Thursday, February 25, 2010


Make the right ones go away

Unhappy is the fate of one who tries
to win his battles
and succeed in his attacks
without cultivating the spirit of enterprise,

for the result is waste of time and general stagnation

--Sun Tzu

It's never too late to be who you might have been

--George Eliot


[This is dedicated to Dale M., Deryle, Ted B. and Stevie B.]

Trajectories and riflery has been a recent topic of conversation, which got me thinking about the implications.

One can helpfully look at life as the trajectory of a bullet.
Since conception, we are forever being shot out of or into something. Infiltration and exfiltration. Hopefully keeping our weapons clean.

If we are as a projectile, then we must be detonated and launched downrange, to either hit or miss a target. The end of our flight is as predictable as it is immutable, as is the trajectory itself which has an apogee and a descent, which can be steep or more gradual.

Some of our readers are just free of the rifling while some of us are far down range, with our energies variously dissipated or intact. There are worse things than missing a target, especially one that shouldn't be hit. Sometimes the deflection is intentional, sometimes, merely serendipitous. Likewise, we often pursue targets that win us nothing when hit; in fact, the slowing down which we incur can be deleterious to our continued trajectory.

Mostly, the target is less important than the flight time of the projectile.

Once launched, we can't be recalled and our course is designated. So be careful where, when and how you place pressure on the trigger. Reader's contributions to this serious bit of whimsy are invited.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, there's also windage to be considered in addition to elevation.

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."John 3:8

A sudden, unexpected, gust of wind can move a round far off the point of aim.


Friday, February 26, 2010 at 11:41:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Mirage is very important also, since the target isn't where it appears or where it appears to be. That's another lesson.
As a sniper trainee i was taught to read the various types of mirage.
Then there's drift and bullet yaw to consider.
I'm glad to hear from you- i thought you were pissed about the Marine joke.
I promise not to use the one about the USMC sex manual.
I promise.

Friday, February 26, 2010 at 12:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the dedication Jim....don't get much dedicated toward my direction these days.

As for the contribution toward the "serious whimsy",
I'm guesstimating that even a half-hearted attempt at what happens at the detonation zone would be..well, just that --a guess.

Being a former artilleryman, and a college and semi-professional baseball pitcher after, I'm always concerned where the projectile lands...especially if I'm giving the command to fire, or threw the ball...or
running a ropes-course for 18 years, where part of the day I tell a kid it's ok to lean over the edge there and sail off on that zip line..

As the crew chief of a 175 mm gun during my '68 Senior Trip Abroad--vocational training, y'know--I was responsible that the thing would land on the bad guys and miss the good ones. 147 pounds of Composition B exploding hot metal over a huge bursting radius could/would/did a lot of damage. If the thing was off one mil on the sight, about half the width of a pencil lead, the round was more or less two miles off at the target at maximum range. "Shooting out" we called it.
In Vietnam, shooting out at most distance meant you couldn't even see the impact. That's one hell of a "target adjust"

I hear what you're saying about worse things than missing the target, but in the artillery context, that was the absolute worst thing we could do.
Besides getting all the members of my crews home ok..that's relative, as you know, physically safe, would be more apt, and I've come to believe over the years that was a function of luck and grace as much as anything--I'm most proud to say that no gun I ever gave the "fire" command ever shot out.
Grunts used to hug us for our not killing them.

Now, baseball, that was another issue. Once in a game in college, I walked 6 batters in row after striking out 12 of 15 in the game before. So I'm all over the place lots of the time.

Anarchist that I am, I've tried over the years to keep a sharp-eye, on account of all that's happening, you know?

If I'm hearing you say that those without rifling are to be cut some slack, I can go with the program
even tho I've never been so lucky. Doubt that you have either , or some of the others 'riting here.
Learning to suffer fools is a virtue I've yet to master
but as our Buddhist friends say: "every problem presents us with a lesson."

Wasting times on fools is what my dear ol Mom used to call "a layover for meddlers."

Paul Simon called stuff like this "A Simple Desultory Phillipic" and I'll call it a "ramble."

As Sir Doug once said, at risk of repeating myself: "Where's it all going man, do you know?"

there it is


lots of windage here, for sure...

Friday, February 26, 2010 at 12:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mirage...good one.

Pissed? Hell no. Like I said, I got a chuckle out of that joke. I find that one can enjoy the flight to that ultimate target much more if one can laugh; at oneself especially.

I haven't been around because I've been busy. Here at the ranch we have our own form of surf control.....it's the boss with her hands on her hips, looking over my shoulder and yacking about me wasting daylight while I'm trying to post a comment.


Friday, February 26, 2010 at 12:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

My dedication is well meaning . My article as always ended up somewhere different than envisioned.
Since you mention 175's it comes to memory that firing tables for big guns include calculations for air density.
Another thing that i've forgotten since my 4.2 inch days on the gun.
You can't throw a curve with a 175.
My entire tour i could never tell if it was tropical lightening or arty flashes on the horizon.
I still can't.

Friday, February 26, 2010 at 1:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


There is no virtue in suffering fools.

I mean, unless you're gunning for "messiah", or something. It doesn't pay very well, and the thank you isn't very pretty, either.

Friday, February 26, 2010 at 2:58:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well..thanks to you both for your kind responses..
I"m trying real hard to live up to the Miss Congeniality Award y'all bestowed on me oh, so long ago.

One day,.after the brass on that trophy turns, I"ll cut loose.

Would it be a fairer fight if a sniper used a shotgun? Would put a whole different twist on it, eh?

there it is


Friday, February 26, 2010 at 3:19:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i know your funnin'me.
There is nothing, to include our award, that will put a lid on your lip.
There are things that i know,and this is one of them.

Friday, February 26, 2010 at 4:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

"a whole different twist" :)

Ranger misunderstands, I feel. I see that you've been heroically living up to the title, and you may cut loose at any time. (The award only had the typical one-year lifespan, anyway.)

We're due to have another contest.

Friday, February 26, 2010 at 10:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

one of the very cool things about the human flight path is that we are not bound solely by gravity and things like trajectory can, when speaking about life and its living, be radically changed, even in midstride.

cooler heads and steady fingers are always good things on the trigger. a very true thing is that you can't take the shot back. once gone, it's out there and will do what bullets do.

sometimes it's the shot you don't take that has an impact. one thing i've noticed though. whenever i packed out the long rifle, somebody was damn sure getting shot.

i was kinda cossack that way.

thing is, i've made many serious changes that really have altered the trajectory of my life. it ain't easy, but it can be done.

if it couldn't then what the fuck would be the point of will?

Saturday, February 27, 2010 at 1:19:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minstrel Boy, I agree that with free will humans are capable of changing trajectory in mid-flight; theoretically at least.

It is obvious to me - and I hope you don't mind my saying so - being somewhat familiar with where you came from and having brief glimpes of where you are now (e.g. your service, your knowledge, your appreciation of classics, etc), that you have the power and intelligence to make those changes.

In my observations of life, I have concluded that most people just don't. Once the trigger is squeazed they obey the external laws of physics and arrive at the predictable (based on the physics) target; as Jim said.

They may want to change flight path. They talk about it and they even make an effort, but they are unable, in the end, to do so. This is the vast majority of people.

I have worn some very different hats myself; made some 90 degree turns in flight. Maybe every ten years or so I shed my skin like a snake. Whatever I chose to do I tend to do well and this is evidenced by the fact that I usually rank up pretty fast or achieve some other tangible token of "success". It actually gets easier as time goes on because I have learned how to learn and learned how to adapt.

I digress.

The point I want to make is that some rare people define themselves by what is inside their hearts and minds.

Most people define themselves by the trajectory that they are on and, becuase they do, they cannot change.


Saturday, February 27, 2010 at 10:43:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

MB, my dear Cossack,

I am very inspired by your story, and am glad you were able to make flight adjustments. It is often a very painful thing to do, but ultimately rewarding.

As Avedis says, if one defines oneself by one's trajectory, there will be no change. But "some rare people define themselves by what is inside their hearts and minds".

Simply beautiful.

Saturday, February 27, 2010 at 7:24:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

I seem to have the trajectory of a .22 bullet fired down a .30 barrel through a bunch of saplings. And have just bounced off another one of those saplings as I've just quit/been fired from what was the wrong target that I'd been trying to understand why I was going in that direction anyway. It'll be interesting to see what new flight course I take now.

Ranger is aware that I'm a bit of a fan of the old heavy slow movers of the BPC era. They might have a heck of an arch and might be hard to place exactly were you wanted them but not much changes their course.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 1:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

The big slow BPC's are like a old man's dick-the only thing that affects them is gravity.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 3:11:00 PM GMT-5  

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