This is a true story about firearm complacency and safety by our own Jim Young (Hunting Associate)
When I was about 10 years old I received my first firearm on a chilly Christmas morning. It was a brand new J.C. Higgins .22 single shot bolt action rifle from Sears and Roebuck. It was the kind that you had to load each cartridge one at a time then pull the plunger back to cock the rifle when you were ready to fire. it could shoot .22 shorts, longs and the powerful, venerable supersonic long rifle cartridge.
I really liked this little rifle but my propensity to get into trouble would urge me on to expand my creative talents for getting myself into a lot of hot water and to do more stupid things that normally charted the course taken by a young adolescent male just prior to discovering girls. in fact, as i look back, my propensity for doing stupid things did not diminish after i discovered girls. It was possibly exacerbated even more so, but i digress.
Of course, recalling my previous Red Ryder BB gun days, my mother, father, and older brother would increasingly preach to me about gun safety, gun safety and more GUN SAFETY!!! So much so that I had gun safety coming out of my ears and I was sick of it. i knew good and well that i was well practiced and highly skilled 11 year old rifle marksmen and no one could tell me what to do. i knew it all.
I really enjoyed cleaning and taking care of my rifle. Late one Saturday evening while watching a western on T.V. while everyone else had gone to bed, i had just finished cleaning my rifle. Having been bored by the movie i picked up the rifle , checked to make sure it was unloaded, started taking aim at things around the room and pulling the trigger. After a while i started to practice loading and unloading the rifle with a long rifle hollow point. Still leaving the round in the rifle i set it down and went back to watching the movie. Again boredom set in and i picked the now loaded rifle up .... see where i am going with this. Once more i began taking aim at inanimate objects around the room. Instead of squeezing the trigger and giving my customary "blam" or "pow" a real supersonic crack of the rifle witch to me became the shot heard round the world or at least the shot heard round the house. As i stared in disbelief i just knew my mother, father, and brother would soon be at my location having been known as incredible light sleepers. I sat glued to the couch and listen for the coming doom that would befall on me but i was not able to hear anything over the ringing in my ears, how was i to know that such a little gun could make such a loud noise, i had no idea that a little .22 could be so dang loud let alone make such a huge cloud of blue smoke. I just knew Winchester had packed that particular cartridge with the powder charge normally reserved for artillery shells, and did so just to turn what was left of my young life into a living hell!
After what seemed like hours i finally got up the courage to leave the couch and inspect the damage to my target. Sure enough there it was a nice neat little hole centered perfectly in the brass door knob that went to the closet that housed our heavy coats. the shell itself went through the door knob and the door but was not able to find the shell or its fragments. Taking inventory of the closet and its contents i was not able to find any more damage. At this point i was able to take a breath of relief even though the room was still filled with the smoke from the round.I thought i just might be able to survive the night and not be staked outside over a pit of fire ants or some other horrible torture that i was sure i would be in for because of my careless action. I think around this time i started to go though what you could describe as "damage control" since no one had showed up to reprimand me. Many days passed then years and still no word I finally told my parents once i was grown and suffered through their consternation. Even though they were impressed i was able to change out the door knob with a replacement we had in our tool shed as well as put puddy and paint over the hole with out them ever knowing. I was as my mother called "damned lucky" and she was right. There are two morals to take from this story number ONE is gun safety, gun safety and did i mention gun safety. Don't ever allow your self to become complacent with a firearm complacency kills. I was very lucky i didn't hurt myself or anyone in my family from a direct shot or from a ricochet bullet. Be sure to always treat you gun with the assumption it is loaded. Never take anyone's word that a gun is unloaded and safe not even your own double check triple check its always better to be safe than sorry.
The second thing to take away from this is sometimes God does smile on you when you do stupid things, thank God it was lesson learned and never repeated.
One last thing- I always wished i had kept the door knob because it would have made one heck of a show and tell piece!