Guest post: How to Not Shoot Yourself. By Daniel Shaw
Shooters who subscribe to the Ogre’s blog or social networking sites were likely to have seen, in late June, the YouTube video of a gentleman who was doing some training that resulted in him shooting himself in the leg. From his language and the way he handled the pistol after shooting himself, I gathered that he was not a novice. His main purpose of posting the embarrassing video was to let viewers know that negligent discharges could happen to anyone. Even the most skilled and experienced shooters can make bad decisions through complacency and those decisions could lead to an accidental discharge.
As responsible gun owners, we should take every step necessary to insure that we do not harm ourselves or our range buddies during training. Being to safe during training could create training scars, not being safe enough could create real scars or kill. We have to find the safe middle ground, establish training goals and parameters, and stay within them while training. If the training you want to do involves risk that is not worth the gain – don’t do it. The most basic way to prevent an accident is to follow the four firearm safety rules. As Massad Ayoob said once on my podcast, “The things we do the most, we do around the ones we love the most”. Mas was referring to loading, unloading and cleaning. I couldn’t agree more, and would venture to say that an armed citizen will be doing the aforementioned basic tasks much more than he or she will be shooting bad guys. Work to be extremely proficient at the basics and always follow the safety rules. Following the safety rules should be an instinctive behavior and a standard that you hold yourself and your range buddies to at all times.
Many of us have a variety of holsters and firearms that we like to take to the range. It’s likely that the holsters will have different retention mechanisms and the firearm’s external safeties or lack of safeties may vary from pistol to pistol. When changing holsters or pistols during training and when you start a new drill for the day, unload, clear your weapon, and have a friend double check, then commence to dry firing the drill until you re-familiarize yourself with your equipment and/or the drill. Go slow while focusing on doing it right and the speed will come with repetition. For example, drawing and firing from retention requires the same muscles and motion with an unloaded pistol as it does with a loaded pistol. Anyone who has implemented a dry fire routine in with their range time will likely tell you that they get more out of their time on the range and save more money on ammo than before they began the dry practice.
Have an intimate knowledge of your gear and weapon. How does one gain an intimate knowledge of his or her weapon and gear? Exposure and reputation are essential, but as my old volleyball coach, who is now in the USAV hall of fame, painfully drilled in my head years ago – practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Of course we all should work to be faster and more accurate, but we also have a responsibility to ourselves, and to those around us to not let our speed outrun our ability. Train to do it right, train often, and train safely.
Daniel Shaw is the host of the very excellent Pod Cast: The Gunfighter Cast