About four years ago I undertook the task of writing a book about Scout Rifles. (I hope to releases it in early 2017.) The research has been exhaustive and during the process I stumbled on The Scout Rifle Forum. Now, I learned long ago that forums are a lot like houses of ill-repute; they look appealing from the outside but once you become involved, you need to intimately familiarize yourself with the word “regret.” Still, I lurked and over time began to believe I’d found an exception. I joined, was greeted fairly by many, and began to participate.
All was rainbows with only a few unicorn farts until I shared some of my research findings. These were met with challenges. I accepted that and defended the facts as I had found them. But, some of the members had this highbrow attitude that seemed to suggest they and the forum were the encyclopedic source for all things Scout Rifle. It was clear they’d been schooled on Cooper and his concept but it was also clear some also took too few of his words and turned them into absolutes. Cooper wrote prolifically on the Scout Rifle and you cannot comprehend his intentions unless you have read him, and have read those who influenced him, extensively.
I took this in stride and since I had more important things to do and read, for the most part ceased participation. I now refer to the forum as the lair of the Shadowy Scout Rifle Elite. Some members took issue with or found humor in my representation of their simulated shooting world. They even had T-shirts made up. I assume only the hurt feelings were felt by those who recognized the truth in my statement. My description was, by definition, factual.
That being, “shadowy” becasue the vast majority of the members use a handle or pseudonym; they do not list their real name. It’s kind of like a new millennium version of the CB radio, Rubber Duck and all. The “Scout Rifle” term needs no explanation, ergo the name of the forum. As far as “elite,” well, you have to request membership and if you act up you get called down or maybe ejected. I don’t know about where you might be from but in West Virginia we call that elitism.
Don’t get me wrong, There are some good folks who frequent the forum and I learned stuff while participating. Some even had direct access to Cooper and two of them I’ve actually seen shoot. They can shoot rather well. (One was even named the most outstanding student at the 2016 Scout Rifle Conference.) If you have a burning desire to learn stuff about Scout Rifles I’d suggest you sign up but to be safe, pronounce upon your arrival you know nothing about the Scout Rifle and you’re there to bathe in their wisdom. Do this and they’ll wrap a blanket around you, and you’ll have direct access to “Andy” who makes some of the best rifle slings in the world! (He uses his real name by the way.)
As it turns out, after my interview with James Yeager of Tactical Response about the Scout Rifle, where he asked me to help him explain to his viewers the Scout Rifle concept, I was alerted to some comments one of the Shadowy Scout Rifle Elite had posted on the forum I’d abandoned.
I have no desire to directly address the person who penned these, after all I do not know their real name. For all I know, he / she is living in his mother’s basement with Cheetos stains on his fingers and keyboard. What I wanted to do here is use his comments to illustrate some points. The first is that the Scout Rifle concept is a complicated thing, which is precisely why I am writing the book. Many have read some of Cooper’s works and think they know all there is. (Lots of gun writers and bloggers especially.) The other is that the Internet is full of many folks willing to proclaim absolute facts – about many things – based on limited research. Here’s the thing with regard to Scout Rifles and the Internet: Don’t take what anyone – including me – says as gospel. Trust if you dare but verify.
One of the reasons James Yeager was invited to the 2016 Scout Rifle Conference was because he has shown a serious interest in Scout Rifles and he has the ability to reach many shooters who might also like to experiment with the concept. When I had my opportunity to further the appeal of the Scout Rifle to his viewers, I tried to do it in the best way I felt could be understood by those unfamiliar with it, in as little time as possible. (You know the attention span on the Internet.)
So, with that foundation, here are excerpts of the comments generated by someone who is a true member of the Shadowy Scout Rifle Elite, taken from the one website where I know there are folks with the knowledge base to have educated this person before they made a fool out of themselves.
Comment 1: The Colonel never said the rifle had to have a forward mounted optic.
The Facts: Admittedly, this is a tricky subject because of the many and varied definitions Cooper offered for the Scout Rifle. But, to keep it simple and address the “never” comment, lets look at what Cooper wrote in Volume X, Number 10 of Gunsite Gossip in 1990:
“…several Scout conferences have established the rules….Therefore, the piece is not a true Scout unless:”
- It uses a short action.
- Its overall length does not exceed one meter.
- It mounts a Scoutscope forward of the magazine well.
- It is fitted with a CW sling.
- It is equipped with reserve Iron sights.
- It weighs no more than seven pounds.
Comment 2: The colonel DID NOT specify the forward mounted optic just for snap shooting.
The Facts: I never said he did. My words in the interview at 5:49 were, “One of the things Cooper specified about the scout [not scoutscope], he said it was ideally adapted to the snapshot.” I then went on to explain how the forward mounted optic contributes to that adaptation. In Volume 21, Number 9, September 2001, of Gunsite Gossip Cooper said, “The Scoutscope is now available. It is particularly well suited for the snapshot, yet it loses nothing that I can detect in slow-fire.”
Comment 3: The Lion encounter DID NOT compel The Colonel to learn/teach the snap shot (good heavens, Mann). Jeff and his students were happily “snapping away” long before he could even hope to afford a lion hunt.
The Facts: I never said it did. In the interview when I referenced the lion – as a good illustration viewers would understand with regard to what a snapshot is and when it might be needed – at 6:13 I said, “…that was kind of what he foreseen. You got an immediate threat, close, and you gotta deal with it instantly.” Foreseen is the operative word here, and what better way to describe how Cooper’s doctrine was ultimately implemented. (Apparently good listening skills are as rare as good reading comprehension skills.) It is most probable that Cooper found his influence for the snapshot, at least in part, from his teenage reading of, and later reading about, Stewart Edward White.
Comment 4: He never even mentioned a shooting sling.
The Facts: On this point the comment is spot on. I did not mention a shooting sling. Nor did I mention all the acceptable Scout Rifle cartridges, the hammerhead sling sockets, magazine cutoff, proper stock design, the retractable bipod, the butt-cuff ammo storage, the Remington 600, and about 20 blue million other things. Tonight I will do what I do almost every night and read Cooper, but this time as penance.
Comment 5: Jeff never referred to ANY of his rifles, in print, as “…magnum scouts…”
The Facts: In a description of the Scout Rifle titled, The Scout Rifle Concept, Cooper wrote, “The ‘Magnum Scout’ or ‘Super Scout,’ is in 350 RM.” This document was found in Cooper’s personal files. Additionally, in a 1998 article for Guns & Ammo titled, The Scout Rifle: Some Simple Principles, Cooper, speculating on Steyr’s introduction of the .376 Steyr or “Dragoon” as he often called it, wrote, “The ‘Magnum Scout,’ if it appears, will not make weight, of course.” In case some, as they have in the past, suggest this was an editorial change, I was able to uncover the draft for this article in the files Janelle Cooper provided me.
I’m sure only true Scout Rifle devotees have struggled through this narrative. If you are just a gun guy, or anyone else for that matter, and have managed to get this far, here is some free advice for the pain and suffering you have endured.
When you say “never” you best be sure because never, never means most of the time, never always and only means never!