Monday, July 6, 2015

COMPLEAT BUSHCRAFT XIX: Basic Firearms Training

I DO NOT DISCOUNT the prospect of an invasion by troops of the People’s Republic of China to our shores in the future caused by our country’s defiant stance against them on their claims of the whole of the Spratly Islands Archipelago and on Scarborough Shoal. I never trust this Asian neighbor, who had never abandoned socialism despite enjoying economic windfall by embracing capitalism. It had demonstrated its assertiveness against other nations that have conflicting claims with them like India, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The last time we were invaded by an Asian power was in World War II. Although not our conflict, the Americans stood by us and fought with us against the military might of the Japanese Empire because they were here and we were their territory then. We were prepared at that time, as the Americans took care of the early warning systems, war materiel, logistics, troops, air support and firepower but, still, we and the Americans lost at Bataan.

The Americans are not around anymore and the Armed Forces of the Philippines is a puny force compared to the People’s Liberation Army. We could not stand toe-to-toe against the Chinese in more than two days of conventional warfare. We do not have a strong navy and our air defense is full of air with no force. Our best war assets are our ground troops which is still the most experienced in Asia but that is just all about it. We will be facing a million-strong army, come to think of that. An elephant against a shrew.

We cannot rely on that Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951 with the Americans as they themselves are an economic slave of the Chinese. The PROC owns majority of stocks of the big banks in the US of which the US government has outstanding debts. When these banks freezes funds belonging to the US government, defense and federal spending would be a very big problem for them. It is best that Filipinos should rely only among themselves.

Conflicts would bring out the best in us Filipinos but we do not hope and pray that it will come to our shores. When the Americans came to colonize our country after the Spanish-American War of 1898, they found the Filipinos already united and enjoying the euphoria of helping to end the 333-year Spanish occupation. The American forces did not expect to be held off by hundreds of bolo-and-stick-wielding Filipino warriors in savage jungle warfare and changed their tactics to subjugate the natives.

When the Japanese came, they swallowed more than what they could chew. Filipinos who survived Bataan and Corregidor, withdrew or escaped and regrouped, formed small units and employed guerrilla tactics on the invaders. It is not a secret that the beginning of the defeat of the Japanese campaign in the Pacific War Theatre started right here in Cebu with the recovery of their War Plan Z. The native blades made the Filipinos lethal but possession and mastery of the firearms increased their lethality.

Because of the Chinese threat, I shed off my liberal tendencies and my advocacy of a gunless society by teaching people about Gun Safety and Firearms Proficiency Training starting in 2010. My skills in firearms are just average but I have a wealth of unconventional training and experience which cannot be taught to civilians. I teach what is only prescribed at their level. Just the basic stuff.

I have a handful of people with me on this oppressively hot day of November 23, 2014. I am leading the Apurado family, father Jonathan and sons Justin and Jon Daniel, up a trail to an undisclosed firing range in the south of Cebu. Some of the participants that are not with us may have arrived at the designated area since they rode in a private vehicle driven by Jerome Tibon. They are Nelson Orozco, Dominic Sepe and the couple Mark and Marisol Lepon.

Me, together with the Apurados, opt to ride a bus and so we walked. I could have ridden that car since I am the organizer and, believe me, when you are organizing this kind of activity, you get to earn a good income, as I have done so for other people. I could have packaged this as a group or I could price it individually. It depends. But I choose to give it for free. I am a little bit crazy. Perhaps, but I am not a creature of greed. And I do not like the behaviour of China.

Glenn Pestaño had scouted the range a day ahead of us and may have had prepared the most important tool for this occasion: a handgun that could fire caliber .22 bullets. Yes, I insisted on a low-powered ammunition since this will be done under the radar. The higher the caliber, the noisier it gets. With a caliber .22 LR ammo, people would take it as a pre-Christmas reverie of exploding firecrackers, as was, and is, practiced in the Philippines. Besides that, caliber .22 LR ammo are cheap and firing is a very expensive activity, is it not?

Me and the Apurados arrive at the site. Glenn met us and there is no sign of the people riding in the car. It is almost 10:00. Why are they delayed? They should have been here hours ahead of us since we commuted and walked. I could have started any minute now if the others would have been already here or earlier if some people would have been punctual. After a long wait – at around 10:45 – they arrive. Someone who did not arrive at the assembly area preferred to be whisked from his home and delayed the car further when this someone was unprepared.

I do not like people taking hostage of my itinerary. The ETD says 06:00 but some people do not take this seriously despite being contacted by mobile phone – a wondrous gadget that is supposed to give you instant messages and replies in real time. I kept my cool and marked this day where my patience is strained and promised myself to leave people behind if they failed to come on time on the next activity. No more time extensions. No more superstar attitudes.

Anyway, we all decide to boil water and drink coffee first before I start the lecture on Gun Safety. A few individuals may have taken this same seminar but I inform them that it is best to be refreshed and learn a different interpretation from another to broaden their knowledge. For the first timers, it is a personal adventure. This is the same program of instructions when I started teaching people again how and it come as follows:


After the first part of the lecture is finished, the cooking fire is quickly resuscitated. The big pot for the rice is immediately hanged from a tripod as a frying pan quickly appear to start the cooking of the chicken adobo. Another fire is made and a trio of stones are produced to accommodate the frying pan. One more fire is made to make embers while a thick-gauge GI wire is foraged and converted into an impromptu iron grill. This would accommodate a yellow fin tuna which Jerome bought at a Carcar market.

The last viand to get cooked is the mussel soup. We take our well-prepared hot meal at 13:30. In a matter of minutes we will start the firing practicals. Glenn had produced a French-made caliber .22 LR semi-auto pistol that had seen better days. Magazine release is located at the heel of the grip. The safety button doubles as a slide stop if you just twist it 180 degrees. The slide design shows an exposed barrel. It is an old gun and I suspect mechanical parts may cause malfunctions.

We transfer to a new location where the backyard firing range is located. It is underneath a copse of mangoes, the ground leveled. The excess earth are used as a bullet dampener. It is about six feet high and six feet wide. Two bamboo poles are planted on the front and is now securing the classical target cardboard. Meanwhile, I provided an eye protector and an ear muff as safety gears. I will be supervising the firers one by one as they take their turn.

Twenty-five rounds are allocated to each firer who would shoot the target on four different positions at 10 meters like Standing Strong Hand, Kneeling, Seating and Prone and another at 5 meters for Standing Weak Hand. Those who provided themselves ammunition were able to fire. After the smoke had settled, Justin spread 17 aces out of 25 tries and topped the shoot-out with 97 points. Mark came next with 92 points, Glenn at 80 points, Jonathan with 47 points and Jon Daniel with 37 points. Nelson and Marisol got tied at 24 points but Nelson got the sixth spot for hitting 3 aces to Marisol’s one.

We leave at 16:30 for the lowlands. The Apurados, and me will walk the path were we had taken in the morning while the rest will ride the car. My group, now joined by Glenn, reach the highway at 17:45 and we wait for a bus that would accommodate us which is rare. We were able to catch one but we stood along the aisle from here to Cebu City. I am able to sit down at the vicinity of Basak but it was a very welcome rest, nonetheless. The one who delayed the activity, on the other hand, is very comfortable on a seamless car ride.

The firearms training had exposed the participants to the standards of proper gun safety and lessened their anxiety about guns through firing familiarization and adjustment to the initial shock of an explosion and a recoil. This is just a simple training but it had opened to the participants a good understanding of a firearm that would lead to a safer environment. One more thing, the Camp Red Bushcraft and Survival Guild is not a militia organization and I am not organizing a local militia unit. Against the PROC? Why not?

Document done in LibreOffice 3.3 Writer

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