Western Rifle Shooters Association

Do not give in to Evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it

Friday, February 29, 2008

Practical Medical Course - Brookings, OR - May 17-18

Field Expedient Medical Care for Outdoorsmen in Austere Environments

This two-day (16 hour) course of instruction will prepare the motivated outdoorsman to treat life-threatening and function-threatening medical conditions in the wilderness without access to classical EMS and medical resources.

The working hypothesis of this program is an injury or illness sustained by a family or work group remote from medical resources by distance, time, or availability (grid down) over a short to intermediate interval.

Taught by a retired Emergency Physician with 35 years of Trauma, EMS/ Rescue, and instructional experience, the methods and techniques taught are derived from over 10 years of front-line trauma care in an urban gangland zone and over 35 years of medical practice in environments as diverse as remote underground in caves (delayed evacuation to surface of 20 hrs), on the side of remote hills (48 hr bivouac in “whiteout” conditions), and at sea. The trauma concepts are compatible and consistent with the current military method of Tactical Combat Casualty Care.

Topics Include:
• The priority of medical care/stabilization in the survival skill set
• Triage: When to use the resources at hand, to benefit the most individuals, and preserve the “team” capability
• The “Priorities” of care for the single victim vs. the “Survivability” of the single victim in remote (time/distance/accessibility) austere environment
• The Major (Medical) Life Threats: Function and Management
• Anatomy of the life-sustaining systems of the human body
• Cover and concealment: high-threat extraction concepts
• The Big Three Survivable Life Threats-Airway control issues, pneumothorax/tension pneumothorax, and external hemorrhage
• Advanced airway techniques for the average sportsman /citizen, with expanded scope knowledge: Nasal Airways, cricothyrotomy
• Basic and Advanced Treatment of Thoracic Wounds- Stopping the air leak, and/or venting the pressure
• Basic and Advanced External Hemorrhage control- Direct pressure, mechanized direct pressure, hemostatic agents, pressure point use behind cover, tourniquets
• The science, and fairy tale, of fluid resuscitation
• Monitoring the head injured patient
• Stabilization of fractures and splinting for functional use
• Definitive wound care: Cleansing, Debriding, Closing
• The Team “Debilitators”: infection, vomiting/diarrhea/field sanitation, dehydration, toothache, soft tissue injuries, hyperthermia, and hypothermia
• Dealing with burns or cold induced wounds (frostbite, frostnip, etc.)
• Current therapy of envenomations: snakes, spiders, bees
• Pre-Pack Pharmacy: What you want to have before venturing into the outback
• Teammates with pre-existing disease: how not to make it worse
• The “Jericho Scenario”: Protection, Decontamination, and Treatment for chemical and biological agents

NOTE: This NON-CERTIFICATION course is presented for YOUR INFORMATION ONLY. All personnel take NO RESPONSIBILITY for your use of this information in a real-life situation.

More details soon, or simply contact us at westernshooters@gmail.com.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Get Them Now: CMMG ARs, Mags, & Quality M193 Ammo

Another screaming deal by which you can convert your paper dollars into useful tools:

- the "bargain bin" ARs at CMMG, starting at $570;

- the $9.95 30 round mags at the same site (just scroll down); and

- the M193 55 grain 5.56 ammo at Ammoman, where $425 gets 1000 rounds delivered to your door, and $2000 gets 5000 rounds delivered.

No financial interests in any of these companies - just a desire to get folks to understand that it truly is "buy now or cry later".

Tempus fugit

Get Them Now: M1 Garands & Quality Greek Ammo

Go to the Civilian Marksmanship Program website and check out the qualifications needed to purchase up to 12 Garands per year, starting at $445 each.

FAQs are here re one of the finest battle rifles in history, even by today's standards. Yeah, parts are a hassle, but less so when you designate the six best rifles out of your 12 rifles/year allotment to firing duty and the remaining six sticks to parts detail.

Problem solved.

Then check out the prices for quality Greek non-corrosive surplus .30-'06 ball here. 768 rounds on en bloc clips in bandoliers for $238 shipped to the lower 48 states is a screaming deal.

Fill out the paperwork, send it in, and convert as many of your disintegrating-unto-toilet-paper US dollars as you can into machined steel, walnut, lead, copper, nitrocellulose, and brass.

Then harangue your friends and family into doing the same.

It's the commodities play that keeps on rewarding its investors, but only if you then go and learn to shoot these rifles competently while you still can.

Start your study in the left margin of our blog, by clicking on the link for "How to Shoot the US Army Rifle M-1".

We'll be back with more training suggestions shortly.

Tempus fugit.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Xiong Huai Chouhen, Dan Wu Xu Fa

Courtesy of Free Market Fairy Tales, we have this message from one of the US of A's most important trading partners and financiers:

Xiong huai chouhen, dan wu xu fa.

Tebie yao zhuajin xue sheji, zhandou zhongjian zui daliang zui pubian de ying benshi jiu shi sheji.

Yiding yao ba sheji xunlian gao hao.


With vengeance in your heart, no bullet will be fired in vain.

You must especially make the best use of your time to learn how to fire a gun, because in combat this is the most widely used practical skill.

Ensure that training for shooting a gun is thoroughly carried out.

Wisdom from the East, indeed....

Monday, February 25, 2008

Living in an Imperial World: Joint US/Canadian Military Ops re "Civil Emergencies"

Seen first in a comment on the always-excellent War on Guns blog, the story was published in a Kanuckistani paper last Friday:

Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other's borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal.

Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas.

The U.S. military's Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with a statement outlining how its top officer, Gen. Gene Renuart, and Canadian Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed the plan, which allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency.

Here's the NORTHCOM release.

Seems that the NORTHCOM troopies have been up to other domestic things as well, as detailed in this story and this page from the NORTHCOM homepage. Make sure that you read NORTHCOM's "Vision 2020" white paper too.

It especially warms my cockles to see the references to "our neighbors", Canada and Mexico:

Our Commands fully rely on the relationships we maintain with partners such as Canada, Mexico and myriad agencies. While we have multiple partners and stakeholders, we are united in purpose to provide increased security and defense of North America. We will capitalize on the experience, expertise and capabilities of all potential partners, incorporating these into our plans, training, exercises and operations. Whether operating in a supported or supporting role, the forces employed for homeland defense or civil support must be able to work with every government, Service, and agency that provides members to serve in homeland and continental defense operations.

Wonder what that civil emergency is that so troubles the troopies?

Wonder also why, with all of that great interservice cooperation between the three (for now) nations, that we can't get our southern border secured? After all, the powers-that-be have told us that all of that North American Union stuff is just a "myth".

That Council on Foreign Relations paper entitled "Building a North American Community" and conveniently downloadable in English, Spanish, and French?

Just a think-piece.

It's not like the CFR and its members have any influence or anything.

In any event, I am utterly confident that, come der Tag, our Canuck and Mexican allies will be just as concerned with the sanctity of the Second Amendment as our own troops will be.

Tempus fugit.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Living in an Imperial World: The FBI & Corporate America - Perfect Together!

In light of the decidedly collectivist/redistributionist/totalitarian trend of the coming elections, this story about the "public-private partnership" between the FBI and corporate America is particularly troubling:

Today, more than 23,000 representatives of private industry are working quietly with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. The members of this rapidly growing group, called InfraGard, receive secret warnings of terrorist threats before the public does—and, at least on one occasion, before elected officials. In return, they provide information to the government, which alarms the ACLU. But there may be more to it than that. One business executive, who showed me his InfraGard card, told me they have permission to “shoot to kill” in the event of martial law.

InfraGard is “a child of the FBI,” says Michael Hershman, the chairman of the advisory board of the InfraGard National Members Alliance and CEO of the Fairfax Group, an international consulting firm.

InfraGard started in Cleveland back in 1996, when the private sector there cooperated with the FBI to investigate cyber threats.

“Then the FBI cloned it,” says Phyllis Schneck, chairman of the board of directors of the InfraGard National Members Alliance, and the prime mover behind the growth of InfraGard over the last several years.

InfraGard itself is still an FBI operation, with FBI agents in each state overseeing the local InfraGard chapters. (There are now eighty-six of them.) The alliance is a nonprofit organization of private sector InfraGard members.

“We are the owners, operators, and experts of our critical infrastructure, from the CEO of a large company in agriculture or high finance to the guy who turns the valve at the water utility,” says Schneck, who by day is the vice president of research integration at Secure Computing.

“At its most basic level, InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the private sector,” the InfraGard website states. “InfraGard chapters are geographically linked with FBI Field Office territories.”

In November 2001, InfraGard had around 1,700 members. As of late January, InfraGard had 23,682 members, according to its website, www.infragard.net, which adds that “350 of our nation’s Fortune 500 have a representative in InfraGard.”

To join, each person must be sponsored by “an existing InfraGard member, chapter, or partner organization.” The FBI then vets the applicant. On the application form, prospective members are asked which aspect of the critical infrastructure their organization deals with. These include: agriculture, banking and finance, the chemical industry, defense, energy, food, information and telecommunications, law enforcement, public health, and transportation.

FBI Director Robert Mueller addressed an InfraGard convention on August 9, 2005. At that time, the group had less than half as many members as it does today. “To date, there are more than 11,000 members of InfraGard,” he said. “From our perspective that amounts to 11,000 contacts . . . and 11,000 partners in our mission to protect America.” He added a little later, “Those of you in the private sector are the first line of defense.”

He urged InfraGard members to contact the FBI if they “note suspicious activity or an unusual event.” And he said they could sic the FBI on “disgruntled employees who will use knowledge gained on the job against their employers.”

In an interview with InfraGard after the conference, which is featured prominently on the InfraGard members’ website, Mueller says: “It’s a great program.”

Read the whole thing please, and also check out InfraGard's website.

Then think about the implications, both now and in the future.

To aid you in your thoughts, also take the time to read this detailed history of a successful public-private information-sharing partnership from the recent past.

I'm sure you'll find it reassuring.

Tempus fugit.

Friday, February 22, 2008


by Mike Vanderboegh

20 February 2008

"You can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him" -- Robert Heinlein

The "Fatigues" of Supporting Freedom

Rasczak: "You." (Pointing the stump of his arm at Johnny Rico.) "Tell me the moral difference, if any, between the citizen and the civilian."

Johnny: "The difference lies in the field of civic virtue. A citizen accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic, of which he is a member, defending it, if need be, with his life. The civilian does not."

Rasczak: "The exact words of the text. But do you understand it? Do you believe it?"

Johnny: "Uh, I don't know."

Rasczak: "Of course you don't. I doubt if any of you here would recognize 'civic virtue' if it bit you in the a--."
- Starship Troopers, the movie, 1998.

"One can lead a child to knowledge, but one CANNOT make him think." So says Robert Heinlein's History and Moral Philosophy teacher, Mr. Dubois, in his 1959 classic Starship Troopers. Almost 40 years later, the movie adaptation of Heinlein's book changed Dubois' name, but not his lessons. In the fictional future, citizens must be soldiers first to earn their franchise. This is because civilians, especially the liberal social engineers, mucked up civilization so badly that the veterans of the war that the civilians' ineptitude started had to step in and take back the system. On the other hand, the Founders of our very real Republic did not insist that all citizens perform military service as a prerequisite of citizenship. However, they did expect, as Tom Paine said: "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it."

How else shall we interpret the Second Amendment? The people were guaranteed the means of resistance -- that "keep and bear arms" thing which today's "liberals" have such trouble understanding - precisely so that they would be able to "undergo the fatigues of supporting" their own liberties in the face of would-be tyrants. The Founders, being historians and students of human nature, trusted no one with governmental power, even that of their own carefully crafted, exquisitely balanced and inefficient-by-design system. They trusted no one, that is, but the armed citizenry. They understood, as Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson once observed: "It is not the function of the government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error."

I thought about citizens -- the kind of citizens envisioned by Paine, Jackson and Heinlein -- when I attended the national meeting of the Patriots' Border Alliance in St. Louis this past weekend. The room was packed with just such men and women as the Founders counted upon to maintain their Republic.

The Minutemen

"History, for good or ill, is made by determined minorities. Never was that truer than among that small band of New Mexico Minutemen. They were dirty, unshaven and exhausted on their best day. They didn't look like much more than a small convention of the homeless. But by their presence and their gritty determination they were calling the shots on the border. They were pitiful, they were magnificent. I am proud to have known them and to have served with them. And if we can find more of their kind, we just might be able to save the country." -- Mike Vanderboegh, "The Magnificent Minutemen," October, 2005.

First, I owe the reader some background. Everybody remembers the Minuteman Project, which staged the first border vigil in Arizona in April 2005. Founded by Chris Simcox and Jim Gilchrist, this organization no sooner took to the field than its originators split up over conflicts of ego and substance. Gilchrist's people retained the Minuteman Project name, Simcox founded Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (hereinafter, MCDC). Like several of my friends, I joined MCDC in mid-2005.

There is no doubt that these two men and the organizations they founded changed the entire dynamic of the argument over illegal immigration. The public was tickled pink that someone was embarrassing the Bush Administration into doing something, no matter how small and insincere, about the flood of illegal aliens. Armed men and women - the armed citizenry envisioned by the Founders -- were going to the border to help our vastly outnumbered and hamstrung Border Patrol in defiance of the contrabandistas, the coyotes, the cheap labor exploiters and the upper echelons of their own national government. The President called us "vigilantes." The professional liars-for-money of the Southern Poverty Law Center and the brown racists of the La Raza and Reconquista crowd called us worse. The Border Patrol loved us. The American people loved us. Our positive poll numbers rose to two or three times those of Bush and the Congress. As a result, MCDC grew by leaps and bounds.

But with the rush of volunteers and donations came real questions of how those volunteers were being used and where those donations were going. My old friend Bob Wright of New Mexico, who served as National Training Director for MCDC, was one of those who, while focused on the mission, began having doubts. Ultimately a sizable number of the top and midlevel leadership MCDC volunteers (some 13 of them) were purged by Simcox and his "cult of personality" for having the temerity to insist upon an accounting of MCDC money. Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of others quit in disgust after the purge, some retreating into smaller groups around proven local or state leaders. Others, including Bob Wright, sought a third way: the Patriots' Border Alliance.

This "Gang of Thirteen" (as the Simcoxian Koolaid drinkers characterized these incorruptibles) fought to maintain effective border vigil efforts while simultaneously building another national organization that would have what MCDC lacked: open books, accountability of leadership and democratic organization from the bottom up, not the top down. The meeting in St. Louis last weekend achieved those goals, and the Patriot's Border Alliance now has open (albeit slender) finances, a newly elected, fully accountable Board of Directors (including the indomitable Bob Wright as President) and a plan to take the fight over illegal immigration to higher levels of struggle on both old and new battlefields with an eye to forcing the problem back to center stage in this election year.

At the PBA meeting I renewed friendships I had first made in my trip to the border. (See my essay from 2005, "The Magnificent Minutemen.") I also made new friends from among a wide variety of border activists hailing from a rainbow of states: Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Washington State and, of course, Alabama. (I missed seeing Gary Cole of "The Great Northwest", whose physician forbade him to fly. My Alabama scouts reported to Gary out in New Mexico in 2005 where he had served as operations officer. He is a smart, tough, competent patriot -- and very funny. I'd trust my back and my people to his calm, quiet determination any day.)

The Oath and the Flag

So the national meeting of PBA (and all those important little side meetings that always take place at such gatherings of like-minded souls) was in itself well worth the trip from Alabama. But what came after the meeting was an experience out of the "mystic chords of memory." It was billed as a reception, a party. It would be at 7PM sharp they said, don't be late. The whispering beforehand was that no matter how tired you were -- after an all day meeting and the traveling you had done to get there and the traveling you would do the next day to get home -- you needed to be at this party. You would regret it if you missed it, they said. They were right.

The reception was held at the substantial home of Joe Adams, about fifteen minutes from the Staybridge hotel where most of us were lodged (I highly recommend it, by the way, if you're ever in St. Louis). There was food, there was music, there was a substantial bar. And there was more.

There had been an honor guard at the opening of the meeting that morning consisting of Revolutionary War Minutemen reenactors from Living History Reenactors, Inc. The same group, dressed in rifleman's shirts and militia garb of the Founders' day, presented arms as we entered the Adams' manse. After all were within, they did a first-person impression of drill and military usage from 1775. Other female reenactors depicted Betsy Ross and friends sewing the first national colors. Then the room grew absolutely quiet as one militia rifleman stepped forward to swear the original Minute Man's oath:

"We trust in God, that should the state of our affairs require it, we shall be ready to sacrifice our estates and everything dear in life, yea, and life itself, in support of the common cause."

At the end of the ceremony, reenactors advanced to present Joe with the Revolutionary Stars and Stripes: "From the original generation of Minute Men to the Minutemen of today, we present this flag. Bear it with honor."

Goosebumps. I wasn't the only one with wet eyes, nor the only one with a lump in my throat.

You know, I have spent long hours over the past fifteen years trying to make the point with my writing that the Americans of this generation need only look to our ancestors - the Founders - to know how to comport themselves as free men. Yet this simple ceremony, taking but a few minutes, was more eloquent and more powerful than all the gallons of ink I have spilled to bring the Founders' principles back to life with mere, and wholly inadequate, words.

The Immortal Citizen

I looked around the room through misty tears realizing that we were citizens all: citizens who the Founders would have recognized; citizens freely accepting the responsibilities that come with their rights; citizens who stand ready to bear the "fatigues" of supporting their freedom; citizens who froze and baked and suffered and spent themselves broke on the border vigils because they understand that it is their function to keep the government from "falling into error."

We were, in that moment, citizens immortal -- from that time to this to the unseen future -- from hand to hand and soul to soul, eternal.

Free Americans. Minutemen. Citizens.

We can be killed.

We cannot be conquered.

Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126

Practical Pistol Course - Brookings, OR - March 15-16

Come one, come all as we return to the magnificent Oregon coast for this year's first WRSA event, designed to make sure you have a solid grasp of the fundamentals in using your handgun for its designed purpose.

Where: Brookings, OR; we will convoy by vehicle from the rendezvous location below
When: March 15-16, 2008

Topics Covered:

- Safe Handling
- Presentations from the Holster
- Steps of Firing A Shot
- After Action Drills
- Tactical and Emergency Reloads
- Clearing Malfunctions
- Shot Placement
- Slow fire drills from 5-25 yards
- Rapid fire drills from 3-15 yards
- Close Contact Firing
- Penetration & Power Factors
- Equipment Recommendations
- Tactical Scenarios

Equipment Needed:

- Pistol: Whatever you would grab in an emergency; would recommend a good semi-auto but revolvers will work also
- Ammo: 400 rounds, Magazines/Speedloaders 4, Mag/Speedloader carriers
- Holster: Good quality belt holster
- Notebook/Pen/Pencil
- Eye and Ear Protection
- Food/water and any other gear you’ll need to be comfortable (hats, knee pads, elbow pads, sunscreen, raingear, aspirin/other OTC pain reliever, etc.)


Fee: $150/shooter/2 days; "buddy system" pricing allows 25% total discount (i.e., 2 shooters @ $225 total; 3 shooters @ $337.50, etc.). Young people under 21 are free with a paid admission; participation by minors may be limited as to the extent of training, but they will benefit from the instruction.

Prerequisites: Each shooter will be expected at all times to adhere to the standard gun safety rules, with special attention to muzzle and trigger finger control. Your weekend will be more enjoyable if your handgun is cleaned, and properly lubricated. All shooters will have an opportunity to zero their handguns at appropriate distances. Make sure to remember your cleaning equipment, lubricants, and any necessary tools/manuals for all of your gear.

Rendezvous details: Oceanview Diner (541) 469-7971 - rendezvous on 3/15/08 at no later than 7:00 AM if you want to eat breakfast before heading to the range.

Contact info:

Patrick R. Foley
97900 Shopping Center Ave
Harbor, Oregon 97415
541 412 7829
541 412 8380 FAX

Living in an Imperial World: 12 Steps to TEOTWAWKI

This picture, taken in 1932, shows the fires set by the US Army in the campsite near the Capitol established by American veterans as they peacefully petitioned Congress for advance payment on the promised "bonus" arising from their World War I military service.

The saga of the "Bonus Expeditionary Force" (a play on "American Expeditionary Force", the official designation of the American forces in France during WWI), is a terrible piece of American history which should be taught to every schoolchild, along with the tale of Manzanar and the other concentration camps established a decade later to imprison American citizens without indictment or trial.

Failure to remember these outrages simply guarantees their recurrence.

"Relevance?", you ask - even though you are undoubtedly aware of the current FedGov's unprecedented expansion of electronic and other surveillance, ostensibly to "keep the Homeland safe."

Why do you think that surveillance has been established, and why does it grow more intrusive every single year?

Why do you think billions of your tax dollars have been provided to state and local authorities to create "domestic standing armies" of paramilitary, armed-to-the-gills special weapons police teams?

Why do you think the Marines are training for "urban patrol exercises" in American cities?

Why not ask your friends and relatives in the service about joint training exercises currently being held between the .mil folks and the DHS minions?

Why do you think that civil rights groups such as the Free State Wyoming movement and - yes, Virginia - even the WRSA have been identified by .gov apparatchiks as "potential threats"?

Why is the most powerful military and economic machine ever in the history of mankind so damned afraid?

Here's a strong candidate for why.

This article from the Financial Times lays out one noted economist's perspective on the sequential crunches that will, if they cannot be stopped, yield the "mother of all meltdowns."

Just as General MacArthur, along with his aides Eisenhower and Patton, were ordered to disperse the Bonus Army in 1932, so too is it entirely likely that the .gov will use every tool - including the .mil - at its disposal to ensure a compliant and submissive populace in the coming economic maelstrom.

Just as a failing Republican President, faced with an economic calamity, loosed the Army on American citizens to ensure order, so too a decade later did a Democratic President order the transport and imprisonment in concentration camps of American citizens deemed potential security risks.

Don't ever let anyone tell you "it can't happen here."

It already has - more than once.

If you think that the powers-that-be who created the coming financial debacle aren't going to want unchallenged control of its aftermath, you have some hard lessons coming.

Tempus fugit.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Living in an Imperial World - Part V

As we noted here, Miami police were seeking authority from the FAA for a test of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for tactical uses.

Approval for the UAV trial was announced today. More video here.

Most importantly, note the closing sentences in the Miami article:

...Honeywell has begun low-rate initial production of MAVs on a new line in Albuquerque, New Mexico, sized to manufacture up to 100 vehicles a month. "We expect several large contracts in 2008," says Fulton.

The wise patriot will learn to think not only about OPSEC and COMSEC, but also 360-degree situational awareness in the x, y, and z axes.

This US Border Patrol PowerPoint presentation will give you more incentive to do so. Go here to download a free PowerPoint viewing program, which you'll need to watch the little flying-dog-and-pony show from the Border boys.

The future is here, and it ain't pretty.

Wo ist Leutnant Snoopy?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Enter the Third Horseman

From FT:

...what is really catching the attention of Goldman Sachs now is the outlook for agricultural prices. Or as Jeff Currie, head of commodities research at the US bank, says with disarming cheer: “We think we could go into crisis mode in many commodities sectors in the next 12 to 18 months...and I would argue that agriculture is key here...”

Read the whole thing, please, along with these two European perspectives on the big picture.

Then act accordingly.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Vanderboegh: Six Lessons From the 20th Century

Along with the "faculty" cited by Professor Vanderboegh in his essay below, we should also thank Professors Solzhenitsyn and Niemoller for their timeless thoughts on the same subject:

What I Have Learned From the Twentieth Century

With thanks to Schoolmasters Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Mao Tse-Tung and Pol Pot

From the Liberty Pole
June, 1999
by Mike Vanderboegh

As an amateur historian of this sad century whose time is almost up, I would like to reflect upon six lessons I have learned in my studies. Folks who wish to live free and prosperous in the next century would do well to understand the failures of the past.

LESSON NO. 1: If a bureaucrat, or a soldier sent by a bureaucrat, comes to knock down your door and take you someplace you do not want to go because of who you are or what you think -- kill him. If you can, kill the politician who sent him. You will likely die anyway, and you will be saving someone else the same fate. For it is a universal truth that the intended victims always far outnumber the tyrant's executioners. Any nation which practices this lesson will quickly run out of executioners and tyrants, or they will run out of it.

LESSON NO. 2: If a bureaucrat, or a soldier sent by a bureaucrat, comes to knock down your door and confiscate your firearms -- kill him. The disarmament of law-abiding citizens is the required precursor to genocide.

LESSON NO. 3: If a bureaucrat tells you that he must know if you have a firearm so he can put your name on a list for the common good, or wants to issue you an identity card so that you be more easily identified -- tell him to go to hell. Registration of people and firearms is the required precursor to the tyranny which permits genocide. Bureaucrats cannot send soldiers to doors that are not on their list.

LESSON NO. 4: Believe actions, not words. Tyrants are consummate liars. Just because a tyrant is "democratically elected" does not mean he believes in democracy. Reference Adolf Hitler, 1932.

And just because a would-be tyrant mouths words of reverence to law and justice, or takes a solemn oath to uphold a constitution, does not mean be believes such concepts apply to him. Reference Bill Clinton, among others.

The language of the lie is just another tool of killers. A sign saying "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Makes You Free) posted above an execution camp gate does not mean that anybody gets out of there alive, and a room labeled "Showers" does not necessarily make you clean. Bill Clinton notwithstanding, the meaning of "is" is plain when such perverted language gets you killed. While all tyrants are liars, it is true that not all political liars are would-be tyrants -- but they bear close watching. And keep your rifle handy.

LESSON NO. 5: Our constitutional republic as crafted by the Founders is the worst form of government in the world, except when compared to all the others. Capitalism, as well, is a terrible way to run an economy, except when compared to all other economic systems. Unrestrained democracy is best expressed as three wolves and a sheep sitting down to vote on what to have for dinner. The horrors of collectivism in all its forms -- socialism, communism, national socialism, fascism -- have been demonstrated beyond dispute by considerable wasteful trial and bloody error. Leaders such as Bill Clinton who view the Constitution as inconvenient and ignorable are harbingers of tyranny.

LESSON NO. 6: While nations do not always get the leaders they deserve, they always get the leaders they tolerate. And anyone who tells you that "It Can't Happen Here" is whistling past the graveyard of history. There is no "house rule" that bars tyranny coming to America. History is replete with republics whose people grew complacent and descended into imperial butchery and chaos. Dictators count on the assistance of people who are complacent, fearful, envious, lazy and corrupt. While there is no "Collective guilt" to the crimes of a regime (all such crimes being committed by specific criminal individuals), there is certainly "collective responsibility" -- especially for those who watch the criminals at work without objecting or interfering.

A French journalist of the last century wrote: "I must speak out, for I will not be an accomplice." Evil tyrants require, indeed they depend upon, willing and unwilling accomplices -- good people who would never think of harming a soul themselves. Lenin called such people "useful idiots."

De Tocqueville observed that "America is great because America is good. When America ceases to be good, she will cease to be great." As related in the Old Testament, God judged nations based upon the immorality and criminality of their leaders. Entire peoples were scourged because of their failure to remove corrupt leaders.

As we move from the Twentieth Century into the Twenty-First, we should take care to remember the ancient story of Sodom and Gommorrah. If we wish to avoid the butchery of the Twentieth Century and the righteous judgment of the God of our antiquity, we would do well to keep our Bibles, our Constitution and our firearms close at hand.

This article was reprinted with permission of the author from The Hawaiian Rifleman, January, 2000 issue.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Look at You! You Brought A Little Friend!

Look at you!

Donny DOJ from Washington brought one of his short-bus friends from DHS to visit us today, too.

Hi, Debbie DHS!

We all like friends.

Won't you both be my Federal friends?

I like it when you say you will.

We'll all have special fun together real soon, won't we, boys and girls?

Hey, you little DHS scamp - any word from Brownie lately?

See you soon!


Hi Guys! Glad You Could Drop By!

Pull up a chair and join the conversation, won't you?

Awwww...I guess you're shy. That would explain the Nomex hoods. They are quite the fashion statement.

Well, enjoy the place. Drop by anytime.

We'll be seeing you soon!


A new installment from Mike Vanderboegh, author of Absolved, Ourselves Alone, Fear, and Awkward:

by Mike Vanderboegh
13 February 2008

"An army . . . ought to be able to shoot 'possible' before it lets the band play too loud."

"Tyree, tell me about Spanish Man's Grave." Sergeant Tyree spat left and looked squint-eyed under his hat brim at Ross Pennell. "Can't rightly tell much, sir. Never been there. Only hearsay. He drawed a picture of it once -- Captain MacAfee. Spanish soldiers ridin' an' marchin' up from Santa Fe coupla centuries ago, all shinin' in armor and golden helmets, with plumes and yellow silken flags. Musta been purty." Tyree shook his head. "But it didn't work out. The Apaches caught the whole kit and kaboodle of 'em in the tablelands and killed every mother's son. Got 'em like at the bottom of the well, they say. Ever since then it's been Apache holy ground. It did something to their bad god for all time. Only their good god lives in the Grave. Once the Apaches get in to Spanish Man's, they're safe home. Big and powerful medicine that protects them."

"Anybody from Fort Starke ever been there?" "No white man was ever there, is what I think. A lot of 'em will lie they was, but I think only them dead caballeros know where it is, and they ain't a one of 'em ever talked since the massacre." "Tyree," Pennell said, I wonder what those Spaniards did wrong?"

"I ain't a man to blame dead men," Tyree said, "but the captain used to say an army ought to have a lotta brains before it shows a lotta flags. He used to say it ought to be able to shoot 'possible' before it lets the band play too loud. And he used to say that only a well-trained veteran looks right in a bright uniform, and that dirty uniform shirts make the best empires. But maybe we'll find out what the Spaniards did wrong, Mr. Pennell. I've knowed we was goin' to the Grave fer four days."
. . . -- "Spanish Man's Grave" by James Warner Bellah in Reveille, Curtis Publishing, 1947.

I've been a fan of James Warner Bellah's writing since childhood, long before I even knew his name. Born in Delaware in 1899, Bellah went to Canada before the U.S. entered World War I, joining the Royal Flying Corps and serving as a pilot in the 117th Squadron. After the Great War ended, he began writing, publishing his first novel in 1923. In the 1930s he worked as journalist for the New York Post. A student of history, he joined the United States Army before Pearl Harbor and served as an infantry officer in Southeast Asia. After the war he resumed his writing career and struck gold with a series of stories first published in the Saturday Evening Post, about the U.S. Cavalry during the Indian wars. John Ford's epic cavalry trilogy, Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Rio Grande (all starring John Wayne), were Bellah screenplays, based on his short stories, "Massacre," "Mission Without a Name," and "The Big Hunt." Bellah went on to write the screenplays for other movies, including Sergeant Rutledge and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. He died in 1976.

"Wherever ten or twenty of them in dirty shirt blue were gathered together -- that became the United States." --James Warner Bellah, from his screen adaptation of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was always my favorite. Wayne's portrayal of tough, competent, sentimental Captain Nathan Brittles ("Never apologize, Mr. Cohill. It's a sign of weakness"), a character based upon the real U.S. cavalry officer Frederick W. Benteen, was a classic. I first saw it as kid on late night TV and was enthralled. I suppose that's why back in the late 80s I wrote a manuscript biography of Benteen's civil war career (sadly unpublished). The concept of the man who does his duty, no matter the cost, speaks of eternal truths.

But even if Nathan Brittles is my favorite Bellah character, "Spanish Man's Grave" is my favorite Bellah story. Young Lieutenant Ross Pennell, worn-out Captain MacAfee, hard-bitten Sergeant Tyree, a corporal and seven men, are on patrol when they spot smoke in the distance -- a burning homestead. MacAfee halts his mount.

"Mr. Pennell," he spoke haltingly, "this . . .is as far as I go," and he sat there with his eyes closed, like marbles in his skull. Marbles covered with chicken skin. A worn-out man, old before his time, drained dry by the Colors, sitting his mount a thousand miles down the wastelands, staring at distant smoke with his eyes closed.

"Drained dry by the Colors." MacAfee is dying. His left arm and leg have gone dead and now he is blind. Pennell moves to help him from his saddle, but MacAfee speaks:

"Mr. Pennell, there are only three things to remember out here. Always make them think you are in force, or will be soon. Always frighten them until they stop thinking and take refuge in Medicine. Then turn it against them, spoil its power and break it, so they can't trust anything. And always treat your luck with respect, so that it will never turn against you. This time I was going to take the patrol down and try to find Spanish Man's Grave. I wanted to show dirty uniform shirt blue down there and spoil that Medicine for them. The Apaches have been living too long on that old massacre story -- believing too much in their immunity. Flout it in their faces, show them that the gods hate them, too, and you've gone a long way toward making them behave. I want you to take the patrol down."

Then, before Pennell can help the Captain from his horse, MacAfee dies as he lived, "straight-shouldered in the saddle."

The patrol buries the Captain and rides on to the smoke, finding the broken bodies of a tortured homesteader and his gang-raped wife. Their daughter is missing, abducted by the Apaches. The determined but inexperienced Pennell tells Tyree they are pushing on to Spanish Man's Grave. The way is hard, the odds long, the men fearful and, toward the end, rebellious. Pennell has had them do things they don't understand, like making enough squad fires at night for two companies of cavalry rather than a small one for their short squad. (Von Steuben was the first, but not the last, to comment that American soldiers always have to be told the "why" of things before risking their lives.) Finally Pennell explains himself:

"We're going to the Grave because the Apaches are going. They're going because they're running to Medicine, for protection -- to get away from two companies. Drive 'em to Medicine, turn it on 'em, show 'em its no good either! That's the second thing you always do." . . . "Those dead Spaniards," Pennell said, "came through the easiest route. The fact that they were all killed means they must have laid themselves open to tactical murder. They've done it all through their history; that's why they've got no history left, only a record."

The story is chock full of the hard lessons of war that soldiers must learn before they can win. Yet the narrative lets you know in ways spoken and hinted that here, in these pitifully few men, products of their tough training and bitter experience, is the "army that can shoot 'possible.'" They do not need a band. Using clues from the dead Captain and Tyree's recollections of the Spaniard's last stand, Pennell and Tyree get to the highest ground and spot, as Pennell deduced they would, the entrance to the Apache lair. Pennell then takes his men into the middle of Spanish Man's Grave in the dark of night, startling the war party at their fires:

Pennell called to the little Graeme girl again to lie flat and wait, and again the patrol fired, and again, until there was no more sound of thrashing agony, no more panther rush to get away, no more Apaches to teach the niceties to.

The girl is rescued and the Apaches are routed by a dead Captain's plan and a young Lieutenant's initiative. Bellah ends with this sentence: "And the way of their hard living was suddenly more worth while in that moment than all the emeralds of Hind and all the gold of Cathay." Hokey? Maybe. Just like the singing of the Star Spangled Banner that puts a catch in your throat.

"They had trained intensively"

As time went by we built the mythology of the Minute Men even further. We depicted them as a small but courageous band of farmers who responded to a spontaneous call to arms, an untrained and poorly armed rabble. The truth, of course, was very different. There were actually 14,000 colonials under arms in the militia and Minute Man regiments. They were alerted by organized alarm riders via a system that dated back to the 17th century wars. They had trained intensively for a year and were armed with the same type weapons as the British. Lexington was an important battle in the history of the United States, not only because it was the opening moment of the war that created our country but also because it provides us a microcosm of the drift to war -- with all the tensions, the misinterpretations, the fears and the posturings, the courageous and the foolish acts that augur the clash of arms. The distortion of this historical event has kept us from some vital insights concerning the way that wars begin. . ." -- General John R. Galvin, The Minute Men, The First Fight: Myths and Realities of the American Revolution, Pergamon/Brassey, 1989, pp. VIII & IX

In Spanish Man's Grave, the cavalry employ the same principles of war against raiders that the colonial militias, the trained bands and the "snow shoe men" who preceded the Minutemen of the 1770s did against the Indian tribes of the East. These campaigns, and those of the French and Indian War, honed a system of militia training and organization that paid off on 19 April 1775. General Galvin's book is required reading for every student of the armed citizenry, for it demonstrates that the Minutemen's success at Concord and the savaging of the British column all the way back to Boston was neither accidental nor spontaneous.

For those of us today who believe that going down to the range four or five times a year is enough to demonstrate the proficiency necessary to provide as credible a deterrent to tyranny as the Minutemen, a quick skimming of Galvin's work ought to disabuse them of that silly notion. As I have written in many places before, merely having the means to resist tyranny is no evidence that you can do so successfully. You must have the will and the ability to do so.

You must, like Bellah's Captain MacAfee says, be able to fire a "possible" at distance. You must also know how to conduct yourself when firing at an enemy. And you must know how to get to the place where you can fire. And how to move forward, or backward, after doing so. The constitutional militias of the 90s worked on such competencies and were laughed at by "respectable" shooters. Yet, as I have written before (See "Resistance is Futile": Waco Rules vs. Romanian Rules), the 90s militias were enough to back down the Clintonistas from any more Wacos.

For all the silliness and stupidity that characterized the "militia generals" who capered and postured like clowns for the mainstream media back then, there were many other folks who quietly understood the lessons of the armed citizenry of our history. Shunning attention, they did the one thing that made them a countervailing force to predatory unconstitutional government -- they trained. And trained and trained. They trained until the lessons were a habit. And some of them are still training today.

"Habit is a mighty ally"

"Tonight was a lark. It was practice. Prepare your mind to endure its like again and again, until it is nothing to you, until you can laugh in Polnikes' face and return his insults with a carefree heart. Remember that boys of Lakedaemon have endured these harrowings for hundreds of years. We spend tears now that we may conserve blood later. Polynikes was not seeking to harm you tonight. He was trying to teach that discipline of mind which will block out fear when the trumpets sound and the battle pipers mark the beat. Remember what I told you about the house with many rooms. There are rooms we must not enter. Anger. Fear. Any passion which leads the mind toward that 'possession' which undoes men in war. Habit will be your champion. When you train the mind to think one way and one way only, when you refuse to allow it to think in another, that will produce great strength in battle. . . Habit is a mighty ally, my young friend. The habit of fear and anger, or the habit of self-composure and courage." (Dienekes) rapped the boy warmly on the shoulder; they both stood. "Go now. Get some sleep. I promise you, before you see battle again, we'll arm you with all the handiest habits." -- Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield.

Competition pistol shooters know about muscle memory. Muscle memory is a physical training but also a mental one. As seasoned handgun shooter Tom Gresham observed:

"Nearly all top pistol shooters dry fire—that is, they 'shoot' without ammunition. It can be done at home, after checking to make sure the gun is not loaded. Recoil obscures problems of technique, not to mention flinching. The goal of dry firing is to keep the sights on the target after the hammer falls. Repetition grooves muscle memory and enhances your ability to concentrate, enabling you to pull the trigger without disturbing the sight alignment."

Likewise, says Edwin Hall,

"When you have a chance to just sit back with no immediate worldly attention needed, you can train for shooting by imagining you are shooting. A boring meeting where you might be called upon for input is probably not a good place, but a snack break or lunch time might be. If you have this type of relaxed time, put it to use. Start by thinking about being at the range. Mentally rehearse all the steps taken to perform a perfect shot, all the way through checking it and finding it to be that perfect shot. Never even joke that it might have been less than perfect. All mental practice should be done visualizing perfect results. Perform these exercises whenever time permits. Be sincere. Don't just try; do!" (Source: ibid.)

What is true for handgunning is true for all other things in life. There is a muscle memory to maintaining liberty. There are both mental and physical habits produced by long training that make you a free man or woman and us, all of us, a free people. The Roman Vegetius said, "Let him who desires peace prepare for war." George Washington put a finer point on it: "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

"He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms." -- Psalm 18:34

This is what the Founders intended by the 2nd Amendment: to put the elements of defensive war in the hands of the people. But they also expected us to be "well-regulated", that is to be competent with those weapons, to be trained in their use. They didn't put that responsibility on the federal government. They put it on us, the people. Now, it is true enough that most people today don't accept that responsibility any more. Many would even take it away from those who do. These sad facts do not absolve us from the responsibility of maintaining our freedom habits and our liberty muscle memory.

"Habit is a mighty ally." Indeed. And tyrants, like street thugs, pass by the man who looks ready to take them on and pick on the unready, the weak and the obvious victim. "They had trained intensively for a year," Galvin says of the Minutemen. How much have you trained lately in the arts of a free citizen?

As Robert Heinlein warned, "You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once." And he also cautioned, "Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors... and miss."

So, work on your freedom muscle memory. Renew the old mental and physical habits of liberty that you have let fall into disuse.

And stay away from the white lightning, for in this troubled time fast approaching you can't afford to miss that "possible."

Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson AL 35126


The latest from Mike Vanderboegh, author of Absolved, Ourselves Alone, and Awkward:

by Mike Vanderboegh
11 February 2008

The fears of man are many. He fears the shadow of death and the closed doors of the future. He is afraid for his friends and for his sons and of the specter of tomorrow. All his life's journey he walks in the lonely corridors of his controlled fears, if he is a man. For only fools will strut, and only cowards dare cringe. -- James Warner Bellah, "Spanish Man's Grave" in Reveille, Curtis Publishing, 1947.

Sweet Home, Alabama

You know, I thank God every day that I am an Alabamian by choice. I love Alabama. I was born in Michigan on a stormy July night in 1952. At the tender age of 3 I was hijacked and removed against my will to Ohio where I was raised amongst the "Heathen Buckeye" as my Michigan relatives saw it (my father took a transfer with the Whirlpool Corporation to their Marion division). From 1955 to 1985, I lived in Ohio, first in Marion, then in Columbus. My son was born in University Hospital there in 1979. In 1985, I "refugeed" out of Ohio, fleeing my ex-wife, the faithless Wicked Witch of the North. I met and married an Arkansas girl who was working in Birmingham and I never went back. In time, Rosey presented me with two daughters, now teenagers. I would like to see them all grow to middle age before I pass over the River Jordan, but that is in God's hands. I am immensely proud of all three of my children. They are my finest accomplishments in life, though I must say that my wife Rosey probably bears more responsibility for that than I do. God has truly blessed me.

And it was here in Alabama where I found most of those blessings, along with a new home that I embraced. In time, the folks 'round here also embraced me but that was a far longer process, as any other "damyankee" can tell you. Right after I moved here, Rosey and I would spend our weekends just driving around, soaking up the geography and the history of the place. I loved the mountains of north Alabama, but I especially loved the people. By and large, the folks here are the best sort of folks you can find anywhere. They are generous, polite to a fault, tough, loyal to kith and kin, hard working, and God fearing. The race relations here are far better than can be found on Columbus' west side, to be sure. True, I came here long after the dogs, the firehoses and the nickname "Bombingham" became uncomfortable memories. But there is one side of Alabamians that I just love, and it is expressed in the state motto: "We Dare Defend Our Rights." I have found more truly free men in Alabama than anywhere else in the country that I have roamed.

From the rednecks of Winston County who still fight personal skirmishes that started back in the Civil War to the veterans of the Deacons for Defense and Justice who took up arms to guard Martin Luther King and other apostles of non-violent resistance from Klan attack, Alabamians exemplify that motto. I am lucky that my mother raised me to never know a stranger, for I've met and become friends with a lot of folks down here who cross all sorts of racial, ethnic, religious and socio-economic lines. Whenever I get a little peevish at the ways of the world and things seem a little foggy, I return to my friends, especially my Southern white boy friends, for a good mind-clearing dose of down home reality. I've just come back from a visit to the touchstone that represents the best of common sense Alabama, and I can't tell you how refreshed I feel.

You see, I was in a bit of a funk about the reaction to my last essay, Awkward. Andrew Jackson, a natural born fighter and leader of men (and who more southern boys, white and black, were named after than any other until Robert E. Lee came along), once said "Never take counsel of your fears." Heck, that was all most folks seemed to take from Awkward, and my earlier short story Absolved. I couldn't believe it. All I have ever tried to do with my writing is to remind Americans that they once acted like free people and could again, if they but would. Some of my stuff, like "What Good Can a Handgun Do Against an Army?" or "Six Lessons From the 20th Century" have in the past gotten great responses, sometimes years afterward. But for the most part all I got this time was how terrible things are, and how irretrievable the situation is. As I responded on David Codrea's blog War on Guns:

Well, I'm gratified to see calmness, confidence and optimism breaking out all over in response to my essay. Why don't some of you guys just go ahead and slit your wrists and get it over with? Or better yet, throw some cold water on your faces, wake up and start acting like AMERICANS used to, fer cryin' out loud. No wonder the ATF thinks they can get away with what they do. If you'll stop worrying about what the enemy can do to you and start thinking about what you can do to them, you'll have made a start at winning the fight. Crap, you outnumber them a hundred to one, despite your fears. If you acted like you had the power that you actually have -- the power that your own timidity is stripping you of -- we wouldn't have to fight at all! Sheesh. Quit moaning, b-tching and "woe-is-me-ing" and start ACTING like free people. You're sure you wanted this blog and not the "surrender before inconvenience" one?

"Only Cowards Dare Cringe"

But you know, I messed up. I should have been reading my own stuff. For example, this from You Can't Repeal the Law of Unintended Consequences last April:

I have found over the years that modern day so-called liberals (who bear little resemblance intellectually to their claimed classical liberal ancestors) lack the courage of their convictions. There is no principle so dear that they are willing to personally suffer for, let alone die for. Government, blessed government, is their idol. If they are aggrieved, oppressed, or merely imagine that they are oppressed, it is to government that they turn. There hasn't been a liberal willing to die for his principles since the Civil Rights movement. They are more than willing to dispatch the men and women of government to die in their place, however. But, and I think this is more dangerous to the country, they also extrapolate from their own cowardice and believe that all people (even those who disagree with them) will, in the end, do what they're told by Government. (Emphasis supplied.)

Stupid me, I should have realized two things. First, it is not only liberals who can extrapolate from their own cowardice. And second, the folks who were responding to my writing negatively are not representative of the people I expect to "get" my stuff anyway. I use the medium at hand to broadcast my message, the Founders' message, forgetting that the folks who will best understand it are not tuned in. In a "blinding flash of the obvious" to use John Wesley Rawles' phrase, here is what I finally figured out: most rednecks (and most gunnies) are not keyboard commandos. They do not sit in the dark trying to make sense of the electron-borne winds of modern information (or disinformation). They are too busy with the exigencies of life to trade intellectualisms on the Net. The folks I'm talking about (and those I'm trying to reach) are rather more like the Kentuckians that Hank Messick described in the forward to his book King's Mountain: "One thing about the fellows back home -- when they say they're going to kill somebody, they kill him."

And so I went to talk to some friends, and some friends of friends, about the issues I'd raised in the last few pieces I'd written to see how despondent and discouraged they were about events. These were Alabama boys, rednecks (some of them) and the sons of rednecks -- gunnies all -- the great-great-grandsons of the yeoman farmers who followed Andrew Jackson in the Creek War and Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah. Most have lived lives of physical work and service -- to their God, their country and their families. Some are not particularly church-going men, but they live a faith that puts some pew-sitters in the shade. Whatever they've gotten in this life, they've had to work and sometimes fight for. Nobody gave it to them. They are men, in the best sense of that term. Like James Warner Bellah's cavalrymen, they understand what he meant by "only cowards dare cringe." These are folks who live by a code enunciated in Grantland Rice's poem, On Down the Road, (though I doubt some of them would ever admit to having read a poem):

Hold to the course, though the storms are about you;
Stick to the road where the banner still flies;
Fate and his legions are ready to rout you--
Give 'em both barrels--and aim for their eyes.

Life's not a rose bed, a dream or a bubble,
A living in clover beneath cloudless skies;
And Fate hates a fighter who's looking for trouble,
So give 'im both barrels--and shoot for the eyes.

Fame never comes to the loafers and sitters,
Life's full of knots in a shifting disguise;
Fate only picks on the cowards and quitters,
So give 'em both barrels--and aim for the eyes.

They are quiet fellows, mostly. But it is not the smartest thing in the world to make them mad, as British Colonel Patrick Ferguson found out when he called their ancestors in North Carolina "backwater men," "barbarians" and "mongrels" in 1780. He miscalculated his audience. The Scotch Irish pioneers came down out of the "backwaters," tracked Ferguson and his Tories to King's Mountain and killed him in a fight that proved THE turning point of the Revolution. One of my friends, a maintenance man at a local nursing home, a humble fellow who never went to college, a son of a coal miner and the descendant of men who fought Ferguson (and others who fought the Creeks, Abe Lincoln AND Jefferson Davis, and the Kaiser and Hitler and Hirohito) can tell you the story as if it happened yesterday with a comprehensive knowledge of the subject and an eye for detail that would put a professional historian to shame. One of the defeatist critics of Awkward headlined his piece "the revolution has been canceled." Try telling that to my friend. It lives within his soul. As another great Southerner once said, "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

I guess my sense of history is one thing that helped me make the transition from "damyankee" to full fledged Alabamian (with an asterisk, of course). Still, there may be another more mundane reason that I was embraced. As I was telling David Codrea the other day, I never considered myself a leader (and still don't consider myself a good leader) but it happened that during the early 90s when the predatory Clintonistas were roaming about seeking whom they would devour, I ended up leading one of our local constitutional militias. I didn't expect it or ask for it, it just happened. It was just that as I went along people followed me, even into situations where our lives were at risk. Knowing how suspicious and downright allergic the boys were about anything "Yankee" one day I made the mistake of asking, "Why did you fellows pick me?" And from the back of the room somebody said, "Hell, Mike, yer a Yankee. We put you out front and if you get it, we ain't lost much." Pretty funny -- funny AND smart.

"The Cutting Edge"

But southern boys like these -- call them hillbillies, call them rednecks -- have, as Hank Messick observed, always been "the cutting edge" in America's wars. Messick quotes the Georgia historian F.N. Boney: "There is no shortage of rednecks in the neat, quiet American military cemeteries which now dot the globe. However rejected in normal times, the redneck has always been welcomed when the nation went to war."

And "rejected in normal times" is no idle phrase. Is there any other class of people more lampooned and vilified than the Southern Christian poor white boy? Like the long-dead Ferguson, the elites of this country have always despised him. As Messick says, "Because he remains an individualist, he is a safe target." "Hillbillies," as Messick calls them, are "not interested in the fast buck. Wealth has never appealed to him as an end in itself. If he expects a reward for hard work, he assumes it will come in heaven. He still practices the Protestant Ethic, you see. More important to him than money is his personal freedom, the right to do something or nothing as he pleases." (Hank Messick, King's Mountain, Little Brown, 1976, pp. 10-11).

So like I said, I went and talked to my good old boy buddies. I talked about the situation we find ourselves in today, with Heller looming and the Olofson case outrages that demonstrated the rule of law no longer obtains. I read them, or let them read, some of what I had written. Finally, I read them passages from my defeatist critics' postings. All of their reactions, long and short, were summed up by one of them: "Heck, Mike, why are you worried about what a bunch of pissant Yankee wusses think? You still got us." And so I do, God bless 'em all. I've got "the cutting edge" with me. With that and God, I'll make my stand, as the song says, to live and die in Dixie.

"What is the opposite of fear?"

Although extraordinary valor was displayed by the entire corps of Spartans and Thespians, yet bravest of all was declared the Spartan Dienekes. It is said that on the eve of battle, he was told by a native of Trachis that the Persian archers were so numerous that, when they fired their volleys, the mass of arrows blocked out the sun. Dienekes, however, quite undaunted by this prospect, remarked with a laugh, "Good. Then we'll have our battle in the shade." -- Herodotus, The Histories.

And that brings me to my final point. Discouragement and defeatism come from isolation and the fear that it breeds. In Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, the Spartan Dienekes says:

"All my life . . . one question has haunted me. What is the opposite of fear? . . .To call it aphobia, fearlessness, is without meaning. This is just a name, thesis expressed as antithesis. To call the opposite of fear fearlessness is to say nothing. I want to know its true obverse, as day of night and heaven of earth. . . How does one conquer fear of death, that most primordial of terrors, which resides in our very blood, as in all life, beasts as well as men? . . . Dogs in a pack find courage to take on a lion. Each hound knows his place. He fears the dog ranked above and feeds off the fear of the dog below. Fear conquers fear. This is how we Spartans do it, counterpoising to fear of death a greater fear: that of dishonor. Of exclusion from the pack. . . But is that courage? Is not acting out of fear of dishonor still, in essence, acting out of fear?" Alexandros asked (Dienekes) what he was seeking. "Something nobler. A higher form of the mystery. Pure. Infallible. . . You young men imagine that we veterans, with our long experience of war, have mastered fear. But we feel it as keenly as you. More keenly, for we have more intimate experience of it. Fear lives within us twenty-four hours a day, in our sinews and our bones. . . We cobble our courage together on the spot, of rags and remnants . . . I know all the tricks . . . I know how to close with my man, how to convince myself that his terror is greater than my own. Perhap it is. I employ care for the men-at-arms serving beneath me and seek to forget my own fear in concern for their survival. But it's always there. The closest I've come is to act despite terror. But that's not it either. Not the kind of courage I'm talking about. Nor is beast-like fury or panic-spawned self-preservation. These are katalepsis, possession. A rat owns as much of them as a man.". . . Ariston asked if this higher courage in fact existed. "It is no phantom," Dienekes declared with conviction. "I have seen it. . . Do you know who owns it, this pure form of courage, more than any other I have ever known?" No one around the fire answered. "My wife."

In Pressfield's novel, the answer to Dienekes' question was wrapped up in the secret of how the 300 were chosen for what all knew was certain death at Thermopylae. I will not ruin the ending of the book for you if you have not read it, but I think I can summarize and answer without danger: Love. Love is the opposite of fear. Love, faith, duty. If you take counsel of your fears, if you believe in something so little that you can be discouraged before even trying to defend it, then I say boldly that you do not love it enough. You do not have faith in what you profess to believe. For this lack of love, you shirk your duty -- to yourself, your family and your country. The wonder of it to me is that you feel comfortable in telling the world of your own failure to love, of your lack of faith and your pitiful excuses for why you cannot do your duty without apparent embarrassment.

The men and women of Alabama that I know and love, the despised rednecks, crackers and hillbillies, may not know everything in the wider world but they know what they love -- of God and mankind -- and are willing to die for it. They walk the corridors of their controlled fear, because they are men and women -- American men and women. They are Americans who the Founders would be proud to know, as I am proud to know them and count them friends. And what, I ask, does that make the cynics and defeatists among us who claim to believe in the Republic the Founders made while making excuses why they cannot fight for it?

My good friend called them "a bunch of pissant Yankee wusses."

I'm not going to argue the point.

Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson AL 35126

Monday, February 11, 2008

Basic Rifle Marksmanship Series: Part II(A) - Open Sights

We'll continue with our Basic Rifle Marksmanship series, once you've gone back and reviewed Part I dealing with safety. We'll wait right here 'til you return.

You're back now, so let's begin. Because we want these lessons to be as useful as possible for a broad audience, we're going to start with the most common form of rifle sights - the so-called "open sights". The other major variant of iron rifle sights - aperture sights - we'll leave for Part II(B) of this series.

Fundamental sight theory requires the shooter to be aware of three discrete elements and their interrelationship:

1) the rear sight (the part in the diagram above that looks like a block "C" lying on its back);

2) the front sight (depicted in our diagram as the somewhat fuzzy post centered in the notch of the rear sight); and

3) the target (the fuzzy gray circle on top of the front sight, which is positioned as just touching the target at the 6 o'clock position).

This interrelationship is managed by the shooter by three concepts, to be performed in the following sequence for each shot:

A) Sight alignment: This term refers to the way the front and rear sights appear to the shooter after he or she has assumed the physical position to be used for the shot. Note that we are NOT talking about the sights themselves - after all, both the rear and front sights are attached mechanically to the rifle. Instead, what is really being analyzed under the label "sight alignment" is the alignment of the shooter's sighting eye with the sights themselves.

The question to be asked by the shooter is simply, "Am I positioned such that the front and rear sights appear in the same line as my eye?"

If so, we can move on to

B) Sight picture: First, take a look at the front and rear sights in our diagram and note how the front sight post is exactly centered in the nothch of the rear sight. Note also that the top of the front post is exactly the same height as the higher (non-notched) portions of the rear sight.

Both of these points (front sight post centered in notch and on the same level as the non-notched rear sight portions) are critically important. If the front post is more to the right, the bullet will hit to the right of your point of aim (POA); same idea (bullet strike to the left of POA) if the post is more to the left. Similarly, if the front post is higher or lower than the non-notched "ears" of the rear sight, your shot will go higher or lower, respectively, from your POA.

Make sense?

Just keep the front post centered in the notch and at the same height as the rear sight "ears", and you'll be fine.

C) Point of aim: Remember how I said that the shooter needed to keep three separate pieces in mind when using one's sights? We've been talking about two pieces (the front and rear sights), so let's add the third element now.

You'll see that in our diagram, the front and rear sights are aligned, and that the front post is centered and at the same level as the "ears".

So far, so good.

Now look at where the front post is placed relative to the target. If the target were an analog clock face, that position of low center would be where the "6" would be, right? That's why shooters refer to the sight picture in our diagram as a "six o'clock hold", since the POA is at the six o'clock position on the target.

In Part II(C) of this series, we'll talk about adjusting your sights mechanically to change where the bullet strikes (known as "point of impact", or "POI") for a given POA. For now, just assume that the sights on your rifle are adjusted to have the POI equal to the POA at the distance you are shooting.

POI=POA, ja?

The six o'clock hold gives beginners (and especially not-so-newcomers) a big advantage, in that it forces shooters to concentrate on the front sight post so that they can be sure that the target is just perched on the front post. That's where a more colorful name for the six o'clock hold - "pumpkin on a post"- started.

The key point to remember is that the human eye simply cannot focus with equal clarity on three distinct items located at varying distances from the eye - in other words, the rear sight, the front sight post, and the target itself. That issue being a fact of human biomechanics, the shooter must choose one item and let the others blur to a greater or lesser degree.

Which to choose?

Always choose the front sight post to be clear. It will be hard to discipline yourself at first - you and your eyes will want to try to focus on all three objects, or the target, or the rear sight, all at the same time. Take a deep breath and concentrate only on the front sight, and making sure that as you begin your trigger squeeze, that sharp front sight post stays right there, at the six o'clock position of the round (but somewhat fuzzy) bullseye target.

Say to yourself: "Sharp front sight, pumpkin on a post. Sharp front sight, pumpkin on a post."

Keep repeating that mantra, while allowing yourself only enough attention to the rear sight to ensure that your front post is still centered and on the same level as the "ears".

Do that on every shot, and you'll be a superstar. Promise!

To recap, successsful open rear sight usage comes down to proper sight alignment, the proper sight picture (maintained until the shot is fired) , and the proper point of aim for the target you are shooting.

Next time, we'll deal with the other major vaiety of iron sights - the "peep", or aperture, sight.

Thanks for coming around, and I hope you'll look forward to our next meeting as much as I will.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Is It Still 'Awkward'?

Mike Vanderboegh, author of Absolved, sends along his latest thought-piece, comparing and contrasting the anti-Nazi "good Germans", the Founding Fighters of our country's birth, and today's anemic Americans:

"So When Should We 'Shoot the Bastards'?"

by Mike Vanderboegh
9 February 2008

(More along the line of grim thinking inspired by government misconduct in the Olofson case.)

When the 23rd Regiment was finally back in Boston after the ordeal of April 19, adjutant Frederick Mackenzie wrote in his diary, "I believe the fact is, that General Gage was not only much deceived with respect to the quantity of military stores said to be collected at Concord, but had no conception the rebels would have opposed the King's troops in the manner they did." -- General John Galvin, The Minutemen, Pergamon-Brasseys, 1989, page 244.

Where to draw the line?

"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." - Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

Libertarian Wolfe made her famous observation above in the mid-nineties. Now here we are more than ten years later, even more isolated and politically disenfranchised, and we must ask the question: how far do we have to go to get past "awkward?"

History never exactly repeats itself and thus is an imperfect guide. Studying history "we see through a glass, darkly." Still, there are patterns in history that deserve our close attention, so we may better understand how to act in the present and to enable us to better predict the future. Through history, we understand that no idea, bad or good, ever truly dies. We are also shown that people, being human, repeat the mistakes of their ancestors, over and over again. Indeed, there is no one blinder than a historical amnesiac.

So when we consider the question suggested by Claire Wolfe, that is, when are we past the awkward stage and into the day of "shooting the bastards," we must consult history for examples to guide us. I offer firstly a lesson in waiting too long from William Sheridan Allen's outstanding study, The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town (Franklin Watts/Grolier, 1984):

And yet, one has to ask the question, what happened to those who had sworn resistance? What happened to the Reichsbanner, which had repeatedly asserted, in the years before Hitler came to power, that when the expected Nazi coup came they would be able to defend the Republic? In Northeim, at least, the Republic was destroyed without a single blow struck in its defense. The Reichsbanner, with all its plans for instant mobilization, had its members struck down one by one, its leaders imprisoned, beaten, hounded from their jobs and their homes without any resistance from the organization as a whole. Perhaps the basic reason for this was that there was no Nazi coup d'etat. Instead there was a series of quasi-legal actions over a period of at least six months, no one of which by itself constituted a revolution, but the sum of which transformed Germany from a republic to a dictatorship. The problem was where to draw the line. But by the time that line could be clearly drawn, the revolution was a fait accompli, the potential organs of resistance had been individually smashed, and organized resistance was no longer possible. In short, the splendid organization was to no avail; in the actual course of events it was every man for himself. (Allen, p. 191)

Even after reading Allen's work, I have often wondered why the German opposition just laid down without a fight. Back in the nineties, I was talking to Aaron Zelman of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and one of us (I recall it was him, he thinks it was me) made this observation: "If every Jewish and anti-Nazi family in Germany had possessed a Mauser rifle, 20 rounds of 7.92mm ball and the will to use it, Adolf Hitler would have been an obscure footnote to the history of the Weimar Republic."

True enough, whoever said it. But as Grant Hammond observed about Colonel John Boyd's seminal theories of warfare:

"There is another trinity in Boyd’s strategic catechism as well. It is a concern for what he lumps together as moral-mental-physical aspects of opponents. Most definitions of war define them as contests in physical violence. Boyd sees them mainly as moral struggles won as much by mental as physical prowess. But he sees the complex—moral-mental-physical—as a single entity, a synthesis that can be broken down analytically but must be understood as a composite whole. It matches another Trinitarian composite, that of people first, ideas second and things third. This happens to be the opposite of the way most militaries approach problem solving by focusing on technology, platforms and weaponry first, ideas about their employment second and people—who are largely interchangeable and ultimately, are expendable—third. This way of thinking has little utility in Boyd’s Way and in fact, may be the seed of many a defeat." (Source: Grant T. Hammond, The Essential Boyd).

Many Americans, especially us small "r" republicans, take heart when we recall that the American citizenry possesses more small arms than most of the world's armies put together. And as Clausewitz observed, in military affairs quantity DOES have a quality all its own (just ask any Korean War veteran about his first experience with a Chinese human wave assault).

Still, as Napoleon insisted, "The moral is to the physical as three is to one." We cannot be protected by our possession of a hundred million rifles if we lack the will use them. Iraq was an armed society, yet the Saddam dictatorship had little trouble tyrannizing that country for decades. And it cannot be doubted that there are many American gunowners who would, at the first command of an American tyranny, turn in their weapons simply because they are "law-abiding" people who "don't want any trouble" -- simply because, in fact, they have forgotten what it is to be free. They have grown used to doing what the government tells them to do. And perhaps that was the problem with the Weimar republicans:

The Northeimer Reichsbanner itself was ready to fight in 1933. All it needed was an order from Berlin. Had it been given, Northeimer's Reichsbanner members would have carried out the tested plan they had worked on so long -- to obtain and distribute weapons and to crush the Nazis. But (the local Reichsbanner) would not act on its own. The leaders felt that single acts would come to grief, would possibly compromise the chance when it finally did come, and would, in any event, be a betrayal of discipline. They felt that their only hope was in common action, all together, all over the Reich. Hadn't (their national leaders) said that only a counterattack should be made? So they waited and prayed for the order to come, but it never did. And while they waited the Nazis began tracking them down, one by one. (Allen, p. 191)

The Germans, wholly indoctrinated in obeying orders, were incapable of acting without them. Because their would-be tyrants represented "the government" and cloaked their wolfish actions in "legal" sheepskin, because their own "leaders" could not or would not give the order, they all ended up in a concentration camp -- leaders and followers -- without ever having struck a blow. I am again reminded of Boyd's "moral-mental-physical" dynamic by this observation of Allen's:

"This situation, where even heroism was denied the men of the democratic Left, came about in no small measure because of the failure of the Social Democrats to understand the nature of Nazism. Just as their basic premise in the years before Hitler came to power was the erroneous assumption that the Nazis were essentially Putschists who could not possibly attract a mass following, so their basic premise after Hitler came to power was the equally erroneous assumption that his would be a government similar to the others of the Weimar period." (Ibid, p. 192)

Because of their inability to see the enemy for what he really was (and if ever there was an enemy who delighted in shouting his intentions to the rafters it was Hitler) they went straight from the "awkward stage" to the concentration camps without ever firing a shot.

Thinking and Acting before Feeling

Now, contrast the behavior of the Germans to that of our Founding Fathers. This is best illustrated by reading Gordon S. Wood's The Creation of the American Republic, 1776 - 1787:

In the American Revolution, Wood wrote, "there was none of the legendary tyranny of history that had so often driven desperate people into rebellion. The Americans were not an oppressed people; they had no crushing imperial shackles to throw off. In fact, the Americans knew they were probably freer and less burdened with cumbersome feudal and hierarchical restraints than any part of mankind in the eighteenth century. To its victims, the Tories, the Revolution was truly incomprehensible. Never in history, said Daniel Leonard, had there been so much rebellion with so 'little real cause.' . . . The objective social reality scarcely seemed capable of explaining a revolution . . .

As early as 1775 Edmund Burke had noted in the House of Commons that the colonists' intensive study of law and politics had made them acutely inquisitive and sensitive about their liberties. Where the people of other countries had invoked principles only after they had endured 'an actual grievance,' the Americans, said Burke, were anticipating their grievances and resorting to principles even before they actually suffered. 'They augur misgovernment at a distance and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.' The crucial question in the colonists' minds, wrote John Dickerson in 1768, was 'not, what evil HAS ACTUALLY ATTENDED particular measures -- but what evil, in the nature of things, IS LIKELY TO ATTEND them.' Because 'nations, in general, are not apt to THINK until they FEEL, . . .therefore nations in general have lost their liberty.' But not the Americans, as the Abbe Raynal observed. They were "an 'enlightened people' who knew their rights and the limits of power and who, unlike any people before them, aimed to think before they felt."

(Source: Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, UNC Press, 1969, pp. 3-5)

The Founders were people who believed in "preserving the spirit of resistance." To take Abbe Raynal's words to their conclusion, the Founders aimed to think AND act before they felt. Unlike the Germans, their "awkward stage" ended at Lexington green, and ultimately led to liberty.

In the light of recent events such as the Olofson case, it seems plain that our own "awkward stage" may be perilously close to drawing to an end. There are those who still insist that such unconstitutional outrages perpetrated under color of law deserve nothing more than verbal condemnation or further attempts at legal redress in a "justice" system rigged against us (as if these thugs pay attention to the law anyway). Used to inaction and afraid of even voicing the threat of justifiable self-defense, these timid souls, these "summer soldiers and sunshine patriots," would have us wait for true tyranny before acting.

This was not the way of the Founders. They understood that tyranny is best strangled in its unholy infancy, before it becomes a raging beast. They understood the threat, they prepared to meet it and, in the end, they defeated it. The Germans of the 1930s did not, and they were devoured.

I say we would do well to emulate the Founders rather than the Germans, to think and ACT before we feel, when it will be too late. This is important not only for those Americans who wish to remain free, but for those on the other side who unthinkingly seek to rob us of our freedoms and for those in the middle who (ignoring the Law of Unintended Consequences) sit idly by, content to watch the destruction of the American republic on television while thinking it has nothing to do with, and can have no effect upon, them.

If we small "r" republicans do nothing else, we should let the rogue elements of our own government know that in addition to outnumbering them, we still preserve the spirit of resistance, despite have been marginalized politically by the two major parties. Perhaps, if everyone understands that, the Redcoats (now wearing black raid gear) will not once again blunder and unknowingly march out from Boston into an unexpected but perfectly predictable butchery contest.

By our words, our preparations, our training and our actions we, the armed citizenry of the Republic of the United States of America, still have the opportunity to convince them of our unyielding determination to remain free. It may be our last best hope to preserve uninterrupted both our God-given liberties and the domestic peace we have come to love too much. While it is better to be "awkward" than to be dead, it is better still to die fighting than to be enslaved without a fight.

Just ask the Germans of the Weimar Republic.

So THINK and ACT before you FEEL. The Founders did.

Mike Vanderboegh
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126