Friday, February 2, 2018

Noise for the sake of noise (plus music)

Phil Bourjaily, one of Field & Stream's resident "Gun Nuts", posted recently on the blog of that name about a recent phenomenon: the profligate expenditure of ammunition for no other apparent reason than to make noise. Framing this as a generational issue, he notes of this "new breed of shooter", "I don't understand them. They don't like to shoot things--they just like to shoot." A friend of Bourjaily's seconds his observations:

Two men showed up in a Mercedes, parked, and left it running for two hours while they shot. They would burn through 30-round magazines in their ARs as fast as they could, warm their hands over the ventilated handguard, and then reload and shoot some more. At nothing. Not once in two hours did they go downrange to set up a target.

I encountered some shooters of this ilk recently while out hawking. Stekoa, Anya, and I were chasing rabbits on a local WMA when the shooters opened up on private land immediately adjacent. Four or five of them—young, in accordance with Bourjaily's generational thesis—with a high-powered rifle. Emphatically not an AR; the repeated boom-boom-boom-boom-boom...long pause...boom-boom-boom-boom-boom made it apparent they were using something with a 4-round box magazine—a Savage Axis, perhaps, or a Remington 700. They were clustered near the property boundary, just the other side of the treeline, and I quickly realised they were shooting away in the opposite direction, so I felt more annoyed than threatened...but also perplexed, like Bourjaily, at the utter pointlessness of the exercise.

I feel it necessary, at this point, to note that I'm not opposed to shooting per se. I shoot (a little) myself, and I make my living in part by selling firearms and ammunition. (And, obviously, I read the Gun Nuts blog occasionally; Bourjaily and his writing partner David Petzal are both informative and entertaining.) Nor am I claiming that the shooters were doing anything they didn't have the right to do, though I will fault them for being inconsiderate of another sportsman in the field, namely me. It's just, you know...why?!?

The day wasn't a complete loss, I'm happy to say. Stekoa grabbed and then lost a rabbit shortly after the shooting began (distracted?), but then caught another twenty minutes later even as the fusillade continued. By definition, any day the hawks and dogs come home is a good in the bag makes an even better one.

And here, for no other reason than I've been hearing it in my head for a few paragraphs now, is a song that, as the man says, "will never die, it will live on down through the years"... Two songs, actually: after "Boom Boom", stay tuned for "Never Get Out of These Blues Alive".