By Kevin Dockery
The author starts his history of sniping in 1066 at the battle of Hastings and works his way forward to the present conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. In his opinion, the first real sniping weapon was the crossbow, in that it could be kept cocked and loaded while the shooter waited for a high value target. This really isn’t possible with a traditional longbow.
After explaining the technology available in each period, the book gives an actual historical example of how it was used. Individual sections cover the “Birth of the Sniper,” “The War On Terror Opens,” “Law Enforcement,” “The Shooters-Law Enforcement,” and “The Shooters-Military.” These last two parts of the book are interviews with current duty snipers about their experiences both in training and in the field. Under the law-enforcement section, there is also a very interesting interview with Dr. Philip Dater of Gemtech Suppressors.
One slightly strange part of this book is that many of the chapters are illustrated with photos of modern snipers and equipment that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. My assumption is that photos of the real subject were not available. In any case, these photos provide a great view of military and police marksman training and in actual combat situations.
Hardcover, 372 pages, $24.95 • Penguin Group, 375 Hudson St., Dept. TW,
New York, NY 10014; 212-366-2000; penguin.com
The Book of Two Guns: The Martial Art of the 1911 Pistol and AR Carbine
By Tiger McKee
No two firearms have come close to having the useful lifespan with American fighting men as have the 1911 .45 pistol and the M-16 rifle in its various forms. Like them or not, these are the weapons Americans fight their wars, enforce their laws and defend their homes with. The Book of Two Guns is a collection of material gathered during 10 years of intensive firearms training by the author. It covers both the mental aspects as well as the physical techniques of gun fighting as a true martial art. I’ve often wondered why there seems to be a mindset that a “martial art” requires you to fight unarmed. While bare-hand techniques are useful to know, no-one survives for long in real combat unarmed. The true American martial art is the combat pistol with special emphasis on the Model 1911.
Those of you who have attended Gunsite or Thunder Ranch will notice a number of familiar quotes and techniques from these schools. Nothing wrong with that, as both have spent years researching what works and what doesn’t. A good book to read before you attend either school.
Soft cover, 172 pages, $24.95 • Shootrite LLC, 95 Lois Lane, Langston,
Dept. TW, AL 35755; 256- 582-4777; shootrite.org
Lone Star Lawmen: The Second Century of the Texas Rangers
By Robert Utley
While most histories of the Texas Rangers focus on their frontiers days, I have long found their service during the 20th century much more interesting. Throughout the period from around 1915 to 1920, the Rangers and the U.S. Army fought an anti-terrorist guerilla war on the Mexican border that has been pretty much forgotten by history. I say “terrorist” because, among other extreme objectives of the “Plan of San Diego,” it called for the execution of all white males over the age of 16 in the territories seized.
While the U.S. Army suffered much higher casualties than many realize in this counter-insurgency, they were noted for the professional way they handled themselves. The Texas Ranger’s conduct is much more controversial. They tended to fight fire with fire on both sides of the border. This is a unique history of a para-military force that answered only to a state governor who felt the federal government wasn’t doing enough to defend his citizens from a foreign invader.
Later chapters detail the Ranger’s attempts to tame the oil boom towns of the 1920’s, stop alcohol from coming over the border during prohibition, the change over the Department of Public Safety, social change in the 1960’s and problems with the counter culture of the 1970’s. I especially enjoyed the stories about the legendary Ranger Manuel (Lone Wolf) Gonzaullas. The records of William Sterling and Frank Hammer (of Bonny and Clyde fame) are also covered.
Few law-enforcement groups have ever been placed in this position and the Rangers’ methods were a product of their times.
Hardcover, 400 pages, $30 • Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Ave.,
New York, NY, 10010; 800-445-9714; oup.com