Fear & Loading: New Year’s Resolutions

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posted on December 30, 2016
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It’s the time of year when most people reflect, consider the mistakes they’ve made in the last 12 months and figure out how to can improve in 2017. We all know it can be painful and that three months from now many of those habits ditched in January will be back. Here’s a modest resolution I’m including that you, too, might consider that can encompass firearms.

I’m getting out of my rut, finding that grin I once wore so indelibly that the 6th graders I taught for a semester nicknamed me “Guy Smiley,” trying something different and wandering away from the crowd until I’m lost in rediscovery. The importance of this goal became crystal clear back in the spring.

I was bear hunting in Saskatchewan, Canada, with a CVA Optima V2 muzzleloader. In an industry awash in a tidal wave of all things AR and concealed carry, old school felt, well, fun—and as it turns out, emphasized the often stupid results of lazy habit. 


Marsha Schearer of Shoot Straight TV with her CVA Optima V2 muzzleloader
(and a really nice bear).

I’ve shot CVAs for many years and have never handled one that wasn’t crazy accurate. The Optima V2 is no exception, and there’s only one word to describe the trigger—wow.  Double that. Semi-autos (which I wouldn’t be able to bring into Canada, anyway) and bolt-actions are fine for big bruins, but there’s something about pursuing them with a slow-loading frontstuffer. You’re probably only going to get a single shot, and if you get that hairy omnivore mad, the smoke you just poured into the woods will be used for cover as it closes ground. “Revenant” came out a few weeks before my trip. OK, it’s really not dangerous, but I fell asleep during the long flight and had nightmares.

I never took a shot, although I did get to watch one small-to-medium-sized black bear for some time. That day, after sunset when I was waiting for a ride back to camp, it returned and ran through the forest for about 15 minutes—snapping twigs, grunting and breaking branches—in circles just big enough to be out of view from my ground blind.

I felt like Gen. George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, although I wasn’t outnumbered. I cocked the hammer, just in case. In my metallic-cartridge haste I forgot to insert the 209 primer—lazy habit, I guess. If that small, but obviously irritated, bruin came at me and I hit the trigger, well, “Revenant” take two.

The bear’s still out there, I’m here and despite what you might be thinking, it really wasn’t dangerous (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it). Added spice to a great trip, although I’ll admit I waited until I was home to share it with my family.

Since then, the Optima V2 has taken several deer in the hands of my son in law, a veteran who never touched a muzzleloader before. He wasn’t quite sure about the whole thing, but on the second night he connected with a single shot at 150 yards.

The smoke cleared and his excitement was communicable. I made the mistake of telling him he could borrow it anytime he wants.

There’s no way I’m giving up my precision rifles, carry guns or ARs, but when you’re stuck in a rut it’s hard to experience new things and rediscover your smile. Now if I can only pry the CVA out of his hands before deer season closes.

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