184 ACCIDENTS WITH GUNS. [CHAP, x.
this accident was that of four-fifths of those that occur, namely, the cock being allowed to lie down upon the nipple instead of being kept at half-cock. As the unfortunate man, while sitting in the waggon, drew his gun up to him by the muzzle, it appears that the cock caught against one of the spokes of the wheel, which lifted it a little, so that, when released, it snapped back, and the gun went off. Few as the people are who possess percussion-guns in this remote corner of the world, there have been three deaths and one bad accident with them.
For travelling purposes, I do not approve of carrying a gun half-cock, because, in the very careless way that the men persist in holding their fire-arms, the half-cock very frequently becomes full-cock without their knowing it, and the cap also is liable to fall off. I think the safest plan with a common gun is to put a piece of thick rag on the cap, and to let the cock down upon it. But I much prefer having a third nick cut in the "tumbler," by which a very low half or quarter-cock is produced, the cock just clearing the nipple and securing the cap from being dislodged; many pistols are made in this way. I have adopted this plan for a very long time in my travelling guns, and confidently recommend it. As to carrying guns on horseback, nobody that I am aware of, except a Hottentot, and occasionally a Dutchman, knows how to do it.
Theirs is a most simple and effectual plan, which, strangely enough, has never been adopted or perhaps even proposed for our mounted troops, and which is incomparably superior in practice to any of the usual plans, with all of which I am pretty well familiar.
Carrying a gun with a belt across the shoulders is objectionable in every way; the gun jogs excessively about, and its weight is wearisome to a degree; the rider has to go through a vast deal of struggling before he can slip it over his head and get it in hand ; and, lastly, in case of a fall, it might injure him severely.
The next 'plan-that of carrying the gun muzzle downwards in a bucket in the position that a sportsman would carry his gun over his arm-is most unsafe ; the bullet is perpetually liable to be dislodged, and if dislodged the gun is pretty sure to burst ; besides this, a complication of straps are requisite to secure the gun to the belt of the rider, which I find in practice a great inconvenience. Another method is, to sling the gun, which in this case must be a short one, muzzle downward to the back part of the saddle ; so that when the rider is on his seat the stock of the gun is behind him, and the muzzle in a bucket