am capable of.
Now that the season for vacations is
coming around, I would like to vote that we start using the term
"adventure" in place of "vacation." Vacation simply implies
vacating the premises, and that is not a very exciting aim. It is
better to go do something than to just get out, or so it seems to
me. So now it has come time for adventures for
Those weird people we sometimes refer to
as "bunny huggers" have developed a branch which might be referred
to as "fish kissers." It turns out that in Britain some of these
characters have decided that catching salmon upsets the salmon, and
that, therefore, salmon fishermen are evil people. The silliness
coefficient continues to rise.
"I wish I'd never seen the Steyr Scout. It is easier to
resist a concept than a fact."
Family Member Bill Brown
The legitiphobes (?) seem to have
developed the idea that a light trigger is somehow an unsafe
trigger. Any trigger at all in the hands of a fool is unsafe, and
weight will not change that. The primary curse of the Age of the
Wimp is timidity. I suppose we should feel sorry for the wimp
because he leads a sorry life, but as far as I am concerned he is
welcome to weep himself to death.
We have always heard that the directive
at Bunker Hill was to hold fire until "you can see the whites of
their eyes." Now how far is that? I suggest you try and measure
that some day and see what range you come up with. You will note
that it is not very far, close enough to make quite sure of a
center hit on a human-size target at conversational distance. If
you could make sure that your people would follow that rule you
almost certainly could settle the matter with a bayonet.
By what measure should a man be
considered a qualified rifleman? We suggested that no one apply for
the Safari Prep course unless he was so qualified. But what
standards do we use? It is possible that an M ticket on a Gunsite
270 might be a base qualification, but there may be others. Should
a man who has consistently fired "expert" on a military course be
considered qualified? I passed that question around and came up
with a good deal of doubt. How about this? A qualified rifleman
should be able to stand erect at 200 meters, drop to a stabilized
position (other than prone) and sock it to a ten-inch disk, with
his first shot, in 10 seconds-every time. That is certainly a very
limited standard, but it might do for a starter where more
elaborate procedures are impractical. We might go further and
suggest that a qualified rifleman is one who can hit a standard
clay bird going away three times out of ten tries with his hunting
rifle. Naturally we could elaborate in various directions and make
the test much more complex, but the idea is a quick test for
somebody who claims he is "ready." We must look into this
Shooting Master John Pepper
recently got into a head-on with some range-keeping bureaucrat in
the east who informed him that civilians could not fire on a range
together with military men, pretending to quote some obscure rule.
John quite naturally went into a tizzy and looked the matter up.
There is no such rule, but this sort of thing can be expected from
bureaucrats, who assume that nobody else knows the rules either.
John won that discussion, but I do not think he has simmered down
I ran across a curious commentary on the
part of some writer who was extolling the merits of the Luger and
Mauser pistols at the turn of the previous century. He quoted the
names of Borchardt and others, but he also claimed that he wanted
to know more about the pistols developed by Herr Selbtstlader. Now,
selbtstlader is, of course, a German word for "self-loader"
and this author had a difficult time trying to find somebody by
that name who invented firearms. There are plenty of selbtstlader
pistols around, but they were not invented by this
I repeat that I think it is a bad
practice to put a telescope sight on a 45-70. The 45-70 is an
elegant cartridge and it will do whatever is necessary out to as
far away as you need to do it. You can put that big bullet exactly
where you want with iron sights out to 150 yards or so, and on a
big animal that is all you need.
Back when we were living in California,
the introduction of the 264 Winchester cartridge created a stir.
One prospective deer hunter told us with excitement that his 264
would do at 400 yards what the 270 would do at 300. I was
impressed. If he could establish this he must be some fancy rifle
shot. Later we went hunting together and I saw this gent miss a
stationary buck by about four feet at a range of 100 yards. Here we
go again! Good equipment is fine, but the man does the
In our Safari Prep course the troops had
the opportunity to fire various African mediums and heavies, and it
was interesting to observe their reactions to recoil. Most opined
that the 450 Nitro double belted them harder than the bolt-action
460 G&A, though the latter hits the target a bit harder. This
appears to be a matter of stock design.
It may be my misapprehension but it does
seem to me that a characteristic of post modern man is a total lack
of humor. Nobody seems to get the joke, and post modern man takes
himself entirely too seriously. One thing I have always admired
about the warrior personality was the capacity to see the funny
side of even the most desperate situation. Possibly we do not have
any warrior personalities anymore. At least the educationalists
would try to make that so, but there is no reason for the rest of
us to go along with that. So lighten up everybody!
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.