Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 10, No. 13 December 2002
The world scene may be pretty bleak, but
we certainly have a lot to be thankful for at home. With a serious
president in the White House and a majority in both houses of
Congress, our ship of state rejoices in a sound hand at the helm
and fair winds aloft. Despite the general moral decline in our
society, we still have great things to appreciate - the first
of which is having been born on the right side of the Holy War. We
have been reading up on Islam and discover that while Western
Civilization is far from perfect, it is infinitely better in all
respects than that which looms "East of Suez." We may need to clean
up our act, but at least we are in the right theater.
Our new book, to be entitled
"C Stories," is now in complete narrative form and
awaits the essential contribution of Paul Kirchner's excellent
illustrations. Paul has undertaken the creation of twenty-four,
full-page line drawings, ranging in subject matter from a head-on
with a mamba to the Lebanese War. A picture is worth a thousand
words, and we expect great things.
"The Steyr Scout was like cheating. It was all you said
it is and more. I really enjoyed putting it to use."
William Usilton, Champagne, Illinois.
Suddenly we discover that the operation of
the slide on the 1911 pistol is too difficult a task for the common
people. This was not true until recently, but it seems that while
our organized athletics have produced new records in achievement,
the generality of mankind has slid into us a race of watchers
rather than doers. We have never before encountered man, woman or
child here at the Ranch who could not work the slide on a 1911, but
now we hear about this difficulty from a couple of sources. Any
homemaker who operates a satisfactory household must be plenty
strong enough to handle all of her kitchen appliances and,
therefore, certainly strong enough to manage a pistol. Perhaps the
postmodern housewife does not operate a successful kitchen, but
buys everything prefabricated in the supermarket. People certainly
do come in different levels of potential. It has been our privilege
to have had very little to do with the conspicuously
As to that, we hear back from the war area that our ragheaded
adversaries are displaying gratifying incompetence in their
war-making capacity. Evidently many of them cannot work the slide.
Additionally they have no interest in maintenance, and machinery of
any sort does need to be maintained. The prevailing attitude
amongst their leadership class is that knowledge, being power, must
not be disseminated. If you know how to do something, keep it to
yourself lest the peasantry discover it. And beside this, the class
system seems irresistibly entrenched. The A class people do not
work physically. Officers, for example, will not pick up brass nor
set targets. In one incident, an officer trainee declined to walk
upon the grass for fear of contamination and required his troops to
carry him from one point to another. It may be wishful thinking,
but amongst those people the slave mentality seems to be rife. This
is certainly good news for us, if true.
This journalistic attempt to condemn
"sniping" as a criminal act must be shouted down. A sniper is a
highly qualified technician, and only the very best individuals may
qualify. A dim-witted murderer who happens to use a rifle should
not be dignified by referring to him as a sniper. A creep is a
creep, but a sniper is an expert.
Since most government departments have now
abandoned the revolver in favor of the self-loading pistol,
revolver technique is not as widely understood as it used to be.
The ignorant may denigrate the revolver out of some sort of lemming
principle, but the wheelgun still fills a niche that the auto
cannot. This is especially true in the game fields, and on jobs
where the operator must work with both hands free. The "heavy wheel
gun stroke" for the Magnum revolver, in which the piece is cocked
on recoil with the left thumb, permitting instantaneous, precise
second shots, is not widely understood. Yet it is exactly the right
technique for the serious use of the heavy revolver - 44 and
I repeat that the bench rest is a distinct
obstacle to the understanding of the art of the rifle. The bench
rest is a device intended to eliminate human error, and relates to
the rifle the way the dynamometer does to the motor car. It is
properly used to evaluate output of machinery - not of man. A
shooter's expertise is always measured from a field position, and
usually under time limitation. Unfortunately, most public ranges
are confined to the bench rest for reasons of administrative
safety. Sometimes I think that if safety is all that important one
should give up shooting and take up the frisbee.
This from Jeff Jacoby in the Boston
"Time and again we have been instructed that Islam is a
`religion of peace.' Over and over we have been assured that most
Moslems are non-violent and tolerant. Yet when Islamic fanatics
commit acts of horrifying atrocity, and do so as Moslems,
the peaceable Islamic majority has nothing to say. Why
It is interesting to note that the people
who put on television programs about matters of wildlife are not
outdoorsmen. I get the impression that TV producers are not the
sort of people who sleep on the ground, clean their own fish, build
their own fires, or really enjoy getting off the pavement.
Outdoorsmen are an increasingly rare breed. They have much to
teach, but it seems that few people want to listen to what they
have to say.
Father Flanagan, the renowned founder of
Boys Town, opined that he had never met a bad boy. Perhaps
the good father did not get around much, for horrible examples of
sheer unmotivated malice are more often committed by adolescents
than by adults - or so it would appear. To declare that we
should withhold capital punishment because the goblin is too young
seems unreasonable to me. A creep is a creep is a creep, regardless
if whether he is old enough to buy a package of
This talk of peace is wrong. Peace is the
absence of struggle, and Moslems, if they are sincere, are
dedicated to struggle. Tacitus said of the Romans, "They make a
desert and they call it peace." (Solitudinum faceunt. Pacem
apelant.) The Moslems' idea of peace is the extinction of
Christianity. Let us not dodge that!
When the revolution in pistolcraft began
back in the 1950s, the original purpose of the exercise was to
learn how to shoot better, in the sense of better using the handgun
as a combat instrument. Marksmanship standards up till that time
had been measured on bullseye courses, which are certainly better
than nothing, but hardly relevant. In those days we all shot
one-handed, standing erect at 25 and 50 meters. This is an
interesting and challenging exercise, but it has almost nothing to
do with fighting. A man who earned his Pistol Expert badge in those
days could establish that he knew how to work the pistol and handle
it safely with precision, but that was about all. Any relationship
between marksmanship and weaponcraft was coincidental.
Then the light dawned, commencing in primitive fashion with the FBI
and rapidly advancing with the introduction of practical pistol
competition in Southern California. This activity was enjoyed,
naturally, by enthusiasts, and I did not realize that sporting
enthusiasm is not necessarily an attribute either of the uniformed
public servant or of the private citizen. We did indeed develop the
modern technique of the pistol, and we evolved it by means of a
competition program which rewarded dexterity to a possibly
unrealistic degree. A great many people who own or carry pistols do
not pursue technical excellence, and it is possible that what
evolved over the years has become unrelated to the fighting skill
which is the purpose of the handgun.
I have just now noticed a commentary in a South African periodical
pointing out that the sighted fire, which is an element of the
modern technique, is irrelevant to the real world in which lethal
gunfights take place at distances so short as to make any sort of
accuracy unimportant. The author goes on to maintain that sighted
fire is simply too slow to matter in a pistol fight. I have heard
this argument before, specifically at the FBI Academy in Quantico.
This is theory, and I oppose it with practice. The fastest
controlled shot I have witnessed in competition was a point
thirty-nine, executed by Leonard Knight at Big Bear. It may be
possible to do better than this, but clearly it does not matter. In
a face-off, a point thirty-nine is not going to beat a point
sixty-five or, for that matter, a one point two.
The essentials of a successful gunfight remain precision, power and
quickness (DVC). These elements are equal, but they are
surpassed by one other thing, and that is attitude. It is
great to be quick, accurate and powerful, but it is more important
to be ready. The readiness to take the irrevocable step is
what will save your life. The Weaver firing stroke will do the job,
but only if you are emotionally ready to employ it.
Captain Tyler Heath, USMC (our grandson),
is looking forward to a forthcoming assignment eastward. We cannot,
of course, predict what sort of close encounter, if any, he may
come to enjoy, but though he is a very fine shot, he is going to be
handicapped by somewhat less than satisfactory personal armament.
Of course a captain is not supposed to shoot people, rather he is
supposed to direct operations, but fights do not always turn out as
planned. We know that Captain Heath will hit what he shoots at, if
that sort of thing comes to pass, but if he sticks to issue
equipment, he will hit it with a second-rate round. Most people I
have heard from the forward areas have been able to wangle
themselves a 1911 pistol. But if that cannot be arranged, the
skillful pistolero can always fall back on the head
This precision assassination from on high
is certainly a dramatic development of our technology. Potting a
specific bad guy from aloft is a pretty spectacular trick, as now
practiced by both ourselves and the Israelis. Hitting the target,
while an excellent technical exercise, seems to be far less
exciting than specific target acquisition. How do you know who is
in what car down there below you, or in what office building? This
G2 technique is way ahead of my time in the spook business,
and I marvel at it. I can think of several systems which might be
used, but clearly they are not advertised. How do we arrange to
slip a sensor into our target's wallet? Intelligence operations
often fail, and we hear about those. But, sad to say, our praise
must be withheld from our successes, if we want to be able to
The tidal wave of firearms ignorance
sweeps along. When I was young every family knew at least something
about guns. Today a lot of people are not even embarrassed about
how little they know. This is especially exasperating in
journalism. Note this: "All the victims who were apparently chosen
at random were hit with the single .233 rifle bullet, a caliber
favored by expert marksmen due to its accuracy at long range." This
is from the British periodical "The Week." How dismal it is
that people who know nothing at all about the subject at hand
assume that nobody else knows anything about it either!
Henry the VIII, quite reasonably, sought
to encourage skill-at-arms among his subjects. At one point he
decreed that both bows and arrows must be sold to young men between
14 and 18 at half price. Now there is an aspect of gun control that
had not occurred to me. Let's tell Schumer about it.
Note that defense can never win. Defense
gives the initiative to the aggressor, and leaves the field to the
foe. Thus "Department of Defense" is an unfortunate concept. Doctor
Rice is supposed to advise the president on the proper methods
available for both him and the country, but note that the enemy in
the current Holy War has already won the first three or four
rounds. He has killed kaffirs in quantity, without let or
hindrance. He strikes without the prospect of being struck. He
attacks where we can only defend. By the middle of the first
quarter he already has a ten point lead. We hope that Mr. Rumsfeld
and Dr. Rice have an answer to this. We hope.
Our sociology questionnaire has produced
almost no result. We asked a selection of ladies to list those
things about husbands which they found to be memorably irritating,
and we have come up with very little in response. One wonders if
men who are shooters are just nicer guys than others. Charming
Doctor Robert Hannan, a Gunsite family
member and cardiovascular surgeon, has digested and condensed
our Principles of Personal Defense into a satisfactory
foursome: "ALERT, DECISIVE, AGGRESSIVE, COLD." That is easier to
memorize than our entire pamphlet on principles, but it covers the
subject pretty well. The PPD pamphlet (Principles of Personal
Defense) treats the subject more thoroughly, but the Hannan
quatrain is a neat package to keep in mind.
It is somewhat off the subject of guns
and ammunition, but the question frequently comes up as to why
people write books. Let us consider this:
- As a means of making money. This is not a good reason, since
only rarely do books make money. You may make money writing a book,
the way you may feed yourself hunting deer. It is a cheerful
thought, but seldom productive.
- As a way of putting out the word. Some people feel the need to
preach. This is presumptuous, of course, but not entirely
unreasonable. Children are taught in schools to respect the printed
word. "If it's there in print it must be true." One who seeks to
improve the general scene feels that a published book is more
forceful than a verbal argument. A statement committed to a bound
volume truly relieves the author's feelings.
- To create a collector's item. A surprising number of people
feel that a book is not so much to read as to
have. To have a book sitting there on your desk which is
clearly attributable to a personal friend satisfies many people as
evidence of their participation in the public scene. Additionally,
some books, under some conditions, become surprising financial
assets. One is unlikely to become rich swapping books around, but
every little bit helps.
- For use as a doorstop. (Enough said.)
- As an art form. Some books can become surprising works of art
in their production and composition. Properly illustrated and
illuminated, such books become very pleasant possessions. This is
most apparent when the author becomes his own illustrator, as with
Tom Lee, John Thomason and Frederick Remington.
- As a cultural milestone. This is true of most scripture, but it
also extends to philosophy and health - as with Decartes,
Thomas Jefferson and Sigmund Freud.
- As a training aid. Teachers normally employ books as training
aids, not always wisely.
In the early 20th century, books served several other purposes. The
current popular novel was a conversation piece, more entertaining
to discuss than a television series or a movie. In those days,
books made ideal Christmas presents, not only as expressions of
affection, but as useful tools for self-improvement. And lastly,
books were often aspects of courtship. Presenting one's object of
affection with a really good book was often evidence of honorable
So books do have their uses, even in the age of illiteracy.
We use them to fight a rearguard action and hope for the
The front office of the NRA has come up
with some gratifying analyses of the election just past. We did not
win them all, but we won a lot. The overall picture deserves
thorough and detailed evaluation, but a couple of points are well
worth considering by those of us who insist that the United States
of America remain the last best hope of earth.
- After the election we now have 37 pro-gun governors against
thirteen anti-gun governors.
- For attorney general we have thirteen wins against six
- Of the 24 candidates for the US Senate endorsed by the National
Rifle Association, we won 21.
- We posted a net gain of two pro-gun seats in the senate.
- Of the 246 candidates endorsed by the NRA for the House of
Representatives, the NRA candidate won in 232 cases.
- We posted a net gain of thirteen pro-gun seats in the
The 108th Congress begins with the following NRA ratings: 230
, twenty-one B
, thirteen C
, and a 141 F
The front office analysis is quite complete, and shows a generally
Our political position is far from perfect, but it could be much
worse. The cause of personal liberty in the United States may not
be completely safe, but it is strongly in the lead, for which we
may be honestly thankful on this occasion of
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.