Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Da Rules – Rule 4: Be sure of your target, and what’s beyond it!
I was doing my “morning read” and came across this story of an accidental shooting involving a “bird”, a mohawk and a drunk. (H/T – Bitter. That sentence should be enough to get you to read the story!) And, it got me to thinking of my youth . . . . .
Just incase Jim is now glancing at my blog from time to time, Da Rules:
1: ALWAYS keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
2: ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
3: ALWAYS keep your firearm unloaded until you’re ready to use it.
Now, on to Rule 4: Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.
Shooters harp on these rules constantly – real shooters anyway. I have seen the passing “yahoo” who seems oblivious to any firearm safety rules what-so-ever, but in the community I move in, that is a rarity. And, most shooters will gently – but firmly – remind you if any of Da Rules are broken. I appreciate that, it works to keep our sport and training much safer.
However, once off the range, and in the field, things can go south quickly. In the time it can take to press the trigger that last little 1/64th of an inch, an afternoon’s enjoyment can teeter on the edge of disaster.
It was a very warm October afternoon in the early 60’s. My cousin Mike had just been presented with a new single-shot .410 shotgun for the season by my Uncle Victor (it was always Victor, not Vic). They were “home”, visiting my Mom and Grandmother, Uncle Victor’s family as well and enjoying the early days of hunting season in eastern Michigan.
We had spent an energetic morning walking the fields (sans dog BTW) and had not really seen much of interest. Uncle Victor suffered from terrible arthritis – a by product of WWII, flying B-17s and way too much time in the cold and wet and damp of southeast England. It was time for a rest.
I appreciated being able to tag along. I was too young to hunt, my father had probably been dead for over 5 years by then and I was happy to be there – even if it was just walking along.
Our rest took the form of squirrel hunting, sitting on the ground next to a tree, remaining quiet and still, and waiting for the little critters to forget about our intrusion and to resume their fall nut-collecting duties. After about 45 minutes or so, I watched Uncle Victor slowly raise his shotgun (pump 16 gauge if memory serves), aim at a tree probably 40 yards away or so and wait for the descending squirrel to get much closer to the ground. About 4 feet off the ground Uncle Victor fired his round, the squirrel dropped like a rock . . . . . . . and a man simply fell over on his side.
Our world exploded!! This older gent had obviously fallen asleep. He had farmer coveralls on, tan in color, a tan over coat, tan hunting cap – we was simply invisible to us all – until Uncle Victor shot him in the upper-left face. We were totally shocked – he was totally pissed and bleeding like a stuck pig!! Words were “exchanged” – to put it mildly. Luckily, the two men knew each other and the older gent’s temper cooled quickly. He was typical of the men and farmers of that era - now that he knew it was an accident he simply did a “ho-hum, I’m bleeding like a stuck pig, I’d better stop it” – he pulled a handkerchief from his hip pocket – rejected the call to go to the doctor’s and just held it over his wounds. Finally, after a clear demand from Uncle Victor, Mike and I were designated to go with him to his car and see him to the doctor.
Slowly we walked . . . . bleed, bleed, bleed . . . . he opened his trunk and slowly wiped down his gun and cased it . . . . bleed, bleed, bleed . . . . he took off his coveralls and folded them before he stowed them away . . . bleed, bleed, bleed . . . then, still holding the handkerchief over his wound, he drove to the doctors where we met up with my Uncle Victor.
Luckily, no real damage was done. His eye was OK, the shallow pellets were removed and the deeper ones were simply left in place. I would see that man on and off for the next half-dozen year or so (until I left home for the military) and up until the last time I saw him I could see three very clear and distinct black dots on his left forehead – the remaining pellets from our hunting accident.
That story is nearly 50 years old – far older than I care to admit. Yet, it is so vivid, the surprise of the man falling over – even today there is a bit of a catch in my heart . . . . It’s a good reminder to:
Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.