A Response on Safety Regs

Here is a letter we received after posting the suggested safety rules. Jim Glover makes sense... 

Dear Friends;
         Thank you for posting the event safety regulation ideas.  However, one word of caution:  as some event planners will be using this article to help with their event (as they well should), it is important note that they, by and large, are NOT familiar with the ins and outs of what we do.  Please understand that I am not trying to badger or discredit what you are doing; I believe it to be very important.  I also believe very strongly that we must guide those who will make rules for us to follow, or we will suffer the consequences.   
         These fine folks may not realize, for example, that a burr or two on a screw-head is common and to be expected on guns in fairly constant use. 
         Many rifles, pistols and muskets, being flintlock and fitted with locks by L&R or other quality makers, cannot be fitted with flash guards (are flash guards really a necessity anyway -- they were not common issue during the period in question).  Due caution during an event cures more evils than any device ever has or will. 
         From a gunsmithing point of view, do we really want to go around suspending arms by their triggers?  The sear is really not designed to repeatedly hold the weight, nor is the trigger itself, the triggerplate or the half-cock notch.  Remember, the half-cock is not a substitute for a safety; many original locks did not have a half-cock notch.  Our best bet for flintlock safety is a frizzen cover (hammerstall) and caution.  For percussion shooters, it's down to caution.  (I'm rather biased on the subject of relying on the half-cock as a safety, as I lost an eardrum that way.)
         Also, please define a "hair trigger"; a reasonable weight of pull might be suggested.  While we don't need any accidental discharges due to being jarred during action, neither do we want someone at an event to arbitrarily decide that what has worked for years is suddenly not good enough. 
         This extends into our own numbers:  At a recent event, I ran across a "safety officer" whom we all know and love well who did not know how to operate set triggers.  Had I and the men around me not been able to satisfactorily (and quickly) demonstrate how things worked, we might have been disqualified.  A little knowledge goes a long way.  If our safety officers do not have the knowledge they ought, what are we to expect of outsiders arbitrarily appointed to keep us in line?
         While a gunstock should be in good enough repair so as not to disintegrate in the heat of battle, the barrel is far more important.  It takes far less than obvious cracks or visible stress to cause major damage.  In our group, we require that any arm to be used with blank loads be able to handle the pressures of live fire -- and we have been known to put it to the test. 
         I notice the regs say little about original arms, except where it is noted that only replicas will be allowed.  Interesting.  Why?
         Our sport, hobby, infatuation, or whatever you want to call it, is by its very nature hazardous.  We all know, recognize, and accept that fact.  We have not the right to subject anyone else to the hazards we readily bring upon ourselves and, generally, we go pretty far out of our way to ensure the safety of outsiders (even to the point of putting ourselves in greater danger).  Rules are needed; in the world in which we live, they are indespensible in allowing us to retain all that we own. 
         Let's be involved in the rules that govern us, but let us also maintain all the self-regulation we are able.  One way to do this is for each club, group, unit, organization, whatever, to have its own safety rules included in its bylaws.  This makes everyone a bit more comfortable with following rules and ensures that everyone knows what the rules are.  Eventually, I'd like to see a standardized set of safety regs to be adopted by everyone, but I'm not holding my breath. 
         Also, we must start doing things by unit.  Divide and conquer works well, and is at work in our sport.  If  the organizations decide to boycott an entity, yet the individuals go ahead and make concessions, we have made no progress.  If the organizations decide to support an entity based on past performance, the club members (individuals) need to follow -- they have a say in what the group does, anyway.  Remember, there is a reason we are involved in groups in the first place. 
         OK.  I'm done.  Thanks for the opportunity to soapbox.  I am proud of what you're doing; I just think we need to keep a very close eye on what outsiders are doing with our activities. 

J. Glover

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