I have a copy of a censored book cover hanging outside my classroom. This year, every teacher got a laminated sheet with a border reading (in my case) "Mr. Gwinn is currently reading. . . ." The idea is that we will hang these outside our doors, and either write the title of our current selection or make a photocopy of the cover to hang up. When I started this book, I couldn't possibly have settled for the title, because the cover is too interesting. "Practical __________: Beyond Fundamentals" it proclaims, right over the photo of an IPSC legend aiming a pistol. The twist is that this is NOT a story about my evil middle school administrators censoring my reading choices. My evil middle school administrators have always been pretty good to me, when you get right down to it. Some might even use words like "patient," "forgiving," and "tolerant." In this case, we inherited someone else's censorship.
I'm reading Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals by Brian Enos. The IPSC shooters among my readers have probably read this book and maybe visited http://www.brianenos.com/ to learn in the forums. It's a fascinating book for a competitive shooter; Enos put a huge amount of thought into shooting and what it really meant back in the 1980's. Some of the details have changed, especially the way he watches the sights, but I think the principles still sound sound, as it were.
When I walked in at my local IPSC match last week, one of my new friends (who hasn't given me permission to give his name here) was waiting for me.
"Have you read this book?" he asked.
"Nope." I admitted. "I've heard about it, though."
"Well, it's perfect for you. It's written for a guy like you, who's just starting out, and always gets the hits, but wants to go faster. You ought to read it. You wanna borrow it?"
Now, I have a rule about books. I don't look a gift book in the mouth. I find that bad books are usually measurably better than good television, for instance, so I'm not as choosy as some might imagine. I pounced. Then I noticed the cover.
"Is . . . did somebody black out the word 'shooting?' On the cover and the spine?"
"Well, I'm a poor college student, you know."
"Oh . . . sure. OK, that makes sense."
It didn't seem very polite to ask whether it had been his idea or someone else's, but someone has taken a black marker and laid a box of thick black ink over the word "Shooting" on both the front cover and the spine of the book. On the other hand, the guy in nerdy 1990-vintage Oakley sunglasses with a compensated 1911 in a firing stance apparently passed muster at the college of his choice.
What do I think of the book? It's interesting, and I think I read it at the perfect time--I may have needed someone to remind me that I didn't take a class with Todd Jarrett so I could try to imitate Todd Jarrett perfectly, but so I could take his ideas and try them out and learn from them in developing my own style. As with the Gun Blog .45 from Para-USA, the highest recommendation I can give you is that I've ordered my own copy to mark up an re-read when I give this borrowed copy back.