Shooting safety is in YOUR, uh, hand [longish]

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by tac, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. tac

    UK, Oregon and Ontario.
    Silver Supporter Silver Supporter

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    As some of you might know, I write on a whole WHALE of fora, here in UK, Ireland and in USA and Canada. However, it doesn't matter where it is that you shoot, the laws of physics and chemistry have to be obeyed, as this little story shows.

    And just in case any of you here remember this, most of those in the story are long gone home....

    So, sit yourself down in a comfy chair, get yourself some fine sippin' stuff, and have a tissue handy to mop up afterwards.

    Many years ago, and here in UK, I was a member of a shooting syndicate of around twenty like-minded, country-living shooters of all ages from twelve to eighty-ish. We used to meet up at a place deemed suitable for sport, and engage in what is called over here a 'rough shoot'. That means that £1000 tweeds were 'out', and £10 milsurp was decidedly 'in'. We used to split up into groups of four or five, aim off in different directions, take targets of opportunity and suitability for a coupla hours and then, at an arranged time, head back to have a sammidge and tea/coffee.

    As always, there were a number of old hands here, some professional shooters, and our local gun dealer, whom I'll call Walt, for reasons of security, and to protect his anonymity. The fact that it really WAS his name is a pure coincidence. There was usually a noob or two in the group, as the oldies died off, and this day was no exception, and, as usual, Walt was holding forth on the efficacy of one load over another to them, astounding them with the breadth, depth and thickness of his vast knowledge of things shotgunnical. At some point during his presentation, he would look ascathe at the cartridges that they might have been using, pointing out that perhaps a better quality of cartridge might improve their so-far lack-luster peformance. Pulling one of his Eley Olympic Trap cartridges out of his bespoke cartridge bag, he broke it open, and pouring the shot and wad away, upended the powder load onto the palm of his open hand. Then, taking his custom-engraved Zippo, he would touch off the little pile of powder on his palm - it instantly flashed away into nothingness, a tribute, said Walt, to the quality and fineness of the product. The noobs would be amazed and convinced, we would groan [again] we'd all get up and resume the shoot until the sun or our ages told us it was time to call a halt.

    One fine day, it all went to total ratsh&t for Walt, and this is how it happened.

    Same group of guys, again a couple of noobs, and Walt. This time however, it was a really warm day, and we were all suffering a bit from the heat and lack of breeze. Collapsing into heaps under the shade of the trees by the river, much like Stonewall Jackson noted, we eagerly dug into our soda-pop and assorted sammidges, and Walt dug into his yarn again.

    Same deal as before, Walt pouring the powder onto his open palm. All began to go pear-shaped when Walt couldn't instantly lay his hand on his Zippo, so he called one of his 'acolytes' to go look in the nearby car - nearby was a misnomer, BTW, they were around a quarter of a mile away across a foot-bridge and it took the boy around ten minutes to come back with the missing item. Taking it in his hand, Walt fired it up, and set it to the little pile of powder.

    What happened next deserves to be in the 'Whatever you do, Don't do THIS!' Hall of Fame.

    Instead of a quiet 'whoosh' and a sooty mark, there came a loud PHUT! followed instantly by a blood-curdling screech from Walt, who collapsed writhing in agony on the ground, wailing dismally the while. We looked in astonishment for second or two, and then, carefully avoiding the thrashing arms and legs [of Walt] gently prised open his injured hand.

    Right there, in the precise centre of his palm, was a blackened hole about the size of a dime, that went right through from side to side. Me, being military, instantly recognised that during the time that Walt had waited for the means of ignition to turn up, he had sweated everywhere, including the palms of his hands. The sweat had been absorbed by the powder and changed it from a loose pile to a very good impression of a shaped charge, much the same as that used to penetrate armour on a tank. The effect was the same, as you have probably surmised - instead of a whoosh and a disappearance, Walt had fired a shaped charge right through the palm of his hand.

    Most of us [me included] were nigh-on wetting ourselves at this show that Walt had inadvertently put on for us - indeed, few of us were in any fit state to drive for a good ten minutes. We kept holding up our hands in front of our faces, and saying 'peek-a-boo!' in a manically hilarious display of lack of fellow feeling, but we got him to ER in the end, and spent a good ten minutes explaining to the trauma team there what had happened, in between collapsing into giggling heaps in the waiting room.

    As you may imagine, Walt underwent a whole bunch of operations to sort out the hole, including a complex set of skin grafts, and it is here, I have to say, is where the story, as far as I'm concerned, gets even better.

    Surgeons examining Walt for possible sites from which they might get suitable skin, settled on Walt's remarkably smooth upper thighs for the donor skin, and carried out the necessary operations.

    They were, I'm happy to relate, completely successful - at least, for a while.

    You see, at the time of the grafting operations, nobody had bothered to ask Walt [who was unconscious anyhow] quite WHY his legs were so silkily smooth as a baby's butt.

    Only, after a month or so when the thick black hairs began to appear on his palm, did he admit that he was, in addition to being a country shooter, a bicyclist of some note in the county, and depilated his legs in an effort to gain some form of aerodynamic benefit from the lack of fur.

    Although he still shaves and depilates his legs, he now has to add his right palm to that list, but he no longer demonstrates the varying effects of igniting shotgun powder on the palm of his hands.

    Synnergy and (deleted member) like this.

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