Welcome to this brand-new year of 2011. New Year’s Day is a time to reflect and plan for our individual and collective futures. It is a convenient “waypoint” in which to consider our successes and failures, to learn from both and to stride ahead with resolve and good cheer.
A core message we would share with you is that, “The Way is in training.” This principle can guide us in all disciplines of human endeavor – from our firearms training to any other way in which we may seek to improve ourselves. Further, as the Colonel opined, “Learning is the only thing of which there is no surfeit.”
No matter what our paths may be in life, we can rededicate ourselves to our own evolution, growth and deeper understanding of that path.
Robert Heinlein enlightens us in his pithy style with this directive: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.”
To this lofty set of goals we might add, “cultivate the ability to both learn and teach effectively.”
2010 brought with it a clear political directive from the people to our representatives in federal and local governments, a most welcome event! However, much remains to be done and our primary job can be educating our fellow citizens.
Therefore, a useful reading list for the coming year might consist of:
- Plato’s “Republic”;
- The United States Constitution;
- The Federalist Papers;
- “Democracy in America”, by Alexis de Tocqueville;
- Any of the excellent biographies of our founding fathers (Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, et al);
- Any or all periods of American history.
But let us not stop there. By all means, each of us should follow our own inclinations along the path of learning. If we undertake to inform ourselves, our greater understanding will allow our voices to be stronger and clearer. Therefore, let us all dedicate our efforts to reading, writing and thinking for ourselves.
Today, a systemic ignorance of history and philosophy afflicts our great nation. The principles expressed in the US Constitution are centrist in nature, providing a framework upon to build a prosperous and evolving republic. However, through several decades of increasingly poor education, many Americans now consider their political heritage as somehow “obsolete” or even “rightist”. Some Americas consider the Constitution a “living” document, which somehow means “elastic”. We disagree, and let some malign us as “strict Constructionists”. It’s a title we’ll wear proudly.
The demonstrated failure of liberalism over the past several generations has caused liberals to re-brand themselves today as “progressives”, while we are still “conservatives”. That title implies to us the stewardship of our political legacy, our wealth and our can-do attitude for future generations. “Conservative” is a title we’ll also wear proudly.
However, let us remain cognitive of this: We are centrists. We are not merely “pro-gun”. We are “PRO-RIGHTS”. We occupy the center. It is the mass that has shifted to the left. We need to fix that.
Why do we submit to the infringement of so many personal liberties in our daily lives – especially air travel? What has become of the notion of privacy? Why, and how could the American people accept the introduction of the Patriot Act? How has the notion of socialism taken root here in the freest society ever created on Earth? How have our fellow citizens come to accept the idea that an all-powerful government is a GOOD THING?
These encroachments came about through the passivity of an uneducated, ignorant populace and the willful malfeasance of a few. It is time to take the country back!
Only through understanding of Plato’s thought, and how that thought is largely present in the US Constitution can we begin to educate our fellow citizens. The great books that informed the Framers of our government are freely available to all. If you wish to see the world through their eyes, go read them.
It is time to take our country back, not by shouting slogans, but through the means of dialectic. We must better inform ourselves, and then become eloquent in conveying our message to others, especially to the young.
This need not be a grim undertaking. It needn’t be confrontational. We must at all times endeavor with good cheer. So, let us smile as we go through 2011. Let us appreciate the beauty we’re surrounded with, strive to learn as we go, and teach with a gentle touch – while in Condition Yellow, of course!
If you do nothing else, resolve to take a “new” person shooting this year. Let them safely explore our national pastime, and see how darned much FUN it can be. Shooting well is essentially an interior process, one that demands concentration and self-discipline. We can always stand more of these qualities in the world.
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch:
We at Gunsite wish to add our voices to the celebration of the 100th year of Mr. Browning’s famous design of 1911: the Colt Government pistol in caliber 45ACP. This pistol is arguably one of the greatest advances in small-arms design, having retained its primacy for generations. It is an entirely elegant machine, and we have laid on a Gunsite class to commemorate the design in our “Centennial 250 Pistol Class”. This class will include the history of the 1911, maintenance and Armorer’s training as well as many of Jeff Cooper’s 1911-specific training drills – and a few surprises!
We’ll also offer two sections of “Team Tactics for Two” and two sections of “Battle Rifle”, which is geared towards the semi-auto rifle in .30 caliber. This is in addition to our already rich course selections in all small-arms disciplines.
Here in the cold months, Ron Benson and his Barn-Rats are repairing and rebuilding the ranges and target systems for the coming year’s range operations. No doubt, Ron is thinking of new ways to challenge and confound our students.
Our fantastic cadre of instructors is looking forward to helping you learn and improve your skills. In all things, Gunsite is preparing to challenge you, and help you increase your skills. We look forward to seeing you in 1911.
Look for Gunsite’s representatives at the upcoming SHOT Show in Las Vegas from the 18th-21st January. We will not have a booth at this event, but we will be circulating amongst the crowd and we look forward to seeing you. Doubtless the members of our august API Discussion Group are planning a celebratory breakfast during the show.
Also, please join us in Booth #3050 at the Safari Club International gathering in Reno from 26th-29th January. Prominent Huntress and Gunsite Instructor Il Ling New will be giving two seminars during this event. We look forward to seeing you in Reno, should your travels bring you there.
Here on the first day of 2011, we exhort our Gunsite Family members to improve themselves, and to impart their knowledge to others. We remind you again that, “The Way is in Training”. We look forward to seeing you at the Ranch in 2011; this hundredth anniversary of the Colt Pistol of 1911