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Gary Plauche: The Raw Reality of Revenge by WILL DABBS

What possessed the brain damaged art director for this cheesy 1980’s action movie to affix Arnold Schwarzenegger’s grenades to his web gear by their pins? Methinks these guys have likely never handled live grenades. Wow.

“Somewhere, somehow, somebody’s going to pay,” was the tagline for the 1985 Schwarzenegger action movie Commando. This classic stylized bloodbath orbited around a retired special operator named John Matrix whose daughter is kidnapped. The archetypal evil mastermind takes the little girl in an effort at motivating Schwarzenegger’s super-soldier character to overthrow a small island nation-state on his behalf. The central theme, should you wish to think this deeply about it, explores the limits to which a devoted father might go to protect his child.

This was one of my favorite scenes from the movie. A dumpy Vernon Wells accuses the utterly shredded John Matrix of getting too old to fight. Incidentally, Wells also played the lunatic villain Wez in the Australian post-apocalyptic classic The Road Warrior.

According to www.moviebodycounts.com, for his era, Arnold Schwarzenegger was Hollywood’s deadliest actor as determined by total on-screen kill count. Commando was his bloodiest movie by the same metric. His record has since been eclipsed by more modern fare, but he was the unchallenged 1980’s king of gory vengeance. As an aside, one scene that was proposed but later cut had Schwarzenegger chopping a henchman’s arm off with a machete and then beating him to death with it. His dialogue was to have been, “Thanks for lending me a hand.” Sheesh…

The M202 FLASH launcher fired 66mm incendiary rockets and was intended to replace WW2-era flamethrowers. FLASH stood for FLame Assault SHoulder. It must have been a slow day in the US Army’s overworked acronym generation office.

John Matrix logged seventy-four kills in Commando. Among them fifty-one people were shot, seven were blown up by emplaced explosives, and five others succumbed to hand grenades. Another five met their gory demise thanks to an M202 rocket launcher.

A 13-year-old Alyssa Milano catches a ride aboard her perambulating battleship of a movie dad.
Alyssa Milano has come a long way since her big-screen debut as a helpless teenaged girl in the Schwarzenegger kill-fest Commando.

Two faceless disposable bad guys got cut into pieces by thrown circular saw blades, one person was stabbed to death, and one particularly unfortunate rascal was impaled on a hissing steam pipe. As an aside, Schwarzenegger’s youthful daughter Jenny was none other than 13-year-old Alyssa Milano, the modern face of the Me Too movement.

How would you like to wake up to this every day before class? It worked for me while I was in college.

Commando was actually a pretty silly movie. The guns were cool, but the dialogue seemed like it was penned by a Third Grader, and the acting simply reeked of cheese. I’m nonetheless not too proud to admit that I had a life-size movie poster from the film plastered on my dorm room wall back when I was a college student. However, a year before Commando hit the big screen, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, saw a very public example of just how far one real guy might actually go to avenge a crime committed against his child. That guy’s name was Gary Plauche.

The Setting

By all accounts, Gary Plauche was just a normal dude. He coached little league and supported his community.

Leon Gary Plauche was born on November 10, 1945, in Baton Rouge. He served in the US Air Force and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. After leaving the military he became a heavy equipment salesman and also worked as a cameraman for a local TV station. Though he had a temper, he was known for his affable demeanor and quick jokes. Plauche fathered four children—three boys and a girl. Gary was separated from his wife June in the early 1980s. This was predictably hard on his kids.

In case you were wondering exactly what a real monster looks like, this is it.

In 1983 Gary’s 11-year-old son Jody began taking Hapkido lessons from a 25-year-old ex-Marine named Jeffrey Doucet. Jeff Doucet had humble beginnings. He dropped out of school in Ninth Grade and, as a child, lost a sister to a rattlesnake bite. The discipline and exercise intrinsic to the martial arts seemed good for Jody. Doucet took the kid under his wing and cultivated a bond that appeared to be therapeutic given the circumstances. Doucet was a regular visitor at the Plauche home and frequently gave Jody a ride to the dojo for training.

Jeff Doucet abducted this young man when he was 11. Doucet was later suspected of molesting numerous other local children as well.

Authorities later determined that Jeffrey Doucet had been molesting the young man for more than a year. In February of 1984, Doucet kidnapped Jody and took him to a motel in Anaheim, California, near Disneyland where he sexually assaulted the kid repeatedly. Meanwhile, the authorities scoured the country looking for them both.

Yeah, that’s creepy. Jeffrey Doucet was a master manipulator.

Doucet eventually allowed Jody to make a collect call to his mother. The cops traced the call to the motel and staged a raid. Law Enforcement officers hit the hotel room, rescued the child, and took Doucet into custody without incident.

When faced with an unimaginably horrible circumstance Gary Plauche didn’t really know where to turn.

Jody was returned home on March 1, 1984. Once he was safe the details of the protracted abuse came to light. Gary, who was 39 at the time, was interviewed by a news crew in a ghoulish effort at ascertaining his feelings on the situation. He told the interviewer that he did not know what to do and just felt helpless.

The Setting

It took a little planning to pull off Gary Plauche’s hit. The event in all its gory detail was captured by a local TV news crew.

Two weeks after Jody returned to Louisiana, Jeffrey Doucet was extradited from California to Louisiana to stand trial for child molestation and sexual assault. Doucet’s Flight 595 out of Dallas landed at Ryan Field in Baton Rouge, and Doucet was led through the terminal in handcuffs. Meanwhile, wearing a baseball cap and dark glasses, the aggrieved father Gary Plauche stood nearby at a bank of pay phones speaking with his best friend. He cryptically whispered into the phone, “Here he comes. You’re about to hear a shot.”

Local TV news crews captured Jeffrey Doucet as he returned to Baton Rouge to face justice for pedophilia.

In the immediate aftermath of what was to come it was assumed that local Law Enforcement officers had tipped Plauche off regarding the timing and location of the transfer. Plauche enjoyed friendships with many of the local cops, so this was not an unreasonable assumption. It was later determined, however, that a former co-worker from the local ABC television affiliate WBRZ-TV was Plauche’s source of intel. Then as now tragedy sells, so the media slathered the sordid story with attention.

Though he did not realize it, Jeffrey Doucet was mere moments away from some serious frontier justice.

This bit is all pretty unsettling when you think about it. Humans in the Information Age are drawn to calamity like politicians to other peoples’ money. Throughout this whole ghastly episode, TV crews hounded the major players in search of that Pulitzer-grade image that might graphically capture one man’s anguish in the face of something so epically horrible. At 9:30 pm with the manacled child molester Jeffrey Doucet passing just behind him, Gary Plauche gave the world those images.

The Killing

Sheriff’s Deputy Major Mike Barnett took Plauche down immediately.

Plauche retrieved a small revolver of unknown make from his boot, stepped alongside Doucet, placed the gun to the right side of his head, and fired a single .38-caliber hollowpoint round. The cops subdued him immediately. Plauche’s friend Deputy Sheriff Mike Barnett can be heard on the tape asking him, “Gary, why? Why, Gary?”

Plauche tearfully answered, “If somebody did it to your kid, you’d do it, too!”

The Aftermath

I don’t myself care much for Michael Moore’s work.

The sex criminal Jeffrey Doucet fell into a coma and died in hospital the following day. Video footage of the horrific scene has taken on a life of its own. Michael Moore used it in his anti-gun documentary screed Bowling for Columbine. The clip also featured prominently in an unsettling compilation of real-life video killings titled Traces of Death 2 released in 1994. It was viewed more than 20 million times on YouTube prior to its removal.

This is still America, so Gary Plauche’s tragedy naturally graced a t-shirt.

Gary Plauche was charged with murder in the second degree but subsequently pled no contest to manslaughter. He was given a seven-year suspended sentence along with five years’ probation and 300 hours of community service. He completed all of this in 1989.

The public was naturally mesmerized by this whole horrid tale.

Opinions were mixed on the outcome of the Plauche case. Some felt that shooting a man in the head in cold blood in an airport warranted more than probation and community service. Others believed that the circumstances surrounding the crimes committed against his child absolved him of responsibility. Plauche’s defense team made a compelling argument that Doucet was a charismatic manipulative predator who had used Plauche’s family challenges to take advantage of his son.

Gary Plauche had no criminal record prior to his gunning down a child molester in the Baton Rouge airport.

Psychological assessments alleged that Plauche was so traumatized by these events that he was unable to discern the difference between right and wrong at the time of the killing. Any parent can imagine the unfettered anguish this might precipitate. The judge in the case, Frank Saia, ultimately agreed and opined that Plauche represented no risk of further criminal behavior. He felt that sending Plauche to prison would serve no material purpose for the state.

This guy was just a freaking sociopath.

It was later revealed that Doucet and Plauche’s wife June were having an affair at the time. This revelation just served to muddy the waters further. However, forensics determined that Doucet’s assault on Jody occurred just as had been alleged.

Jody Plauche has since parlayed his horrible experience into an effort at helping others similarly traumatized. Good for him.

In 2019 Jody Plauche released a book titled, Why, Gary, Why? The Jody Plauche Story. The book was described thusly, “Through his own incredible story of using his past for good by helping others, he shares how any reader who has suffered great trauma can move on and not let the past define him or her.”

Jody went on to letter in four sports before finishing high school.

I’ve not read it myself, so I can’t comment on its contents. However, the excerpts I have found do yield insight into Jody’s subsequent attitudes about the shooting.

This horrible episode inevitably brought the Plauche family a great deal of attention. Here Jody and Gary are shown alongside Geraldo Rivera.

He wrote, “I think for a lot of people who have not been satisfied by the American justice system my dad stands as a symbol of justice…My dad did what everybody says what they would do…Plus, he didn’t go to jail. That said, I cannot…condone his behavior. I understand why he did what he did. But it is more important for a parent to be there to help support their child than put themselves in a place to be prosecuted.”

Here is Gary later in life attending a Saints game. He lived out the rest of his days in relative normalcy.

In his final interview prior to his death, Gary Plauche showed no regret for killing Jeffrey Doucet and stated that he would do it again if given the opportunity. In 2011 Plauche had a stroke as a complication of diabetes and was placed in a nursing home. He died in 2014 at the age of 68.

Though Jody was angered by the killing in its immediate aftermath, he subsequently understood and appreciated his father’s motivations. Interestingly, he later said his dad’s implicit willingness to kill anyone who harmed his family was an impediment to his coming forward to report Doucet’s abuse.

Of his father, Jody wrote, “A lot of people remember the guy who shot somebody. I remember someone who would pick up stray animals…someone who was just a kind soul, a gentle person.”

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Happy first day of Fall!! NSFW

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CSM Franklin (Doug) Miller

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Bully for him!

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Its just a pity that Scalia did not live to see this! Grumpy

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The good Old Days!

May be an image of ‎4 people, people standing and ‎text that says '‎Trophies of Battle In Italy Playing soldier and Italian eapons real, hon- صة Anzio Beachhead home Winn, Daddy. Winn Jones Major never seen Jones, were recently the 7th shooter sights; Elwyn amphibious forces that arena. approval little six-month old Moffett while Ford Ebner, right, shows how German machine pistol slung from shoulder, ready instant trophies included several trays made from German shell cases several Italian books, pictures bombastic II der Fuehrer. Italian bine, attached folding bayonet,‎'‎‎

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All About Guns Allies Good News for a change!

A MODEST PROPOSAL MORE GRATITUDE, LESS ILL-INFORMED INDIGNATION WRITTEN BY WILL DABBS, MD

Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” was a seminal piece of literary satire.

 

In 1729, the esteemed satirist Jonathan Swift anonymously published “A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick.” History has come to refer to this seminal work of satire as simply “A Modest Proposal.” His suggestion in the face of soul-crushing poverty in Ireland was that Irish parents sell their children to the rich for consumption as food. Dissecting “A Modest Proposal” was the only exercise in classical literature I undertook in high school that I truly enjoyed.

Swift penned this work in the face of cataclysmic destitution. Here’s an excerpt: “A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.”

This specific literary technique is a form of paralipsis. In crafting such an extreme example, Swift made the point that the nation’s priorities were badly askew. He used this essay to raise awareness of something institutionally rotten in the English culture of the era.

The Information Age Treatment

 

There is something comparably putrid about our own culture today. A shockingly large swath of our population has raised corporate self-flagellation to an art form. It’s not that our countrymen simply wish to enact change via the democratic process. That would be great. These woke Americans hate America like ISIS or al Qaeda might. They couch their grievances in the guise of social justice. Cops and traditional family values are the perennial targets.

Here’s a handy dose of reality. You may think we’re bad, but the entire planet is unimaginably worse. Yes, we’ve had our warts. We all agree that slavery was repugnant, and ours is hardly a colorblind America. However, we have made immense strides.

The stratification of wealth is as old as humanity. No amount of social engineering will ever change that. Social justice warriors are rendered combat ineffective over pronoun usage. We medicate our dogs for depression, while Ukrainians cower in basements hoping they won’t be crushed to death. It’s simply surreal.

Antifa presumes that there is some utopian ideal someplace where all men/women/undecided really are treated equally. That utopia simply doesn’t exist. ISIS straps gay people to chairs and throws them off of tall buildings. Scandinavian cities are racially segregated on a scale unimaginable in the U.S. The first woman to receive a driver’s license in Saudi Arabia did so in 2018. Thanks to their draconian hijab laws, Afghan women might now live their entire lives without feeling the sun on their skin. And the problem is America?

There is a reason the entire planet seems hellbent to come here. Compared to the U.S., the rest of the world simply sucks. It’s time modern Americans started showing a little more gratitude and a little less ill-informed indignation.

 

Get on your feet, you losers. Protest injustice with my blessing. However, protest the problem, not the country that guarantees your right to protest. Photo by Keith Allison via Unsplash

The Exchange

 

So here’s my proposal: Everyone protesting traditional American values should be bused to the southern border for a one-for-one swap. For every quasi-literate immigrant we allow into the country we supply one discontented social justice warrior in exchange. The militant progressives can then caravan down to Guatemala, while the dispossessed Guatemalans get to stay here. Now, I admit that Berkeley may find itself desperately short on sociology professors. However, that’s a chance I’m willing to take.

In return, we get a whole pile of poorly-educated people who don’t speak English. However, if we explain that assimilation into American culture is a prerequisite for staying here, they would likely be jabbering away in English toot sweet. They would also probably work their butts off so their kids and grandkids can eventually become doctors and lawyers as well. At least that’s the way it has worked in the past.

 

There’s a reason everybody on the planet wants to come here.
Photo by Charlota Blunarova via Unsplash

Ruminations

 

I grow so terribly weary of the incessant prattling about how ghastly it is here. Stop your whining. If you hate America so badly, the southern border appears to be wide open. Don’t let the screen door hit you in the butt.

Institutional abuse, racism, and corruption in America pale in comparison to places like Mexico, Colombia, Afghanistan, and the Sudan. Those griping the loudest have simply never been anyplace else. Plop the liberal arts faculty from Oberlin College down in Yemen and see how many are still breathing 30 days later.

Too many good Americans died to secure our freedoms, some of whom were friends of mine, to tolerate this. I tire of listening to these petulant toddlers scream. If you think capitalism is the problem and socialism is the solution then climb aboard, next stop … Venezuela. I’ll cover your ticket.

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Arkansas Is The Best Worst Place to Live! by Mike Sampson

April 21, 2022
Mike Sampson

In prior Gun Talk articles I’ve spoken of how glad I am to live in Arkansas, the Natural State. Now I have another reason.

An April article on msn.com noted that “The state with the worst gun laws is Arkansas. Its gun law grade in 2021 was F.”

In the article, I found that “To determine the state with the worst gun laws, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2021 Annual Gun Law Scorecard from the Giffords Law Center (led by former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, herself a gun violence victim), which assigned letter grades to states based on the strength and weaknesses of their gun laws and policies.”

And in looking at the Giffords site, indeed Arkansas is ranked 50th in the nation. Wyoming is 49th, Idaho is 48th, and my birth state of Missouri is 47th.  I’ve lived in all four states. On the scorecard, 23 states share the F grade.

As Gun Talk readers might speculate, California has a number one ranking, but look at what is going on in that state with firearms violations and crime surge. For a real education about your state’s ranking, take a look at the scorecard site with the link above.

The article further defines Arkansas’ low ranking with the following:

“Arkansas is a ‘shall issue’ state, according to the report. This means that local law enforcement must issue a concealed weapons license to any applicant who is 21 years old and over, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and a resident of Arkansas for at least 90 days, among other such criteria. In 2021, Arkansas also repealed its law that required a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public. With this it dropped from ranking 12th worst in 2020 to the worst in 2021.”

 

Yes, Arkansas of one of 25 states that has conferred Constitutional carry on its residents, and for me, that gives each of those states a high ranking.

 

To clarify things, the article also says, “National laws have been impossible to pass because many people believe gun ownership is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Gun regulations, therefore, are mostly enacted at the state level. Some states are very strict, while in others people can carry guns in the open.”

 

And all along I’ve been thinking the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment allow gun ownership. Leave it to the lamestream media to shatter my beliefs.

 

As the article continued, “Many states have very loose gun ownership rules. Those with stronger restrictions in place can do little to stem the flow of firearms from less-regulated states. One bill currently before the House Judiciary Committee, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, would even force states with stricter gun laws to accept concealed carry permits issued in states with less stringent laws.”

 

I’ve written before about the benefits of reciprocity because I travel to other states, and my Arkansas CCW is honored in most states I visit. Wouldn’t national reciprocity be a novel idea for self defense?

 

I have said all along I believe if one is going to carry a firearm, training is a good plan, and CCW permit classes usually have an overview of state firearms laws as part of that training component. Knowing state firearms laws where you live and travel is a key way to stay out of legal trouble. Look at Handgunlaw.us or USCCA Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & U.S. Gun Laws | USCCA (usconcealedcarry.com) for state information.

 

To help understand Arkansas’ ranking, my state also is first in eight other achievements that include:

·      Creation of Walmart stores.

·      Adding synchronized sound to film.

·      Issuing “Obesity Report Cards” for kids in 2004.

·      First U.S. female senator, Hattie Caraway, in November 1932.

·      Installing school classroom panic buttons in 2015-16.

·      Founding of Dillard’s Department Stores in 1938.

·      Creation of Brown and Serve Rolls.

·      Creation of “cheese dogs” in 1956.

 

While these achievements certainly add to Arkansas’ stature and history, ranking 50th on the Giffords national scorecard makes me glad my best worst state is doing its part to help me “Stay safe, be prepared.” ~ Mike

Mike Sampson
Mike now calls Northwestern Arkansas home, but has lived and worked in several states and internationally. He has been an independent contractor and consultant since 2006 specializing in risk management, emergency management and training, worked as a law-enforcement planner and technical writer with the Boise, Idaho, Police Department, and also worked as an outfitter’s guide.

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Arthritis Tips: How to Load & Unload Semi-Autos There are ways to compensate, mitigate and tolerate the challenges of arthritis. by DR. JOSEPH LOGAR, PT, DPT

illustration of human hand and wrist bones

The pain and weakness of arthritis can be debilitating in firearms handling, particularly when it comes to loading and unloading semi-automatic handguns. In this article, we’ll offer some tips and specific products that you may find helpful. But first, a couple of caveats: First, this information is in no way meant to replace the advice of your doctor. Furthermore, the equipment modifications mentioned here are suggestions, and should only be taken as such. We’re neither endorsing nor guaranteeing that these adaptations are possible for all pistols. Your best course of action is to consult with a qualified gunsmith about the applicability of these to a specific firearm.

Loading the magazine
Consider the strength and dexterity required when loading—fully loading—a double-stack magazine. The resistance generated by the magazine spring may start lightly, but by the time there are 10 to 12 rounds in the magazine it becomes nearly insurmountable. The force needed to compress the spring must be generated by pressing the rim of the case head of the round to be loaded into the body of the round already inserted into the magazine. This relies heavily on the strength and stability of the thumbs, which, under ideal conditions, is a good idea. Unfortunately, the most common site of arthritic impairment in the hand is the large joint (carpometacarpal) at the base of the thumb. The average speed loader may help, but most shooters continue to rely on at least one thumb to generate the pressure to depress the round in the magazine.

Equipment suggestion: The Uplula by Maglula, LTD all but eliminates the fine motor element of the task. This device utilizes the stronger gross movement of whole-hand gripping to compress the magazine spring.

Racking the slide
Stacking a full magazine in a semi-automatic is only one step toward the goal of loading the pistol. Racking the slide to move the first round out of the magazine and into the chamber is the second goal. This task can be modified through changes in technique or equipment. The overhand grip technique minimizes joint stress and increases muscle activation by using nearly the entire hand to grasp the slide. For the right-handed shooter, that means resting the left hand across the back of the slide, making sure to stay clear of the ejection port. Grip force is multiplied by placing the finger tips and the base of the palm over the cocking serrations on either side of the slide. Part of this technique is to not rely solely on the left hand (in this example) to move the slide rearward. Make the movement a combined action by also driving the right hand forward. This way, the larger muscle groups of the chest, shoulders and arms can be brought into play.

Unfortunately, even the best techniques have limitations when pain enters the picture. Fortunately, equipment adaptations can often close that gap.

Equipment suggestion: The “Halo” charging ring for Browning Buckmark. The charging ring is an extension mounted to the rear of the slide that provides an alternative contact point for cycling the firearm. With this design, the user can slip a finger through the ring, and with the combined motion of pushing with the firing hand, and pulling rearward with the support hand, he or she can achieve slide motion. There are multiple manufacturers, including those made for many other popular pistols. This is but one example that fits a popular .22-caliber gun.

Equipment suggestion: The Handi-Racker. This device is a thick plastic card with an indentation cut into one side that fits over the muzzle end of the slide and accommodates the barrel protruding as the slide retracts. With the Handi-Racker in place, the user would press the end of the device against a fixed surface, which would drive the slide back. The main drawback is that you are pointing the muzzle of the firearm into a fixed surface—a wall, table or post—which may not constitute a safe direction. That requires constant user diligence to assure compliance with safe gun handling standards.

One final equipment suggestion: The final and ultimate gear modification is always to use a different type of pistol. Beretta eliminated the need for racking the slide by producing a family of break-action semi-automatics beginning in the 1950s. Since then the design has been copied by other manufacturers, but we will give Beretta its due here. The Beretta 3032 Tomcat, 950, 21A Bobcat and the Cheetah models all use a tip-up barrel design for loading the first round into the chamber. This makes it possible to have a fully loaded pistol without ever having to manipulate (rack) the slide. These pistols are quite small, work well for concealed carry purposes, and can be chambered in .22 Short, .22 LR, .25 ACP, .32 ACP and .380 ACP.

Do keep in mind that the same characteristics that make these firearms good for concealed carry also tend to make them poor options for plinking at the range. Their diminutive size can make gripping and recoil management difficult for a person with arthritis. Since the slide operates on a blow back mechanism, it may operate stiffly, creating challenges to manually cycle the slide to clear a malfunction or check for a barrel obstruction.

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All About Guns Good News for a change! This great Nation & Its People

PALMA RIFLE COMPETITION A BASIC GUIDE TO THE SPORT AND EQUIPMENT WRITTEN BY SERENA JUCHNOWSKI

Serena works on her Palma shooting skills. Palma is a prone rifle competition using
highly customized iron sights on .223 or .308 caliber rifles to hit targets at 1,000 yards.
Photo: Max Crotser

 

The jaws immediately drop. “You shoot 1,000 yards? With iron sights?” It’s amazing how many people think it’s impossible. With the rise in popularity of “long range” shooting, classic disciplines like Palma have been forgotten. While competing with the AR-15 — originally with iron sights, then with a 4.5x optic — I attended 600-yard mid-range matches to better my prone skills. Farther down the firing line, on the 1,000-yard range, I would admire the beautiful stocks of incredibly long barreled bolt-rifles, wondering at the nearly clean scores fired by competitors.

I first heard of Palma from my junior coaches. They spoke of their student, Eric Eilberg, and of his travels with the Young Eagles Team. It seemed mystical. I never imagined being able to travel to shoot. I wasn’t involved in Olympic-sanctioned shooting sports. My discipline of choice, High Power, is relatively niche and not offered at high school or college levels but the first time I heard Palma, I wanted to be like Eric. I wanted to join the Young Eagles team, shoot as well as he and have the opportunity to experience new things.

Way out there — the view from the firing line of the 1,000-yard targets at Alliance
Rifle Club in Malvern, Ohio. Palma competitors routinely stay within the 10″ X-ring
with iron sights at this distance!

Brief History

 

The first Palma Trophy match was held in 1876 in New York as part of the centennial celebration of U.S. independence. Five countries competed in the inaugural match — Australia, Canada, Ireland, Scotland and the United States. The U.S. claimed top honors. More countries have joined, competing in world shoots held every four years. The Palma Trophy Match course of fire is two sighting shots and 15 shots for record at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards on an NRA-LR target. The 44″ aiming black holds the X, 10, 9 and 8 rings with a 20″ diameter 10-ring and 10″ X-ring.

There are two governing Palma rulebooks from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and International Confederation of Fullbore Rifle Associations (ICFRA). Both require metallic sights and allow .223 or .308 caliber rifles. ICFRA rules require a bullet weight no greater than 91 grains for .223 or 156 grains for .308. NRA has no bullet weight restrictions.

Getting There

 

My training routine was firing over a hundred rounds a week in the summer, sometimes more and I began competing at Alliance Rifle Club in Malvern, Ohio. There I became friends with two incredible long-range shooters and coaches — Chuck and Kim Rowe. They impressed on me how important it is to have goals and warned me not to spread myself thin over different disciplines. Being the best at one thing takes dedication. When I began considering Long Range, Kim told me I wasn’t allowed until I earned my Distinguished Rifleman’s badge in Service Rifle. She may have been kidding, but I wasn’t about to find out.

 

Each Palma rifle is unique as a snowflake and individually built to fit the shooter better than a glove.

The Rifle

 

Four years passed before I began preparing myself for the next step in my shooting career. My dad encouraged me to take advantage of the opportunity while I had it, though I still was unsure of the future and apprehensive about spending money while in school.

You do not purchase a Palma rifle online or from a gun store. Palma rifles are custom-built, handed down, or purchased secondhand from a competitor. In my case, someone leaving long-range shooting wanted his equipment to go to someone young who could keep the sport alive. I purchased a Warner #2 rear sight, a Stallings Right Sight with an iris and an old McMillan black prone stock.

I had several pieces to the puzzle, but not all. Putting together a top-of-the-line rifle is expensive, especially for a freelance writer in college. I am incredibly grateful to Krieger Barrels, Kelbly’s and Bullet Central whose sponsorships helped me fill in the blanks. In September of 2019, I earned my Distinguished badge in service rifle, the green light to start into something new.

Several people were consulted during the decision process as I considered a true Palma rifle or a generic long-range rifle. One person suspected I would be unable to handle the recoil of the .308. I ultimately decided to join the Young Eagles team and would need a .308. I also remembered “if Kim could shoot a .308, I could too.” I selected a 30″ 1:13 twist Krieger Barrel with a medium Palma contour. Kelbly’s chambered the barrel and installed one of their classic actions, the Big Bore Panda. Bullet Central donated a single-stage Bix’n Andy Remington 700 Benchrest Competition trigger.

One of the biggest initial problems for Serena was realizing her stock “Goliath” didn’t fit her.
A new, shorter stock from her coach made an enormous difference in her performance.
Photo: Eric Eilberg

First Shots

 

I did not want to jump right into a match. Eric helped me boresight the rifle, approximate eye relief and break in the barrel. We used a Shotmarker electronic target at 600 yards. This allowed him to coach me from the firing line. I spent more time the first day working on position and adjustments than shooting. First and most important lesson of Palma: Make the gun fit you, do not fit yourself to the gun. This means if something is uncomfortable or doesn’t seem right — do not keep shooting! Stop and fix it. Second lesson of Palma — this process never ends. Buttplate positions, aperture sizes — what is best will change by the day depending upon the range and light conditions.

 

Most Palma competitors load all their own ammunition for utmost accuracy.
Serena uses an RCBS single-stage press and weighs every charge individually.
Photo: Jedidiah Gaddie

Accessories

Small things make a difference. I borrowed handstops and slings from fellow shooters and am still determining what works best for me. Palma allows competitors to use a hook to secure the sling to their shooting coat. A separate coat allows you to keep your sling ready to go. A local leathersmith cut my coat’s collar so it didn’t ride against my neck when I lay down and added a buckle to keep my shoulder pad from bunching. These seemingly minor changes help ensure you place the rifle in the same spot every time.

Your mat also makes a huge difference. I am a smaller-framed person. The thin, rollable mat I use for High Power began to bunch up underneath me as I fired, altering my position. I quickly learned a sturdier, thicker folding mat works much better. Currently, I use the Creedmoor quad fold shooting mat. It has a waterproof vinyl bottom, a double layer of foam for extra support under the elbows and doesn’t move when I shoot! Even changing your mat makes a difference in position and the buttplate location — take nothing for granted.

Serena gets tips from coach Eric Eilberg. The most important part of learning
any new discipline is to find a mentor who is already experienced and accomplished
in the sport. Photo: Jedidiah Gaddie

Serena And Goliath

 

One size does not fit all. The Rowes mentor me, adjust my position and give me tips. They are well-decorated shooters, members of the U.S. National Rifle Team and Chuck is also a coach for the National F-Class team with Kim the team adjutant. They first noticed I needed a mirage band. My first few shots were level but began to scatter as the heat from the barrel distorted my sight picture. A mirage band, ceiling fan chain and cut off scope mount solved the issue. Even so, I consistently fired worse shots the more I took.

By the time I fired 15 shots I was near tears. Each shot sent the rifle stock smashing into my collarbone. Scared I could not handle the recoil, I should have listened to the advice I received but suffered through it. My enthusiasm waned, though I tried to hide it. With a 14″ LOP stock it was nearly impossible for me to see through the sights. I also needed a rear sight extension, exacerbating the problem. I compensated by placing the buttstock far on my collarbone and letting it absorb the recoil.

Tired of bleeding through my shirt every match, Chuck convinced me to try one of his spare stocks, a petite Masterclass copy too small for him. It was much shorter and slighter — not only easier for me to grip but more comfortable. They were both bedded for Kelbly’s big bore panda actions so the switch was easily made. He graciously traded stocks with me — the black synthetic stock Chuck named “Goliath” for the colorful laminate one which remains nameless.

Starting out, you cannot be afraid to change and try new things. Go to local matches. Talk to competitors. Before you buy all of your equipment, ask to borrow things to see what you like and need. Looks don’t matter. It was hard for me to give up the black stock I had become attached to, but Chuck and Kim were right — I was miserable. Though I’m not at the top of the leaderboard, I’ve been able to improve and enjoy small successes, including joining the Young Eagles team.