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Discussion Starter #1
I have seen three shotguns blow up, two within six days of each other. Looking for common denominators, I found the following:

1) Each gun was a popper gun.
2) Each gun blew up with a blank load.
3) Each gunner was a non-hunter.
4) Barrel obstruction was not obvious but of course was the cause.
5) Obstructions: One squib load, two moisture related blowups.
6) Source of moisture: Popper gun in a gun stand on the day of a trial where it rained all day long; Popper gun in gun stand on water's edge in mud, fell in the water 2x.
7) Lack of knowledge. One gunner had safety instructions from a non-shotgunner. One had a hunter safety course but moisture in the barrel was not discussed in the course. One had no training at all.

Re: The gun that went into the water 2x. Gunner told me that the barrel was checked. No obstruction was visible according to the gunner. My guess is that there were water droplets in the barrel that were pushed into a big drop on the next shot. This caused enough of an obstruction to create pressure buildup resulting in the blowup.

Re: The rainy day blowup. My guess is that the rain dripped into the shotgun barrel. Considering that the barrel blew up near the muzzle, my guess is that again water droplets were pushed into an obstruction near the end of the barrel.

These accidents could have been prevented had the gun handlers been more aware of gun safety issues.
 

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Thanks for sharing! I've worked numerous training days in the rain, and moisture in the barrel was never something discussed. Hope no one was seriously injured.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for sharing! I've worked numerous training days in the rain, and moisture in the barrel was never something discussed. Hope no one was seriously injured.
What is frightening is that in two cases the gunners did not have their safety glasses on.

Tip: When shooting competition trap we sometimes have to shoot in the rain. We may have to rest our guns in a gun rack in the rain. We will take an empty shell box and place it over the muzzle thus preventing the water from getting into the barrel.

PS I saved one shotgun barrel, now two pieces, for demonstration purposes for my hunter safety classes.
 

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Grumpy Old Man
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Where did the poppers come from?


In every case I've seen barrel failure, there was a squib load and the gunner didn't check to see if the barrel was clear prior to firing the next round.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Where did the poppers come from?


In every case I've seen barrel failure, there was a squib load and the gunner didn't check to see if the barrel was clear prior to firing the next round.
Fiocchi and another brand, I did not see the box. We first suspected the brand but when another brand blew up suspicion immediately went to water.
 

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It's definitely a discussion for gun captains to have with the gunners each and every day there are gunners at an event. My club considered requiring a "Hunter Ed" card for all gunners. But that would eliminate a lot of gunners, since most people here don't get a card unless they hunt on federal land. So how do we educate gunners? It is definitely hard to get the attention of everyone at an event that is shooting. Plus you have change out of gunners. My events are very small in the number of dogs, so it's easier to know the experience level of gunners. But you all have events that have 60 or more dogs at an event. How would you make sure as a judge or gun captain that everyone is going to do the right thing with popper loads?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It's definitely a discussion for gun captains to have with the gunners each and every day there are gunners at an event. My club considered requiring a "Hunter Ed" card for all gunners. But that would eliminate a lot of gunners, since most people here don't get a card unless they hunt on federal land. So how do we educate gunners? It is definitely hard to get the attention of everyone at an event that is shooting. Plus you have change out of gunners. My events are very small in the number of dogs, so it's easier to know the experience level of gunners. But you all have events that have 60 or more dogs at an event. How would you make sure as a judge or gun captain that everyone is going to do the right thing with popper loads?
The gun captain has included a dowel stick with each gun stand to push out obstructions. We both now talk to all gun stations about these accidents. Can't really make sure all follow the recommendations unless each station is assigned a monitor. I think we may include a set of written safety instructions with each popper stand.
 

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Grumpy Old Man
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The host club should have a written test for all gunners. This test must be successfully completed prior to allowing a gunner into the field. The AKC does have a Gun Safety Video available as well, that gunners should view prior to starting an event.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The host club should have a written test for all gunners. This test must be successfully completed prior to allowing a gunner into the field. The AKC does have a Gun Safety Video available as well, that gunners should view prior to starting an event.
I have seen the DVD. Almost nobody knows about it (club president, other gunners, judges) which is a shame. And when we have given the DVD to potential gunners, they don't watch it and they disappear without returning it.

How many know that you do not load the guns until the call "Guns Up"? How many know where you are supposed to locate the gunners relative to the thrower? And who checks on the safety of a setup?
 

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Grumpy Old Man
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I have seen the DVD. Almost nobody knows about it (club president, other gunners, judges) which is a shame. And when we have given the DVD to potential gunners, they don't watch it and they disappear without returning it.

How many know that you do not load the guns until the call "Guns Up"? How many know where you are supposed to locate the gunners relative to the thrower? And who checks on the safety of a setup?
Our club has a portable DVD player and all the gunners watch the DVD on the grounds prior to the start of every event. There is a short test that each one takes and signs prior to the start of the test.

The Gun Captain checks the safety of each set up, and if needed makes changes to the arrangement. Most of the time they don't have to due to our gunners have had the safety drill over and over again for years.
 

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I gotta say in all the hunt tests I've been a part of there has never been a detailed safety intro for gunners in the field manning the popper guns, beyond "open the chamber here, load the blank like this, close it, cock it, pull the trigger." I would have no idea what could possibly cause a shotgun to "blow up."
Thankfully both of the clubs I'm involved in (Mid-Florida GRC and Jacksonville RC) have gone to Thunder guns which are much more user friendly, very limited risk, and much less expensive to maintain beyond the initial expense of the equipment itself.
 
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