How Zeroing Your Rifle Can Get Really Expensive Really Fast

Be careful when you head to the range to zero your hunting rifle

There I was, I had just finished some chores I had been putting off so I decided to make one last trip to the range to be sure my rifle was dialed in. After all, elk season is right around the corner. Sure, it worked well during deer season, but maybe I had bumped the scope. Maybe my loads are off. Plug in unforeseen variable here. I don’t need much of a reason to hit the range and get in some trigger time.

So I grabbed my rifle, muffs, targets, and a cup of coffee. I fired up big red, sitting there while it warmed up a little.

One last glance and…crap. I forgot the ammo. So I shut the truck off, bounced out and ran into the shop. I grabbed the ammo can, turned around and…oh F#CK.

My driveway has a slope to it. If one forgets to put the truck in gear, or set the parking break, it will roll down hill.

Having left the truck door open and in neutral (that’s stick-shift speak), my truck had rolled back and the open door caught my camper. I was in shock as I watched a 100-pound door connected to a 9,000 pound object impact a 3,500 pound stationary trailer at about 7.33 feet per second.

According to one chart I looked at, that’s the equivalent of 2.706 kilotons of TNT, or 7,518 foot-pounds of delivered energy. Huh. More than my .470 nitro, but less than the .50 BMG.

I dropped the box of ammo and ran to the truck before it could do any more damage. With its momentum it had backed uphill slightly and was just going to roll back forward into the arbor vitae. I let it go.
No sense in getting hurt trying to prevent, well, nothing.

Yeah, the door got pushed way past its usual stopping point. And it ripped the camper jacks away. Crash and burn.

I called the insurance company and started the claim. What else could I do? Kick my own butt? Laugh? Shake my head? At least it isn’t raining, because that door isn’t going to close any time soon.

After everything had settled down, I did the only sane thing I could do at that point I fired up the SUV, threw my stuff in and headed to the range.

Roughly 10,000 dollars later a few rounds down range, I had confirmed that the rifle is, in fact, dialed in. Still dead on, ready for those elk.

Aim small, miss small. And remember to put it in ‘park.’


  1. avatar Topher in Texas says:


    1. avatar Joe R. says:



      1. avatar Shotgun Sam says:

        You see, this is exactly why I only use a bore sighter.

        1. The main thing is no one got hurt. Physically. I am sure your wallet and ego are bruised a bit. Thank you for sharing your story.” Casual is the new expensive” Shawn Shipstad 2017. A statement for the history books ,no one will read.

  2. avatar rdsii64 says:

    If you filed an insurance claim, what did you spend 10K on?

    1. avatar Shoeless Joe says:

      Next year’s premium

    2. avatar JeffInCa says:

      Lets see.
      Deductible, 2 years of inflated payments, possibility of claims on different insurance accounts ( truck, house, camper ) each with their own deductible. … I don’t think 10k is an unreasonable estimate. I’m sure the camper isn’t covered at 100%

  3. avatar Iillinois_Minion says:

    I might be wrong, but I think there are less costly ways of removing the inner door panel.

    1. avatar Hoyden says:

      It’ll buff right out

  4. avatar jwm says:

    Brain farts happen. No one got hurt and that’s why we carry insurance.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      ‘Brain farts happen.’

      This is also why you should never be so arrogant as to believe you could never have a negligent discharge. That kind of attitude is called ‘tempting karma’. Same principal applies in many other areas of life.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Karma is real. That’s why I treat everybody around me nice and polite. Assholes get a visit from the asshole fairy.

        1. avatar No one of consequence says:

          Okay, that’s an image. And now I need some brain bleach.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Or in other words, complicity and arrogance are deadlier than the plague and small pox. Humility is a virtue.

        3. avatar BLoving says:

          Humility isn’t a virtue of mine; I’m just too broke to afford nice things… big difference.

      2. avatar PROUD chicano says:

        They say everybody has one. I took my mattress out once.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Man, I just spent 1600 bucks on a mattress. It would hurt like hell to shoot it.

      3. avatar FedUp says:

        The trick to NDs is never pointing the muzzle at anything you can’t afford to destroy.

        There’s no need to go waving the gun around, or pointing it at the horse trailer your son is standing behind, while you disengage the safety.

        The only ND I can remember went into the black of a paper target, just not when I intended it to.
        I’d lightened a trigger tension screw too far, then had a brain fart and tried to shoot with the safety on. Flicked the safety off, BANG. I was still on target, but not planning on shooting right then, so it was barely in the black, probably scored a 7 with that shot. (not a Remington 700, actually it was a Winchester .22)

        I unloaded, went inside and readjusted the trigger until there was no possible way to fire without pulling the trigger.

        1. avatar Roymond says:

          Never point it…

          That reminds me of something a friend in college did before hunting season one year. I’d dropped by his place for some studying, and saw his back yard full of things. When his brother got home I asked. They’d set up an “obstacle course” for carrying a rifle — not things to dodge, but to decide where the thing should be pointed.

          I used to do the same drill with my imagination when I’d go shopping; got out of the habit — need to start again.

  5. avatar WI Patriot says:


  6. avatar Charlie says:

    I thought you were going to say your rifle was a .338 Lapua. 🙂

    I’m a stick guy too, and hill hold for the E-Brake varies greatly among vehicles. Some work well, and some don’t, but I never, ever, ever trust it to hold alone on a hill.


  7. avatar Texas Gun Gal says:

    Welcome to the International Nitwit society, membership fees depending on costs to correct.
    Believe you now have a lifetime membership.
    BTW: got the “nitwit” expression from my mom.
    A girlfriend’s mom put it in a more polite way by
    remarking to me that I was “absent minded”
    My dad told me once “if you can’t pay anyone else, at least pay attention”
    Don’t beat yourself up, it’s not a matter of if but when
    for almost everybody at some point in a lifetime.

  8. avatar ATFAgentBob says:

    There are cleaner ways to install suicide doors. Dunno if they make a kit for an F350 but there are ways around that.

  9. avatar GS650G says:

    E brake cable broke on my F150 and I saw it rolling over my mailbox out the corner of my eye while mowing the lawn. The post slowed 4300 lbs down enough for me to reach in and pull the gearshift into 1st before it hit my neighbors Mercedes.
    Best thing I ever got in the mailbox.

  10. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I had a parallel experience this weekend getting ready to go to a shooting range as well. Fortunately, my error was in my home and will only cost about $400 plus lost productivity.

  11. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I look forward to showing my daughter how to zero my new AR15, next year.

  12. avatar Brandon says:

    Curious minds would like to know about your rifle setup that is pictured.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      It’s a savage model 10 in .308 inside of an XLR chassis system. (Aluminum and carbon fiber).
      Glass is a Vortex 6-24.
      Can is a Silencerco Omega.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Hope it’s just GOD sayin you need a new truck and camper (maybe your rifle is good to go at least until Christmas?).

        Seriously, hope all that gets righted quick, without much more trouble and least possible cost. And that you have something else to drive out to the elk.

  13. avatar Jason says:

    LOL… Not sure what chart you were looking at, but 2.7 kilotons of TNT is a smallish nuclear warhead equivalent.

    1. avatar Rusty Chains says:

      Yep, about 20% of the Hiroshima bomb, so not likely to be something you could generate with a pickup, even if you dropped it from 30,000 feet.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Ah, This here’s Tom’s pickup you’re talking about. Man says it’d do Hiroshima, you taxi up the Anola Gay and latch it down.

        But can we please have a moment of silence first.

  14. avatar Southern Cross says:

    Haste makes waste. I prep my gear the night before. Rifle in hard case. Ammunition can, equipment bag, and shooting mat already to grab the next morning. The car is backed up to the side gate to made loading inconspicuous.

    And then the extras. Esky with food and drinks for my son and my self. Laptop with movies to keep my son occupied while I compete. Some books to replace the laptop when the battery runs flat in the laptop. One book on WW2 aviation and the other W D Ball’s book on Mauser rifles.

  15. avatar Ralph says:

    There was the time I forgot my bike was on my car’s roof rack and tried to pull into my garage.

    Let me tell you, those Klein bikes are really well made.

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      I have 2 Kleins and could not agree more.

  16. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Box after box of shells, fired down range, I still can’t hit shit. I’ve got to teach my rifle to put the bullet where I last saw the target before I closed my eyes and yanked the trigger.

  17. avatar Slow Joe Crow says:

    As a fellow Oregonian I’d like to know which range that is. It’s a lot greener and more interesting looking than the flat semi-desert at COSSA.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      It’s Chehelam Valley Sportsman Club. It’s greener because we’re on the west side of the mountains. But we pay for that greenery with close to 4 feet of rain per year.
      COSSA is pretty neat with what it has to offer. You guys have a huge range!

  18. avatar troutbum5 says:

    Hopping out of the truck without setting the brake or putting it in park can definitely be expensive. I have a new anterior cruciate ligament to prove it. Don’t ask what it cost. Thank God for medical insurance.

  19. avatar Accur81 says:

    Ouch! Glad you are Ok.

    Hey, I almost had a car thief give me the slip while I was reading a TTAG article on duty.

  20. avatar Snatchums says:

    They still put manual transmissions in trucks?

  21. avatar Ironhead says:

    At least no one got hurt. Trucks and trailers can be replaced.
    It is a nice truck though.

  22. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Since no one got hurt, this will be a funny story that your friends will never let you forget. Because that’s what friends are for.

    Thank God for that.

  23. avatar Tom In Snoregon says:

    Came here for an article on sighting in rifles, not for some clickbait on how some dumbass wrecked his truck.

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      Get over it already.

    2. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

      I think you’re jealous you don’t got a good story to tell.

  24. avatar Jeff says:

    Maybe you shoulda shot the truck…

  25. avatar Mmmtacos says:

    You must have one of the last Ford trucks they ever put manual transmissions into.

    I did this once with my Jeep. Thankfully it just coasted out the driveway, perpendicular to the road, into the middle of the road. Thankfully it was during normal work-hours, bright sunny day, and the street is a short dead-end, so no traffic at all within those two minutes of negligence.

    I was quite embarrassed by the affair, even if there may have been nobody to witness my idiocy. I guarantee you I haven’t made that same mistake since then, nor do I intend to… although I do drive an automatic now but we still have a standard left in the driveway…

  26. avatar PeterK says:

    Welp. I can feel no joy at your pain. That sucks. Hope insurance comes through for ya.

  27. avatar adverse5 says:

    Should you have a firearm?

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email