As an amateur history buff, I’m always interested to see how perspectives on topics change over the years. When reading through a 50 year old gun magazine recently, I ran headlong into one of those views that I daresay would never be found in print today.
Col. Charles Askins, a semi-mythical figure to some in the shooting industry, penned a piece called Demon Rum and the Shooting Man in the April/May 1966 issue of GUNsport magazine. In this article, Askins puts forth why he believes drinking alcohol and shooting do mix.
Askins states that while at Camp Perry winning national championships “Demon rum was my crutch and ally.” Further, he stated:
If this sounds like I condone the cup that cheers at shooting events that is exactly the way I want it to sound. I do.
Askins continues over the next five pages to explain how he used alcohol during matches to help calm the nerves, improve concentration and steady the hands – not just as a social lubricant at after match gatherings.
In fact, Askins stated:
I was the habitual consumer and as the team captain and coach of the U.S. Border Patrol pistol team, I persuaded the other members to imbibe.
Askins went on to describe in detail the amount of alcohol over what period of time seemed to produce the best improvement of scores. He claimed that drinking alcohol during matches helped him improve the Border Patrol’s match scores 8.7% for the team as a whole.
Interestingly, Askins does draw the line somewhere when mixing guns and booze. Competition shooting is clearly ok, but hunting is not. He stated:
Liquor and match shooting mix nicely, liquor and hunting does not.
I guess every man needs to know his limitations. Even so, the article states that Askins would remain “brightly incandescent” throughout the entirety of the 10-day Camp Perry National Matches.
Reading this particular article was a bit surreal. At first, I thought it might have been some kind of April Fool’s article, but I could find nothing the magazine that would suggest this was true. Additionally, other references to the article I have seen all treat this as a legitimate work by Askins.
As a fellow that has seen everything from accidental shootings to DUI fatalities, I would never suggest or condone the use of alcohol or other drugs during shooting activities. While I can appreciate that “calming the nerves” might help a shooter on the line, the consequences of an unintentional discharge are simply too great to allow Askin’s crutch to be used.