This was prompted by the convergence of two forces. First, I’m engaged in compiling a list of the people I’d least like to hunt with, and first on it is Old Five Deferrals himself, Dick Cheney, game hog and general menace. The second was the announcement that a member of a club I belong to had acted unsafely on the pistol range and had his shooting privileges suspended until he could be re-educated.

Poor behavior with a gun can lead, in an instant, to a tragedy. The military, when I was in it, dealt decisively with unsafe gun handling on the range. You would be spoken to immediately and forcefully, and might find yourself scrubbing pots in the messhall overnight to remind you to keep the muzzle pointed downrange.

In the civilian world, you can’t yell “Hey numbn**ts, point that damn thing at me again and I’ll beat you to death with it,” even though you may want to. If there’s a range officer handy, point out to him that the nitwit on bench number so-and-so is a menace to life and limb and let the range officer handle it. Do not wait to do this. Do not persuade yourself that it’s none of your business and you don’t want to make a scene. It is your business.

If there is no range officer around, it’s up to you. Be polite. Remember that everyone here is armed. Say, “Pardon me, sir, but I couldn’t help notice that you’re jacking rounds into the chamber with the muzzle pointed up in the air where it can shoot over the berm and kill someone in the next township if the rifle should go off accidentally.”

Nine times out of ten the offender will correct himself. If he does not, pack up and leave. You’ve done all you can. If there’s someone you can report the incident to, do so. I’ve walked off ranges, out of at least two hunts, and off one trap meet when the guy next to me put a charge of shot in the ground right in front of my foot.

If I should be invited to a quail hunt where Mr. Cheney was present, I would remember I had pressing business elsewhere, and leave in a hell of a hurry.