I was talking with a friend of mine the other day. My friend is a USPSA Chief Range Officer, and over the course of her time as an RO and CRO, she has run literally thousands of shooters through various courses of fire.
She said something that I agree with completely: “Within a few seconds of them drawing their gun from the holster at Make Ready [when the competitor can draw their firearm, make ready, and prepare to start the course of fire], I already know how good they are going to be–and how safe they are going to be.”
Pretty much every experienced range officer in the action shooting sports will say the same things—the minute you touch your firearm, we can see what sort of gun handling safety habits you practice.
I originally made myself a couple of notes about the four main things I wanted people to work on for safe gun handling, got in front of the camera, took some video, went home and edited it–and realized the video was almost 20 minutes long. The more I talked, the more I remembered safety issues and EXCUSES I’ve heard over time from people attempting to justify their unsafe actions.
- “This is the way I was trained!”
- “It isn’t loaded!”
- “It wasn’t really pointing at you!”
- “I haven’t had any trouble doing that before.”
- “No one ever said it was a problem!”
- “My finger was off the trigger!”
…and of course my all-time favorite (and yes, I’ve actually heard this one) “I know what I’m doing, this is REAL self-defense training.”
I don’t know about you, but I consider self-defense training “real” when it also teaches me to NOT SHOOT MYSELF.
So I went back to the studio and tried to just pick the main things, the most important things, the things that will hopefully make the MOST difference in terms of safety. And I managed to get the video down to 10 minutes. It still is pretty long for a YouTube video with some guy just standing there talking at you, so I’m pretty sure most of the people who really need to watch it (and take it to heart) probably won’t do so.
But I tried. So here it is. It isn’t everything you should do, there are plenty of other things I could have said, plenty of other habits of good practice I could have included—but I tried.
Make safe gun handling something you do automatically, all the time, without fail. Make it such a habit that if you do something UNsafe, it will feel strange and wrong, and you won’t like doing it. That way, under stress when your brain isn’t working right—you WON’T do it wrong.
There is so much more we could say. But if nothing else, if people would just keep control of the gun with their strong hand, keep their finger pinned to the frame/slide when not actively shooting, and control their muzzle, that would be GREAT.
ALL THE TIME.
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