Tag Archives: rifle

The Art of Shooting. — Charles Edward Chapel

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This is the latest acquisition to our library collection, something Mika found while browsing in  the Ottawa Public Library used book shop. The Art of Shooting was published in New York by A. S. Barnes and Company and in London by Thomas Yoseloff Ltd. in 1960. The author, Charles Edward Chapel, published a number of books on firearms including Field, Skeet and Trap Shooting, Forensic Ballistics, Gun Care and Repair–A Manual of Gunsmithing, Gun Collecting, The Gun Collector’s Handbook of Values and Guns of the Old West. In The Art of Shooting Chapel takes on the subject of rifle and pistol shooting. The book is well illustrated with line drawing by Sanford Strother. Chapel covers the history of the development of the rifle and the pistol in two parts: part one opens with the history of the rifle, touching on the early hand cannons of the fifteenth century, moving on to the match lock, wheellock and flintlock (muskets), then to the modern rifle (the M1 Garand rifle in this case). In part two he details the development of the pistol in the same manner, starting with the hand cannons of the fifteenth century and moving on to the match lock, wheellock and flintlock to the modern revolver and semi-automatic pistols.

The Art of Shooting goes into great detail in every aspect of owning and using a rifle and pistol, with detailed instructions on how to load, aim and fire properly, how the rifle and pistol operates, how to properly clean and maintain rifles and pistols and crucially, how to use them safely.The book includes a chapter entitled What the N.R.A. can do for you. Yes, the debate between gun owners and prohibitionists was raging as far back as the 1950s. Regarding the NRA, Chapel notes “it is not affiliated with organizations of arms and ammunition manufacturers, receives no subsidies from the arms trade, and serves as the governing body for the shooting activities in much the same capacity as the Amateur Athletic Union and the National Amateur Athletic Federation serve other sportsmen. All rifle and pistol shooters who engage in official competitions, and several thousand local shooting clubs, support the  N.R.A.” This may have been the case in the 1950s, but currently, the NRA accepts donations from fun manufacturers. See the Ruger 1 Million Gun Challenge, for example, and frankly, why not.

He concludes The Art of Shooting with a chapter entitled The truth about firearms registration laws. Interestingly, and hardly coincidentally, here are the assertions put forward by prohibitionists in the 1950s in favour of gun registration:

(1) registration of weapons reduces crime by making it more difficult for undesirable persons to obtain weapons, (2) solving crimes would be easier because the weapons used in the commission of crime could be traced through the registration records, (3) it would be possible to arrest all persons found possessing possessing unregistered weapons, thereby making it easier for the police to apprehend criminals wanted on more serious charges, (4) gun registration keeps guns out of the hands of children, mental defectives, habitual drunkards, drug addicts, and other persons who should not have firearms, and (5) stolen guns can be returned to their owners more easily.

Chapel easily refutes these assertions, pointing to the tired comparison between automobile registration and gun registration, noting the familiar refrain of since you do not object to registering your automobile, why do you object to registering your guns? The difference between the two, he points out and as we know all to well in the present, is “the registration of an automobile is automatic. When a license is granted, no one questions a person’s right to own an automobile. If the tax is paid, the license tag is issued without question… The essential feature of firearm registration is the power of law enforcement authorities to say who may own a gun. The difference between automobile and firearm registration is obvious and vital under our constitutional form of government.”

The book is 424 pages in total and includes an extensive bibliography and an index, making it a useful reference source. While some of the information is dated, on the whole The Art of Shooting remains a good read and a nice view of the gun culture and shooting sports as they existed in the United States in the mid-twentieth century.

Posted by Geoffrey

 

Deer Hunting Hints. — C-I-L (Canadian Industries Limited)

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Some of you may remember C-I-L as the manufacturer of ammunition and sporting guns commonly found for sale at Canadian Tire and other retailers of hunting and shooting supplies. Imperial and Canuck were the brand names for the shotgun shells I recall seeing and using on occasion when I was a boy. C-I-L also manufactured rifle cartridges under the Imperial brand name. Together with the ammunition C-I-L manufactured the company published a series of booklets packed with useful information for hunters, and,  of course, advertisements for its line of sporting guns and ammunition. I remember my father had some of these booklets, which, unfortunately, are lost to history, but I keep an eye out for these booklets when I browse at used and antiquarian book shops. Deer Hunting Hints was published in 1950, though there is no date on the copy in our library collection; it may be a reprinted edition. Still, in its 37 pages, it packs a lot of useful information for the hunter interested in the pursuit of deer.

The opening chapter introduces the reader to the three species of deer, white-tailed, mule and black-tailed, their ranges and provides illustrations on how to identify them. The second chapter takes on the subject of firearms, offering hints as to what kind of rifle and ammunition the hunter should use in deer hunting and showing the C-I-L line of rifles and shotguns and ammunition, how very clever of them.

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The remaining chapters cover topics such as cleaning and maintaining your deer rifle, sighting it in, clothing and equipment for deer hunting, deer hunting techniques and how to dress and butcher a deer once it is on the ground and crucially, the Ten Commandments of Hunting Safety, in this publication called the Basic Rules for Hunting Safely. I remember in each of these C-I-L publications these safety rules were included.

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In keeping copies of these publications I enjoy learning about the hunting culture in Canada as it was in the past, before I was born. I find that it is really not so different in the present as this quote from the introduction of Deer Hunting Hints shows: “The first consideration, of course, is sportsmanship; the good sportsman respects his quarry as well as the rights of others. In the actual hunting of game, the first concern of the novice should be to perfect his marksmanship. He must be able to place his shots where he wishes them to go. This is his prime objective and it is not achieved without constant practice.” Publications such as Deer Hunting Hints preserve a record of our hunting and sport shooting heritage, that it has always been about sportsmanship and safety and is well worth defending for succeeding generations of hunters and sport shooters in Canada.

Posted by Geoffrey

Firearms Ownership and Use in Canada: A Reporty of Survey Findings, 1976. — Philip C. Stenning and Sharon Meyer

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This publication, co-authored by Philip C. Stenning and Sharon Moyer, gives an accurate and objective view of the state of gun ownership and use in Canadian society in mid-1970s. It was published in 1981, three years after Bill C-51 came into effect in 1978. Bill C-51 became law in 1978 and thereafter to lawfully purchase (but not to own) a firearm in Canada you were required to apply for and be issued a Firearms Acquisition Certificate (FAC). All that was required in getting an FAC was to complete the application form, pay the small fee and pass the cursory criminal background check that was carried out. My understanding of the rationale behind this legislation is that it was intended to insulate peaceful and law abiding gun owners from the elements of Canadian society that would misuse guns. Interestingly, when Bill C-51 was voted on in parliament, the Progressive Conservative Party serving as the Opposition, led by Joe Clark, voted against the Bill. My father and I, and most likely just about every gun owner in Canada, were none to pleased with this turn of events, but tried to take it in stride.

Philip Stenning is a criminologist and has an impressive list of academic credentials to his name. In carrying out his research on gun ownership and use in Canada he was neither serving the agenda of gun rights advocates, nor those of gun prohibitionists. This publication is an example of pure research. His findings, however, are very much of interest to gun rights advocates. In 1976 it was estimated there were 10,231,000 guns in civilian hands in Canada, mostly shotguns and rifles. Gun owners were overwhelmingly male, 95%. Then, 1970-1975, guns were used in approximately one third of suicides, averaging 35.2%. Between 1970-1975 there was an average number of homicides by gun of 225 per year.

The most noteworthy conclusion of the study concerns what gun prohibitionists complain about and base their assertions on: firearms availability. Access to guns is the familiar complaint you hear time and again from the varied prohibitionists across Canada and the United States. However, Stenning concluded the following: “we have noted that the data available from the Gun Ownership Survey, when compared with the limited data available on firearms incidents, disclose no credible evidence of any direct relationship between firearms incidents and firearms availability. This is not to say, however, that such a relationship does not exist. It does mean that if such a relationship does exist, the available data are currently too crude to be able to detect and measure it.” Whether or not such a relationship does exist has yet to be demonstrated, insofar as I can see, and the burden of proof falls on gun prohibitionists. To date all they offer is the tiresome complaint that access to guns is to blame, because we say so.

This publication is a good read for those who are interested in finding the truth about gun owners and gun ownership in Canadian society as it is not advocacy research. Stenning and Moyer did not have an agenda in conducting the survey and publishing their findings. That Stenning has the academic credentials, body of research and publications to his name ensures the publication is a sound piece of scholarship.

Posted by Geoffrey

The Bolt Action: a Design Analysis. — Stuart Otteson

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The bolt action rifle is of particular significance to me, being a left-handed shooter. Most semi-automatic rifles are designed for right-handed shooters, as are most bolt action rifles. The difference between the two is I can easily use a bolt action rifle designed for a right handed shooter. As it happens, I am the proud owner of a Browning X-Bolt Medallion bolt action 30:06 Springfield calibre rifle in left-hand. I use this rifle for big game hunting and as fate would have it, shot my first deer with it exactly one week after I purchased it just ahead of the rifle season in 2012. Though the bolt action rifle is primarily a tool for hunting in the present, it has an interesting history, having been designed in the 19th century as an assault rifle for armies of the day. The first bolt action rifle was the Dreyse needle-gun was introduced in 1841 and became the main small arm in service in the Prussian infantry in 1848. The Dreyse needle-gun, though single shot, revolutionized warfare with its rate of fire of 10-12 rounds per minute.

The Bolt Action was published by the Winchester Press in 1976. The opening chapter discusses, in detail, the history of the Mauser Model 98 rifle designed by Paul Mauser (1838-1914). The Mauser Model 98 bolt action rifle was adopted by the German Army in 1898. Otteson includes detailed illustrations in the book and describes the design and engineering that went into the development of the bolt action rifle. The book is a comprehensive survey of the bolt action rifle including the Springfield M1903, Arisaka M1905, U.S. Enfield M1917, Remington Model 30, Winchester Model 54, Pre-’64 Winchester Model 70, Remington Model 720, Remington Models 721/722, 725 and 700, Weatherby Mark V/Mark V Varmintmaster, Sako L-461 Vixen, Remington Models 600, 660, and Mohawk-600, Mossberg Model 800, Remington Model 788 (Rimless Versions), Winchester Model 70 (1968 Version), and the Mossberg Model 810.

Otteson’s book is a very good read for those with an interest in the history and the design and mechanics of rifles, the bolt action rifle in this instance. As my hunting buddies can attest, my aptitude for engineering and design is wanting; I simply savour the pleasure of using a finely crafted rifle in the field and on the range. Having a copy of The Bolt Action Rifle in my library collection has given me a better understanding and appreciation of the rifle, its history and how it continues to be manufactured as a sporting arm, having long since become obsolete as the main small arm for use by the infanteer in modern armies.

Posted by Geoffrey