AT the range shooting the 10MLII Pacnor conversion to a 45. Load the gun, set it in the bags and one of the shooters decided to go check a target and turned on the warning lights. While we were waiting another shooter came over and asked what I was shooting in a muzzleloader that didn't blow smoke. I explained what it was, the range went hot, and I picked the gun up out of the bags and loaded a second charge. I became distracted by the conversation and completely forgot I loaded the gun. Thank God for the mark when the ramrod stopped short I knew what I had done. Started shooting the MZ when I was 17 so in 21 years this was the first time for a double load, and hopefully the last. Best case I would have damaged a barrel with exactly 26 shots through it and it could only have gone downhill from there. I guess this just proves if you do this long enough there are 2 kinds of people, one who has double loaded and one who will.
Then I kissed and thanked all my fingers for still being there, backed out the breach plug, dumped the powder for the first charge, and went home for the day. I had to tap both bullets out with an aluminum rod and cleaned the gun.
A couple moths ago I started using a white paint Hobart metal pen for marking the rods. One mark for empty, one mark for when the bullet is seated. if you change the load you can get it off and make a new mark without etching the rod.
Post by lakeplainshunter on Dec 29, 2014 14:04:51 GMT -5
I always put electrical tape over the muzzle, even at the range, to know that it is loaded. I have people come over to me at the range and ask me why there is tape on the muzzle. Just something that I started doing to try to minimize the potential for a double loading. I have the ramrod marked also.
I live in the country and have a range in my back yard and often friends ask for assistance in sighting in rifles etc. I don't like to do any shooting when guests are around and I devote my time to helping and spotting. I often have to help with scope adjustments and even shooting the weapon for them to tighten up the groups. Needles to say I do a lot of testing at my range with centerfires and now smokeless muzzle loaders and I never like shooting with others around as I find it distracting while I am shooting and recording the results. But I absolutely refuse to do any muzzle loader shooting/testing with anyone else around. I will not even answer my phone as I have had several times where I lost track of where I was etc. I am constantly testing and it the part I really enjoy so I have a lot going between various combinations and running a chronograph and recording all the data, hence it does not take much in terms of a distraction. Many of my guests are accuracy by volume and just play good host to them and enjoy my range the way I like to: slow and methodical, with a purpose and always learning................with a smile.
I always thought it strange that so many people did not use witness marks, then it occurred to me that most of them have grown up in the "substitute" black powder era!
When I started shooting MLs 90% were shooting real BP and Pyrodex was just a small but growing number. I had it drilled in my head that probably the worst thing you could do ( except load smokeless ) was to short start a bullet over BP as you had made a bomb!
To shoot without a witness mark and making sure the bullet was down EVERY TIME even if you had to pound it with a mallet was unthinkable to me...times have changed.
Edge, I started out the same way patch and ball with black powder on an old TC with a set trigger. The first thing the guy that taught me was the witness mark and fully seating the bullet. Times have changed, thankfully from the days of cleaning with hot water after every time out shooting!
I had a bad one about 6 years ago. I was testing some loads in a .270 for an upcoming elk hunt. I was using my chronograph and in order to make sure the screens where properly aligned I was using a lazer bore sighter in the muzzle. I would hold a pizza box for the lazer to shine against to assist in getting things aligned. Well long story short, I forgot to remove the bore sighter before firing the first round. I survived with only a small scratch on my left middle finger where one of the three "petals" of the barrel cut me. I was very lucky and a nice rifle was destroyed. I no longer use a lazer to align a screen style chronograph. I pull the bolt and look whenever possible and for the most part I now use a magnaspeed.
Now let me get to the meet of the topic here, i.e. witness marks. After my incident with the .270 I am all over having, using, insisting on witness mark. Just a couple of weeks ago I was testing loads in my Savage when my cell phone rings. I don't answer it but I do take it out to check who it is..........................that was just enough of a distraction. I went back to what I thought I was doing and put a primer in my now loaded rifle and proceed to to shoot. Click, nothing, open bolt, remove a dented primer. Huh, like my first misfire so I repeat with the same result. What the? So not knowing exactly what was going on I grabbed the witness rod to check as I am thinking maybe the load moved and I better check before doing anything else. Well the witness rod told the story as I was able to put it in just a couple of inches. I had just finished seating the bullet/load with my starter when I got the aforementioned phone call. In that momentary distraction my mind had shifted from having started the load to the rifle was loaded, except I had failed to seat the load all the way home. I was fortunate in that the load did not ignite and I was able to fix the problem, no harm no foul.
I convey this embarrassing story so others can learn from it. It just took that one little distraction (cell phone ringing) and me looking at my phone to disrupt my routine. Needless to say It scared me and I have even more resolve to not allow distractions and I have revamped my "routine" in that once I start the loading process I continue until I have the weapon loaded. It goes back on the rest, bolt open, no primer. I also use electrical tape on my muzzle loaders when they are loaded for hunting. I know if there is tape over the muzzle that weapon is loaded. I also run a separate rod for each weapon with the appropriate witness mark on it. I think one of the potentially dangerous things about muzzle loading, particularly at this level, is that we pay so much attention to the little details like indexing the bullet, taping the charge down on the breech plug and consistent loading pressure that it becomes easier to breeze through some of the rest and the brain jumps forward, as mine did.