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Jeff Coopers Commentaries Volume 12-2004

Jeff Coopers Commentaries Volume 12-2004

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Jeff Cooper's Commentaries
Previously Gunsite Gossip
Volume Twelve, 2004
Vol. 12, No. 1 Turnover............................................................................................................................1
Vol. 12, No. 2 The Chill Factor............................................................................................................................6
Vol. 12, No. 3 False Winter...........................................................................................................................11
Vol. 12, No. 4 Rites of Spring...........................................................................................................................17
Vol. 12, No. 5 The Greening of the Desert...........................................................................................................................21
Vol. 12, No. 6 False Summer...........................................................................................................................27
Vol. 12, No. 7 Summertime...........................................................................................................................32
Vol. 12, No. 8 Summer Storm...........................................................................................................................37
Vol. 12, No. 9 High Summer...........................................................................................................................42
Vol. 12, No. 10 Turning Leaves...........................................................................................................................47
Vol. 12, No. 11 Hunting Season!...........................................................................................................................53
Vol. 12, No. 12 "A Near Run Thing"...........................................................................................................................58
Vol. 12, No. 13 Happy New Year!...........................................................................................................................64
Please Note. These "Commentaries" are for personal use only. Not for publication.
 
Jeff Cooper's Commentaries
Previously Gunsite Gossip
 Vol. 12, No. 1 January 2004
Turnover
Reflecting upon the year `03, we are mightily impressed, not only by its diverse events, but by its historicsignificance. At the beginning of the century we just got off the ground, and a hundred years later our vehiclesare puttering around on the surface of Mars. Certainly not all progress displayed in the 20th century wasunqualified progress. Many things about life in the western world had degenerated over that hundred yearspast, at least in the moral or philosophical sense. Personal conduct which is disgustingly at odds with whathad been achieved over the previous thousand years is now not only accepted, but actually advocated by asurprising number of people. This is due in large measure to the decline of the spiritual life and the loss of theinfluence of the church. This is probably the inevitable consequence of 
The Age of the Common Man
(whoappears to be unpleasantly common), but that does not make it in any sense uplifting. The fact that our liveshave been made unimaginably more convenient does not mean that they are better for it. It may becomfortable to go hatless, but that does little for our appearance. Comfort and convenience are very nicethings, but they hardly offer a fair trade for virtue or honorable conduct.Reviewing further, we note that the previous `03 gave us the splendid `03 Springfield rifle and theMannlicher−Schoenauer 1903 carbine, ancestor of the Scout. It also gave us the Harley−Davidsonmotorcycle, as well as several distinct forward steps in the production of four−wheel self−propelled vehicles.If the year 2003 showed us the flowering of the Holy War of Islam upon the West, it also established theUnited States of America as the world's sole super power, and thus charged us with the responsibility of setting forth on the 21st century with the capacity of altering the world for the better. The Moslems will dotheir best to frustrate this, and for that we must prepare, but it is a struggle well worth fighting. Christianity isnot just one among several equivalent religious faiths, but rather the champion and exemplar of the westernway of life. The Moslems would prefer to see us all dead, as far as can be made out from their rather obscurelanguage. So be it. Let us buckle on the sword and prove worthy of the challenge. God's will be done!The commercial success of the Smith & Wesson "dino pistol" was predictable, I suppose. I can see nopossible use for it, but it seems to be selling faster than it can be produced. While it was shown to me at thelast SHOT Show, I did not say that everyone should have one − I ventured that everyone should have
two
 just in case. It is clear that the gun business is essentially a marketing business. Gunmakers do not seem toproduce instruments to do anything very much, but simply to make the public unhappy with what is here −with or without cause. People who understand about rifles favor the Steyr Scout, for obvious reasons, butthere are not very many people who know about rifles, so for them we make short case magnums and otheresoterica which accomplish nothing in particular but make the purchaser happy.There are some wonderful personal guns around for sale, and I hope the younger generation of shooters willchoose wisely in buying their lifelong companions.We get the following charming anecdote from a long time shooting friend:At a dinner party one guest reported that he was being pestered by a raccoon which wasthriving upon his garden, but that he had not been able to shoot the beast because his availablerifle had not been available on the right occasions. One of the guests, who was a lady law
Jeff Cooper's Commentaries Volume TwelveVol. 12, No. 11/69
 
student from Czechoslovakia, suggested that it would hardly be appropriate to have a rifleready for such occasions, since that would pose a hazard to children of the household. Ourfriend objected to this line of thought and noted that he always had a proper firearm readilyavailable in his home. The lady guest suggested that this might be dangerous to the residentchildren, and our friend responded by saying that it would not be in his case since in hishousehold the children all had their own guns. There was a dead silence. Later he remarkedthat this was the best putdown he had ever been able to bring off without being rude.In considering the matter of firearms design, I have long given importance to the factor of handiness,portability and ease of use. It has always seemed to me that a rifle should be compact, comfortable to use, andas light as recoil effect permits. This is because I have always considered hunting to be an active pastime, notsomething one does riding around in a vehicle or sitting in a blind. Times change, and I discover, somewhat tomy distress, that huge and unhandy sporting rifles seem to have great appeal to some sorts of hunters. Peoplewho complain about the selling price of sporting rifles show little dismay in spending money on what I havebegun to call "moon guns." These are rifles with excessively long and heavy barrels, thick stocks and hugeand complex optical sights. There is a curious notion abroad to the effect that such pieces are somehow "moreaccurate" than trimmer guns. To each his own, of course, but it does seem odd that efficiency of operation isnot a major consideration in the market.Over the last ten years we have seen the appearance of a couple of outstanding designs, which, if sheerusefulness mattered, would sweep the market. We may suppose that this is because the majority of gun buyersare not gun shooters. It would seem that these purchasers buy out of catalogs and out of articles in sportingmagazines without much time spent on field evaluation. Most riflemen are self−taught, there being very littleaccess to adequate instructional service in this subject. Being self−taught in rifle marksmanship is rather likebeing self−taught on the piano. It can be done, but it is certainly a long, hard route to success. If a beginningshooter does not know what he is trying to do, it is unlikely that he will find an easy way to do it. Because of this we find that a large part of the buying public is fundamentally ignorant about what it is buying. This isstrikingly apparent in the reaction of most novice shooters to the Steyr Scout. I have a large file now fromcorrespondents expressing astonishment on how easy it is to achieve hits with the Scout rifle. This is notbecause it is "more accurate," though it certainly is more accurate than the rifleman can readily appreciate.And it is not because it is "more powerful," though it is as powerful as need be. And it is not because it ismore beautiful, though beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and handsome is as handsome does. It is becauseit is essentially
friendly
, and you have to use it afield, not off the bench, in order to appreciate this.So it is that Lindy, our hunting offspring, encountered hardly anything but moon guns in her Texan alimentarypursuits. She packs what may be considered the Porsche among rifles and, of course, it works. (Of course theshooter has something to do with this.)At the winter meeting of the National Rifle Association it was emphasized that while we may have won themost recent battle for the Bill of Rights (by the skin of our teeth), we certainly did not win the war. The peoplewho would deprive us of our essential liberty are still there, and their amazing efforts to destroy theGod−given rights of free men show no signs of diminishing. We know how hard and continuously thesepeople keep up their fight to disarm us. The important question is
why
they fight us. Much as they may wishto use crime as their target, it is quite clear to them and as to us that crime is not the problem. Where thecitizen is armed, crime goes down. All they have to do is look. Nor is safety an adequate argument fordisarmament. Life is unsafe by nature, and mortal accidents occur regardless of the existence or absence of personal arms. I have thought about this at length, and I am puzzled to discover that the subject of themotivation of those who would confound our liberty is not broadly discussed. Personally I think the motive of those other people is simply envy. Envy, not money, is the root of all evil, and those who cannot cope envythose who can. Living in a free country − the last on Earth − I have been armed one way or another for mostof my life. And though I have lived a fairly adventurous life, I have never yet had to shoot to save my life, or
Jeff Cooper's Commentaries Volume TwelveVol. 12, No. 12/69

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