It’s time gun-clean­ing myths were de­bunked

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - OPEN COUN­TRY

WHEN I WAS A kid, I saw part of a mur­der mys­tery movie in which a man claimed he shot his friend ac­ci­den­tally while clean­ing his gun. I stopped watch­ing it then and there. You see, I like re­al­ism in movies and clearly the screen­writer had never cleaned a gun.

If he had, he would have re­al­ized that guns are un­loaded be­fore clean­ing and the only way some­one could be killed dur­ing gun clean­ing would be if they were clubbed to death af­ter pro­vid­ing un­wanted ad­vice on what part went where dur­ing re­assem­bly.

Ev­ery good gun clean­ing starts with the best in­ten­tions – and sev­eral by­standers. We ini­tially de­cide to wipe down the ex­te­rior and ac­tion and run a patch through the bar­rel, know­ing full well that’s all that’s re­ally re­quired.

The prob­lem is very few of us can leave well enough alone.

Af­ter clean­ing the bar­rel and ex­te­rior, we quickly de­cide that if the ex­te­rior of the gun was that dirty, the in­te­rior is prob­a­bly so much worse. It never is.

Then, and I blame bore­dom, we take our guns down right to the last part

and clean each lov­ingly. Soon, how­ever, the gun owner wakes from a foggy haze and re­al­izes that this group of scat­tered parts has to go back to­gether too.

Is putting a gun back to­gether dif­fi­cult?

No, it is not. But read­ing the man­ual is.

In fact, read­ing a man­ual is so dif­fi­cult that we leave them at home in a drawer filled with all the other un­read things – which also hap­pen to be man­u­als.

What fol­lows then is only slightly less com­plex than solv­ing a Ru­bik’s Cube blind­folded.

I watched this last week at duck camp when my son, against my strong ad­vise­ment, de­cided to take his shot­gun right down to the last screw to clean it thor­oughly mid-week. He had four ex­pe­ri­enced hun­ters around him who owned the same shot­gun model for a com­bined to­tal of 100 years or more and had each pro­fessed ex­per­tise at dis­as­sem­bling and re­assem­bling the gun.

Yet, de­spite lis­ten­ing to their other sto­ries for the last few days, my son be­lieved them.

A few things should have pro­vided clues that this was not a good idea. For one thing, not one of them had brought that par­tic­u­lar gun to camp.

For an­other, as they took it apart they said things like, “Oh, so that’s where that part goes” or “I re­mem­ber when mine used to look like that.” Most tellingly, they re­ferred to their guns in the past tense.

In the end, they each pro­vided en­ter­tain­ing and con­flict­ing ac­counts of how the shot­gun should be re­assem­bled. Ar­gu­ments broke out. Com­plex the­o­ries were floated. Ex­pla­na­tions were sug­gested as to why the breech block and fir­ing pin should face rear­ward. There was even a vig­or­ous de­bate as to whether the bar­rel was a nec­es­sary part.

Three hours later, I fi­nally did some­thing I’m not proud of. I looked it up on YouTube and found sev­eral good videos that clearly ex­plained re­assem­bly. Then we got his shot­gun back to­gether in less than five min­utes.

In­ter­est­ingly, each of the four hun­ters said we did it wrong cit­ing the fact that a) the gun worked and b) there were no left­over parts.

Each of them ap­proached later and also asked me to send them the link.

If you ask me, there should have been a clubbing.

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