The Cornered Cat
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Keep the Muzzle Below the Berm

So this week on Fb I posted a challenge that I knew would annoy many people I care about. Posted it anyway — not because I enjoy annoying people, but because it is an important subject that too many people have not thought about.

Here’s what I said in my opening post.

Discussion today will probably ruffle a few feathers among my friends. So I’m gonna draw your attention to it: I’m calling out the pointing-over-the-berm reload as a fundamentally unsafe practice that should not be permitted on outdoor ranges.

This was sparked by two things. First, there’s the news story of the 8 year old boy struck by a bullet that escaped from a range near where he was picking apples. As that boy and his family could tell us, “I didn’t mean to do that” does not erase the pain and trauma of a gunshot wound that harms an innocent.

More to the point, there’s this. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been reading through the literally hundreds of Unintended Discharges (NDs, ADs, and combined causes) that I have collected over the past few years from gun forums and elsewhere.

There are far more instances where a gun fires upon slide forward (eg, “slam fire”) than I thought, and many instances where people in a hurry or new to the gun suffer a sympathetic squeeze reaction and fire the gun when they intend to either drop a slide or release a magazine. In most of these cases, the only thing that prevented serious injury or death was that the user fortuitously (sometimes deliberately, but more often fortuitously) pointed the gun in a safe direction.

Why are so many instructors and accomplished shooters encouraging people not to keep the gun pointed in the safest possible direction — at the berm — during the reload? What benefit could possibly outweigh the risk of deliberately, repeatedly, and habitually violating one of the fundamental safeguards against death or injury while handling live firearms?

Below, I have added some screenshots captured from random videos. I’ve scribbled out faces because I honestly don’t want this to be about the people. It is simply a question of whether this widely-taught, widely-accepted practice is really a good idea, and want to be clear as to what we’re talking about. Some of these images were captured from match videos, while others came from instructional ones.






So that’s the technique we’re talking about. And the question is, do the benefits of lifting the muzzle over the range during the reload outweigh the loss of a fundamental safeguard — the safe-direction rule?

Is the risk of using this technique so low that the question of keeping that safeguard in place should never come up?

Are we thinking that “somewhere over the berm” is as safe a direction as “pointed directly at the berm”?

Or … what?

Lots of lively discussion followed this question. Well over 100 comments followed in the subthreads below the post, most of it thoughtful commentary. You should probably go read what everyone said about this subject, especially if you are ever responsible for the safety of others on a range. Lots of different perspectives and really important things to think about when a person chooses a “safe direction” to point their firearm on all different types of ranges.

Here are my concluding thoughts (that I also posted there):

Bear with me, all – this is going to be a bit long, broken into a couple of comments.

First, a very heartfelt and sincere “Thank you!” to everyone who posted a thoughtful comment on this post, whether I agreed with it or not. As long as you provided food for thought and were not insulting of other participants, I really did appreciate hearing from you. Thanks.

I am a strong believer in the type of discussion that draws people to really think, and at the same time I have a private standard for myself when posting something controversial. I ask, “Am I open to being persuaded, here?” If the answer is no, I generally won’t post because that would not lead to an honest discussion on my part. If the answer is yes, my follow up question to myself is, “What evidence (or type of evidence) would convince me to change my mind?”

So this afternoon, I have been thinking about the categories of reasons I might accept versus categories of reasons I would … categorically … reject, for deliberately pointing a handgun muzzle over the berm during a reload….

Categories of reasons that I reject out of hand include “the fundamental safeguards don’t apply to me because I am too smart to make a mistake,” “the danger from an escaped round isn’t that extreme”, and “this is more convenient and/or faster.” I also reject “the rules of my sport do not forbid this” – because that’s begging the central question of whether sport and range rules should forbid the practice.

Categories of reasons I might accept would be arguments based on the fundamental question of what’s the safest direction given the range environment. (So far, I haven’t been convinced by anyone’s specific presentation of that, but it is a category of reason I would entertain and might find convincing.)

I might also accept arguments based on replacing the layer of safeguard provided by the safe-direction rule with some other safeguard. For example, during a revolver reload, the gun points skyward – but that *only* happens once the shooter’s fingers have replaced working parts of the gun with the cylinder open. And once the rounds are in place, the revolver points only at the ground or backstop, *not* over the berm. So the safeguard of muzzle direction is replaced by the shooter’s fingers replacing the cylinder, and by the gun being unable to launch a round at all, during the critical phase.

 With that in mind, I was thinking about whether I might accept, “but the gun is locked open, and the shooter’s finger is off the trigger” as a valid reason to allow the muzzle to point over the berm. The problem is, a walk through actual shooter behavior as recorded via GoPro and posted on YouTube put the kibbosh pretty firmly on that idea!

If anyone would like, I’d be happy to send you a representative link of a shooter moving through an action pistol stage, who puts finger on trigger multiple times during the reload [with his muzzle over the berm in most instances], but never catches a correction by the RO. I am not trying to be coy by not posting the video right here right now. I simply do not want to make this discussion about people and personalities. I want to keep it centered on human behavior factors and risk mitigation related to that.

The thing is, I’m not just talking or thinking about match conditions during this conversation. I am thinking about the full process that includes everyone — from the naive shooter who searches YouTube or elsewhere online to see how to reload, to the low or mid skilled guy or gal looking for info on defensive shooting skills, to the mid to high skilled person wanting to get better at a favorite gun game.

I’m a fan of the ‘layers of safety’ concept. So when I see or think about handling firearms in various situations, I often ask, what layers are in place here? Not just ‘here’ as in what might be shown on any particular video or during any particular match or at any particular range. But ‘here’ as in what we’re teaching people across the spectrum, and then expecting them to do when there is no more-experienced person to watch them do it and correct them if they do it in a completely predictable way that does not have those safety layers in place.

As far as the sport goes, every shooting sport does have at least a few bad ROs in at least some clubs — whether that’s inability to see, or unwillingness to act, or some other cause. So no matter what we choose to put in place as a safety layer, it cannot rely 100% on a range staffer catching and stopping bad behavior. That plan only works in the match environment, and (as we see from match videos) not anywhere near as perfectly as it ought.

Asking shooters to analyze their particular range or location for environmental risks before they choose whether or not to elevate the muzzle is a reasonable thing to do. Asking shooters to comply with local ranges that have done that assessment, and that request muzzles be kept below the berm, is also reasonable. But shooters refusing to engage with ranges that have that requirement is not at all reasonable, given the nature of how lawsuits over escaped rounds typically go for the range owners – and also given the nature of a quick risk assessment from someone who really wants to do a thing, versus a perhaps-more thorough one from a different source that perhaps has more skin in the game for getting it right.

 A few people said, or implied, that we should not expect highly skilled shooters to keep their muzzles below the berm, since (we believe) experienced and highly skilled shooters do have the skill to keep their fingers off the trigger and also not allow the slide to go forward until the muzzle was again below the berm. The problem with that claim is two-fold.

First, as many of my competitive friends are fond of telling me, matches are where we figure out the best, fastest, most reliable shooting and gunhandling techniques. If (since) we claim that the best techniques develop from being tested in competition, we have to see what effect those techniques are having on the average people who copy those techniques for their own defensive use or even just for casual plinking. If those competition-developed techniques cannot be ported into other situations that include use by low or mid skilled shooters, we should be willing to say, “NO, nobody should copy these competition-tested techniques until they’ve reached __ level of skill.” But that would completely negate the argument that the techniques developed in competition are the best techniques for even non-competitive shooters to use.

Second, closely related to this, most of the action shooting sports allow and even encourage speed reloads, not slide lock reloads — which means the gun is not always empty and in slide lock as it lifts over the berm for a reload. Lifting the muzzle of a loaded, in-battery gun over the berm while dropping the magazine does increase the likelihood of the shooter firing a round due to the sympathetic squeeze reflex.

This becomes especially serious when we realize that the same body mechanics used for a simple reload will also come into play when a shooter needs to clear a malfunction.

Several people observed that only broken guns slamfire. That’s not really true (dirty guns do, too). But in any case, the body mechanics a shooter uses for clearing a malfunction are almost always the same ones the shooter uses for a reload. And of course, some malfunctions are cleared by a reload. So now we’re going to have the shooter working with a gun that we know is not functioning as intended, and we’re going to accept that the shooter may point the muzzle over the berm while the shooter clears the malfunction and (perhaps) reloads. Even though the shooter has not yet diagnosed the reason the gun malfunctioned, we know that the gun is not in this moment working the way it ought. And we are going to encourage him or her to point that gun over the berm, accepting that muzzle-direction risk because only a broken gun will slamfire after the shooter inserts a fresh magazine?

So that’s pretty much where I am at right now. I still have not seen anything that will convince me to change my mind on this, but (for the first time), I have heard some arguments that could convince me that reasonable minds could differ on this critical topic. Thanks for whatever part you played in that.


One more thing. Shortly after the discussion on my page had mostly wound down, a friend of mine sent me a link to a match video. In that video, we can see a slamfire happen during a match on an indoor range. The shooter had the gun pointed at the backstop (not at the cement floor or the baffled ceiling) so the unexpected round came safely to rest without hurting anyone.

That’s a good thing.

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Oh my people…

If you’re advertising your CCW class with a picture of a woman pointing the gun at her own hand as she draws, you’re not as qualified to teach that class as you believe you are.

If you see an advertisement for a CCW class that includes a picture of a guy drawing the gun from a small of back holster with his finger inside the trigger guard, that’s a class to avoid.

Don’t do unsafe things with deadly weapons.

Don’t model unsafe behavior for others.

Don’t excuse dangerous behavior when you see it, even (especially) when it comes from people you like on a personal level. If you really like someone, help them stay safe — and help them avoid inadvertently teaching others to be unsafe.

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One Piece of Advice

If there were one piece of advice I could give to everyone who keeps a gun around for self-defense, it would be this:


Teach yourself how to think about self-defense and personal protection.

Study good sources and learn from smart, experienced people.

Ask questions. Ask lots of questions. Ask stupid questions, ask questions to which you think (but are not sure) you already know the answer, ask questions that you can’t even think of a possible answer for.

Listen to the answers — then ask more questions.

Be sure you understand the law: what you’re legally allowed to do, what you’re legally required to do, what the law forbids you to do.

Think (hard!) about your own moral code, and think especially hard about the tough questions and the grey areas. Are you willing to defend your own life, or the lives of people you love, even at the expense of someone else’s life?

Once you’ve taught yourself how to think about these topics, guard your good thinking.

Protect it.

Don’t let yourself fall into sloppy or angry or fear-driven fantasies, even when you feel very strongly about something. Keep your mind focused on what you are truly willing to do, what you are physically and emotionally and practically able to do, what you will do if it comes to it.

Don’t engage in wishful thinking or mindless idealism.

Don’t post expletive-filled rants on social media and don’t even let yourself think those rants. Not because they’re “bad” and someone will punish you for badthought, but because you care about the way your  mind works, and you want to stay fully grounded in reality.

Guard your mindset.

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Scary strangers, children, and boundary setting in the grocery store

Today I’m thinking about an important question that I found in a private group on Facebook. Shared with permission and with names obscured, here’s the backstory:

To answer the first question you’re most likely to ask after reading the above: Yes, this incident really did happen. Not an urban legend, but something that does sometimes happen to moms with small children. Strangers in the grocery store, apparently stalking them or at least following them around the store, giving off a scary vibe and talking to the children or even touching them.

What’s a responsible concealed-carry person to do in a situation like this? Is this, as an online friend of mine asked, an appropriate time to tell others that we carry a gun? If it’s not, what should we do about persistent strangers who seem to be violating social scripts — who step inside our personal spaces, who talk to or touch our children without permission, who seem to be following us through the store, or who break the social expectations in other ways?

To answer the easiest question first, No. This is not the time to talk about your armed status. Or to pull out the gun. Not yet. In the beginning, this is an ambiguous situation, not a clear-cut one. And the use of a deadly weapon is reserved for times when human lives are definitely in immediate, otherwise unavoidable danger. This isn’t (yet) that. And we don’t know that it ever will be.

We need to find out. And we need to help avoid the situation ending up at that point, if that’s possible.

So … where do we start? Perhaps with this.

The process of self-defense starts long before using the firearm is appropriate, and it includes looking people in the eye and speaking with confidence about what we see.

I think the thing a lot of people miss is that by speaking up and setting a vocal boundary with confidence early on, even when it might feel uncomfortable, we can almost always avoid needing to make a scene — or worse — later on.

Speaking up early does something else: it tells us very clearly who is simply socially clueless, compared to who is actually a real threat to us or our children. I don’t think any of us wants to be the paranoid nutcase who threatens to shoot some nice old lady for looking at our kids funny. The way to avoid disproportionate responses and the way to sort the angels from the demons in this world, is to talk to people.

Examples of how to do that? Sure!

One mom suggests making good eye contact with the stranger, along with a firm, “Please don’t touch my children. You’re too close and it’s making me uncomfortable.”

That’s a great place to start.

To refine this idea, I might tweak the wording a little, and I’d quite willing to use only the first sentence: “Please do not touch my child.” No explanation necessary.

But if I felt as though I had to explain (research does show that strangers more often comply with requests when given a reason), I’d put the explanation before the command, like this:

“You are too close to my child. Please, step back.”


“You are too close. Please do not touch my child.”

The situation might be a little different than that, so here are some more possible scripts that a person could tweak as needed to fit the situation:

“We are teaching our child not to talk to strangers. Please do not talk to him.”

“No, she cannot have any candy. Please leave my child alone.”

“You seem to be following us through the store. Please stop.”

Start with a firm and pleasant voice, complete with eye contact. Keep your face neutral. Avoid using a grimmacing “I don’t mean this” smile. No scowl. Polite and neutral is the goal here.

Clearly stating a command — even one phrased as a polite request — to another adult will probably feel really rude the first time you try it, so I suggest role-playing the situation with a spouse or trusted friend until you get the hang of it.

Faced with this type of firm, no-nonsense request, nearly all good people will immediately stop, take a step back, and apologize: “Oh, sorry.” They might follow up with something like, “I was just thinking about my own grandchildren at that age, didn’t mean to make you nervous” — but as they say this, they will be moving away from you and that will be the end of it.

Not-so-good people will persist. They will push. They will try to make you feel guilty for setting boundaries and protecting your children.

This tells you everything you need to know about what is going on.

If the other person responds to your reasonably polite request by…

  • calling you a bitch or worse;
  • stepping closer to “explain”;
  • saying, “Aw, why do you have to be like that?” in a friendly voice while moving closer;
  • jerking on your social conscience by asking what you have against (their physical attributes, their religion or race or sexuality or social class or whatever);
  • pretending they haven’t heard you and continuing to do whatever-it-was;
  • sarcastically saying “geezzzz lady, sooooorrrrrry!”;
  • or anything similar to the above

… then you know they do not have your best interest in mind. At this point, armed with this knowledge, you can make a scene. A loud one. Repeat the command, louder and more forcefully.  “I said, DO NOT TOUCH MY CHILD.”

If they double down on any of the above, you can quickly move away from them while calling for the store manager at the top of your lungs with a clear conscience. You’ve just learned everything you needed to know about them and their motives for getting close to your child. You can call 9-1-1 while moving away. You can do whatever it takes to call attention to the situation, to put them in the spotlight, to get other people’s eyeballs and attention focused on what is happening.

Do it.

The basic pattern for boundary setting and enforcement is this —

  1. State boundary (“Please do not touch my child.”)
  2. Repeat boundary, louder. (“I said, DO NOT TOUCH MY CHILD.”)
  3. State penalty. (“If you come anywhere near my child again, I will call the police.”)
  4. Apply penalty.

We’re always tempted to not exactly state our boundaries out loud, just kind of imply them by our actions and trust others to pick up on our facial reactions and body language. That’s the motive behind a lot of not-necessarily-bad ideas that too often fail to solve problems like this — such as telling your child to stay closer to you & not talk to the stranger, or putting the cart between your child and the other person, or heading toward the back of the store, or whatever. All of these are generally also good things to do for various reasons.

But when we do them without clear, out-loud boundary setting, they also send a signal to a true would-be predator that we’re not confident and that we’re not willing to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves and our children.

As far as stating the penalty, that’s important in part because we ourselves must know in our own minds exactly what we will do if the other person does not comply. And we have to have made that decision before we say anything to the other person.

That’s one reason it’s smart to think about and then to explore what we can (legally, socially, ethically) do in response to someone violating social rules and approaching our children — before it ever happens. Where are the limits of our responses? What are each of us willing to do, or not willing to do, in an ambiguous situation? Knowing our limits and what we are willing to do makes it much easier to respond with an appropriate level of confidence in the moment.

If we’re not really brave enough to use our voices to violate the social rule that says, “Don’t bluntly tell other adults what to do,” why would the would-be attacker believe that we would muster the social and physical courage we need to effectively resist an attack?

Yeowch…? Small guns and new shooters

A lot of times what happens is this: in the gunstore, small guns feel pretty good in most people’s hands. New shooters aren’t (as) scared of small guns, because they seem so cute and non-intimidating. Plus of course, when you’re shopping for a concealed carry gun, the smaller guns are much easier to conceal and lighter to carry.

So… small gun it is. Maybe even a super-small, tiny gun.

Fast forward to range day, taking the new little gun out to shoot for the first time. Beginner does not have any standard of comparison, hasn’t shot other guns. But once on the range, this non-intimidating, cute little gun suddenly turns into a monster that hurts the shooter’s hand. With every shot, the gun sharply recoils and jumps around in the shooter’s hand.


Pretty soon, the beginner is wincing with every shot (not so good for marksmanship). You see them rubbing the pain out of the shooting hand between magazines and picking the gun up gingerly, in a loose and reluctant grip. Unfortunately, the looser a person holds the gun, the worse the recoil problem becomes — think of the difference in power and pain between a ‘punch’ (a shove, really) that starts with the fist right up against the victim’s shoulder, compared to a powerful punch that comes from a foot away.

In any case, it isn’t long before the new shooter with the tiny gun is wondering whether shooting is really right for them. Maybe they can take up knitting instead…?

Enter a more experienced shooter, who sees the problem and suggests a move to a different gun. The beginner often resists moving to a larger gun, because people (wrongly) intuit that larger guns will kick harder. So when a helpful friend offers to let the new shooter try something a little larger that they believe will be more comfortable, the new shooter isn’t sure that’s a good idea.

The new shooter intuitively suspects that shooting a larger gun will be scarier and more painful than shooting the little gun. But it’s not necessarily so.

Physics trumps intuition, though. And physics tells us that the larger and heavier the launching platform, the less that platform will react when something pushes against it. So when a larger and heavier gun shoots the same caliber as a smaller and lighter gun, the larger gun will produce less felt recoil for the shooter, and will tend to move around less when the bullet goes.

Not only this, but physics also tells us that the more surface area the object puts up against our skin, the less we will feel (or be damaged by) whatever movement is there. Think about an equally-strong ‘push’ against the skin on your hand with a small object such as a sewing needle compared to a larger object such as a telephone. You can push the phone into your hand pretty hard without it hurting, but the needle will first hurt and then damage you. Same thing with guns — a gun with a narrow, small grip will feel like it’s producing more recoil than a gun with a wide grip that distributes the pressure more evenly on your hand, even when the guns themselves weigh the same and are shooting the same type of ammunition.

Of course we have to balance this against finding a gun that fits the hand well (here’s an article about gun fit for those who are interested).

For all these reasons, my basic advice on gun selection for beginners these days is to choose a gun that:

  1. fits your hand well enough to let you reach and manipulate all the controls,
  2. comes in a standard self defense caliber,
  3. is as small as it needs to be for your concealed carry needs but no smaller, and
  4. has a solid reputation for sturdy long-term reliability.
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Which certifications make a qualified firearms instructor?

From my email box:

“Ms. Jackson,

In selecting a qualified firearms instructor, what certifications, etc. should one look for?”

My answer:

The short answer is, if you’re looking for a good teacher you can trust, don’t look for specific certificates as go/no-go gauges.

Instead, look for an ongoing pattern to the person’s resume. What you want is someone who is a good shooter and life-long learner who prides himself or herself on meeting the needs of the student. Certifications and award medals matter only in the sense that they document a person’s activity toward that end.

The experienced instructor’s resume should show an longstanding and ongoing pattern of relevant training in many different aspects of armed and unarmed self defense, and should also include studies in teaching adult students.

The shooting skills are really just the bare beginning of what a defensive firearms instructor needs to know, although they should definitely have good shooting skills. You’d want the list of classes your instructor has attended to include

  • many different shooting classes for students at different levels of ability from several different instructors and schools;
  • medical classes that include CPR and stabilizing a gunshot victim;
  • classes that explore legal issues as well as criminal behavior and avoidance;
  • classes specifically dedicated to adult learning and/or public speaking; and
  • classes in physical skills that could include both unarmed self defense and using lower-level tools such as pepper spray or Kubaton.

For newer instructors, the resume won’t be anywhere near that rich or that varied, and that’s okay. But you should be able to see a pattern like that beginning to form even from the earliest days. Look for a person who exhibits at least as much enthusiasm for learning and seeing their students improve as they do for getting bodies in the door and you’ll be doing well.

Of course I have my own prejudices and biases as far as specific schools and classes go, and I’m sure not going to tell you that every school has equal value. (That would be both silly and wrong.) But the differences in where people started tend to even out once they start moving around a bit and cross-pollinating their ideas and techniques with ones from different sources. That’s why I’m generally less trustful of resumes where all the experience comes from one school or franchise or clique. But early on, people should get a lot of experience at one place before they really begin to branch out. So there’s a balance to watch there.

Again, the specifics don’t matter nearly as much as whether the person’s history shows an ongoing pattern of actively studying defense-related topics, from a variety of sources that may include (but should not be limited to) the NRA, USCCA, SAF, and whatever local, regional, or national school or trainer most appeals to them.

Although good instructors tend to start with a deep dive into one school’s way of thinking, once that has happened I personally prefer to trust those who have explored with an open mind versus those who have stuck within one paradigm for their entire learning experience. I also tend to lean toward those who have presented at Tom Givens’ (Rangemaster) Tactical Conference, because those are folks who tend to learn from each other and spur each other on to do more, better. They also tend to be folks who are willing to give back to the community, as evidenced by donating their weekend to that cause. Again, that’s not a go/no-go gauge, just one factor I tend to favor.

Someone who has spent significant time as an assistant, protegee, mentee, etc, under the wing of an experienced master instructor — those are all good things too. These are high-value experiences that doesn’t necessarily show on the resume, but will often show up in written bios or casual conversation.

Oh, one more thing. I’d be a little wary of instructors who have nothing but instructor certs on their resumes, rather than a mix of shooting classes and instructor classes. I’d look especially hard at a resume that offers a long list of instructor certifications in different shooting disciplines, but does not have any student-level classes that explore any one of those disciplines in greater depth. I want my instructors to have spent some significant time as a student, perhaps even taking comparable student-level classes repeatedly from different schools so they can absorb how different master instructors cover a similar spot in the student learning curve.

So that’s the long-winded short answer for what to look for in an defensive shooting instructor. On the other hand, if you’re asking about what your own resume should look like because you’d like to become an instructor yourself, see above. 🙂

Hope that helps!

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Holster series

I will continue the holster series at another time — if anyone ever asks me about it. Throwing words into the blog feels like flinging them out into a very large empty space, sometimes.

Practice makes…

Scrolling through Facebook this morning, one of the beginners’ groups where I lurk was having a discussion about shooting better. 1

During this group discussion among beginners, someone posted a Very Bad Target and asked what they were doing wrong. Another commenter responded, “You just need to practice a lot more. Practice will fix it!”

That’s a lie. It’s almost certainly a well-meaning lie, but it’s a lie all the same.

Here’s the sad truth: Practice does *NOT* help if we are not practicing the right thing, in the right way.

If we do something in the wrong way (unsafely or inefficiently, or outright missing the target) for 2,494 times in dedicated practice, then guess what? On the 2,495th time we do that thing, we will very likely do it the same wrong way.

Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. 2

More. Sometimes, in similar conversations, people say that old thing about “perfect practice makes perfect.”

That’s another lie.

There’s literally no such thing as perfect practice, and perfect isn’t attainable in reality either. That particular saying drives me right up the wall, because the quest for “perfection” often slows down progress toward “good.”

Good practice means learning to correct mistakes. It doesn’t mean not making them.

But in order to correct our mistakes, we have to know that they are mistakes. And we have to know what doing the right thing looks like so we can do that instead.

And that, friends, is why good classes exist. They don’t exist to “make me a better shooter,” all by themselves, this weekend or any other. They exist to show us how to practice, so that when we go to the range on our own, we are able to mindfully practice in ways that result in safer and more efficient action.


  1. That’s a rarity; most of the time beginners just want to talk about what to buy, apparently with the idea that a better gun means better shooting. Which is, not to put too fine a point on it, wrong… in exactly the same way that buying a better pan does not magically make someone a better cook.
  2. I have seen this saying attributed to Pat Rogers. Maybe he said it first; I don’t know. The first time I heard it, it was around 1976 and I was a small child sitting in church listening to the preacher. Pretty sure the preacher wasn’t Uncle Pat, but in retrospect he might’ve known him.
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