In today’s video I’m practicing my aim in a drill that simulates a charging animal. For the test I rigged a target on a pulley and had it come “charging” toward me. The goal was to hit the target three times before it reached me–or else, I’m bear food. Although this was a good way to practice, it’s impossible to prepare for the kind of fear I’d experience if a bear were really to charge me.

During my upcoming adventure, when I pass the Arctic coast to venture onto the ice, I’ll be in prime polar bear country. An encounter would most likely happen while I’m around camp cooking or even asleep in the tent. Polar bears, attracted to the fish and food rations we’ll have, might see us as a food source. (A polar bear can smell a seal on the ice 20 miles away.) We will leave our food several hundred feet from camp at night, but in the morning when we retrieve it, a bear could greet us. They’re massive creatures and can reach a running speed of 25 miles per hour. They’re also smart: I’ve heard accounts from people who have been stalked by polar bears say the bears will use a paw to cover their black noses to camouflage against the white snow. That being said, I have also been told that most of the time, if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. I hope that’s true.

What I Learned:

1. Next time, I’ll practice picking my gun up off the ground before firing. How often will you have a gun shouldered and loaded with the safety off before a bear charges?
2. Don’t rush the pump and to make sure my gun is in good shape. I jammed up once during the drill and that could mean my life in a real attack.
3. It’s not easy to fire a gun while wearing mittens. If a bear comes at me in the arctic I’ll have to be an extra step ahead so I can throw my mitten off before firing.
4. It’s tough to line up the second and third shots. My last two shots were usually on instinct.
5. If this were to happen for real, I would have to remain as calm as possible and make my shots count.
6. I became more confident that if I were charged and I had a loaded weapon, I would come out on top. It’s a good feeling.
7. I really hope a polar bear doesn’t charge me.