November 17, 2008
Petzal: Some Responses to Comments
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
Your comments are always interesting, but we seemed to hit the mother lode (not load) with my 11/10 post, “The Rifleman’s Badge of Honor.”
First, to all of you who suggested sources for deer targets, thanks and God bless. I shall pursue them.
To Jack, who asked for a Veteran’s Day post, this comes late, but I hope it strikes a chord. In 2000, when I fished on Midway Atoll, I ran into a retired Marine Lt. Col. who had spent his career as a logistics officer. It had been his job to get bullets and MREs and gasoline and water and everything else to the guys who were doing the shooting. He used to recruit Marines by saying, “If you want medals, go to the infantry. If you want to win the goddamn war, come work for me.”
For everyone who pulls a trigger there are probably 100 servicemen and women who repair gear, or man radar equipment, or work in hospitals, or process payrolls. They get no medals; they work long, hard hours; they sometimes do not have enough to work with; they are usually highly skilled and could make a lot more money as civilians but they stay in anyway. They are heroes.
About John Barsness: Don Polacek, who is president of Wolfe Publishing, says that John and the company had a disagreement about business and that their parting was non-hostile. Polacek says that he still considers John a friend. I asked Polacek why there was no mentiion of John's departure in the first issue of Rifle without his byline, and Polacek pointed out that this is a tradition with the magazine. In the past, when other greats such as John Wootters, Ken Waters, and Bob Hagel have left, there was no mention of their going, either. I think they're going to miss John a lot, but they have other talented people. I've been a subscriber since the 1970s, and will be keeping my subscription.
A blogger named Joe C. objected to my making light of scope cuts, and felt that they are a result of poor training and poor scope mounting. I beg to differ. If you work with horses for any amount of time you are going to get kicked or bitten or thrown no matter how careful you are. If you fish you are going to get hooked, no matter how careful you are. If you shoot enough you are going to get scope cuts, no matter how careful you are. I would be lying if I said otherwise.
True sportsmen are able to laugh at minor misfortunes, and every scope cut I’ve seen qualifies as a minor misfortune. Getting your teeth kicked out or getting a tarpon hook in the eye is not funny, but if you can’t smile at the lesser stuff, stay away from me. I don’t want to hunt with you.
To RJ, who has to learn to shoot right-handed. First, don’t give up on the idea of using a scope. It may be that if you give your right eye some help it can do the job. Get in touch with Decot Sport Glasses (sportglasses.com) and explain your problem. They’ve been around forever, and have seen every eye-related shooting problem there is to see. Try that first. If glasses don’t work out, I would consider a ghost ring rear sight with a big bead up front. It’s the easiest type of iron sight to use, and you can do some very respectable shooting with it.
To Carney, who asked about Susan Casey. As far as I know, Susan has put down her rifle forever. She is simply unwilling to kill. The last I heard she is doing a book on a small group of surfers who are looking to ride rogue waves in mid-ocean—the 70- to 100-footers that sink ships. I wish her all the best. It was a hell of a story, wasn’t it?