Response from author of “Skill at Arms and the Free Man”
September 16th, 2006
Response from essay context finalist with some great advice:
First, thanks for picking my essay as one of the finalists. It has been a busy week, and I just finished reading all of the others. Good company!
Sure, we all deserve awards! Seriously, this contest is a good idea, and maybe you should have it every year or so, if only to keep people thinking. It isn’t enough just to be well trained; you also need to know why you are going to act.
After reading them all, it seems to me that you have some that are generally on a single topic, and others that seem to relate specifically to Front Sight. I don’t blame you for putting that out there; you have done a marvelous job on this project, and contestants should be proud to tout it. My wife and I were fortunate enough to attend one of the free machine gun classes. We had a great time, and we were very impressed with the level of training. For a real estate promotion, you could have done this with less intensity, but we were impressed that you didn’t sacrifice your standards. However on the next contest, if you do it, you should have two classes of entries. The topics are fine, but perhaps you would get more focused essays if you narrowed the topics a bit. One should be on the basic philosophy behind being armed, and the other on the Front Sight side of it. That way, people who haven’t attended Front Sight would still be able to enter, and those of us who have been there, will be able to apply what we saw to our essay.
You have the resources and presence to make this contest something larger than you think. I hope you’ll take the time to consider this larger upside of the contest and work to make it possible. You might make a deal with one of the gun magazines to publish the winner. You could partner with one of the Outdoor TV shows, perhaps, to get more coverage. I think the long term advantage this offers our shooting community is to show all of our members that thinking about the Second or serious training is not something only a few academics should do, but it is the kind of serious intellectual activity that our Founding Fathers, and the citizens of a new nation, did when they gave us our country. Today, we tend to think in 15 second sound bites, and there is a place for that. However, building a vehicle that will encourage many more of us to engage in this kind of deep reflection is a goal worthy of your time and attention.
Thanks again for a great idea, and while I wish I’d won, it was good to read such good examples of other Americans who are still thinking and still getting involved.
Keep up the good work!