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This past April I participated in the Texas Hunter Education Annual Conference in Abilene. Rarely have I been in the presence of so many dedicated creative advocates for hunting, hunting ethics and hunting instruction. My presentation included examples of persuading hunting opponents and those neutral about hunting that hunting has benefits, including conservation and the respectful treatment of animals. The text of my talk is available on my website: .


After my talk, Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden Darla Barr approached me and shared an anecdote. Two anti-hunters disdainfully challenged Darla for advocating killing beautiful innocent animals. Darla’s response is a textbook example of effective persuasion. Her words transformed these anti-hunters into persons willing to give thoughtful informed consideration of hunting’s beneficial consequences.


Darla implemented her persuasion strategy with skillful precision. First, she elicited the values of her challengers. The opponents valued animal conservation, the preservation of habitat, acknowledged that animals die from causes other than hunting, such as from disease, injury and starvation and they valued reducing animal suffering.


Second, Darla described a typical hunt. One bullet, one arrow, is, in most instances, sufficient for the hunt. Not always, of course, but when it’s not, the ethical hunter will track the animal and end the suffering effectively. Darla also described reality in vivid detail. Starvation, disease and injury lead to brutal lingering deaths. The predators move in and rip the living animal apart. And the fire ants attack, savage merciless invaders that penetrate the eyes and nose and throat of the animal in excruciating fashion. Sugarcoating reality demeans the animals. Darla did not sugarcoat.  


Third, and most significant, Darla presented the ladies with a binary choice: hunt or do not hunt. Do you prefer a rapid ethical death or an extended painful one? Thirty seconds of pain or several weeks of pain? Darla demanded clarity of values from her audience. It’s either A or its B. You can’t have both. Which do you prefer? People tend to carve out exceptions or alternatives to reality to avoid making uncomfortable choices. This human tendency does not necessarily advance ethical thinking.


There is a tendency to romanticize the lives of animals, as if the mountain lion and the young fawn are lying together on a lush green forest floor as in an Henri Rousseau painting waiting for the arrival of gluten-free, locally-sourced, non-GMO organic broccoli and steamed rice. But that’s not life in Nature. Nature is death, disease, starvation and sometimes fire ants.


The young ladies changed their minds about hunting. They became educated. More importantly, Darla skillfully showed that hunting was consistent with their values. They opposed animal suffering and favored conservation. Even if the ladies will not hunt, their opposition disappeared. The fire ants may have persuaded them.




Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer and writer in Denver, Colorado. See his book The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values. Available at


When and how did our ancestors first start using fire? How was it used in hunting for and preparing food? While we cannot pin the date when humans started cooking their food, we can say something about the impact it has had on our evolution. Charles Darwin regarded the ‘discovery’ of fire to be as important as language in human evolution.

Animals fleeing fires set off by lightning striking dry bush or grasslands would have been easy prey for early humans. Perhaps early hunters got their first taste of cooked meat found in the smouldering embers of a bush fire. If it wasn’t too burnt, think how much more delicious the meat coated in melting fat and crisp crackling would seem after their usual fare that took ages to chew and digest. Not only would they have found cooked meat tastier but that it lasted longer. They probably left meat hanging in their smoke-filled caves or shelters and learnt that this dehydrated and preserved it. Perfect to carry for a snack on a hunting expedition.

Foraging for fire, learning which fuels were best for keeping it live and experimenting with different cooking techniques will have taught our ancestors so much. Fire must have seemed magical or divine – early civilizations certainly regarded it as such. Cultures throughout the world have legends explaining how we learned to make fire. The Ancient Greeks believed Prometheus stole fire from the gods for humanity; he was severely punished for his audacity. The Black God of the Navaho, who created the sun and invented the fire drill, gave it to First Man and First Woman. Gods of fire were worshipped in every continent - Agni in India, Ra in Egypt or Pele in Hawaii, and many gods received their offerings through the medium of fire.

Hunting weapons were fashioned using fire: to harden the points of wooden spears, or to melt sticky substances to attach spear or axe heads to their shafts, from the stone age. The first humans probably used fire to hunt and secure their prey, using methods that continued into historic times. In Australia, Martu hunter-gatherers lit fires to reveal the hiding places of monitor lizards called goanna, or force kangaroos out into the open. Native American desert tribes also removed ground cover with fire when hunting lizards. Those in wetter areas dazzled alligators with burning torches so that they were unaware of the spears aimed at them from canoes.

Apaches created smoky areas to attract deer, which were being tormented by insects, where hunters could pick them off with ease. Other tribes used fire to herd deer onto peninsulas where they could be hunted from canoes. It is likely too that Native Americans burned brush and trees to open up areas of grassland that encouraged herds of bison to expand eastwards. As ever human ingenuity enabled our ancestors to move on from fleeing in fear from raging flames to working out how they could control and use it to their advantage.


by Celine Castellino - Archeologist

In my travels, I’ve had the pleasure to meet with thousands of shooters across the country and around the world.  Many questions are regarding primers in shotgun shells.  There seems to be an issue where some brands use primers that cause damage to firing pins.  Let me assure you, Fiocchi primers have never caused any damage to my firearms.

I discussed this with Fiocchi’s Customer Service guru Troy Potter.  Troy has been with us for well over 20 years and is an expert.  He writes…

The Fiocchi 616 shotshell primer is a reliable, economical primer that uses modern technology to offer peak performance with today’s smokeless powders.  Fiocchi 616 primers are of course non-corrosive and contain no mercury.  Fiocchi 616 primers are known world-wide by hunters and target shooters for their reliability in Fiocchi loaded shotshells. 

Reloaders know them as an economical primer that gives performance beyond their price.  Fiocchi uses modern technology to continually improve the performance of the 616 primers while keeping their cost down and performance up.  The raw materials used to make 616s are tested for acceptance before they become the components of the primer.  Then the finished components of the Fiocchi 616 primer (primer cup, battery cup, anvil, and priming compound) are tested continually during the assembly and manufacturing process for proper tolerance, sensitivity, and reliability to ensure reliable ignition and consistent performance in the field or on the range.

Having total confidence in your ammunition makes for a much better experience whether it’s on the range or out in the field.  Remember, it’s the shot that break the target!!!




Right Caliber, Wrong Ammunition? What a Difference a Grain Makes

Experienced and new shooters alike may find their pistols not performing as expected.  While there are many things that can cause malfunctions, sometimes it’s the ammo.  Proper caliber is an easy choice; get what’s labeled on your chamber or barrel, but what about grain?
Sometimes misunderstood as the weight of powder, the grain measurement you see on a modern box of ammunition is actually the weight of the projectile.  There are 437.5 grains (gr) in an ounce.  They are important to us though as they can be indicative of the way a bullet will perform.  Lighter bullets are often loaded to fly faster (measured in feet per second or fps) and heavier bullets fly slower.  After testing 9mm rounds as light as 50gr and as heavy as 158gr, I can attest that there is a strong difference. 

Mass x Velocity = Energy
115gr bullet flying at 1,150fps = 338 foot pounds of energy
147gr bullet flying at 1,050fps= 360 foot pounds of energy

Not only will the weight effect total energy, but it often leads to different overall lengths, some of which may not work properly in your handgun.  The picture above has seven different loads of 9mm varying from 85gr to 147gr.  Examining them closely you can see that they all have different lengths.  Some bullets also have different shapes to them that may or may not feed well in your particular gun.

Different heights and starting diameter among ammunition of the same caliber


This is why it is so important that before trusting your life to a defensive round you try at least one magazine’s worth through your gun.  Another concern is pressure and recoil.  Unless your handgun is specifically rated for +P or +P+ loads these are best avoided.  The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer’s Institute (SAAMI) has established and agreed upon levels of pressure that ammunition can generate.  If this is exceeded the round is labeled +P, or +P+.  This method is often used to squeeze a little more velocity out of a round.  You may have seen “CIP” stamped on European arms and ammunition.  This is the Permanent International Commission for the Proof of Small Arms, a similar organization to SAAMI, but international.  A combination of SAAMI and CIP markings makes me feel best, which is why I support many European arms and ammunition companies like Fiocchi because I know their goods to be dually approved.

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 .

Every now and then an event has meaning greater than the itself. The Outdoor Buddies pheasant shoot was such an event. For those few hours, pheasant shooting acquired symbolism for the noblest virtue: the selfless joys of helping others and passing the hunting ethic to younger generations. As has been done so many times before, Fiocchi USA donated cases of ammunition to the participants.

Outdoor Buddies is an all-volunteer organization with the mission to provide opportunities for those who have been deprived of enjoying outdoor experiences. It focuses on mobility-disabled people, at-risk youth and youth groups. Outdoor experiences include hunting, fishing, boating, camping, and education in the use of the outdoors for recreational activities.

Outdoor Buddies was co-founded in 1984 by Sid Sellers and Sam Andrews. Sam was Director of Therapeutic Recreation at Craig Hospital, world renowned for brain and spine trauma care and rehabilitation, and Sid was a long-time volunteer Hunter Education Instructor for the Colorado Division of Wildlife and an avid outdoorsman. The organization was created because of a need to find therapeutic recreational opportunities for rehabilitating patients who had suffered spinal cord injuries.

About fifteen youth hunters, twenty disabled participants and a dozen able volunteers congregated at the Drake Land Farms Club about an hour east of Denver. The hunt was orchestrated with symphonic precision by president Larry Sanford and his wife, Penny, the chef of a world-class gumbo served for lunch.

Crates of pheasant were strategically placed on fifty acres of cornfields intersected by dirt roads and bounded by thick stands of pines and hardwoods. The first group of hunters made their way to the northern fields, many in the electric mechanized ‘trekkers’ that moved like a small silent tank division. An effervescent “Let’s get going!” enthusiasm pervaded the group which sported smiles as wide as the Grand Canyon. Splashes of orange vests dotted the landscape like splattered paint on a green brown canvas. Well-trained dogs leaped about like porpoises over the waves. A comment often heard from the disabled participants was “Here I am equal to the able-bodied folks. I can do what they do.”

Thirteen-year-old Luke eloquently captured   the event’s value when he answered my question, Why did he attended? “My grandfather took me hunting. Then he had an injury and joined Outdoor Buddies. This is a great way to help people and to be outside, not sitting at home looking at the computer, like so many other people my age. This is fun, and I know I am doing something good.” The pheasants flew high, but our exhilarating spirits were even higher.


Please visit website..  perhaps even make a donation


Michael Sabbeth is a lawyer and writer in Denver, Colorado. See his book The Good, The Bad & The Difference: How to Talk with Children About Values. Available at


The search for the perfect hunting tool began very early in human evolution. While humans are not the only mammals to use tools to get to their food, they are unique in the way they improve on what nature provides. Once they realised how lethal a pointed object could be, they started to polish and chip pieces of stone and fashion them into spearheads.

Fossil records show that our ancestors’ brain size increased dramatically about 500,000 years ago, and continued to grow, as they learned to look at rocks, stones, antlers, horns and bones and imagine how they could transform them for different purposes. More than that, it appears that they had an eye for beauty and a pride in craftsmanship; many of their stone tools are exquisite. Their problem-solving ability led to great technological breakthroughs such as learning how to make glue and use heat to fasten their spearheads to wooden shafts.

Applying their ingenuity to increasing the range of their weapons led early hunters to develop different kinds of spear throwers, sometimes called atlatls. Recent discoveries in Pinnacle Cave, South Africa, revealed that as early as 70,000 years ago they were hafting sharp stone tips, about 2 inches / 5 cms long, to be propelled from their atlatls to lethal effect. Darts from an atlatl can fell prey at 40 metres /45 yards, earning it the nickname ‘Stone Age Kalashnikov’. Versions can be found throughout the world including Australia where it’s known as the woomera or miru.

The spear was not the only popular projectile. Contrary to popular belief, boomerangs were not exclusive to Australia. The earliest yet, made from a mammoth tusk, was found in a cave in Poland and dated to 23,000 BCE. This takes us into the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, when bows and arrows, being lighter and more portable, gradually replaced the atlatl in most parts of the world. Today, however, the atlatl is enjoying a revival in sport.

As the glaciers from the last Ice Age retreated, hunters followed herds across land bridges between continents. Their technology had grown more varied and sophisticated to include fine arrowheads, harpoons and tools using tiny blades to work skins into clothing, tents and other objects. Fish bones and piles of empty shells show that diets and hunting methods had become more varied. Gradually humans began to settle down and start farming and herding as the New Stone Age or Neolithic began. But hunting remained popular both to supplement their diet, particularly in the winter, and as a sport.

The wonderful hunting scenes painted on rock faces from around 40,000 years ago attest that hunting was not just a way of obtaining food, but was also deeply ingrained in culture. The most ancient examples include those from caves in the Dordogne in France, and Eastern Spain, which were decorated over hundreds of years. A magnificent scene from the Cova dels Cavalls, Spain, shows a group of archers chasing a herd of nine deer; a painting from another cave depicts six hunters chasing and hitting boars with arrows. Did these commemorate hunting success, or were they created as ritual hunting magic to ensure a good result, or were they painted for other reasons?  The jury is still out.


By Celine Castelino - Archeologist




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