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You Can’t Learn the Four Rules of Gun Safety

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments
You Can’t Learn the Four Rules of Gun Safety

One hundred percent of gun owners I never see at the range training with their guns and more than half of those I do see training with their guns have at least one thing in common: when they handle firearms, I see them fail to adhere to the four rules of gun safety.

The reason I continually see these safety failures by gun owners is that one cannot learn these four safety rules. Learning, as we typically understand it, is intellectual. Safety failures, however, are unconscious and based on habitual action. In order to serve you when it counts, the four rules of gun safety must become unconscious, physical habit. Developing these unconscious habits, as proven by countless examples of human performance, requires thousands of properly practiced repetitions. Thousands of repetitions.

The 4 Rules of Gun Safety

  1. Always treat every firearm as though it is loaded.
  2. Never point the muzzle at something you’re not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you’re ready to shoot.
  4. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

From what I’ve seen and read, most gun owners do not train with their firearms every week, every month, or even every year and they seldom practice basic firearm manipulation. Most simply keep their gun in the safe or in the drawer or in the holster. Their logic is “My gun is there for when I need it.” Well, too bad competence will not be there when they need it. The average gun owner is not alone in this irresponsible approach. Even most law enforcement officers train with their guns only once or twice a year (!). With such irresponsible habits among gun owners, actual gun safety is a rarity.

Below: Distracted by the camera, rules 1 and 2 are unconsciously broken:

unsafe

Nice prom photo…except for the fact that the girl is pointing her weapon directly at her prom date’s legs. Inattention fail.

You Must Train

If you’re a gun owner, how many thousands of times have you handled firearms, starting automatically by checking and clearing the chamber (every time no matter what!), then continually keeping your muzzle pointed in a safe direction with your finger outside the trigger guard until your sights are already on your target, having already checked to be sure of what is beyond and near your target? How many thousands of times?

Until you have these thousands of repetitions of all sorts of firearm manipulations you can’t be habitually safe with a firearm. So train! Train regularly. Train continually. Train with a variety of firearm types (if possible). Train in all the things you’ll do with a firearm:

  • Draw from holster and re-holster. Unloaded. Loaded.
  • Pick up from a bench/table and rack the slide or close the action. Replace on bench/table (slide/action locked open).
  • Load magazines, tube, or cylinder with ammunition. Unload Magazines, tube, or cylinder.
  • Insert magazine. Remove magazine.
  • Rack the slide / load the chamber.
  • Eject rounds to clear the chamber (or rifle/shotgun equivalent).
  • Exchange magazines when firing to empty.
  • Draw magazine (from pocket and/or mag holder) while keeping your gun’s muzzle in a safe direction
  • Hold at (various) ready positions, press/aim, fire.
  • field strip.

…Do all these things while adhering strictly to the four rules of gun safety.

These are all common, basic manipulations every gun owner must do with a firearm and they all need to be performed in a habitually safe manner. Every time. Note that these are just firearm manipulations and do not include other likely necessary operations, like moving while drawing, moving while shooting, moving while dropping and exchanging magazines, crouching and standing while doing all of these things, etc…

My Practice Tally

I’m at the range 3-5x/week and I do dry-fire practice at home most off days. This regimen ensures that in addition to the many manipulations and operations with my guns, I get the following fundamental reps:

Manipulation X Per Week X Per Year
Safely Draw / Re-holster 90 4,500
Safely Pick Up 150 7,500
Safely Load / Unload 80 4,000
Safely Exchange Mags 80 4,000

Even with this weekly regimen it took me several months before I began to be consistent in my safe handling of firearms. I was almost always thinking about being safe, but it took quite a while for my reactions and unconscious responses to become habitually safe. Even now, when I encounter some unexpected manipulation (first time with a pistol with an odd slide lock location, etc.), I might lapse momentarily and find I have pointed the muzzle at a wall or something else I don’t want to destroy. So I practice regularly.

The four rules of gun safety are not hard. They’re not difficult to grasp or understand or put into practice, but they can’t be learned intellectually; they’re entirely dependent upon unconscious physical habit. When you don’t have those habits deeply ingrained through a great deal of continuing practice manipulating and using firearms according to those four rules, you are not safe.

Here’s a group of people breaking at least 3 of the 4 rules of gun safety:

an unsafe group

This photo is from Chariot India travel company, Notice the unconscious but deadly gun safety violations: the standing woman with her finger on the trigger, and pointed in the direction of the seated women; the seated woman pointing her pistol directly at her partner seated beside her. Via Great Ads

It’s all fun and games until your girlfriend puts her finger on the trigger:

Robertson

Here is John Luke Robertson (of Duck Dynasty fame) and friends with their firearms. Notice the girl has her finger on the trigger. Also, John Luke has his muzzle dangerously in the vicinity of the girl’s head. Safety fail in a happy, distracted moment.

Pistol Drills: Counterattacks from Compromised Positions

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments

These pistol drills are what I’d call compulsory for everyday carriers. You don’t want your attempt to save your life to be the first time you try shooting from your stomach or side or back. Train first with a competent instructor and then practice on your own so that you know what you’re doing should the need arise.

Training works! Not training works, too, but rather in a bad way.

Pistol Drill: Speed Drill No.1: Controlled Pairs

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments

This is a drill that I practice on a regular basis in order to develop and maintain the ability to hit the “GO” button and be proficient and accurate if I ever need to.

I’m performing this drill here at 5 yards.
There are two ways I practice this drill. One way is for cadence. I’ll fire the first 3 or 4 or 5 shots with a specific, fast cadence in mind, then follow up with the reload and face shot. The other way is what I’m demonstrating here: two controlled pairs followed by a reload and shot to the face.

The practical logic here is that I’m shooting to stop a threat with controlled pairs to the vital area of the chest. The gun runs dry and so I reload and, since the threat was not stopped by the previous shots, I follow up with one more to the occulonasal area of the face.

I run this drill at 5, 7 and 10 yards. It’s important to to get comfortable with the fast cadence and to work for accuracy in all of the shots. You have to learn to trust to your grip and fundamentals for speed shooting–and correct them when and if they fail you in a drill like this.

Pistol Drill: Shooting While Moving to Cover

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments

This is a demonstration, not instruction. Be sure to seek professional instruction for any firearm drills you plan to run in your own practice.

This is a very contextually specific drill, as it is not always safe and appropriate to take lower-percentage shots like this in public; bystanders may make it wholly inappropriate. However, I think it is important to develop a high skill level for shooting accurately while moving quickly.

And, yes, it’s galling to watch that first-shot miss over and over, but that’s why they call it training. I still have plenty left to do.

Shooting While Moving to Cover

This is a demonstration, not instruction. Be sure to seek professional instruction for any firearm drills you plan to run in your own practice.

This is a very contextually specific drill, as it is not always safe and appropriate to take lower-percentage shots like this in public; bystanders may make it wholly inappropriate. However, I think it is important to develop a high skill level for shooting accurately while moving quickly.

And, yes, it’s galling to watch that first-shot miss over and over, but that’s why they call it training. I still have plenty left to do.

Frightening the Peaceful Folk

Frightened the peaceful folk at the indoor gun range again today with some practical drills.

They get concerned that someone shouldn’t be doing what I do, so they approach the RSO and ask if it’s okay. If I’m ok.
#pewpew

I fear they’ll die if ever forced to defend themselves.

Got a Nice Gift

by Andy Rutledge 0 Comments

Walked into the gun range yesterday and they said they had a package for me. Which is odd, because I don’t order items and have them shipped to the gun range, unless it’s a firearm for FFL transfer.

Anyway, seems that a super nice guy named David enjoyed one of my blog posts on the Eagle Gun Range blog and sent me a channel-cleaning tool that he makes as a thank-you. Well, thank you, David!

Made my day!

channel-cleaning tool