By Paul Markel © 2012
LUVERNE, AL –-(Ammoland.com)- When I was a young student of the gun I’d spend innumerable hours reading gun magazines.
I grew up reading about the exploits of Elmer Keith, Bill Jordan, Jeff Cooper, Skeeter Skelton and many others whose influence on our industry was so profound that their thoughts, ideas, and creations are still around today.
I find it a bit sad that so many up and coming students don’t know most of those names and few understand the impact their lives had on the gun world.
As I begin this review in January of 2013, all the aforementioned men have long since gone to their reward. There are, however, men remaining that bridge the gap between the older generation and the new. Sheriff Jim Wilson, John Taffin, Wiley Clapp, and Bill Wilson come immediately to mind.
The first words of this review were penned early in the a.m. as I sat in the lodge of the Circle WC Ranch watching the ducks play on the lake. The Circle WC, just west of Texarkana, is Bill Wilson’s little slice of paradise, rolling hills in the northeast corner of Texas teaming with wild hogs and white tail deer.
Most every reader will know the name “Wilson Combat” and the stellar reputation of their 1911 handguns, semi-automatic rifles, and fighting shotguns. Some will know the man behind the company, Bill Wilson the founder and patriarch of the Wilson family.
However, many readers, especially the ones under age 40 may not realize that Bill Wilson is not just a Master Gunsmith and founder of the company. Bill is a genuine shooter, an accomplished competitor and hunter who has taken game around the globe.
While many of you were in diapers, elementary school, or just a gleam in your father’s eye, Bill Wilson was competing professionally in national events put on by IPSC, USPSA, the Bianchi Cup and later, the IDPA.
The walls of this personal shop are lined with plaques, trophies, and certificates from those glory days. In the trophy room in the Circle WC lodge, it literally filled to the rafters with wild game trophies from Africa and the United States.
As someone who’s been in the shooting game from approximately four decades, Bill naturally has some strong opinions about what it takes to shoot a handgun, and a rifle for that matter, consistently well.
The First Time Gun Owner
During a recent conversation, Bill and I discussed the late phenomenon of the first time gun buyer. During the last few years and the number of first time gun owners, particularly handgun owners, has risen dramatically. Most of these folks don’t come from the traditional “gun culture” where they were raised with firearms in their home or taught to use them by a family member.
For whatever reason, they decided now is the time to purchase their first gun and that completes the first step; ownership. However, purchasing a gun simply makes you a gun owner not a competent shooter. The next step is to seek out professional instruction.
“Getting quality instruction can be difficult.” Bill said while we were discussing the topic. “New gun owners often can’t tell the difference between quality instruction and the local guy who talks a good game but isn’t really qualified to teach anyone.” Wilson elaborated further. “New gun owners should definitely do their homework and look for a reputable training academy and instructors with solid credentials.”
Practicing What You Preach
Bill Wilson doesn’t just talk about shooting and carrying guns, he does it. In the spring of 2012 Bill hosted renowned firearms instructor Ken Hackathorn for a three-day training course on the ranch. Bill and his lovely wife, Joyce, participated as students along with a dozen other shooters. That fact truly says something about the character of the man. Many men with the experience and credentials the Bill has might be tempted to rest on their laurels or assume that they are good enough.
“I carry everyday whether I’m on or off the ranch, Bill related, “and I practice as often as I can.”
Bill’s advice to the new and novice gun owner:
- Buy quality gear, you get what you pay for.
- Get professional instruction, do your homework and seek out a school or trainer with a solid reputation.
- Practice often, shooting skills are perishable.
- If you are going to carry for protection, carry all the time. Self-Defense is not a sometimes activity.
With all of the awards and trophies he has accumulated since the 1970’s, you might think that a man in Mr. Wilson’s position would be satisfied to rest on previous experience. But that is not the case. Bill Wilson is a true student of the gun, continuously seeking knowledge and new experience. For more information go to www.wilsoncombat.com
This article first appeared in the AmmoLand Shooting Sports News Monthly NewsLetter, Follow this link to sign up, so you don't miss the Next Issue. Paul Markel ~ AmmoLand Shooting Sports News © 2012
Paul Markel c 2012
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