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Thread: Schoolboy killed in polar bear attack

  1. #1

    Schoolboy killed in polar bear attack

    A tragic incident.
    It seems from the reports that training and equipment were lacking.
    Firearms training was also criticised.
    Does anyone have experience of this kind of training, from either side ?

    Parents of Eton schoolboy killed in polar bear attack criticise safety procedures - Telegraph
    "Don't say I didnae warn ye !"

  2. #2
    In addition the rifle carried by the expedition leaders, the Mauser 98K, had a complex safety catch mechanism which emptied rounds if wrongly activated.

    ??

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by bobt View Post
    In addition the rifle carried by the expedition leaders, the Mauser 98K, had a complex safety catch mechanism which emptied rounds if wrongly activated.

    ??
    are they maybe getting confused with a drop-plate mag?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by bobt View Post
    In addition the rifle carried by the expedition leaders, the Mauser 98K, had a complex safety catch mechanism which emptied rounds if wrongly activated.

    ??
    We were talking about this today..

    Must have been horrific for all of them, but certainly seems fingers are pointing very quickly with varying degrees of truth no doubt.
    Blessed be the sheeple for they shall inherit bugger all...

  5. #5
    They sound too confused to be let outside.

    and my thoughts of somebody doing 30mins of training with the rifle then trying to accurately shoot a polar bear that is trying to break into a tent and eat you is not going to end in your favour.

    Quote Originally Posted by palmer_mike View Post
    are they maybe getting confused with a drop-plate mag?

  6. #6
    Just my thoughts, and I'm certainly no expert, but where polar bears are concerned, a rifle is really for hunting them, preferably at a distance, where you've got time to load, aim, etc.

    I also thought that most folk who live in areas where there are polar bears tote sidearms. The obvious defensive weapon I should think would be a large calibre revolver. Easy and quick to use and not much to go wrong. You could use it just the same as a rifle to make big bangs to scare them away if things haven't got too up close and personal.

    However, I believe that the problem in this particular case is that there were mines (trip wires that set flares off) set, but there weren't enough and the bear was able to walk through them, drag the boy from his tent and inflict fatal injuries before any alarm was raised. So I suppose what firearm(s) were to hand was only a damage limitation exercise for the others there.

    It was apparently unusual for a bear to be at that location. No doubt starving and desperate for food because the ice, their normal feeding grounds, where the seals hang out is disappearing due to global warming.

    But I agree, very tragic.

  7. #7
    Anyone who goes off to do exciting things in outlandish places has to accept these risks, surely?
    Read the book "Cold" by Ranulph Fiennes.

  8. #8
    It appears the team leader hired one of the ex Wehrmacht K98k rifles that the Germans were forced to leave behind in Norway at the end of WW2. The Norwegians subsequently rebarrelled them to .30-06 and then later still sold them as surplus. They are widely used by the polar bear guides that accompany tours / cruises to remote spots where people try and get a photo of the bears, and .30-06 is regarded as suitable apparently. (It wouldn't be in my mind!)

    If it was a K98, the flag-type safety has three positions as seen for behind. Down and left, rifle 'safe', striker pulled back slightly and locked, bolt handle locked in closed position; turned 90-deg closckwise to vertical: striker pulled back and locked, rifle 'safe', but bolt now freed to to turn and be manipulated as normal (to unload rifle using the bolt with no danger of accidental firing); safety lever turned 180-deg from safe to horizontal lying to the right of the cocking piece - set at 'fire', bolt and striker free for normal operation.

    It appears that the team leader tried to shoot the bear with the safety in the intermediate (vertical) position and the rifle wouldn't fire of course. It did allow him to operate the bolt and he obviously tried to sort the problem by manipulating it and chambering more cartridges - all he did was empty the magazine onto the ground.

    That was of course the second failure, the first being a cobbled together perimeter safety wire that failed to produce a warning. Ultimately the team leader bears the responsibility - inadequate equipment, failure to test it, failure to fmailiarise himself with the rifle. Personally, I think the rifle type was a poor choice for this purpose, and if you take the bear threat seriously (which you've got to wonder how seriously they did regard it), I'd want to have my own piece with me, knowing I'm 100% familiar with it. Hindsight is 20/20 vision of course, and this would be anyone's ultimate nightmare - a starving big bear already in the camp and attacking people, all in pitch blackness.

    So far as training goes, a team of British scientists who regularly made summer field trips to the Arctic used to always have a day at Diggle Ranges with PSSA's Vince Bottomley as RCO and consultant before leaving. They brought a 375 H&H Magnum sporter and by the end of the day, every member was fully conversant with its operation and use as well as having fired a few factory rounds to understand the need for a proper hold with this heavy kicker. Whether they'd done their research / risk assessment properly, or some earlier British Arctic Survey field trip had had a near-one with a bear.... well, who know? I'm sure there are many other companies around who'd provide this basic level of training, and many BDS branch secretaries would assist if approached.

  9. #9
    I also thought that most folk who live in areas where there are polar bears tote sidearms. The obvious defensive weapon I should think would be a large calibre revolver. Easy and quick to use and not much to go wrong. You could use it just the same as a rifle to make big bangs to scare them away if things haven't got too up close and personal. [Pedro]
    That's the case in the US, many deerhunters carrying a large calibre revolver loaded with full-house soft-points, likewise some wilderness walkers and campers. However, one of the US gun mags, Wolfe Publishing's 'Rifle' if memory serves did a study of this, and looked at historic / recorded encounters. Their findings weren't very encouraging for the 44 Mag handgun toting brigade. The most dangerous situation is surprising a brown bear in heavy cover, especially a female with cubs. When you see the bear / it sees you, you're invariably close - a few yards, 50 at most. Deerhunters / walkers etc normally carry their revolver in a traditional belt-holster. On such an encounter, the bear will either decide to quit and leg it, or attack immediately, no delay with much quicker reaction times than those of the average human. if the latter, the magazine writers and consultant gave the human one to three seconds depending on the intial distance between parties to unholster revolver, raise it and fire. Large bears on the attack apparently run VERY fast. I think 15-20 mph was quoted. In tests using magzine staffers, the conclusion was that it was highly unlikelly you'd get a shot off before the bear hit you.

    Looking at recorded instances (of those few who survived), any who actually used a handgun did so AFTER the bear had already grabbed them in the classic 'bearhug' and was mauling the victim. It was luck whether his physical position vis a vis the bear was such that the human could get the gun out and its muzzle up against the attacker. A typical case involving a famous tracker and outdoorsman had him clutched front to front against the bear's torso and he worked the revolver up between their bodies while the bear was raking his back with its claws, and managed to fire upwards shooting the bear through its chin and up through the head. All of these survivors had serious, potentially life threatening injuries despite shooting their bears and had to get themselves to civilisation while in a bad way after tending wounds as best they could and staunching blood loss.

    In Alaska and northern Canada, many professional guides and savvy locals carry large (.45 and .50) calibre, short-barrel lever-action carbines with a round in the chamber, the .50 Alaskan and .450 Marlin chamberings typical. They're already in the hand if a bear is suddenly encountered, can be swung really fast, and fire some serious weight of lead, plus four or five shots can be got off in as many seconds. Rifles are usually modified Marlin 336s. Cut-down Ruger 77s in 375 H&H, or the more modern Ruger Magnum version are popular in heavy Alaskan grizzly country. The wet climate and salt-air in coastal regions kills rifles really quickly and Marlin magnums are reliable and cheap to replace every couple of years in this harsh environment.

  10. #10
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    It beggars belief that someone cannot have KNOWN how to operate the rifle correctly.

    This is a soldier's rifle and it was designed to be used by a demographic ranging from secondary educated youth conscripted to serve to illiterate peasant stock. I'd disagree with the post that says that it isn't suitable as a weapon in that it is foolproof. The reason that it is still popular as a "dangerous game" rifle albeit in heavier calibres. It can ONLY be lack of proper familiarisation or perhaps even bad training in practising with the rifle "fire and eject drills" with the safety in the vertical position.

    AS YOU TRAIN TO DO SO YOU THEN DO UNDER STRESS.

    As the earlier post said this is most likely a case of the safety being in the vertical position and that alone AS IT BLOCKS THE SIGHT PICTURE is an indication to the user that something is requiring attention.

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