“Look Before You Shoot”

Carefulaimprinti10032365 I am a Life member of the National Rifle Association.  My grandfather gave me my first firearm when I was thirteen.  Then he sold me (cheap) a deer rifle a year or so later.  That might have been me in the picture with him or one of my uncles.  My father, like many soldiers, disliked guns and did not object to hunting but had no interest in it.  I have hunted upland birds (ruffed grouse and pheasants), wild boar in Turkey, white tail and mule deer ail over America, rabbits, etc.  I never hunted duck or geese.  I do not know why I did not.  The great duck hunting stories in Hemingway sure do make it sound attractive.

I don’t hunt anymore.  I have not for many years.  I just lost interest in it.  I still have firearms and like to shoot on a range.  At the moment I do not have a shotgun but have owned them in 410, 20 and 12 gauge.  The Cheney hunting accident puzzles me.  Quailtwo

These are quail, apparently.  I never hunted any of these.  They are quite small birds and do not look anything like the shootee in this incident. 

I was taught and have taught that when you are in the field with a loaded weapon aiming to shoot and kill something, you are supposed to see the target before you fire.  This is a basic rule of the whole "deal."  Up in Maine, when I was a kid, the hunting fraternity (everybody) would occasionally identify some local (rarely) or flat-lander from New Jersey (often) or Massachusetts (ptui!) who did what was called "sound shooting."  In other words, this cretin would shoot at sounds in the woods without seeing what it might be.  Such people were shunned as beneath the notice of ordinary folk of sound mind.

Winterhuntersinthesnowprinti10032999 This is what it is supposed to be, folks.  "Hunters in the Snow," with dogs.  Without the dogs it loses a lot.   

I have been trying to re-construct the "geography" of this "engagement" in my head.  The VP’s office is not helping with this and I wonder why.  Apparently three hunters were advancing in a line:  left to right  Shootee – VP – US Ambassador to Switzerland.  The Shootee dropped out of the line to pick up a bird BEHIND the line.  Instead of stopping to wait for him the line kept moving, focused on the birds in the grass in front of them.  This left the space on the VP’s left empty.  He did not notice this?  The shootee approached the line from the rear, BEHIND the VP?  A covey of these little critters flew (apparently at the line of shooters) and the VP pivoted to his left (?) tracking the bird and fired, hitting the shootee who was either behind him or outside his peripheral vision to the left and rear (?) 

Download be_vewy.doc

To me that sounds like he fired on instinct without seeing the target.  Hunters and soldiers are supposed to have better "situational awareness" than that.  What was this, a "reconnaissance by fire?"

Range?  What was the size of the shot?  Number 5s? number 7s?  For a pellet to be inside the shootee’s rib cage and at least up against his heart, the range must have been pretty short.

Don’t kid yourself folks, the shootee is in serious shape.  At his age, the eventual result of this trauma is unpredictable.  Let us hope for the best.

Pat Lang


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18 Responses to “Look Before You Shoot”

  1. Jim Brooks says:

    Pat, as you know the shot (pellets) pattern of #7 1/2 shot gets bigger as it travels farther away from it’s origin. The graphs on the news last night showed a very tight pattern and I have heard there are many pellets in Whittington. I would estimate that Whittington was within 30 feet or closer to Cheney.

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes. It has to be that range or less.

  3. CJ says:

    Pat –
    Though I’ve never owned a firearm, I’ve participated in dangerous sports/activities throughout my life. In any activity involving extreme forces, situational awareness is crucial. If you don’t know the limits of yourself and your equipment and are unwilling to discipline your responses to the situation, you have no business being out there. I guess the same can be said to apply to leading a country.
    Now, as a near lifelong resident of Massachusetts, I’ll try not to take “ptui” too personally!!! We’re not all jackasses here, you know…

  4. W. Patrick Lang says:

    In re “Ptui!” Farrell made me do it. pl

  5. RJJ says:

    Another case of relief from the cares of office.
    And Cheney can truthfully say, “I did not go hunting with that man, Mr. Whittington.”
    It was a canned shoot.

  6. taters says:

    For starters, like everyone else here, I hope Mr. Whittington pulls through. But isn’t this the sorta thing that trigger happy, knee jerk reactionaries do?
    According to ole Deadeye Dick, Nelson Mandela was a terrorist, Atta was in Prague, Saddam was responsible for 9/11, he never met John Edwards ( despite the fact they had breakfast together twice )… you get the picture. Now the owner of the biggest spread in Texas says the boys were drinkin’ a few beers. Although not all those that drank hunted.
    Is the implication that all that hunted drank?
    I’ve yet to hear from Wayne LaPierre on this, Pat, does anyone know if the shotgun the Veep received from the NRA as a gift is the shotgun
    that was used in this unfortunate accident?
    Which, btw is a beaut.

  7. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Ever heard Ron White do his bit about being “hurled” out of a NY City bar when drunk (of course)? He says the cops looked him up on their computer rig and found that he had been busted in Texas when a kid for some trivial stuff and that he had told the local Texas cop (whom he had known all his life)that his name was “Tater Salad.” So all those years later the guy in New York asks him “Are you Ron “Tater Salad” White?” he claims to have replied “You got me. You got the Tater.” This is almost as funny as his thing about Sluggo not having thumbs.
    What kind of gun did they give him?
    LaPierre? Dream on. Pat

  8. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I was one of those once.
    “Guns to the left of them. Guns to the right of them. Into the valley of death rode the six hundred.”
    NRA = The Light Brigade. Not. Pat

  9. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I withdraw the remark about Massachusetts. I must have been thinking of ….. hmm.

  10. wtofd says:

    It’s okay, PL, as a proud life-long Mass resident I can confirm that most of us are jackasses.

  11. Peter vE says:

    And as a long time resident of Rhode Island, I can confirm the above. /snark
    Who was it that said ” The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” in King Henry VI Part 2?
    Yes, it was Dick the Butcher. That Shakespeare fellow seems to have been fairly prescient…

  12. Some Guy says:

    There seem at least two non-exclusive reasons why they waited to tell the press. 1) The drinking thing. 2) The wound is very serious and they wanted to see if the poor man would stablize.
    I cannot believe that physicians would mistake shot that had penetrated the rib-cage for minor.
    Also, this nonsense about “6 to 200” pellets is ridiculous. They cannot give a clearer sense of how much shot hit Whittington than that? I do not believe it.
    Over and above what seems like pretty clear negligence on Cheney’s part, the impression of Cheney only being answerable to Cheney is on display “big time.” He acts as a private power who receives that power only becuase he is a public official. Rather against the point of a democracy, what?
    Did not know you were from Maine, Colonel. Lovely, lovely land. This winter is not real, though. I want my snow.

  13. ked says:

    has anyone addressed the matter of a VP engaging in highly risky behavior in time of war? given the Pres’s need for adult supervision, doesn’t the VP in a gunfight transcend the bucket of warm spit doctrine?

  14. taters says:

    I’m fairly sure its not the same gun the NRA gave him. Simply because nowhere is it mentioned in anything I’ve read..
    I haven’t seen the Ron White bit but that’s pretty darned funny.

  15. W. Patrick Lang says:

    If you are thinking of the gun he is seen holding up at an NRA meeting, that looks like a flintlock shotgun, an 18th century fowling piece. Different gun.
    So then White says that he calls his son “Tater Tot.”

  16. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Some Guy
    My dear mother was from Quebec by way of Maine and my father went to live there when he retired from the Army. So, I had the lucky experience of living literally out in the woods (between Kennebunk and Sanford)all through high school. Wonderful place to spend those years. Pat

  17. Jeff says:

    I’m not an NRA member, but my two older brothers and my dad are. I shot a shotgun for the first time (a .410, with my oldest brother kneeling behind me doing the real aiming and holding) when I was 4. Got my first gun when I was 11 (a beautiful little .22). I’ve been around guns my whole life, and Cheney sounds like the kind of guy you only go shooting with once, and never again (even if he doesn’t actually kill you). The story put out by Armstrong has made no sense to me from the beginning. First, the implication that approaching a shooter (whether at a range or in the field) from BEHIND was somehow wrong is just absurd. Behind or immediately abreast of the shooter is where you always want to be, unless getting shot is your goal. And the fact that he made no “call” as he approached seems like a red herring as well. A person approaching hunters who have no reason to know the person is there should make their presence known, of course. But regardless of which account you read (where the distance between Cheney and the victim is variously described as between 30 feet and 30 yards, any of which would be rough estimates) it does not seem that the victim went far enough away from his companions (or in a dangerous direction relative to his companions) as to necessitate announcing his presence. If my companions know me to be to the left of them (abreast or further back), I am not going to announce myself if I walk ten feet to the rear and then back in line– it’s just silly to suggest that the man should have done so. Cheney broke many rules of hunting, and it seems the victim broke none. Like so many things that happen with this administration, they insist on lowering the relevant standards to comform with their behavior instead of actually trying to live up to the standards in the first place. Cheney is a master hunter. We do not torture. Illegal domestic spying is Constitutional. Etc. These people are dangerous and pathological.

  18. W. Patrick Lang says:

    A Soviet major general once said to me – “let’s kill all the politicians and diplomats.” Perhaps he was joking. Pat

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