The C96 ‘Broomhandle’ Mauser is certainly one of the most iconic self-loading handguns of the First World War. Osprey Publications has recently published a title about the C96, written by Jonathan Ferguson, Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, UK. For those not familiar with the Weapon Series from Osprey Publications, they are written to give a well organized and explained, yet easy to read, description of a particular small arm. The books are generally 80 pages in length and supplemented with artwork and high-quality photographs. The Weapon Series of books aren’t meant to be a definitive guide, but instead more of a survey for those wishing to expand their knowledge in regards to any particular small arm.
Ferguson begins his final chapter with this quote, “Overall it has to be said that the Mauser pales in comparison with later pistol designs and would be unsuitable for today’s various military, police, and civilian needs. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that in 1896 there was simply nothing in its class to touch its firepower, reliability, and accuracy potential.” Summed up in two sentences is the story of the C96 from its debut in 1896 to the end of production in the 1930s. Although it was technologically advanced at the time, it quickly became outclassed by Browning and Luger designs.
But the Mauser is unique in its historical trajectory. Similar to many iconic firearms, it was beloved and loathed by criminal, soldier, cop, and civilian alike. And for that reason, Ferguson’s book really stands out in taking the reader on this Mauser journey.
One important point about Jonathon Ferguson’s position at the Royal Armouries is that he was able to use dozens of C96s that exist in the National Firearms Centre reference collection as images throughout the book. It is this access that really allows readers to get to know the design changes throughout the different variants that were produced.
The book begins with the development of the C96 with the operational requirement for a self-loading handgun. An interesting fact here is that the Mauser team specifically designed the handgun to not have a single pin in the operating mechanism holding the trigger and hammer together.
Ferguson discusses partial acceptance by some elements within the German Army, mostly as an alternative to a bolt action carbine in use by cavalry. Later on, the C96 would have to bow to the Luger as a substitute standard handgun. He then goes into describing the different versions and iterations as Mauser worked on different safety and hammer designs and even carbine versions. He ends the initial chapter by discussing the end of the Mauser C96 in the 1930s after over one million were made.
The remaining chapters discuss the C96 throughout the world and this is what I really like about it. He discusses Mausers that were extensively used by Chinese warlords, rebels in Ireland and Armenia, police in South America that continued to use Brommhandles into the 1960s and 70s and even adventurers around the world that relied on the C96 for defense in the bush. He also discusses the different copies of the C96 from Spain to China, both licensed and unlicensed. Interestingly, Chinese Norinco was still producing a domestic copy of the C96 into the 1970s as the Type 80 for paratroopers. It ended up as a failure and was never really issued.
As with many iconic small arms, names for them often vary from locality to locality. Ferguson makes specific mention of this throughout the book and even points out that Mauser as a company didn’t even have a standard nomenclature for the handgun throughout its production life. In China it was called the “Box Cannon”, in Ireland “Peter the Painter”, some British called it a “Bolo” for its use by a number of Communists/“Bolsheviks” after the First World War, among many other both official and unofficial terms. And of course throughout much of the English speaking world, the “Broomhandle”.
As always, I want to point out a few bits that the book could possibly have done better on. One point I would have really liked to see is in the conclusion that Ferguson could have discussed the current collector market of the C96 today, or even the subsequent reproductions and possible fakes out there. He spends time covering the image of the C69 in various Hollywood films which is important, but I would have liked at least a paragraph or two on the collector market today. Also, on page 64 there is a mismatched caption to photograph which should show the internal rate reducing mechanism of an Astra C96 copy, but instead only shows the external handgun. And this just because of my own interests but in one photo caption, Ferguson mentions that Ottoman C96s had their rear sights marked in ‘Farsi’ numerals. This is incorrect as Ottoman Turkish would have used Arabic numerals instead of Farsi ones.
If you are a collector of German handguns, you could probably duplicate the written contents of this book yourself many times over so it wouldn’t be for you. But, if you are a student of the First World War or early 20th Century small arms, want to get a gift for someone who is, or are simply more curious about this German steampunk handgun, then I would absolutely recommend this Osprey Weapons Series book for you.
The ‘Broomhandle’ Mauser is available from Amazon for $13.59 in the United States.
If you’re a grunt and seeing an A-10 Warthog flying over your head its a pretty awesome feeling. When a grunt is in trouble, then it is a bless full sight.
In this sighting its a nice day in whatever Star Wars desert town basically in the middle of nowhere that these grunts had to patrol. This day no guns blazing, no bombs going off and this day things were chill.
If that wasn’t enough, these grunts got treated to not one, but two Sic A-10 flybys. One went right up to them, banking very low over their position. The other was from further in the distance but did a nice dip before pulling out. Would have been nice to see some chaff flares deploying as the Warthogs do their pull out. Ok, we’ll settle for the bad ass show!
Sources: A Kaiser Youtube, Front Line Video Facebook
Photo by Kevin Merriweather
The intense USAF qualification course ensures only the most qualified Security Forces Airmen become Ravens.
When fully trained, Ravens are air marshals on the ground who deploy with aircrew members on missions designated by the AMC Threat Working Group. Raven teams protect aircraft and their crews and cargo from criminal and terrorist threats while traveling through airfields where security is either unknown or inadequate.
The Air Force has fewer than 150 active Ravens executing AMC’s force protection of strategic airlift around the world. The intense qualification course ensures the select few who become Ravens are of an exceptional caliber.
Inside the training facility, everyone who has gone through will cringe at the thought of the “house of pain” and its not about pancakes. This is where all trainees do the majority of physical training. Physical training consists of calisthenics and fighting the Redman. The trainees are taught basic hand to hand skills for fighting unarmed and with a baton.
One of the biggest challenges in the “house of pain” for the cadres is to teach the trainee how to fight within the three week course. Having intestinal fortitude can go a long way, but without the tools its hard to gain confidence. The cadres help with the missing tools, but the biggest thing that you’ll learn is to go beyond your physical limitations. It’s when you can’t do any more push-ups (over 1,000 per day) or flutter kicks and now you have to pit against a fresh Redman. Doesn’t sound fair, but in reality it teaches the trainee to think so they can overcome real-world decisions while down-range.
You’re not here to watch a fight, this ain’t UFC, you’re in here to motivate each-other and keep each-other going. HOOAH. The only time I want to hear a ‘Hooah’ is if one of your classmates deliver the proper strike. Until then, you’re gonna tell them what they’re doing wrong. Squared away, candidates?
“These last nine days of training have…”
Can we do a proper push up?
Just because I walk away doesn’t mean you get on your freaking knees, you.
“I can’t even think of a word to describe it.”
Take a seat and you can go home today.
“Not only overwhelming, but…”
Hey, straighten your legs, let’s go!
“Stressful. Very stressful.”
We’ll be here all freakin’ day, Ravens, sound off.”
“The biggest thing I look for in each trainee is heart. We can build muscle, we can make them stronger, we can make them faster. But at the end of the day, if a Raven comes here without any heart, then they’re useless to the program and our community as a whole.”
“US Air Marshals are the ones that protect that aircraft in the air. We’re the ones that protect the aircraft on the ground. We go to a lot of hostile environments all over the world. So we put students through a course that is high intensity, to better prepare them for situations they might encounter downrange.”
“So we try to build tat austere, adverse environment in our training, with the PT, the discipline that we bring into the course.”
“If you even get caught blinking in class, not paying attention for a second, they’re on you. They know, they’re always watching. That’s what will prepare us for downrange. You let your guard down for a minute down there, and it could cost you lives.”
For some of these guys and gals, this will be the first time ever getting hit in the head, or getting touched, period. Make sure you try to make it as realistic as possible, but at the same rate- this isn’t a bar fight.[Sounding off]
“It was beyond what I thought it was gonna be. They had a red man in each corner, they brought us in with a big circle and pads, and they come at you hard. There was mouthpieces flying, headgear coming off, black eyes, bloody noses, they came at us hard. Reason being is, when we’re downrange and we’re fighting, nobody is gonna take it easy. It’s either him or me, and that’s how it’s gonna be. And if he gets me, that’s not gonna stop him from getting what I’m supposed to protect, which is other personnel and the aircraft. It started off bad for me. My initial fight, I wasn’t doing some of the techniques correctly, so it came down to basically my last fight, either do it right or go home.”
I hate to say this, this is probably the worst part of my job, but you all did not pass your RedMan. So go home, go back to your units…
“To see an individual dig deep, and you see them push through it, you hear them scream, you see the sweat, you see the tears, it feels good to see people push through those hardships, and then to see them walk across the stage knowing they earned their Raven number.”
“I feel like the turning point when we became a team was after that RedMan fight. Everyone came together and we realized that we can’t get through this alone.”
“I look back and it was one of the defining moments of my life. One of the biggest accomplishments ever. Absolutely surreal.
Sources: Airman Magazine Online, Ft Dix, Video by Jimmy D Shea
From the mind of Logan D Coffey, Tactical Tailor was founded in 2008. The legacy continues to live on through his brother Justin, after his tragic death in a car accident. Here’s a brief history of Logan and his company.
In late 1991, Logan went straight from highschool to the US Army Infantry. Even in the first week of training, he could see that the army-issued gear was uncomfortable and impractical, and found that the gear issued was virtually the same as it had been back in the Vietnam War. He made it his personal mission to modify and improve that gear.
Within a few years, Logan had a veritable collection of industrial sewing machine parts and fabrics, and he had become the guy to go to for fixing up or modifying military gear.
At the end of his second enlistment, he decided it was time to leave and make his modification business his full-time job. In 1998, Tactical Tailor began in a two-bedroom house and a few-thousand-dollar loan. He was able to repay it in only six months.
In time the work grew out of its two-bedroom grass roots, but didn’t quite make enough for him to afford both a warehouse and a home, so he built a room to sleep in within his warehouse.
He hired ex-military and retired military and military spouses to sew as his business grew, and he expanded again in 2002, then once more in 2005.
Now his work is known to military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he’s even been invited to the Pentagon several times.
The company motto is simple. “Do what’s right because it’s right.” That includes being made in the USA, for those who defend the USA, making quality gear and providing quality jobs.
Posted with permission from Tactical Tailor.
In the aftermath of World War II, the United States spent 12 years looking for a successor to the M1 Garand rifle. The new standard infantry arm was expected to be select-fire, lightweight, accurate, controllable, and fire a heavy .30-caliber projectile. It would replace not just the M1, but also the BAR and perhaps the M1 Carbine as well – a true universal weapon. Of course, these requirements were complete fantasy, unachievable in the real world – but that did not prevent Remington, Springfield Arsenal, and Winchester from trying to meet them.
Winchester produced a proto M14 with select fire weapon complete with a removable bipod. It was extremely light and made from an ordinary Winchester M1 Garand Rifle with many modifications.
This rifle is a Winchester prototype, which has been substantially lightened from the M1 it began life as. A pistol grip has been added, along with a fire selector lever and a box magazine system. A detachable lightweight bipod allows it to be used for supporting fire.
It is chambered for the T65 or 7.62 NATO cartridge, which dates it as definitely post-WWII.
The mighty M14 rifle is a battle rifle that refuses to be shelved. It has been dusted off and implemented in the war against terror in current times.
Hey guys, thanks for tuning in, another video on forgottenweapons.com, I’m Ian, I’m here today at the Cody Firearms Museum, part of the Buffalo Bill Cody Center of the West, and I am taking a look at a very interesting prototype Winchester Select-fire Magazine-fed version of an M1-Garrand. Now, this was obviously part of the development program process for the M14 rifle, where exactly it fits in that process, I really don’t know. There doesn’t appear to be much documentation on this. Unfortunately, while there are good references out there on the Springfield and the Remington corporate versions of the different rifles that ended up as part of the M14 project, there doesn’t seem to be much reference material out there on the Winchester guns, and this is one of those. The Cody museum has the Winchester firearms collection, which includes a lot of prototypes; some which we have looked at, some which we’ll look at in the future, and some like this one.
So, I can’t really tell you the where and the when and how this did under trials, but we will take a close look at it, and I can point out a whole bunch of very interesting features of this particular prototype example. Now the first thing I want to mention is that this gun is really light. You look at this and you expect it to weigh something like twelve or fourteen pounds, right? Because it’s got the big ‘ol bipod on the front, presumably it’s maybe heavy barrel, it has a selector switch -which you can’t see because it’s on this side of the gun-, magazine fed– in reality, this thing is at least two pounds lighter than an M1. I bet this is between seven and eight pounds; I don’t have a scale to weigh it on, but, what’s actually going on here, there’s a lot cut away on the inside that you’ll see. The bulk of this flash-hider bipod assembly is made of aluminum, the butt-plate is made of aluminum, there might be some magnesium parts in there somewhere, they’ve cut every ounce possible out of this gun. And it’s really an impressive gun to handle as the result! Now, let’s just go ahead and take a closer look at it, let me take the stock off and I’ll show you some of the internals.
Alright, so the first– the most obvious difference, is that a pistol grip has been added. This didn’t involve any actual modification to the trigger group, this is actually kind of like the Baretta BM59 Garand modifications where they’ve added a pistol grip to the stock. So, pretty simple there, we’ll take it apart in a moment. A magazine has been added, they put a magazine catch at the front, which is not a bad idea, this keeps it out of the way of all the trigger assembly stuff that’s already in there. This is a custom proprietary magazine, it’s designed for 308, this is a 308 NATO gun, which suggests that it was definitely post-WW2. Now what’s interesting here is they have actually used an M1 receiver. So this is a Winchester M1, it’s a 1.6,000,000 serial number gun, but you can see when I open it, there’s a block here in the back of the receiver, because it’s a 306-length receiver with a 308-length magazine.
That was an easy way to not have to re-do a whole bunch of tooling to make 308-caliber receivers for experimental guns. No, instead we just use a 306 receiver. The extra space actually kind of helps, The bolt has a little bit farther that it can travel, and during that time, the magazine has more time to feed a cartridge up into position.
The handguard here has been beefed up a little bit, we’ll take a look at that from the inside, but first let’s take a look at the bipod.
Alright, so the main body here is this big aluminum flash-hider conical deal, the legs are spring-loaded, so I can pull the leg down, snap it into place up here like that. This does– this rotates, but it has a limited arc of rotation. Now, to take this off, all I have to do is flip this latch down like that. This whole assembly is actually locked onto the bayonet lug, very much like one of the world-war-two grenade launchers. So with that undone, this whole assembly comes off. There you can see the inside of the flash-hider, just a big cone. It locks onto the back, there’s our locking tab, pretty simple. There we go. Bipod assembley, removes quickly and easily. Now I think I mentioned, this is -I think- thin hollow-tube steel and aluminum, this whole assembley is quite lightweight by itself.
Start by taking out the magazine, set that aside, then just like a regular M1, the trigger guard opens up, the trigger assembley comes out; because of magazine conversion this has the floor plate, magazine catch, the mag catch is built right into this, it’s pretty simple, just a spring and a catch. That catch locks in this notch in the front of the magazine.
Now, we can pull the stock off just like a typical M1 again. You can see the opening in the heavier wood down here on the front handguard. Obviously, it’s been cut away a bit for the detachable magazine, that’s about it. This is also a very light piece of wood. I’ve also mentioned the Aluminum buttplate, checkered back here, so it will stick to your shoulder a bit.
Now inside here is where we’ve got a lot of interesting stuff going on. So, first off, you’ll notice, the OP-rod is completely straight, it doesn’t have a dogleg in it. That’s one of the potential weakpoints on a standard M1, that OP-rod can bend at that dogleg end, and it was a somewhat complex manufacturing step, to get the tooling set up to bend just the right dogleg into those OP-rods. Well, they got rid of that on this winchester prototype, so it runs straight backwards. The recoil spring here has been reprofiled a bit to match.
Now, this is our selector lever, and it moves this guy just a little bit up and down. It does that through this pin, which obviously has a cam surface inside here. So, that’s going to engage or disengage an auto-sear in the fire-control group. What I’m more interested in, is there’s very little ‘stuff’ back here. The front arms that you would normally have on a standard clip-fed M1 are gone, we’ve taken a look at another magazine-fed M1 that had a box added to it here to support the magazine, that’s not there. Pretty dramatic change, the bottom of the barrel has been milled flat, that gives room for this straight OP-rod, and that cuts a significant amount of weight out of the gun. Presumably they found that that didn’t have a deleterious effect on the gun being able to withstand firing, but obviously by using a box magazine, they’ve been able to get rid of all of the mechanism in here that Garrond designed for the clip-feeding and ejecting process, that’s all gone. In fact, the cutout for the clip-release is also gone, there is no clip-release on the gun.
The upper hand-guard was widened to match the lower. Over here you can see it’s a very thin piece, you can see a bit of it’s cracked off, that’s probably too thin right there, but it is a prototype rifle, so.
The action, however, is still basic all-M1 Garrond.
Well thanks for watching, guys. I hope you enjoyed the video, I wish I knew more about exactly the backstory to this rifle and how it actually performed –I don’t, unfortunately– but who knows? Maybe with some video out there, someone will be able to find some of the records, and even if they don’t, it’s a really interesting look at some of the things that could be done and -were- done to the M1 Garrond in the attempt to make it into a light machine gun. Thanks for watching, I’d like to thank the Cody Firearms Museum for letting me take a look at this, and of course, tune in again to ForgottenWeapons.com.
Sources: Forgotten Weapons Youtube, Eric Nestor, Cody Firearms Museum, Wikipedia
Need a last minute gift idea that is sure to drop jaws and turn heads? GovPlanet is auctioning off over 300 Military Humvees tomorrow! Visit GovPlanet.com to view their guaranteed inspection reports and bid on your own piece of Military history!
March 31st, 1943, British India.
Headed to Pyinmana, Burma, to destroy a bridge, the American B-24 bombers were intercepted by Japanese fighter pilots.
With the plane going down and Japanese fighter pilots attacking the parachuting airmen, Owen J. Bagget did what no man had done before or since.
It must take some sharp shooting and nerves of unbending steel to keep straight aim in the face of certain death, but he managed to shoot and kill the enemy fighter pilot with none other than a .45 caliber M1911 pistol. Whether a testament to sharp shooting under pressure or the efficacy of the gun, I can’t say.
Owen fell to the earth, wounded but alive, and was captured as a POW, later freed at the end of the war. He lived to 85 years old, having reached the rank of Colonel and continued as a defense contractor, and died in 2006. His tombstone tells of his being a POW, a hero, and a father– But sadly, it doesn’t cover his badass airborne feat: being the only person to down a Japanese fighter plane with a pistol.
Whether it was true or not, its still a great story for our M1911 legacy.
by Sam Morstan
Source: Owen J Baggett Wikipedia, Controversial Times
When you think about what goes on in a theater of war, you’ll think of things like the number of troops deployed, the location of friendly bases nearby, and even things like the rations that the soldiers will receive. What isn’t so common to think about is the weather and how it affects the battleground.
Normally, this isn’t an issue for the United States government. How most countries work is that they report on their weather on the ground which is then relayed to countries all over the world for the purpose of getting an idea as to how the conditions are.
The only problem with this setup is that it involves trusting governments to reliably put this information out there. But when the Taliban swept in in 2001 and took control of Afghanistan, weather reports stopped altogether.
The reason for this stoppage is the fact that the Taliban operates under a very strict interpretation of the Koran. This meant that all women would be required to wear a burka. All men must be bearded at all times. Television and movies were outlawed. And lastly, weather reporting was banned.
The reason for this confusing ban is that weather reporting is considered by the Taliban to be a form of sorcery. They doubled down on this belief, in fact, by shelling meteorological centers and forcibly removing weather people from their positions.
The United States has weathermen of its own.
In order to better wage war in Afghanistan and understand the data so that troops could be best protected, the government sent a number of weathermen to the theater of war.
These weathermen are also known as special operations weather technicians or SOWTs. In fact, these are the only commando forecasters that the Department of Defense has in its employment.
These operatives are tasked with visiting the most hostile and dangerous places in the world and then recovering important meteorological data that ground forces can then act upon once they’re brought into duty.
Video: Being a SOWT
Video: Weather & Warfare
These weathermen are not technically combat-oriented soldiers. Instead, they move into these hostile locations and gather their data. This sounds easy, but it’s anything but. If it goes wrong, not only can the operative be captured or killed, but that highly valuable data will be lost forever, compromising any future operations.
These operatives go along with the absolute best in the field. They often team up with Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, and Delta Force.
Before a major operation is going to be conducted, before any boots touch the ground or even get laced up, a SOWT will have to move into the location and give the okay. These truly are the unsung heroes of war, as they’re literally responsible for whether or not an operation will happen.
In one instance, the use of satellite data pointed toward there being totally clear skies in an area of operation. The only thing is that there was no ground data along with that and ground data is just as imperative as is satellite data.
Not only were the former meteorologists fired, not only were all of the meteorological sites turned to rubble but the decades of weather reports there were destroyed as well. Never before or since has there been such a blackout on incredibly simple and useful information. While this has made it more difficult for United States troops to conduct ground operations, this wasn’t the primary reason for everything.
On one occasion, a SOWT was brought to a location that was hazy and indistinct as the result of a substantial sand storm. This weather man risked his life by leaving the helicopter along with a small team of commandos.
While under the cover of night, they scaled a mountain and then dug into a nearby ledge. It was here that the SOWT got to work at obtaining meteorological data. He used a device to study how high in the sky clouds were, sent out weather balloons at night, and used a small device he had with him for all other tasks.
What this special operations weather technician essentially did was create a forecast that operated in real time. He then checked his data with the forecasts that were already made and tweaked the data until it seemed to line up properly. From there, commando teams were able to be dropped into locations with safe weather conditions all thanks to this brave SOWT.
As a matter of fact, it was as a result of this initial operation that the ground invasion of Afghanistan began. As such, the data had to be absolutely precise in order to be considered actionable. These fair consditions that the SOWT were enough for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to move ahead with their operation.
While it is possible to obtain satellite forecasts without ever having to use a real person, these special operations weather technicians humorously liken this process to an eager child on Christmas shaking a box to guess what’s inside. You might come relatively close sometimes, but not enough for the data to be actionable.
Every member of the United States’ military has an important job to do, a reaon strong enough for them to leave their freidns and family for months at a time. What many don’t realize is that there’s quite possibly even more dangerous position in the military that rarely gets spoken about or even acknowledged.
This position is that of a special operations weather technician. Before any boots can touch the dirt, one of these professionals must go in and single-handedly get a hold on the weather fluctuations in the area. Without these brave souls, there would be no boots on the ground and the mission would be lossed before it even started.
by J Hines
Source: Wikipedia, Military.com, USAF Public Affairs, Videos and Intro Excerpt from Nbcnews.com/pages/weathermen
THE FOLLOWING IS A MEDIA RELEASE FROM THE STARS AND STRIPES
The military branch USAF is unique when it comes to job specialty (MOS), force protection back in the old days of guarding an aircraft was different. The Air Police would just issue a rifle to an airman to guard the aircraft or resources. Fast forward to modern day, the ‘Air Police’ name progressed to Security Police and finally ‘Security Forces’. With recent conflicts USAF Security Forces have had to adjust and expand its role in the terrorist war. One of them is the Fly-Away Security Team, also known as ‘FAST’. These hand picked elite USAF Security Forces members are also part of the USAF Phoenix Ravens unit, you can see one of our past stories on the USAF Ravens here.
USAF Fly-Away Security Teams (FAST) are staged out of many undisclosed places in the European and Far West Asian theaters. The FAST team provides security for the aircraft while at a hot (high threat) location. And while in-flight responsible for deterring and neutralizing any threats on board the aircraft. The least known responsibility is to collect intelligences of the air strip and surrounding areas from local resources. The skills required to perform as a FAST operative is wide in range from marksmanships, Foreign Clearance Guide Advisor, SERE to diplomatic relations with host nations.
Now to our featured story:
The two craned their necks and swiveled their heads, checking the fast-approaching ground below through the bank of cockpit windows. Soon joining them in this ritual was Staff Sgt. Thomas Tyrone, 26, a member of the late September mission’s Fly-Away Security Team, or FAST.
In teams of two to four, the “air marshals of Afghanistan,” as one member calls them, guard the flight deck from potential hijackers on certain flights and provide added perimeter security around the aircraft while parked at high-risk airfields like Shorab.
On the ground, the team is responsible for keeping asylum-seekers at bay and fending off attackers long enough for the pilots to get the turboprop-powered Super Hercules airborne, even if that means the team stays behind.
Their added combat training and firepower — M-4 rifles, compared with the aircrew’s 9 mm handguns — are a comfort “when you’re someplace sketchy,” said Capt. Michael Morrison, Svendsen’s co-pilot. See original story below.
by Chad Garland
Source: Stars and Stripes
STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGENFor those who’ve attended or read about the SHOT Show for the past 15 years, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that the American military has had an increasing positive effect on the shooting sports, especially hunting. This welcome development is nothing short of phenomenal, and it becomes more evident with each passing year.
I make my living as a hunter, TV host, writer and speaker, so it’s been intriguing and inspiring to watch the inﬂuence of our country’s armed forces transition into every facet of the world I love so much. Take equipment, for example. Many hunters took their ﬁrst deer with a government-issued .30-caliber riﬂe, one that may have been their dad’s or granddad’s. Today, the hunting riﬂe and optics world is dominated by military representation, and Trijicon scopes are a testimony to this.
It’s been more than 10 years since Trijicon entered the hunting world, and a television show I hosted was the ﬁrst one they sponsored. I later went on to host and produce Trijicon’s The Hunt, which currently airs on Amazon Prime and in more than 40 countries. Even though Trijicon has become well known to hunters, not everyone is aware that the company had made quality riﬂescopes and sights for military and law enforcement use for more than 15 years.
Guns are another example. Some old school hunters didn’t like it when ARs entered the hunting world, but as people became more educated on what ARs were, the literal translation of what an AR platform riﬂe is and how they worked, they quickly gained traction. First, predator, varmint and hog hunters used them, now they’re popular with many deer hunters.
Accessories that go with guns and hunting have also evolved, having been deeply rooted in America’s military history. Knives, ﬂashlights, survival kits, boots, packs, navigation devices, even clothes, have stemmed from our military. Not long ago I was in Alaska’s Arctic with my son. For lunch one day we broke out some MREs, and although any current or former member of the military would know these as a ﬁeld ration or “Meal, Ready to Eat,” it was something he’d never had. He’s 14 years old and loved it, and was intrigued when I shared stories of how this is what many military men and women survived on. MREs have come a long way, or so I’m told, but it’s just one more example of our military having an inﬂuence on hunting and the outdoors.
The very ﬁrst riﬂe sling I had was one given to me from my grandfather, from when he served our country. It was an old leather sling with multiple holes for length adjustment. The sling was an inch wide and tough as nails, and it is still one of my favorites.
Not only has military-designed gear had a visible impact on hunting, but on shooting form as well. For decades hunters went aﬁeld with their riﬂes, maybe a pack, but that was it. When it came time to take a shot, it was usually done standing, off-hand. If a tree was close, the hunter might try to lean on it to get steady. Or, if the grass wasn’t too high, the hunter might lay down in order to attain a stable shot.
Then bipods, shooting sticks and shooting bags made their way into the hunting world, thanks again to our military. Attaching a bipod to a riﬂe was something I’d never heard of or seen while growing up hunting in the 1960s and ’70s. Like all things “new,” they came
into the hunting world, but many hunters from previous generations wouldn’t use these shooting aids, which is unfortunate.
Last fall I was in deer camp in Wyoming. It was public ground and the sagebrush-studded hills were full of hunters. What amazed me was not the number of shots I heard during the ﬁrst two days of the season, but how many people I talked to headed back to camp, transporting deer that had been shot in the leg, face, guts and everywhere bullets shouldn’t hit. None of them had used shooting aids.
One hunter in our camp, an older, retired man, missed nine shots at three different bucks. When I asked him why he doesn’t use a bipod or shooting stick, he replied, “Never have, don’t need one.” “No, obviously you do!” I insisted. I took him aside, showed him how to work my Bog Pod tripod shooting stick, and told him to take it. He killed a buck with his next shot.
Many of our armed forces pride themselves on shooting accuracy, and more and more hunters are starting to do the same. We owe it to ourselves, our fellow hunters and the animals we pursue to deliver quick, clean shots.
For people like me who make a living hunting, we can’t afford misses. Every miss costs time and money for everyone involved on the hunt, from myself to camera crews, outﬁtters, producers, editors and even networks. There’s pressure to hit the mark, which is why, for the past several years, all of my shots have come off a shooting stick, a bipod mounted to my gun, or shooting bags.
A couple seasons ago I took my ﬁrst buck with a longrange riﬂe, what my dad and his friends, in their late 70s and 80s, refer to as a “sniper riﬂe.” Now, the gun wasn’t really a sniper riﬂe, but the $4,000 scope I had atop it was designed for snipers, and the sturdy bipod and shooting bags I relied on were used primarily by tactical shooters. I devoted many hours of practice to shooting that riﬂe from a prone position, learning about everything related to long-range shooting. I was able to connect on a nice buck at 960 yards while ﬁlming for a TV show.
Today, we see more hunters shooting from prone positions using shooting aids on television, in magazines, and on the Internet. Why? Because it’s more accurate, that’s why. Think about it. We wait all year for hunting season, then spend days, even weeks aﬁeld, and yet our success or failure often comes down to a single shot. It only makes sense to make that one shot as accurate as possible.
Many hunters who spend time in the dense deer woods, stalking with shotguns and open-sight riﬂes are now carrying their guns differently, thanks to the inﬂuence of the military and armed forces. Gone are the days when hunters trudged through thick brush, gun slung over their shoulder, and then quickly forcing it into a shaky shooting position when a buck pops up.
These days, guns are more frequently carried in a semi-shooting position, butt held above the shoulder, one hand on the stock, the other on the forestock. This allows a shot to be taken in a fraction of the time of the other hold, something that’s not only applicable in some deer hunting situations but when tracking dangerous game or wounded animals anywhere in the world.
Last but not least, the discipline and hard work that our special forces are built on has entered the hunting world. Physical training and dedicated shooting practice has never been so prevalent, and our military is largely to thank.
I’ve never served in the military, but have many relatives and friends who have. My great uncle was a paratrooper who jumped on the beaches at Normandy and served on the front lines. I couldn’t get enough of his stories while growing up.
To the men and women who’ve served our country over the years, and continue to serve, I thank you. You help keep America free, and great. Your efforts and dedication
have prevailed in upholding our Constitution and Second Amendment rights, and for that, all hunters in the United States should thank you. Keep up the great work, and may God bless you and your families. ASJ
Editor’s note: Scott Haugen has been a full-time writer for 15 years. To see instructional videos on shooting, hunting and more, visit his new website, OutdoorsNow.com.