Shooting friends

in Outdoors and more2 months ago

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True friends stab you in the front.

- Oscar Wilde -



Over the thirty two years I've been a shooter much of my shooting activities have been conducted with others around in various formats including gun ranges and in the field. Many have been unknown to me, some I knew vaguely, others are acquaintances and a select group have been friends. I say a, select few, as I'm rather particular when it comes to those I call friends and prefer to keep that group small and tight-knit.

Over that time there's been several situations in which I've felt uncomfortable. Fortunately, I have been in a position to address the reasons for it, and found a degree of comfort. Most of the time the issues have revolved around bad training, lack of training or the failure to adhere to it. That's not a good situation as firearms can be dangerous in the hands of the untrained or those foolish enough to not follow accepted safe handling and operational standards. Generally, I've felt safe enough though and had the belief that those around me are capable of doing the right thing and are responsible enough to take it seriously.

These days I usually only shoot with others when at the range, it's unavoidable. It's a very safe environment though as everyone goes through safety inductions and any tomfoolery is stamped out immediately. It's a military-administered range and club and I'm a range officer there; we operate to exacting standards of conduct and firearms safety so everyone there feels confident and safe.

I also cull feral animals on a cattle farm, usually weekly, and I hunt also although not as much as I used to. The former I do mostly alone and when hunting it's almost always with friends.

Shooting friends

I am very selective with those I will have around me when hunting. I have friends I'd literally never trust hunting and those I trust implicitly. It's not that I don't trust some at all, just not enough to feel confident out in the bush hunting with them; too much can go wrong.

Here, there's no requirement to wear dayglo safety clothing when hunting as there is in some other countries. My shooting friends and I wear full camouflage usually which means we blend right into the bush. That can mean trouble if people aren't paying attention. There's usually four of us and we hunt in pairs, sometimes many hundreds of metres apart with UHF radio-headsets for communication and with the effective killing range of a bullet being much farther than that...well, let's just say spatial awareness and attentiveness is of paramount importance. Sure, it's not chaotic as is the battlefield, but a bullet fired carelessly can kill or injure just as easily as one strategically aimed.

I've always maintained high standards when it comes to firearms but in the situation I describe above there's simply no margin for compromise and additional effort, skills and awareness is required.

The three I (usually) hunt with have been friends of mine for over twenty five years and I trust each of them with my life when we hunt, as they do me with their own. It's a trust that has been developed over many years of hunting together but it's been tested; accidents and mistakes happen in anything humans are involved with, however the trust remains and that's essential for us to be able to hunt together.

Recently I was asked by a close acquaintance, not quite a friend but more than an acquaintance, if he could come culling with me on the cattle farm. I generally shoot there by myself and enjoy that aspect of it however I thought about having him there with me and how I felt about it. I've never been shooting with this chap although I know he hunts and, from discussions we've had, seems to have a high regard for safety. That's great, but I'm still hesitant. Had it been one of my shooting friends then no worries at all, but...hmm, I'm just not sure.

It's put me in a quandary as I don't really have a nice way of saying no and I don't want to hurt his feelings. On the flip side, I like the fellow and it would be nice to have some company.

I was thinking on it today and feel the best way to approach it is with openness and honesty.

I think I'll tell him of my reluctance and why I feel that way then propose he comes along but only he shoots instead of the both of us. That way I can watch what he's like and evaluate his methods and safety practices; if they are acceptable we can proceed, if not then we can cease operations and move on. I think that's fair and I believe he'd be ok with it. After all, he's probably thinking the same thing about me in return!

Firearms are not toys and I'm not one to compromise on safety or operate in a casual or irresponsible manner.

A loaded firearm, in the hands of a human being, can and will kill hence the extremes I go to to ensure the safety of myself and those around me. I think it'd be nice to have that other chap out there with me now and then and, whilst he's not my shooting friends, I believe he can convince me of his suitability over time. Should he not be able to do so, he'll have himself to blame for me refusing to take him with me.


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You could always bail out and say that the farmer is pretty select about who is allowed on his property with you, but I think the straight up approach that you're planning is always going to work better :)

I was feeling really nervous reading about hunting in full camo with your friends, yep definitely want to know exactly where everyone is at all times x_x

I think the direct approach is the best, I prefer to be open and honest as being otherwise often comes back to haunt.

Definitely on the mark with the "test before trust" methodology. I've seen several examples over the years even of folks that new how to "behave" at the range under the strict rules, but were reckless out in the field environment. One of my favorite ways of testing is to take them out on pellet rifle hunting in the field first and use that as a testing ground to watch their handling, proper use of safety switch, loading, unloading, etc. At least then any accidents are not quite so damaging, and at least give me time to slap some sense into them and take it away easier. lol. Reckless people are often reckless people, whether it be driving a car, using a knife, towing a trailer, blasting fireworks, or motorcycle. No different when it comes to firearms.

My thoughts exactly, the reckless people thing; it tends to be a habit.

When it comes to firearms, well I don't need to tell you I guess, an extra level of attention is required. I like your pellet gun thing although all mine are centre fire rifles. I expect this guy to be safe and responsible or I'd not be entertaining the thought of taking him but it needs to be verified as you know. I think my only he shoots plan should work. I can see how he handles the firearm, where he points the muzzle, trigger discipline etc.

I never use the safety prefering to close the bolt, pull the trigger, and then load the magazine which leaves no chance of an accidental discharge. When a target presents itself it's easy enough to rack the bolt and shoot quickly. I will ask him to do the same.

We'll see how it goes. I think he'll be fine and it might be good to have company from time to time.

My hunting champ suit is orange, and I've had a deer look directly at me at 200 yards...and she saw nothing! She was quite tasty in the crockpot!

I also like to hunt on private property, and prefer to hunt during the black powder or bow seasons. People that hunt then are usually the most professional people.

I take prospective hunting partners to the gun club first, to guage skill level and safety acumen; before we consider a hunt! It's a good time to sight the hunting choice in.

😳👍🦌💸

I get why they use those bright colours but...Nah, I'm a camouflage guy...and have loads of it. (As you would expect.) Lol.

It's a great privilege to have access to properties to hunt on here, so many do not have the chance and are limited to shooting on ranges. I'm fortunate to have hunting properties and the cattle farm to cull on as well.

I take prospective hunting partners to the gun club first, to gauge skill level and safety acumen; before we consider a hunt! It's a good time to sight the hunting choice in.

This is not a bad idea but I also like to see them in the field, what awareness they have in respect of trigger discipline, muzzle direction, crossing creeks and fences, climbing etc.

I'm working on a Ghillie suit in BDU chamo...before I cut it up. But hunters orange is smart here especially on public hunting areas. I just take the extra step and go full suit camouflage in orange. Besides it's a warm suit for a cold hunting season!

Trigger discipline and safe muzzle direction show up at the gun club. If they pass that hurdle, the crossings are good conversation topics, and climbing is usually on a stand already in place.

I usually hunt with a lady from church. She likes quilting and high powered rifles, a rather eclectic mix. Military trained, and a dependable shot. She also helps with the homeless meal!

My last deer stand was a quarter million dollar harvester my buddy parked out where I could use it. It sure cut the wind!

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I just take the extra step and go full suit camouflage in orange

Like prison garb? Lol.

If the liberals have their way....

But they'll have to find me first!

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I suspect you and I could shoot together AFTER we do the necessary dance to check the other out. When it comes to guns I trust no one until I have verified them myself.

I have a similar, if not so lethal, situation right now. My neighbor bought a HD and would like to ride with me. He obviously knows how to ride because he hasn't fallen down in the month he's had the bike. I need a trust level akin to shooting with riding partners. I don't think he'll make that level, but I do need to find out. I've got the problem on hold right now because of the heat, but it will return and I need to deal with it.

I'll take him on a 25 mile loop that I know implicitly. It'll show me his technical skills as well as his temperament as a rider pretty plainly.

The problem I'm wrestling with right now is how to tell him he doesn't make the grade while avoiding my normal 'Fuck Off' method. I'll still have to live next to him...

So. I'll give him the test and a fair look. I suspect you'll do the same. Sometimes it's the shits that we have to live in the world, isn't it?

It makes sense to do the check, and I think most shooters are responsible enough to accept that it happens, that it should happen.

Riding in a group, even a pair, isn't as straightforward as it seems right? I used to ride a lot with a mate and we could ride close if required, I knew what he would do and he me in return. But I've ridden with others who were erratic and unpredictable which is disconcerting.

Like with the firearms, a test ride will sort it out and determine what he's like. From there you evaluate and decide if a longer ride is acceptable. Telling him no, in the advent he's a shite rider, is the problem though, figuring out how to do so and retain a neighbourly relationship.

I'm not against gun ownership, but my little experience with hunting groups has shown me that some people are completely unfit to carry not a gun, but even a sling! Nice words on your post! Very inspiring!

I agree with you completely and I also know people that have and operate firearms that shouldn't be let anywhere near one! I just keep away from them I guess, if they shoot themselves or someone else by accident I don't want to be there.

Thanks for your comment, I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond.

I don’t feel that way. At least at home anyone should be allowed to be armed.

I dont disagree with that @manniman, I am also one of those who believe that gun ownership shields the people against whom it threatens freedom. I just wanted to point out the lack of gun culture that many have

Gun Culture seems appropriate, I'd take that over Pop Music and Instagram.

This reminded me of a killing at a movie set probably two months ago, I don't know if you read about it.

Investing your safety in the hands of an inexperienced shooter will be a dangerous thing to do and I agree with the fact that the safety of the gun handler and the people around must be prioritized when it comes to handling a gun.

I understand how you feel about your acquittance, it's best to know what he is capable of doing before going hunting with him. You can trust me, I have played a lot of shooting games and I am capable of handling a gun.

(Just kidding)...

There are many firearms accidents around the world and most revolve around unsafe practices, stupidity and lack of understanding. It's disappointing really as these accidents reflect on firearms and their owners when, in truth, they are all avoidable.

You can trust me, I have played a lot of shooting games and I am capable of handling a gun.

It's people that say this * I don't trust.* But...you were making a joke right? (I hope so.)

I was actually making a joke, I haven't handled a gun before and wouldn't put myself or anyone life at risk.

Oh good, I just wanted to check because there are those out there who believe themselves to be experts with firearms due to gaming. 😟

It is wrong to compare the gaming world to reality, I think gamers can have knowledge about guns ability but not handling them, they are two things very far away from each other.

Yes, I agree. If people want to have an understanding of an Accuracy International L96A1/AW, BARRETT M82 or McMillan TAC-50 or some other such rifle they'll never handle gained from a video game that's fine; a hobby I guess. But engaging in discussions about it, trying to relate it to the real world, especially with those who shoot in the real world is a little wacky in my opinion.

Greetings friend @galenkp I hope you are very well, it was good to read this post, I tell you, I am a filmmaker, because of the way my career is, I always think in a cinematographic way, and that always makes me think, how other people who have another career will think? And the truth is that I found incredible the way of thinking before the possession of a weapon, it is a total responsibility between life and death that always has to be taken into account, the most interesting thing is the trust between friends, which is very important for you to be able to be accompanied. I think you justify it perfectly and it seems to me correct, in theater and dance it would be defined as the existence of a bodily trust, which your own body recognizes. Finally, I liked the condition that you proposed to the friend that you proposed to go; accompany him but you watch him, I do not know if your other partner would feel comfortable, but let's say he must be able to. Thank you very much for this post.

I think the way I propose to move forward in respect of the fellow wishing to come shooting with me is viable; as a shooter he will understand my need to be cautious and he is likely to be the same anyway.

Thanks for your comments which I greatly appreciate.

I also think your close acquaintance will agree with you. Humans are funny these days. They do things that can end a person's life and call it a mistake. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Being safe, especially when operating such dangerous tools as firearms, is of paramount importance. Thanks for your comment.

That way I can watch what he's like and evaluate his methods and safety practices; if they are acceptable we can proceed, if not then we can cease operations and move on.

That's a good plan, you don't need to risk your life taking someone who might be careless...

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