The Olympic Biathalon

The modern biathalon uses .22LR match ammo fired out of precision rifles at target set at 50 meters. Almost everyone is using the model 1827 Anschtz Fortner. Ultra modern skis and equipment, a shiny Olympic skinsuit, and now all you need is a world class cardiovascular system to be ready to compete. It wasn’t always that way. Biathalon had it’s start in military competitions. Skiing and shooting being a very useful skill in the mountains when there is a war on, the genesis of the sport was skiing with packs and shooting issue rifles. By the time it was an internationally recognized competition, the packs had been abandoned, and the U.S. team had retired the 30.06 battle rifles in favor of the Winchester Model 70 chambered in .243. They skied and shot at targets out to 250 meters. You can read about it the February 1960 edition of Guns Magazine.

Now before you start haunting old book stores and flea markets, Guns Magazine offers a downloadable PDF of the magazine that came out 50 years ago every month. So this month, it’s the February 1960 edition you can download and read. Here’s a direct link, although it is a large file and may take a few minutes to fully open.

The story about the biathalon starts on page 38. But there is so much more. Ads for guns at throwaway prices, articles about gunsmithing and hunting, a column by Elmer Keith, letters from readers. It is a time capsule into an America that is so completely gone it is in danger of being forgotten.

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
Leslie Poles Hartley


Hampton Beach

In the midst of a winter storm, there was a fire at Hampton Beach. It took a city block. Among the other buildings, the Happy Hampton arcade is gone.

Does anyone remember pinball? Wandering in off the beach with a handful of quarters, hearing the clack and pops of the counters and bumpers. Walking along the machines looking for replays that people had walked away from. Five balls for a quarter. Finally picking a machine and settling in behind it, a pinball wizard.

Whatever begins, also ends.

A Time to Forgive

Last week, my wife and participated in a presentation on forgiveness. It was mostly about forgiveness between spouses, being that a group of married couples were participating. But in the sharing, she brought up how I have changed in the last decade, starting, say, with September of 2001. I think she was looking for me to say that my views were changing and that it was time to move on and forgive. Perhaps that holding on to my anger was only hurting me, and so on.

Here’s what I said last week, “I’m not over it. God may forgive them. I cannot. They aren’t asking for forgiveness. They are still killing Americans. They would still kill us all if it was in their power. Until they surrender, until the threat is eliminated, until the war is over, I will not forgive. I will never forget.”

She is right about how I’ve changed, though. I am not the same person that stood and watched the 2nd plane hit the towers on a TV at work. I am the same person that watched the towers fall. I went to war in that hour. I am at war now. I will be at war until victory is declared and we have a parade down Broadway (or until I die of old age, the more likely possibility).

In late September of 2001, there were candlelight vigils and memorial services and all sorts of emails running around suggesting this color ribbon or that as an appropriate response to the Islamic attack on the United States. I remembered my response and I went looking for it and there, still in my sent mail folder, was my reply. I remember sending this out quite a few times. I will post it here unedited in it’s entirety:

Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 06:19:12 -0400
To: ****
Subject: My current reply to most e-mail

I have been getting a lot of e-mails on the theme of healing, closure, etc. One recurring thread is the idea of “lets all light a candle” or lets “all put up purple ribbons”. I got one yesterday, here was my reply.
SORRY, NOT THIS TIME! I’m not interested in mourning, grieving, or moving on. I am not interested in colored ribbons, candle light vigils, or new memorials where tall buildings once stood. I am ready for the United States to lead the world in eliminating evil people and their distorted ideas. When that job is done, then we can rebuild, and put up appropriate memorials to all the dead.

The United Islamic Jihad made a written declaration of war on the U.S. in 1999. We ignored it, to our current chagrin. Starting with the assault on the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1979, and the taking of the hostages (Remember Jimmy Carter?), I have a list of events I have thought of. The bombing of Pan Am 103, the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut (241 dead), the 1st bombing of the World Trade Towers, the bombing of the Kobar apartments in Saudi Arabia, the bombing of the 2 U.S. Embassies in Africa, and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. There may be others, these are some that come to mind.

Ok, we are at war, with a enemy who’s stated purpose is to destroy the United States. What happened 2 weeks ago is not a tragedy, it is an atrocity. Another in a series of acts of aggression that have gone unanswered and unchallenged. I think flying the flag is enough of a symbol. If you want to take action, here are some ideas.

1. Write your Congressmen and senators. Tell them you support the President’s military actions. Demand that we go as far as is necessary to ensure that no one can ever attack us like this again.
2. Send a care package, snacks, homemade cookies, etc. to a serviceman or woman.
3. Befriend the family of a serviceman or woman that has been called up to active duty or sent overseas. They need our help and support.
4. Encourage young men and women of good character to join one of the Armed Services. We need the best of America in this fight.
5. Keep your outrage fresh. Don’t let the media or anyone else dilute the energy. Stay focused, and be prepared for more attacks, deaths both here at home, and in battle overseas.
6. Actively resist and confront “politically correct” people sharing thoughts and ideas that wander toward the old idea of peace at any price. Peace at any price isn’t peace, it’s slavery.

Semper Fidelis,

I think it holds up pretty well for the writing of a very outraged American in September of ’01. I still agree with it. There is a time for forgiveness, and a time to withhold forgiving. There is a time for peace, and a time for war.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
–Ecclesiastes 3:1


Via OldNFO, I found a slideshow of pictures from WWII, a lot of good airplane photos, and some that remind me what my freedom cost. The one that really gave me pause was this one, a picture of the 5th Marine Division’s cemetery on Iwo Jima. Nothing I have done in my life is worth what these guys paid for me.

Of the Marines on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.
–Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Thinking More About My Last Post

Say I’m walking home in the evening and coming toward me is a group of four young men. As often happens, there is no one else around and no traffic. Since I have just come from the campus, and I try to abide by all laws, I am unarmed. As we meet on the sidewalk, they spread out and stop. The obvious leader demands my wallet.

Common sense, as usually defined, would suggest I comply with all demands and hope to walk away uninjured. I have been wondering what I would actually do. Because I don’t think I have enough give left in me to just surrender. I think I’m going irimi. But I’ll never really know unless it happens.

Being ready is not what matters. What matters is winning after you get there.
–Lieutenant General Victor H. Krulak, USMC