If you are not some kind of control freak in your day to day personal life, that is probably a good thing, I mean, no one likes a control freak. They are overbearing, domineering, insensitive, rude, crude, socially unacceptable, (probably your boss) and usually end up in divorce court. But when it comes to firearms we all have to be control freaks where bullets are concerned.
I have mentioned common sense before and I will bring it up again, engage your common sense every time you handle a firearm, take common sense for a walk around the block, give it a bit of exercise. You do not need to be a ballistics or trajectory expert to know that bullets can go far and do damage beyond your field of vision if you are not careful. If you are setting up targets, think of your backstop, be it dirt, tires, wood, whatever, be aware of what is behind those targets. If there are stones, (for instance) large enough to cause a ricochet, move them out of the way, if you can not move them, find another safe spot for your targets.
A short definition of a ricochet is; ‘an uncontrolled bullet’. Gun clubs have been closed down due to ricochets, pending investigations as to what may have caused it and how it will be avoided in the future before reopening, that is no fun for the membership. Another form of uncontrolled bullet is to indiscriminately shoot a bullet up into the air, this is very irresponsible, and dangerous. If done at a ‘rainbow pitch’ a bullet as small as a .22 caliber rim fire can carry a mile or more before coming back to earth, you have no idea where it will land, (you will be held responsible for what it may do, you own it), that certainly fits the ‘uncontrolled’ category.
Bullets are not meant to be shot at water, the speed of a bullet will cause it to ‘glance’ off , and it will carry clear across that pond, and if your unlucky, into someones camp ground. Again,you are responsible, and will be held responsible for your negligence, weather it be known or unknown to you as to the damage the bullet has done. So make a point to at least understand the caliber(s) you own, and the capabilities of those calibers, that is the responsible and right thing to do, when you own firearms. The only firearm that is meant for over the water shooting is a shotgun. The bird shot from a shotgun does not carry very far. A shotgun shell with bird shot, once fired, will lose its energy rapidly, the pellets will fall and sink at around 150 yards give or take. The utmost effective range is about a third of that distance.
If you intend to hunt you must always be diligent as to what is beyond your intended game. It is not as controlled as a shooting range. If you are deer hunting you may be carrying a rifle or shotgun , both with the capability of shooting a long distance with large game loads. If you see a deer, look beyond it for the color orange, that will be another hunter, (he/she is on your side) that means you do not take the shot. If your really hungry go to McDonald’s and get a burger, that deer will never be worth risking someones life. You may say; gee that’s just common sense! Well, if it is such damned common sense, why are hunters shooting each other out in the woods most years all across this country? Because they are not taking their common sense around the block and giving it a little exercise now and then, that is why. Common sense is simply thinking something through before acting.
Once you squeeze off that shot you can not suddenly say ‘oops’ that was a mistake, gee whizz, come back here little bullet and let me do that differently, it is far to late for that, you will have to live with the consequences. Firearms are very unforgiving, the mistake you make could be someone else’s last breath. My point here is to think BEFORE you shoot. If everyone did that we would all be much safer. Avoid uncontrolled bullets at ALL costs! Please Pass This On.
Remember, Firearm Education Will Save Lives, Firearm Ignorance Can Take Lives. Please, always err on the side of caution.
Sincerely, Mark Shean, Knowledge through Experience
Former NRA Law Enforcement Firearm Instructor
www.mafirearmsafety.com written 7-9-2009
Your comments/insights are welcomed.