fresh air, mountain views and bullets

The area is full of gun nuts who are doing target practice. We had heard the firing far off last night, and on the drive in we saw some people in a little quarry-like cliff face area shooting stuff. But this morning we ended up downrange from some yahoos who weren't thinking too clearly, I guess.

At about 9 in the morning bullets began whizzing by our campsite. It was terrifying. For everyone else, this was how they woke up, which must have really sucked. Not a good way to start the day. I always wake up much earlier than anyone else, and I had gotten up 2 hours ago, made tea, and was hiking around within a few hundred yards of the campsite when the shots started. It was hard to tell exactly where they were coming from or how far away they were.

This morning was probably the closest I've ever been to the wrong side of gunfire. The sound of a bullet passing through air very close to you is really an amazing sound. It's not anything like the sound effects in movies, or rather, it is much much more. There is a strange little sound around the sound, around the simple zing - what I think is the sound of air being violently pushed aside, and vacuum being created behind the bullet. It's a sound that makes you imagine the turbulence patterns, the vector forces of air compacting a swirling around the metal projectile.

Anyway, I only experienced this after I got back to the camp, having concluded that the firing was far away and not in our direction. I returned to see my friends all ducked for cover behind logs and rocks and stuff. They yelled at me to get down, and when I heard more shooting I realized, yeah, the shots are coming up over the hilltop that we were on top of. It turns out that these dudes with 45s and all sorts of other shit had set up targets halfway up the hill and they were shooting up the slope at them. the ones that missed were zinging up over the hilltop. I swear one of us could have been killed.

We kept trying to yell at them, and eventually got the idea of honking the horn of one of the cars, but nothing seemed to help. Finally Jason and Bengt took the car and drove down to try to find these guys. It turns out that they were really nice and apologetic about it, and had not heard our shouting and honking because they had earplugs on. Of course.

Of course with movies like "Deliverance" in the collective concsiousness, some of my friends were really waxing horrific with possible ways the situation could have gone wrong, like the gunmen refusing to stop or just shooting Jason and Bengt or whatever. Too many people watching movies, mass media striking fear of our fellow man into our hearts. But I believe most of those people out there blasting bottles and paper targets are not evil, despicable people, they're basically good people, if perhaps a little unthinking, and if perhaps not the kind of folks I would hang out with. It was really just a case that these guys never considered the possible dangers of what they were doing. They were probably locals who come out there all the time and rarely see anyone camping on that hill. It just never crossed their minds.

I wonder how many accidental deaths occur every month nationwide from stupid accidents like that?