Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Follow the Numbers!

The other day I saw a post on facebook. I think it was trying to make a point that the chances of being killed by a moslem fundamentalist were really small. As is often the case with such things there was some very selective cherry picking of the data. Number of people who had been killed by buses was given, but not the number killed by road traffic accidents in general. The author had chosen to make the highest number that they posted as deaths from firearms.

Something of interest struck me. The figure given for “deaths by firearms” was 11,000. Or should I say, “only 11,000”. For a country with a population of around 350 million 11,000 is actually a very low percentage. Looking at other sources I am not sure how they got that figure. It may be meant to be murders with firearms.
Intrigued, I did some research:
Deaths from firearms in the US average about 10.5 per 100,000 population. Or 0.0105 per cent! Homicides by firearm are 3.43-5.0 per 100,000, suggesting that most firearm fatalities are accidents, suicide or legitimate self-defence. Deaths from road traffic accidents vary from 10 to 20 per 100,000 population per year. So you are three to four times more likely to be killed by an automobile than murdered with a gun. Chances of a non-fatal injury from an automobile are much higher.
Looking at the cause of death figures for 2014 is interesting. The total number of deaths for that year was 2,626,418 which is 823.7 per 100,000. Heart disease and cancer were the main killers. What is interesting is that diabetes killed 76,488, which is 23.98 per 100,000. 55,227 or 17.32 per 100,000 died from “Influenza and Pneumonia”. To place this in perspective, the number of Americans killed in the entire Vietnam war was around 58,315.
Think about that for a second! In a first world country that claims to be a superpower tens of thousands of people are dying from diabetes and chest infections!
Next time you see a politician or someone else claiming that guns are an important issue and something needs to be done about them remember the above and think about what they are really trying to distract you from.

The Books

WW2 Bayonet Part One.

Many modern bayonet designs are not particularly useful. I have an SA-80 bayonet that is inferior to my kukri in every respect. It even weighs and costs more. For soldiers who are attempting to lighten their load the bayonet is often one of the first things to be discarded.

Bayonet fighting, however, is still an important skill to become familiar with. Even if you do not have a bayonet or do not have time to fit it bayonet fighting skills can be utilized. Butt strikes and thrusts work the same with an unbayonetted rifle. With the bayonet a thrust from the muzzle can still have a telling effect. The basic principles also apply to long batons or some improvised weapons. For this reason both Crash Combat and Attack, Avoid, Survive have sections on bayonet fighting without a bayonet.

Training in the bayonet was also considered to be a good way to reduce a recruit’s tendency to hesitate and to increase their commitment to an advance.

The second paragraph of a British WW2 manual makes the wise observation:

“2. It is impossible to drill men into becoming good bayonet fighters as it is undesirable for those of different physique to adopt exactly the same style. Words of command will, therefore, be reduced to a minimum, and men will be encouraged to develop a style suitable to their size and build, provided that the methods laid down are followed.

3. By his own example the instructor must instil a spirit of energy and determination in his squad.”

That is good advice, not just for bayonet instruction.

The illustration below is taken from the manual above and shows a useful training aid for bayonet skills. The ring is used as a target to develop accuracy and coordination. The padded end is used for the practice of counters against attacks.

Many armies used similar devices for training. Below is a rather nice Soviet-era illustration of a course to teach soldiers. Rather reminds me of a crazy golf course! In other illustrations parts of the course seem to be used with knives, entrenching tools or unarmed techniques. Elsewhere strikes can be seen being made with the muzzle, drum and stock of the PPSh-41.


The Books