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Our hunting journey through the ages takes us to the Middle East, where rivers flowing through vast deserts created fertile valleys where the earliest civilisations began: Sumer, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Akkad and Babylonia. Here too, are the earliest traces of farming and the domestication of animals.

Hunting flourished alongside farming – for sport and subsistence. On the lands kept fertile by the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, wild animals lived in forests roamed in the more sparsely vegetated further away. They included lions, leopards, wild cattle, boar, deer, onager, gazelle, ostrich, vultures and eagles. It was the duty of rulers to protect their people from them and the lion hunt, in particular, became a royal sport.

Commoners were allowed to hunt small game, wild fowl and fish, but the larger beasts were the preserve of the nobility. Their hunting companions were the long, lithe ancestors of the Saluki dogs, whose images adorn pottery found in Susa and dated to over 6000 years ago. They hunt by sight, running down their prey to fell it.

Texts describe major hunting expeditions where kings and courtiers travelled long distances and returned with hundreds of beasts and birds that they enjoyed in great feasts. However, they also brought back live animals to populate royal parks and hunting reserves nearer home. Noble women often joined the expeditions but hunting was really the preserve of men. Little boys would be given small slingshots, spears and bows and arrows just like their fathers’ larger and more sophisticated versions.

During the reign of King Sargon I, about 2350 B.C., the people of Mesopotamia began using the composite bow constructed by gluing together layers of wood from different trees with different elasticity and strength properties. The glues were made from animal bone and sinew. The bow design was so effective that it lasted for centuries. Arrow- and spearheads were attached to the shaft with rope made of animal sinew or plant filaments. In time stone tips were replaced by bronze or iron.

Hunting legends that originated in Mesopotamia have echoes in western culture. A Hungarian legend, for instance, claims that their archery skills were given to them by their ancestors Hunor and Magyar, the sons of the Mesopotamian hero, or deity, Nimrod. Nimrod is mentioned in the Bible as ‘a mighty hunter’ and the architect of the Tower of Babel.

Feasts, too, feature in ancient texts. French Assyriologist, Jean Bottero, discovered the world’s first recipes in Mesopotamian cuisine: spicy meat stews, flavorful duck and vegetable stews, braised turnips, and baked pigeon pies, along with fish, dairy, vegetables and fruits, grains and legumes, washed down with beer, strong wine or water.

By Celine Castelino

“We are looking at the future,” Chris Hodgdon said as his hand swept like a conductor’s baton in an arc toward the line of trap fields. Hundreds of young shooters were pulverizing clay targets, laughing and speaking words of support to their teammates. We were at the 2017 Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) and Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP) National Championships sponsored by the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation. The Cardinal Trap Shooting Facility in Marengo, Ohio, developed through the magnanimity of the Fishburn family, hosted the event.

Competitive shooters, ages 8 to 23 from 32 states, competed for national titles in the shotgun disciplines of American Trap, Handicap Trap, Bunker Trap, Trap Doubles, Skeet, Skeet Doubles and Sporting Clays. Pistol and rifle competitors competed for steel shooting titles in Rimfire Pistol, Centerfire Pistol, Iron Sight Rifle and Optics Rifle divisions. About 2,700 athletes on 255 teams boasted 6,400 event entries. Thirty-three states were represented and an estimated 1.26 million shots were fired in the competition events! One hundred and five SCTP student athletes will receive scholarships totaling $83,000.

Prior to SSSF, many students never or had only rarely shot a gun. Feeder organizations such as 4H and the Boy Scouts gave them opportunities to try. Many parents asked SSSF to help their children get involved in shooting. The children loved the sports, become members and gained deeper knowledge about shooting.  

I learned many teams were created by the desire of a parent to enable their child to shoot responsibly and routinely.  Young shooters told me the attractions of these sports: they love to shoot, they value opportunities to improve, they welcome challenges,  they can be competitive or just have fun, and, unlike most sports, they can participate throughout their lives.  
The vast property was lush and green with stands of hardwoods and cornfields, the earth’s fragrance more alluring than the finest perfumes. The range was a beehive of activity. Electric carts darted about like bugs on a pond and hundreds of shooters carried shotguns as nonchalantly as if holding bags of popcorn. Anna Van Nostrand, instructor and CZ representative, crafted a beautiful insightful phrase: “This is an environment of positivity.”

I arrived on Wednesday, the CZ-USA recognition day. Dave Miller, CZ’s shotgun manager and exhibition shooter, was my host. Dave shot his way into the Guinness Book of Records by breaking 3,653 clays in 60 minutes!  CZ has been a Platinum sponsor of this event for five years.  Dave tutored me on the sporting clays, make-or-break and crazy-quail disciplines. He even taught me to break targets shooting from my hip!

These programs require great effort. Ben Berka, President/Executive Director of SSSF, and Louise Terry, Chairman of the SSSF Board, told of the thousands of hours of organizing the event and the engagement of hundreds of volunteers. But it’s all worth it, they said. The youngsters are learning skills, get outside away from iPhones and, most significantly, develop a dedication to the American heritage and an appreciation for individual liberty. “The SSSF is about more than just breaking pieces of clay,” Louise told me.

Support for SSSF signifies a commitment to shooting’s future. Companies such as CZ-USA, Hodgdon Powder and Fiocchi USA routinely make substantial financial commitments. Observing this championship, I am comforted that the future of shooting looks bright indeed.  

For more information, please see:

Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer and writer in Denver, Colorado. Please see his book The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values. Now in an eBook, available at

Handgun silhouette is a pistol competition that started in the 1970s. It is derived from a Mexican target competition that started by shooting at live animals at various distances. Americans had a similar tradition with "turkey shoots". Both traditions have transitioned to inanimate targets, which are easier to score, and are more  uniform than live targets.
The targets used today are derived from the live targets. They are steel silhouettes of chickens, pigs, turkeys, and rams. The targets are set on flat bases. They give a satisfying clang when hit. A hit counts for score if the target is knocked over.

There are four stages of five targets each. Each set of five targets are the same silhouette, shot at the same distance.  A match usually consists of 40-80 targets shot at with an equal number of rounds, one shot per target.

The distance to each set of targets and the size of the targets used depend on the category of pistol used in the competition.
There are several categories of firearms to compete in. They include Big Bore, Small bore, Field Pistol, and Air Pistol. 

  Big Bore consists of bottleneck and straight-wall center fire cartridges. 

  Small Bore consists of .22 LR Rimfire ammunition as manufactured.  

  Field Pistol consists of straight-wall center fire pistol cartridges of standard manufacture with a maximum case length of 1.29 inches, the .32-20 cartridge (1.32 inches), the .270 REN, the .22 Hornet, .25-20, and the .22 LR and .22 WMR Rimfire as manufactured.

Air Pistols shall be .22 caliber or smaller.

  Categories are further subdivided into separate competitions for production and unlimited handguns, standing and freestyle positions.   Targets come in full size, half size, 3/8 size, 1/5 size and 1/10 size. The targets are matched to the appropriate categories. The apparent size of the target is similar for each distance shot at.

 Graphic showing the relative size of the targets in minutes of angle. One minute of angle is 1 inch at 100 yards, or 1.1 inches at 100 meters. Each increment on the scale is two minutes of angle. This sounds complicated, but in practice, it is not. It means that the targets will look about the same size to the shooter for all four ranges. Charts showing the targets used for each competition are available in the International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA) rule book. Handgun Silhouette is a fun sport to shoot and to watch. The targets give off a loud clang and usually fall over when hit.  Sometimes the targets are hit, spin around, but do not go over. That is counted as a miss.

by Dean Weingarten


Ancient Egyptians took hunting seriously. They respected and valued their prey, studied their habitats and habitats, and even worshipped some of them as gods. Stunning tomb paintings and fragmentary manuscripts provide us with a wonderful record of how and what they hunted.

Parts of the green and fertile delta region were preserved for hunting, fowling and fishing. Fleet footed animals in the more arid regions, such as gazelles, antelopes, ostriches and boar, beyond the farmlands allowed for exciting chariot chases, or lazier forms of hunting where hunters lay in ambush near water holes and picked off their thirsty prey with spears and arrows.

Pharaohs were happy to leave the cares of government behind and go on hunting expeditions with their families, courtiers and professional hunters. Their trained hunting dogs are thought to be the ancestors of modern breeds. The atmosphere and enjoyment of one such expedition has been eloquently captured in a fragmentary manuscript named The Pleasures of Fishing and Fowling. It forms a hymn of praise, and tells of Amenemhat II swamp hunting around a lake in Fayum, about 60 miles south west of Cairo, around 1850 BCE. Members of his harem, his children and various deities were among the hunting party.

A much earlier event narrated by the Greek writer, Diodorus, tells how Menes, Egypt’s first pharaoh, almost lost his life on a hunting trip in the Fayum, when his own dogs attacked him near the lake. However, his life was saved by a crocodile, which carried him across the water to safety. As a reward, he declared the lake a sanctuary for crocodiles and founded the city known to the Greeks as Crocodilopolis.

It was more likely that crocodiles were one of the dangers fishers and fowlers were keen to avoid, along with hippopotami, which could overturn a low-lying boat. Professional fishermen generally used nets from a boat, dragnets from shore or bow nets from the narrow banks of the river. Harpoons and spears were also used to catch larger species. Angle fishing was also common, using a hook at the end of a thick hand line cast from a boat or the shore.

Fowling was popular among all classes. A coffin text mentions greylag and green-breasted geese, white-fronted ducks and pintail drakes captured by the deceased. Water fowl flocking by the Nile and in marshland were easy to fell using spears and throwing sticks. Nets allowed them to be captured in larger numbers. Hunters frightened exhausted migrating quail that landed in the Delta after crossing the Mediterranean, into rising and get enmeshed in the nets they had spread in their path.

Ducks and geese were more of a challenge. Fowlers constructed a trap using two huge nets that covered a pool. They placed a decoy in the pool and hid out of sight. When a number of birds landed the fowlers pulled a rope to bring the two nets together and trap the birds in between. All the helpers would have shared in the haul and feasted well after a successful hunt.

 article by Celine Castelino


Dogs have been our hunting companions for thousands of years but when did this partnership begin? Scholars believe that dogs descend from the gray wolf, Canis lupus, the largest member of the Canid family, which includes foxes and coyotes, but have not yet established where they were first domesticated. Was it in the Middle or Far East or did dogs accompany our ancestors out of Africa? It is more likely that they were domesticated in several places at different times.

Did we domesticate dogs or did they adopt us? A widely accepted theory suggests that smaller, less-aggressive wolves started hanging around human habitations to scavenge their leftovers. Perhaps they then started following the hunters and joined in the chase; they may have sniffed out the quarry and chased them towards the waiting humans. Or it may have happened the other way round, with humans following dogs and stealing their dinner!

The most tantalizing evidence of dogs living alongside humans comes from the Chauvet Cave in the south of France that dates to around 26,000 years ago, where a 150-foot trail of footprints made by a child, 8 to 10 years old, were found in the clay floor alongside those of a large canid – a dog or wolf. A skull that is more like that of a domesticated dog than a wild wolf was found at Goyet Cave in Belgium and dated even earlier - to 31,700 years ago.

A study of over a 100 dog burials from prehistoric Japan provides very early evidence that dogs did indeed help people hunt. Angela Perri, now a zooarchaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, studied the Jōmon culture, hunter-gatherers living along the east coast of Japan from about 16,000 to 2400 years ago. Around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, as the climate warmed, pine forests gave way to dense woodlands of oak, maple, and birch that attracted prey like deer and wild boar. About 9000 years ago, the Jōmon began to bury their dogs alongside their human dead. Both humans and dogs, in individual graves, were arranged as if they had curled up and gone to sleep. Some dogs were given the same grave goods - shell bracelets and deer antlers, as the humans.

Perri went on a boar hunt in a dense forest near Hiroshima with a group of hunters and their dogs - bloodhounds and shiba inus, to get an idea of how they may have worked together. The dogs dashed into the forest and started barking just 10 minutes later to let the hunters know they had tracked down their prey. Now their role was to warn the hunters when they got near the boars and protect their masters.

Dogs often feature in rock art. A lively red ochre painting from Tassili, Southern Algeria, for example, depicts a hunter and his four dogs pursuing a wounded deer. More elaborate paintings, sculptures and mosaics from early civilizations in Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia and China continued to celebrate dogs as valued companions on the hunt. We shall return to their story later.

A 2500-year-old bronze bell depicting a Jōmon hunt with dogs. from Tokyo National Museum (

Tassili rock painting


Article by Celine Castelino




25 meter rapid fire pistol has been an Olympic sport since the first modern Olympics in 1896.  The early competitions were won with revolvers. In the first games, muzzleloaders were required, eliminating the American competitors from the rapid fire event.


 In 1896, the American Paine brothers, John and Sumner, restricted from the rapid fire event, won the top spots in 25 meter military pistol and 30 meter free pistol events, with nearly twice the scores of the nearest competitors. They used Colt revolvers.


 In the rapid fire event, five relatively large targets are set 25 meters downrange. The targets are 50 centimeters in diameter with a 10 ring of 10 centimeters. The target centers are 75 centimeters apart. Targets at most ranges turn to present themselves to the shooter.  The most sophisticated ranges use lights to start the timed shots, and electronics to score. Shots fired after the time limits are counted as misses.

Shots are fired in strings of five, with time limits of 8, 6, and four seconds. The shot string starts with the pistol held at a 45 degree ready position. Two strings are fired for each time limit. The six shot strings are then repeated.  The maximum possible score is 600 for 60 shots.

In the most demanding string, the shooter has to raise the pistol to eye level, and fire five shots at five separate targets in four seconds. 


Video of 2016 Rapid Fire Pistol Competition.

Equipment rules have changed considerably over the years. Over time, equipment became extremely specialized, consisting of heavily ported five shot semi-autos shooting .22 short ammunition, with hand encircling grips. The Russians invented a model with the pistol barrel in line with the shooters wrist, reducing muzzle flip to nearly imperceptible levels.

The equipment race produced a backlash. In 2005, the rules were changed to require a "standard" sport pistol.  


The pistol is required to have a bore line above the web of the hand, to shoot a standard velocity .22 LR cartridge, and not to have wrap around grips, muzzle brakes or ports. Trigger pulls must be above 35 ounces. The overall weight must be below 3.09 pounds.

Fiocchi SM 280 LR ammunition has a fine reputation for 25 meter Olympic Rapid Fire.  At the high levels of the Olympics, absolute reliability and suburb accuracy are a must.

Very few Americans participate in the sport, in part because of a lack of facilities.  Only one range in Arizona is set up for 25 meter rapid fire.  While some exceptional American shooters compete in the sport, only a tiny minority of American shooters attempt it.  


Dean Weingarten








After witnessing a well-known YouTuber complain about the competition-style sights on a competition-built handgun it came to my attention that not everyone understands handgun sights.  I’m not talking about how to aim, or even the difference between fiber-optic and tritium.  The topic of this article is how to understand sight design and hopefully pick what’s right for your needs.

This was the misunderstood sight picture of Warren sights found on the latest Canik pistols.  The wide U-shaped notch does indeed seem to make the front sight wander, but is intended to provide a wide field of view.  Such sights are excellent for quick, point shooting at general areas but can make more precise shooting difficult.  The fiber-optic front sight will grab your eye in daylight more than other methods of illumination.  A drawback to fiber-optic sights can sometimes be that the dot is too bright to focus on, but once again these sights are meant to be acquired quickly for a single shot.




In contrast these night sights found on the IWI Jericho may offer an easy orientation in the dark, but a much narrower field of view which makes for easier bullseye shooting, but also obstructs view of surrounding areas.  White dots surrounding the tritium inserts aid in sight acquisition, but can also be distracting from the true sight alignment.


These traditional 1911 sights on an ATI FX-45 are small and tight.  Aiming precisely with them is time consuming, but can make for tight groups if you have the eyes and patience to match.  Their low profile helps reduce the chance of snagging on the draw but also makes them difficult to see.




A lazy V with a single line and dot have become popular lately like these XS Sights seen on a DoublStar PHD 1911.  The line and dot align naturally and wide-V rear sight keeps your field of view open.  This sight style is very quick, but adds a learning curve to making repeated tight shots.




What’s old is new.  Sight profiles follow trends.  The sloped rear sight seen on the Ruger American was once considered superior for its reduced chance of snagging during a draw.  Recent tacti-cool teachings suggest the older-style wall-like sights on the Zastava EZ-9 in the background are more useful as they can be used to rack the handgun on a table or belt in a one-handed emergency.

Hopefully this primer on handgun sights helps you understand why there are so many options out there.  Just like handgun options, there is a right fit for everyone so don’t immediately accept the argument that one is better than another.  What’s “better” really depends on how you intend to use it.


About Graham Baates
“Graham Baates” is a pen name used by a 15-year active Army veteran who spent most of his time in the tactical side of the Intelligence community including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Post-Army Graham spent some time in the 3-Gun circuit before becoming a full-time NRA Certified defensive handgun instructor and now works as an industry writer while curating a YouTube channel on the side. Visit Graham on 
Youtube .


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