Where the Deer and the Antelope Play

Where the deer and antelope play

May 11, 2007 • Taos, New Mexico

The Cooper Memorial was inspiring. A Marine Color Guard unfurled the Flag; the Pledge of Allegiance was recited by some 200 people who meant every word of it; the invocation was delivered by longtime Cooper family friend and minister Tom Russell, carrying his 1911. My program disappeared in the mix so I don’t have it for details. Some of my personal highlights included these.

The premier screening of a film on Cooper’s life and work received a standing ovation. They are working to arrange a broadcast on History Channel or similar venue followed by release on dvd. This is the sort of thing you should get one copy of for yourself and another to donate to libraries, churches, ranges or wherever you know it will have a wider audience. It is a celebration of freedom, intelligence, love, patriotism, and honor. The proceeds will be used for the newly established Jeff Cooper Foundation.

I can’t remember who pointed out that Gunsite was the first civilian personal weapons training academy since the pre-Civil War dueling schools. He or she made the point that Cooper’s efforts were thus instrumental in the enactment of Shall Issue laws in so many states. Without competent, trained individuals applying legitimate political pressure through the NRA (the most important civil rights organization in America), the self-evident sensibility of armed civilians would not have been so widely accepted (despite the Bill of Rights). Clint Anker asked from the stage how many of us were carrying 1911s at that moment and virtually every hand in the room went up. Inshallah, we shall all be sky marshals someday.

Was delighted to see Cainlist Brothers Zeno and Greg Pate there, and to meet Tim Burke, George Mandes, and Charles Riggs. The Belle of the Ball of course was Kathy Langlois. Her pink leather Yaqui Slide and Mag Pouch simply stole the show. (Please forgive any omissions.)

Amy Heath sung God Bless America, the Retiring of the Colors followed, and the Steyr Scout and 1911 salute outside closed the afternoon event. I got caught up in conversation. The sun began to set and I went outside to see the exquisite New Mexico sky and mountains. A herd of eight deer came down the hill at that moment and sauntered across the range at the 50 yard line.

Dinner was an opportunity for a visit with Paul Kirchner. We’ve worked together for three or four years and this was the first time we’ve met in person. What a pleasure. I enjoyed his comment in the broadcast that Gunsite represented a Cooper version of Disneyland.

The next day was range time. Tom Russell acted as Range Master with a series of shootouts in which Brother Zeno consistently cleaned the proverbial clock of all concerned. That good ole boy can shoot! Charles came up with what I thought was the crazy idea of shooting small coyote metal silhouettes at over 260 yards. A number of people did it and I figured why not try. Talk about a lucky shot. I hit it with the first round of my 4 inch Kimber. (Note to Irv: I resisted the urge to try a second shot.)

Off to Taos via Hwy 64, a breathtaking drive through country so varied you can’t believe you have remained in the same dimension. 90 miles of enchantment. In legendary Cimarron I stopped at a Western wear store to buy Rachel a long sleeve t-shirt painted with horses. (I was naïve enough to be surprised by the Made in China label, God help us.) Saw a herd of 20-30 buffalo a distance off. Then came upon a group of 10 antelope fairly close to the road. I turned back around to get a closer look at them. Walked up quietly, telepathically communicating that I was a vegetarian. Then the thought of Irv went through my mind and instantly they fled.

Ran into Greg and Zeno on a mountaintop and helped them figure out Greg’s new camera. (Really joking here).

Happy to have made the trip. Everyone in the shooting community owes a huge debt to Jeff Cooper. Those who do not realize it have not been properly educated.