I’ll never forget the experience – it had to be the dumbest thing I ever did while growing up. As a teenager I enjoyed taking things apart – mostly electronics – exploring the tubes, capacitors and resisters, then soldering any loose connections. A chemistry kit also was fun, creating a lot of smoke and once firing a homemade rocket a few feet off the ground. A long extension cord was used for ignition with a small strand of copper wire across the ends, which glowed red hot and once blew a fuse in our home. I also enjoyed shooting with either a bow and arrow or a 22. The nearby woods offered plenty of targets.
I never owned a shotgun. The shells were out of my budget and it was not the kind of gun that a kid would normally have, at least in our area. But one day, at the shooting range, I found a red 12-gauge shotgun shell lying in the dirt – it had not yet been fired. I remember rolling it in my hand with fascination, considering the power and danger that was contained within the rigid shiny wrapper. The more I studied it, the more I wondered what it looked like inside…
Soon I was standing at dad’s workbench, slowly tightening the small vice around the red cylinder. Very carefully, with a knife, I pried open the crimped end and removed a piece of padding. I tapped the shell lightly and watched the tiny beads of shot roll out. Peering inside I could see nothing. It appeared empty. I knew there was powder, so I prodded at the inside eventually loosening a second pad. Again I tapped the side and out came a small pile of powder. Now it was empty for sure.
I stared at the metal cap on the end of the shell – the part that the firing pin would contact to make the explosion – which was undented. I looked at the shot and the powder which had been emptied out on the bench and figured that I had done a thorough job. There was nothing left to explode…just one small cap.
Alongside my dad’s screwdrivers was an ice-pick. Still focusing on the shiny round cap, I lifted the pick and positioned the point like a firing pin against it. With my right hand I held the hammer. It was a small work room with one window and I had closed the door to keep the experiment private. So far, everything had gone well, and I had no reason to suspect any problem with disarming the little cap. I had played with paper caps, striking them with the same hammer on the cement floor. No big deal.
Very lightly at first, I tapped the pick handle…nothing… perhaps it had gotten wet, I thought, or would not work without the powder.” …but before giving up, I lined up the point again – right on the center – and, with the hammer, gave it a good whack!
I had never thought about the benefit of normal hearing until that moment, when suddenly such a loud blast came that everything else was utterly blocked out. My ears not only rang but experienced deep penetrating pain. The only comparison I could make was a cherry bomb – one of the most powerful firecrackers we could buy – exploding two feet away, something that had never before happened. This had to be worse. It was much later in the day before my hearing returned, and I began to meditate upon my stupidity.
Now that I’m a little older, I’ve learned how to avoid some of the dangers that I used to flirt with, but I still retain my curiosity about how things work. That can be a good thing as long as we’re careful – and get some good advice before looking into anything new. Every now and then my ears still ring, which I guess is a reminder.
Enjoy wisdom, and if you like a good adventure, check out my recently published novel, The Ninth Generation (www.TheNinthGeneration.com). It just may satisfy your curiosity about the Genesis giants.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
Read more articles by John Owens or search for articles on the same topic or others.
I really enjoyed reading this , having grown up in the country and being around guns and shotgun shells. Sounds so reminencient of thigs my brothers have done. You made me laugh witch is always a good thing!