by Marty Hayes, J.D.
Fall is my favorite time of the year. The weather where I live is typically not real rainy, the days can be clear and warm, the hunting season is closing in upon us, and football is starting up. But, aside from all the aforementioned goodness, it’s GUNSITE ALUMNI SHOOT time!!!
This year, Gila and I are making the trip to Gunsite Academy to shoot the match and rub elbows with a couple hundred or so fellow “Ravens” as Gunsite alumni are affectionally called. We can be identified by the black raven sticker, as seen on my camper.
For Gila and me (seen below in a photo from our visit to Gunsite several years ago), going to Gunsite recharges our batteries and brings perspective to our lives in the “gun culture.” Think of it this way: if one were a physician, one would likely spend a lot of time in the “medical culture;” a college professor would seek out interaction with the “academic culture.” Of course, the law enforcement professional is likely well immersed in the “police culture” (as I once was). If there was a “mecca” of the gun culture, it would certainly be Gunsite. We are looking forward to the trip.
I am asking a favor from Network members who are also attending the Gunsite Alumni Shoot (GAS), please wear your navy-blue Network ball cap. The cap, our only logo item, is intended for wear at the range, where it identifies Network members to one another. Only Network members are given this ball cap. In case you have worn yours out, I will take extra hats with me and gladly give you a new one. Perhaps we can shoot together or at least get a group picture.
Gunsite is a good friend of the Network and the Network strives to be a good friend to Gunsite. Several Gunsite instructors are Network members and Gunsite lists us on their website as a “friend” under their links tab. The Network donates $25 to the Jeff Cooper Legacy Foundation (http://jeffcooperfoundation.org/news/) for each new full-pay membership that identifies Gunsite as how they learned about the Network.
As you know, I frequently discuss the need for Network members to train. I am no exception to this need, even though my training résumé is several pages long. After the GAS weekend, I will be staying for two additional weeks in order to be a student in two training courses. The first class after the match is 499 Advanced Pistol Class, which is the third of the fundamental pistol courses that Gunsite offers.
I have completed 250 and 350, and both courses are well worth the time and money. When I attend a class, whether it is a basic course or something more advanced, I have one simple philosophy. I want every shot I take to be perfect. I push myself to be as good as I possibly can, every time. I doubt I will attain perfection when taking 499, but at least I will try as hard as I can.
The second class I am taking at Gunsite this October is their first-ever Instructor Development course. A couple of years ago I was talking with Ken Campbell, the chief operations officer of Gunsite, and mentioned that I thought a Gunsite instructor development class would be very worthwhile. Lo and behold (whether my input had anything to do with it or not), there was one on the schedule this year. I will be doing double duty at this class, my first job being that of an eager student, and second, I’m going as a journalist and writing about my experience for SWAT magazine. I will let you know when that article is scheduled to appear, likely sometime next spring.
Gunsite is not inexpensive to attend, but put class tuition into perspective, and you’ll see that taking a Gunsite class is doable for most middle-class folks who really want to go. Start saving $50 a week towards the trip, and in a year, you’ll have $2,500 saved up, which will cover the cost of the course, including ammo. Keep saving for a few more months, and you have money for your travel and lodging. I know many people who talk about going on cruises or other such travel; others love to talk about experiencing life-long goals–bucket list items, if you will. The costs for these kinds of adventures run about the same as a week at Gunsite.
Here’s a case in point from my own life. As I write this, I am still fighting the after-effects of a 24-hour trip on the open waters on a tuna charter boat. I am not a big fan of the open water and I have been known to chum if the seas get too rough, so Dramamine is my friend. A couple of days ago, I spent the equivalent of a day of training at Gunsite to get on a fairly-modestly outfitted boat to go out to sea and catch eight albacore tuna. Of course, I then spent my day yesterday catching up on sleep and canning the tuna.
The eight other guys on the boat with me were all from middle-class backgrounds similar to my own although most of them were already retired. The tuna fishing adventure was something they wanted to do, so they saved their pennies and went fishing. I will share with you the one picture of me and a tuna. You might notice that I am hunched down a little, the seas were so rough that I could not stand straight up. My legs are still sore several days later, but this is an experience I’m glad I fit into my schedule.
In the same manner, I am always glad when I come away from a Gunsite class, refreshed and reinvigorated, with a new training completion certificate and having spent a week or two with likeminded people.
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.