Tuesday, October 19, 2010

P v R

Rifles are so much fun. And relatively easy to shoot well. I can shoot targets reliably that I cannot see if I hit… but when I check it seems I did a decent job of it. The premiere firearm political entity is called the National RIFLE Association. We have that American tradition of the Minuteman and the Frontiersman, using his rifle and his rifle skill to great effect wherever applied. That national myth/legend impacted our military philosophy, trying to turn out infantrymen of the same mindset, shooting, deadeye, far off threats. That mindset also hit up against reality when actually applied to war. In WWI you often didn’t want to stick your head above the trench to look for something to shoot. In WWII the vets told the recruits they weren’t on the square range back at Ft Dix, and to FIRE their weapon even when they had no target to keep the enemy’s head down at least. And in Viet Nam you couldn’t SEE very far in many terrains because of the vegetation, and the enemy was getting really close up on purpose, so long range accuracy was of less value, and a heavy long range bullet wasn’t as practical as many more lighter bullets. In fact a book has been written that will go into this describing a decidedly inaccurate rifle and how it can be applied to great effect despite the handicap.

We have another tradition/myth/legend in this country. The Cowboy and his holstered pistol. The handgun is ever present, ready to be used or abused. It’s not as effective as a rifle, and a Cowboy, if given a chance, will switch over, but a pistol is not there for its idealized ability. It’s there to be an exclamation point of a social interaction if a termination is called for. Part of the legend, propagated by Hollywood, is the quickdraw. Now how much the quickdraw is tinseltown standards and practices bushwa (mostly) and how much is real (very little) the fact remains it is part of our national psyche BECAUSE of Hollywood now. And it goes to a pistols nature. With a quickdraw both men are ostensibly starting from level ground, inoculating the aggressor from being viewed as using unfair practices and then being turned on by other bystanders. It gives the defender a chance (if he IS a defender… often the matchup could be best described as between 2 mutual aggressors). And it also gives the aggressor the appearance of also turning to self defense when starting on that level playing field.

And today? We still love our rifles, no doubt, cold dead hands and all. But it is harder to use a rifle for practical reasons, even if you have all the space in the world and aren’t stuck in a suburb far from a range. People in the boonies DO have to hoof it downrange a lot farther to test their mettle and see the results, and rifle ammo is expensive. We WANT to be riflemen, but it is easier to be a pistolero. Heck, I could build a range in my BASEMENT for the cost of my own sweat, digging, and a few sections of cement drainpipe, and there would be no legal complaint from the constabulary. And speaking of legal entanglement, we are charting new territory now with our national pistol tradition that we can’t do with our national rifle tradition, all thanks to expansion of CCW. We can’t carry our rifles about (and if it was socially/legally acceptable we still wouldn’t do it as much)

So circumstances are making us more a nation of pistoleros vis a nation of riflemen, and it’s not because we love the rifle less.

This iconic American wielder is more the Private Eye or undercover detective mythology. This CCW habit. Advanced and evolved to modern times. Upgrade Dash Hammett's Sam Spade. With less compunction to pull our gatts. ANd quasi ploice work is not most of our jobs. Less cool and macho too. One thing I've found about CCW types. The honest ones are all kinda nerdy/dorky.

What does this mean?

Not too sure. Still chewing on this thought.


bluesun said...

Hey, you calling me a nerd? (Looks at 6 foot shelf of science fiction trade paperbacks) Oh, wait.

I agree. I want to be a rifleman, to be able to take the long shot, but current circumstances make it hard enough to use useful amounts of anything besides .22LR...

Someday, someday, I will have a shooting range off my back porch--just you wait!

Bubblehead Les. said...

Hmm, very insightful. Add in the decline of Hunting, the No Modern Rifle Game Laws in some states like Ohio, and the Aging Baby Boomers ( "here Honey, lets make sure we're carrying our Garands on our Day Hike today") does make this a Nation of Pistol Men, err, Women, err People, err Persons (frakkin' P.C. rules!), err Shooters! Since it seems that one needs a Pistol to defend against Goblins more often than a Rifle against the Taliban, maybe the time has come to move Pistols to the forefront of the "Gunnie" attitude. Good Post, T-Bolt!

Tam said...

"One thing I've found about CCW types. The honest ones are all kinda nerdy/dorky."

The CCW types you find on the internet are kinda nerdy/dorky.

The run-of-the-mill ones you find at the gun shop/IDPA match are more jock-y. :)

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Jocks are just sports nerds.

Tam said...

I guess what I'm saying is that there are plenty of people who CCW that don't get all Otaku about it.

They have a Glock or a J-frame and CCW it, but they're not at all into guns & shooting or SF or whatever. They're not nerdy about much of anything at all. You'd never find them making a personal web page to argue the merits of their favorite bullets or holsters, or even making a personal web page, period, 'cause that's still kinda nerdy. ;)

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...