I’ve been moving too fast lately. Bombing from one meeting to the next, missing deadlines, never enough time for all the details of the day.

That’s a flimsy excuse for why I showed up at my rifle range the other day in a dither, with a new rifle, plenty of ammo, fresh targets, but no earmuffs.

Well, that’s not quite right. I had a single foam earplug in my pickup–it was stashed with about 60 cents in old pennies and nickels–plus a 20-amp fuse, some .22 shells, and a few screwdriver bits–in my truck’s ashtray.

I wanted to shoot this new rifle, a beautiful bolt action chambered in .280 Ackley Improved created by Montana Rifle Company over in Kalispell, Mont. And I needed to shoot it, as I’m taking it mule deer hunting next week. So what was I to do, all locked and loaded, with no ear protection?

I did what any of you would do. I improvised. As the photo shows, I chewed some mint-flavored gum to just the right texture, then augured it in my ear and shot. That target is a 5-shot group at 200 yards that measures about 1.5 inches.

And my hearing is none the worse for the experience. If anything, it’s improved me. My wife says I sound particularly refreshing.