Training with a firearm does not come with the luxury of daily reminders of safety, but it should always be forefront in your mind.
Every product you see in a store has a warning label. They explain the hazards if you use the product incorrectly. Seat belts in many cars don’t even give you the option of buckling, it does it for you. Much of the safety now days is a little overdone in my opinion. When the label on your deodorant reminds you not to consume it internally, it makes you wonder about the common sense of people today. Training with a firearm does not come with the luxury of daily reminders of safety, but it should always be forefront in your mind.
An electrician was at my house the other day working on a burned outlet. I was thinking about this article and safety, so I asked him how often he gets shocked. His reply was, “About twice a week.” Now I am sure that if it came to a deadly amount of voltage, he would probably take more care in those instances. That is the point here, a firearm is an unforgiving thing. A negligent discharge every other week or so is not acceptable. I happen to carry every day. My handgun is always on my left hip, just slightly behind my front pocket. My most used holster is a paddle holster. It is a piece of Kydex molded specifically to my Glock. It is attached to a hardened piece of leather that over time has molded itself to my hip. I am very familiar with it. I shoot and or dry-fire just about everyday but even with the daily use and a piece of gear which I am so familiar, I am never complacent with safety.
It is an easy assumption that most people who accidentally shoot themselves, probably thought their firearm was unloaded. If they began with the premise that their weapon was always loaded, and that someone could have chambered a round when they were not looking, most accidental shootings could be avoided. It is that simple. Recently in Florida, a police department was conducting a public relations event call Citizen Police Academy. A ‘shoot or don’t shoot’ drill which puts a person into the same sort of scenarios that a law enforcement officer might face on the job was being utilized. A great exercise to help the public understand the pressures and tough decisions that the police are often faced with. A great drill until a 74-year-old woman was shot with a supposedly unloaded gun. I am sure that with one assumption on the mind of everyone involved in this drill, this death would have been avoided. And that is to assume that every weapon is loaded. Always.
With that being said, Here are the five safety tips that I use 24/7.
Always assume that your weapon is loaded. Even if you just checked the chamber a minute ago. Before you do anything with your weapon, check the chamber again. And then, just to be sure look again.
Always keep your weapon pointed in a safe direction. It does not matter if your weapon is lying on the table. Make a habit of always keeping it pointed safely.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. This a basic that even most movies get right nowadays.
Know your target and what is beyond. This is why for self-defense I often practice from the kneeling position, firing at a rising angle so as to safely engage a bad guy in a populated area.
Clean and lubricate your weapon. Weapon jams are a notorious cause of accidents, so keep in mind that most weapon jams come from a dry slide.
It is also very important to notice how safety conscious the other people at your range are. If you repeatedly see violations at a particular range, go elsewhere. I hope these tips can make you and the people around you that much safer. For other safety articles and some great range information, look at Go2FirearmSafety.com. See you at the range!
Michael Brown is a former U.S. Marine and Firearm Safety Instructor. He is also an instructor of Krav Maga and a 7th degree Black Belt in Taekwondo.