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Safety Should Never Be An Option

Source: Jim Shepherd's Shooting Wire

During every SHOT show I'm constantly nervous. At any time you are surrounded by dozens of muzzles, the rapid snapping of triggers and a cacophony of AR charging handles slinging bolts back and forth. And while every possible action is taken to insure no live rounds and actual functioning weapons are present, mistakes do happen.

Everyone here should be familiar, in some variation or another, with the four basic safety rules:

All guns are always loaded.

Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.

Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

Be sure of your target, angle of fire, and backstop.

These rules apply any time there are firearms present. They apply when unloading your weapon to clean or store it, as well as when training and practice. They also apply if you find yourself involved in a violent confrontation.

What I want you do is think about them more as laws, which carry a little more weight than rules. Rules can be bent or broken, a lot of times without getting caught, and if discovered the penalty isn't very severe. Laws, according to my dictionary, are actions "prohibiting certain actions and enforced by the imposition of penalties." This is how we should think of firearms safety. If you break the laws, you pay a high price. Applying the Law constantly, and consistently, allows you to handle firearms safely. This is especially true when fighting against someone trying to put the hurt to you.

Under stress, moving in an environment containing bystanders or threats around every corner, it's important to make sure your muzzle stays pointing in a safe direction. And since there are times when your muzzle will cover someone, if you pay attention these times should be rare, that's why we keep our finger off the trigger unless the sights are on the threat, meaning you've made the decision to shoot. When the sights come off the threat, or your eyes come off the sights, your finger comes off the trigger. (Exception is firing from a retention position.) I recommend keeping the trigger finger high, somewhere on the frame or slide, and indexed well above the trigger guard.

Always identify your threat. Be sure you have a clear angle of fire so any errant rounds that miss the threat or punch through them don't end up injuring anyone else. In times when you can't predict where your bullet will end up you shouldn't be pressing the trigger.

Memorize these rules, and make them laws. These laws are used anytime there are firearms present. When forced to fight, remember you still have to fight safe. The only way to fight safely is with training and practice. Make sure you're ready.

-- Tiger McKee

Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama, author of The Book of Two Guns, a staff member of several firearms/tactical publications, and an adjunct instructor for the F.B.I. (256) 582-4777 (Permalink)

Uploaded: 1/28/2011