Safety First – With all the attention right now on the airbow as it’s finding its place as a legal weapon for taking big game, I thought it’d be a good time to talk about gun safety, or better yet weapon safety, in this world I know as disabled hunting. First off, let’s talk the airbow. Some of you may not have even heard about it yet but it’s a weapon made by Crosman/Benjamin that shoots full length arrows driven by compressed air that is gaining ground across the country. We could get into the details about it being a real bow or not but I’m going to leave that for other people to work out. For this blog, I’m just going to tell you that it’s similar to a crossbow when it comes to launching an arrow. Where the airbow really stands out is when it comes to ease of operation and SAFETY!
Back when I first thought about bow hunting (post-injury), I didn’t want to do it unless I could operate the weapon by myself in the field, so it wasn’t until they came out with a hand-cranking device to cock the bow that I decided to start. I still couldn’t de-cock my bow without help, but at least I could reload it if I needed to when hunting alone. When I first got my hands on an airbow last year I had my second epiphany when it came to hunting during archery season: I could cock it with one lift of a lever and de-cock it just as easily. Nobody will ever lose a thumb with an airbow. You may laugh at that, but I know several people who know about this danger firsthand (get it?) There’s a ton of energy built up in a 200 pound cocked bow string. The airbow is coming up for legalization for big game in Texas this year. If it passes you can bet I’ll be getting one.
Now let’s talk about guns. As an able sportsman the importance of gun safety goes up because I always have someone helping me in the field, which means they’re either handing my gun to me or taking it back when the hunt is over. Then there are the added issues I have of not having as much trunk control or hand function so I have to make sure I’m steady before handling a gun. This is where adapted equipment comes in. I basically have a chest strap and trigger pulling device for shooting a shotgun, and for rifle I make sure I’m steady AND that I have a steady rest before the safety ever comes off.
Too many things can go wrong when you have limited balance and a loaded gun in your hands. I have to say that there are so many different kinds of adaptive devices for shooting that it’d take too long to go over each one. What I would advise though is to find the one that works best for you and get comfortable with it. Practice shooting before you go out in the field and practice gun safety, especially if you’re going to be hunting in the dark before sunrise. The only product I ever saw anyone have problems with was an E-Z Pull trigger that wasn’t set exactly right and the gun would go off before you touched it!
What all this boils down to is that gun safety should be more than just something you do, it should be a way of life. There are several rules to follow but you can survive by merely practicing the top 2: 1. Treat every weapon like it’s loaded, and 2., Never point it at anything you don’t want to shoot.