So you think it’s all beer and skittles, eh?
; .

The Connor Plan” for becoming a gunwriter includes Getting Blown Up.
This may result in your watch and your brain being accurate for two seconds per day.

“So,” several of you have asked, “Just how do you get to be a big-time professional gunwriter guy?” Fair question. The problem is, I can’t answer it because I ain’t one. I know several, and I’m not one of ’em. If you had asked, “How do you get to be whatever-the-heck you are?” Then I’d say, “I’m not real sure about that either, but for me, it was kinda like gettin’ hit by a bus.”

Yup. So far, my life has been spent — or misspent, whichever — in two colors of police uniforms and several flavors of military tack, both foreign and domestic. I was born and raised a military brat nomad, and I guess I never got over it. I’ve sorta wandered about, randomly gathering scars and stories as sort of an “all-terrain all-purpose weapons operator,” occasionally filling notebooks with semilegible scribbles. I didn’t really have a purpose in mind for ’em; it just seemed to be the right thing to do at the time.

It wasn’t a smooth ride. I kept either falling down — like, once through about 80′ of trees when my spider-line to a helo was cut — or getting blown up — like, once by a Chinesemade 82mm mortar round. (Note: Thank God for cheap Chinese manufacturing methods, ’cause if that had been an American 81mm, I’d have come out like a ripe tomato passed through a salad-shooter.)

After one such misadventure, while I was lying about idly wondering if my legs would ever work again, I tried using my fingers, wrapped around a pencil. I didn’t know how to “write,” so I just began talking to people on paper. Then somebody gave me a little money for that. “Cool,” I thought, and even after my legs and other parts started functioning again, I kept doing it. End of story, sorta.

My personal impression is real gunwriters are either born to it, like John Taffin seems to have been, or they developed an early childhood passion for everything that shoots and then pursued it like the Holy Grail, as Duke Venturino did, or they’re master gunsmiths in their own rights, widely experienced game hunters, or extremely knowledgeable scholars who just happen to love firearms. You’ll find all of those types represented in GUNS — and then there’s me.

If you can strip a Mauser bolt blindfolded, or take your 1911 down to the bare frame with confidence, you’re a better gun mechanic than I am. If you can think like a whitetail and your “other languages” include fluent turkeygobble and duck-quack, you’re a better hunter than I am. And a scholar? I can hardly remember my middle name and the final digits of my Social Security number. I’m pretty sure they’re not “Elizabeth” and “9-11,” but I could be wrong.

I can only conclude my editors keep me around either because they need comic relief to offset all that expertise or, because as one editor told me, “You make some unusual observations, and you see things a little differently. Maybe you’ve taken too many blows to the head.”


Too Many Blows To The Head?

Maybe that’s true, partially or totally. Many times in my life, application of my offbeat Mark II Squinty Eyeball has proven valuable to my “sponsors.” In one case, three of us got a short glimpse of a subject who was holding a pistol at the side of a female’s head and a knife to her throat while he made demands. The other two observers accurately noted several specific details about him, including his handgun and physical characteristics. I offered I didn’t think the “hostage” was afraid of him at all, and more scared we might shoot her while trying to hit him. That was true. More digging showed she was an accomplice, not a victim, and it changed the situation radically.

In another case, members of my group had to make observations about a paramilitary unit based on a brief exposure. My colleagues compiled a professional — and very derogatory — analysis of their dirty, tattered clothing, mismatched equipment, overall lack of military uniformity and more. I noted that their weapons, though well-used and worn, were spanky-clean, and every single one of those rag-tag dudes handled their AKs in exactly the same manner. That means discipline. Hey, I missed a lot, but I got that one right, and it proved to be crucial.


The Low-Lights

Those were a couple of highlights. Here are some low-lights, spun off my
Teflon-coated mind:

If you’re operating in dark, dank jungle and you feel something crawling on your hand, do NOT raise that hand to your face to get a better look at it. Some hand-crawling critters not only bite, they jump and bite — like, on your nose.

If there are two unsecured hard objects anywhere on your person, they will find each other and go clink! like a silver spoon dropped on a marble floor. This will invariably occur at the precise instant you wish desperately to have the “noise signature” of fog.

When vaulting fences and sprinting through backyards chasing a midnight burglar, take note of “doggy-bombs” on the lawns, and these two points: First, the burglar only woke that Rottweiler up as he passed through. Now Hans is awake and ticked off. Second, the number of poo-piles ain’t important — it’s the size of ’em that counts, and whether or not they contain shreds of clothing and indigestible bits of personal jewelry.

The currency of some nations makes far better toilet paper than others, and often, it takes more of it to buy an equivalent amount of their TP, which would make better sandpaper than toilet paper anyway. The upshot is you can save time, travel, money, friction burns to your bottom and simultaneously make a political statement.

You can fly over an area a half-dozen times and walk it twice, but terrain sure looks different when you’re crawling through it, especially when you’re both trying to see by the light of illumination flares, and not be seen by the guys who launched ’em. It’s “educational.”

In conclusion, I can only advise you to become an itinerant weapons operator, then fall down, get blown up, do some serious crawling and scribble illegible notes, all the while collecting significant blows to the head. Finally, stand in the right place at precisely the right time, and you’ll be either shot, snakebit, struck by lightning — or get a column in a gun magazine. Good luck!

Connor OUT