Bill Shadel, returned after World War II after nearly two years in Europe as American Rifleman’s War Correspondent and CBS radio news reporter, submitted his personal, “Report to Riflemen” article that appeared in the July 1945 issue of American Rifleman.
My last ten days with the Navy aboard a Destroyer bring vividly to mind another trip on the high seas, a year ago. On the night of June fifth, aboard the Cruiser Tuscaloosa, when we started to move across the cold dark waters of the channel, the task of destroying the German Army looked tremendous. That Army included some 347 enemy divisions in all; sixty-odd of them in France, waiting behind the much-vaunted West Wall. A large proportion of the remainder was lined up against the Russians. The Russians were over a thousand miles to the east. There was little thought, in those days, of a junction between the two armies. The entire German Army was between us and our allies. Every thought was focused on those Normandy beaches and the hell of fire our men would soon be facing.
That’s why we need a National Rifle Association … to promote small-arms marksmanship, whether on the range or in the hunting field. I was never more convinced of the need of such skill; never more completely persuaded that it provides that essential something needed in addition to the American fighting man’s heart and ability; a something which cannot be left to a few final, hurried months.
Space does not permit the recital here of untold instances where a hunter or a practiced target shooter, alone and single-handed, created havoc in the ranks of a determined enemy counterattack. I have tried to report some of those instances to you … The great tragedy is that there were not more of them. There could have been more, multiplied thousands more, if we had had more hunters, more expert riflemen, to call up from civilian ranks.
Next time, if there ever has to be a next time, it must be different! America must have those riflemen. American fighting men generally, not just in individual instances, must have that edge that skill with shoulder weapons gives.
I am convinced that we can and will have it; that the shooters of America, with evangelistic fervor, in the bonds of patriotism and good fellowship, will spread the gospel of shooting fun and shooting skill—for recreation and for national defense.