Always be sure of your target

This includes what lies around and behind your target.

I had a young shooting friend pull me aside on Sunday morning to tell a story that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

His family owns one of the pieces of land we do quite a bit of prairie dog eradication on. There’s a 2 lane highway bordering the north side of the property we have to be very careful to shoot away from and parallel to, but to the east and south there is nothing. I mean NOTHING. To the west there is a neighbor at the bottom and south/southwest corner whose house sits up on a bit higher ground from this piece of their land with a small knoll dividing the two plots. We never shoot in that direction for any reason.

Apparently on Friday after school let out he and a couple of buddies grabbed their .22 rifles for a little plinking on the west side of their land. It’s all low lying with sure backstops in the few directions they were shooting.

Out of the blue one of the buddies hits the dirt. And I mean straight to the ground sprawled out prone. “I THINK SOMEONE IS SHOOTING AT US! I JUST FELT A BULLET WHIZ PAST MY HEAD!” Sure enough within just a few seconds each of the other boys heard the report then felt a bullet fly by or saw the dust kick up where it landed just past them. Now all three guys are in the dirt screaming for whoever is on the other side of the knoll to stop shooting.

Not knowing whether it was friendly ignorance or an ill-intended foe my buddy grabbed his cell phone and called his mom back at the house. She immediately phoned the neighbor only to find out he was shooting at prairie dogs with this .22 (without much success I might add) in the exact direction of their horse corral. Big no-no AND something he had promised previously that he had not done and would never do.

Because the three amigos are graduating seniors they found themselves out of school early with some time to kill. The neighbor, a 35 year old man by the way, evidently oblivious to his surroundings and the fact that not everyone was at school that afternoon thought he was home free to shoot in whichever direction he pleased. A direction he already knew to be unsafe due to livestock and horses in the approximate downrange vicinity.

Now the neighbor is a liar based on previous statements, an unsafe shooter, and perhaps worst of all: an absolute terrible shot.

In any case I’m thankful my young friend and his buddies are okay. Just a few inches one way or another and I might be preparing to officiate a funeral. Or three.

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