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Doug Gardner




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 8:48 am    Post subject: Safety gear         Reply with quote

Excellent suggestions, Aaron! Here begins the discussion of safety gear:

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
...outer garment that is actually quite comfortable... a 570 Newton fencing tunic made by Triplette Competition Arms (aka Zen Warrior Armory) primarily for SCA fencing.
...
Also, a 3-weapon fencing mask is really pretty inexpensive, and fairly easy to deal with.
...
fencing gauntlets or swordsman's gloves, and you are pretty well protected from the mid thigh to the top of your head.

Add a decent pair of jeans and some boots, and you have a decent suit of modern armour. Won't prevent everything, but should eliminate or significantly minimize most stuff.


I'm thinking about splitting off the safety gear discussion into a separate thread. Before I do that I'll try to do a search to see if this has all been discussed previously.

Thanks for the ideas, Aaron.

--Doug

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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 9:00 am    Post subject: Re: Safety gear         Reply with quote

Doug Gardner wrote:
I'm thinking about splitting off the safety gear discussion into a separate thread. Before I do that I'll try to do a search to see if this has all been discussed previously.

Thanks for the ideas, Aaron.


Feel free to cut and paste this there, if you would like to do that, or I could repost, or one of the mods could split it off...

No problem. I think these items I mentioned can be had really inexpensively. Everyone already has some kind of decent footwear, though boots with good soles can be more pricey, and not in everyone's closet. Even so, a trip to the local WalMart could get you something pretty cheap if tennis shoes are a concern. The rest of the gear (tunic, mask, and gloves) can be had for a very reasonable amount, and is really durable if someone wanted to go this route - like $150 - $200 including shipping, which is a lot more affordable and infinitely easier to manage than a $4000 full harness that you need a squire to help you with (just in time to get the urge to pee... WTF?! ).

Funny thing about any type of "uniform" like this... I find myself focusing while dressing out, be it fireman's bunker gear, period armour, a martial arts ghi, or something like this fencing gear. I go through a mental prep and change my mental state, and find myself a lot more intent and attentive. It's a lot better than just nabbing a pool noodle and a sword on a whim, and hacking at it 10 seconds later.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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William Goodwin




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 9:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This has been a excellent thread. Since I'm hosting a cutting/gathering this week-end (with a few formites to be in attendence), it's good to keep these things discussed, in check and to keep us all mindful of the responsiblity to others and ourselves as to the great importance of safety issues.

Much thanks to all who have contributed to this vital issue.


Bill

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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It sounds like it would be a great time, Bill... wish I could be there.

Do us a favor, would you? After the event, let us know what you did, what went well (or, and I hate to even consider the possibility, what didn't), and any other ideas you folks come up with.

I'll have my Round Table the following weekend. Weather permitting, I plan on allowing cutting in the back yard. There will be a few who have had either little or no experience, so enforcing safety is very high on my list.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It would be great if I could afford something like this (or some kind of enclosure) for things like Round Tables:



That would keep spectators safe and keep noodles off the roof and out of the neighbor's yard, though the netting could cause more harm to the swordsman since any sword that got away could get caught on the netting and bounce around.

Happy

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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 10:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
That would keep spectators safe and keep noodles off the roof and out of the neighbor's yard, though the netting could cause more harm to the swordsman since any sword that got away could get caught on the netting and bounce around.


Something similar did cross my mind. As long as there was adequate clearance for a full swing in any direction to prevent the tip getting hung, it might be alright. Some looser netting like shrimp nets or fishing nets might be a better option than this tighter-woven stuff - would bind a sword and trap it rather than throw it back. Of course, then you have to untangle it... Bet it would be quite pricey, though... and a bit of work to rig and tear down. I have seriously considered either staking ropes to the ground to delineate boundaries, or literally build a rope barricade. If it's looking like I will have more than 2 or 3 interested in cutting, I may well do that. Wouldn't take but some twine and a half-dozen dowels... Won't protect against flying objects, but would control access/egress, and would provide a physical limit to force a safe distance.

I'm out in the country, so the yard is large enough that nothing will be a nuissance to the neighbors, but I can see in a more congested neighborhood where things getting on to other's property could be a nuissance.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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William Goodwin




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
It sounds like it would be a great time, Bill... wish I could be there.

Do us a favor, would you? After the event, let us know what you did, what went well (or, and I hate to even consider the possibility, what didn't), and any other ideas you folks come up with.

I'll have my Round Table the following weekend. Weather permitting, I plan on allowing cutting in the back yard. There will be a few who have had either little or no experience, so enforcing safety is very high on my list.


Will do Aaron. Forumites Chris Georner, Bill Grandy, Jason Elrod and Bob Busch are planned to show up, along with the local chaps. Maybe they can give their thoughts to the matter as well. Plus photos are sure to be posted, since this will essentially be the "Meeting of the 2 Bill G.'s". something we've been trying to do for some time now.

Bill
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Doug Gardner




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 11:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding the enclosure, I think something like a batting cage could be a good approach. After all, those are designed to absorb the energy and guide things to to the ground. The biggest danger I see with it is that a sword contacting the net might be deflected and make it difficult to predict where it is going. That could be bad for the guy inside. But, it may be more likely to stop it, dissipate its energy, and let it fall harmlessly o the ground. I'd be a bit worried about using a looser weave, because it wouldn't take much for a sharp sword to cut a few strands, and if it cuts enough of them the sword could pass right through, and in an unpredictable path. It'd probably take some testing to see what happens when a sword is hurled at different kinds of nets, and I don't intend to do that, personally! I also have this image in my head of a sword going through the weave point first, travelling all the way up to the guard (now you have a sharp pointy thing sticking 36" out of the enclosure) and then the whole side of the enclosure stretching several feet under its momentum. Still, that would be better than the sword whirling unhindered into the side of the house (or something else Eek! )

But, the biggest issue with any type of safety issue is compliance. The best safety gear on the planet is useless if it is sitting in a box in the garage. If the cost or inconvenience factor is too high, then it won't be used. $400 isn't exactly chump change, and I don't know how to deal with storage issues. My guess is that you would only want to use it when there is a group cutting event or there are bystanders. So, one of those in each region may be sufficient, as long as there is the means to efficiently get it to whoever needs it. 10 people contributing $40 each could buy it, but then you have to figure out who keeps it, where they keep it, who gets to use it and when, and how to get it to each weekend event. Also, those big metal poles worry me a bit! After all, it was hitting a pole that caused my accident!

Doug Gardner
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When my group gets together to do some cutting, we do set a few rules down. I like to talk to everyone first to make sure they understand first of all that a sword is a weapon that was used for centuries to kill, and to kill easily. I make sure that no one will "play" with the swords (i.e. no twirling the sword around, no "show off" moves, nothing but a reliance on form and technique). We make sure that only one person is cutting at a time, and that no one else is around. The cutting stand is away from everyone else, and away from a potential "projectile" sword should someone slip. We encourage people to take their time and to do practice swings before the real one. We also set aside another empty spot away from everyone should someone want to practice with a particular sword without a target to get a feel for it first.

After that it's about keeping safety awareness in the front of your mind and control. People often think I'm joking when I say this, but I'm actually afraid of sharpened swords. It's what keeps me from injuring myself or others, because I'm paranoid that someone's going to get hurt. Some might call this a healthy respect for the weapon. *shrug* Maybe. I still call it fear, because that's what it is, and hopefully it keeps me from doing something stupid, and from not seeing if someone else is doing something dangerous as well.

A perfect example: I teach both modern fencing and historical swordsmanship. For my historical swordsmanship classes I do many demonstrations with sharp swords, including demonstrating half-swording techniques with a sharp sword in my hand at full speed. I have never once cut myself on any of my swords. Despite that, I have cut myself quite a few times over the years handing out our rental foils to modern fencing students. The knicks and burrs manage to drag across my skin as I'm handing the sword over, and suddenly I've got a cut. Nothing serious, of course, but a cut nonetheless. It's kind of funny, but it illustrates an important point: Because I view the sword as a deadly weapon, my guard is up, and I don't get injured. Because I don't expect a foil to injure me, it catches me off guard. The same idea applies when doing cutting: If you take for granted that the sword can injure you, and injure you badly, you run the risk of being careless with it.
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry, but something you US guys are going to have to help me out with in vocabulary - what in god's name is a 'pool noodle' ? You keep mentioning it. I have this image of some giant piece of vermicelli floating in a swimming pool. What is this thing?

On the safety gear I think all of what's been said is sensible in going towards keeping people from injuring themselves. I assume we are only talking about individual cutting exercises here rather than bouts between individuals (just wanting to be sure because someone not a member and a novice might pick up parts of the thread out of context and make the error of assuming that what was discussed applied to people fencing or sparring).

I agree that 3-weapon masks could probably protect someone from objects deflected or broken fragments flying pretty well, though not designed for that purpose in the context we are discussing. People should also reflect on the fact that the top of fencing masks and the throat area are only protected with fencing in mind, i.e. not a massively strong cranial protection and only thick cloth on the throat and sides of the neck. If fencing gloves are used, would think specialist sabre gloves are better than conventional epee/foil versions: they are more padded and reinforced on the back of the hand. Also what hapens to the shins and lower leg ? : they would seem to be quite vunerable if someone is cutting by themselves. Ideally I guess you would need a statistical survey of the commonest injuries sustained in such exercises to construct a basis for protection.

I totally agree with the point above that donning one's gear put's you in a state of carefulness, be it safety care or consciousness that a match will begin. I always find putting on the fencing jacket and plastron and mask makes you appreciate that someone is now about to attack you with a piece of steel. The same would go for individual exercises I imagine. You make yourself conscious of the care that needs to be taken by making the preparations.

Daniel
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Parry wrote:
Sorry, but something you US guys are going to have to help me out with in vocabulary - what in god's name is a 'pool noodle' ? You keep mentioning it. I have this image of some giant piece of vermicelli floating in a swimming pool. What is this thing?


Yup, actually, not too far off. About 1.5 meters long, generally round, though can be octagonal, and made of closed-cell foam. About 8 - 10 cm in diameter, with a 2 cm hole through the center. Nice soft targets that give a feel for alignment, and don't damage the blade.

Daniel Parry wrote:
On the safety gear I think all of what's been said is sensible in going towards keeping people from injuring themselves...

I agree that 3-weapon masks could probably protect someone from objects deflected or broken fragments flying pretty well...


Positively correct. The intent wouldn't be to protect against a full-on attack, rather the glancing backlash in case something went incorrectly. It's likely more than I personally would regularly deal with, depending more fully upon a safe examination of the arena, and employing the safest behavioral approach.

Thanks for your comments and further clarification, Daniel!

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Doug Gardner




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Parry wrote:
Sorry, but something you US guys are going to have to help me out with in vocabulary - what in god's name is a 'pool noodle' ? You keep mentioning it. I have this image of some giant piece of vermicelli floating in a swimming pool. What is this thing?

Daniel


Daniel,

Aaron gave you a good description. Here's a link: http://www.9thtee.com/pooltoys.htm

--Doug

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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 12:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
A perfect example: I teach both modern fencing and historical swordsmanship. For my historical swordsmanship classes I do many demonstrations with sharp swords, including demonstrating half-swording techniques with a sharp sword in my hand at full speed. I have never once cut myself on any of my swords. Despite that, I have cut myself quite a few times over the years handing out our rental foils to modern fencing students. The knicks and burrs manage to drag across my skin as I'm handing the sword over, and suddenly I've got a cut. Nothing serious, of course, but a cut nonetheless. It's kind of funny, but it illustrates an important point: Because I view the sword as a deadly weapon, my guard is up, and I don't get injured. Because I don't expect a foil to injure me, it catches me off guard. The same idea applies when doing cutting: If you take for granted that the sword can injure you, and injure you badly, you run the risk of being careless with it.


Actually, Bill brings up 2 different points, both very good.

First is the issue of complacency - getting lulled into a false sense of security on routine stuff. In industry, complacency is a leading contributing factor to accidents. It's the every day, simple, routine stuff that bites us more often than the rare, complex stuff. I've done this a million times, never got hurt. I get complacent. I get lazy. I let my guard down. I skip a step. I don't wear my glasses, or my gloves. I find myself at the emergency room. I see it often enough... The potential for injury exists the first time and the millionth time you do something. When you are new at a task, your awareness is decent, but skills lacking. As time progresses, both increase. As things progress further, skill levels off, but awareness drops off. Give this stuff it's due respect and attention every time. Please.

The second is one of proper inspection of your tools. (Someone kick me for not bringing this up earlier - got complacent Worried ) Before you take a sword out to do anything with it - dry handling, cutting, sparring (with blunts or rebated weapons!!!), whatever - inspect them thoroughly. If there is something wrong or questionable, DON'T. Get the issue fixed, condemn the piece, or whatever. Every time the piece changes hands, give a quick visual and feel the grip and pommel. If there is any incident which causes one to question whether the piece is safe, fully inspect it again - for example, striking something unexpected, hard, or what have you.



Folks, in rereading this whole thread, I came to the feeling that it may seem as though I am preaching here. I suppose I may be, and I make no appology for that. Industrial safety and medicine is what I do, and this topic strikes me in a pretty serious place. It's actually because I sincerely care... I hate the thought of hearing about another incident that shouldn't have been.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Doug Gardner




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 12:59 pm    Post subject: Inspecting Equipment         Reply with quote

Bill and Aaron,

Idea Inspecting equipment. Yes, that definitely needs to be added to the list. I'm also surprised we haven't identified it before.

Not getting complacent is also important. I think we have that implied in several of the previous suggestions.

Oh, Aaron, for what it's worth, I don't think you're coming off sounding "preachy." Probably anyone with a scar or anyone who actually saw someone else get one would agree. To me, you simply sound passionate about trying to reduce injuries. A noble goal, in my mind! Frankly, anyone who doesn't share it to at least some degree really ought to consider a different hobby. Like maybe moth collecting or pillow wrestling... Laughing Out Loud

I do think, and I imagine everyone here would agree, that there is a line between healthy respect and irrational fear (or pathalogical paranoia). From where I'm sitting, I don't think anyone has crossed that line. I do expect that there will be a lot of variability in what individuals assume is appropriate caution. For example, here's a question that I believe there would be a wide range of answers for:

What do you intend to wear the next time you perform solo cutting exercises with sharp swords?
A) I never cut with sharps. It's too dangerous
B) Full harness. You never know what is going to happen
C) Full modern safety gear: mask, fencing jacket, gloves, heavy jeans and steel toed boots
D) Boots, jeans, and a heavy shirt.
E) Tennis shoes, shorts, and a t-shirt
F) Sandals and shorts. No shirt.
G) Sharp things scare me. I never go near them.

Doug Gardner
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 1:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Inspecting Equipment         Reply with quote

Doug Gardner wrote:
Aaron, for what it's worth, I don't think you're coming off sounding "preachy."


Thanks - I literally notice tension in my back, forehead, and shoulders thinking about this thread. I just didn't want to come off like a driving, raving ass - at least not without an explanation.

Doug Gardner wrote:
I do think, and I imagine everyone here would agree, that there is a line between healthy respect and irrational fear (or pathalogical paranoia). From where I'm sitting, I don't think anyone has crossed that line. I do expect that there will be a lot of variability in what individuals assume is appropriate caution.


Yup, I agree. Tailor your response to be appropriate, to fit well, and don't overcomplicate it. This has really been a great topic - lots of solid thought and respectful discussion. Thanks to everyone!

Doug Gardner wrote:
Here's a question that I believe there would be a wide range of answers for:

What do you intend to wear the next time you perform solo cutting exercises with sharp swords?
A) I never cut with sharps. It's too dangerous
B) Full harness. You never know what is going to happen
C) Full modern safety gear: mask, fencing jacket, gloves, heavy jeans and steel toed boots
D) Boots, jeans, and a heavy shirt.
E) Tennis shoes, shorts, and a t-shirt
F) Sandals and shorts. No shirt.
G) Sharp things scare me. I never go near them.


Wow... yeah, I'll have to give you a range just for me.

B - but more for the experience of doing so, with the safety aspect a nice bonus - can replace some of the usual stuff.
C - if I am going to do some combination work or atypical target work.
D - for the usual cutting practice. I may use tennies, though, as I get better footing than in boots.
E - for forms work where no striking is going to occur - not exactly what you asked, since you did inquire about cutting work.

E used to be my most common "uniform" but recently, I have begun to question that for myself. I've cut in less than F - no shoes. I do wear light fencing gauntlets about 1/3 - 1/2 the time while cutting, and 1/2 - 2/3 while doing form work. I like the feel of the gloves, but also a bare grip is nice. I have worn safety glasses if I were to be thrusting at targets or cutting water-filled targets. Set these in the sun for a while, and they can build up pressure... last thing I want is to be blinded mid-swing.

Bottom line, I suppose, is that I will evaluate what I intend to do, and select an appropriate level accordingly. For my Round Table, I think I am going to request pants and closed-toe shoes or boots. I have gloves if someone wants them.

When I spar, there is no excuse for not putting appropriate gear on. Period fencing gets the tunic, mask, gloves, a newly-secured blunt tip, and sometimes an additional gorget if we are going to be getting really aggressive. Sparring with blunt steel longswords or 1-handers gets heavily padded gloves or steel gauntlets and full armour. The last doesn't happen often.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 19 Jul, 2005 2:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On complacency: I've handled lots of sharps and cut with some of them, and the only time I've bled has been at my workbench. A bare blade clamped in a vise isn't less dangerous than a mounted blade in motion during a test cutting exercise. In fact, it may be more dangerous because one's hands are away from the blade when test cutting. My worst workbench injury came after complementing myself that I'd remembered to turn the edge of a falchion blade away from me while I did some filing on the false edge. Yes, I immediately rippped open a finger on the needle-like point of the blade.

I'm reminded of Mark Twain's famous quote on this general subject:

A youth who can't hit a cathedral at thirty yards with a cannon in three-quarters of an hour can take up an old empty musket and bag his grandmother every time at a hundred".

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug, 2005 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I learned something today: the Gaddhjalt is sharp.

I received the Albion care package for the Round Table this weekend. I unpacked the swords and scrubbed off a little shipping patina. The Gaddhjalt was leaning up against a dresser. As I was moving another sword, my bare foot bumped against the Gaddhjalt blade. I didn't think anything of it until I looked at my foot a few seconds later and saw blood welling up. No pain at all, but there was a little chunk of skin missing (don't worry, I found it on the Gaddhjalt blade WTF?! ).

Stupid me....

Should I have been moving swords around and leaning them against a dresser when barefoot? Of course not. If that had been something more vital on me or one of our cats, something much worse could have happened.

When you get casual about these weapons, bad things can happen. Lesson learned...

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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug, 2005 6:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad;

A case for CSI: Piece of skin on Gaddjalt ! Now to find the guilty party ........... maybe whoever did the sharpening at Albion. Razz

That's like suing the maker of the ladder for falling off ! ( It happens Laughing Out Loud )

O.K. I'm not showing the appropriate attitude in the above Sad

So here below I'll over compensate by saying it's only funny because nothing too serious happened but it could have.

( So I'm feeling guilty here, but couldn't resist teasing a bit. )

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Robert B. Allison




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Aug, 2005 10:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm enjoying this thread and learning a good deal in the process. While fairly new to swords (other than several quarters of fencing back in my college days circa 1967-68), I have done a good deal of shooting, hunting and competition with firearms over the years, including teach safety and handgun self-defense classes here in Montana. Chris Last's post relating the musket AD (accidental discharge) story made my blood run cold. One of the most basic, elementary rules about loading a muzzle loader is that you NEVER allow the muzzle to 'cover' any part of your body at any time, with the possible exception of the very tips of your fingers. You most certainly do not look down the barrel as you pour the powder charge or seat the projectile. Instead, you keep the muzzle angled away from your face/body at all times and observe from the side as you load. Many people have died over the years because of an ember remaining in the barrel and having the gun discharge.....quite frequently the cleaning/seating rod becomes the spear-like projectile in those instances, impaling the shooter. Not good.
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PostPosted: Fri 05 Aug, 2005 11:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
When you get casual about these weapons, bad things can happen. Lesson learned...


Ummm.... Chad, I would have thought that a little social learning from seeing the inside of my arm would have happened before that! Surprised

Would you classify the issue here as you were "just" unpacking them, so just didn't think about a level of safety that you would, otherwise? I know that I still somewhat carelessly handle them when I'm JUST moving, cleaning, etc. I think someone already made that point that swords should be treated the same as firearms. They should ALWAYS be handled as if they are loaded and ready to fire.

My cousin was in the special forces, and I learned a lot about firearm safety just from walking into his gun room. He had rules, and you had to know them and agree to them before you entered. The first was under what conditions the room could be unlocked. I've only hunted with him once, but I felt a lot safer with him than with some others. I had another friend who brought a 9mm handgun over to my house. We'd had a few beers, and he decided to get it out and start passing it around. It was unloaded, but nobody so much as checked the chamber! He was pretty indignant when I told him to put it away and not to bring it into my house again. I'm not against guns, but he broke my 2 primary gun rules, and I wasn't going to put up with that in my house.

Anyway, I'm glad it wasn't serious. Have a great time this weekend, and for heaven's sake... buy yourself a pair of SHOES! Wink

Doug Gardner
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