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April 17, 2013

Being "Nervous" Around Guns

By David E. Petzal

After my fragile form stopped shaking from the laughter induced by Frank Bruni’s “Day of the Hunter,” a sober realization crept over me. Despite our differing lifestyles and world views, we do agree about something: He wrote: “It was impossible for me not to be nervous around guns..”

Same here. There are a number of words you could substitute for “nervous” that would perhaps be more accurate: “Vigilant,” “Watchful,” and “Suspicious” are three. I’m highly suspicious of all guns at all times because, like all experienced hunters, I’ve had a good many demonstrations of what guns can do.

I’m also suspicious of people handling guns. I found that, as a rule, veteran shooters are pretty safe. It’s the beginners that scare me. They’re dangerous because of a mix of fear, incompetence, and ignorance of the rules, or etiquette, if you will. On more than one occasion I’ve had my rifle or shotgun plucked out of a rack by a new shooter, and admonished the person that you never, ever handle someone else’s firearm without permission. I’ve also seen riflemen point their muzzles at the horizon and jack a round into the chamber. Or, when picking up any firearm, not check the chamber, which you always do, never mind whose gun it is.

Then there are shooters who claim to be experienced, but are not. Once, in Wyoming on a prairie dog hunt, a group of us watched the gun handling of a fellow who claimed to be not only a veteran shooter, but a member of an Army rifle team. He did not say which army, but the likelihood that he was telling the truth was about the same as Barrack Obama claiming to have competed at Camp Perry. His antics caused us to move away and stay away.

If you’re teaching a new shooter, you can’t take your eyes off them for a second. Literally. If your gaze goes elsewhere even for a couple of heartbeats, something terrible can happen. This is nerve wracking, but necessary.

During World War II, there was a wisecrack than ran, “Whatsamatter, bud, get nervous in the service?” In my case I did, and I stayed that way.

Comments (58)

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from rfleer87 wrote 1 year 2 hours ago

That is very true. Beginners do not know the necessary procedures to handling a gun. Though you always have to watch professional sometimes because they forget things just as much as us.

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from zarbog8 wrote 1 year 2 hours ago

Very well said and completely true. I'm dyslexic and ADHD. People have laughed at me for checking that the same gun is unloaded three times in about three minutes. I don't mind the laughter because I know I'm dyslexic, which means I may be loading the gun instead of unloading it. ADHD helps a lot too as it will not let me rest until I'm sure I've triple checked everything. Maybe I should add anal as well! ;) Anyway, I do not want to wind up in the stat column under "Thought the gun was unloaded!" Also, I'm always suspicious of braggarts, especially those who claim to be able to trim the hair on a flea's butt at 6000 yards with a .22 rifle. ;)

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from Moose1980 wrote 1 year 1 hour ago

My father told me when he was in boot camp in the Marines, if you "mishandled" a rifle, the DI would stick your thumb into the action of an M-14 and drop the slide. I guess you learn real quick with that kind of motivation.

As far as new comers, when I take them to the range, I forgo shooting and just spend my time watching and teaching proper gun handling skills. Its just safer that way to get them up to speed.

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from Creek Chub wrote 1 year 55 min ago

I took a couple of novice shooters out for a 50 round sporting clays shoot last week. I don't think I've ever been more exhausted from shooting! It was the physical demands, but I was so intent on making sure everyone was safe that it wore me out mentally.

I felt like I was being rude, but afterwards the guys both said they appreciated the stern manner in which I directed them. Hard to do when guiding good friends, but the buddy-buddy crud needs to stop when guns are around.

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from Creek Chub wrote 1 year 54 min ago

Sorry, meant to say "wasn't the physical". See, I'm still recovering from playing instructor. Gave me great respect for all those who taught me these past 26 years.

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from Harold wrote 1 year 19 min ago

It has been my experience that I have had similar feelings when around male gun novices. The females I have coached have been much more compliant and safety concious. They understood they were novices and didn't seem to have anything to prove. If anything, they were like Mr. Bruni and had to learn not to be afraid of these inanimate objects. Once comfortable around guns, I have found the ladies to be safe competent gun users who quite often outshot their menfolk.

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from Harold wrote 1 year 19 min ago

It has been my experience that I have had similar feelings when around male gun novices. The females I have coached have been much more compliant and safety concious. They understood they were novices and didn't seem to have anything to prove. If anything, they were like Mr. Bruni and had to learn not to be afraid of these inanimate objects. Once comfortable around guns, I have found the ladies to be safe competent gun users who quite often outshot their menfolk.

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from Harold wrote 1 year 18 min ago

Sorry about the double post.

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from MReeder wrote 52 weeks 23 hours ago

Guess I'm the nervous type, too, because I watch everyone around me at the range or in hunting camp as if they were out to intentionally kill me. It's the same approach I take to other drivers when I get behind the wheel of a car. My only quibble with DEP is that I wouldn't limit my trepidation so much to new shooters. I've seen too many guys who've supposedly been around guns a long time do too many stupid things. Handguns make me especially nervous because it's far too easy for someone to inadvertently turn with the gun in hand. However, I've also had a rifle muzzle or two cross my torso, so it's not a problem limited to handguns. My response when that has happened has been to cuss the offender until his skin erupts in boils and then avoid that person like the plague from then on. After which, I go off somewhere and shake.
Fact is, the only people I 100-percent trust are one hunting buddy that I've been shooting with since elementary school, and my son. When the latter was old enough to show an interest in guns, the first thing I did was take him to the range and blow up some water-filled milk jugs. He was duly impressed. I told him that human beings were 70-percent water, and to imagine what could happen to a person if you were careless for half a second. I added that it would make me particularly p-o'd if he ever shot me. I've been hunting with him now for about 22 years (he's 30 now) and he and my old friend are the only people I don't mind turning my back on when they have a gun in their hands.

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from Del in KS wrote 52 weeks 23 hours ago

Dave, I get nervous anytime others are around with guns. Only exceptions are people I have learned to trust over time. Wam, Billy D. and Beekeeper are two I trust for instance.
My daughter in law is a highly educated young woman from Singapore, a country with draconian gun laws. When we first met she knew nothing about guns except the pap she saw in the news. Since then she has proven to be a very good shot and wants to go to the range when the kids come for a visit. She is also very safe and open to suggestion unlike many males.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 52 weeks 23 hours ago

I'm not nearly nervous enough with my guns. I have been at it so long that I really take them for granted. That's not to say that I'm not safe. Safety precautions are simply automatic now. I don't even think about checking the safety. It's just done all the time. I never think about putting safety back on after firing either. Nor do I think about unloading the gun before I get in the vehicle. It's just automatic. But I have noticed a couple of times in the past year that it apparently is not as automatic as it used to be ... and that is nerve racking. When handling guns we should NEVER trust ourselves. Period!

Also, because I almost always hunt alone my habits are specific to that situation. I don't care much for hunting with others because, frankly, I don't trust myself to be able to make the adjustment. And that is nerve racking. And I do not care for the range scene. To me socializing with guns just seems to be an oxymoron ... and an invitation for trouble. But that's just me. I don't fault others who like the shooting club stuff. If they're adjusted to it.

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from Del in KS wrote 52 weeks 23 hours ago

Sorry I meant 3 I trust.

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from SMC1986 wrote 52 weeks 23 hours ago

As an NRA RSO and someone who RSO's numerous shoots a month at my club, I am always "nervous". You have to be vigilant at all times especially with events that are open to the public. Accidents at gun ranges are never little and often have severe consequences.

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from dtownley wrote 52 weeks 22 hours ago

The cherries I take to the range with me are enthusiastic and ready to become safe handlers of firearms first, as this does not always take the first time, colorful language that I tell them might end up physical had it been someone else goes a long way. As seedlings they learn to listen to the rangemaster, cause its his sandbox and we are there to make noise and group holes and continue to be safe. Our egos wait for us in the car as our job is to make big noise & small groups and watch for & listen to the rangemaster, if the rangemaster does not acknowledge our existance we will come back. Only one person I have taken to the range has not gone back with me, why...ignored the rangemaster

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from tritonrider wrote 52 weeks 21 hours ago

This doesn't just apply to firearms though. I grew up farming and working the in Family's construction business and if you wanna talk nervous try laying pipe when you don't know the guy in the excavator, or clearing land and not being sure of the guys running the saws and dozers. Anyone I'm not absolutely sure of, and there aren't many make me really nervous. Learned early when someone I THOUGHT knew what they were doing moved a lever the wrong way and dropped the hitch of a tractor, and therefore a large farm implement onto my foot. Been pretty paranoid, with cause I think, ever since. Just that most Americans aren't aware that this life even exists anymore. Used to be pretty common.

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from Dcast wrote 52 weeks 21 hours ago

I'm not scared of guns, I'm scared of dum basses with guns. Use common sense when taking someone shooting for the 1st time. If the person can't have a simple conversation with you without being distracted don't be around when they have a gun. If your at a shooting range everyone there is DUM BASSES, watch out same goes for being in the woods, everyone out there but you are a DUM BASS. It's like driving your not afraid of the car your afraid of the DUM BASS driving it! Once again use common sense! You wouldn't hop into a car with a drunk driver would you?

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from mspl8sdcntryboy wrote 52 weeks 21 hours ago

" I'm very strict about gun control, if there's a gun around I want to be in control of it!"

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from RJ Arena wrote 52 weeks 20 hours ago

I'm at the point that I don't like to go to the range unless the weather is really bad, I spend more time watching the other shooters than shooting myself.

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from MReeder wrote 52 weeks 20 hours ago

Excellent point, tritonrider.
My dad was a home builder so I grew up using power tools, and my mother's relatives were ranchers and farmers, who had to work heavy machinery, mess with ornery horses and keep an eye on bad-tempered bulls. A very good reminder again that a gun is just another tool, and like any potentially dangerous tool, it needs to be treated with constant respect. I know I still get nervous around skill saws and table saws, and I learned a lot time ago never to trust a horse.

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from benjaminwc wrote 52 weeks 20 hours ago

Excellent post Dave. Sadly in our modern civilized times we have allowed our language to decend from lofty prose of intelligent meaning to neolithic grunts and "ughs". My own self partly to blame. But words used to mean something. Nervous does not mean scared, does not mean paranoid. Yet some people and unfortunately our beloved media would interpret nervous as paranoid.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 52 weeks 19 hours ago

RJ Arena: I'm sure you don't go to the range to shoot yourself. :D Damned digital communication! Gotta admit it was funny. But we know what you mean.

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from Safado wrote 52 weeks 18 hours ago

Aren't words wonderful. One man's nervous is another man's vigilant. I too work in Construction and the minute you walk a busy jobsite and are not vigilant you are headed for a trip to the first aid station, hospital or worse. The key after you are experienced shooters is to stay vigilant!

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from Greg Hart wrote 52 weeks 18 hours ago

Although a novice with a firearm can be scary, I'm just as scared, if not more so, of veteran shooters that never learned properly or have become complacent. It seems some people that have done a particular activity for a long time can't be told anything. At least a novice is generally open to instruction.

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from MaxPower wrote 52 weeks 17 hours ago

Well said DEP. The same goes for women and horses, both bring much joy but must be handled vigilantly so as to avoid serious harm.

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from 99explorer wrote 52 weeks 14 hours ago

In the movie, "Line of Duty - The F.B.I. Murders," there is a scene where the Special Agent in Charge of the Miami field office is interviewing Jerry Dove on his first day. He asks Dove if he is afraid of guns, and Dove answers yes. This pleases the SAC.
Poor choice of words, IMO.
"Apprehensive" would be more like it, IMO.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 52 weeks 13 hours ago

"Situational Awareness" is the one thing sorely lacking in many folks. Trained operators have it and exploit it to the Nth degree to survive without killing themselves or a team mate. You have to know the condition of your weapon and control it at all times while concentrating on a thousand other things to be safe and successful. Guys that hunt with me that lack situational awareness are one and out.

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from ITHACASXS wrote 52 weeks 12 hours ago

Well said, DEP,WA Mtnhunter and others. I've accused of being a ''old lady'' countless times for many reasons by many people (mostly young'uns or folks who've never been to the ER), but I've never had anyone with me have a trench collapse on them, get shot, get mugged, drown or electrocuted. It's not because I'm smart or wonderful, quite the opposite. I've tried to instill in my children to be what WA said, and to think of: ''now what are you going to do, when this happens?'' Life is difficult already without being careless. I've also found it's wonderful and fun without being foolishly risky.

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from WRF3 wrote 52 weeks 11 hours ago

I think "cautious" is probably more relevant than "nervous", at least in my experiences. I only shoot with family and close friends, whether that be a duck blind, deer stand or our (fortunately) private range. When new shooters are involved, we try to have double the experienced shooters per each new shooter to correct and teach proper safety measures. We also drive proper handling and disassembly/cleaning before heading to the range, a thorough cleaning really teaches a lot.

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from wgiles wrote 52 weeks 6 hours ago

I'm glad that you mentioned "etiquette". Some rules are universal, while others vary according to the group. I spend little to no time at ranges, so I am only slightly aware of the range rules. I would be very cautious of my behavior at a range to try to avoid inadvertently breaking a rule.

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from SL wrote 52 weeks 6 hours ago

I always find it humorous when I hear shooters and hunters talk about other shooters and hunters. It seems that all other shooters and hunters other than themselves are careless, slobs, poachers, a bunch of yahoos, etc. This says a whole lot in my view. If we don't even trust each other with guns, why should we think the rest of society should?? This will probably fall on deaf ears around here, but maybe some of you ought to stop and think about it for a second or two.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 52 weeks 5 hours ago

Another thought provoking post, DP. Your reminders are appreciated. With all firearms, safety is a commandment, not a suggestion. I believe that most of us could write a story or two about the "accident waiting to happen" we have seen.

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from tritonrider wrote 52 weeks 4 hours ago

Ithaca that attitude works really well for riding motorcycles and bicycles too. We've been teaching for a long time now Mtn hunter's situational awareness combined with planning. Amounts to have a plan for everything possible to do the dumbest possible thing. At that point you're not concerned with the people so much as the objects. It's worked pretty well.

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from RJ Arena wrote 52 weeks 4 hours ago

Guns don't make me nervous, people make me nervous.

Why didn't I think of that sooner?

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from SL wrote 52 weeks 4 hours ago

"Guns don't make me nervous, people make me nervous."

OK, so if that person who makes you nervous is given a gun, would you then be even more nervous??

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 52 weeks 3 hours ago

SL,

If you have been on the planet as long as I have, you learn not to trust anyone with a weapon that has not demonstrated their trustworthiness with said weapons. If you have ever seen what a mess a close range hit from a shotgun makes, you would agree with that statement. Not talking a D. Cheney here, which was a little inconvenience in the big scheme of things. However, you are correct; we should not run around bad-mouthing everyone else just because we think ourselves to be superior.

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from SL wrote 52 weeks 3 hours ago

The point I am trying to make is that a gun is NOT just an "inanimate" object that many on the pro-gun side have been trying to make of late. Simply is not and NEVER has been. Those comparisons between how cars kill more people than guns are as lame as one can get on this topic. One was invented for transportation, while the other was invented to propel a projectile thru something. By DP starting such a thread, and with many of you agreeing with him proves that a gun isn't even viewed as just another "inanimate" object by gun owners, so why should we ever believe that the rest of society will be completely comfortable with guns, and guns being as easily obtained as they are in this country?? All I ask is that some of you boys ask yourselves this question, before you start lambasting the other side.

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from RJ Arena wrote 52 weeks 3 hours ago

I am so tiered of the fear of guns, when we were kids we all played "army","war" etc., we all had toy guns(for some of us it was a stick), drawing war scenes or guns in school was not a trip to the Principal office, no "mental evaluation", just being kids. Now the NY/LA culture looks down on the flyover country as hicks, and makes guns evil.

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from RJ Arena wrote 52 weeks 3 hours ago

And by the way, People in cars make me very nervous! texting while driving- yea that is safe! Let us be so "scared" of someone with a firearm, but think nothing of a loon driving a several thousand pound vehicle at highway speeds, texting,watching videos, changing lanes without signaling, slowing down, speeding up with out notice because they are so distracted by the gadget they are addicted to. guns over I-phones any day!

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from Amflyer wrote 52 weeks 2 hours ago

For crying out loud, it's all a big battle of semantics. When we say we are afraid of guns, or cars, or HIV, or meagaloflatulance, what we are really saying is that we are afraid of getting shot, crashing, getting sick and dying, and suffocation. It's the consequences we should fear or be apprehensive about, not the mode.

So when was the last time a pistol jumped off the counter, aimed itself at you chin and pulled it's own trigger?

Of course giving a person a gun makes he or she more dangerous (generally speaking) but so does handing them a 6-week old baby. If we seek to give the government permission to remove any and all things, activities or personal beliefs that may harm us, then the whole human experiment has failed, above and beyond the US of A.

Shame on us all!

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from Carl Huber wrote 52 weeks 1 hour ago

I have a friend who used to disburse and collect firearms at beginning and end of shift at Rikers Island. When they changed to Glocks a couple of Officers had an accidental discharge clearing there weapon. They then installed a bullet trap for that purpose. Sometimes it's not the newbies but the people who live with firearms. Like the barber's son needing the hair cut. ALWAYS remain vigilant.

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from Safado wrote 52 weeks 1 hour ago

WAM hit the nail on the head with his statement about situational awareness. You must know your firearm and you must know its condition at all times. I don't trust anyone with a gun that has not demonstrated that they have earned that trust. I hunted once with guy that got so jacked up after a successfull hit on his deer that he wasn't aware that he had worked his bolt and chambered another round. He was walking around chambered with the safety off.

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from 1uglymutha wrote 52 weeks 23 min ago

I am just a country boy and certainly don't think of myself as a great thinker along the lines of Voltaire,Davinci or sl, but it seems to me that since the Volstead act and the "war on drugs" accomplished nothing other than putting large sums of money in the pockets of politicians, that the banning of firearms- or any other thing that the public will spend money on- makes no sense at all. I think that a government mandated-and funded, national firearms training would accomplish much more in bringing the people more together on this issue.
I also believe that m. Bloomberg would better spend twenty million dollars on firearms training for his own police department. ethics and public relations training too,come to think of it.

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from E_Blair wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

Somebody like Frank Bruni has no business being around firearms. I would certainly be watchful and cautious around frightened people wielding 12 ga. shotguns who are looking for some kind of "experience." He and his ilk can do us all a favor by sticking to their fashionable hangouts in NYC. Is he one of Petzal's buddies?

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from crm3006 wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

Some good comments above, some total bullsquat. I, for one, am not one bit afraid of my guns. My guns are usually loaded, and ready for action. I am very paranoid about safeties, and check them repeatedly. Also very watchful of anyone else in the general vicinity, not knowing if they will do something totally unexpected, or totally dumb. Takes a long time and a lot of familiarity with a person for me to be comfortable around them where guns are involved. WAM's situational awareness times ten. My ears point up and the hair on my neck stands up when I am around an unknown person with a firearm. One miscue, and that is it. No more hunt with that person go to the range, etc. One strike, and you're OUT!

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from coachsjike wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

what any newcomer to handling a gun needs to know is that once that gun goes off, the path of that bullet cannot be changed. whatever is in the way becomes part of its path. thats what i taught both of my sons at the age of 6 and have never looked back.

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from cbanks wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

Dave: I think the "newbies" are getting a bad rap here, and you should know better.

How are they going to learn if we don't teach them? Don't we have a responsibility to pass on our gun lore (including the rules of gun safety) to the new generation? If we don't, the experience and enthusiasm of gun sports will die out with ours.

By over-stressing the 'stress' of vigilance around new shooters, you're going to discourage your readers who are experienced gunnies from bringing novices into our fraternity. I know it's work, but somebody spent the time with all of us, and we have a responsibility to pass it on.

Personally, I've never been sorry about spending the time introducing a newbie to shooting. I admit I may not have done much shooting myself at each such session, but it didn't matter--the rewards are worth it.

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from deadeyedick wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

I'M NOT NERVOUS AROUND GUNS, BUT I AM DOWN RIGHT SCARED OF ALL THE PEOPLE THAT DO NOT HAVE A CLUE HOW TO HANDLE THEM SAFELY.

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from Del in KS wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

WAM and I made it through a war in 1 piece plus a full military career. We sure as hell don't want to end it because some careless fool didn't follow good safety rules.

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from FirstBubba wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

About all I've got to say is I spend most of my "gun" time alone. .
My "nervous" pops out when others are around and that's seldom more than one.(wife and one hunting buddy!) I've either been diligent or lucky in that I've never been in or close to an "accident" though I have heard the horror stories. Thanks to my dad/grampa, I learned at the knee of two miltary vets.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

I would also like to include my Sky Soldier comrade crm3006 in the group of survivors and cautious...

Thanks, Del

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from crm3006 wrote 51 weeks 5 days ago

WAM-
Old habits die hard. Locked and loaded, situational awareness dialed up to max volume.
Airborne All the Way!

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from Del in KS wrote 51 weeks 5 days ago

I have already started teaching my 4 year old granddaughter about guns. She loves to shoot the lazer guns in the shooting gallery at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. Today she was popping balloons using my Cold Steel blowgun. The darts work great on balloons.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 51 weeks 5 days ago

crm3006,

Indeed!

Someone asked me about my loaded guns. I told them not to worry, all my unloaded ones were in the safe. All others are locked and loaded. What good is an unloaded weapon? In my several years of DAILY care and feeding of loaded weapons, I have never had an accidental discharge. I was almost killed by an accidental discharge once, but I was so shaken that I could not even collect myself enough to stomp his dumb bass into the ground. An M-79 can make a real mess....

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from 99explorer wrote 51 weeks 4 days ago

I think we are looking for a word that combines the virtue of situational awareness with the state of alarm lurking in the back of our minds when deadly weapons are being handled by strangers in our presence.
"Alert "and "hyperalert" come to mind, without conveying the discomfort that nervousness implies.

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from the Preacher wrote 51 weeks 4 days ago

A person ignorant of firearm safety, can yes be dangerous. However I have seen lots of newbies be the most careful with firearms. No complacency, all of the rules are fresh in their minds from hunters ed. And they have been yelled at and threatened by the senior firearm practitioner to the point of hyper vigilance.

I like to give someone a broom handle and have them demonstrate muzzle control in various scenarios.

But yes guns are dangerous, the more training the better. And the more patience and vigilance by whomever is in the seat of the teacher is key. I like to think of myself like a fishing guide when teaching, I don't shoot unless I am demonstrating something and always close enough to the firearm that I can steer the muzzle away from any danger.

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from Casey Walker wrote 51 weeks 2 days ago

My daughter (who is 9) and I were at the range a couple of weekends ago. She has a single shot "Cricket" 22 that I set her up on a bench beside me with a spinner target down range about 30 yards. She knows the safety rules and can load, unload and handle her rifle by herself. She plinks away through a 50 round box of 22 shells while I keep and eye on her and test loads for my other guns.
That particular day a family came and asked to shoot beside us. You bet, no problem. We unloaded our rifles and walked down range to check out our targets while they were setting up theirs. On our way back to the benches I looked up to see the youngest member of the group (I would say about 6) picking up a rifle and pointing it down range at us and his Dad setting up targets. I pushed my daughter behind me and yelled for the mom to get her attention on the situation. Her reaction was to laugh and take the gun from his hands. We beat feet for the benches! I was upset but mistakes can be made. I looked up and saw the boy with the rifle in his hands again looking down range at his Dad. I called attention to it was rectified but needless to say we packed up and left after a few more rounds down range by me daughter. On the way out a gentleman who has stopped on his way to the next range over to talk to us when we first got there and watch my daughter shoot at her target stopped us. He had saw what happened and complemented my daughter on how well she handled her rifle and to assure her that not all people were as ignorant or careless with there guns as the people beside us. He made sure he was loud enough for them to hear it. LOL. Those kind words from this stranger made me a proud Dad and reinforced to my daughter all the lessons that I have been enforcing. I know I don't have a real point to the story other then to just show both sides of this issue.

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from bscrandall wrote 48 weeks 20 hours ago

I get nervous around people with guns, but if I know that they know how to shoot and work a firearm then it relaxes me just a little bit. Some people just don't have common sense. Always look beyond your target, never aim at something you don't intend to shoot are some of the rules every shooter should know. The big reason we need hunter education is because people don't have common sense.

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from hunterchic99 wrote 47 weeks 3 days ago

I would just like to mention that I am in fact a "beginner" and what you said about beginners may be true, but not always for all beginners. I know many people who are very irresponsible about guns(some of those people have handled guns for years), I also know some people who haven't handled guns for very long but are EXTREMELY responsible, it just depends on the person(s) teaching them gun safety.

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from MReeder wrote 52 weeks 20 hours ago

Excellent point, tritonrider.
My dad was a home builder so I grew up using power tools, and my mother's relatives were ranchers and farmers, who had to work heavy machinery, mess with ornery horses and keep an eye on bad-tempered bulls. A very good reminder again that a gun is just another tool, and like any potentially dangerous tool, it needs to be treated with constant respect. I know I still get nervous around skill saws and table saws, and I learned a lot time ago never to trust a horse.

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from SL wrote 52 weeks 6 hours ago

I always find it humorous when I hear shooters and hunters talk about other shooters and hunters. It seems that all other shooters and hunters other than themselves are careless, slobs, poachers, a bunch of yahoos, etc. This says a whole lot in my view. If we don't even trust each other with guns, why should we think the rest of society should?? This will probably fall on deaf ears around here, but maybe some of you ought to stop and think about it for a second or two.

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from Amflyer wrote 52 weeks 2 hours ago

For crying out loud, it's all a big battle of semantics. When we say we are afraid of guns, or cars, or HIV, or meagaloflatulance, what we are really saying is that we are afraid of getting shot, crashing, getting sick and dying, and suffocation. It's the consequences we should fear or be apprehensive about, not the mode.

So when was the last time a pistol jumped off the counter, aimed itself at you chin and pulled it's own trigger?

Of course giving a person a gun makes he or she more dangerous (generally speaking) but so does handing them a 6-week old baby. If we seek to give the government permission to remove any and all things, activities or personal beliefs that may harm us, then the whole human experiment has failed, above and beyond the US of A.

Shame on us all!

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from crm3006 wrote 51 weeks 5 days ago

WAM-
Old habits die hard. Locked and loaded, situational awareness dialed up to max volume.
Airborne All the Way!

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from rfleer87 wrote 1 year 2 hours ago

That is very true. Beginners do not know the necessary procedures to handling a gun. Though you always have to watch professional sometimes because they forget things just as much as us.

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from Moose1980 wrote 1 year 1 hour ago

My father told me when he was in boot camp in the Marines, if you "mishandled" a rifle, the DI would stick your thumb into the action of an M-14 and drop the slide. I guess you learn real quick with that kind of motivation.

As far as new comers, when I take them to the range, I forgo shooting and just spend my time watching and teaching proper gun handling skills. Its just safer that way to get them up to speed.

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from Harold wrote 1 year 19 min ago

It has been my experience that I have had similar feelings when around male gun novices. The females I have coached have been much more compliant and safety concious. They understood they were novices and didn't seem to have anything to prove. If anything, they were like Mr. Bruni and had to learn not to be afraid of these inanimate objects. Once comfortable around guns, I have found the ladies to be safe competent gun users who quite often outshot their menfolk.

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from Harold wrote 1 year 19 min ago

It has been my experience that I have had similar feelings when around male gun novices. The females I have coached have been much more compliant and safety concious. They understood they were novices and didn't seem to have anything to prove. If anything, they were like Mr. Bruni and had to learn not to be afraid of these inanimate objects. Once comfortable around guns, I have found the ladies to be safe competent gun users who quite often outshot their menfolk.

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from MReeder wrote 52 weeks 23 hours ago

Guess I'm the nervous type, too, because I watch everyone around me at the range or in hunting camp as if they were out to intentionally kill me. It's the same approach I take to other drivers when I get behind the wheel of a car. My only quibble with DEP is that I wouldn't limit my trepidation so much to new shooters. I've seen too many guys who've supposedly been around guns a long time do too many stupid things. Handguns make me especially nervous because it's far too easy for someone to inadvertently turn with the gun in hand. However, I've also had a rifle muzzle or two cross my torso, so it's not a problem limited to handguns. My response when that has happened has been to cuss the offender until his skin erupts in boils and then avoid that person like the plague from then on. After which, I go off somewhere and shake.
Fact is, the only people I 100-percent trust are one hunting buddy that I've been shooting with since elementary school, and my son. When the latter was old enough to show an interest in guns, the first thing I did was take him to the range and blow up some water-filled milk jugs. He was duly impressed. I told him that human beings were 70-percent water, and to imagine what could happen to a person if you were careless for half a second. I added that it would make me particularly p-o'd if he ever shot me. I've been hunting with him now for about 22 years (he's 30 now) and he and my old friend are the only people I don't mind turning my back on when they have a gun in their hands.

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from Del in KS wrote 52 weeks 23 hours ago

Dave, I get nervous anytime others are around with guns. Only exceptions are people I have learned to trust over time. Wam, Billy D. and Beekeeper are two I trust for instance.
My daughter in law is a highly educated young woman from Singapore, a country with draconian gun laws. When we first met she knew nothing about guns except the pap she saw in the news. Since then she has proven to be a very good shot and wants to go to the range when the kids come for a visit. She is also very safe and open to suggestion unlike many males.

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from WRF3 wrote 52 weeks 11 hours ago

I think "cautious" is probably more relevant than "nervous", at least in my experiences. I only shoot with family and close friends, whether that be a duck blind, deer stand or our (fortunately) private range. When new shooters are involved, we try to have double the experienced shooters per each new shooter to correct and teach proper safety measures. We also drive proper handling and disassembly/cleaning before heading to the range, a thorough cleaning really teaches a lot.

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from tritonrider wrote 52 weeks 4 hours ago

Ithaca that attitude works really well for riding motorcycles and bicycles too. We've been teaching for a long time now Mtn hunter's situational awareness combined with planning. Amounts to have a plan for everything possible to do the dumbest possible thing. At that point you're not concerned with the people so much as the objects. It's worked pretty well.

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from RJ Arena wrote 52 weeks 4 hours ago

Guns don't make me nervous, people make me nervous.

Why didn't I think of that sooner?

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from RJ Arena wrote 52 weeks 3 hours ago

I am so tiered of the fear of guns, when we were kids we all played "army","war" etc., we all had toy guns(for some of us it was a stick), drawing war scenes or guns in school was not a trip to the Principal office, no "mental evaluation", just being kids. Now the NY/LA culture looks down on the flyover country as hicks, and makes guns evil.

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from RJ Arena wrote 52 weeks 3 hours ago

And by the way, People in cars make me very nervous! texting while driving- yea that is safe! Let us be so "scared" of someone with a firearm, but think nothing of a loon driving a several thousand pound vehicle at highway speeds, texting,watching videos, changing lanes without signaling, slowing down, speeding up with out notice because they are so distracted by the gadget they are addicted to. guns over I-phones any day!

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from Carl Huber wrote 52 weeks 1 hour ago

I have a friend who used to disburse and collect firearms at beginning and end of shift at Rikers Island. When they changed to Glocks a couple of Officers had an accidental discharge clearing there weapon. They then installed a bullet trap for that purpose. Sometimes it's not the newbies but the people who live with firearms. Like the barber's son needing the hair cut. ALWAYS remain vigilant.

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from Safado wrote 52 weeks 1 hour ago

WAM hit the nail on the head with his statement about situational awareness. You must know your firearm and you must know its condition at all times. I don't trust anyone with a gun that has not demonstrated that they have earned that trust. I hunted once with guy that got so jacked up after a successfull hit on his deer that he wasn't aware that he had worked his bolt and chambered another round. He was walking around chambered with the safety off.

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from 1uglymutha wrote 52 weeks 23 min ago

I am just a country boy and certainly don't think of myself as a great thinker along the lines of Voltaire,Davinci or sl, but it seems to me that since the Volstead act and the "war on drugs" accomplished nothing other than putting large sums of money in the pockets of politicians, that the banning of firearms- or any other thing that the public will spend money on- makes no sense at all. I think that a government mandated-and funded, national firearms training would accomplish much more in bringing the people more together on this issue.
I also believe that m. Bloomberg would better spend twenty million dollars on firearms training for his own police department. ethics and public relations training too,come to think of it.

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from Del in KS wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

WAM and I made it through a war in 1 piece plus a full military career. We sure as hell don't want to end it because some careless fool didn't follow good safety rules.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 51 weeks 5 days ago

crm3006,

Indeed!

Someone asked me about my loaded guns. I told them not to worry, all my unloaded ones were in the safe. All others are locked and loaded. What good is an unloaded weapon? In my several years of DAILY care and feeding of loaded weapons, I have never had an accidental discharge. I was almost killed by an accidental discharge once, but I was so shaken that I could not even collect myself enough to stomp his dumb bass into the ground. An M-79 can make a real mess....

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from the Preacher wrote 51 weeks 4 days ago

A person ignorant of firearm safety, can yes be dangerous. However I have seen lots of newbies be the most careful with firearms. No complacency, all of the rules are fresh in their minds from hunters ed. And they have been yelled at and threatened by the senior firearm practitioner to the point of hyper vigilance.

I like to give someone a broom handle and have them demonstrate muzzle control in various scenarios.

But yes guns are dangerous, the more training the better. And the more patience and vigilance by whomever is in the seat of the teacher is key. I like to think of myself like a fishing guide when teaching, I don't shoot unless I am demonstrating something and always close enough to the firearm that I can steer the muzzle away from any danger.

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from bscrandall wrote 48 weeks 20 hours ago

I get nervous around people with guns, but if I know that they know how to shoot and work a firearm then it relaxes me just a little bit. Some people just don't have common sense. Always look beyond your target, never aim at something you don't intend to shoot are some of the rules every shooter should know. The big reason we need hunter education is because people don't have common sense.

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from zarbog8 wrote 1 year 2 hours ago

Very well said and completely true. I'm dyslexic and ADHD. People have laughed at me for checking that the same gun is unloaded three times in about three minutes. I don't mind the laughter because I know I'm dyslexic, which means I may be loading the gun instead of unloading it. ADHD helps a lot too as it will not let me rest until I'm sure I've triple checked everything. Maybe I should add anal as well! ;) Anyway, I do not want to wind up in the stat column under "Thought the gun was unloaded!" Also, I'm always suspicious of braggarts, especially those who claim to be able to trim the hair on a flea's butt at 6000 yards with a .22 rifle. ;)

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from Creek Chub wrote 1 year 55 min ago

I took a couple of novice shooters out for a 50 round sporting clays shoot last week. I don't think I've ever been more exhausted from shooting! It was the physical demands, but I was so intent on making sure everyone was safe that it wore me out mentally.

I felt like I was being rude, but afterwards the guys both said they appreciated the stern manner in which I directed them. Hard to do when guiding good friends, but the buddy-buddy crud needs to stop when guns are around.

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from Creek Chub wrote 1 year 54 min ago

Sorry, meant to say "wasn't the physical". See, I'm still recovering from playing instructor. Gave me great respect for all those who taught me these past 26 years.

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from Harold wrote 1 year 18 min ago

Sorry about the double post.

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from Del in KS wrote 52 weeks 23 hours ago

Sorry I meant 3 I trust.

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from SMC1986 wrote 52 weeks 23 hours ago

As an NRA RSO and someone who RSO's numerous shoots a month at my club, I am always "nervous". You have to be vigilant at all times especially with events that are open to the public. Accidents at gun ranges are never little and often have severe consequences.

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from dtownley wrote 52 weeks 22 hours ago

The cherries I take to the range with me are enthusiastic and ready to become safe handlers of firearms first, as this does not always take the first time, colorful language that I tell them might end up physical had it been someone else goes a long way. As seedlings they learn to listen to the rangemaster, cause its his sandbox and we are there to make noise and group holes and continue to be safe. Our egos wait for us in the car as our job is to make big noise & small groups and watch for & listen to the rangemaster, if the rangemaster does not acknowledge our existance we will come back. Only one person I have taken to the range has not gone back with me, why...ignored the rangemaster

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from tritonrider wrote 52 weeks 21 hours ago

This doesn't just apply to firearms though. I grew up farming and working the in Family's construction business and if you wanna talk nervous try laying pipe when you don't know the guy in the excavator, or clearing land and not being sure of the guys running the saws and dozers. Anyone I'm not absolutely sure of, and there aren't many make me really nervous. Learned early when someone I THOUGHT knew what they were doing moved a lever the wrong way and dropped the hitch of a tractor, and therefore a large farm implement onto my foot. Been pretty paranoid, with cause I think, ever since. Just that most Americans aren't aware that this life even exists anymore. Used to be pretty common.

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from Dcast wrote 52 weeks 21 hours ago

I'm not scared of guns, I'm scared of dum basses with guns. Use common sense when taking someone shooting for the 1st time. If the person can't have a simple conversation with you without being distracted don't be around when they have a gun. If your at a shooting range everyone there is DUM BASSES, watch out same goes for being in the woods, everyone out there but you are a DUM BASS. It's like driving your not afraid of the car your afraid of the DUM BASS driving it! Once again use common sense! You wouldn't hop into a car with a drunk driver would you?

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from RJ Arena wrote 52 weeks 20 hours ago

I'm at the point that I don't like to go to the range unless the weather is really bad, I spend more time watching the other shooters than shooting myself.

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from benjaminwc wrote 52 weeks 20 hours ago

Excellent post Dave. Sadly in our modern civilized times we have allowed our language to decend from lofty prose of intelligent meaning to neolithic grunts and "ughs". My own self partly to blame. But words used to mean something. Nervous does not mean scared, does not mean paranoid. Yet some people and unfortunately our beloved media would interpret nervous as paranoid.

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from Safado wrote 52 weeks 18 hours ago

Aren't words wonderful. One man's nervous is another man's vigilant. I too work in Construction and the minute you walk a busy jobsite and are not vigilant you are headed for a trip to the first aid station, hospital or worse. The key after you are experienced shooters is to stay vigilant!

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from Greg Hart wrote 52 weeks 18 hours ago

Although a novice with a firearm can be scary, I'm just as scared, if not more so, of veteran shooters that never learned properly or have become complacent. It seems some people that have done a particular activity for a long time can't be told anything. At least a novice is generally open to instruction.

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from MaxPower wrote 52 weeks 17 hours ago

Well said DEP. The same goes for women and horses, both bring much joy but must be handled vigilantly so as to avoid serious harm.

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from 99explorer wrote 52 weeks 14 hours ago

In the movie, "Line of Duty - The F.B.I. Murders," there is a scene where the Special Agent in Charge of the Miami field office is interviewing Jerry Dove on his first day. He asks Dove if he is afraid of guns, and Dove answers yes. This pleases the SAC.
Poor choice of words, IMO.
"Apprehensive" would be more like it, IMO.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 52 weeks 13 hours ago

"Situational Awareness" is the one thing sorely lacking in many folks. Trained operators have it and exploit it to the Nth degree to survive without killing themselves or a team mate. You have to know the condition of your weapon and control it at all times while concentrating on a thousand other things to be safe and successful. Guys that hunt with me that lack situational awareness are one and out.

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from ITHACASXS wrote 52 weeks 12 hours ago

Well said, DEP,WA Mtnhunter and others. I've accused of being a ''old lady'' countless times for many reasons by many people (mostly young'uns or folks who've never been to the ER), but I've never had anyone with me have a trench collapse on them, get shot, get mugged, drown or electrocuted. It's not because I'm smart or wonderful, quite the opposite. I've tried to instill in my children to be what WA said, and to think of: ''now what are you going to do, when this happens?'' Life is difficult already without being careless. I've also found it's wonderful and fun without being foolishly risky.

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from wgiles wrote 52 weeks 6 hours ago

I'm glad that you mentioned "etiquette". Some rules are universal, while others vary according to the group. I spend little to no time at ranges, so I am only slightly aware of the range rules. I would be very cautious of my behavior at a range to try to avoid inadvertently breaking a rule.

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from Tom-Tom wrote 52 weeks 5 hours ago

Another thought provoking post, DP. Your reminders are appreciated. With all firearms, safety is a commandment, not a suggestion. I believe that most of us could write a story or two about the "accident waiting to happen" we have seen.

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from SL wrote 52 weeks 4 hours ago

"Guns don't make me nervous, people make me nervous."

OK, so if that person who makes you nervous is given a gun, would you then be even more nervous??

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 52 weeks 3 hours ago

SL,

If you have been on the planet as long as I have, you learn not to trust anyone with a weapon that has not demonstrated their trustworthiness with said weapons. If you have ever seen what a mess a close range hit from a shotgun makes, you would agree with that statement. Not talking a D. Cheney here, which was a little inconvenience in the big scheme of things. However, you are correct; we should not run around bad-mouthing everyone else just because we think ourselves to be superior.

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from crm3006 wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

Some good comments above, some total bullsquat. I, for one, am not one bit afraid of my guns. My guns are usually loaded, and ready for action. I am very paranoid about safeties, and check them repeatedly. Also very watchful of anyone else in the general vicinity, not knowing if they will do something totally unexpected, or totally dumb. Takes a long time and a lot of familiarity with a person for me to be comfortable around them where guns are involved. WAM's situational awareness times ten. My ears point up and the hair on my neck stands up when I am around an unknown person with a firearm. One miscue, and that is it. No more hunt with that person go to the range, etc. One strike, and you're OUT!

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from coachsjike wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

what any newcomer to handling a gun needs to know is that once that gun goes off, the path of that bullet cannot be changed. whatever is in the way becomes part of its path. thats what i taught both of my sons at the age of 6 and have never looked back.

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from cbanks wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

Dave: I think the "newbies" are getting a bad rap here, and you should know better.

How are they going to learn if we don't teach them? Don't we have a responsibility to pass on our gun lore (including the rules of gun safety) to the new generation? If we don't, the experience and enthusiasm of gun sports will die out with ours.

By over-stressing the 'stress' of vigilance around new shooters, you're going to discourage your readers who are experienced gunnies from bringing novices into our fraternity. I know it's work, but somebody spent the time with all of us, and we have a responsibility to pass it on.

Personally, I've never been sorry about spending the time introducing a newbie to shooting. I admit I may not have done much shooting myself at each such session, but it didn't matter--the rewards are worth it.

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from deadeyedick wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

I'M NOT NERVOUS AROUND GUNS, BUT I AM DOWN RIGHT SCARED OF ALL THE PEOPLE THAT DO NOT HAVE A CLUE HOW TO HANDLE THEM SAFELY.

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from FirstBubba wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

About all I've got to say is I spend most of my "gun" time alone. .
My "nervous" pops out when others are around and that's seldom more than one.(wife and one hunting buddy!) I've either been diligent or lucky in that I've never been in or close to an "accident" though I have heard the horror stories. Thanks to my dad/grampa, I learned at the knee of two miltary vets.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

I would also like to include my Sky Soldier comrade crm3006 in the group of survivors and cautious...

Thanks, Del

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from Del in KS wrote 51 weeks 5 days ago

I have already started teaching my 4 year old granddaughter about guns. She loves to shoot the lazer guns in the shooting gallery at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. Today she was popping balloons using my Cold Steel blowgun. The darts work great on balloons.

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from 99explorer wrote 51 weeks 4 days ago

I think we are looking for a word that combines the virtue of situational awareness with the state of alarm lurking in the back of our minds when deadly weapons are being handled by strangers in our presence.
"Alert "and "hyperalert" come to mind, without conveying the discomfort that nervousness implies.

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from Casey Walker wrote 51 weeks 2 days ago

My daughter (who is 9) and I were at the range a couple of weekends ago. She has a single shot "Cricket" 22 that I set her up on a bench beside me with a spinner target down range about 30 yards. She knows the safety rules and can load, unload and handle her rifle by herself. She plinks away through a 50 round box of 22 shells while I keep and eye on her and test loads for my other guns.
That particular day a family came and asked to shoot beside us. You bet, no problem. We unloaded our rifles and walked down range to check out our targets while they were setting up theirs. On our way back to the benches I looked up to see the youngest member of the group (I would say about 6) picking up a rifle and pointing it down range at us and his Dad setting up targets. I pushed my daughter behind me and yelled for the mom to get her attention on the situation. Her reaction was to laugh and take the gun from his hands. We beat feet for the benches! I was upset but mistakes can be made. I looked up and saw the boy with the rifle in his hands again looking down range at his Dad. I called attention to it was rectified but needless to say we packed up and left after a few more rounds down range by me daughter. On the way out a gentleman who has stopped on his way to the next range over to talk to us when we first got there and watch my daughter shoot at her target stopped us. He had saw what happened and complemented my daughter on how well she handled her rifle and to assure her that not all people were as ignorant or careless with there guns as the people beside us. He made sure he was loud enough for them to hear it. LOL. Those kind words from this stranger made me a proud Dad and reinforced to my daughter all the lessons that I have been enforcing. I know I don't have a real point to the story other then to just show both sides of this issue.

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from hunterchic99 wrote 47 weeks 3 days ago

I would just like to mention that I am in fact a "beginner" and what you said about beginners may be true, but not always for all beginners. I know many people who are very irresponsible about guns(some of those people have handled guns for years), I also know some people who haven't handled guns for very long but are EXTREMELY responsible, it just depends on the person(s) teaching them gun safety.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 52 weeks 23 hours ago

I'm not nearly nervous enough with my guns. I have been at it so long that I really take them for granted. That's not to say that I'm not safe. Safety precautions are simply automatic now. I don't even think about checking the safety. It's just done all the time. I never think about putting safety back on after firing either. Nor do I think about unloading the gun before I get in the vehicle. It's just automatic. But I have noticed a couple of times in the past year that it apparently is not as automatic as it used to be ... and that is nerve racking. When handling guns we should NEVER trust ourselves. Period!

Also, because I almost always hunt alone my habits are specific to that situation. I don't care much for hunting with others because, frankly, I don't trust myself to be able to make the adjustment. And that is nerve racking. And I do not care for the range scene. To me socializing with guns just seems to be an oxymoron ... and an invitation for trouble. But that's just me. I don't fault others who like the shooting club stuff. If they're adjusted to it.

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from mspl8sdcntryboy wrote 52 weeks 21 hours ago

" I'm very strict about gun control, if there's a gun around I want to be in control of it!"

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from E_Blair wrote 51 weeks 6 days ago

Somebody like Frank Bruni has no business being around firearms. I would certainly be watchful and cautious around frightened people wielding 12 ga. shotguns who are looking for some kind of "experience." He and his ilk can do us all a favor by sticking to their fashionable hangouts in NYC. Is he one of Petzal's buddies?

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 52 weeks 19 hours ago

RJ Arena: I'm sure you don't go to the range to shoot yourself. :D Damned digital communication! Gotta admit it was funny. But we know what you mean.

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from SL wrote 52 weeks 3 hours ago

The point I am trying to make is that a gun is NOT just an "inanimate" object that many on the pro-gun side have been trying to make of late. Simply is not and NEVER has been. Those comparisons between how cars kill more people than guns are as lame as one can get on this topic. One was invented for transportation, while the other was invented to propel a projectile thru something. By DP starting such a thread, and with many of you agreeing with him proves that a gun isn't even viewed as just another "inanimate" object by gun owners, so why should we ever believe that the rest of society will be completely comfortable with guns, and guns being as easily obtained as they are in this country?? All I ask is that some of you boys ask yourselves this question, before you start lambasting the other side.

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