Since my unforeseen early return from Africa at the onset of the travel bans and COVID, and during my self-isolation, I began to watch more and more hunting and shooting shows online and from various streaming sources.
I found a lot of it enjoyable and found some good hunting shows. Some of the hosts even talked about the ability to air the episodes even if they didn’t have a successful hunt. While there are a lot of decent quality programs out there, I did see some that had questionable practices.
I assumed at the beginning that some of the practices were just chalked up to inexperience, but when I started seeing these activities more and more, I was disappointed for a variety of reasons. I am referring to shows that are considered industry leaders. Without a doubt, people who should know better. There were a variety of issues ranging from possibly illegal to unsafe. The ones I want to talk about in this article are the improper use of firearms and equipment, and these could easily morph into possible safety concerns. If young or new hunters and shooters watch these shows and consider these actions as correct, it could have very negative effects.
One of the incidents that I observed was a hunter who had stopped on the trail and, while talking to the camera, put his rifle muzzle down in the dirt. This particular incident I would consider pure negligence, but it could quickly morph into a true safety issue. Resting a rifle or firearm on its muzzle can easily result in a plugged bore and, if not discovered prior to shooting, can lead to catastrophic damage to the firearm, and possible serious injury or death to the shooter and bystanders. Damage to the crown is another definite possibility from that scenario, which can affect accuracy of the rifle and the ability to cleanly and ethically kill game.
On another show I saw what I considered to be two major issues on firearm handling that I feel could lead to issues down the road. Both were related to the care and handling of the scopes that were mounted to their rifles in use. Rifle scopes are a precision-made optical device with a lot of engineering that go into them for proper function. They are not handles to carry the rifle by. There is no reason why anyone should carry a rifle or firearm by using the scope as a carry handle. It is manufactured to endure the recoil of the rifle and the vibrations that come with that, which are far different than what it will endure when being bounced up and down in someone’s hand. A quality scope will take abuse, don’t get me wrong, but there is no need to put the extra stress on the optic and mounting system.
On the same show, another hunter had stopped to glass on an opposing ridge/basin and in doing so he sat down to brace himself with his knees while he used his binoculars. All seemed good until he put his rifle down in the dirt and rocks upside down on top of the scope! The first point of contact to the ground was the top turret of the scope. Once again, why put the optic through that kind of treatment? Even if the improper placement wouldn’t affect the point of impact, the rocks could definitely scratch the scope’s anodizing, leaving unnecessary scratches and blemishes on the scope, not to mention the possibility of getting dirt and debris on the lenses of the scope. I thought it just wasn’t a very prudent move on the hunter’s part. These activities should have been edited out so they couldn’t possibly contaminate other hunters to think that this is acceptable usage.
We as shooters and hunters have the responsibility to show the upcoming users and even the non-hunters and shooters how to do things correctly, even if it is as something as small as looking after their equipment properly. If we focus on the small details, it will make our message seem more sincere.