Some time ago I was up hunting bear with a good friend. We had baited an area the evening before with a 5 gallon plastic barrel full of rancid meat and strung it up in a tree. Early the next morning, before the sun rose, we drove part of the way from our camp in my friend’s truck and then hiked the rest of the way to a good vantage point overlooking the bait. We settled in for the next hour our two waiting for the sun to rise and reveal any interested parties.
At one point a shadow caught our eye and we each chambered a round waiting for whatever it was to reveal itself; carefully keeping our fingers off their triggers. Suffice to say it was not a bear and our weapons never came off safe. In the light of day and after a good wait we hiked back to the truck, intending to drive down and relocate the bait in hopes of drawing an animal that day or over the next night and morning.
From the first time I handled a firearm muzzle awareness was drilled into my head; realizing that a weapon is only as safe as the person behind the trigger. To date little is more frightening than taking a person out shooting who has never handled a firearm; they will flag those around them and giggle, having no concept of what they have in their hands. They might ask you what the muzzle is when you tell them to keep and eye on it. I tell them it’s the part the bullet comes out of.
The particular bolt action rifle I was using had a wing safety, if you are familiar with types of rifle safeties. As we climbed into the truck and started it, I made a point, as always, to keep the muzzle faced down through floor of the truck between my feet. At that moment there was a loud explosion and the cab filled with smoke. We stood motionless waiting for our senses to clear, at which time I looked down and realized what had happen. With the adrenaline pumping I gave myself a once over to verify nothing had happened.
As best as we can figure the wing safety must have gotten caught on my old army field jacket as did the trigger. This was one of those accidents that could have ended badly but did not. My friend’s pick up still has a beautiful little hole through the floor board. That fact that the riffle had been pointing almost straight down left the tires and engine whole.
I think, after muzzle awareness; the next thing I need to teach my city friends is how to keep their fingers out of the trigger guard until they are ready to pull the trigger.