Tuesday, August 31, 2010


DATELINE: Butt Butte, MT.
The 123rd Disorganized Montana Militia held its bi-annual rifle marksmanship qualification. The three members, self-dubbed the “A-Team”, under the command of Obergruppenfuhrer Bubba McCoy, gathered behind the county dump to ready themselves for the coming battle with the evil Blue Helmets. Targets [beer cans] were engaged at ranges from 15 to 25 yards, off-hand position, rapid fire. The elite array of firepower, including a Mosin-Nagant, a single-shot break-action H&R .410 shotgun and a Marlin .22 semi-auto, devastated the enemy in what Bubba called a realistic representation of the Normandy Landings. The operation was deemed a great success, and the A-Team began preparations for the next shoot by emptying plenty of more targets.

Well, if you’re actually serious about learning to be a real rifleman, your first step NEEDS to be attending an Appleseed. I didn’t learn anything all that great in the Army, and we shot only 40 rounds a year to qualify. You zeroed (or in some cases merely tried to) your M16A1 at 25 meters, then fired 20 rounds from a sandbagged foxhole and 20 rounds from the prone at pop-up targets out to 300 meters. You could actually miss every single 300 meter target and still qualify. Not that this helped a lot of folks. No, zero, nada, zip marksmanship training was conducted past basic training. Bad habits remained bad, and poor marksmanship remained poor.

This is why I’m such an advocate of the Appleseed Program. Even the weekend shoots teach you to do it right from the ground up and can be a quite humbling to people who think they’re crack shots and even to veterans and law enforcement personnel. If you can manage to squeeze in the week-long Appleseed Boot Camp shoot, you will come out as the finest form of rifleman (or woman). It’s time well spent, you’ll be much better for it, and your shooting buddies won’t believe what you can do.

You could do a whole helluva lot worse than shooting an Appleseed for an annual or bi-annual rifle qualification. As Fred asks, “Are you a cook or a rifleman?” I did get my rifleman patch, but my score at one Appleseed made me think I should brush up on my Dutch oven cooking.

Then, when you take an Appleseed Boot Camp or get to scoring real well and think you’re real hot stuff, take a look at some of these training exercises.

Rifle Ten
The first test is Jeff Cooper’s Rifle Ten. This not only tests your shooting but your physical condition and, since you are advancing towards the enemy, imbues you with a great deal more offensive spirit than sitting in a foxhole shooting from a sandbag.

The target used is the IPSC Option Target; a cheap substitute could consist of home-made man-sized silhouette target (delivery pizza boxes work great) with a 10-inch paper plate affixed dead center. You would, of course, paint the plate the same color as the silhouette, right? The improvised target would require another circle around the plate and/or scoring might have to be adjusted a bit. The individual targets are placed at 200, 225, 250, 275 and 300 yards.

The shooter starts at the 300 yard firing line, standing, loaded as he would like to be, not looped up with a sling if he uses one, and any bipod folded. When the whistle blows, the shooter goes into whatever position he chooses, and fires two rounds at the target.

Without any further signals, he springs to 275, fires two rounds from the position of his choice, then again at 250 and 225. He must fire the last two rounds at 200 yards’ range from the standing position.

Hits in the 10-ring count five points, in the outer ring four points, and on the paper two points, for a maximum possible score of 50 points. The rifleman (versus the cook) time for all the shooting and running is around two minutes. Cooper said anyone who can score 40 points and run the course inside of 2 minutes is a “good shot”. I would have to say you rate a helluva lot better than that.

I’ve only tried this once and didn’t come close. I got some decent hits from the prone, but I had to take a long time to concentrate and squeeze off good shots. Especially after the first couple of sprints. You will be amazed at how quickly you start breathing hard and your blood starts racing. By the time you waddle up to that 200 yard off-hand shot, you’re panting like a steer, and wobbling all over the place.

There now, wasn’t that easy?

This first series of shooting exercises comes from the WWII British Army rifle training manual. The weapon used was the legendary SMLE, Short Magazine Lee-Enfield. There was a saying at the end of WWI that the German Mauser was the best hunting rifle, the American Springfield was the best target rifle, but the British Enfield was the best combat rifle.

If Tommy Atkins could do this in 1940 with his SMLE, can you do it today with your state-of-the-art glass-sighted semi-auto uber sturmgewehr?

The following practices are given as a guide:--
Practice 1.—Firing and observing
No, of rounds.—5.
Targets.—Collapsible; iron falling plates are the ideal target, tiles or bricks, 5 for each firer, placed at irregular distances and intervals.
Range.—Between 200 and 300 yards.
Lessons.—Mutual assistance.
Observation of fire.
All points of weapon training.
Method of conducting.—Men work in pairs, under battle conditions, as firer and observer, changing round.
Points of criticism.—Points of elementary training. Observation of fire. Observation must be exact.
General notes.—It is an advantage if the plates can be concealed by bushes, etc. These may be pulled away by strings as required. The device will give exercise in quick observation.
Practice 2.—Endurance and quick firing
No. of rounds.—5.
Targets.—Any suitable figure target, preferably Fig. 4A, exposed over or around a piece of cover.
Range.—About 200 yards.
Quick accurate shooting.
Method of Conducting.—The targets will be exposed fives times over a period of five minutes. Each exposure of five seconds. The last exposure to be in the last half minute. Two exposures to be in quick succession, i.e. three second interval. A small pit or suitable piece of cover for the marker is required.
General notes.—The firer should be given a small area of ground to keep under observation and the targets exposed at different places.
Practice 3.—Attack
No. of rounds.—10.
Targets.—Two figures 2 and two figures 4A (or other suitable figures) per firer.
Range.—From 400 to 200 yards.
Accuracy of fire after movement.
Judging distance.
Sight setting and all points of weapons handling.
Method of conducting.—Four figures will be exposed and the firer will engage them from wherever he wants.
Time limit.—Three minutes to fire the 10 rounds. Targets will drop when hit.
General notes.--
<!--[if !supportLists]-->(a) <!--[endif]-->This practice must be on an individual basis as it will not be possible to fire as a detail.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->(b) <!--[endif]-->A small pit or suitable piece of cover is necessary for the markers. If this is not possible the targets must be fixed and a limit placed on the number of rounds to be fired at each target.
Practice 4.—The stalker
No. of rounds.—5.
Targets.—Any suitable figure—figure 4A preferably, placed in battle positions, firing round cover, from tree, etc.
Range.—Not exceeding 250 yards.
Use of ground.
Accurate shooting after an advance under arduous conditions.
Method of conducting.—If markers’ pit is available, the figure target will be exposed for a suitable period and lowered when hit. The stalker will have the enemy pointed out to him from a position in rear, which necessitates his stalking forward about 100 yards in order o be certain of a shot to kill.
Points for criticism.
Fire positions selected.
Care of arms when advancing.
Fire effect.
All points of weapon training.
General notes.
(a) The time limit will be dependent on the length and difficulty of the advance.
(b) If a pit or other suitable cover exists at the target position the stalker may be kept under observation throughout by means of a periscope. A round of ball or blank should be fired whenever he is seen.

The ATOM Manual
I have never seen good shooting and practicing for good shooting so emphasized as in the British ATOM (Anti-Terrorist Operations Malaya) manual for Commonwealth Forces fighting there.

Short Range Shooting.—The importance in Malaya of the quick deadly accurate shot has already been emphasized. Continual practice will be required on:--
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->The Malayan Range.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->The Jungle Lane.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c. <!--[endif]-->The Ambush Range.

Malayan Range.—The aim of the Malayan Range is to shoot in the standing position. To perfect the soldier for jungle the standing and kneeling positions at fleeting moving targets. Every company must have a range where firing can be carried out at ranges up to 100 yards. The range should be constructed under trees to reproduce the normal operational shooting light. In order to carry out timed practices at snap or moving targets, there must be a trench in which markers can move and present targets with safety. The alternative is a system of pull-up, and moving targets operated by wire. The trench system is by far the best, because it is a more reliable way of presenting targets; and because it allows more variation in placing them. Figure 1 shows a lay-out for Malayan Range.
100 yd 75 yd 50 yd 25 yd

Such a lay-out enables two practices to be carried out simultaneously: one at stationary targets at A, and one at snap or moving targets B. Both practices must be fired at the same range, and checking and pasting are done at the same time. The trench need not be straight but can zigzag in order to allow targets to appear in unexpected places. Details of the practices to be carried out are given in Appendix A.
Appendix A
Malayan Range—Practices
Rifle [#5 Jungle Carbine, SLR (FAL), or M1/M2 carbine]
Practice 1
Grouping.—5 rounds. Fig 11 target [man-size silhouette] with a 1-inch square patch as aiming mark. Standard required 4-inch group. (One-inch squares? Four-MOA? Sounds like an Appleseed!) HPS [Highest Possible Score] 25.
Practice 2
Timed.—5 rounds. Fig. 11 target with rectangles 2-in. x 4-in., 4-in. x 6-in. inscribed in centre of target. Time 15 seconds. Scoring 4,3,2. [4 points in smallest rectangle, 3 points in larger rectangle, 2 points elsewhere on the target] HPS 20.
Practice 3
Snap.—10 rounds. Five differently coloured Fig. 11 targets. Ten 4 second exposures (reduced to 2 seconds as proficiency increases). Firer engages a colour as ordered by the instructor and fires one round each time a target is named. Scoring 3,2. HPS 30.
Practice 4
Snap.—10 rounds. Fig. 12 target with 6-in. circle inscribed in centre of target. Ten 4 second exposures (reduced to 2 seconds proficiency increases). One shot each exposure. Scoring 3, 2. HPS 30.
Practice 5
Moving Targets.—5 rounds. Length of run 15 yards. Target appears at walking speed. Firer engages with one shot and target breaks into running speed. Firer then fires 1 or 2 more shots. This process is repeated on the return run of the target. Scoring 3, 2. HPS 15.
a. Total number of rounds 35
HPS 120
b. Practices should initially be carried out at 25 yards, and increased up to 100 yards as proficiency increases.
c. In practices 3 and 5, Fig. 11 targets will be marked with two lines 6-in. apart, forming a “vital area” 6-in. wide down the center of the target from top to bottom. Scoring—3 points per hit in the vital area, 2 points for hit elsewhere on the target.
d. Standing position will be used up to 50 yards range, and standing or kneeling at ranges over 50 yards.
Jungle Lane:--
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->The aim of the
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->A narrow winding track must be found, or cut, in jungle. The firer advances down this track at the ready position, as on patrol. At intervals, various types of targets appear. There is no need for any of these targets to be moved or controlled by hand. They can be placed so that the firer turns a corner, or comes to a certain point, the target comes into his vision to his front or flank. If snap or moving targets are made to be controlled by hand, an instructor following behind the firer must operate the wire so as to present the target at the right moment.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c. <!--[endif]-->The advantage of the first method is that the firer has to pick out a silent and stationary target; it is therefore a better test of his powers of observation than a pull-up target. The advantage of hand-controlled targets is that they can be made to appear for a definite timed exposure. The best solution is to have a proportion of static targets, with a variety of hand-controlled targets appearing at ground level or at a man height round the side of a tree, or moving at any angle desired. For scoring purposes, Figure 11 targets should have the “vital area” inscribed, as on the Malayan Range, and Figure 12 targets should have the circle in the centre. This is important, to bring out that only a killing shot is a good shot.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->d. <!--[endif]-->CT fire can be simulated by firing a carbine or LMG in a pit near the target, firing it by means of a wire controlled by the instructor moving behind the firer. This is a good variation from static targets.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->e. <!--[endif]-->It is vital that scored are properly marked and recorded, so that each man’s progress can be assessed.
Ambush Range.—The object of having an ambush range is to practice fire control and shooting from an ambush position, in conditions representing, as nearly as possible, an operational ambush. The requirements, which are easy to fulfil are:--
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->Ambush Position.--This should be large enough for a section and needs careful selection. Natural cover will be required and therefore the position should be left untouched as far as possible.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->Killing Ground.—The killing ground should look as natural as possible from the ambush position, but trenches need to be dug in order that targets and markers can be moved about. If the ground allows, there should be several trenches at different angles, so that targets may approach and withdraw from different directions. A possible layout is shown at Figure 2.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->
c. <!--[endif]-->Safety Precautions.—Care must be taken to ensure that sufficient earth is thrown up at the right places to give ample protection for the markers. If the ground does not favour natural protection, pulley-raised targets should be used.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->d. <!--[endif]-->Ingenuity.—Exercises run on the ambush range depend on realism for success. The following points are useful:--
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->All movement by troops in the ambush position must be fully operation, e.g. position taken up silently; camouflage, and clear orders.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->A wait should be imposed to introduce realism. Targets should appear without any warning. Once fire has opened targets must move rapidly.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c. <!--[endif]-->The range should be used by day and night.
Conclusion.—The standard of shooting required for success in Malaya can never be set too high. This standard can be achieved only by careful, continuous training.

Real mountain troops, like the Gebirgsjaeger, are a true elite force, requiring physical prowess, stamina, intelligence and a high standard of marksmanship. The following is just one, and the easiest one at that, of five exercises proscribed for Swiss ski troops while they awaited a possible German invasion during WWII. The remaining four courses are much longer and more demanding, some lasting hours and traversing a great deal of mountain terrain. Rather like a biathlon in full combat gear. The weapon used was the open-sighted K31 carbine.

Training of the High Altitude Mountain Fighter.

Purpose of the exercise: Check the skill and speed of the patrol, then require a maximum of his individual over a certain trail. There must be a drop of from 300 to 600 feet between the beginning and end of the course. He will have to pass between a certain number of markers on the way down. Midway in the course, the man will be required to remove his skis and crawl out onto a ledge and take up his position with his carbine. A referee will point out to him, successively, targets “A” and “B”, which are at different distances and are of different nature.
“A” (about 300 to 450 feet, a G-type target or head) is an enemy who is already in position. He has revealed himself to our patrol by his fire which had come from the direction of the floor of the valley. Our patrol has had the good fortune to catch sight of him and surprise him. The man will have a maximum of 2 shots and 40 seconds for hitting him.
A second enemy shows up, attracted by the first shots and desiring to come to the assistance of his comrade. (The target is visible only momentarily; an E- or F-target [man-sized silhouette] is used: time allowed 10 seconds; one cartridge only).
Other enemies have slipped into a position at the foot of the ledge; our patrol knows they are there only by their tracks. He cannot get at them with the fire of his carbine. Two hand grenades must be thrown into a hole approximately 6 feet in diameter.
Lastly, he sees an enemy spring up near him who probably intends to try getting possession of his skis. The man tackles him without weapon or pack and must put the enemy on his back in not over 30 seconds. Only then can he put on his skis and continue his trip.
The trip time and combat time are measured separately. The mistakes in fire, in throwing the grenades, and in the combat are turned into penalty seconds. The man must announce himself correctly at the start and finish. A referee will check his conduct and form.
The course may be varied as much as is desired, made easier or more difficult according to the ability of the participants and the time available for the exercises. In order to avoid serious mistakes, the course should be explained in detail, even traveled over in the sight of all the men so that they will understand everything fully.
There must be referees for the skiing, the firing, and the grenade-throwing. The wrestler must be relieved by others as they finish their trip. This will give them a chance to observe where they themselves have made mistakes. If there are no walls, rocks, or other objects which will shield a man and enable him to raise the disappearing target when the whistle is blown, the target will have to be fixes and a check made of the shots after each man has finishing firing. The course should be well laid out and without any unnecessary complications. The turn should not last more than 5 or 10 minutes at the most. A correct record will not only show the good points but call attention to weak ones which will have to be given special attention.
So, there you have it. Once you get good enough at an Appleseed, try some of these on for field firing. Of course, you don’t have to ski down the Matterhorn firing left-handed behind the back or anything like that. You can merely use these ideas as a guide and source of ideas and adapt any of these firing exercises to suit your needs or AO. For instance, you can certainly do the preceding drill on foot without skis and snow and mountains and such. Perhaps you would like to change the time limit on the Rifle Ten and low crawl under cover between firing positions. Be creative and adjust for your shooters' abilities or for different terrain in your area. Take it easy...baby steps. You can't expect to beat an Olympic Biathelete your first time out. Start small, start short, start slow and build from there, adapting what you need.
So there you have it. Just a sample of what good men with rifles can do. FIRST, get thee to an Appleseed. Then build from there. With enough time, ammunition, and practice, truly amazing things can be achieved. Without any time, ammo, or practice, you may as well go join up with Bubba and the A-Team.

Jungle Lane
is to practice men in quick and accurate shooting, at targets representing CT [Communist Terrorists], while the firers are on the move themselves down a jungle track.

Gun Nut Roundup August 2010

Anti-Gun Kagan Confirmed To High Court

The U.S. Senate confirmed President Obama's second nominee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, by a vote of 63 to 37.  Five RINO Senators joined the Democrats in voting for Ms. Kagan, who replaces liberal justice John Paul Stevens.  Kagan (who never actually served as a judge, but who has watched several episodes of "Wapner") is no friend of the Second Amendment. 

According to GOA: "While serving in the Clinton administration, Kagan drafted an executive order to ban certain semi-automatic firearms; As a law clerk, she advised against the Supreme Court considering Sandidge v. United States in a case that questioned the constitutionality of the D.C. gun ban, writing that she was 'not sympathetic' to the gun owner's Second Amendment claims; and Kagan was also part of the Clinton team that pushed the firearms industry to include gun locks with all gun purchases and was in the Clinton administration when the President pushed legislation that would close down gun shows.  During her hearings, Kagan ducked and dodged questions about the Second Amendment, and she refused to declare whether she believes the Second Amendment protects an individual right."

EPA Denies Ban On Lead Ammo

A coalition of sniveling eco-pussies petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to ban all lead hunting ammunition and fishing sinkers earlier in the month.  Such a move would surely push ammo prices even higher than they are now.  Groups like the NRA and National Shooting Sports Federation (NSSF) opposed the move and the EPA quickly ruled that it lacked legal authority to implement the sweeping ban.

The coalition pushing for the ban included five groups: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Project Gutpile, Association of Avian Veterinarians, American Bird Conservancy, and Center for Biological Diversity.  Lick our nuts, bunny huggers!

SAF Joins In Nordyke Case

From http://www.saf.org/: "The Second Amendment Foundation has filed an amicus curiae brief in the long-running Nordyke v. King case in California, arguing that Second Amendment issues must be decided on a "strict scrutiny" basis, and that an ordinance in Alameda County banning gun shows at the county fairgrounds is unconstitutional because it would not withstand that standard of review."

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Ground Zero Mosque: A (Somewhat) Opposing View

"Ground Zero Mosque"
RNC Artist's Rendering
Since Bawb is a slightly quicker and better rifle and pistol shot than I am, I've learned from a young age to try not to contradict Bawb or otherwise piss him off.  (Pity our poor parents.  Growing up, whenever Bawb and I would reach for the last biscuit on the supper table they knew that yet another meal would end with the cackle of gunfire.)  Nonetheless, in the interest of free and robust political debate that has made this the Yankee-Doodlest country that the world has ever known, I will register an opposing view on the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" (which I gather Bawb opposes).

First, let me be clear on one thing: I don't really support building the damned mosque.  It's just that I don't give a frog's fat ass what they do build there, be it a mosque, a clown college or a kazoo emporium.  The site ain't at "Ground Zero."  As Gene Healy of the Cato Institute explains:  "[Y]ou can't see Ground Zero from the [proposed] site — it's separated by two canyonlike city blocks, occupying the former site of a Burlington Coat Factory. 'Hallowed ground,' indeed."

I've only been to New York City (NYC) one time (that was plenty), but it seems to me that two blocks in NYC is a world away.  If we're going to poop our collective panties every time people of weird ethnicity conduct a real estate transaction in NYC then... um, um... we're going to need alot of panties (and poop).  If this group legally bought the property, they have the right to build what they want on it.  (Although I'm sure NYC has mountains of red tape and restrictions for them to navigate.)

American citizens certainly have the right to voice their opposition and even organize against it if they're so inclined.  However, national politicians who want to use the coercive force of the federal government to thwart the project should be opposed by all who consider themselves constitutionalists.  We can't just demand that the feds abide by the 10th Amendment when it keeps them from messing with groups that we like.

Ron Paul said that much of the political agitation over the mosque has come from "neo-conservatives who demand continual war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly justify it."  The good doctor probably has a point, but it also comes from big-government Republicans who need to differentiate themselves from the Dems, when there really is no difference.  With the so-called "Tea Party" movement whipped up over constitutional and economic issues, national Republicans only stand to lose votes by charging into NYC and making the Dems look like a bunch of Tenthers by comparison.

One area where I do see the point of opponents of the mosque is on some of  the double-standards involved here.  The liberal multiculturalists are always telling the average American (mostly white Christians) that we must be very sensitive and not offend folks of other cultures. 

For instance, my small hometown had to forgo its annual "Paint the Streets Red With Pigs' Blood Festival" for fear that it may offend the sensibilities of our burgeoning Muslim community.  (The James Earl Ray Parade was canceled for somewhat similar reasons.)  My point is that the traditions and activities of the many had to be changed to accommodate the feelings of a small but vocal minority.

(And when I say that Muslims are a vocal minority, I mean that they are a VOCAL minority.  One old boy in my town's Muslim community, for instance, climbs up in his belfry and starts into hooting and hollering at the top of his lungs a couple times a day.  I think he's got Tourette's or something.  All the other Muslims in town get so embarrassed by the spectacle that they get down on their knees and start jabbering, I think begging him to come down and quit making a fool of himself.  Of course he always does come down eventually, but some of the local kids have figured out that zinging him with BB guns speeds him along considerably, but I digress.)

Anyway, the liberals preach tolerance and sensitivity and that the greatest sin is to offend.  For whatever reason, a good many Americans are offended by this mosque and where it will be located.  The response from the multiculturalists has largely been, "Well up yours, you small-minded bigots!"  I guess that sensitivity and tolerance thing is a one-way street.  Majorities are people too, dammit!  I guess such liberal hypocrisy shouldn't surprise anyone.

But many of those who are opposing the project are trying to capitalize on the fears of the American public.  Giving the menacing name "Ground Zero Mosque" is one example.  The actual name of the building is to be the more benign-sounding "Cordoba House," and it will also feature a 500 seat theater, fitness center, food court and art studio.  Cordoba is merely a joyous Arabic term which means simply "to laugh" or "dance" in the "blood of infidels."

Hopefully I've laid to rest some of your silly fears about the religion of peace and the plans for the new mosque at Ground Zero.  Now, if you'll excuse me, that old fool is bellowing again.   I best fetch my BB gun.

Saturday, August 28, 2010



German Infantry WWII
“Good physical condition has been a basis for the notable march achievement of German infantry. Despite all the mechanization of modern armies, German doctrine foresaw the possibility that motorized personnel might lose their equipment and have to move rapidly on foot. In some cases German troops, under the prolonged strain of combat operations, have covered 30 to 40 miles a day for several days, and German sources claim a march of 44 miles in 24 hours during the Polish campaign. Reserve and Landwehr formations (of older men) are held to nearly the same high standards.”

North Korean Infantry
“At Kangnung, on the coastal road, twenty miles below the Parallel, the 11th Regiment of the 5th Division swung inland on an 8-day 175-mile march through some of the wildest and roughest country in Korea. It passed through P'yong-ch'ang, Yongwol, and Ch'unyang. At the last place the regiment met and fought a hard battle with elements of the ROK [Republic of Korea] 8th Division which were withdrawing inland to the Tanyang area. The regiment then turned east and joined the rest of the division at Ulchin on the coast on or about 10 July. In this arduous march through and along the mountains bordering the east coast, the N.K. [North Korea] 5th Division lost from all causes about 1,800 men.”

Japanese Infantry WWII
“Mobility, which is achieved in a number of ways, has been one of the most important factors in obtaining surprise. The ability to exploit to the full the exceptional marching powers of the troops--they are capable of covering thirty or more miles per day--is closely allied with the question of rations. They may, by choosing a circuitous path through difficult country, attempt to overtake and cut the line of retreat of a force withdrawing along a road, but mobility does not end there; if the chances of living off the country are small, troops may carry as much as seven days' rations with them, thus freeing themselves during this period from the encumbrance of an administrative tail. Impressed local inhabitants, with carts or boats, if the country is suitable, supplement their carrying powers, while opportunities to seize local supplies are never neglected.
An outstanding example of strategic mobility on the part of the Japanese was their advance through the Shan States from Karenni in the south to Myitkyina in the north, a distance of some 450 miles, covered in three weeks. This feat is even more remarkable when it is realized that during their advance the Japanese fought three heavy engagements and were hindered by numerous delaying actions. The maintenance of a daily average advance of some 21 miles despite delaying actions and having to fight, speaks for itself as an example of strategic mobility. In considering how this advance was achieved the following points are outstanding: First, the skill of the Japanese in the choice, direction and execution of their encircling movements which, probably more than any other single factor, accounted for the speed and great distance of withdrawals the Chinese were compelled to undertake. Second, the refusal on the part of the Japanese to be deterred from the primary objective by threats to flank or rear.
Finally, there is the ability of the Japanese to move without a cumbersome administrative overhead.”
British Commandos
As the state of mind is all important, it is essential not to let the men become discouraged. If a man knows that others have marched 30 miles over mountainous country with heavy loads, and that he is fit
and properly equipped, he will feel that he is able to do it, too. The men should camp out several days at a time, using different types of equipment, and living on concentrated rations. This will give them confidence. Gradually, as they get physically conditioned, they will think nothing of doing 30 miles a day in mountainous country with 40-pound packs. The officer or noncommissioned officer in charge
should carry as much as or more than the men. The men should walk in single file as a general rule, following the route chosen by the leader. Thus a tired man is less likely to lag. It is good practice to let each man lead in turn, in order to introduce variety and to share responsibility. When men are tired, it is best to promise them rest at a definite time or place, for nothing is more exasperating than to march interminably onwards at the will of somebody else.

Can you do any of that? I sure can’t. But I try to keep pretty mobile on foot. Good boots are important no matter what you do, whether it’s the Great Elk Hunting Death March (sorry Jerry) or an over-nighter camping trip. When it comes to combat, good boots become almost as essential as a good rifle.

The American military can buy a B-2 bomber that is quite literally, pound for pound, worth more by weight than gold. A shiny new Gerald Ford aircraft carrier is a bargain at $9 billion. An M1A1 Abrams tank is a real steal at $4,300,000. Yet only recently have they done any real looking at a decent infantry boot.

In the Falklands War, the British Army issue boot was crap. Once it got wet, it stayed wet, and despite the plan to use helicopters to move the infantry, they wound up hiking forever across a nasty landscape.
After the conflict, British Major General John Frost, said, "The appropriate foot gear is appropriate to all who would do things properly…this inadequacy [the boot] was responsible for more casualties than enemy action…it is pointless to spend several thousand pounds in arming a man if he becomes ineffective through failure to spend twenty or thirty pounds in covering his feet."

Another side-note that I found interesting related to the Falklands War was that the “super-athletes” and Physical Training instructors were some of the first to drop out of the long marches. While they were in peak physical condition by army PT standards, they lacked the sheer stamina, both mental and physical, to endure long-term physical exertion. The American military PT standards are equally irrelevant to long-term dismounted infantry operations.

The infamous ‘cruit boots of my day and age were just plain shit. Thin, flexible leather, offering little support, with a hard sole with tread grooved like an old Duece-and-a-half tire. Walking on hard surfaces, especially wet ones, you were like a hog on ice. They were also known for causing shin splints when you ran in them. To top it all off, they had to be spit-shined every day. (As the Germans noted: “Shoe polish alone has a tendency to make leather hard and brittle and clogs the pores of the leather. This causes perspiration to condense inside the shoe and might induce frostbite.”) I had a non-military but very outdoorsy guy look at an old pair of my ‘cruit boots and he laughed, “What the hell are those? Bowling shoes?”

During WWII, the American combat boot proved totally inadequate in the cold and wet, especially in places like the Ardennes and the Hurtgon Forest. The good winter shoe pacs that finally got into the supply system seemed to get no further than the rear-area pogues who didn’t really need them long before the front-line troops who needed them. The grunts probably finally got them in August. Troops couldn’t be rotated back out of the front lines to dry out and warm up. They slogged through in endless mud in the Hurtgon and lived in holes half full of water. In Bastogne, they stood duty on thick pads of captured straw to keep the bitter cold from seeping up through the soles of their combat boots.

Rather than solve the problem, issue the proper equipment, or rotate the troops out of the front lines, the American REMFs and high-ranking officers came up with another innovation idea instead. Cartoons!

If the cartoons failed, as in the Hurtin’ Hurtgon, soldiers were then threatened with court martial if they became victims of trench foot or frostbite. Gotta love them REMFs.

Although the following is a British Army pamphlet dating back to the Second World War, it’s a pretty good summary on keeping good care of your little footsies.

To avoid sore feet:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->Remove shoes as soon as convenient after a march;
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->Wash your feet as often as possible;
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c. <!--[endif]-->Dry thoroughly, especially between the toes; and
<!--[if !supportLists]-->d. <!--[endif]-->Wash your socks at every opportunity.
To harden your feet:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->Wash in cold water, using soap freely;
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b. <!--[endif]-->Rub the bottom of your feet with soap or grease; and
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c. <!--[endif]-->Soak the feet in a solution of salt. [I use rubbing alcohol.]

<!--[if !supportLists]-->a. <!--[endif]-->Fitting shoes
The best time to fit shoes is on a hot day and after physical exercise. This is true because the foot expands in length and width ¼ to ½ inch when the soldier is on the march in hot weather.
Always fit shoes over army socks—never over the bare foot—and always stand up and walk a little while determining a fit. The sides of the shoe should feel comfortable and should show no signs of bulging.
b. Care of Shoes
After having been worn, shoes deteriorate fast if not used often thereafter.
Rub a light coating of some acceptable leather preserver on the inside of the shoes at least once per week, but:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1. <!--[endif]-->First remove all dust and dirt (if necessary, use a damp cloth).
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2. <!--[endif]-->Put paper or some similar substance inside wet shoes so that they will keep their shape while drying. (Dry slowly.)
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3. <!--[endif]-->Remember that it is better to apply leather preserver when your shoes are warm and slightly damp. (Apply the preserver until the leather is flexible).
c. Care of Socks
Excessive rubbing, sweating, or boiling in water will cause wool to shrink.
Always mend your socks from the inside. If the edges curl, they must be trimmed.
Darned socks, or socks with holes in them, should not be worn on the march because they will cause abrasions and blisters. Wearing two pairs of socks will aid in preventing friction between the shoes and the feet.
If your socks are worn out and none are available for issue at the time, you can give good protection to your feet by wrapping them in a triangular piece of cotton cloth, or even paper, and then putting on your shoes. Your medical officer will show you how this is done.

a. Sweaty Feet
Symptoms of sweaty feet are tenderness, local areas of redness, and the tendency of the skin to peel off.
Treat sweaty feet as follows:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1. <!--[endif]-->Wash them with soap and water; and
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2. <!--[endif]-->Dry them thoroughly and apply foot powder.
b. Blisters
Treat blisters as follows:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1. <!--[endif]-->Remove the obstacle which caused the blister;
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2. <!--[endif]-->Clean the blister gently with soap and water;
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3. <!--[endif]-->Apply an antiseptic;
<!--[if !supportLists]-->4. <!--[endif]-->Sterilize a needle by passing it slowly through a flame, and then run the needle through the blister—in at one side and out the other—to drain out the fluid:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->5. <!--[endif]-->Do not remove the skin covering the blister; and
<!--[if !supportLists]-->6. <!--[endif]-->Apply an antiseptic to the area, cover it with absorbent cotton, and cover the latter with a piece of adhesive tape.

NOTE: Often you can manage to march in comfort with a blister if you fit a piece of cloth or bandage under your foot, over the instep, and around the ankle. Buckle the cloth over the outer ankle bone, pulling it tight. This arrangement lessens the friction between the shoe and foot.

Serious abrasions and ingrowing toenails should be shown to the medical officer at once.

BAWB'S NOTE: Always keep your nails trimmed. You can remove an ingrown toenail with a needle-nose multi-tool and a K-Bar, but I don't recommend it.

Don't get blisters in the first place. The moment you start to feel a "hot spot" somewhere on your foot, stop and deal with it. If nothing else is available, pinch a fold into your sock and fold it over the affected area to add another layer, or change socks, or roll them over so what was on the bottom is on the top. The traditional cure is moleskin, but sometimes it's hard to find a mole to skin, ha-ha. The humble Band-Aid works quite well, too. And, if you have some as many back-country hikers do, you can use the Handyman's Secret Weapon, Duct tape. I kid you not, it works.

In most Western armies it has become pretty much standard for field soldiers to buy their own commercial boots, especially in cold weather and places like Afghanistan. This is certainly an improvement over cartoons and court martials, but it is still bullshit that they have to do so in the first place. Too bad they couldn’t purchase and bring their own weapons; then the ones that knew what the hell they were doing would really be good to go.

What to look for in a boot? USGI surplus is probably right out if you’re serious about real hiking and covering long distances, such as elk hunting or fleeing various government tugs.

My first tip…and I’ve heard the same from many hunting guides…is to forget all that silly insulation. You know the boots I’m talking about. They advertise four million grams of thinsulate so that you can hike comfortably on the South Pole. Of course, if you hike anywhere else they make your feet sweat like a whore in church. Then, when you stop, your feet are soaking wet and then they get cold. The military Mickey Mouse boots are the same. They’re great for sitting in a deer blind or huddled over a hole in the ice all day, but walking, or skiing in them, is a joke. If you have to have insulation, I’d personally go with just 200 grams.

Always wear two pairs of socks. Some recommend two pairs of wool only. I like to go with a pair of synthetic socks against the skin and a pair of wool on the outside. One pair of socks on any serious hike will leave you with blisters, most likely on the heel. I ALWAYS have at least two extra pairs of dry socks with me even on a short hunt. In decent weather, you can hang the old pair off your pack or LBE to dry. If it’s below freezing, you can stick them inside your shirt. Yeah, it makes you yipe at first, but they warm up and dry out, mostly anyway, from body heat. This is where wool is worth its weight in gold. Even damp it still has excellent insulating qualities. Same goes for other garments, like wool pants and sweaters. There’s an old saying out West: “Cotton kills.”

In picking out your boots, get them a half-size too large, and try them on with the two pair of socks you would usually be wearing. If you go for real long hikes, especially for an extended period, your feet will flatten out and fill the boots. Before you lace them up, stick your toes as far forward as they will go, and you should just be able to get a finger down inside the heel. Then kick the heel back to the back, lace ‘em up real tight, and make sure you can wiggle and curl your toes. The boot may still feel uncomfortable around the ankle and across the wide part of your foot. That will soon go away when they break in.

If you’re in a hurry, you can always soak the boots in water (not too long, only a matter of several seconds) and then go for a serious day-long hike. When you’re done, they’ll be pretty well broken in right. Dry ‘em and condition ‘em and you should be good to go next time out. The other way is to just wear them around during the day, at work, for short hikes without a pack, etc. Once they’re comfortable to wear all day long, they’re good to go.

I personally would go for leather boots. I’ve worn out the high speed, low-drag boots made of fabric/nylon and leather, or fabric only. They were only $100 boots, but I can wear a pair out in a single season of serious hunting in the mountains. Avoid like the plague anything with plastic eyelets; whoever came up with that idea should be beaten like a red-headed step-child and it's a red flag for a cheap boot. Those “lightweight hikers”, aka glorified tennis shoes, are comfortable for just farting around town or short hikes across the back forty, but will soon be a shambles in the back country.

They say every pound on your foot is the equivalent to carrying five pounds on your back. Well, if you want a really good tough pair, you'll have to add some weight. Plus, it makes it easier to kick someone's ass. I prefer heavy-duty leather and high tops if they are to protect your feet in the mountains, and some extra weight is a penalty I can live with. NO STEEL TOES. Wildland firefighters are probably tougher on boots than even the average infantryman and they are required to have boots with at least an eight-inch top and Vibram soles.

Speaking of soles, Vibram is still about the best thing going for a combination of durability and traction. Air Bob soles are about the best for traction, and have pretty decent longevity too.

Boots are really one of those things where, “You get what you pay for.” Wildland firefighters (at least they used to) beat the ever-living hell out of their boots and the brand of choice is most often Danner. A good pair of Danners will last you many years, and I’ve known guys who’ve had them re-soled two or three times and they’re still going.

Most people also seem to wear their boots too tight. It’s a bad military habit that goes along with spit-shining. Your boots should be somewhat loose, not yanked just as tight as you can get them until you can’t feel anything below the knee. Maybe that habit developed because it’s the only way to get even marginal ankle support from a pair of ‘cruit boots. With long laces, I wrap them once around the top of the boot (not real tightly) and then tie them and tuck the ends in. That’s always worked for me.

If you have no choice but to wade a stream, or, as they're called in Fly-Over Country, a "krick", take off your boots and socks. Wearing only the boots, ford the water. On the other side, put dry socks back on under the wet boots. They'll help suck the moisture out fairly well. After a half a mile or so, change into another two pairs of dry socks and try to dry the wet ones as noted earlier.

Blousing your pant legs is kind of a matter of preference. I like to do it in the summer and fall, to keep them out of the way and keep out sticks and twigs and pine needles and ticks and such. I’ve always found it comfortable. In the winter, in the snow, I never blouse ‘em. The pant legs will get wet and the moisture creeps into your socks sooner or later. I let them hang down over the boot and though they freeze, they keep the snow out. If you’re in snow more than six inches or so, I wear gaiters. Those Sportsman’s Guide surplus Swiss Army gaiters are the best, IMHO. The new bulky synthetic gaiters can sometimes be pretty noisy when you're moving through the woods.

As for keeping leather boots in shape and still water repellent in the winter, I’ve found Sno Seal my favorite, and outfitters have also mentioned Dri. Pre-warm your boots for a short period in an oven set on its lowest setting, meanwhile getting the Sno Seal also warm and buttery and easy to work. Rub it into the boots good with an old toothbrush; the warm seal and the warm leather penetrate very well. That should last you about a week.

When it’s real winter in the high country and the snow’s ass deep on a ten-foot Norwegian, I wear German Army Lowa mountaineering boots with gaiters. Skiing or hiking, these things do seem to play hell on the heels and just above them. You can sew a thick patch on the heels of your special mountaineering boot socks, insert a pad of fabric between the socks or, once again, duct tape can be your friend.

As an aside, if I’m way back in the sticks, especially for trapping, I use cross-country/telemark skis but I carry a pair of snowshoes strapped to the pack also. You wouldn’t believe mountain snow. You step off your skis and ‘woof’ you sink right down into the snow to your knees or worse.

Last but not least, when you find that perfect pair of boots that’s juuusssstttt right, go out and buy two or three more pairs, because you can bet your bottom dollar the SOB’s will quit making them.