thanks colyn for this blast from the past... In the beginning ... I must admit that I have never been a successful scholar. I frown upon those poor souls that long for their schooldays. School itself bored me stiff. I could never wait to get home. After all I had a rifle and a dog waiting, with lots of places to go and things to do. Eventually the inevitable happened. I got into some serious trouble with the biology teacher for constant neglect of homework. Things sort of escalated, the way they have a tendency to do. Eventually my poor mother could take no more and she put in a call to a certain teacher of whom I had spoken often. He and I connected. Maybe it had something to do with the Smith & Wesson revolver which he kept in the classroom, and upon which we conducted many experiments when I suppose I should have been busy with Physics or Chemistry. Don't really know. All the same it thus came about that Krappie (his nickname) was burdened with the task of getting this unlikely scholar back onto track, so to speak. He called me to his office and presented me with a rather solid package wrapped in brown paper. Inside was a Lee Loader intended for the .38 S&W cartridge and a single cavity Lee mould which would throw 158 gr hollow points. The deal was simple. I could have the equipment and all the support I needed. In return I undertook to set the score straight with the biology teacher and generally pull finger in terms of schoolwork. If I could not turn things around in six months he would assist me in obtaining a job on a local mine. I would also have to hand back the kit, of course. I still have that Lee Loader. I do not intend parting with it. I do not know how many rounds I é€”eloaded with that set. I went through vast quantities of lead, burned many tins of powder and gained a lot of experience. I had my share of disasters and but for Providence would probably have suffered permanent injury as well. In due course I upgraded the equipment and now I have passed it all on to my son. We load for thirteen calibers. Let me share with you some of the insights that I have gained in the many years spent rolling my own. Firstly let me say that had I not been a reloader I would probably not have spent a fraction of the time that I did skulking around gunshops. I would probably have obtained better grades in my studies as well. But I would have been denied the intimate and fascinating insight into the psyche of people of the gun, on both sides of the counter. It is amazing what hangs around in gunshops. Around that time firearm enthusiasts were rather limited concerning local publications dealing with firearms and the like. I mean, possessing an American magazine of such inclination was almost as exillrating as possessing an American magazine of a rather different inclination, resulting in never ending requests from borrowers that would further their education on either topic, so to speak. Most people just bought the Scope for the one purpose and Man Magazine or Landbouweekblad for the other. The cover pages on some of the early Man magazines could sort of double-up, if you understand what I mean. I must confess that the staffers at Man strongly advocated that nothing less than a 9 mm parabellum or a thirty-eight special could be taken seriously as a defensive cartridge. The then meteoric rise in South Africa of Combat Shooting in which the venerable .45 ACP and the Colt Government Model held undisputed sway did not make things any easier. Many heated arguments resulted between readers (or should I say believers) and lesser mortals. It became so bad that it was downright dangerous to walk into an establishment and ask for a box of cartridges of lesser stature. The shop assistant might have sold them to you, but chances were that some knowledgeable combat shooters would be lurking around and would immediately regale terrible stories of people being horribly mutilated by irate robbers who took exception to being shot with a small caliber firearm. For some reason the diminutive .25 automatic came in for some heavy criticism. Until one day when å¾¹ld Mr. Barnard was at his concession store when a gang of migrant mineworkers chased a hapless fellow into the basement where they stretched him over a bag of maize meal and cut his throat. Brandishing the long and bloodied knife the leader, who was a magnificent fellow strode out and started whooping it up, jumping, leaping and shouting and generally creating a fuss. He was really on a roll, [dagga?]adrenaline pumping. Most of the womenfolk present and quite a few of the men instantly sought out the protection of å¾¹ld Mr. Barnard and rallied behind him, their swelling numbers eventually pushing him forward. He was being set up to face the crazy, which of course was entirely unnecessary and downright dangerous. In spite of the terrible danger he did not falter. The old gentleman stepped forward and presented a small semi-automatic pistol in .25 caliber. He gave warning of his intention to shoot. This caused an immediate charge by the crazed killer. Mr. Barnard fired one shot, killing him instantly. There was a very small trickle of blood from the entry wound on his right eye-lid. This event did not cause me to dispose of any of my Colts in favour of a Baby Browning, but it did bring home the lesson not to believe too much of what is said in gun-shops or published in magazines. O yes, before I forget the event also taught me the very basics of surviving an armed confrontation. The first rule is to always have a serviceable firearm and ammunition in a state of instant readiness. The second is not to be mislead by the size or lack thereof of your opponent. And the third is to avoid bystanders. In a similar vein it was gunshop- rhetoric that lead a fellow to buying a .378 Weatherby Magnum, built by the legendary Bill Ritchi of Florida. Now in those days the mention of ?378 Weatherby in conjunction with the legend of Bill Ritchi was really something. Almost like having a ?8 Perrana built by Basil Green himself, complete with è¿itchi Jute cams. Awesome! To say that the fellow snapped it up would be an understatement. Curious thing is that he sort of went right on snapping, succeeding in snapping the stock a few months later, and causing the magazine well to sort of explode. Even more curiously the bolt seemed suddenly to be sticky. Long and serious deliberation followed with the local gunshop-assistant until they finally figured it out. On the fateful day of destruction, the owner and some other fellows were on the range. One of their numbers was a particularly large specimen. The intrepid assistant put two and two together. The large man, he reasoned, had prevented the rifle from recoiling, causing gas created by the burning propellant to violently expand, damaging the rifle. He was rather smug about his skillful powers of deduction. And of course he just had to put the cherry on top, explaining that the é„rmy was aware of this phenomenon, which is why R1/FN rifles could have the gas æ®¿djusted in order to compensate for smaller or larger soldiers. I have subsequently never asked the opinion of a gunshop assistant, nor that of a car salesman, or any other salesman for that matter. I have been irrevocably converted to the Lyman manual and the RCBS 10:10 scale. I make a point of knowing my current trouser- and collar size and of acquiring a workshop manual for the vehicles that I possess. Being prepared has taken a whole new meaning for me. And not because of anything the good Baden had in mind, but because of that shop assistant. Have you ever seen a man with a sheepish look, another filled with horror, another seemingly stupefied and still another that had soiled himself, all four being temporarily deaf? Well, I have, in a gun shop in Potchefstroom to be specific. The two had sauntered in, enquiring about ammunition for a .44 Rem Mag. Presently said cannon was produced. A beautiful Mod 6-29. For some reason be-known only to himself the owner handed the revolver to his companion when the desired ammunition was put on the counter. He had just reached over for the box of cartridges when there was an almighty clap. The idiot holding the revolver had pointed it at the floor and went on to pull the trigger. The 240 gr. Norma Power Cavity narrowly cleared his foot, penetrated the floor planking, hit cement and came straight back, struck the concrete ceiling and landed on the floor. It was perfectly mushroomed. The horror of our narrow escape was somewhat ameliorated when the pair walked out. Our AD man walked stiff-legged, shuffling along. Had it not been for an almost overpowering stench one might have thought that he had somehow been struck by the bullet or a fragment of sorts. His companion was forging ahead, wanting to get away. AD man wailed almost imperceptibly: I have a problem? To which the owner of the establishment, in his dry manner remarked; å“²o shit, Sherlock? Then of course there are mods. Mods are an acronym for modifications. Modifications are for the greater part solutions to problems conjured up in gunshops. Rarely do they offer a proven advantage over the industry standard. So it came about that almost all of us invested in 22 pound Wolf springs for our Government Models. I suppose they made replacement springs for other makes of pistols too, but we did not concern ourselves with such lesser armed mortals. The theory was something along the line that the more powerful spring would chamber sloppy reloads that would otherwise have caused a stoppage, thus increasing ammunition reliability. Sounds good, doesn't it? Get unreliable ammunition to be reliable without effecting any change to the ammunition itself. In hindsight I now realize that we should all have been punished. Swiftly and severely. For some the punishment did come rather unexpectedly. We were on the firing line practicing standard exercises. A hapless fellow, studying to be an apothecary was standing next to me. We were holding our pistols for inspection before scoring and patching. The range officer, an exalted man studying to be a dominee came up to do the obligatory inspection. Why he saw it fit to insert his puffy (read: sloppy) little finger into the proffered pistol's chamber is unclear. Why the apothecary let the slide down a moment too soon is open to speculation. The 22 pound Wolf did its thing, slamming shut the slide and chambering the sloppy pinky. Well, almost chambering it. No amount of vigorous shaking, accompanied by intermittent shrieks and blasphemous cursing could free the pistol from the pinkie. The apothecary reacted with the speed of a mongoose. He grabbed the pistol and tried vigorously to force slide and frame in opposite directions. Only problem was he selected the wrong direction, substantially increasing the volume and banality of the outpourings coming from the would be holy man. Until the slide went fully into battery. I guess the little finger did not make a gass-tight seal in the chamber as a steady stream of blood was pouring from the muzzle of the 1911 A1. æ»´ow thoughtfull? remarked my friend Flame. æ»´e left a bloodspoor for us to follow him to hospital ? They may be able to re-attach this? he said, holding up the severed piece of the first digit, complete with nail. My reloading career also brought me into contact with some truly gifted people. We were attending the World Championship at Cecil Payne Park in the early eighties, hoping to see the greats in action, and lurking around the many stalls offering stuff that was ordinarily out of bounds for South Africans at the time. There was one competitor from Great Britain that caught our fancy. His name was Roger Stockbridge. What an artist. Let me tell you, that bloke could shoot. He was a tall and imposing man of pleasant disposition. He could discipline himself and he had nerves of steel. He wore éƒ½hades (read: Ray Ban). Soon spectators started referring to him as James Bond. The movie hero at the time was played by another Brit also named Roger. Roger Moore in fact. Hence the nickname. Having won the man vs man round, Roger Stockbridge, with poise and style wrote the winning time on the notice board, and under that the phrase ç‡ƒoger Who? That to me was the defining moment of the championship. What an inspiration he was to us all. He could double-tap like no man I had ever seen. Years later I saw that he and his family had relocated to South Africa. I never saw him again, but he inspires me still. Ah yes, dear old Mrs. Brink. It was she that had set things in motion all those years before. Caused an ordinary laggard to turn to the wonder world of firearms, the song of the veldt and the call of the wild. Bless her! And Krappie. Bless him doubly!! Filled my nostrils with the smell of allox, molten lead and nitro-cellulose. And for ever filled my pen with ink from the Fountain of Life. What a teacher!