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Terminology - Training and Tactics (permalink)

Terminology - picture

 The shot is on, so you take it—and miss.

Your spotter calls in a couple of clicks of windage correction, and you dutifully make the adjustment on your scope. A second projectile wings its way downrange and the target drops.

Perfect. Success. Hallelujah. High-fives and all that good stuff. And since the bullet hit the intended mark, there can’t be any problem.

Or can there?

Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how you view life, and how concerned you are about what we do now possibly affecting future operations. “So what’s the problem?” you ask. Firearms terminology and nomenclature—and the misuse thereof—are what the problem is. That’s what.

Obviously, if you don’t think that not recording score in a junior high school football game is a stupid, politically correct joke, then there’s no problem—until your son is selected to play in the NFL 10 years later. Now there’s a problem.

How does a game played by children correlate to a sniper round fired in battle? If you don’t record the score in a junior football game so the losers “don’t feel bad,” you’re setting them up for feeling a lot worse when their frontline brethren are killed years later by enemy fire delivered because the over-watch sniper missed, that’s how.

This is the simple law of Cause and Effect: what you do incorrectly today, you will pay for tomorrow. Like the catachresis of firearms terminology, for example. Because if your spotter calls for a windage correction and there’s no wind blowing between you and your target, then it’s not a windage correction. If you hit the target, that’s great—except you didn’t make a windage correction, plain and simple.

What you did was twiddle a knob or a screw to alter the impact point—left or right—of the prior fired round.

There are only four definitions of windage:

1) The gap between a bullet and the bore of a rifle in which it rests;

2) The difference between the diameter of the bore of a muzzle-loading rifled cannon and that of the projectile cylinder;

3) The effect of the wind on a bullet during its flight path;

4) The correction or allowance made to or on a firearm by a shottist to compensate for lateral wind effect on a bullet on its journey to the target.

That’s it. Period.

So if you want to make a “windage” adjustment to your pistol’s rear sight because it’s impacting three inches left at six yards, go ahead. Just don’t call it “windage” when it isn’t. Because when enough ignorami use the incorrect term, the lexicographer eventually gives up in disgust and changes the dictionary, which eventually leads to a Tower of Babel where nobody understands what another person is trying to say. (Like the word “decimated,” which actually means to reduce by a tenth, but is now optionally defined in the lexicon as “to destroy a large part.”)

“What’s the big deal?” you say. The big deal is when you have, for example, a joint army/navy contingent, and the navy commander uses the word “port.” He wants to turn left, but the army man thinks he’s supposed to either head back to the harbor or find the closest bottle of Portuguese wine.

Or maybe we could make up our own dictionary and call it the Wicked Pee-dia. Oops. Almost forgot—that one’s already been done.

Ridiculous? Maybe. On the other hand, a little research on why the Titanic slammed into an iceberg might surprise you. And apparently many people think that was a pretty big deal.

When all is said and done, there are about as many people who smoke and drink and get away with it as there are those who practice firearms catachresis—but there’s always an outside chance it could get you killed.

Magazines, for example, could be periodicals published by Cosmopolitan, Playboy, Ebony and S.W.A.T. They could also be rectangular or tubular devices for holding cartridges. They are, however, absolutely not “clips.” Clips could hold cartridges that are stripped into fixed magazines, they could keep your hair in place, clamp objects together, or be the means by which your father got your attention when you misbehaved (usually administered with an open hand to the rear of your skull). But clips are not magazines.

A bullet is not a cartridge, and the two slab-sided panels that attach to a Colt 1911 are not “grips”—they are “stocks.” And the thingummyjig that locks an action to the rear when a closed-bolt operating semi-automatic firearm runs out of ammo is a “slide lock,” not a “slide release.” Yes, you can manipulate it to cause the slide to flow forward into battery, and you can also teach a monkey to ride a bicycle. But it’s doubtful that he’ll ever win the Tour de France.

“Point blank” doesn’t necessarily mean contact distance. It’s derived from a naval artillery term whereby one does not have to compensate for trajectory at a specific distance from the target. Dependent on your gun’s “zero,” it could be 1,000 yards or 50 yards. And shrapnel is a shell that explodes in mid-air above enemy troops, designed by Henry Shrapnel in 1842. It is not metal, rock and/or glass fragments caused by a tornado’s fury. And on and on and on....

It’s curious that most people know the phrase “lock, stock and barrel,” even if they’re not firearms enthusiasts, let alone aware of its derivation, but on the other hand, most gunsmiths couldn’t tell the difference between a screwdriver and a turnscrew.

Maybe it’s just a rose by any other name. The trick is to remember that wherever there’s a rose, there are going to be thorns.

And only a fool sniffs the thorns....

[Louis Awerbuck is Director of the internationally acclaimed Yavapai Firearms Academy. Course information and schedules are available at their website at ]http://www.yfainc.com.]

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I love Mr. Awerbuck’s articles. His humor and knowlege are a perfect combination to both inform and educate.