Now that hunting season is here, many of us are tempted to grab our trusted smokepoles and head for the fields and forests. But what your trusted smokepole may hand you, rather than a dead animal, is a sharp rap in the nuts, metaphorically speaking, of course. You never, ever, assume that a rifle/scope will work.

This was brought home yet again by a friend of mine whom I met at the range a few days before he was to head for Canada. The trigger of the rifle he had planned to bring had gone weird; the sear would not hold, and he had to send it back to the maker for repairs. So this morning he had brought his backup gun, a veteran of 25 years’ flawless service. Lo and behold, the first shot was not even on the paper. We boresighted the gun and the crosshairs were 8 feet off to the left. Unbeknownst to my friend, someone had dropped the rifle or otherwise screwed with it.

Then the bolt would not pull cases far enough back so the ejector could kick them clear. All told, a useless firearm. He is going to his second-tier backup gun, which will probably work. The point is, had he not had the sense to take his rifle to the range before he left for Canada, he would find himself in the boonies throwing rocks or pointed sticks instead of firing bullets.

As they say in the military, be advised.