"A Harsh Reminder" or "One moment of inattention could have cost me an eye!"
I just want to share a little experience that reinforced the need for good safety practice at all times when dealing with guns/ammo.
I recently picked up a Savage model 720 automatic shotgun. This is my first auto loader so I did a little research and found some good diagrams and dis-assembly instructions before I proceeded to completely dismantle the gun for a thorough cleaning and inspection. After all, it is probably close to 70 years old.
Now, I ALWAYS wear safety glasses when doing any gun smithing or reloading. ALWAYS!!! Did I mention that I always wear safety glasses?
I had the gun torn down and cleaned. I inspected it for any obvious damage or extreme wear. I then started to reassemble the shotgun. There is a flat metal, bent leaf spring that operates the shell lifter. This may be common to all auto loaders but I would not know for sure. During dis-assembly this spring required a slight effort to remove. It wasn't difficult but it certainly did not just fall out.
It was right after I re-installed this spring that my cell rang and I spent a few minutes talking to my wife who had been out of town and was letting me know that she would be hitting the road for the return trip. While talking I put everything down, removed my glasses and stepped away from the bench.
When I finished on the phone I returned to my bench, reached for my glasses and simultaneously picked up the shotgun receiver. As the receiver rolled up into my hand I heard a "Sproing!" and watched in slow motion as the leaf spring exited the open bottom of the partially assembled shotgun and made a bee line for my face. I got my eyes closed a nano second before I felt the spring hit the bridge of my nose and the bottom of my left eye socket.
After dropping the shotgun and emitting a few choice phrases that would have scorched the paint if my shop were finished, I felt for the damage to my face and headed to a mirror. I had a small cut on the bridge of my nose and the spot directly below my eyeball was red but not broken. I wiped the blood off of my face and counted myself lucky.
About six hours later at the club Trap Shoot some one asked me "What the hell did you do to your eye?!". My left eye was extremely blood shot and there was a very angry looking bright red spot on the eyeball just below my iris. I wasn't as lucky as I thought.
This was few days ago and my eye has cleared up completely. I never felt any pain or discomfort in my eye and my vision was not effected at all at any time. I probably should have gone to the emergency room but it had already been a good while before I realized that there was any chance of serious injury.
Anyway, the point here is that even when we think we are being careful things can go bad quickly. Never get complacent.
ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SAFETY GLASSES!
That split second before I got my glasses back on was all it could have taken to have lost an eye.