Have you ever had your head blown off with a 12 gauge shotgun? I have, almost, and it still gives me shivers when I’m reminded of it! Actually, that’s a silly question. If you’d had your head blown off, you wouldn’t be here, answering this silly survey.
Children in my small hometown owned weapons. 14, 15, 16-year-old boys possessed rifles and shotguns. It was not unusual, of a warm, sunny summer Saturday, to see a group of armed youths, ‘going hunting’, if hooting and yelling, and telling jokes while clomping through the near-by woods could be called hunting. All the animals were hiding behind trees and snickering. The only things that got shot were trees and fenceposts – or old appliances and food tins, if we reached the city dump.
One well-armed wight once boasted of ‘bumping off a chickadee’, as if he were a mob hit man. From a distance of 20 feet, he blasted away with a 12 gauge shotgun, leaving nothing but a fine pink mist. He was also the genius who found an arm-thick, wild apple tree amongst the evergreens, and ‘chopped it down’ using three blasts to its base.
The rifles we owned were mostly little .22 caliber plinkers, capable of very little serious damage. Those who carried 12 gauge shotguns though, were far more dangerous. .22s are only 22/100ths of an inch wide. Even .45s, a large handgun shell, are less than half an inch. 12 gauge though, is .730 inches in diameter. And the power comes from the ‘squared’ portion of the Pi/R/Squared formula. See the size comparison below.
I had moved away to get a job, and had returned for Christmas. I’d been able to get presents for my Mom and Dad, but admitted to him that I had no idea about what to get my brother. He told me that my brother wanted to be armed like his friends for ‘hunting season’, and also told me where there was a bolt action shotgun for sale, much like the one at the top, only in far better shape.
Bolt-action, for a shotgun, is quite rare. It cocks, ready for the next shot, when you lift the bolt handle, rotating a wedge-shaped section backward. After you manually insert another shell and close the bolt, it is fired by pulling the trigger, to release the spring-loaded portion….usually.
After I had presented it to him on Christmas Day, the brother oohed and aahed over it, and took in into his bedroom, ‘to put it away in his closet.’ I had a small repair chore to do for my Dad, and stepped out into a shed, attached to the back of the old, frame house, with a work area in it.
I was standing close to the house outer wall, with a file and screwdriver in my hands. Suddenly, there was a loud bang, and my head and shoulders stung from small impacts. I thought at first that a two-bulb, 4-foot fluorescent light fixture had exploded in the cold….but no, I still had light.
I turned, and there was a head-sized hole in the wall, right beside my head. I could see my brother inside, with the shotgun in his hands, and a dismayed expression on his face. By the time I’d left home, I’d acquired almost 300 hours of gun-handling and safety training. Not so my brother, and his gun-toting friends.
He just HAD to know how the gun operated, and inserted a shotgun shell. Apparently the gun had a 6-inch split, at the back of the barrel. Instead of cocking, as the bolt was raised, it allowed the cocking cam to slip out of a groove, machined into the barrel, and hang up on the barrel’s rear edge. When the bolt was pushed forward, it stretched the firing spring, and when the bolt was cranked down, to lock it, the cam snapped back into its slot, and suddenly flew forward, firing the gun.
A couple of fortuitous degrees of angle, or inches of difference in where he, and I, were standing, were the only things that prevented me from becoming a Wisconsin Swiss-Cheese-Head. The gun’s vendor had not wanted to lose a sale by mentioning the flaw, but had to refund my money, and got a good blast from both me and my Dad. My brother never did end up owning a gun, and it’s probably just as well.
Do any of you have an almost-died story that you wish to share? This is not my only one. My brother also almost drowned the both of us one time. 😯 I’m alive and safe now, and look forward to hearing from you again soon.