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Scrapper
12/03/2008 3:41pm,
This installment of “The Wandering Monk” is a little slow in being released. While typically my fare is as light-hearted and fluffy as the downy coat of a newborn chick, your friend in our collective martial arts journey is a little reticent about this chapter. The truth is, there is much good to be extolled about the subject of this article. It is a venue where people can go to train, learn, and teach about a highly effective martial art. It is a place where practice is conducted in as alive a manner as prudence will allow, and the individuals who operate this establishment are active participants in the style.

The style? The style has many names. Colloquially it is often referred to as “RBSD,” “shooting,” and sometimes, “gun fu.” Of, course this is the most efficient way to defend yourself. It is far superior to virtually any form of unarmed combat. Guns kill people. To truly understand modern self-defense, you must at least understand the firearm. Even if you are a gun-hater who feels these harbingers of the apocalypse should be outlawed, you MUST when you find yourself in trouble, understand guns to achieve that oft-vaunted, and much-misunderstood “situation awareness.”

What is so bad about that? Lots of people shoot all the time, right? Why so reticent? Well, your humble sojourner attended a machine gun shoot at the Westfield Sportsman’s Club, in Westfield Massachusetts. Those of you alert readers who get the news know that at this particular event, an nine-year-old boy was killed when a firearms instructor and his father allowed the child to shoot a fully automatic micro Uzi. The child could not handle the recoil and muzzle rise of the 21-rounds-per-second firing rate (go figure), and succeeded in putting a 9mm round through his head in front of his Dad and some much-traumatized bystanders.

You can check the forums of Bullshido.net for the relevant thread on the subject for discussion purposes; but the Wandering Monk will say only this in judgment:
The event was extremely well staffed. The firing line was clearly demarcated, and safety procedures were efficient, enforced, and redundant. The only mistake that was made was the error in judgment by the instructor directly involved with the accident. If you do not know why an nine-year-old should not be shooting a 1250-rpm sub-machine pistol the size of a medium-frame handgun, then you need to stay away from the firing line until you do. While I did not personally observe small children with machine guns while I was there, there are reports that several other children were using these weapons as well. If the Wandering Monk has any criticism to dish out about the club and this event, then that would be it: nobody should have to be told that small-frame sub-machine pistols are not a good fit for small children. If you can’t figure that one out on your own, get a different hobby.

Poor judgment normally corrects itself; but when guns are involved, people get killed. This is not acceptable.

With preaching obligations fulfilled, the Wandering Monk can now report that he was otherwise extremely happy with the event. As my current training consists almost entirely of weightlifting and firearms, this outing was both illuminating and educational. Your humble chronicler-of-all-things-martial learned many valuable things. I learned that firing 50BMG from a Barrett M82A1 hurts your shoulder no more than a 12-gauge shotgun; thanks to a well-built gas-operated design. To give you some perspective, the actual percussion of the round was sufficient to blow the baseball cap off a handler standing 6 feet behind the shooter. I also learned that trying to hit a pumpkin at 75-100 yards with iron sights is tricky as hell; especially when you are nearly crapping yourself every time you squeeze the trigger. Dr. The Mrs Monk learned that those guys at Barrett did NOT design the weapon for dainty little girls with soft hands and tiny bodies. She was a trooper though, and now insists that I purchase her one of these fine rifles. Curse my vow of poverty...

I learned that a Dillon Minigun doesn’t sound like a gun at all. It sounds like a GIANT dirt bike. The rounds discharge in such rapid succession that they are indistinguishable as individual reports. I also learned that it was $115.00 for about 2.5 seconds worth of ammo. No, thank you!

Some of my favorite weapons were the old, Browning M2 50-cal WWII machine guns. You really don’t respect them until you see them in action. There is something positively terrifying about 8 rounds per second of the giant 50BMG bullet hurtling downrange to destroy all in its path. To watch the various refrigerators, microwaves, propane tanks (BOOM!), boats and trailers get absolutely SHREDDED by these venerable guns was just tremendous.

The AR-15s with the double-hung drum magazines were impressive as well. While certainly heavy, the thought of having a hundred rounds at your disposal, completely unencumbered by the inconvenience of reloading was enough to make the most pacifistic individual tilt his head and say, “I could really use one of those…”

Gun-lust notwithstanding, firearms are part of our world, and certainly relevant to the self-defense and martial arts culture. If realism, effectiveness, and efficiency are the hallmarks of quality self-defense systems, then you cannot disregard firearms training. Westfield has numerous instructors and experts on hand for any level of firearms training. They have three ranges for rifle work, and two for pistols. They also accommodate archery, if you are a more traditional guy. The wandering monk was obscenely jealous of the facilities available to club members. This is a well-staffed, well-equipped, and well-run club for the modern sportsman and firearm enthusiast. There has been a lot of fervor over the accident at this event, and the Club’s webpage is currently down. The Wandering Monk would hate to see these kind of events get canceled, but methinks perhaps a little more caution with regard to age limits is in order.

The Wandering Monk would love to give this club a perfect 10; and if the facilities and amenities were all they were being judged on they would have it. But the Wandering Monk evaluates ALL aspects of a club and its programs, and fatal judgment errors cannot be ignored. The Wandering Monk gives the Westfield Sportsman’s Club a 7 out of 10.

Scrapper
12/04/2008 8:37am,
Anyone else who was at the event feel free to chime in...

Scrapper
12/04/2008 8:39am,
Link to thread on accident:

http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=77420&highlight=micro

PointyShinyBurn
12/08/2008 10:59am,
The range instructors getting a kid's brain pan emptied only drops them to a seven out of ten? What would score a five, genocide?

Scrapper
12/08/2008 3:42pm,
I am evaluating the whole club. One accident in 60 years shouldn't tank the score. Stupid? Yes. Indicative of overall quality? No.

GoldenJonas
12/09/2008 12:22am,
Having graduated from Westfield State College back in '95 I can say that for Massachusetts standards, Westfield is about as "back-woods" as you can get in my home state state of MA. Point being, the occasions were many when listening to a townie spew NRA-Zealotry at one of the many local watering holes. The lapse in that instructors judgment was monumental, cataclysmic, and shows a complete lack of anything approaching common sense...yet sadly, not surprising.

That is a fucking horrific accident. I really feel for that family.

Sam Browning
12/09/2008 12:26am,
What's really scary is that the company which owned the machineguns is owned by a small town police chief from Connecticut who allegedly let an underage instructor supervise that particular customer.

Scrapper
12/09/2008 7:59am,
What's really scary is that the company which owned the machineguns is owned by a small town police chief from Connecticut who allegedly let an underage instructor supervise that particular customer.

Yeah. People fail to realize that this event was hosted by Westfield sportsman's club, but run by an outside company. The club itself is still a REALLY nice place. Jonas is right about the right-wing NRA zealotry, though. I figured that's par for the course at a gun club however. I can't speak for the nature of the town itself.

vaquero de las nalgas
12/09/2008 2:13pm,
Good post. The point about learning how to operate firearms safely even if you never plan to own one, cannot be stressed enough. This point applies to having to use them in an emergency i.e. Hurricane Katrina, terrorist attacks. It also applies if you or your loved ones are being threatened with one.

madmonkey
12/11/2008 4:55am,
Children and guns- doesn't take a genius to figure out that its a stupid idea to mix the two. Any child under the age of 12 should not be allowed near a gun let alone allowed to shoot it. And even at that age is should come down to whether the child is sensible enough.

I agree if you want to learn to defend yourself against a weapon you do need to have experience of its use, shame about guns is that if attempt something you are more likely to get shot in the process.

As to the 7 out 10 I agree with Pointyshinyburn, and yes one accident in a sixty year record generally should not affect the score YET this refers to an adult shooting themselves, the scale of the stupidity and tragedy of this blunder should drop the score to 0

HonkyTonkMan
12/11/2008 7:22am,
The range instructors getting a kid's brain pan emptied only drops them to a seven out of ten? What would score a five, genocide?


I agree.

Yes it was one incident but it was an incident of cataclysmic proportions. It wasnt a father and his boy alone...it was supervised by a range instructor.
If he shows this kind of judgement around children.....

I have been shooting at a local range (Range Master) for years (8) and there has NEVER been an "incident" even close to this. I have seen subs, semis and all manner of rifles, pistols, and even black powder guns shot there.

The greatest amenity a gun club can have is its SAFETY RECORD.

HonkyTonkMan
12/11/2008 7:28am,
Children and guns- doesn't take a genius to figure out that its a stupid idea to mix the two. Any child under the age of 12 should not be allowed near a gun let alone allowed to shoot it. And even at that age is should come down to whether the child is sensible enough.

I disagree. This is how small children shoot themselves or others. If a gun is taboo then a small child (8 or so) will wait until no one is around and get a hold of an unscecured firearm.
I have loaded weapons around my house. My children (10,9,4,and 2) know where they are. (well the 2 year old doesnt he still poops in his pants.)
My kids know that if they want to see any gun I have that all they have to do is ask. I show them how to unload it, and to make sure it is unloaded, and then how to handle it.
I havent ever had any problems.
The mystique doesnt exist, so they arent tempted. I have also let them (the four and two year old are too small ) shoot many of the guns. This way they can SEE the destructive power of a firearm.

Of course, this may not work for all children. It is just my XP on the matter.

Scrapper
12/11/2008 7:59am,
Children and guns- doesn't take a genius to figure out that its a stupid idea to mix the two. Any child under the age of 12 should not be allowed near a gun let alone allowed to shoot it. And even at that age is should come down to whether the child is sensible enough.

I agree if you want to learn to defend yourself against a weapon you do need to have experience of its use, shame about guns is that if attempt something you are more likely to get shot in the process.

As to the 7 out 10 I agree with Pointyshinyburn, and yes one accident in a sixty year record generally should not affect the score YET this refers to an adult shooting themselves, the scale of the stupidity and tragedy of this blunder should drop the score to 0

I remind you all that the event was run by a different company than Westfield. I would happily give that company a crappy score. The only mistake Westfield made was in believing that the company running the shoot would insure all practical safety precautions were in place.

vaquero de las nalgas
12/11/2008 6:25pm,
Children and guns- doesn't take a genius to figure out that its a stupid idea to mix the two. Any child under the age of 12 should not be allowed near a gun let alone allowed to shoot it. And even at that age is should come down to whether the child is sensible enough.

Sorry, I have to disagree. I grew up in rural New Jersey and shot a shotgun when I was five. My dad spent the time with me to supervise and show me what to do and what not to do. He made me aware that guns were not toys and never to handle them irresponsibly. Our house was shot at by hunters one year so I was even more aware of "knowing your target and what is beyond it" more acutely than most.

Accidents I have witnessed usually combine one of two events. The first one is that someone had their finger on the trigger when they shouldn't have. The second one is drinking and handling guns.

chingythingy
12/14/2008 3:37pm,
I really don't like to shoot at ranges where the range instructors are NOT complete obnoxious, in-your-face dicks about safety protocols. I think it takes that kind of aggressiveness to ensure EVERYBODY there gets it.

Grafight
12/18/2008 1:09pm,
Great article! I was in the military for 2 years and while there I learned how to take apart, clean, put back together, load and shoot all sorts of firearms in under 30 seconds each. I was in an artillery unit in charge of managing a war maneuvers field and shooting ranges, so we got to go out practically every day. I was part of one of our shooting teams and also trained an endless number of new recruits. After 2 years of doing this, I grew bored with gun shooting, but I DO respect and fear firearms. Safety rules and common sense can't be overemphasized around guns and bullets. There's always an idiot out there who will shoot himself or another innocent person.
And of course that "self defense against guns" some MA "instructors" teach is a lot of BS. Better to use all your smarts to stay out of the way of guns. Period.