Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Since when is learning to use a tool a bad thing?

I don't know much about the Appleseed project, beyond what I've read on Breda's site, and a couple of comments elsewhere. I gather, through remarks made in (and out of) context, that there seems to be some sort of criticism of the project.

I'm a bit confused about all of this. The concept, so far as I can see, is to teach rifle-owners the basics of riflery, so that they may present themselves as competent, able riflemen. (yes, it's a sexist term, but it's hundreds of years old, and what's a person to do?)

I had a fair amount of luck-- my father was taught riflery, and insisted that I know about it. When I asked about slings on rifles in my Boy Scout trips to the range a quarter-century ago, I was smirked at: "Why do you need some device to hold the rifle for you?" Even at 11 years of age, I already knew that those "instructors" had missed something valuable.

When I went to U.T. Austin, I joined the rifle team mostly as an opportunity to get to shoot on campus, with all the .22 ammo I wanted to burn for a measly $20 a semester. I ended up shooting one match against Texas A&M, where I got my arse handed to me. When Dad came down for my birthday, he presented me with a copy of the military guide to riflery.

I've got a long way to go yet, to consider myself a true master rifleman. I've also gotten to a stage in my life where I feel my muscles, nerves, and eyesight declining. If I want to stake my prowess at a high point, I'd better get busy learning, and practicing. I realize that I'll never make Olympic class (give up coffee? Are you frickin' kidding me?!?), but I'd like to know that a breadbox at 500 yards is within my abilities to hit while standing. (Think you can do it? Have you actually tried it?)

One of the features of being a good rifleman that I have found is the ability to give up one's ego, and assess honestly what one's capabilities are. Don Gwinn can do it, but he's an exceptional person. As a hunter, I know what I can and can't do, and have turned down surprisingly short shots because the light, sights, and movement of the game simply didn't synch up to provide me with a sure hit at that range. As a cop, I've found myself looking through the sights of my rifle and knowing that I "owned" a doorway 80 yards distant, behind which a felon held a hostage. Knowing that I had the skills to absolutely guarantee a head shot at that distance gave me a lot of peace, which would have (had things gone badly) reduced the stress and allowed me to shoot to my potential. That comes from more than just qualification, or "famfire;" it comes from honest self-assessment. If I'd been forty yards further out, with that light and those sights, I would have probably disqualified myself as being capable of consistently being able to make a head shot. (As it was, things went well, with no further harm to human life.)

What I do know is that we learn by repetition, and that committing one's self to a weekend-long seminar on shooting a rifle will absolutely burn in some skills, if they are taught correctly. If the training is done correctly, it will teach students how to practice on their own, to improve themselves on their own.

How could anyone criticize such a project? Look, even if you're a hopeless hoplophobe, wouldn't you want those scary gun-owners to understand how to shoot safely, and competently? That's a whole lot better than the alternative, don'tcha think?

Just thinking out loud, here.

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At Tuesday, September 09, 2008 1:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand the bias against slings. When firing my M-16 I used to wrap my hand in it and use it to tighten the rifle against my supporting hand. And I shot ok like that. I wouldn't do it with my Mossberg because it's kind of hard to use the pump action when your hand's tied up in a sling. :)

At Tuesday, September 09, 2008 1:49:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

You have to give up coffee to shoot in the Olympics? There go my dreams of the Olympic shooting team.

At Tuesday, September 09, 2008 8:07:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

No coffee- Yep, pretty much a requirement to get to even Distinguished Marksman. Fuggedaboutit... I'll stick with shooting at my level and "enjoy" being embarassed at Quantico :-)

Seriously, Appleseed is a good idea, but for many, if they didn't invent/promote/start it, they don't want it.

And you are also dead on the money about taking ego out and being honest with yourself. I can hit the 1 MOA target at 600 yards 8 or 9 out of 10, but that is NOT good enough; especially when the folks that do it for a living at longer ranges are shooting 6-7 inch groups at 1000yards CONSISTANTLY!

At Tuesday, September 09, 2008 10:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(yes, it's a sexist term, but it's hundreds of years old, and what's a person to do?)

I see what you did there, and it amuses me.

Carry on.

At Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breadbox at 500 STANDING? Not this kid. Let me sit down and loop up, no problem.....

I'm with you: How can marksmanship training be a bad thing? I suspect somebody went to an Appleseed event and got their ego hurt.....

At Wednesday, September 10, 2008 4:27:00 PM, Blogger Ted said...

I think I'm one of the least pro-gun people who reads this blog (which is like being the shortest guy in the NBA), but my arguments always center around the lack of training necessary to get a CCH or hunting license. More training can only decrease my chances of getting hit by somebody's stray round, and is therefore a good thing.


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