Here’s a topic I have not gone into yet because feelings on both sides of the coin run deep and strong. But, like it or not, firearms are a part of life and they will not ever go away. I’ll cover some simple aspects of firearms and then we’ll talk about alternatives. Always remember that sometimes the right tool for the job will be the only tool for the job and firearms are really just another tool, complete with dos and don’ts.
The first thing I should tell you is that I grew up with a Ruger 10/22. It was just a standard model and had none of today’s fancy trappings and such. I’ll be honest with you here. I used it for plinking and not for hunting. I did shoot a bird once and actually felt bad about it, mostly because it was an accident.
That leads me to the most important thing about ANY weapon – safety. Always, always, always learn the dangers of any weapon, even before you purchase it. Two major points right off the bat: never point a weapon at someone unless you actually intend to use it; never put your finger on a trigger until you intend to squeeze it.
I have not forgotten that the title here is “Alternatives to Firearms”. I suggest that almost every person or group should have a small caliber rifle and a shotgun. That said, I no longer own a firearm. Besides knowledge of how to trap, my primary weapon is a slingshot. It is a high quality device that will shoot just about anything from steel balls to rocks to arrows.
Slingshots are just one of the alternative options. It all depends on what you want or need to do with this particular tool. If you are using it for hunting, you could also choose a bow and you have many choices there also. There are long bows, short bows, compound bows, rifle style crossbows and pistol style crossbows. Again the type you choose depends on the intended use – varmint or rodent disposal, small game or large game.
Another option for rodents and some of the smaller game is the blowgun. I have never used one myself but they can be effective if used properly. They are certainly not intended for long range shots but rather for more ‘up close and personal’ type hunting, like my slingshot.
This brings me to throwing weapons such as knives, hatchets, spears, bolos and the like. All of these are also more for close range hunting and for personal protection but they can and are every bit as dangerous as a pistol or a rifle. So, I will reiterate – safety, safety, safety! Never allow any living thing in front of you while practicing and always pay attention to the whereabouts of everyone around you. Also, I always suggest taking a course in the use and safety of any weapon you choose.
A safety course would have prevented my bird shooting accident. I was walking through the woods and did things that I shouldn't have done. One; my gun was loaded and cocked but NOT locked. Two; I had my finger on the trigger. Three; at that moment, my gun was more important to me than those around me. Here’s the situation: I was walking through the woods with a friend looking for a place to shoot. I tripped and fell forward. I actually landed on my face with my rifle in my hands above my head pointed straight up. As I hit the ground, because I did not discard my gun and because I had my finger on the trigger, it fired and shot a bird out of the tree above me, which proceeded to land on my back. It was not a good situation.
I tell you this because I don’t want you to make the same mistake. I could have just as easily shot my friend. Accidents happen but if we follow the safety guidelines, most of them can be avoided. We’ll cover firearms – rifles, pistols and shotguns - and their safety in a future post.