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The Last Gun You'll Ever Need

Advice for the Shooter

Are you one of the lucky ones who received a new turkey gun for Christmas? Did all of those hints and promises that “This is the last gun I'll ever need,” convince someone that it really is the last gun you'll ever need or want? If so, I'm sure your first thoughts are to get out and shoot it, if you haven't already done that, regardless of pouring rain, snow or any of many discouraging atmospheric conditions.

Now I certainly don't want to discourage you from shooting and enjoying that last new gun you'll ever own but I would like for you to consider a few ideas.

Even if the man behind the counter told you, or whoever purchased that gun for you, to just go home and shoot it, I'd encourage you to take some time to thoroughly clean it.

Manufacturers have no way of knowing how long a gun may set in some warehouse, back room or store rack. They can't know what the temperature or humidity will be or how often those conditions will change. For that reason, most will use grease and oil very liberally, sometimes inside and out on your gun.

Grease is an excellent preservative but it can also collect lots of “gunk” that comes from shooting. There are all kinds of things that can become a part of the gunk that will, if left undisturbed, one day cause a problem with your gun. I won't try to list all of the possible problems but maybe if you think of one that would ruin your day, that will be enough.

STOP HERE. Please make sure your gun is unloaded and all ammo is in another place, not even close to you or your gun.

So, with owner's manual in hand, I recommend that you disassemble your new gun to the extent recommended  and begin to clean off and out the packing grease that's on and in your new gun. At first you may be able to remove a lot with some dry rags or paper towels but at some point you'll need a solvent. I've been using PrOlix for the past year for this process and it works very well. When you're finished, it also leaves a dry lubricating film to prevent rust and lubricate moving parts. Be sure to lubricate any moving parts that you owner's manual recommends.

Please consider this process as a part of pride of ownership and familiarization with your new gun. Get to know it, how it works and how the “internals” look. That knowledge can pay dividends down the road.

Fire control units, hammers and bolts need special attention, as does the chamber area, the chamber itself and finally the bore. Remove the grease and oil and then I recommend that you take a few minutes to read “Cleaning a Shotgun Barrel” http://allaboutshooting.com/articles.php?tPath=39  This is a simple procedure that will take a little time but very little in the way of money but will yield excellent dividends.

If you' gun is to be stored for a while, it's a good idea to lightly oil the chamber and the bore. If your bore and chamber are chrome-plated, you may skip this step. Be certain that any bore or chamber lubrication is removed, prior to firing.

Once you've put everything back together, if you're gun is blued, take few moments to lightly oil the exterior. If it's camo-finished, just make sure everything is wiped down and dry.

Take a few moments to enjoy your work, look your shotgun over to make sure you've not missed anything and that you've removed all excess oil or cleaners from the exterior.

Now's the time to become familiar with all the workings of your gun. With all ammo still away from you and in a safe place, check the chamber and the magazine, just to make sure it's empty and then proceed to “rack the slide” or whatever process is necessary to cock the gun. With the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, even though you know it's unloaded, dry fire your shotgun. Dry firing is a very inexpensive and productive way to improve both the smoothness of your trigger pull and help to break-in all the parts of the fire control unit.

If you're a turkey hunter and use a shotgun more like a rifle, a slow steady trigger squeeze or press is very important. The more you practice this slow, steady trigger squeeze or press, the more your muscle memory will improve and the more likely you are to use that same process when that gobbler of a lifetime is out in front of you.

If you can practice your trigger work for some time as often as possible, you're shooting will improve. Dry fire will not cause you to flinch, you'll establish excellent muscle memory and shooting that way will become very natural to you. I must emphasize however the importance of doing this in an area where no ammo is available and only after checking the chamber and magazine to make sure no shells are present. Even after all of that, be aware of what's in front of your muzzle and keep all the same safety practices that you would with a loaded gun.

Many years ago I met a young man who as a sophomore in high school had the attention of every college basketball scout in the state. Frankly, I hardly ever saw him anywhere out of school when he did not have a basketball in his hands. I knew his dad and asked about that. He said from the time he was very young, he'd always wanted to play basketball and kept one with him when he was at home. He'd hold it if he watched television and it was his constant companion, even when he went to bed.
That young man went on to a fantastic college career, setting many scoring records in both high school and college and today is an outstanding coach.

Now, I'm not advocating that you keep your shotgun in your hands at all times and certainly not suggesting that you sleep with it but the more time you spend handling it and becoming familiar with how it works and feels, the more it will become a part of you. When that big bird, or clay pigeon or whatever else in front of you, the more likely it is that you'll hit it just from the practice you've done with dry firing.

Good luck and congratulations again on getting “the last gun you'll ever need.”



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