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The Wandering Monk Plays With Fire
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.
Last edited by Scrapper; 12/03/2008 3:46pm at .