Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 2, No. 9 26 July 1994
High Summer, 1994
Corn, only minutes off the stalk, and
vine-ripened tomatoes from the garden! Summer may be unpleasantly
warm, but it does have its compensations - especially now that
the summer rains have come to freshen up the landscape. And now is
the time to get out there with your rifle and put your annual 200
rounds through it so that you will not be caught by surprise during
hunting season. Remember also to stay clear of the bench. Work on
quick acquisition of position, instant bolt work, perfect surprise
breaks, and do not forget the snap shot. You do not need it often,
but when you do, it is awfully nice to have.
A family member recently sent in
yet another multiple hit failure with a minor caliber pistol. The
goblin took sixteen rounds of 9mm. before deciding to talk things
over. The Countess asked if this was not some sort of record, but
while close, it was not unique. We have had several up in the
twenties over the years.
In that connection, we have been
interested in going further into the action at Rorke's Drift to
discover that several officers in that memorable engagement did
excellent work with the heavy caliber British service revolver. The
troops were using single loaders, but the officers had wheel guns,
and when one is in danger of being mobbed by squadrons of
passionate Zulus, one shot stops are quite satisfactory. From first
hand accounts it appears that neither soldiers nor officers had any
need to fire twice. That was over one hundred years ago, and see
how we have progressed!
Those of you who wish your own copy of
"Liberty's Teeth," the video tape I recently cut with Bruce
Beers for Quad Productions, may secure same by calling:
It has come to my attention that there is
a brochure floating around issued by (Grey) Gunsite which maintains
that I inspect personally every piece sold by the Gunsmithy at this
time. It is true that I used to do this, but I have not done so
since the great lynch party of April Fool 1993. Any attempt to
advertise that I do is barefaced prevarication.
Despite what you may read in the popular
press, not all proper role models are deceased. Consider, for
example, Admiral James B. Stockdale. This gentleman is widely known
for his exposure to seven years of obscene abuse by slant-eyed
little fiends in Hanoi during the Viet Nam war. This experience is
worthy of note, but consider the fact that this man did much more
than suffer torture. He is first of all a philosopher (by
profession at the Hoover War Institute,) secondly a fighter pilot,
and thirdly a naval officer. He did everything right throughout his
life and now he continues to improve our thought processes as the
continuation of his life's work. And note that while he may be
politically incorrect as a white male, he is not a dead white
Family member and Babamtulu veteran
Jack Buchmiller notes that if Nicole Simpson had studied at Gunsite
she would now be a wealthy widow.
All of the enlightened are well aware of
the Pepper Popper
reactive steel target now in general use
throughout the world. This is the brainchild of John Pepper of
Maryland, who is now running for the Maryland House of Delegates.
John is not only one of the few true rifle masters and a leading
creator of practical rifle competition, but he is also one of the
dedicated defenders of American liberty as granted by God and
protected by the Bill of Rights. He needs your support, and those
of you who live in Maryland will do well to get in touch with him
through the following address:
Pepper Campaign Committee, 5530 Wisconsin Ave., Suite
710, Chevy Chase, MD 20815.
For those of you who wish to acquire a
proper view of the African scene, we can recommend "The African
Experience" by Roland Olliver, available from Harper Collins.
This is as clean and objective a piece of African history as we
have run across.
As we have often preached, the only one
of life's great pleasures of which there is never any satiety is
learning. Anything else you do for your delight which you do long
enough will eventually become tiresome, but learning never tires.
Unfortunately, it has become fashionable to regard learning as a
tool rather than an end in itself. It is customary to think that
one learns "X" in order to do "Y." This may be true, but it is only
a trivial aspect of the matter. Learning of any sort should be
regarded as an end in itself, because it is the one attribute that
lasts forever and can never be taken from you.
I now look forward to adventure after
nilgai this winter with Finn Aagaard down in Texas. The nilgai is
the "blue bull" of India, and while he does not sport a spectacular
set of horns, he uses them skillfully and he is a big, strong
animal. Also, he is reputed to be excellent eating. We will
naturally give you a full report if everything works out.
In a recent article, Layne Simpson tells
of the conclusions reached at a symposium of professional hunters
which he recorded. These people were Africans, but their
observations are pertinent everywhere. He lists the following
shortcomings observed by the pros in the field, in the following
- "Bringing more gun than one can shoot accurately." This is
especially true of Africa, but it also applies to Alaska. It is a
very common and pernicious error to assume that one will achieve
better results in the field by the use of more powerful weapons.
Power failures, when the bullet is well placed and penetrates
fully, are almost unheard of. Bad shooting, on the other hand, is
by no means uncommon. Many years ago we noted the inscription in a
commercial advertisement which claimed that "Out where ranges are
long you need Weatherby power." Mistake. Out where ranges are long
(and even when they are not) what you need is to know how to shoot.
The random shooter, who does not practice, is ill-advised to buy
something bigger than what he is used to, since justifiably or not
it may intimidate him. Recoil and blast are not problems with a
well-seasoned marksman, but they may indeed upset the
20-round-a-year man. Use what you know you can hit with. Use the
proper bullet and you will have no trouble.
- "Poor physical condition." Hunting may not be the kind of
activity that calls for entry into a triathlon, but it can be
physically demanding, especially in mountainous terrain. We
recently noted the conspicuous success of our shooters who were in
top shape. Before you take the field find yourself a convenient
hill and trot up it three times a week. You will be glad you
- "Inability to spot game in heavy brush." This is a function of
"the hunter's eye" and it cannot be learned by wishing. Generally
speaking, the more hunting experience you have the better will be
your target acquisition, but simple wilderness hiking, for those
who can manage it, will sharpen up the skill conspicuously,
especially if the individual makes a contest of it and logs his
observations regularly on paper.
- "Inability to shoot accurately from the offhand position." At
least a third of your shots should be practiced from offhand, and
against the clock. The one-and-a-half second interval I use when
teaching rifle, from standard ready to hammer fall, is a good test.
And you do not need a stop watch. Count to yourself, "one, two,
three," at a convenient interval. On "one" you mount the piece to
the shoulder. On "two" you acquire the reticle with the shooting
eye. And on "three" you gently press the trigger. Clearly you can
practice this at home without going to the range, and you certainly
should take time to do this before going to the field. Another
system I often use is to sit in front of the tube, with my rifle in
my lap, and wait for a commercial to come on which displays zeros
or "O's." If I can simulate a clean surprise-break every time an
"O" appears, I am getting there. If two "O's" appear (as in Coors,)
the bolt must be snapped between the two shots. When you get good
at this you are well on the way, even without going to the
- "Shooting offhand when a natural rest is available." Whenever
possible, use a rest, and this is surprisingly possible. On my last
trip to Southwest Africa, all four shots I took were from a tree or
post rest. The late, great Elmer Keith was fond of using his "ten
gallon" hat for this purpose when shooting from prone. And Jack
O'Connor was fond of using his binocular case. If a rest is
available, use it. Do not try to prove that you are capable of
hitting the target from offhand.
- "Inability to shoot quickly." See paragraph "4" above. Note
that this is fully as much a matter of mental conditioning as of
marksmanship. I have know several good shots, who had proved they
could shoot quickly, go into a sort of paralysis when the Baker
Flag was hoisted. This may be a form of buck fever, so inoculate
yourself before taking the field.
- "Choosing a bullet that goes to pieces without penetrating."
Proper placement and penetration are the two things that will
secure your game most reliably. Placement is the function of
anatomical knowledge and marksmanship. Penetration is a function of
bullet performance. There are some stout bullets on the market. Use
one that is tried and tested.
- "Unsafe gunhandling." This is a terror, and simply establishes
that far too many people take to the field without any education at
all in the principles of marksmanship. It is not confined to
duffers. Too many times we have seen professionals handling their
weapons in ways that would bring a stern reprimand from any
competent rangemaster. By choice, go to school if you can. With or
without school engrave the four principles of safe gun handling in
your mind and do not ever let them fade out.
- All guns are always loaded.
- Do not let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the
- Be sure of your target.
- "Unfamiliarity with animal anatomy." Study your target's
anatomy with great care whenever you see a picture of a four-footed
beast in a book, a magazine or on the tube. Remember that your
target is a three-dimensional object and pay careful attention to
"target angle" (zero is coming straight in, 180 is running straight
away, and so on in between).
- "Admiring the first shot rather than continuing to shoot until
the animal is down." This one brings pained recollection to me as I
lost the best sable I ever saw by calling off the war immediately
when the beast dropped to a hit on the spinal flange. Having been
overgunned for most of my hunting life in North America, I assumed
that when I got a clean surprise-break, my animal was secured. This
is not necessarily true, and the bolt should be snapped instantly
following a shot regardless of what you see through the glass. The
ideal is to get your empty on the ground by the time you pick up
your target after recoil.
I apologize to Mr. Simpson for borrowing his work, but it was
excellent and I mean this in the sense of sincerest
"I think it would be very wrong indeed to do anything
to fit a boy for the modern world."
John Mortimore, in the British publication,
And now we see advertised the "Black
Knight" service pistol, designed to give you everything in a 1911
that you always wanted but were afraid to ask about. It is made
entirely in the United States and it is presented as being "ready
out of the box," just as was the Gunsite Service Pistol in earlier
days. I have not yet seen one nor fired it, but it is clearly a
good idea and we wish it well.
(Nowlin Custom Mfg., Rt. 1, Box 308, Claremore, OK
How long do you suppose it will take
Jesse Jackson to discover that the horror in Rwanda was caused by
the French abandonment of their colonial policies and leaving these
people to their own devices?
[Editor's note: see also - exchange of letters in "Guns & Ammo" Magazine,
April, May 1995.]
For further enlightenment on the
situation in both South Africa and the US, I can strongly recommend
the self-published typescript,
"Racism, Guilt and Self-Deceit" by M. Gedahlia
Box 261330, Johannesburg 2023, RSA.
Dr. Braun has discovered that only the politically correct can find
publishers in today's atmosphere. His work, which is very carefully
researched and irreproachably objective, is not politically
correct, which may be its strongest recommendation.
It certainly seems clear that we do not
need this flood of new cartridges that we see advertised at every
turn. The cartridges we have used for most of the twentieth century
are quite good enough as they stand. What we do need is improved
delivery systems. At this time, we do not have a proper rifle
action, nor do we have a proper rifle sight. And nobody seems
inclined to build one because the manufacturers can sell all they
make as it is right now.
Among the many desirable features which we do not see on our
current guns is a mechanism to obviate a "short stroking." I have
never been guilty of this sin personally, since in my childhood I
was forcefully instructed to work that bolt just as hard as I
could - hard all the way, both ways, with no mercy. Still, in
my recent hunting adventures, I have known three cases in which the
shooter did not withdraw the bolt all the way and failed to pick up
the next cartridge on closing the bolt. This can be serious -
even deadly when confronting dangerous game. It seems to me that a
simple gadget could be installed in the receiver which would
prevent forward motion of the bolt until after it had been fully
withdrawn. It seems evident that the complaints do not seem to get
through to the designers, who are anxious to give us such things as
variable power telescopes and three-position safeties, as well as
trigger cocking self-loading pieces - all of which stand as
answers in search of questions.
A family member
veteran Art Hammer has gone to considerable trouble to analyze and
collate the shooting results of our recent expedition. His
conclusions are for the most part not surprising, but they do
corroborate various principles we have gathered over the years.
The toughest beasts in Africa, pound for pound, are the blue
wildebeest and the zebra. It is here that the notion arose that
some of our members could have used more power, but I take leave to
doubt this. Ian McFarlane of Okavango once told me that he had seen
a blue wildebeest take eight hits in the boiler room from a 300
Winchester Magnum before falling down. On the other hand,
granddaughter Amy Heath dropped hers on the spot with one round
from the 308/180 Nosler. There naturally is some luck involved
here, but more than that it is the combination of proper placement
and adequate penetration which seems to make the difference.
One conclusion I did find somewhat surprising was that animals who
suffered complete penetration - in one side and out the
other - were 50 percent more likely to go down quickly than
animals which did not show exit wounds. Since 38 animals were
recovered, by seven hunters over a period of ten days, this
analysis is somewhat more reliable than my own experience, which
never indicated to me that full penetration was a critical
- The median distance at which animals were shot was 125
- Shooters were severely winded in 25 percent of cases
- The sling was used in 50 percent of cases.
- A field rest was used in 45 percent of cases.
Danie van Graan, our host at Engonyameni, feels very strongly that
the prospective African hunter should submit himself to a proper
course of rifle training, not more than six months before
undertaking the adventure. He also corroborates the general
command, "Get in shape!"
Those of you who are coming to the NRA
Whittington Center for the Second Annual Gunsite Reunion and
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial are urged to make preparations
now. First, you should make your reservation with Mike Ballew at
the shooting center. Remember the occasion will last for three
days - October 21, 22 and 23. Second, start thinking about
which declamation you wish to declaim. Your presentation may be
either prose or verse, it may be read from the manuscript or
memorized. It need not be prepared either by or about Theodore
Roosevelt, but it should reflect the spirit of the age which he
typified. When you have decided, it would be helpful if you would
let me know what your title is so that I can put the word out to
avoid duplication. Never did we suspect that there were so many
frustrated thespians among the faithful. If you came last time you
will know what I mean, and if this one is your first adventure, I
guarantee that you will be delighted. Make your plans
Neighbor and family member Colonel
Bob Young has taken me out shooting following my recent stint in
drydock. I am happy to report that while I cannot yet quite yet "do
it all," I can do most of it, and I expect to be fully
combat-worthy by the end of summer. A bit of advice I can extend to
the inexperienced is, if you go about breaking bones take care to
break them one at a time.
It may be a digression from the usual
content of this publication, but for heaven's sake remember that we
have a chance in November! The liberal strangle-hold on our federal
legislature may be broken if we all take the trouble to vote for
the right man. The war cry, "Throw the rascals out!"
Letters in "Guns &
[Editor's Note: the following exchange of letters re Jeff's
comment on the situation in Rwanda is from the letters page of
"Guns & Ammo" Magazine, April and May 1995
This from Randall Baker,
The Facts on Rwanda
Although I generally like and agree with your magazine, as an
African-American I am concerned about Jeff Cooper's recent comment
in "Cooper's Corner." He wrote, "How long do you suppose it will
take Jesse Jackson to discover that the horror in Rwanda was caused
by the French abandonment of their colonial policies and leaving
these people to their own devices?" This is both inflammatory and
It wasn't the French that left Rwanda, it was the Belgians.
Independence was achieved in 1962. Prior to that it was occupied by
the Germans. Slavery was abolished during the Belgian mandate. In
some small degree, education was available to the native-born
Africans and tribal systems flourished. The Hutu and Tutsi feuding
was going on before the Belgians left.
[This continued in the May issue...]
Many thanks for your thoughtful letter to the magazine.
First, you are quite right in pointing out that it was the Belgian
colonials, not the French, who were in charge of Rwanda, I was
quite wrong in that and it embarrasses me. On the other hand, the
tribal warfare between Bahutu and Watutsi was held to a minimum
during the colonial administrations, and that was the main point of
from Randall Baker,
I am currently stationed on board the USS Constellation (CV-64)
somewhere in the western Pacific Ocean in transit to the points
further west. Mail is a godsend out here. I am even more
appreciative that you took the time out of what must be a very
hectic schedule to respond to my letter. I am truly impressed.
I am glad that you acknowledged my letter, in spite of my acerbic
attack on your column, you responded with professionalism becoming
of an elder statesmen of the sport that we both enjoy. Believe it
or not, I share the same opinion that you do on the OJ situation.
My father (who is the city marshal of my home of record) shares
your sentiments as well. It was a very hard-hitting statement.
However, with all the media attention that this tragedy has
received, I was concerned that the statement would ring of tabloid,
particularly in a magazine that reports so intelligently on a
subject so sensitive on our current government's agenda. Being
African-American, I am a bit more sensitive to things that concern
rights - perhaps I am too sensitive. But the anti-gunners also
think that the NRA is too sensitive concerning the Second
May you enjoy the fact that your are the gunner's guru, because you
are definitely that. In fact, some sage advice form you (surprise
break) allowed me to qualify as a pistol expert with the .45.
Although our politics may differ sometimes and I don't always agree
with the things in your Cooper's Corner, you are the resident
expert and I am a fan of yours.
signed as: Randall Baker, AE (AW), USN
[See also Vol. 2, No.
Having been seagoing for a long period in the Western Pacific, I
can understand your feelings about mail call.
We all have our personal sensitivities. You are sensitive about
racial matters, I on matters of political liberty. I suppose the
issues are not completely unrelated.
Be that as it may, I am pleased to learn that we are basically on
the same side of the barricades.
Onward and upward.
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.