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  • December 30, 2011

    Looking Back in Nausea: 2011 in Review

    By David E. Petzal

    As 2011 lurches into history like a smelly old wino, I take MAC in hand to review some of the lows of the year.

    You Can’t Get it Right All the Time: In the 1960s the Department of Defense decided that all future combat was going to take place at 300 meters or less and, now that the distance has increased again to 500 meters and over, is scrambling to come up with guns and ammunition that can hack it at long range. We, of course, are paying for all this.

    What’s next? Tac Nukes? Some weeks ago, Mayor for Life Bloomberg referred to the New York City Police as “my private army.” People assumed he was joking. I don’t. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has coyly announced that the NYPD has the technology to shoot down airplanes, presumably to avoid a repeat of 9/11. Commissioner Kelly did not say what kind of armament was involved. It could be missiles, or it could be 30mm cannon on Mayor Bloomberg’s private jet. The NYPD averages one hit per 72 rounds expended with its handguns, so the mind reels at the havoc it can wreak with this kind of firepower.

  • December 29, 2011

    Thoughts on Stock Length

    By Phil Bourjaily

    How long should your gunstock be and how much does stock length really matter?

    The Beretta 391 in the picture came with spacers allowing me to alter the length. I made it 15 inches for shooting in T-shirt weather back in dove season, intending to remove a spacer to accommodate bulky waterfowling clothes. Instead, I left it and never noticed the extra length.

  • December 28, 2011

    A Project for 2012

    By David E. Petzal

    A little while back I spent an hour at the range helping a friend of mine mount a scope and get a rifle sighted in for his young son. Everything worked, and dad took the boy to Pennsylvania to hunt deer. As it turned out, they didn’t get one, but the father was nice enough to send me a photo of the kid in his stand, and the expression of joy on his face is unmistakable. I e-mailed my friend that whether or not his son goes on to be a serious hunter, that deer hunt will be pure gold for the rest of the boy’s life.

    Small contributions like this can make a very big difference. If you are a hunter/shooter with some experience, there is a beginning hunter/shooter out there who can use your help. These are not easy sports to break into; there is an immense amount to learn. Questions lead to other questions, and the number of people who have the answers is shrinking.

  • December 27, 2011

    Ohio Man Shoots Amish Girl While Cleaning Gun

    By Phil Bourjaily

  • December 23, 2011

    Jingle Bells With a 1911

    Happy Holidays from the Gun Nuts!

  • December 21, 2011

    Miss Twice or Hit Once: Learn To Slow Down

    By Phil Bourjaily

    “If I have time to miss it twice I would have had time to hit it once.” That is one of best and most concise bits of shooting advice I’ve read in a long time.

    It came to me in an e-mail from Matthew Miltich, a friend I’ve never met face to face, a bird hunter, jazz musician* and owner of Cosmo (great dog name), the handsome Welsh springer seen here.

    Matthew’s season in Minnesota is coming to a close, and he says he’s had one of his best years shooting ever by learning to slow down.

  • December 20, 2011

    A Cabela’s Christmas

    By David E. Petzal

    Cabela’s, perhaps because it’s their 50th anniversary, or because they’re getting soft in the head, or because they felt sorry for me, sent me a whole sleighload of gear to play with this past hunting season, so much so that our UPS guy developed a conspiratorial smirk each time he drove up with a new package from Sidney, Nebraska. Everything that follows, I’ve used, but first a note:

    All of this gear comes in the company’s Outfitter camo pattern, which is the only one I’ve ever seen that you can take anywhere without standing out like a zit on your daughter’s forehead the night before the prom. You may, if you wish, opt for a pattern such as Redbug and Pellagra, but eventually you’ll regret it.

    Bow and Rifle Pack It’s 2400 cubic inches overall and weighs 4 pounds. The pack has a 2-litre water bladder, holds a reasonable amount of small stuff, plus shooting sticks and a spotting scope, and lets you carry your rifle down the center of your back, making it a hell of a lot easier to lug, and freeing both hands. The Bow and Rifle Pack has an excellent suspension, a waist belt big enough to go around the guts of even the calorically challenged, and no flaws that I can find. If you’ve never carried a rifle this way before, the Bow and Rifle will make a believer out of you. $150.



  • December 19, 2011

    Don’t Blame Predators For the Lack of Birds

    by Phil Bourjaily

    Usually, I post about hunting and shooting things with a shotgun, but in order to do that, I need birds to shoot at and those are in short supply in Iowa’s uplands* these days. So instead I will vent. One of my many frustrations with our lack of birds is listening to people--often people who spend a lot of time outdoors and should know better--blame predators alone for our lack of birds. I have heard all the following and more this season:

    There are more birds south of the interstate ‘cause the guys down there do a better job of killing coyotes.

    All these bald eagles along the river are eating the pheasants.

    I saw a mountain lion the other day. I bet they eat pheasants.

  • December 19, 2011

    Job Skills: A Sniper’s Résumé

    By David E. Petzal

    One of the reasons for the decline and fall of the United States is, I believe, that the Draft was abolished. It had its drawbacks, but it also had a couple of advantages: It required that every able-bodied male serve their country for a while and, since a great many people had military experience as a result, the population as a whole had a pretty good idea of what the military was and did.

    Today that’s very far from the case. One percent of our population* is fighting our wars, and there is a growing ignorance about the military and a growing alienation from it in our once-great land.

    This was brought to light in an article in the December 18 issue of The New York Times about the growing joblessness among vets. In it, a Ms. Rachel Feldstein, who is Associate Director of a San Diego company called New Directions (which specializes in drug rehab and training for veterans) said the following:

    “If you train someone to be a sniper, those skills are not necessarily skills that are transferable.”

  • December 15, 2011

    Poll: Where Do You Like Your Safety?

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Where is the best place for a shotgun’s safety – at the front of the trigger guard or at the back? My gut feeling is that a safety should be at the back, if only because my first gun, an Auto 5, had a safety at the rear of the trigger guard. However, today I hunt waterfowl with guns having safeties in front, behind and on top. I switch among them all without much difficulty. Teaching yourself to use different safeties is just like learning to go back and forth between single and double triggers: shoot a couple of rounds of skeet calling for the bird with the safety on and you’ll get the knack in a hurry.

    And, while safeties behind the trigger just look right to me, from an ease of use standpoint, a safety at the front of the trigger guard (as shown here on a Winchester SXP) is the quickest to reach. I was taught to carry a gun with my index finger extended across the trigger guard to help keep branches and twigs from snagging the trigger. It’s a habit now, and as a result I only have to move my trigger finger a fraction of an inch to reach a safety at the front of the trigger guard.

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