10 March 2010 by Published in: General News 14 comments

And for the winner of this month’s Dumb-Ass Reenactor of the Month Award, I give you this brilliant Montana school superintendent. From the March 8 edition of the Billings Gazette:

Superintendent accidentally discharges muzzleloader in class

ROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Monday, March 8, 2010 10:19 pm | (60) Comments

Dwain Haggard’s high school history lesson on Friday backfired.

Haggard, who used to be a Civil War reenactor, was showing the five students in Reed Point High’s American history class his replica antique black powder muzzleloader when the gun fired and lodged a ball in the front wall of the classroom.

“I can’t explain how it was loaded,” Haggard said.

Haggard has been district superintendent since 2007, and each year he’s visited the high school’s American history class to show off his Civil War-era equipment. When he shows the muzzleloader, he finishes the demonstration by firing a cap, which makes a small “pop” when he pulls the trigger, he said.

But this time, “when I dropped the hammer on it, to all of our surprise, it went off,” he said.

Jake Bare, a junior at Reed Point High, was in the class when the gun fired. He said it caught everybody off guard.

When Haggard pulled the trigger, there was a loud bang,and the room filled with smoke, Bare said.

“Holy criminy, you just shot the map,” he said.

Indeed, the ball shot through the “o” in the word “North” at the top of the map and lodged in the wall, Haggard said.

The gun was never pointed at the students once Haggard inserted the cap. He was facing away from the students, pointing the gun toward the ceiling when he pulled the trigger.

The students were “never really in danger,” he said.

After settling down the students and dismissing class, Haggard said, he called the school board to explain what happened and then called the parents of the five students.

“None of them were upset with me,” he said.

One father, he said, laughed until he cried.

The board and his staff have been supportive, he said.

He described the incident as “bitter irony.” As superintendent, Haggard has worked with the school to increase safety at the school, updating its drills and the training staff receives.

Hat tip to John Maass for bringing this priceless little gem to my attention.

Can you say “dumb-ass,” boys and girls?

Scridb filter


  1. Wed 10th Mar 2010 at 11:57 am

    The guy must have one real smart dog, who took the replica Springfield/Enfield and, apparently having read Hardee’s Tactics, snuck a minie ball and powder down the barrel while his master wasn’t watching. Of course, there’s a bright side. This genius didn’t show up at an actual renactment with his prop.

  2. Gary
    Wed 10th Mar 2010 at 1:13 pm

    I don’t see what the big deal is. After all, didn’t he say the students were”never really in danger”? So what if he hauled a loaded gun into a classroom if no one was really in danger?

  3. Wed 10th Mar 2010 at 6:18 pm

    I will now demonstrate the function of my field cannon in gym class. Don’t worry, it isn’t loaded either.

  4. Ken Noe
    Wed 10th Mar 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Haggard says he was “facing away from the students, pointing the gun toward the ceiling when he pulled the trigger.” And yet the slug ended up in map “in the front wall of the classroom?” Either he was waving his weapon all over the place like a six-year-old with a toy, or he’s really doctoring his after-action report.

  5. David Rhoads
    Thu 11th Mar 2010 at 8:56 am

    The part I find hard to believe is that a junior in high school said “Holy criminy.”

  6. Dave Gill
    Thu 11th Mar 2010 at 10:48 am

    He must have been sesesch – he shot the North

  7. Chris Evans
    Thu 11th Mar 2010 at 1:19 pm

    That’s great. I agree with David Rhoads that I find it hard to believe that someone in high school would say “Holy criminy”. They must have doctored that in the after action report too.

  8. billy
    Fri 12th Mar 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Dave Gill’s comment made me laugh out loud. Best comment so far this year. Billy

  9. Bill Speer
    Fri 12th Mar 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I remember once while I was working with my Jr. Historians at a reenactment one of the kids was trying to fire a musket while in line with some reenactors. He had a flash in the pan, didn’t recognize it from all the smoke etc, reloaded fired again, again, flash in the pan. I reached him by that time and grabbed the musket. One more load of powder might have done him in! 🙂

  10. Jack Kelly
    Sun 14th Mar 2010 at 1:47 pm

    As an NRA rifle instructor teaching dozens of kids every year, this is the kind of exhibition of dumb-ass that leaves me cold. Every kid (and adult) is told that at the beginning of the course that they flunk out if they do not check every gun – EVERY TIME- to see if it’s loaded. If I get that through their heads, I’ve done half my job. The other half of the job is teaching them to keep any gun pointed in a safe direction.

  11. Phil Spaugy
    Sun 14th Mar 2010 at 6:54 pm

    …wow…all I can say is…”dumb ass boys and girls” !!

  12. Sun 14th Mar 2010 at 10:24 pm

    What’s really sad is that if one of those kids were caught with a plastic butter knife from the school cafeteria, they’d probably be expelled due to a “zero tolerence” policy. Who fires a school superintendent anyway?

  13. M. Bowen
    Sat 27th Mar 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Easy to toss this off; however, I would bet that these kids received a better appreciation of the realities of war than one could otherwise deliver.

    On the other hand, they also probably gained an appreciation of unsafe behavior when dealing with older weapons.

  14. Bill Lawrence
    Sun 28th Mar 2010 at 9:48 am

    I grew up in the middle of the Manassas battlefeld. Many years ago, a boy about my age was killed by a Civil War musket recently picked up off the field. Brothers were snapping caps on it, never imagining that it might go off. One pointed it at his brother, and snapped one cap too many. The damn thing had lain in the mud for 100 years, loaded, waiting for a chance to kill someone. You might say that boy was the last casualty of the Battle of Manassas. I always tell kids “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN UNLOADED GUN”!

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