Clicks And Booms

Both can be very loud.
; .

Although it is construed by many to be boring, I am somewhat intrigued with the general aspects of the safe handling of guns, and since I do it every day it is important to me. The versions of particular interest to me are what I call the click-and-boom version of gun handling. Generally speaking, two things in life are very loud in the overall audio spectrum: a gun going click when it supposed to go boom, and a gun going boom when it is supposed to go click.

So I thought I would tell you a few stories about click and booms as I approach the age sometimes referred to as the “golden years.”

The Girl And The Finger!

I have this girl I’ve hung out with for at least two decades — my wife Heidi. She is a bright chick and quite an accomplished shooter in her own right. Even more importantly, she can teach a firearms class very well across a broad spectrum of guns. A while ago she and I were teaching an Urban rifle class. Rifles, like other weapons in training, often require movement—you know, to do all the really cool operator stuff. This one “operator” in the class, unfortunately, was a bunch of pounds overweight and couldn’t go to prone or kneeling, “’cause my knee’s bad.” Yeah, the knee is bad because of the buncha pounds “we” are overweight.

Anyway, Heidi and I do a drill where students do a back-and-forth sort of movement to make or break contact. As a school/training institution, we have done it well and correctly without incident for 28 years. Heidi told this dude for a day and a half to get his finger off his trigger while he is not on the target (I think that’s a basic rule?). So you guessed it.
While moving back and forth out of breath, overweight and finger on the trigger, he took the safety off and torches one into the ground. By the grace of a higher being, no one is hurt and it was basically a “wet spot in our shorts” drill. Coolly, the girl goes forward and reprimands him firmly—he had it coming.

So a suggestion for anyone who wants to go to a shooting school, shoot in a 3-gun match, be a cool tactical operator and other such folks: Lose some weight, go for a walk, tie your own shoe strings, don’t eat stuff bigger than a human head at one sitting—and keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target. And before everyone launches on the editor, eat what you want and be what you want, but try to be what you are, not what you imagine you are. I can climb every hill around where I live, but some I climb slower than others. And I can always remember what I was in the “good ol’ days.” In reality, what I am today is something other than what I remember being when I was younger.

My Mom had a saying as we grew up as kids, “Act your age.” Solid advice from an 84-year-old sage.

A steel-toed boot versus a 12-gauge shotgun. Yes, that is daylight through the boot.
No toes where killed in the staging of this photo. PHOTOS: Heidi Smith


Snappy Cappy

In another rifle school, a father and son showed up. Nice folks, they were shooting hunting-type rifles, and apparently well disciplined to their world—sort of. Well, we worked the first day, and at day’s end the students moved their rifles to a setup or safe area line so they could clean barrels, and we could do range clean up and all the admin junk. So all goes well and the boy comes after a bit of rifle cleaning and asked, “Can I put my snap cap in my .270 bolt action?”

And I said, “Why?” He said so he could “…let the striker down, relieving firing-pin spring tension.”

I said, “Yeah, but why don’t you just check the chamber, check the mag well, check the chamber, check the mag well, point it in a safe direction, safety off, and gently close the bolt on the empty chamber, while your finger is on the trigger (and the muzzle in a safe direction)? Then the pressure will be off the striker.”

“Cool. You can do that?” he said.

“Yes, and then you are not screwing around with stuff in the chamber—which is a very bad idea,” I said.

He did his Winchester .270 empty chamber thing. Life is grand. He and Dad leave and went to the fiddle table near the classroom. Well, after a bit, I drove by and the Dad came forward long in the face.

“What?” I asked. He said, “I had a FUBAR” (you can find the general meaning in a Google search).

This is a broad spectrum of things that go into gun chambers. One goes boom,
and the others all go click. The test is to get it in correct order.


I Say, “A Wha-a-at?”

He said, and I quote, “I put my snap cap that wasn’t in my rifle (he had mixed the snap cap with live rounds in his pockets), pointed it at a bullet trap and pressed the trigger,” thereby getting a resounding Boom with his .30-06 into my $400 550 armor plate. The projectile struck at the very edge of the plate, zapped the edge and the secondary frag sprayed the building behind the trap.

I didn’t really look at the older guy. At this point there was not actually much for me to say, so I leaned forward looked around him at the younger guy and said “That’s why I don’t use snap caps!”

I do not put anything in the chamber and press the trigger. I also don’t press the trigger while pointing the muzzle at anything I do not want to shoot.

That also sounds like a familiar thought from someplace. So, the trap served its expensive purpose. No one got hurt…
And yeah, I know all the trap, skeet, shotgun fuzzy snap cap, rimfire, blah, blah.

You do it your way, I will continue to advocate “nothing in the chambers and to always point the muzzle thing in a direction you can afford to buy or replace.” We’ll see who ends up with less holes in stuff.


Something in the aforementioned material probably offends someone … it always does. You know what? In retrospect, in my “golden years,” all the people who blow off safety rules, and on occasion their own fingers and toes, sort of offend me.

If you read what I wrote, there are two versions of the finger trigger thing and they need to be done correctly, at the right time and place, and they all need to have a muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Odd huh?

Sign up for the Personal Defense newsletter here: