Previously Gunsite Gossip
Vol. 5, No. 6 May, 1997
The Rites of Spring
So much has been happening in the first
half of 1997 that it becomes very difficult to sort things out. At
the head of the list of new goodies in weaponry, we still have the
Blaser R93 rifle, the "Wild West" Co-pilot carbine, the various
"pocket rockets" giving us major caliber in miniature pistols, and,
of course, the forthcoming production scout rifle from Steyr
Mannlicher. We should also include the souped up 30-caliber
ammunition from Federal and the tiny 22 revolver from Smith and
Wesson. We can expect at least one major innovation from the Czechs
later on in the year, but we will have to wait and see how that
In addition to new equipment, there is now
an infusion of new blood at the NRA, which may be an excellent
thing. The appearance at the head table of Holy Moses
(Charlton Heston) may be startling to some, but it should turn out
to be a major forward step in the long run. Heston's "gun politics"
may not be entirely above reproach in the eyes of the pure, but his
public image is very powerful and may serve to impress numbers of
those in the middle to whom we need to appeal.
At this point I wish to thank those who
voted for me as a director of the NRA. I have not been able to
accomplish as much in that capacity as I had hoped, but I intend to
keep up the pressure for at least another term of office.
Certainly any hunter should be an active
member of the National Rifle Association. Without the efforts of
the NRA, he would no longer be a hunter. There is some difficulty
in getting this message across, since it is estimated that there
are 20 million hunters in the United States and only 3 million
members of the NRA. In exploring this odd situation we run across
the attitude held by a great many outdoorsmen that the NRA is in
there fighting for American shooters and is doing a good enough job
on its own. Well, the NRA is doing a good job, but think how much
better the job would be if we recruited even half of those 20
million hunters. There must be a way to attack this problem. As a
member of the Public Affairs Committee of the Association, I
promise to give it my full attention.
In my continued search for the design of a
general-purpose rifle, I have been attacked by a couple of
correspondents who feel that the ideal is to have a whole lot of
cheap guns - one for every separate occasion. The idea is that
any well-made firearm is too expensive, and that the answer is to
explode into diversification. Well, everyone has a right to his own
opinion, but I am surprised to hear the matter of price brought up
in this connection. One of my critics in this regard is a coal
miner whose communications suggest that coal miners command a good
deal more ready cash than stock brokers. Personally I deplore the
idea of specialization - in either people or firearms. I
remember Heinlein's dictum that "specialization is for
Recent vote tallies at the National Rifle
Association suggest that I am esteemed by the troops, but disdained
by the officers. This does not bother me. I have more than enough
to do with business as it is than to look for additional special
committees or executive assignments.
The AK47 has long been the weapon of
choice by the bad guys of the world, and especially by those in
South Africa. The supply is not inexhaustible, however, and now the
violent felons in South Africa have begun to show a distinct
preference for the baseball bat. In recent attacks on rural
homesteads, the baseball bat has proven ubiquitous. The goblins
usually go straight for the face, leaving the victims, if they
survive, permanently disfigured. Clearly if the farmer can put his
hand on his gun, nobody with a baseball bat is going to get to him,
but farmers do not always display the warrior mentality necessary
for survival in a troubled world.
After reading an unconscionable number of
windy organizational reports recently, we have propounded the
"If it won't go on one page, it needs a
The Laurel Canyon shoot in Los Angeles
recently has brought forth a torrent of commentary - most of
which demonstrates an almost unbelievable level of technical
To begin with, a whole platoon of journalists insists that the LA
police were "undergunned." Now, as we all know, one is undergunned
only if he misses. It may be suggested that the standard 9mm pistol
cartridge is not sufficient to penetrate body armor and that, as a
result, the police should go to a major caliber, such as 45 ACP.
Anyone who is qualified to have an opinion on the subject knows
that a 45 ACP provides less, not more, penetration than a 9mm. For
years we have pointed out that if your first two hits to the body
do not suffice, you shift your aim to the head. This is, of course,
the renowned Mozambique Drill, taught by that name at all
reputable schools of pistolcraft.
Another body of journalistic opinion has held that the LAPD needs
more and better training in marksmanship. I know something about
the level of marksmanship training in the Los Angeles Police
Department and I do not think that the technical ability to hit a
target is the issue here. What wins in a gunfight is "mindset."
Here in Arizona we have access to a ludicrous camcorder tape which
shows the minions of the law kicking up dirt around the target at
short range, when, of course, they can all hit a beer can reliably
at such distances.
One man armed with a Model 1894 30-30 deer rifle could have stopped
that Laurel Canyon shooting within seconds after its start, but he
would have had to display the proper mindset called for by the
circumstances. I am convinced that it can be taught, since I have
taught it successfully for about twenty years. Why it is not taught
is a sociological rather than a technical question.
"In this country we have no place for hyphenated
At the Whittington Shooting Center we are
in the process of laying out a field rifle range to be called a
"game walk." John Gannaway and Larry Larsen have collaborated in
laying out the trails and target positions involving a right-side
walk and a left-side walk, which will enable shooters to return to
base down a defiladed trail between the two arcs, allowing
continuous operation on steel targets.
The facility will include a range house for shelter and storage, a
couple of portable rest rooms, and ample parking.
I blush to admit that it is tentatively to be termed the
J&J Game Walk, and that family members who wish
to have their names displayed in the range house may achieve this
for return of a tax deductible contribution of $1,000 or more. At
this time we have accrued two fivers and a handful of oners. We are
at work on the design of reactive steel targets and should have a
nearly complete facility in time for the Gunsite Reunion and
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial in October.
"If you can get closer, get closer."
Indeed, yes, but a couple of years ago I discovered that when
optical sights are used it is quite possible to get too close. The
Lion Scout carries a scoutscope, and when I mounted the rifle at a
range of eleven paces, all I could see was an indefinite expanse of
yellow hair. I had to switch back to my tracking eye in order to
discover an aiming point. Now in a recent account of the Yom Kippur
War on the Golan Heights, I read of an Israeli tank commander who
ran into exactly the same problem on a much larger scale. He
encountered a Syrian tank at range so close that through his sight
he could not tell what part of the tank he was looking at.
It is my considered opinion that a telescope sight has no place on
a rifle intended for dangerous game. Just what kind of sighting
system is appropriate for arms-length tank combat is an interesting
In this age of political correctness, it
begins to appear that believing is seeing. The truth is irrelevant
to those who operate on "gut feeling." If it is true, as the saying
goes, that the truth will make you free, what may we expect when we
no longer seek the truth nor care about it?
However, we must not give up the fight. To sigh that that is just
the way things are is cowardice, which is, of course, the most
repulsive of the Four Horsemen of the Modern
Note that the "Gargantuan Gunsite
Gossip" is available, for the time being, at the Rutgers Book
Center for $40.00.
Growing up back in the Middle
Ages, we young people were taught to dress in a manner
appropriate to the circumstances appertaining. Our mothers insisted
that we appear neat, clean and moderately dignified in public. On
today's streets there seems to be a strong movement on the part of
young people to dress to disgust. Such oafishness is apparently
accepted in certain levels of society. Fortunately this trend is
not entirely universal. We just attended the graduation ceremonies
at the University of Mississippi, deep in the Heart of Dixie, where
the student body was making a conscious effort to tidy up. It may
be that the Deep South is the last locus of gentility.
You have doubtless heard of the grim
command, "Kill them all. Let God sort them out!" This has been
attributed to a number of military situations over the years, up to
and including Vietnam, but I have run it down, and it looks like
The Albigensian Crusade in the south of France in the early part of
the 14th century was conducted jointly by the French King and the
Pope, with the intent of stamping out the Donatist heresy. Among
the various "heretical" towns and cities beset by the royal troops
was Beziers. When this walled city refused to surrender, the chief
of the besiegers - one Amal Ulric - gave orders that the
town should be sacked and all survivors put to death. One of his
henchman remonstrated, saying that there was an appreciable number
of "good Catholics" inside the city. The chief of the besiegers was
reported to have responded, "Kill them all. God will know his own."
Now, he could not have said this because he could not speak English
(the English language not having been invented at that time). We do
not know exactly what he said, because no one was taking notes, but
several months later a German monk reporting on the incident put
the equivalent down in Latin, Neca eos omnes. Deus suos
Horrible as that sounds today, it made quite good sense in the
Middle Ages, at which time most Christians felt that life on earth
was simply a brief interlude in preparation for the hereafter. If
one led a Godly life, God would know of it, and the reward would be
eternal paradise. Thus Amal Ulric was making good sense according
to his concepts of righteousness. If all those in Beziers were
killed, the good would go to Heaven and the bad would go to Hell,
and thus he was doing God's work.
I regret to report that no progress was
made with the NRA's Personal Protection Plan, by which we on the
Education and Training Committee had set much store. In my opinion,
the prescribed chain of command has been temporarily circumvented.
We on the committee will not give up on this matter, but we can
expect a delay to continue as long as anyone can be found to delay
New parliamentary rules laid down by the
- No speech over ten minutes,
- No comment over three minutes,
- No question over one minute.
This is easy to enforce since the microphone can simply be timed to
shut off as appropriate.
I might take this opportunity to point
out that I as a director never considered Neal Knox to be "too
radical." As the man said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is
no vice." The media would have you believe that Neal lost his vice
presidency because he was too much of an activist. Such is not my
view of the case.
Rule: Never shoot your rifle from the
offhand position unless you have absolutely no other
In this age of ostentatious ignorance we
hear continually of the reprehensible nature of "antigovernment"
propaganda. We repeat the wisdom of the Father of Our
"Government, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the
people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the
existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right
of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or
Abraham Lincoln, 4 April 1861
We would appreciate any detailed reports
available on the Davis Mountains shoot. As we understand it, one of
the rebels took off into the hills, but was killed by police action
without any effective resistance. We have no opinions about the
morals of this case, but it would seem that an armed fugitive in
wild country should be able to score at least once before he gets
it. Perhaps the subject was simply incompetent, since he seems to
have a record as a fairly unsatisfactory citizen. But still, we
would like to know details as to calibers, ranges, number of shots
fired, and such like. Family members are invited to fill us
in on this.
A liberated society. As of now you may
keep the guns you have, but you will never be able to acquire any
more. Let freedom die of old age.
And now that the Brits have gone down the
tube, our publishing houses discover that no periodical displayed
in Britain may show a handgun on the cover. Guns &
Ammo, for example, is now producing two different covers for at
least half of its issues.
In the last issue we asked for
suggestions about particularly fine sorts of hunts. What we have
received up til now is from family member Walt Mansell in
California, who tells us that the "jacksnipe" is his very favorite.
A jacksnipe is evidently a sort of woodcock, and I have always
heard that woodcock constitute an extremely demanding target for
the wingshooter. I do not know any place where either woodcock or
jacksnipe are plentiful enough to hunt at this time, but the idea
is worth putting on the list for further consideration.
If Lon Horiuchi has killed himself, the
press has done a marvelous job covering it up. Certainly he has a
much better reason than did Admiral Boorda, the ex-Chief of Naval
Operations, but maybe he just does not have the viscera to handle
the job. Speaking of viscera, Horiuchi's Japanese ancestors have
long had a proper solution to this difficulty.
Though it is not yet June, we must still
start thinking about next year in Africa. Providing we are still
here and Africa is still there, this may be set up for the month of
May. I confess that my own blood lust is somewhat slaked by now,
and I have no special targets in mind, but all hunting is good
hunting and I particularly enjoy showing friends the African
You do not need a special gun. Your 30-06 will do just fine -
with the right bullets. Of course, if you want buffalo, you will
need a buffalo gun, but it just happens that I have one available
for loan to distinguished Orange Gunsite graduates. But the buffalo
adventure is expensive and probably should not be attempted on
one's first visit. You can have a fine hunt without buffalo, and
you can always reserve that beast for your next time
If you hold with the Founding Fathers,
you know that rights can neither be granted nor repealed by the
State. Neither can rights be abrogated by those to whom they are
granted. If we were to repeal the Bill of Rights in legal fashion,
the God-given rights of man would not be negated. What God has
granted, let not man deny!
In our recent rifle class at Whittington,
a student showed up whose right arm had been amputated about 8
inches down from the shoulder. I certainly could not have shown him
how to operate his rifle with that handicap, since I simply do not
know how it is done - but he did it. He used an extendable
bipod without a sling, but worked the bolt with his stump. It was
an inspiring performance, and renewed our faith in the human
We continue to hold the notion that
recoil effect on the shooter is about 85 percent mental. Actual
recoil can be measured, of course, but what the shooter feels is
more what he thinks he will feel than the actual weight of the
blow. From my youth I remember that Osa, the diminutive wife of the
photographer Martin Johnson, steadily backed up her husband with a
470 Double Holland. She was about the size of Marion Hammer yet she
never complained about recoil. Stock fit has a lot to do with this,
of course, but the actual cartridge involved is less important than
a lot of people think.
Now we hear of a mature lady of 70 years
in Moldavia who carried a hand grenade in her purse "for self
defense." Nobody told her those things shoot both ways.
The consensus of the masters at the last
Whittington class was that stainless steel does not rub well
against stainless steel. There are various sorts of stainless
steels and some do better than others, but generally speaking,
while both black-on-black and black-on-white will do fine, the
galling of white-on-white promotes premature wear.
"Liberals don't care what you volunteer for, as long as
it is compulsory."
Now that we have a production scout
nearly in our hands, several people have suggested that a
production version of the Lion Scout might be a good idea. Right
now my Lion Scout is strictly a one-off proposition, with no means
of replication. However, our new friends in the Czech Republic may
very well be prevailed upon to produce what may be called a field
carbine for the "350 Short Magnum, Improved," which could give us
excellent medium-power performance in a very compact weapon. It
would not be a true scout, of course, because it would take a
peculiar cartridge, but that problem might well be handled by the
proximity of the Selliers & Bellot organization up in Prague.
When the ammunition factory and the arms factory are in close
proximity, marrying the cartridge to the chamber is no great
Just what the medium "Fireplug" cartridge is good for is moot. It
is too much gun for deer, but it works splendidly on moose, elk,
bear, and all African game short of buffalo. We could probably get
its overall weight down to 8½ pounds - "all up." If you like
this idea, let us know.
We have now discovered why we let Saddam
Hussein get away. We ran out of batteries.
As the hoplophobes in public office
continue to rant and rave, I should point out that three places I
know of still have excellent gun laws - Switzerland, Bolivia,
and Czechia. Here in the US we still have some nifty state laws,
most particularly those of Vermont. If you mention Vermont to the
gun grabbers in Congress, they will not argue with you. They simply
change the subject.
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and
religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal
use only. Not for publication.