1 Feb 03

I’ll be flying to Capetown, South Africa on Monday, 3 Feb 03. I’ll be returning on 23 Feb 03. While there, I’ll be teaching and hunting, but I’ll be unreachable by phone, cell phone, or e-mail.

Full report when I return. I’ll catch up with all messages then. Vicki is looking after things while I’m gone. If you need something, let her know.



23 Feb 03

I’m back in Colorado from my 2003 Africa trip, safe and sound! Details to follow. We did several classes. One of our students was the head of South Africa’s “FBI” (called “Skoprions”). May be back to train the rest of them.

I shot four fine animals, including an eland and a black wildebeest. Should have been five, but for a muffed shot.

I’ll be catching up on e-mail today.



23 Feb 03

From an LEO friend in WI:

“We recently acquired some Mexican Aguila “IQ” 9mm rounds. They are a 65 gr HP. We heard that they would penetrate soft body armor, so we tested them. We shot them into fifteen-year-old, retired Second Chance vests. We used a Taurus pistol with a five-inch barrel. Range was three meters.

No penetration. Not even close. Only the first two layers were penetrated, and deformation was minimal. This old vest also stopped a dozen other brands of 9mm rounds we shot at it, including all American manufacturers.”

Lesson: Don’t get excited about any of the “magic bullet” rumors that periodically circulate. No one has repealed any laws of physics recently.



24 Feb 03

From a friend and student stationed in country:

“While standing near a dreaded ‘clearing barrel,’ our Group SgtMaj casually pulls his pistol from his shoulder holster and, with his finger firmly in contact with the trigger, points it directly at the Marine standing in front of him.

Standing behind him, I saw what was happening and quickly grabbed his trigger finger pulling it out of contact with the trigger and placing it on the pistol’s frame, while immediately elevating the muzzle. I said, ‘SgtMaj, PLEASE keep your trigger finger off the trigger and PLEASE keep your pistol pointed in a safe direction, not at the liver of the fellow Marine in front of you.’ He was slightly embarrassed, but quickly rebutted ‘Colonel, I have been shooting firearms all my life.’ I responded, ‘I’m sure, but you don’t seem to have learned the first thing about correct gun handling in all those years.’ Needless to say, my captains are refusing to stand anywhere near clearing barrels when this guy is around, as incidents like this are not uncommon, even among officers and senior NCOs.

Unhappily, this ‘I already know more than you can teach me’ attitude is widespread amongst the ‘seniors’ here. As always, we have an uphill battle.”

Comment: Will we ever learn? Must we go through this all over again at the beginning of every war?



24 Feb 03

Didn’t take long! On of my LEO students from last week’s class in Capetown, SA called this morning:

“Yesterday, just a week after attending your class, I was involved in a shooting here in Capetown. I confronted two escapees from our penitentiary system. As I learned in class, I assumed the interview stance and started moving laterally, as I issued verbal commands. The two suspects tried to get me between them, but I continually stacked them.

One picked up a brick and threw it at me. I moved, and the brick missed. I fired several shots, zippering him up as I had been taught (9mm hardball). I used my sights. All shots fired struck the suspect. None missed. He went down. His partner immediately surrendered and begged me not to shoot him.

One suspect DRT. One back in custody. No one else hurt.

If this had happened two weeks ago, I would have stood in one place, and I would have been carrying a pistol with an empty chamber.”

Comment: Good show! This officer came to us on his own volition and on his own dime. At the moment of truth, he was ready and confident. Victory!



25 Feb 03

A Glock Story from a friend in WA who, like me, carries a G32 (357SIG):

“Per your suggestion, I called Glock shortly after our class. They asked for the gun to be sent to them and for a history. I sent them the gun and all the details of the broken recoil spring and other parts. Glock’s reply was frank. They indicated that I was way out on the end of the bell curve for the predicted useful life of the pistol, 20,000 rounds. They asked to keep it the pistol for a detailed engineering evaluation.

This is what they sent me in return (at no cost to me):

>A brand new G32.

>A 40S&W barrel that essentially transforms the gun (at my option) into a G23.

>Free admission to the Glock Armorer’s Course

>Miscellaneous spare parts and promotional items.

As always, Glock took care of it.

However, I have reluctantly decided to abandon the 357SIG cartridge in favor of the 40S&W (Cor-Bon PowerBall). This round (135 grain at 1,300 f/s) is similar ballistically to the 357SIG, but I will be able to practice with less destructive effect (on the gun) and less expensive practice ammo.”

Comment: The 357SIG is indeed an exciting development in defensive pistol ballistics. I really like the cartridge and its ballistics and still carry my G32 with Cor-Bon 115gr HP ammunition. Flirting with 1,600 f/s, a more effective personal defensive pistol cartridge would be difficult to imagine.

But, there is a price to be paid. Slide velocities are such that the life of the gun is going to be greatly reduced from that of the same gun in 9mm or even 40S&W. The useful life of a G19 is essentially unlimited. That of a G23 is at least 25,000 rounds, probably more. The same gun in 357SIG (G32) may be limited to 15,000. It’s just the ballistic facts of life.

I have a SIG 239 in 357SIG that I’m also testing. No problems so far.

Glock’s customer service is, as always, wonderful. They take excellent care of their customers, and they deserve a lot of credit for that.



25 Feb 03

Cold Steel in Africa

The most popular serious knifes in Africa today are, as you might expect, those made by my friend Lynn Thompson at Cold Steel. In terms of functional design, strength, and sharpness, they are second to none. Unfortunately, the current exchange rate makes them prohibitively expensive for many Africans. All my friends have Cold Steel knives and are extremely grateful that they do.

By contrast, most locally made knives a cheap junk, but they are found everywhere and are still extremely dangerous in the hands of provincial evil doers. There are thousands of knife homicides every year. Tens of thousands of disabling and disfiguring injuries. Subsequent infection kills many more. Most never find their way to statistics that you will ever see. The preferred method of attack is multiple downward (icepick) stabs into the shoulder (from the front or rear), the target being the subclavian artery. It is effective and difficult to see coming.

As one might expect, the local knife culture is experienced and active. One of my knife instructors from the local AMOK School in Capetown made a good point during one of our recent sessions there:

When there is a large amount of blunt trauma associated with a cut, the body has the opportunity to restrict the flow of blood to the area and thus limit bleeding. By contrast, when there is little trauma associated with a cut, bleeding is always maximized. The implication is clear: when using a knife in self defense, the sharper the better. Sharp knives will always produce more and more rapid bleeding than will dull ones. As you probably know, Cold Steel knives come to us “dead sharp.” I don’t know how they get them so sharp, but their ability to cause catastrophic hemorrhage is unexcelled.

The lesson here is: Don’t use your serious knife for utility cutting. It will rapidly become dull and then serve you poorly when you really need it. Keep your fighting knifes dead sharp. For utility cutting, use a utility knife that is not intended for serious purposes.

“No compunction

Just reactions

No regrets

No retractions

One with my blade, alive in my hand

Pure of heart and firm in my stand

It’s not in the blade; it’s played in the mind

Seek the True Way,

and the Way you shall find.”



25 Feb 03

Fox OC in Africa:

My friends in South Africa are all equipped with Fox OC. There are several locally made brands, but they are wimpy by comparison. One friend, who owns a security firm, goes through the stuff pretty fast.

He reported that, in his last five uses, the suspects all went down immediately. No delay. One was an enraged motorist at ten feet. The rest were closer. In once case, he held the suspect by the back of the neck and sprayed him in the face. Instant incapacitation!

He is sold on Fox, and he now has a fresh supply!



25 Feb 03

Hunting in South Africa 2003

Everything in Africa either bites, scratches, punctures, stings, or charges, and nothing in Africa dies of old age! This year, it was beastly hot in February, and comfort was surely not on the menu. This was the year of the “long shot,” but, at the end of the day, it was my most satisfying African hunting expedition to date.

On the morning of 15 Feb 03, I was in a massive game preserve north of Capetown with my friend and Professional Hunter, Joe DaSilva. We saw great herds of springbok, red hartebeest, oryx, bontebok, and blue wildebeest, as well as baboons. It’s quite a place, and I was indeed fortunate to be able to take advantage of Joe’s connections. This day were looking for eland. Eland are among Africa’s largest antelope. Light brown in color, their skin hangs on them loosely, like a wet towel.

Eland were elusive that day, but we finally located the herd for which we were looking. On foot, we tried to get close enough for a shot. I was using a borrowed Winchester bolt gun in 300H&H equipped with a 3/9X scope. Most hunting rifles in Africa have two-pound triggers, much lighter than I am used to, and I had to continuously remind myself. Failing to remember that would cost me dearly two days later. We slithered and crawled to within 150m of the bull we wanted. Brush was hip high, so we couldn’t stand up without being seen. Wind was in our favor.

I acquired a sitting position, but I was still breathing hard. I was also hot, sweaty, stuck with thorns, harassed by bugs, and profoundly uncomfortable. Tormenting decisions are always confronting the big game hunter. Should I try to get closer? Is there something nearby that I can use for a solid brace? The herd is going to bolt before long, so I have to ether decide to take the shot or let it go. The fact is, you are never going to be completely satisfied with your situation, but circumstances will always force a decision. Any big game hunter who claims to have never muffed a shot is either lying or hasn’t hunted much.

I decided that what I had then and there was as good as it was likely to get. It was getting late, and I knew I was running out of time. So, I settled down and did my best to hold of the point of the shoulder. The eland was standing in profile. My shot broke, and I heard it hit.

I immediately bolted in another round, as is my habit, and tried to get in another shot as the bull started to run. However, he immediately mixed in with others in the herd, so a follow-up shot was not possible. When my shot broke, it was low, but I thought it was still good. I was wrong, and I knew it as soon as the animal started running.

We looked in vain for the downed animal. He had, in fact, rejoined the herd, and we then had an arduous task before us. It took two hours for us to get into a position where I could take another shot at the same animal. The bull had been hit in the front leg. The bullet had splintered the huge humerus but had not broken it. This time, I had a firm brace. Range was 175m, and the animal was again in profile and standing in the middle of the herd. I had to wait until I had a clear shot. When my shot broke, I again heard the bullet hit. This time, I was confident the crosshairs had been on the point of the shoulder, but, of course, I bolted in another round and got ready to hit him again. Joe put his hand on my shoulder and said gently, “It’s okay John. He’s going down. Great shot!” Joe was right. A second shot was not necessary. The bull weighed in at 1,200 lbs, the biggest animal I’ve ever shot.

The next day, I was on my way to the Karoo Desert in the central part of South Africa with Ian, another friend and Professional Hunter. We spent the evening at a remote hunting camp, and I managed to get stung in the face by two extremely aggressive African bees. One nailed me just below the left eye, and I had a nice black eye the next morning. Nothing is this business is predictable!

We were up early the next morning on the trail of a herd of blesbok. The Karoo is rocky, devoid of vegetation (except in stream beds) and hot. Successful stalking requires one to take every conceivable advantage of what hills and rocky outcroppings there are. It took two hours of careful stalking to get within 300m of the herd. Ian identified the lead bull. This day, I was using a borrowed bolt gun in 308 with a fixed, 6X scope.

I had a firm brace this time, but heavy breathing, discomfort, and all the other ills to which flesh is heir made their presence known. I held on the animal for an eternity, waiting for a clear shot. Once again, I was not happy with the situation, but it was painfully obvious that we were not going to be able to get any closer, and the herd was moving and would be out of range before long. “Are you going to be able to make the shot?” said Ian. “I don’t like it,” I replied, “but there it is, and it doesn’t look as if it’s going to get any better.”

I held a carefully as I could, again on the point of the shoulder. When the shot broke, it felt good, and, again, I could hear it hit. The ram staggered and fell within a few seconds. I was ready to shoot again, but it was not necessary. The 150gr Hornady bullet had gone through and through. I breathed a sigh of relief. Two down!

My next opportunity came a half hour later. Steenbok are small antelope, like klipspringer and dyker. I’ve seen them before but never had a shot at one. We jumped a nice one, and he ran for 100m and than stopped in profile. My crosshairs were high and coming down. I touched the trigger too soon, and the shot broke with the crosshairs still above the animal. He scampered away unscathed. I cursed myself for making the very mistake about which I always caution my students. I had my finger in contact with the trigger too soon.

No time to lament over lost opportunities. We were immediately off to another area, this time looking for the elusive black wildebeest. Two years ago, I shot a nice blue wildebeest, but the black variety is more difficult and much more dangerous. Both blue and black typically display the characteristic clown-like behavior that is endemic to their species, but the black variety has a reputation for charging unwary hunters, much as does cape buffalo.

Stalking was again a challenge. The shot was again 300m, but this time the animal was facing me. I asked Ian if we could get closer. He replied that we didn’t want to get any closer! Ian said to me, “John, you can make this shot. Hold right on the nose. The bullet will drop a few inches and hit him in the chest.” That is exactly the way it happened! I heard the shot hit, and the animal started running (away from us, thank heaven!), but I could tell he had been struck solidly. We found him 50m from where he had been hit. Fine specimen!

My last shot that day was on a springbok. He was running, and I was waiting for him to stop. He stopped at 300m, but not long enough. When he stopped the second time, he was standing in profile at 400m. Once again, Ian said calmly, “John, you can make this shot. Hold a foot over the shoulder. The bullet will drop right into him.” And, so it did! After two seconds or so, I could hear that the bullet had hit. The ram flipped over and never took another breath. What a way to end the day!

So, I ended up with four wonderful animals. My performance was far from perfect, but I gained valuable experience (and a little humility). Hunting is always a dicey mixture of emotions and outcomes. Next time, I will be hunting kudo and zebra, and (if I can afford it) cape buffalo.



27 Feb 03

From a friend in Tucson:

“Tonight’s local news: Tucson police are trading in their H&K USPs (40S&W) for Glock 22s w/Surefire lights. Quantity is one thousand.

The newscast then showed a police instructor demonstrating the draw. He actually instructed his officers to contact the trigger and ‘…begin taking up the slack,’ before gun is even at eye level. Apparently they shoot every time they draw! There was no mistaking it. The audio quality was perfect.”

Comment: It’s not just ignorance. It’s arrogance. Enlightened trainers stopped “prepping the trigger” thirty years ago. Difficult to believe this kind outdated rubbish is still being taught, with a straight face yet.

From the cowardice that is terrified of the truth,
From the lethargy that is content with only part of the truth,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Oh God of Truth, deliver us!