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Summer of Love and the Love of Summer

This photograph was taken with a professional rider, under controlled circumstances. It’s also a great visual metaphor for how to make a trip to the ER with reckless behavior.


July is here.  Summer is here. Summer is, and to be fair, spring, too, the season for outdoor recreation. It’s also the season for long waits at the emergency room should you find yourself in need of such services. I live in a rural area. Just a few miles north and east of my little community is a large swath of national forest that has a nice network of trails where people can ride dirt bikes, all terrain vehicles, side-by-sides, and Jeeps. 


With powersports there is always a risk of injury. I am often reminded of this when I see the helicopter fly in from the nearest trauma center and angled towards the Ozarks northeast of me. This usually happens on late Saturday evenings. I know, this is a long way from airguns, but be patient. I’ll get there in a second. 


The outdoors and the freedom people feel there is liberating.  You let your hair down, so to speak. While illegal, it is also clearly obvious that a good percentage of the accidents that occur on this trail network are alcohol related. I’m no stranger to “gripping it and ripping it” on a dirtbike or quad, but, especially now as I get closer to the big 50, I’m more and more aware of my limits and how letting it all hang out can lead to a very expensive helicopter ride.


Don’t Let Your Guard Down


“The real gold is south of 60 [degrees]. Sitting in living rooms, stuck facing the boob-tube. Bored to death! Bored to death, Tyler!! How do you beat boredom, Tyler? Adventure!...” (Never Cry Wolf)


The outdoors and all the activities that happen there really are fun. Work is a drag. Adulting is such a drag. Paying the bills is stressful and people of all ages need to get out and play, or as Dr. Stephen Covey put it, “Sharpen the Saw”. It’s healthy to get out and do the things you enjoy.   


However, it was the sight of the sky ambulance recently that sent my weird mind down this thought path. One of the things the shooting community does well is operating with and around guns in a safe manner.  This isn’t always the case when you get away from sanctioned shooting events or monitored ranges. 


I think it is safe to say that we have all seen people, or even through our own ignorance been that person, who has acted in an unsafe manner. Thank God for grace and the 4 Rules of Gun Safety.


Know the Rules 


Hitting the range is great family fun, just keep the 4 Rules of Gun Safety in mind!

I know not everyone is born a leader, but everyone can be taught the 4 Rules of Gun Safety. It is one thing to know the rules but it is another thing to put them into practice. Learn these rules. Demonstrate these rules every time you are around a gun of any type, even when you are alone. So what are the 4 Rules of Gun Safety?  Glad you asked.


  1. All Guns are Always Loaded.


  1. Never Point a Gun at Anything you Don’t Want to Kill or Destroy


  1. Keep Your Finger Off of the Trigger Until you are Ready to Shoot


  1. Know Your Target and What is Beyond it.


These rules are not complicated. They are not even hard to remember. More importantly, for the safety of all the people around you and yourself, it is OK for you to call out a stranger for breaking these rules. It’s also very OK to vacate the premises if said stranger ignores the admonishment.  

It is worth walking away from such a risk.


Be Prepared


The author’s backpack with two military surplus IFAK bags attached. The camo bag on top has first aid essentials and the tan bag on the bottom has clotting agents, chest seals, foldable splint, and extra gauze bandages.


Whether you are canoeing, hiking, riding quads, shooting, or just chilling, are you prepared for an injury or other emergency situation? The medicine cabinet at your house is a good place to start, but you can’t take the cabinet with you when you are away from the house. 


A first aid kit is really easy to put together yourself.  Yes, there are plenty of off-the-shelf kits and they are wonderful, easy solutions to solve this problem. Some can be very expensive, depending mostly on the bag system used to contain the items and some of the contents of the kit. Whether you buy a complete kit or build your own, here’s some essentials to consider:


  • Triple Antibiotic Cream

  • Adhesive Bandages, multiple sizes

  • Butterfly Bandages

  • Athletic/Surgical Tape

  • Gauze Pads

  • Gauze Rolls

  • Acetaminophen 

  • Ibuprofen

  • Trauma Shears

  • Instant Ice Pack

  • Burn Cream

  • Insect Sting/Antihistamine Cream

  • Anti-Diarrheal

  • Alcohol Wipes

  • Tweezers

  • Latex/Nitrile Gloves


A more advanced* kit might add some of the following:


  • Clotting Agent

  • Chest Seal

  • Tourniquet

  • Water Purification Tablets

  • C-Splint

  • Second-Skin/Blister Treatment

  • Emergency Blanket

  • Electrolyte Drink Mix


*Use of advanced first aid equipment needs to be accompanied with training. Contact your local American Red Cross or Sierra Club Chapter for more information about first aid training courses. 


Having a first aid kit is laudable. Having more than one kit is much better, though.  It is especially important to have one kit that can go with you easily and one, more comprehensive kit that can stay with your vehicle. I have compromised on this by attaching a fairly comprehensive kit that is attached to the bag I carry with me daily.


Lock Them Up!


 This safe will fit most rifles and won’t break the bank to do it. 


Part of being a responsible adult is taking responsibility for your stuff. There are any number of scenarios where your stuff gets into the wrong hands. Don’t make it easy for this to happen.  Yes, locks are only good for keeping honest people honest, but a lock, best yet, a lock on a good steel box to keep your valuables a little safer is essential today. 


This is becoming more important as some communities are passing “safe-storage” laws that punish gun owners if their gun is stolen or otherwise used or discovered not “stored safely”. While the necessity of safe storage laws is (very) debatable, what is not debatable is the wisdom of keeping certain things out of reach of kids. 


I know, there are some kids that really know their way around adult-type stuff.  My kids are good examples of this. I taught them early about gun safety, demonstrated safe handling in front of them, and let them experience all sorts of guns as they were growing up. Still, I didn’t leave my gear just lying about. It wasn’t fancy or big, but I had a safe where my guns were stored. Make an investment that will protect you and your family. 


Get out and enjoy this summer. Have fun. Enjoy time with your family, especially if you have kids.  As a dad who has two grown kids now, I can testify that they grow up way too fast. But in all of the fun in the sun keep your wits about you and be prepared for the worst. 



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