Sunday, October 01, 2006

Belated Range And Incident Report

It's Sunday here in Utah. So far today the Team has been doing the chores that fell through the cracks over the last week.

The Goddesses have collectively mowed the back forty, spent a half hour or more on their rooms, and have done all their normal chores. They are making a snack now and getting ready to punch out homework. After that we (the parental units) have been warned that they wish to Entertain Guests at dinner...

More Nice Young Men. Feh. Good thing it's spaghetti night - and good that I have to complete the third cleaning of the rifles I was shooting this day last Sunday.

I spent the morning finishing the refinishing of our living room coffee table. It had a leg fall victim to youthful exuberance a few weeks ago and I took the opportunity to refinish it while repairing the leg. I also mowed the front lawn, washed up the sink dishes, have two loads of laundry downrange, and washed my truck.

Mrs. Utah fixed our main desktop computer this morning - reinstalled the video driver that continuously tries to wander off. Good thing we have another PC and two laptops to fall back on. She's off doing the shopping at this time. We have decided to augment our water storage with flats of bottled drinking water instead of buying more barrels.

Where's the Range & Incident Report, you are wondering? Here it is:

I kiboshed my responsibilities last Sunday in order to run up to the Lee Kay Center for some quality time with my MilSurp rifles. I took Carl G. the Swede, Karl the Kar98, Tommy Savage the American made Lee Enfield Mk4No.II, and as an afterthought my Remington 700 ADL in .30-'06 with the game-friendly Burris 3X9 power scope.

The hundred yard range was full up with (mostly) muzzle loader shooters sighting in for the blackpowder hunts, so I found a spot on the fifty yard range and got ready to get to work. There were two kids to my right (well, o.k., a twenty-something and his fifteenish year old brother shooting a couple of milsurps. After taking a closer look, I realized that they were shooting one of these. Their grandpa brought it back from Europe after World War II. Their other rifle was a Kar98, same origin, with all matching numbers plus SS markings. They didn't know much about the tech of either rifle (showed them how to pull the bolt out of the Kar98) but at least they were shooting modern factory 8mm ammo, so corrosive primer damage to the gas system of the G43 wasn't an issue; collectors pay upwards from a thousand dollars for those.

How did I do? You want to know how I shot?

I had a clinic day. Offhand or bench, I got consistent, very acceptable groups from each weapon. Effortlessly. The scoped Remington shoots Winchester XP3 180gr softips through a hole the size of a quarter at fifty yards, from the bench. The offhand group came in smaller. Go figure that.

Shooting offhand with a hasty sling and a glove at fifty yards I was able to group five rounds under three inches with the Kar (I really think the ammo is too hot in this case) and near two inches (ragged holes w/ one or two tight flyers) with the Swede and the Lee Enfield. I was well pleased. I didn't use an eyepatch; maybe my eyes are getting better than they were the last few years.

I picked up a bandolier of FN 56 - headstamped ammo in five-round strippers when we went through Winnemucca a few weeks ago. If you own a .303 I cannot recommend it strongly enough. If I'd known how consistent and reliable the stuff was, I would have bought at least two or three more bandoliers. I assume it's still corrosive (it is Berdan primed) and clean up still begins with boiling water.

The incident: I was just packing up to go when there was a loud(er than normal) BOOM from the other end of the firing line. Looking right, down the line, I saw a large man hitting the concrete rightside first, his back to me, in a cloud of smoke. The coaches immediately called cease fire/step away from the line. The injured shooter had been shooting a sidelock CVA .54 muzzleloader. It failed at the breech as he was firing from the standing position, blowing the sideplate, lockwork, breechplug, and tang completely apart. I walked down to the action to offer assistance if needed, but the injured shooter was already taken under care by the shooter from his right. It turned out that that shooter was a state-certified Hunter Ed instructor and had just finished his Red Cross recertification the day before. The line safety officers basically kept out of his way, called 911, set about collecting the scattered parts, and went up and down the line ensuring all shooters' weapons were complete safe weapons. It was ten minutes to five at that time, so there weren't any hard feelings about missing range time (/sarcasm).

The injured shooter had burns to his face EXCEPT for where his safety glasses covered his eyes and the bridge of his nose. A portion of the tang (the metal strap that affixes to the top of the stock to anchor the barrel) was briefly embedded in his forehead just over his right eye but he knocked that out before he hit the concrete.

Listen up: I have until now been content to wear my street glasses alone when I shoot. Yes, they are ballistic polycarbonate - but they are styled for wear on the street. There is a gap over the bridge of my nose and they only cover from just under my eyebrows to just under my eyes. The safety glasses worn by the injured shooter were burned black - black like two coats of flat black primer on a Dodge quarterpanel. (The same was true of his forehead and cheeks.)The right lens had a deformation just above and right of center but it did not fail - this deformation was likely from a corner of the tang striking the lens at the moment the breechplug failed. If he had been wearing glasses like mine, burning powder would undoubtedly have shot into both his eyes and the right lens most certainly would have been knocked inward, out of its oval frame, and into his eye. Blinded, without a doubt.

I went down to a local welders' supply on Tuesday and picked up two pairs of optic-clear polycarbonate safety glasses. They fit over all but the largest glasses or work just fine by themselves. ANSI single piece lenses at eight bucks and change is cheap insurance for your eyes. I wish I'd had a camera; a couple thousand words will have to do.

Two more points:

1. The range did not have FIRST AID KITS in place. None. The samaritan staunched the blood with a wad of dampened paper towels until EMS responded - which was almost fifteen minutes after the accident.

2. I have the equivalent of a trauma-response first aid pack that lives in my truck. Gloves, pressure dressings, abdominal pads, burn dressings, tape, betadine solution and swabs, some in- case- of- femoral- bleeding- size hemostats and a GI field surgery kit, along with bandaids, triple antibiotic ointment, burn gel, and right on top a good first aid guide with a very good "do this first!" checklist on the back cover. There is also included other such miscellenous stuff all clumsy people who camp or shoot or just travel should never be without. This collection lives in an O.D. nylon toolbag marked with red crosses. I also carry a random Tijuana cotton blanket as a part of the kit. It's always good to keep the victim off the ground, and you never know when you'll need a furniture pad.

Forgot about it completely. Didn't think of it at all until the rescue squad was actually rolling into the parking lot. Duh.

I had intended to write this post sooner, but I tossed my back out Tuesday and just haven't had the will to get much done until this weekend.

All else is well here in the home of TmjUtah. I hope the same is true whereever you are.

No comments: