In a couple of weeks, many young Lowcountry residents will wake up and excitedly discover that they have received a BB gun. Maybe it’ll be the Daisy Red Ryder made famous in the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story,” and like with young Ralphie, it’ll be his first weapon.
Ralphie was warned numerous times in the film that “you’re going to shoot your eye out”, a warning that has resonated with me ever since I saw the film.
Long before the movie was made, I got my first BB gun for Christmas. And while I didn’t take out my eye, or anyone else’s eye, I did injure a cousin. He must have been 6 years old and the shot that hit him in the knee pierced the skin. The BB remained embedded in his knee for the rest of his life.
My parents came from large families, so there were a lot of cousins out playing and the adults were somewhere else. In other words, no supervision. And he had received minimal instruction in gun safety. Needless to say, I immediately lost my BB gun privileges for an extended period and learned an important lesson.
So if your child gets their first BB gun for Christmas, you also need to make sure your child understands and learns about gun safety.
Daisy, the manufacturer of the Red Ryder and numerous other air rifles, offers a list of airgun safety rules:
• Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. There are several safe “transports” depending on the situation. Never allow the muzzle to be pointed in the direction of a person.
• Treat each weapon as if it were loaded. You can never be sure that you were the last person to handle the weapon. Never take anyone’s word for whether or not a gun is loaded. Always check a gun to see if it is loaded when you take it out of storage or receive it from someone else.
Even if you have fired an airgun one or more times and no pellets or BBs have been ejected from the barrel, this does not mean that the gun’s magazine is empty of ammunition. Any air gun can fail to feed for a variety of reasons. Continue to treat the gun as if it were loaded and ready to fire. Always treat a gun as if it is loaded even if you know it is not.
• Only load or cock a gun when you are shooting. A loaded gun has no place in your home or anywhere else.
• Check your target and beyond your target. Make sure everyone is well away from the target area before firing. Check behind and beyond your target to make sure you have secure support and that no people or property could be in danger.
• Anyone shooting, or near a shooter, should wear shooting glasses. Also, all other people should stay behind the shooter.
• Never climb or jump with a gun. You cannot control the direction of the muzzle if you trip or fall. You must safely put your weapon down or hand it to a teammate while climbing or jumping over anything.
• Avoid the rebound. Never shoot on a flat, hard surface or on the surface of water. Ammo can bounce off water like a skipped rock.
• Keep the muzzle clean. Don’t let anything obstruct the muzzle of a gun. Do not let the muzzle contact the ground.
• Weapons not in use should always be unloaded. Keeping guns unloaded when not in use is critical to your safety and the safety of others. When you have finished firing, place the trigger safety in the “on” position and unload the weapon. Store firearms in a manner that is inaccessible to untrained shooters and store ammunition separately from the firearm.
• Respect the property of others. Whether you’re target shooting or hunting, if you’re a guest on other people’s land, you should leave it exactly as you found it.
The SC Department of Natural Resources offers hunter education courses and completion of one of the classes is required for anyone who wants to acquire a hunting license who was born after June 30, 1979.
In-person classes are recommended for youth at least 10 years of age accompanied by a parent, while a person must be at least 12 years old to take the online hunter education class. A central point of these classes are the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety, and these apply to everyone, even young people shooting a BB gun for the first time.
The Student Angler League Tournament Trail (SALTT) held a make-up tournament Dec. 3 at the Carrol Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.
Redfish Division Winners: Elementary – Finn Clark, Georgetown, big fish, 4.33 pounds; Mase Altman, Georgetown, big fish, 1.62 pounds.
Middle School: Chandler and Robert Pearce, Lowcountry Prep, two fish, 7.82 pounds, including large fish of 3.59 pounds; Ayden Rouhselang and Aden Day, Conway, two fish, 6.80 pounds; Bryant Poston, two fish, 3.75 pounds.
High School – Cubby Weaver, Georgetown, two fish, 9.01 pounds, including large fish of 4.80 pounds; Chappell Miller, Georgetown, two fish, 8.69 pounds; Ashton Rouhselang, Conway, two fish, 8.35 pounds.
Bass Division Winners: Elementary – Eli Norris, Loris, big fish, 2.23 pounds; Benjamin Norris, Loris, big fish, 1.77 pounds; Charlie Proctor, Conway, big fish, 1.49 lbs.
Middle School – Tucker Howard, Andrews and Wilson Hewitt, Georgetown, five fish, 10.76 pounds, including large fish of 3.54 pounds; Eli Carroll and Sawyer Jordan, Conway Middle, five fish, 10.53 pounds; Mack Hardee and Jackson Smalls, Whittemore Park, five fish, 7.90 pounds.
High School – Bryson Gerald, Conway, five fish, 7.16 pounds; Kyle Cook and Fisher Gallup, Waccamaw, five fish, 6.94 pounds; Riley Harrington and Reece Barrineau, Andrews, five fish, 6.69 pounds.
The next SALTT tournament is February 25 at the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex. Visit salttfishing.com for more information.