So-called "dry firing" over an empty chamber is good practice for the hunter using a bolt-action rifle. The snap does not hurt the firing pin in a quality rifle, and the repetitive hand-eye exercise helps train shooting skills. Best of all, you can do this at home.
Of course, it helps if the rifle is, indeed, unloaded.
Many years ago, several days before a deer hunt, I pulled a .30-06 from the gun case for a short dry-firing session. I was living in an apartment in Houston. The front room had a sliding glass door overlooking a residential street.
Down the street about 100 yards was a fire plug --- a favorite "target" for the off-hand drill. I hefted the pre-64 Winchester Model 70 and took a comfortable stance.
To cock the rifle, I lifted the bolt with my right hand and ran it back. Try to comprehend my shock as the motion extracted a live cartridge from the chamber. The golden Federal Premium flashed through the air and landed on the carpet.
I stared in disbelief. I do not intentionally leave random loaded guns in racks or cabinets or safes; yet, somehow, the old Model 70 went to bed hot.
I keep a loaded shotgun in my home and a handgun in my vehicle. These are maintained in a ready status for personal protection. But I know exactly what they are and where they are.
A gun you know is loaded is one thing; a gun that you forget is loaded is quiet another.
Point is, you can grow up around guns but get careless. In fact, the more you are around them, the more you feel comfortable with them, maybe the easier it is to take things for granted. That can be a terrible lapse.
I was confident the Model 70 was empty. Thank goodness (maybe subconscious training) I ran the bolt all the way back rather than simply raising and lowering the handle to cock the action before settling the crosshairs and pressing the trigger.
id="attachment_2108" align="alignnone" width="500
Heres another one:
I once was a guest on a South Texas lease. We were quail hunting. The trailer on the lease was a typical hunting camp, several lumpy sofas and chairs, a few dusty wall mounts and tilted wildlife prints, a grainy television, and a clattering refrigerator and a humming window-unit air conditioner. If youve done much hunting in Texas, you can picture the set-up.
The unusual appointment in this particular trailer was located in the front bedroom --- a ragged hole approximately six inches in diameter in the ceiling above one of the bunk beds. It was not cut for ventilation, nor was it chewed by resident rats. It was blown open by an accidental charge of 7 1/2 pellets from a 20-gauge shotgun from a distance of approximately six feet.
Most hunting leases have --- or should have --- a firm rule: No loaded guns in camp. It just isnt done. You open the action and clear the gun in the field before you reach camp.
Such was the stance on this lease but somebody forgot and toted a shotgun with a loaded chamber into the bedroom. Worse, the perpetrator proceeded to fiddle with the gun, preparing to clean it, maybe, and triggered the ceiling modification.
I dont know who the shooter was, or when the incident happened. I honestly dont even remember the particular lease. But I vividly recall that ragged hole.
You look at such a hole and take a deep breath, similar to the one I took when the long-ago Federal Premium bounced onto the shag carpet.
I almost got shot once. I mean, really shot. Being peppered by falling pellets in a dove field, although alarming and potentially eye-threatening, is a different deal.
This was a point-blank blast from an Ithaca 10-gauge Magnum auto-loading shotgun. And, if youre going gamble on getting shot, thats really not the gun you want to place in fickle Lady Lucks hands. The typical 3 1/2-inch shell looks like a relative of a Roman candle.
Two friends and I were goose hunting. We were on a lease on the rice prairies west of Houston. We parked on the edge of the blacktop in the pre-dawn darkness and donned chest waders and foul-weather parkas.
I piled my tote bag and soft-cased shotgun in the decoy-laden bed of the lease members four-wheel-drive pickup. An impatient black Lab was huffing and chuffing in a dog box, leaving white puffs of steam in the chill air.
The driver opened the left door and slid in behind the wheel. I prepared to climb in from the right, to sit in the center. The third hunter followed (smart move, I though smugly; being on the outside, he would have to screw with the gates).
The driver had the Ithaca 10-gauge Magnum propped on the bench seat beside him, along the right side of the floor shifter. The muzzle was against the floor board carpet.
I scrunched to the left to make room for the third guy stepping in from the right. The driver casually reached over to reposition the big shotgun a bit close to him. As the stock moved, I felt the fore-end of the cannon press against the thigh of my bulky waders.
The world slipped its axis and a bright yellow flash erupted against the edge of my left wader boot.
I felt no pain but was afraid to move. A weak toe-twiggle revealed I still had a left foot. In fact, the whole foot and ankle remained unscathed. When the gun was shifted, the muzzle remained pressed against the carpet. The heavy goose load blew straight through the steel floor board, leaving a hole, well, about the size of a 10-gauge bore.
The horrified driver, who often carried his pride-and-joy big gun in that manner, simply had forgotten to unload it following the previous trip. And, for whatever reasons, the safety was off. Those were two terrible mistakes, one on top of the other, and thats how a few Texas hunters get maimed or killed each year.
The common denominator in these three incidents was taking things for granted. And I cannot stress enough how easily this can happen; we must strive to check and double-check, and never take the status of any gun for granted.
And there are no exemptions for age or experience.