The 1911

Nothing fancy, just a mil-spec 1911. A century old design. There are millions of them. This one is mine. I use it in competition. I’m accurate enough, just not all that fast. I’m only really competing against myself, looking for improvement. I’ve tried other, more modern guns, with larger magazines. There is nothing I’ve tried I shoot as well as this.

It’s a big handgun, the last gun designed to be carried by horse cavalry. It has an interesting history. If you have some time and want to read about how the 1911 has served our troops, look at the Myths and Legends of the 1911.

If you Google it, you can be off in the weeds for days. I enjoyed reading the original Army manual for the 1911. There’s a section on training a horse to run a course through targets and not react to the sound of gunfire. Now, there’s a challenge.

But reading about it, interesting as it may be, isn’t range time. 1911s are one of my favorites, but whatever you like to shoot, make time and take your personal piece of history to the range.

“The 1911 pistol remains the service pistol of choice in the eyes of those who understand the problem. Back when we audited the FBI academy in 1947, I was told that I ought not to use my pistol in their training program because it was not fair. Maybe the first thing one should demand of his sidearm is that it be unfair.”Col. Jeff Cooper, GUNS & AMMO, January 2002

Into the Woods

I don’t get to do this as often as I’d like, but a few times a year, with a pack or a canoe, I find what adventure I can. The photo above was taken at sunset at a campsite on the Roanoke River. The sites are maintained and built by the Roanoke River Partners. They currently have 14 camping platforms, many of them built over water along the lower Roanoke. I have camped on most of them in the last few years, usually with friends on weekend paddles, a couple of times with Scouts from a local Troop.

When you’re on the river, not exactly sure how far you have to go, with the day fading, and an osprey breaks out of the trees to take a fish from the river downstream in front of your canoe, you’re not thinking about your taxes, or the coming election.

You only get so many days, spend as many of them as you can doing the things you love.

It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs, looking up at stars, and we didn’t even feel like talking aloud.

Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Weapons Battalion, MCRD Parris Island


Marine rifle training is rigorous. There is a tradition, “Every Marine a Rifleman”. Basic proficiency with the service rifle is systematically taught, and before a recruit can graduate and be called a Marine, he must be a rifleman.

I liked the range. I have good memories of going out to shoot for qualification, both as a recruit, and as an active duty Marine. It is my memories of my time as a recruit that I have been thinking of recently.

Reveille was 0445, florescent light filling the barracks and signaling the beginning of another day. No need for trash can bouncing or hollering. That was weeks ago, when we were new. Now, like trained animals, turning on the overhead lights is all it takes to bring us up out of the racks to the position of attention.

Chow and PT take an hour. By 0600 we are in uniform with our rifles marching out to the rifle range. In the late summer at Parris Island those early hours are the best part of the day. The sun comes up through the live oak trees, moisture sparkling on the spanish moss. The dampness in the grass begins to evaporate, and the heat of the day, though on it’s way, has not yet arrived.

The platoon takes it’s place, preparing to shoot off-hand (standing) at 200 yards. Each pair of recruits with a shooting coach, the Drill Instructors pacing along behind the line. There is a history here, deep traditions and institutional memory merging, the experiences of today blending back to all the men who came here before, shot on on these ranges, and passed on.

The recruits get into position, setting their slings, checking the adjustments on their sights. Another group of recruits has taken positions behind the berm where the targets are mounted. When everyone is safely in position, the red range flag is raised. In a tower behind the shooting line, the range officer surveys the line. In a practiced voice he rolls off the range commands that I can still hear so clearly.

Is the line ready? The line is ready. Ready on the right, ready on the left. All ready on the firing line. With a magazine and one round, lock and load. You may commence fire.

There is the sound of bolts closing, and then, as the targets appear, the first crack of rifle fire. There is a rhythm and pattern that everyone involved becomes familiar with. The minutes pass, and then come the commands, rolling out again.

Cease fire, cease fire. Unload, clear and lock. Set your weapons on safe.

The marksmanship instructors check the line, double checking each rifle. It is time to move back, another hundred yards. The sun is fully up now, the temperature rising through the 90s. There is more to do at 300 yards, and then at 500. Iron sights on an M-16 at 500 yards. Two weeks ago, it seemed impossible. Today, some recruit will shoot a perfect score at that distance.

These memories have come back to me this week because my son is at Parris Island, and he will shoot for qualification on Friday.

The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle!
General Pershing, US Army

Great Quote

“One promise. To myself, and to all who would wish otherwise.

I ain’t goin’ in no damned cattle car.”

This is from Doc Russia. I won’t spoil his whole post, you can visit his site and read it here. I think the quote stands on it’s own. Thanks, Doc. That one made my day.

What is your plan…?


I had something else written to put here today, but today’s national news takes priority. Last time I asked what your plan was at the mall. Today, it saddens me to ask, what’s your plan at church?

Knoxville News Sentinel article on the church shooting

It looks like these guys improvised, but considering the situation, did pretty well. Would a few people exercising their 2nd Amendment rights have prevented the loss of life and injury that did occur? It appears they waited for the madman to reload and then jumped him. If they had a church plan, and a percentage of their congregation acting as sheepdogs for the flock, would the madman have even been able to uncase his weapon?

Those who are incapable of committing great crimes do not readily suspect them in others.
Francois De La Rochefoucauld

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Update

A gang related riot involving 200-300 people closed the Triangle Town Center mall in Raleigh, N.C. Saturday evening. Several arrests, one stabbing, one injured police officer. It took city, county, and state police an hour to secure the situation. Most of the gang members escaped, only 7 people were arrested.

Seven detained after mall brawl

That plan I had for the mall? I think it needs to be revisited.