The Many Man Caves of the Gunny

R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine Corps drill instructor known to millions of moviegoers as the sadistic Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” died Sunday morning, according to his longtime manager. He was 74.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Bill Rogin said Ermey had died due to complications from pneumonia.

“It is extremely difficult to truly quantify all of the great things this man has selflessly done for, and on behalf of, our many men and women in uniform,” Rogin wrote. “He has also contributed many iconic and indelible characters on film that will live on forever.

“Please support your men and women in uniform. That’s what he wanted most of all. Semper Fi, Gunny. Godspeed.”

The following is an awesome story that we had written up on the Gunny a while back.

Famous Drill Sergeant, Movie Actor Opens Up at his California House

by Brittany Boddington

Interviewing R. Lee Ermey, aka The Gunny, in his home was a rare and wonderful opportunity. I did my homework on him, and the night before our interview I watched videos of him online. Those I saw had him yelling at people and forcing them to do push-ups, so needless to say, I did not sleep much that night. What had I gotten myself into?! I was timid walking up to the door, but The Gunny came out to greet me and shook my hand with a warm smile. I instantly felt at ease around the man who has commanded so much fear in the movies and boot camps of yore. The Gunny has a strange way of reading people.

He knows if a person is looking to be screamed at in order to be able to tell their friends about the experience, or if they simply want to know the real man under the scary facade. Walking into his house an hour or so north of Los Angeles, I was immediately love-struck. No, it wasn’t The Gunny himself – or his guns or trophies. There were two tiny, four-week-old puppies on the couch, wiggling and squealing to be petted! The Gunny explained that he and his wife had found them the day before at an antique market and simply couldn’t leave them behind. Supposedly from the same litter, the puppies looked nothing alike and were an unrecognizable mix of breeds. The Gunny compared the looks of one to a bat, and already the softer side of the man was shining through. THE GUNNY’S HOME is exquisitely decorated with antiques, and there is very little evidence of his passion for guns or hunting in what he calls his “wife’s part of the house.”
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Then we entered his man caves. I was amazed to find that The Gunny is even more of a treasure collector than I am! He has pieces from every corner of the world. He has an amazing collection of antique carved ivory tusks an an Asian-style dragon – even a rare
narwhal tusk. He says he was offered the opportunity to buy it from the Smithsonian Institution because they needed funding, and of course he jumped at the chance. The second room of The Gunny’s man cave is full of gifts from the numerous Marine Corps Birthday Balls he has attended and spoken at over the years. One truly unique gift is a map of Iwo Jima, Japan, with handwritten notes from the World War II battle there. The map was found in a desk many years after the war and gifted to The Gunny by the
Marines, in which he served during the Vietnam era. He tells me that when he is gone, the map will be donated to a museum. On the same wall are giant frames holding all the
treasures he found while in the Middle East, each with its own backstory. Here I thought I was the only one who collected items based on their stories. Next stop was The Gunny’s, well, gun room. And yes, it’s a room, not a safe. Knowing he likes weaponry – he hosted the History channel show Lock n’ Load with R. Lee Ermey – I’d been expecting a giant gun safe or even a gun vault, but The Gunny has an entire room dedicated to his love of guns. The entry is barred like an Old West jail cell – yes, it actually comes
from an old western hoosegow – and he jokes that if anyone wants to get in his gun room, they had better bring a chainsaw and a whole lot of dynamite.

gunnyshotgunInside is a red felt-covered pool table, and against the wall is the largest collection of rifles I have ever seen. Each section of rifles is covered by another set of jail-like bars, but the overflow currently rests outside, on the bars themselves. He estimates that he has more than 200 guns in his collection. The other side of the room is for his handguns. The Gunny has them in a glass case, neatly displayed but with
zero dust, which shows that he uses them often. Indeed, The Gunny is still active
in shooting competitions and loves his antique M1 Garand match rifles. Medals all over the place prove he can hold his own – not that I ever doubted it. He has exactly one “black” gun and calls it his space gun, but he admits that he needs it for certain matches in order to stay competitive. I know it sounds strange, but the way The Gunny lights up while talking about the unique pieces he has reminds me of a child showing someone their most prized possessions. Some of his firearms are truly one of a kind.

THE NEXT STOP was the trophy room – or “petting zoo,” as The Gunny calls it. The first things you see as you walk through the door are two massive American bison. One, a bull, is a full mount and stands over 7 feet tall! It is one of the best mounts I have
ever seen. The rest of the room is divided up by country – the long wall features animals from Africa; those on the shorter walls are from New Zealand and North America, with some miscellaneous mounts mixed in. As The Gunny started to explain to me what a Himalayan tahr was I startled him by saying I’d already shot two. And though he didn’t know until then that I too hunted, I was excited to talk to him about hunting and his
upcoming adventures.

BRITTANY BODDINGTON What is your dream hunt?

GUNNY My dream hunt is Siberia, and I’m going to do it next year. Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’m gonna go to Siberia and I’m gonna hunt the largest moose in the world. They claim that they have the largest moose in the world and the
largest brown bear in the world too. I’m talking 14-foot-tall brown bear. I will hunt the bear and the big moose, and that is definitely my dream hunt, Siberia. I’ve been trying to get there for three years, but my schedule keeps getting in the way. I have people depending on me to make their paychecks. I’ve gotta think about my guys that I take care of. I just can’t go running off. But I told my manager that this year the dates are set and those dates are sacred.

BB Where did you get your interest in hunting?

GUNNY Oh, I started with a Red Ryder BB gun at about age seven. I grew up on a farm in Kansas about 18 miles west of Kansas City. I went to a little country school called Horn of School, and it was just a little two-room schoolhouse made of natural rock. It was gone the last time I went back – a shame. I thought it would be a landmark for sure, you know, historic! Just because I went there! But no, I’m kind of like Rodney Dangerfield,
nobody shows me any respect, so they tore my damned school down! Just kidding, but sad nonetheless. I grew up hunting sparrows and graduated to rabbits. And we trapped
– we had wooden traps. Every now and then the traps would be tripped and we would pull it open and here’s a nasty old skunk lined up on you, or a possum growling, or a raccoon
growling at you, but we tried to catch rabbits because we had a freezer to fill. There were six boys in my family. My mom grew a garden and we had cattle, and the only time we ever had to go to the supermarket was basically for flour and salt. Everything else we grew. Six boys, you had to feed those boys. We grew up hunting, we had a chest freezer, and we boys kept that freezer full. If it was duck season, we were putting ducks in
there; if it was pheasant season, we put pheasant and red squirrel in there
– we put in a lot of red squirrel. Hell, I could kill red squirrel with my Red Ryder BB gun, that’s how good I got with it. Fishing and hunting, we grew up doing it. I never knew anything but hunting.

BB And trophy hunting? Was that post-Vietnam or before?

GUNNY I couldn’t afford it before the Marine Corps. Only in the past 20 years have I been able to afford to actually go hunting and not worry about whether I’m not actually hunting because I’m hungry. I’m hunting to put that trophy on the wall,
and also to eat the meat. In quite a few cases, I donate the meat.

BB I read in your profile on your website that after you left the military, after you were medically retired, you chose to go to school in the Philippines. Why did you choose to go to school there?

GUNNY Because I couldn’t afford to do it in the States. College is taught in
English in the Philippines.

BB Full Metal Jacket, I’m sure you hear it in every interview, but do you ever
get tired of talking about it?

GUNNY (Laughs) No, no, it’s OK. Everybody loves Full Metal Jacket. I was on film number five for me, and I basically accepted the job as technical advisor solely to get my foot in the door, so I could score another role, and I had done that four other times on movies, so I knew I could do it. It worked in the past, and it worked again.

BB So you went in there with a plan – it wasn’t accidental?

GUNNY You’ve got to have a plan, you can’t just go in there half-cocked. You’ve gotta have a plan and follow through with it.

BB Did Full Metal Jacket radically change your life?

GUNNY Absolutely, I haven’t stopped working since. Before that, I was what you would consider a struggling actor. After Full Metal Jacket, I was no longer a struggling actor – the only struggling I was doing was trying to keep up with my demanding schedule, and it has been like that ever since.

BB I’m sure you intimidated your fellow actors as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, but were you ever intimidated working for director Stanley Kubrick?

GUNNY No.

BB Nice guy?

GUNNY Demanding; I mean, I worked hard. But when you’re prepared, you’re prepared. I mean, you work hard, and you prepare yourself, and that gives you the confidence to step in front of the camera and do your thing. If you don’t work hard and you don’t study and you don’t pay your dues, then when you step in front of the camera, you’re nervous, and it’s obvious you can’t do the job. I can spot a nervous actor in a minute when I go watch a movie. Mrs. Gunny [Nila Ermey] and I watch as many as we can.

BB I can relate from my experience with public speaking – the same rule applies.

GUNNY I like to screw up because then it’s challenging for me, then I get to
back up and say, “Whoopsy daisy, somebody screwed up,” and I can turn it into a fun experience for everyone. I purposely screw up sometimes just to back up and have a little comedic mood-changing moment with everyone. Everybody worries about screwing up; I think that is the worst damned way to go up on a stage in front of a thousand people – worried about screwing up. I look forward to screwing up because it gives me more
ammunition to play around with. It’s good for me, I like that, and it doesn’t bother me at all.

BB When you do public speaking, do you write yourself a speech?

GUNNY No, I do not. I might write down bullet points so I don’t forget something. That’s the only reason I do it.

BB I’ve done the same, I just started doing public speaking engagements, and the first few times I did bullet points and that worked great, but then one time I wrote out a speech just to be extra prepared and I ruined it! I got lost and couldn’t find where I was and then panic set in.

GUNNY I’m one of those guys; I just put key words down. I write down names of people that I want to thank and important information like that. BB That is good advice! In movies like Seven, how was it to work around such well-known actors like Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman?

GUNNY You have to understand, Brad Pitt was very fresh, he hadn’t really
done anything prior to that. Morgan Freeman and I got along just great. He and I shared a table at the Golden Globe Awards. Great guy, but he and I were the old guys on the set. The young people were coming to us for advice; it was nice, I liked that. I’m
always one of the oldest guys on set these days. For me it’s complimentary when the young guys come to me for advice, and I’ve done 60-plus movies, so it’s not like I’m just getting started. I’ve had the experience of all of those movies, and for a lot of those I’ve also rewritten my roles so that they fit me just perfectly.

BB What’s next? More acting? Do you have another movie planned?

GUNNY If the right movie comes up. I’ve done some pretty good shows and I’m 70 years old, so I’m not going to accept a movie that I don’t think is Academy Award material or funny as hell. If I don’t think it is going to kick ass and be a blockbuster, I won’t mess with it, unless the role speaks to me, and I just have to do it.

BB You are going to do it like a trophy hunt, huh? Only worth it if you are going to bring home a trophy?

GUNNY It is exactly that! If it’s not something that I read and it grabs me,
then it’s not worth it. I’m not going to do a piece of sh*t just to do it because it could be my last. I’m pretty locked into my schedule for the year, and my schedule usually consists of events that I do for the military, benefits, working with the veterans, Toys for Tots, Marine Corps Birthday Balls, etc. I stay as busy as I can with the veterans, so if I accept a movie, it would take three months out of my life and I would have to cancel out on the guys. So unless it’s a kickass movie or role, I will maintain my schedule. But I will probably do some more movies. I’m 70, but I’m healthy.

BB What does the Marine Corps mean to you?

GUNNY We’ll put it this way: The Marine Corps retired me in 1972 and I just kept showing up for work, plain and simple. I never went anywhere. If it weren’t for the Marine Corps, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The Marine Corps gave me discipline,
pride, a brotherhood, a reason for being, a partnership, a big fraternity. I wasn’t ready to leave it; it was my objective to stay in the military for 30 years. After my first four years, I reenlisted for six more and then for six more, and I was not prepared to go anywhere. After 12 years I got it cut short, and I was medically retired.

BB Can I ask why?

GUNNY I screwed up my right shoulder; a bunker came down on top of me, so I was having trouble keeping my shoulder in place. That was right at the end of Vietnam, right when, if you had a scratch, you were gonna get retired, or put out of the Marine
Corps because they were cutting down from about 200,000 soldiers to approximately 175,000. So if you were not physically fit, A1, ready to go to combat today, then you were sent down the road. So I was retired, but I continued to march, and I didn’t
walk away from the Marine Corps. I still stay as active and as closely involved with the Marine Corps as I can. I never retired, I’m still there! I’ve been to Afghanistan and Iraq several times. I’m always around – if the commandant of the Marine Corps asks me to go, I go.

BB I’ve heard that you host a golf tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., to benefit veterans. Could you tell me a little about that?

GUNNY It is to help out the veterans, wounded and otherwise. Every penny goes to helping the veterans, unlike some other charities that only give 80 percent or something like that. We give 100 percent to the veterans.

BB So how is your golf game?

GUNNY (Laughing) Sucks! I’ve been too busy to play, I just don’t have time. I played three rounds of golf last week and it was the first time I had played in a month – I was just terrible. I’m headed straight from here to meet the guys to play today too! Golf is a game that one has to practice. When I practice, I suck less.

BB You have lots of pictures with motorcycles on your website. Where did your passion for bikes come from?

GUNNY Hell, I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was a kid! My first motorcycle was a Cushman Eagle; it was a 1947 or 1948. I’m not sure exactly what year because I never did register it. It was just in a neighbor’s barn and I worked for the neighbors to generate a little extra cash for myself. I traded labor for the Cushman Eagle and I was 13 at the time. I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was 13 years old and I’ve never
been without a motorcycle.

BB Do you still ride?

GUNNY Well, what do you think? I’ve got a whole damn barn full. I’ve got one over at the brewery right now, sitting there on display, one in the garage, and three in that barn. I ride as much as I can! I work with Victory Motorcycles. Made in the good old USA.

BB What do you have coming up? Will we see you at SHOT Show?

GUNNY SHOT Show is up next – keep an eye on the website [rleeermey.com]
to see where I will be. I do a lot of appearances. Actually, I think we have the longest lines at SHOT Show; we average a four-hour line. BB I sit at the SHOT Show too, and
I definitely do not have a four-hour line. I think mine is five minutes if I’m lucky. (Laughs)
GUNNY (Laughing) Well, people know me. Hell, I’ve been doing this for so long. I don’t hide, I don’t lock myself away. People come up and it’s like they know me. It’s kind of crazy, but they feel like they have known me for years. I joke around with people and
take shots at them. I can feel out a guy and see what kind of personality he’s got and see if he can take it. I love the guys who can take a shot right back and just be witty. I couldn’t imagine standing there for eight hours a day taking pictures, shaking hands and kissing babies without having some fun.

For me, if I joke around and play around a little bit, time will fly, it’s over and it seems like I just got there. I just love connecting with fans. ON THAT NOTE, we got up to see some more of his treasures and soon afterwards wrapped our interview up. The Gunny shook my hand, and in his hand was his personal Challenge coin from Glock, with his face on it. I got to give the puppies some more love on my way out. It was hard to leave those little ones, and it felt very much like I had just made a new friend. I left The Gunny with a final wave and promised I would come by and say hi at SHOT Show. It’s no wonder there is a four hour line to visit with The Gunny – all his fans are his friends. WSJ

Jet Li Gun Disarm

How realistic is it to disarm someone pointing a Beretta 92FS pistol at you? You can see this in one of Jet Li’s movie, “Lethal Weapon 4”.

Jet Li does it by removing the slide off in real-time.
Youtuber Ian McCallom examines how this is possible.
The basics is that you need to push the side button in and rotating the disasembly lever down, then the slide can be pulled away from the lower.

Ian performs this disarm and is surprise that its not as hard as it seems with one hand. However, putting this into a real-time stress related scenario with a resisting partner would probably produce a null. Not possible.
So please don’t try this at home with a loaded pistol.
When it comes to fancy gun disarm leave it to Hollywood to entertain you. For real disarm stick to something like this.

Gun Theatricals that aren’t True

Who doesn’t love a good action movie? From John Woo to the Wachowskis, Hollywood has delivered some of the best gun action the world has ever seen. But gun inaccuracies in movies are actually super common and it drives gun owners crazy. So, what are all the ways movies get guns wrong?
There are numerous problems with gunfights across hundreds of movies, but most of folks don’t really think about them because they don’t know how guns work in real life.

Well, get ready to be educated. Every trope and cliché that action movies use is based on common misunderstandings of gun buzzwords regarding proper gun usage. Let’s explore everything from what a bullet does to you at the point of impact to the proper way to hold a gun. Sit down and get to know just how wrong your favorite movie characters have been treating firearms.

You Don’t Need To Cock A Pistol’s Hammer Back To Fire
Movies are about the build up of drama, and drama is made out of little moments of emotion. Thus, when you have a character pointing a weapon at another character, you don’t want them both just standing around chatting. You need to give them things to do that escalate the tension of the scene. So, in a movie, when one character wants the other to know they mean business they pull back the hammer of their pistol.
In real-life most guns are already good to fire, just pull the trigger, unless you’re carrying a bolt rifle without one in the chamber. If its an auto-type of handguns, once you racked the slide with live ammo, then you got one in the chamber ready to go.

Guns Don’t Just Go Off When You Drop Them
Bet you’ve heard this one before: a gun gets deliberately drop and it goes off, taking out a bad guy and giving our hero the distraction to escape.

The thing is, that would never happen, Unless its a Sig P230, oh I forgot they go that fixed. Guns over the past few decades, with the exception of some longer rifles, are built well enough to safety standards that dropping them doesn’t make them go off.

Getting Shot In The Shoulder Isn’t Something You Can Shrug Off
Often in movies, in order to artificially increase the stakes, we’ll see the main character take a bullet. The filmmakers, smart as they are, usually keep it to the shoulder, so the character is injured but still able to function, because its the hero (or heroine).

Well, the problem with that is that getting shot in the shoulder would be completely debilitating. Sure, there’s plenty of soft tissue to harm, but if a joint, artery, or nerve gets hit you’re in a lot of trouble. You may lose the blood supply to your arm, or not be able to support yourself because your collar bone is shattered. In short, you’re not going to be doing any glock-fu anytime soon.

A Gunshot Cannot Knock You Back
You see this trope in practically every action movie that comes out. There’s a big gunfight, someone gets hit, and they go flying backwards through the air. That, of course, is not true.
More than likely most high velocity caliber will pass through you. If its a .45acp from a pistol, it can momentarily give you an shocking impact as the bullet hits you.

Gunfights Don’t Last Very Long
According to the FBI, gunfights aren’t nearly as drawn out as they look in the movies. So, every long shootout you’ve seen in the movies is all about fun and entertainment.
In fact, the general rule is that gunfights occur in three seconds, over three shots, at three yards apart. So, chances are you’re almost never going to reload during a fight.

There’s Always An Insane Lack Of Regard For Surroundings
Responsible gun owners are trained to always be aware of who and what is going on around them. After all, one misfired round can mean you’ve killed a random pedestrian, or a passing puppy.

One of the first things you’re taught is to pay attention to your surroundings. You’ll notice most characters in movies, however, just fixate on their target. Its all about suspense and drama in the movies.

You Never Want To Point The Gun At Everything
Every watch a movie where a character is waving a gun around like it’s a baton? Well, that is incredibly unrealistic — at least with practiced gun owners.
There’s a little something called “muzzle discipline,” which basically means you should always have your gun pointed in a safe direction. It’s something that a gun-owner must always be aware of, but it tends to happen very little in films. So I’ll defend our hero, they are pointing their weapons at things that may be a threat.

They Usually Finger The Gun Wrong
True pros know that you never, ever keep your finger on your gun’s trigger. Yet, every action hero tends to go running around with their twitchy fingers resting on the trigger of whatever gun they’re holding. (Cuz, they ready to rock n’ roll)
In reality taught by all gun institutes in the U.S., keep your trigger finger extended, running along the gun above the trigger. This is just another safety function should you choose to shoot or not.

Guns Can Run Out Of Ammo
You’ve probably seen this one, most heroes tend to fire guns that never need to be reloaded. (Rambo) It’s gotten to the point where it’s surprising to see a film where the hero runs out of ammo. If they do, it’s usually a plot point.
There are some movies that have put in the intricacy of reloading to good dramatic effect. John Wick, for example, would often showcase some rather stylish reloading mixed in with its hand-to-hand combat. Another good example was the first Jack Reacher film.

One shot, One Kill
If anything, gun shot wounds usually result in an incredibly slow and painful death. In the films, however, when a bad guy is shot they’re instantly dead. Convenient, but not true to life.

You Will Never Dual Wield Pistols
It may be one of the coolest things you can see in a movie: when the hero breaks out double pistols, you know it’s on. The unfortunate truth is that all those awesome scenes you’ve seen in John Woo movies aren’t physically possible for most.
There are a few like Jerry Miculek that have wielded two pistols and can rain serious lead down range with accuracies. But that’s Jerry, most of us Joe average can’t do that.

Bullet Proof Vests Won’t Necessarily Save Your Life
There are lots of movies that show a hero seemingly get gunned down, only for them to survive the gunshot because they were wearing a secret bullet proof vest. While that may work some of the time, it’s by no means a sure thing.
It’s true that a level IIIA bullet resistant vest will stop most handgun rounds. However, a stronger weapon or higher caliber bullet may still tear through the vest.

 

 

Sources: IMDB, Wikipedia, Rankers, Aaron Edwards

Top 10 War Movies of all Time

What’s your top 10 war movies that would make you binge watch all day?
This list ranks the best movies about war, battles, and military conflicts. These films recreate some of the most significant events in world history from a variety of perspectives and with a variety of purposes and intentions. Some top war films attempt to recreate as realistically as possible the events that they depict, either from an omniscient perspective permitted by historical study or from the point of view of the soldiers and civilians involved in the conflict itself. Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, for example, was both praised in its time and heavily criticized for bringing a “you are there” sense of realism – and little outside or cultural perspective – to a recreation of the Battle of Mogadishu. The best war movies of all time differ widely in their handling of the subject matter, but they all strike a chord with viewers now and in the time when they came out.

Some of the greatest war films use war as a backdrop to look at larger issues – such as man’s inhumanity to man or the crippling impact of post-traumatic stress – or just as a meditation on war itself. Still other films like Glory and Band of Brothers examine the personal drama of a few individuals, and mine it for larger insights about the meaning of war and the impact that violence has on individual human lives.

Finally, some war films – particularly those made during the classic Hollywood era – are simply adventure films with war providing a compelling setting and situation. The Great Escape, for example, remains a classic not because of its grand ideas about the nature of war, but because it is a ceaselessly entertaining spectacle. No matter what type of film, there’s no denying that these are certainly the best war movies ever. [obviously, this list is very subjective]

Here’s our top 10 war movies list:

1. Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American epic drama war film set during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat, the film is notable for its graphic and realistic portrayal of war, and for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which depict the Omaha Beach assault of June 6, 1944. It follows United States Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller and a squad as they search for a paratrooper, Private First Cl…

2. Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 war film directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay by Kubrick, Michael Herr, and Gustav Hasford was based on Hasford’s novel The Short-Timers. The film stars Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Arliss Howard, Kevyn Major Howard, and Ed O’Ross, and its storyline follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their training and the experiences of two of the platoon’s Marines in the…

3. Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic adventure war film set during the Vietnam War. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall. The film follows the central character, U.S. Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard, of MACV-SOG, on a mission to kill the renegade and presumed insane U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz. The screenplay by John Milius and Coppola update…

4. Platoon

Platoon is a 1986 American war film written and directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe and Charlie Sheen. It is the first film of a trilogy of Vietnam War films by Stone. Stone wrote the story based upon his experiences as a U.S. infantryman in Vietnam to counter the vision of the war portrayed in John Wayne’s The Green Berets. It was the first Hollywood film to be written and directed by a veteran of the Vietnam War. The film won the…

5. Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers is a 2001 American war drama miniseries based on historian Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 non-fiction book of the same name. The executive producers were Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who had collaborated on the 1998 World War II film Saving Private Ryan. The episodes first aired in 2001 on HBO. They still run frequently on various TV networks around the world. The series won the 2001 Emmy and Golden Globe awards for best miniseries. The series d…

6. The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 World War II epic film directed by David Lean, based on the novel Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai by Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa. The movie was filmed in Ceylon. The bridge in the film was located near Kitulgala. The film was widely praised, wi…

7. Braveheart

Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. The story is based on Blind Harry’s epic poem The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace and was adapted for the screen by Randall Wallace. The film was nominated for t…

8. Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down is a 2001 American-British war film directed by Ridley Scott. It is an adaptation of the 1999 book of the same name by Mark Bowden based on his series of articles published in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The 29-part series chronicled the events of a 1993 raid in Mogadishu by the U.S. military aimed at capturing faction leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid and the ensuing battle. The film features a large ensemble cast, including Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana,…

9. Schindler’s List

Schindler’s List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist. The film is based on the life of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler…

10. 300

300 is a 2006 American fantasy war film based on the 1998 comic series of the same name by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Both are fictionalized retellings of the Battle of Thermopylae which took place between Greece and Persia, within the Persian Wars. The film was directed by Zack Snyder, while Miller served as executive producer and consultant. It was filmed mostly with a super-imposition chroma key technique, to help replicate the imagery of the original co…

There you have it, this is our picks and I know it may not match yours, why not tell us below in the comment section.

Sources: Ranker.com

Galactic Gun Guy

[su_heading size=”30″]From early roles to recent stardom on screens big and small, Michael Rooker – today’s ultimate antihero – has become a favorite of directors, fans and fellow cast members by staying true to himself.[/su_heading]

A few years ago, Michael Rooker was doing something he loves almost as much as performing: driving his four-wheel-drive truck across the wide-open spaces of New Mexico and Arizona. It was a dark, rainy night, the sort of atmospheric setting that has provided the backdrop for some of his most memorable character turns. But along this particular stretch of highway, the actor didn’t have mayhem, revenge or even survival on his mind.

He was simply headed home. But for the man who has most recently mesmerized audiences with such nuanced and complicated characters as Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead and Yondu Udonta in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, the word “simply” acquires a whole new layer of meaning.

At one point on his journey westward, he’d gotten in close behind a convoy of long-haul truckers so he could use them as over sized pace cars for his drive back to Los Angeles. It wasn’t long before the big-rig drivers noticed, a fact the actor knew right away. “I’m probably one of the only actors in Hollywood that still has a CB [citizen’s band radio],” Rooker, 62, told me with a laugh recently. “I was tailing ’em because they were hauling ass across these two states, and I was not going to let ’em leave me behind.

I was tagging along, and they were like, ‘Hey, look at that. We still have that little four-wheeler behind us.’ And I hollered up, ‘You sure as hell do, boy. Just keep on rollin’.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh, my God, what’s your handle [nickname]?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t even have a handle, man.’ And he said ‘We’ve got your handle; we’re going to be calling you Tagalong from now on,’ and so it stuck.”

With the newly christened actor and his undersized vehicle now an official member of the procession, things got even more interesting. “Then they found out who I was,” Rooker added. “One guy recognized my voice, and he knew my cousins, the other Rookers, who used to work on trailers down in Florida and Alabama and Mississippi. He said, ‘I know you’re blah blah’s cousin, Michael Rooker, the actor.’ I said, ‘Yep, I sure as hell am.’ And so after that, we were talking and yakking all the way across these two states, and the time just flew. It was a great experience.”

That chance encounter may provide everything you need to know about Michael Rooker’s approach to his life and career. Like those truckers he fell in with so easily, he is committed to the long haul, and no matter what the job entails, he keeps moving forward and always delivers the goods.

Perhaps more importantly, even in the most solitary of environments, whether along a lonely highway or in a darkened movie theater, Rooker always finds a way to connect with people.

ONE OF HIS EARLIEST road trips took a 13-year-old Rooker from his birthplace of Jasper, Alabama, to Chicago, where his mother moved him and his siblings following her divorce. But instead of sending him spiraling out of control with teenaged angst, the move seemed to cement a life focus that continues to drive him today.

“I was meant to be this actor that I am,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2014. “Even growing up as a little hillbilly kid in Chicago in my neighborhood, Division and Ashland, which was not the nicest neighborhood when I was growing up, I always knew inside my heart that I was meant for something else.

I was not meant to be on the streets of Chicago. I was not meant to be in a gang. I was not meant to do drugs. I had that belief all through my life.” While seeking a way to express himself, Rooker discovered acting. “I got involved with some theater people and enjoyed what they did,” he said. “I thought, ‘I could probably do this.’ I ended up auditioning for a theater school [DePaul University’s Goodman School of Drama], got accepted and the rest is history.”

From his earliest star turn as the title character in Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), Rooker has worked in productions of all sizes and budgets. In fact, audiences who know him only from his recent success may be surprised to learn that he had important roles in some of the most popular pictures of the ’80s and ’90s, including Eight Men Out, Mississippi Burning, Sea of Love, Days of Thunder, JFK, Cliffhanger and Tombstone.

That also means that he has acted alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names, from Al Pacino, Gene Hackman and Tom Cruise to Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell (he recently worked with the latter two again in Guardians 2).

In a town with a reputation for short-term memory loss for who’s on top and who’s not – sometimes on a week-to-week basis – Rooker just keeps moving forward. Those seeking a secret formula to his long-term success, however, will be disappointed.

“You just keep working, dude,” he told me, “That’s all. In this business, there are always ups and downs. The last couple of years I’ve been on a pretty good high, starting with The Walking Dead. Getting involved with that series was like a gamble in the beginning.

Who the hell knew that shooting zombies’ heads off would become a popular way of releasing stress, and being an escape from normal, everyday life? We always knew there were zombie fans out there, because I started out in horror, so all of us horror guys and gals always knew that it’s a popular area, ever since George Romero did his first movie [Night of the Living Dead, 1964], but we didn’t know whether or not society had caught up with us. Apparently society has caught up with our sick minds, and they are into it as well.”


ON THE WALKING DEAD, Merle Dixon may have carried a 1911, an M16 and two knives, but Rooker’s had several other roles where the prop man placed a gun in his hand every day. “That was from the beginning,” he said. “You know; here’s yours and here’s yours and here’s yours, back in the day when they didn’t even give you training.

Nowadays we’re much more attuned to like making sure everybody’s properly instructed on the handling and the safety of these firearms that we’re using on set.” But unlike many of today’s actors portraying gun-toting characters, Rooker doesn’t need much instruction. He already knows a thing or three about firearms.

“I kept getting these roles where I had to handle weapons,” he said. “(But) I was a little ahead of the game since I knew how to shoot already. I really got into Tombstone and the armor. It was Western-style, single shot shooting, and I ended up really enjoying the old-style Colt single action pistols.

We went shooting every day; we trained every day to get ready for our scenes. I walked away from the movie after it was over and wanted to continue shooting.” The armorer on that picture was none other than Thell Reed, who was dubbed “The Fastest Gun Alive” when he was still a teen. Even if you have never heard of Reed (and that would be a pity), you may recall a famous photograph of 1960s fast draw experts Ray Chapman, Eldon Carl, Jeff Cooper and Jack Weaver pointing their gun barrels directly at the camera.

If you know the photo, that’s Thell Reed standing (and pointing) dead center. Not only was Reed important to Rooker’s skill development on Tombstone, the two still work together. “Thell is my sensei, my teacher, and my first gun coach,” he said. “We hung out together and shot together before the movie, during the movie and after the movie.

And we still talk and communicate and shoot together. We actors learn different things on all these movies that we do, and this is one thing that I learned from Tombstone that I’ve actually kept up, and have actually improved upon the way I was back then.”

EVEN WITH HIS FREE TIME increasingly limited, Rooker still finds the opportunity to get some shots downrange. In fact, the actor’s house is nearly a home on the range, since it is just a couple of minutes from the Angeles Shooting Range north of Los Angeles.

Rooker even owns stock in the popular training and practice destination, one of the biggest shooting facilities in L.A. County. He also trains with his friend, competition shooter Taran Butler, whenever he has the chance. But no matter where or when he shoots, he keeps his practice “routine” less than routine.

“I like to shoot different styles,” he said. “I like long distance; I like short pistol work. I like shooting little targets, so I shoot far distances because the target gets smaller as you go out. But if I don’t have a long range to do that, I’ll shoot the 6-inch targets, the little poppers.

I shoot those about a hundred yards out with my pistol.” “If I’m short in or really close, I’ll find a Michael Rooker action figure and I’ll bring it out and shoot his hands off and stuff like that – just silly stuff. One of my favorite things to do at the range is just bring out a big load of used cans and toss them out there all over the place and just go at it shooting the cans, plinking.

I’m basically a plinker.” Rooker also enjoys shooting smoothbores and guns with bit more firepower. “I’ve got a couple Benellis that I’ve been shooting lately,” he said, “and I have my M1 that I really love to shoot with. I like shooting shotguns and doing skeet; sporting clays is really a lot of fun.

I like to rationalize the fact that I’m going to the range because I’ve got to make sure that I keep my skills sharp for the next movie.” An obvious question from gun enthusiasts may be how Rooker’s “fun-loving, gun-loving” ways fit into an industry town with a reputation of being (ahem) less than supportive of Second Amendment rights.

“I think it’s very obvious that everybody knows (about my love of guns and shooting),” he explained. “I don’t preach it, and I don’t go around spewing my political agendas. I just like to shoot. I see it as a sport.” “There are all sorts of people in this business of Hollywood and acting,” he added. “I think we’ve learned from early on, that if you’re a professional actor, you don’t tell somebody else what to do.

You gotta let people do their own thing. I really don’t worry about it.” The acceptance he receives has much to do with the affable star’s personality and attitude. His Guardians costar, Chris Pratt, has said, “Rooker has a very unique voice. Not only the way he talks, but what he has to say. There’s not many gun-loving, country-boy ninjas in Hollywood. He’s one of the good ones.”

IT IS ALWAYS BENEFICIAL to be held in high esteem by your coworkers. But in an era where social media and live events such as Comic-Con have forever altered the connection between audiences and performers, an actor can’t afford to forget about the people who buy the tickets and hover their thumbs over the television remote either.

Fortunately, Rooker excels at establishing and nurturing relationships with his legion of fans. “It’s a positive,” he said about his burgeoning “meet and greet” responsibilities. “(It) used to be a quirky thing that actors would do from a B-list movie – going to a horror convention or a little sci-fi convention and doing autographs and taking pictures and stuff like that for the fans.

Now it’s become a major deal … The market is saturated with Comic-Cons. It’s a great opportunity for the fans to meet actors that are going there specifically to meet them. It should be a great experience for both parties, for the actor as well as for the fan. I tend to have a good time doing it, and I think everybody that comes to my table and meets me, or comes to my Q&As or the photo ops or whatever we are doing on that day are hopefully having a good time.”

In this increasingly participatory age, fans often do more than just line up for a photo or a signature. “People come dressed as Yondu,” he said. “The cosplays are big. Some people have their own idea of what they want to do when they meet you. They have some questions that have been in their mind for the last few days on the way over to the event, and [he laughs] sometimes you just blow their minds a little bit when they don’t expect to get the answer they’re thinking they’re get all nervous and they don’t even remember the question.”

Some of his Walking Dead fans were credited with extending and expanding his role from a minor to a major one. Three different fan clubs joined in a Twitter campaign specifically designed to get Rooker’s Merle Dixon more screen time on the runaway AMC hit. Rooker experienced a similar situation this summer, when his role in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 grew exponentially over the original release, leading a number of critics to proclaim him the real star of the picture.

Legend says that when William Shakespeare was writing Romeo and Juliet, the Bard of Avon had to kill off Mercutio midway through the proceedings because he was threatening to take over the play. If the Guardians franchise continues for several more installments, conspiracy theorists of the cinematic variety may be saying the same thing about – spoiler alert! – Rooker’s Yondu in the not-too-distant future.

DESPITE HIS GIFT FOR winning over the general public in person, it is on the screen that Rooker truly shines, often in “villain” roles that a lesser actor may struggle to make anything more than a two-dimensional cliché. Rooker, on the other hand, always finds a way to make his character the most interesting one in any scene, and he does that by not “acting” like a villain at all.

“I don’t approach a role by saying I’ll be unsavory or unlikable,” he said. “I think all the roles I’ve done have been very passionate people who go to absolute extremes to make their points.” It also helps that Rooker has performed not just on the stage and on film, but as a voice actor, where performers aren’t able to lean on any visual props or crutches. “That’s where it starts,” he said, “(with) your interpretation.

Your take on the script is not your take on the action, or your take on the (special
effects). That’s not even your job. Your job is your take on the script. That’s it. How you choose how you’re going to say it … is all up to you. I, in particular, don’t necessarily choose how I’m going to say something.

I like to keep it open and sincere and honest, and so whatever happens on the day on the set in the moment is what happens.” And what is happening next for Rooker? “I’ve got a movie that’s in the can that’s called Team Bolden,” he told me, “and it’s about the birthing of jazz.

It’s a period piece, a very cool piece. I’m (also) working with developing a project from American gothic writer Flannery O’Conner called A Good Man is Hard to Find. My buddy has had the rights to that for a long time. It’s early on. We’re getting money, getting investors and going to make it, so that’s always fun. It’s not a big studio movie, so it’s going to be our own movie.

It’ll be one of those things, like a labor of love. Then I’m also looking into projects that people are coming to me with. My payday has increased, and I always look for something that’s going to be beneficial in that regard and also be challenging for me as an artist.”

WHEN I MENTIONED THAT we seem to be living in the age of the anti-hero, Rooker let out another a huge laugh. “We’re in the Rooker Age, then,” he said, “because I’m your quintessential anti-hero. When you think about it, that really ends up being my forte.”

“I’m one of these 35-year overnight successes,” he adds. “Me and my friends talk about it and laugh about it. They’ve been – and I’ve been – working for a long time in this business. Actors, you know, what we really do in between gigs is we work at working. I just keep going; I just keep working, and work to get to work.

Sometimes it’s a big movie; sometimes it’s a little movie. Right now, the big ones are still coming down the chute. If it gets on my plate and I like it and it looks good, I’ll do it, you know?” These days, it’s more likely that he’ll do projects as a featured performer than as a “tag-along.”

“It’s like when you’re driving down the highway,” he concludes. “I would much prefer to drive than to fly. Like (when) we were hauling ass with those truckers. They would just go on and on and on and on and on and on. There’s no stopping for a milkshake, stopping for a snack. I bring my snacks and my drinks all with me in a cooler.

And if I need a snack or a drink, I get it and I move on down the road. If I have to
stop for a break, I’ll stop for a break, and then I’ll hop back on the highway and keep going. I’m a four-wheeling kind of driver. I can keep up with the best of them.”

Story by Craig Hodgkins
Photos from Marvel/Disney

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Could you survive three AR15 rounds to the Chest?

A gun specialist and a trauma specialist gives us an answer by reproducing a scene from the 1986 war film, Platoon. With the assistance of a fast camera, we will get a good idea on the degree of harm. The M16 slug 5.56 (.223) is known for its “tumble” which is essentially what causes the harm.

Nonetheless, while most lead center slugs do this after they enter the tissue, the M16’s speed also adds to the injuries. From a distance of 30 feet, what will happen to the ballistic gel mannequin? What will be the impact to the imperative organs? Let’s see!



Video Transription
Paul Dalby is a weapon’s expert with more than 30 years’ experience testing firearms and explosives.

“What I’m holding here is the iconic M16 Assault Rifle. This particular example being a Vietnam veteran. It’s a 5.56 caliber weapon, fed from a 20-round box magazine. It’s accurate to 500 meters, and fires at a rate of 700 rounds per minute.”

To show the damage caused by a single M16 bullet to the human body, Paul will fire into a block of Ballistic gel that has the same density as human tissue. A high-speed camera shows the extent of the damage caused by the bullet.

Adam Brooks is a trauma surgeon and expert in ballistic injuries. He’s treated similar wounds on the battlefield and will be examining the extent of the bullet’s impact.

“This Ballistic Gel is very much like incising tissues of the body, and I’ll try and cut along the track of this round, so we can get an idea of the damage that it’s done. So here’s the entry of the bullet, for the first five or six centimeters, very little in the way of destruction or damage to tissues, but then as the round slows down and turns on its side in the tissue, we get this cavitation effect. All the energy’s dumped into the body, and you get tearing and huge amount of trauma to tissues. And then finally, you can see how the round has twisted, turned on its axis to the point where it’s pointing backwards here and come to rest, still within the body.”

If just a single shot from an M16 rifle causes such devastation to a human body, what will be the effect of tree direct hits to the chest?

To recreate the scene from Platoon, this Ballistic gel mannequin will represent Sargent Elias. Inside are representations of the vital organs: The heart and lungs, liver, and kidneys. Paul will be firing in semiautomatic mode from a distance of 30 feet. The same shooting distance as in the movie.

“Weapon clear.”

Every one of Paul’s bullets hit their mark, but have they missed the vital organs, as they did in Platoon?

“He’s been hit low down, just taking the edge of the kidney out, and that’s going to bleed, you can see the blood around the model. He’s got two other injuries, here and here. Both of which have caught the edge of the right lung. Although the lung has been deflated a little bit, it’s not an immediately life-threatening injury.”

So Elias could have survived Barns’ assault, to later reappear from the jungle, only to meet his maker at the hands of enemy fire. But after surviving three bullets to the chest, would Elias really have been able to run into the clearing?

“Elias could have got up and run, for a period of time.”

Sources: Smithsonian Channel, Paul Dalby, Adam Brookes


Is Keanu Reeves Really a Badass at Shooting?

Watching gunfights in the movies is very entertaining and fun.
Though we know Hollywood is fame for its theatrics and cool gunfight choreographs. Keanu Reeves is one actor that does a great job of keeping it real with precision and speed.

For the upcoming movie of John Wick: Chapter 2, actor Keanu Reeves beefed up his training from Taran Butler of Taran Tactical Training. Keanu puts in some trigger time in a fast pace fashion. He dedicated himself to three times a week of practical gunfighting shooting similar to what you see in 3 Gun Nation. Perfection at its finest, for you 3GN fans is Keanu Reeves shooting worthy?, let us know below in the comment.

https://www.facebook.com/511Tactical/videos/10155155738847871/

Video Transcription
Taran Tactical Training

Taran: People want realism, they want the real deal, and that’s what’s happening with John Wick Chapter 2. [shooting]

It is setting the bar so far beyond any shootout stuff you’ll ever see in a movie. It’ll blow your mind.

JJ Perry: When I got a call from the director, saying ‘what can I do to make two better?’ I said, ‘well, we have to make Keyanu Reeves better’, and the only way to do that is to train him harder. As soon as I met Taran I saw him shoot and I was like, ‘this is our guy’.

Rochelle: When it comes to actors, Taran can deliberate his actions, when he can watch someone do one run, and he can pinpoint every problem that you have, and he can relate it so simply that it is ingrained quick.

JJ: We brought Keyanu out here three times a week, and his growth with gunplay, it was almost exponential. Every other time he would come here.

Taran: He got really good over a period of five or six training sessions, and he is hands-down the best weapons actor out there right now.

JJ: And I attribute that directly to Taran Butler’s skills as an instructor.

“Six nine two!”

Sources: 5.11 Facebook, Taran Tactical Training, Taran Butler, Keanu Reeves

Caged Hunter

[su_heading size=”30″]CHAD ‘MONEY’ MENDES BALANCES A DYNAMIC CAREER INSIDE THE UFC’S OCTAGON WITH A PASSION FOR THE OUTDOORS[/su_heading]

STORY BY BRAD FITZPATRICK • PHOTOS BY CHAD MENDES 

It’s difficult to imagine two more different environments than the UFC Octagon and the Sierra Nevada mountain range in autumn. It may be harder to imagine that anyone could feel equally at home in both places.

Everything in and surrounding the ring – the bright lights, screaming crowds, intrusive cameras and Octagon Girls – can dazzle and distract, yet none of it merits a moment of Chad “Money” Mendes’ attention when he circles an opponent. Inside the cage, a moment’s distraction is all that is required for the top fighters in the world to take you down.

Compare that frenzied environment with the giant old-growth forests of northern California, where the silence can be as overwhelming as the Octagon’s noise.

Two different worlds, worlds apart. And Mendes belongs to both.

To truly understand this perplexing puzzle, you must focus on what the ring and the woods have in common, not what makes them different. In both the Octagon and the backcountry, your senses are honed to a fine edge. That’s part of what it takes to survive in these respective environments. Fighting and hunting also offer physical challenges, and if you disagree, you’re probably not hunting like Chad Mendes, who prides himself on finding big bucks and big bulls that others can’t because he goes places others won’t.

Mendes learned to hunt by following in his father Alvin’s footsteps. Today, he hunts right beside him (left). On this trip, they were joined by Mendes’ fiancee Abby Raines.
Mendes learned to hunt by following in his father Alvin’s footsteps. Today, he hunts right beside him (left). On this trip, they were joined by Mendes’ fiancee Abby Raines.

BUT PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT thread connecting the wilderness and the Octagon, for Mendes at least, is that both sturdy strands tie directly back to his father, Alvin. For Mendes’ two great loves—wrestling and the outdoors – were shared with his father from a very young age.

“At five years old, my father made us bows from the fiberglass poles that mount on ATVs,” Mendes recalls, laughing a little at the thought. “He made arrows, and we shot targets in the backyard. Later, it was BB guns, shooting cans off hay bales.”

Mendes remembers going to school and waiting impatiently to get back home so he could shoot until darkness forced him indoors, where he would go to sleep anticipating the next day … and the next shot.

Mendes frequently fishes the Sacramento River near his home for fall Chinook and other species.
Mendes frequently fishes the Sacramento River near his home for fall Chinook and other species.

Something else entered Mendes’ life at age five, and that was wrestling. He brought that same focus and dedication to the sport that he brought to shooting and hunting, and once again, his father was right beside him.

“My father coached me in wrestling from the age of five through high school,” Mendes says. Apparently, the elder Mendes did a pretty good job, as Chad went on to become one of the best high school wrestlers to ever hail from central California. (He was raised in the small town of Hanford.) At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, he earned two PAC-10 championships and was named a two-time D-1 All-American.

While still in high school, Mendes met fellow wrestler Urijah Faber, and during his summers home from college he helped Faber conduct wrestling clinics. After finishing up at Cal Poly, Mendes traveled to Sacramento to train with Faber full-time as part of Team Alpha Male.
Throughout his college and UFC career, Mendes has been known for an intense physical training regimen that helps the 31-year-old stay in top condition. But when he isn’t training, Mendes is often in the woods, and it has been that way since he was a boy.IMG_0715

HE BEGAN BY FOLLOWING HIS FATHER through the forest, learning to move silently and to watch for game. Soon, Mendes’ woods training began to progress. He took his hunter safety course and began chasing blacktails in the Sierras with a bow and a rifle. And although he’s hunted all over the world for a variety of game, the diminutive blacktail still holds a place in his heart.

“Some people ask me why I hunt them,” Mendes says. “They’re small, but I enjoy it. I’ve always enjoyed hunting blacktails. There are big bucks out there, but they’re a challenge to find.”

Mendes faces some pretty tough opponents inside the Octogan as well as outside; he took this Florida gator (above) with a bow during a hunt with Triple M Outfitters. But intense workouts with trainer Joey Rodrigues keep him in top condition.
Mendes faces some pretty tough opponents inside the Octogan as well as outside; he took this Florida gator (above) with a bow during a hunt with Triple M Outfitters. But intense workouts with trainer Joey Rodrigues keep him in top condition.

If you imagine that Mendes’ other passion – the one that puts him in the crosshairs of some of the most dangerous men on the planet – has hardened him to the killing of game, you’re wrong. He doesn’t hunt for the kill, and he respects the game. His father taught him that, and if you haven’t figured out by now, Chad Mendes listens to what his father says. It’s served him well so far.

“He has been in my corner for about the last ten fights, and that’s been great.” But on a recent elk hunt in Utah the roles were reversed, and Chad suddenly found himself as the corner man for his father.

“This big bull came in, maybe 355 or 360 [points]. A six-by-seven,” Mendes says with a laugh. “Dad was getting ready to shoot and I was videoing. I had to calm him down, tell him to relax. It was great.”

As previously mentioned, the challenge of being in peak physical condition has served Mendes well as a professional athlete. But it’s also served him as a hunter, and that same drive to compete – primarily against himself – compels Mendes to hunt harder and to travel on foot into more remote country.

Today, instead of following at his dad’s heels, Mendes blazes trails into country where few hunters are willing to go, and that’s where Mendes finds some outstanding trophies. He’s had great success with both blacktails and big Ohio whitetails, and he counts elk among his favorite species to hunt with both a bow and a rifle. Northern California is also home to some excellent game country, and there Mendes chases turkeys and wild hogs. He’s also been to New Zealand, where he’s hunted fallow deer and red stags.

Mendes is equally comfortable taking on large game with a gun or a bow. Here he poses with an aoudad, or Barbary, sheep.
Mendes is equally comfortable taking on large game with a gun or a bow. Here he poses with an aoudad, or Barbary, sheep.

HIS UFC TRAINING DOESN’T ALLOW Much free time, but Mendes devotes a portion of each day to some hunting- or fishing-related activity.

“If I’m not hunting, I’m shooting or I’m out scouting,” he says. That same drive that has compelled him to become one of the most watched fighters is the same passion that drives him to hunt where there are no crowds, no reporters and no cameras. Well, sometimes there are no cameras; Mendes is a regular on outdoor television shows, and he’s also a member of Team Weatherby.

This gobbler was no match for Mendes’ patience and determination.
This gobbler was no match for Mendes’ patience and determination.

Mendes has been lucky – blessed, in his words – to have had the opportunity to turn his passion for wrestling into a profitable career, and for someone who has received many honors, he’s remained humble. But fighting for a living does not make for a long career. Each bout takes a physical toll, and there are always new, younger fighters coming up.

Hunting is all about family with Mendes, and he’s often accompanied by Abby and his dad, who also sparked his interest in wrestling at a young age.
Hunting is all about family with Mendes, and he’s often accompanied by Abby and his dad, who also sparked his interest in wrestling at a young age.

Although he is currently sidelined because of a rules infraction for taking a banned substance, Mendes has made it clear to his fans and the world that the substance wasn’t a steroid but rather a peptide found in, oddly enough, medication for plaque psoriasis.

Mendes will surely fight again, but for how long, even he doesn’t know.

Finz & Featherz Guide Service is Mendes’ newest project. The service provides hunters and anglers the opportunity to fish and hunt with a variety of celebrities.
Finz & Featherz Guide Service is Mendes’ newest project. The service provides hunters and anglers the opportunity to fish and hunt with a variety of celebrities.

“There’s no retirement system for fighters,” he says. For that reason it’s critical to make wise investments for the future, and Mendes is doing just that. He’s started Finz and Featherz Outfitters (finzandfeatherz.com), which offers hunters and anglers a rare opportunity to go on a hunting or fishing trip with a celebrity. Several of Mendes’ fellow MMA fighters go on these trips, including Faber, T.J. Dillashaw and Paige Van Zant, as do other professional athletes and celebrities from outside the Octagon.

For hunters and anglers, Finz and Featherz provides a once-in-a-lifetime chance to pursue big fish and big game while rubbing elbows with some of their heroes. For Mendes, it’s an opportunity to launch a second career, one that will make him that rare guy who is able to earn a livelihood from not just one, but from two great passions.

But Mendes won’t brag about it. He’ll just smile, and say that he’s blessed. ASJ

Hailing from California’s Central Valley and best known as a UFC fighter, Chad Mendes also enjoys traveling far in search of great hunting. He took this red stag in New Zealand.
Hailing from California’s Central Valley and best known as a UFC fighter, Chad Mendes also enjoys traveling far in search of great hunting. He took this red stag in New Zealand.

The Gunfather – Family, Freedom & Firearms

[su_heading size=”28″ margin=”0″]The Gunfather[/su_heading]

Family Freedom & Firearms

Outdoor Channel’s Most Popular New Series 

Story by Frank Jardim

[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]I[/su_dropcap]f you have not yet seen The Gunfather presented by Brownells on Outdoor Channel, you’re missing out on some fun family television that brings back the value-oriented programming reminiscent of the Andy Griffith Show. In its first season last year, it won the network’s Golden Moose Award for Best General Interest Show, and was renewed for 2016.

Louie learned to work with his hands at the urging of his father during his early teens. It’s a skill that suits him well today with vintage cars and heirloom firearms.

Louie is quick to acknowledge that everything he has accomplished has been a family team effort.

The Gunfather is about Louie Tuminaro and his close-knit Italian family, native New Yorkers who moved to Hamilton, Mont., to pursue Louie’s dream of creating the best gun store in the West, together. There are three generations of Tuminaros on the show: Louie (51 years old), the Gunfather, and Theresa (48), his wife of 24 years and who is nicknamed T-Bone; Louie’s dad Joe (77), who is called Pops; and Louie and Theresa’s kids, “Little” Louie (14) and daughters Nicole (20) and Allie (22), round out the extended family. Louie’s firearms business, the Custom Shop Inc., is a family operation and we see the Tuminaros in action working together to get things done. Louie is the driving creative force that made the Custom Shop a reality in 2007, but he is quick to tell you that the Tuminaros are a team, and moreover, he loves his team.

Thanks to Pops, Louie learned to work on cars and guns. Those hobbies turned fascination to business, turned TV show. Louie’s father has always been an avid hunter, competitive shooter and gun collector.
Three generations of Tuminaros – “Little” Louie, Louie, and Joe, or Pops – demonstrate everything this family is about: being and creating together.

Louie’s focus at the Custom Shop is mainly buying, selling and restoring high-quality collectible firearms from the 1940s through the early 1980s – where there’s strong nostalgic interest – as well as sought-after out-of-production classics like Colt’s snake guns: Python, Cobra and the Anaconda. In addition to all of this, he wanted to do for firearm enthusiasts something akin to what custom-car shops do for car buffs. The firearm restoration services he offers are extensive. Louie is particularly passionate about restoration work because, from his point of view, he isn’t working on just any gun. The firearms on his workbench are someone’s precious family heirlooms. Clients aren’t looking to increase collector value of their restored guns, but rather restore the appearance and function for personal enjoyment. They bring their treasured guns to the Custom Shop because Louie has a reputation for candid assessment of what can and can’t be achieved in a restoration and surrounds himself with exceptionally talented artisans to execute the work. When Louie opened up his shop in Hamilton, which is located in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, he discovered a wealth of local talent that shared his interest in this level of firearms work and perfectionism – people like Pam Wheeler, the checkering queen, who has been hand cutting checkering for 30 years.

Louie and Pops are both self-taught gunsmiths and do most of the typical mechanical repairs, fine-metal polishing and refinishing in house. They also have their own stock-duplicating machine that can reproduce any gunstock accurately. Though they can make any gunstock for a customer, Louie explains that it isn’t always economically practical. It requires lots of hand sanding, inletting, fitting hardware and finishing. The result can be a stock that costs more than the rifle it’s being installed on. On restorations, they will try to preserve and repair the original wooden stock whenever possible. They keep duplicated stocks, identical to the factory originals and fitted with original hardware, for the more common collectible rifles – for example pre-64 Model 70 Winchesters – on hand all the time. When more elaborately figured wood blanks are used to make stocks for the highest grade rifles, prices can run up to $3,500, but that’s not a lot when the rifle is worth $15,000. The Custom Shop sells several stocks a week, mostly to customers who have had theirs broken during the course of shipping by common carrier. In addition to the stocks Louie crafts with his own hands, he has scores of new old-stock-original replacements for top-end Browning, Sako, Colt Sauer, Weatherby and J.P. Sauer and Sohn‘s rifles ranging from $400 to $3,500.

Louie says he got his love of shooting and skills from Pops. They were a working-class Long Island family. They weren’t poor, but they didn’t have much money. Louie and his little sister Lisa walked to public school, and their parents taught them traditional values, the importance of hard work, integrity and respect. Pops made a career with the Ford Motor Company in sales, and once Louie turned 10, Pops brought him to work every Saturday to help out washing cars and doing the jobs a kid could do. Louie developed a serious love for cars at that time, which he still has to this day. Pops taught him what a proper work ethic looked like and encouraged him to develop skills with his hands. Together these things led to a healthy confidence and a liberating realization that he could do things for himself.

Outdoor Channel films the Tuminaro family in their daily life without scripts or prompts.

For teenage Louie, the realization came the day the water pump on his 1972 Chevelle Super Sport quit. Instead of taking it to the repair shop, Pops took Louie to the auto-parts store and let him fix it for himself. When Louie reached his early 20s, he asked Pops to help him get an entry-level job at an auto customizing shop because the creativity and variety of the work was irresistible to him. Within two years Louie was managing the place. It was during this time that he met Theresa, who changed his life for the better in countless ways. They were inseparable and a perfect match. Louie calls her his rock. A rock is the best foundation to build on, and build they did.

“Little” Louie teaches his dad a thing or two about precision shooting.

It wasn’t long before Louie decided to go into business for himself. The work ethic, skill and confidence he learned as a boy continued to pay off and he soon had the largest car-audio equipment business in Suffolk County, N.Y. It was the first of many successes. Theresa would later manage their sports bar while raising their daughters. Pops, in addition to being a car man, was an avid gun collector, hunter and competitive pistol and shotgun shooter. Louie grew up watching with curious fascination as his father worked on guns on the kitchen table. When he got old enough, he was working beside his father, and the two enjoyed being a part of the shooting and hunting fraternity, which is large and vibrant in Long Island despite what anti-gun politicians from New York would have you believe. They hunted and vacationed in upstate New York, and Louie quickly got Theresa enthusiastically involved in the shooting sports too. When the kids came, they were naturally raised as shooters. The family hobby laid the ground work for the family business to come.

Daughter Nicole keeps the tuminaro heritage alive with her love of firearms and shooting skills by rockin’ the clay field.

Louie had actually entertained the notion of going into a firearms business for several years before the golden opportunity finally presented itself. He’d made a lot of contacts in the community through the course of buying and selling guns that interested him, but it was the sale of his business that was the major catalyst for the career change. For the first time in his life, Louie had financial resources and time at his disposal simultaneously. At that time, Theresa had concerns that the neighborhood they lived in and loved was not headed in a direction they wanted for their children, and Louie had been charmed by the West during the time he’d spent hunting there. One day, Louie just walked through the front door and told Theresa that he thought they should consider moving to Montana and open a gun store. She was looking for houses on the Internet that same night. Theresa’s support buoyed Louie up for this bold move. Truth be told, the prospect of leaving everything they had known behind them scared her, but she had confidence in her husband, and saw a great opportunity to grow as a family. Pops, by then retired, was likewise supportive. Louie did his research and planning with their help and they left a life on the Atlantic shores of Long Island to set up a new family business venture in Big Sky Country, in full view of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains. “We grouped together as a family and ran this company,” Louie told me. “We started it, designed it and created it. We did everything as a family. I consider us all a part of this.”

The Custom Shop, as a physical location, is an artistic expression of the family. It was intended to look as if it had been in business on that little old-town street for a century. The interior was built with reclaimed lumber and decoratively peppered with just enough taxidermy and vintage Western decor to give it a 19th century style but with a modern flair. Custom Shop’s signature 10-foot outdoor-sculpted sign featuring a huge Colt cap-and-ball revolver next to the words Custom Shop was the product of Louie’s imagination and several months work.

Nicknamed T-Bone, Theresa is a driving force in the Tuminaro household and business, and that’s a good thing.

As a business, Custom Shop became a huge success with international clientele. A great deal of that comes from the Tuminaros’ basic business philosophy. “We put all our heart into what we do,” Louie says. “A lot of our business is repeat customers and referrals because when you treat somebody right, you’ve got them forever. It’s very important that you win the trust of your customers. The only surprises I want my customers to have are good ones. If I say a gun is 98 percent, it’s probably really 99 percent.”

 

Seventy percent of Custom Shop gun sales are via their website, which is exceptional because each firearm they offer is presented for online customer inspection using five to 10 excellent digital photographs. These images are professionally staged and extremely detailed. Derek Poff, the man responsible for them and a show regular, has 20 years experience behind the camera.

PHOTO 7 2013-03-29 09.49.17While Louie and Pops are working on guns or away with little Louie scouring gun shows and estate sales across the country for marketable firearms, Theresa is the public face and voice of the Custom Shop. When you call, you talk to T-Bone. If you want something, you’d be wise to tell her because when she says that she’ll be on the look out, she’s 100 percent serious. She created and maintains what she calls “T-Bone’s Watch List” located on a corkboard behind her desk. When the boys bring home the gun you want, you will get a call from her and the first right of refusal. This takes a lot of mental energy and time, but it shows just how seriously the Tuminaros take customer service.

The Tuminaros are all NRA members, and Theresa came up with the slogan “Family, Freedom and Firearms” to describe the things that are most important to them. The thing that sold Outdoor Channel on The Gunfather was that it is really a case study in successful, multi-generational parenting. For the Tuminaros, shooting and other outdoor sporting activities were the family recreational outlets, so it was a perfect fit for the network. Viewers enjoyed the insights into the firearms business, but the more compelling aspect of the show was the genuineness of the Tuminaros just being a family. Louie says, “We love Outdoor Channel for letting us share our family with America. They don’t script us. They let us do what we do. What you see is who we are. When you see me kiss my father and tell him I love him when he’s leaving, well, I do that every day.” When viewers see Louie put aside the gun business for an afternoon to support his son in his first paying job outside the family, it is very clear that The Gunfather puts being a father far ahead of guns. Family comes first, exactly like Theresa says.

If all this sounds refreshing for television, by all means tune in to Outdoor Channel on Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. to watch the second season that started on Dec. 28. If you want your family heirloom firearms restored or to buy or sell collectable guns, contact Theresa. If you become a fan of the show, and I suspect you will, make sure to thank her because she’s the one who made it happen. The day Louie walked in and said “I think we should be on TV,” she got on the phone and cold-called Outdoor Channel, miraculously got connected to a show producer (that just doesn’t happen), and won him over on the idea of a program about their family. Is it any wonder why Louie has been so successful? Between Theresa and Pops, how could he fail? ASJ

Editor’s note: You can visit the Custom Shop online at customshopinc.com.

Exclusive Interview with Frank and Lally HOUSE

HOUSE WEB Cover design

 

Interview By Frank Jardim

Photographs by Rick Lambert and John Oliver

Two centuries ago, just as today, most tradesmen were simply mechanics who churned out serviceable work to meet commercial demands. True artists were few and far between, but it is the artists’ imagination and skill that allows them to make things of exceptional beauty and genius.

HH (19)-min
Two lifetimes of passionately researching American culture have provided Frank and Lally House with the knowledge to create their own unique, historically relevant pieces, to the highest artistic standards of any era. (RICK LAMBERT)
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Frank and Lally House often work together to create extraordinary, historically informed, multi-media artworks like swords and “frogs” (a sword holder), knives and scabbards, and rifles and slings. Their work is simply exquisite. (JOHN OLIVER).

Frank and Lally House are artists. Though they specialize in traditional trades of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, their work far exceeds that of typical artisans. Frank creates Kentucky rifles, tomahawks, swords, knives and powder horns and Lally works with brain-tanned deer House Frank and lally fireplace-min
hides and 18th century dyestuffs to create a nearly lost Native American Indian art form of porcupine quillwork and moose-hair embroidery. Both create almost all of their art from raw base materials in the same manner as they were created centuries ago. When not creating, you might find Frank and Lally at the House Frank and Lally in workshop-minContemporary Longrifle Association (CLA) gatherings, an organization dedicated to preserving the knowledge of American gun makers and associated arts from colonial times through to the early republic. Recently, the Houses shared some of their observations and experiences as artists who might just have been born 200 years too late.

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Subtle and delicate engraving on the captured lid “box” created with traditional tools (chasing hammer and burin). Notice the bone “eyes” with coin-silver bezels where attaching screws are normally found. (RICK LAMBERT)

American Shooting Journal How did you get involved with creating historic weapons and accoutrements?
Frank House My older brother Hershel started this all off. He was born in 1941, so he’s somewhat older than I am, and my younger brother John and I spent our young life watching him work, hanging around his work bench, burning up all his coal in the forge and turning all of his scrap wood on the wood lathe and all that stuff. So, we’ve been in this since we were kids. Hershel started building rifles full time in 1966 and then founded the Woodbury gun-making school with hard work and dogged determination. His greatest contribution was inspiring those of us who grabbed that torch. He’s got a great imagination; never followed somebody else’s lead, and I picked that up from him. It’s one thing to copy a knife or a rifle or tomahawk, but it is another thing to come up with the concept from scratch and design your own artwork, your own engraving patterns and your own patch boxes and architecture. The tricky part is keeping it historically relevant.

ASJ I’ve read that the drop in demand for gun makers after the wartime needs of the American Revolution led to an increase of competition amongst craftsmen.
FH Absolutely! Competition and isolation fed a lot into that. Sometimes these guys were secluded in their own little enclaves and they had to rely on their own inspiration. They couldn’t go down the street to someone else’s shop and borrow their pattern. They had to develop their own styles.

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Each piece and part of this rifle is a “one off” and hand made. (RICK LAMBERT)
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The warm tone of the nitric-acidstained, curly maple stock is complemented by the gold-lined pan and “touch hole.” (RICK LAMBERT)

ASJ How do you go about creating a rifle?
FH I have to come up with the concept first. I have to say, I want to create a rifle from this period in this caliber for this client who would have to come into my shop. He might want a .50-caliber rifle to hunt bear with or a target rifle that he’s going to take to the local shooting matches to impress his friends. I have to put myself into that frame of mind. I try to build a rifle based on what I would have had to look at, say, Thomas Simpson’s work or John Wilson’s (gun makers from eras gone by). What would I be building if that was my input? If that was what I was looking at and that was what I was seeing and surrounded by, what would I do? How would I make my work different, but still influenced by these guys? That’s the mindset I use.

House Frank Workbench 3-min
Franks tools and tool bench are in and of themselves a step back in time. (JOHN OLIVER)

ASJ In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, weren’t rifles a means of displaying a man’s social standing?
FH At that time there weren’t many ways of demonstrating your wealth; one was your plantation house. People always misconstrue the meaning of that. It just means a large farmhouse. A man’s house, horse and rifle were the only ways he had to show who he was, and they took a lot of pride in those things. Now we have cars and speedboats, new iPhones and flat-screen TVs.

ASJ The depth of your historic research is impressive. You’re more informed on early American history than my university professor.
FH I quit school in my junior year of high school, and I enjoyed it so much I went back for my senior year and quit again. Some people are cut out for academia and I’m not one of them. However, I’ve been exposed to historic weapons and accoutrements for 40 years. I’ve been a full-time artist since 1988 and Lally since 1990. I do a lot of restoration work on original weapons, tomahawks, the whole thing, so I get the opportunity to handle and take pieces apart to see how the work was done. It all contributes to education.

House Frank workbench 2-minASJ Neither you nor your brothers started out doing this. How did you come to the decision to make your living creating historically inspired pieces of Americana? I read that you were a boilermaker – nothing seems farther away from being an artist. The boilermakers I knew were rugged, plain-spoken union men who liked sports and drinking beer.
FH I still like sports and drinking beer [smiles]. My father was a boilermaker and my grandfather an iron worker. We came from a long line of heavy construction. I was actually national graduate apprentice of the year in 1985 among all the new journeyman in the country. I was a good boilermaker. I was a wonderful welder, but there’s something that won’t come out in a welding rod. There’s something in you that absolutely has to come out. You can’t help it and if you don’t let it out, you’re a miserable son-of-a-bitch.

House Frank gun at show-min
A HOUSE Rifle on display at the 2015 NRA Meetings and Exhibits in Nashville, Tenn. (JOHN OLIVER)

ASJ Did your father think you were crazy quitting a good-paying union job?
FH Yep. My father never had an artistic bone in his body. He was one of the hardest working men I’d ever met. My mother was artistically inclined. She was a country music songwriter and musician.

ASJ Hasn’t this type of gunmaking always been a custom business, with clients coming in with their special requirements and having their rifles made to order?
FH Yes, but our work is in such demand, actually, that as long as it’s good it will sell, and our work is always good. We simply don’t turn out substandard work. We spend the time. That’s one reason we’re not as financially successful as some people think we should be, but no weapon leaves our shop until it’s finished. At this point, hell, I could take ten rifles to a show and probably sell five of them, maybe all ten, but then I only make two a year.

ASJ To say your work is good is quite an understatement. You don’t just make rifles either.
House Lally Beaded strap close up-minFH I also do restoration and knife work and a few other things. Hershel makes guns in addition to his knife work. John is primarily a knife and sheath maker and Lally is “eye ball” deep in her porcupine-quill work and moose-hair embroidery.

ASJ So there aren’t now and never will be a whole lot of House rifles out there?
FH Nope. Never will be. Hershel in his career, early on, did a lot of simpler, plainer mountain rifles and things like that to pay the bills getting started, but after he got his legs under him and got his mojo working, he slowed down. These guns are a tremendous amount of work. One of the things that makes this a very difficult occupation is that you literally have to master six, eight, 10 different vocations to be able to build a rifle from start to finish by yourself. You have to be a pretty damn good blacksmith, an architect, and you have to do some engineering work because all the mechanical aspects of the rifle have got to work. You have to be a House Frank Workbench-minfoundryman, a carver, an engraver, a silversmith and a goldsmith. There’s a whole lot involved in making a rifle, and it takes a lifetime to master it. That’s one reason there’s not a lot of people who do it. If you’re talented enough to build a rifle from start to finish, there are a whole hell of a lot of other things you can do that can make a whole lot more money. I’m just being honest.

House Frank Drawing-min

 

 

 

House Frank Engraving-min
Frank painstakingly hand engraves each design and letter. (JOHN OLIVER)

 

 

 

ASJ The rifles you make now are not the basic weapons that the
average guy looking to hack himself out a homestead on the frontier would buy. They are the high-end
pieces that would have been commissioned by the most successful and wealthy landowners. Back in 1790, fine guns like that would have taken a master gunmaker a half a year to build too.
FH Exactly right, and that’s one reason why these really great rifles are so rare. Because there wasn’t a great deal of them built to begin with. Only a handful of really great guns have survived.

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A bimetal name plate (gold and coin silver) proudly displays the gun maker’s and owner’s names. (RICK LAMBERT)

 

 

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Anywhere one cares to look, the attention to detail is impressive, as demonstrated on the “entry thimble” and carving surround. (RICK LAMBERT)

 

 

ASJ You have a depth knowledge of American culture that most museum professionals will never have. How did you and Lally get involved with Hollywood, where they have a reputation for never letting the facts get in the way of a good story?
House Frank Talking with hands-minFH It’s a strange story. Randy Wilkenson, a friend of ours in Los Angeles who was working on the film The Patriot, brought in a rifle I’d made him and a horn strap that Lally made for a prop department show-and-tell where the director looked over all the props to decide what he liked and didn’t like. The director said he wanted our pieces for the movie. Wilkenson said he couldn’t have them because they were his own personal pieces. The director asked him, “Well, who made these, because I want them to do this for us.” That’s how it started. Then Mark Baker (a subject matter historian and writer) and I went down there and did the gun training for Mel Gibson, Jason Issacs, Heath Ledger and all the actors, and did a really good job for them. They got my name in their rolodex. We went from there to Master and Commander and Pirates of the Caribbean and even Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, for which Lally and I did all the monkey war clubs, spears and staffs props to give them an aged Neolithic look. I’m up to 16 shows now. Some of them major, some of them minor but all of them pretty big productions.

HH (11)-min

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Rifle strap and sling inspired by the artwork of Chickasaw Nation artisans. This truly fantastic piece represents hundreds of hours of painstaking work by Lally House using brain-tanned leather, natural dyestuffs and porcupine quills. (RICK LAMBERT)
House Lally Bag at show close up-min
“Moose-hair embroidery started in Canada in the early 1600s by French Loretto nuns,” explains Lally House. “French Jesuits set up schools for the Huron Indian women. The nuns who taught there, like most French women of that time, had done embroidery since they were little bitty girls and learned about porcupine quill embroidery from the local Indians. Needing a means of support for their schools and unable to get proper French silk embroidery floss, the nuns ingeniously took part of the mane off of the moose. Maybe one in fifteen moose has a section of mane that is solid white, about 3 inches wide and 6 inches long. The hair was cleaned and dyed in the same way the Indians dyed their quills. The nuns sent their work with the women of the tribes to Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Niagara to trade for the items they needed to operate the schools.” (JOHN OLIVER)

ASJ Lally, it seems to me that an unfortunate byproduct of today’s vast world market is that it has cheapened the value of handwork of all kinds, including art. What would have been a prized possession a century ago is now something you buy at the dollar story. Have you observed this too?
Lally House Yes. An example is Native American beadwork, which was once a highly collectible American art form until the Japanese started making loom beadwork. That changed the whole game for the really good bead workers out there. Because shop owners and importers brought in cheaper Asian-made products, people started to feel that the American handwork wasn’t that important of an item. I’m so glad they don’t do anything with quill work or moose-hair embroidery.

Page 5 Lally quilling
Lally tediously embroiders porcupine quills with moose-hair. (JOHN OLIVER)

House JUST Quills Background-min

ASJ Embarrassed to admit my own ignorance, I had never heard of this art form until I saw your work.
LH Porcupine quill and moose-hair embroidery were almost extinct as art forms by 1800 when European-made glass beads became the dominant trade item with the native tribes on the America frontier. It’s not hard to understand how this almost happened 200 years ago. A handful of brightly colored glass beads was easy to store and the Indians didn’t have to do the preliminary work that goes along with quills and moose hair. Imagine having to trap the porcupine, pluck and clean the quills, gather the natural dyes and dye the quills before you can even get started.

House Close up of Lally Quills bag-min
This intricate detail portrays what is unthinkably possible with porcupine quills and moose hair media. (JOHN OLIVER)

 

 

Page 2 Lally workbench
Dyed porcupine quills on Lally’s work bench ready to be embroidered. (JOHN OLIVER)

ASJ So, porcupine quill and moose hair embroidered items were commodities?
LH
The pre-1800 eastern woodland Indians commonly used quill and moose hair embroidery to decorate their personal items. Since it was so popular as a decorative art, it was a highly valued trade item between individuals and tribes. They made a lot of what we would consider tourist-souvenir decorative items, like wallets that would be hung on the wall to hold important personal items, pin cushions, eye-glass cases, picture frames and anything you can imagine that a European or Native American might want. More traditional items would be powder-horn straps, hunting bags and knife scabbards.


ASJ
How many artists still do this type
of embroidery?
LH There’s probably less than a dozen of us who do Eastern Woodland Indian-style work. Of that dozen, maybe five or six of us make our sole living this way. For many, many years, I was the only person using all-original 18th century natural dies, the same dyes used in early settlements and
Woodland Tribes.House Lally hands working-min

 

House Lucy
Lucy HOUSE – Curator

ASJ How did you get started in this esoteric art form?
LH I grew up in Louisville. I had a great history teacher in 4th grade who sparked my interest and I learned how to do research from some elderly ladies in my local branch library. I found a book on quillwork and the rest I had to learn from studying surviving pieces in private collections and museums. My main goal is to ensure that this beautiful and culturally important
art form is kept alive. We aren’t just in jeopardy of losing an Indian art form, we are in jeopardy of losing a uniquely American art form. ASJ

Note: Those interested in helping Frank and Lally House preserve our nation’s history through the living art of its craftsman and women should consider supporting the Contemporary Longrifle Foundation. You can get more information at their website at ContemporaryLongrifleFoundation.org.

 

House Collage-min