I’ll give you all 3 guesses what this picture is and the first 2 don’t count. If you guessed a neat .22 cal hole in my garage ceiling you’d be correct. Let me tell you a short and hopefully humorous but important story.
It’s not if, it’s when…
There was a guy that I knew that liked to fly private planes. One day, sitting at the bar chatting with some fellow flyers the subject came up of “have you ever landed with your gear up?” My cocky acquaintance proceeded to speak about how he’d “never” make such a stupid mistake. Time passed, but it was not that much time, and he was lining up to land and was cut off by a larger plane. From what I’m told twin engine planes have priority over single engine planes. And he should have allowed the large plane to have landing priority. He promptly got on the radio and spoke rather “harshly” to the pilot of the other plane as he was lining up his approach. He executed a perfect landing with the exception of remembering to put his gear down. You can imagine his surprise to learn that the pilot in the twin engine plane happened to be an FAA flight instructor.
So how does this relate to airguns?
There are many, lessons to be learned from that story, and yes it is a true story. Quite well known in the little New England town where it occurred. Anyway, back to airguns. The first lesson is that the minute you get cocky, is the minute you set yourself up for something that’s going to bite you. That’s with everything, not just airguns. Airguns, especially the high powered adult airguns, have the power to seriously injure or kill someone. It’s critical that we as shooters NEVER loose respect for them.
The next lesson from that story as related to airguns, and this is for all you airgun tinkerers out there, don’t work on your gun unless you can devote your full attention to the task at hand. I will occasionally do work for viewers and readers, tuning and setting up their airguns. I let them know right up front that it may be a while for them to get their gun back. I have a couple of rules; 1. I never work on a gun when I’m tired, 2. I never work on a gun if I’m feeling rushed.
These rules also apply when I’m testing airguns. Our nature is to cut corners when we are rushed or tired. This is where things can get out of sorts really quickly.
Back to the hole in ceiling.
While testing a gun for a review, I noticed that it was not feeding pellets correctly. This gun is not made anymore so the brand and model is really not important. (Gamo CO2 Extreme). Unfortunately there’s no way to decock or unload the gun other than pulling the trigger. I knew the gun was jammed but I was in a hurry. I broke almost all the major NRA gun safety rules because I had gotten cocky, was in a rush, and was frustrated. I was not minding where the muzzle was pointing. I was not treating it as a loaded gun that could be dangerous. And, my ceiling paid the price with a nice round .22 caliber hole. Fortunately it was not a very powerful gun and only bounced off the OSB sheeting in the attic and didn’t blow a hole right through my tile roof, something that could have easily happened with a more powerful PCP airgun. Fortunately, that has been the only mishap here in the shop and it was enough for me to institute my two cardinal rules.
Back to the Bio Hazard…
I was working one day processing and repairing airguns and I received a call from a customer who was sending in their rifle because the barrel had unexpectedly closed on them while loading a pellet. I always say on my videos (now I do anyway) to secure the barrel with your off hand while loading. Some folks want to argue about how that’s not necessary. I simply ask them, “Are you fond of your thumbs?”
What I heard next over the phone really got my attention, “I’ve labeled the box BIO HAZARD because there’s a piece of my thumb stuck in the breach.” WHAT! He went on to tell me that he just dropped the gun after it happened, went to the emergency room to deal with the injury, and really couldn’t stomach cleaning part of his own thumb out of the breach. Not that I blame the guy, but what did he expect ME to do about it!
Long story short, it was not nearly as gruesome as he had lead me to believe over the phone. The rifle had multiple safety provisions to prevent this type of malfunction. The problem seemed to have been either excessive use (I’ve never seen something worn so much in all my years in airguns) or tampering with the sear engagement by the customer or a previous owner, trying to improve the trigger pull, or reduce the 2nd stage pull. Had he been securing the barrel with his off hand while loading, this would have never happened.
Proper gun handling is important whether you are working with a Daisy Red Ryder or a monster .25 cal springer. Remember my simple rules: 1. Never handle guns when you are tired or distracted, 2. Never handle guns when you are frustrated. Next, memorize and follow the following: 1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, 2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, 3. Always know your target and what’s beyond, 4. Always know how to properly handle, operate, and maintain your airgun.
Do you have some relevant stories to tell? Share them with us in the comments section! We always want to hear from our readers.