Corollary Problem to the Safety Sin

13-Aug-15 – 19:09 by ToddG

141127muzzleblastI’ve written plenty of times about the Safety Sin and how the shooting community in general has turned safety into religion more than science. (see e.g., The Safety Sin, Follow-Up to the Safety Sin, and The Safety Sin Revisited with a link to Tim Chandler‘s excellent Thinking Critically article at GunNuts).

Circumstances have put me at the range quite a bit over the past few weeks. Because I only use ranges with on-staff Range Safety Officers, this tends to provide lots of opportunity to see shooters being corrected when they’ve made safety errors.

One unfortunate but common result is that shooters get offended to the point of anger and even verbal conflict when told they’ve done something against the rules. You’re angry at me because I asked you to stop pointing your gun at me? Why?

Because I’ve questioned your devoutness to the Holy Order. You’re so wrapped up, emotionally, in blind obeisance to some rules you can recite that you don’t actually think about whether you’re being safe or not. And when you do get called out for violating one of those Holy Rules, you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do you admit your sin, or do you condemn the witness?

So here’s a protip: if you do something unsafe, own it, drive on, and try not to do it again. If no one got hurt, it’s just an opportunity to improve yourself and your gun handling. No one is accusing you of burning the Bible. Just try not to screw up again, ok? Simple.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

  1. 21 Responses to “Corollary Problem to the Safety Sin”

  2. #risk

    By Jay Cunningham on Aug 13, 2015

  3. Heathen. I have a fear of indoor ranges, if I’m going to get shot and bleed out slowly or quickly depending on where I am hit then I want to do it in the comforting arms of the outdoors and nature.

    I want to hear the dove and the owl in the background going “who? who?”, as I yell out “ME! ME! I’M HIT!” I want to hear the soothing sounds of 2 stroke dirt-bikes and see all my fellow humans standing around with their camera/phones documenting my slow painful death for their facebook friends and youtube channel. It’s a healthy fear based in reality.

    By David on Aug 14, 2015

  4. I remember an incident from a few years ago where a shooter videoed himself shooting himself in the leg.

    He was roundly condemned as an idiot, and even for posting the video of the accident, because “it makes us all look bad”.

    I thought he was pretty brave to post that video, and that it provided a valuable lesson. I even compared it to the way pilots publicly discuss flying errors in order to spread their experience.

    As I recall, examining the video frame by frame, it looked as if he shot himself while drawing from a Serpa holster.

    He’d violated the “booger hook/bang switch” rule, sure enough, but what people missed was that he only violated it for that split second while pressing the retention release on his holster.

    He thought he was being safe, but had not broken down his draw step by step to verify that his finger remained clear of the trigger the entire time.

    He had fallen into a safety ritual instead a safety practice.

    By DJMoore on Aug 14, 2015

  5. Amen Todd!

    By s prince on Aug 14, 2015

  6. One of the reasons I am a supporter of IDPA and USPSA is the sports enforce effective safety rules that have been developed through years of experience. SO’s and RO’s normally watch the operation of the gun by the shooter and call out safety violations. Safety briefings describe behavior that is unsafe and can result in DQ. And, experienced shooters are good role models for novices. If more pistol owners were to regularly attend action pistol competitions, not only will their safety improve, but their shooting skills will improve as well. And, the end result is your attitude will change towards safety rules and safety procedures. When we violate them, we are more prone to see it as a positive feedback and something we need to remedy.

    By Cody on Aug 14, 2015

  7. Had an AD at match when loading a rifle…on camera. Of course, I got DQ’ed, but the gun was in a safe direction (pointed straight downrange) so embarrassing but, as you note, stuff does happen. We decided to show it rather than “fix it in post.”

    When the show ran, I was AMAZED at the hostile emails I got! I was “only” DQ’ed, not flayed. One persistent emailer insisted I should have:

    1) Gone immediately to the match director and apologized
    2) Immediately packed up and left the range
    3) Film a straight-to-camera sit-down explaining that I had violated the safety rules and should be banned from shooting matches for an unspecified period
    4) Take a remedial class in gun safety, film it, and broadcast it as an Outdoor Channel documentary
    5) Go on the Internet and identify myself as an “unsafe shooter”

    I tried to explain that in fact I made a mistake, which I paid for in the method prescribed by the sport and the range, but he would have none of it.

    Michael B

    By Michael Bane on Aug 14, 2015

  8. Michael;
    Sounds like your persistant email definitely falls into Todd’s model of the person with a “religion” view of firearms safety.

    Do you think that the prominance of the religious model of safety could have some connection with the gun rights fight being just below the surface of the gun world much of the time? People are afraid to admit that good people have unintended bangs because they are afraid it will become ammunition for the anti-gun set? Obviously I am not excusing anything.

    By Chem on Aug 14, 2015

  9. The one that I keep getting called on again and again and again is Finger Not Indexed.
    My hands are kinda big, as indicated by this picture of my hand over a full-sized 1911.. So I tend to have my trigger finger curled around the front of the trigger guard rather than indexed along the frame, because the finger tip is most certainly NOT going into the trigger when in front of the trigger guard.

    Because the tip of my finger is not parallel to the slide on the right frame rail, I have been called on this again and again. And I try, REALLY hard, to say, “Okay. Your range. Your rules.” Because I’m an RSO. Because I’m a firearms instructor. Because the shooter at the line should NEVER argue with either RSO or FI. Not ever.

    But it’s hard, man. It’s HARD not to question the need for such safety theatre, when it’s only for uniformity, rather than actual safety.

    By Matt G on Aug 14, 2015

  10. In IDPA we allow for fingers to be around the front of the trigger guard rather than indexed, but it must not be dangling just off the trigger alongside. The fingertip must be touching something innocuous. Where I see the biggest number of finger calls is during reloading. It just amazes me how many people allow their fingers to slip down into the trigger area or even in the trigger guard. Same for malfunction resolution. Even Expert level shooters do it. But it is unsafe and I will call it.

    By Cody on Aug 14, 2015

  11. Michael: Leave it to “someone on the internet” to insist that you be flayed when you manned up and showed everyone your mistake. What do you think the odds are that this same guy, had he been disqualified somewhere due to a safety error, would have publicly announced it?

    Cody: What is the difference between “in the trigger area” and “in the trigger guard” and are they both in violation of IDPA rules?

    By ToddG on Aug 14, 2015

  12. 2.6 Fingers must be obviously and visibly outside the trigger guard during loading, unloading, drawing, holstering, while moving (unless engaging targets) and during malfunction clearance.

    I look for how close the trigger finger is to the trigger even if it is outside the trigger guard itself. This often happens during a reload, where the shooter is pushing the mag release and if the trigger finger is not indexed on the frame or some other part of the frame, the trigger finger curls in just next to the trigger. This depends a lot on the ergonomics of the individual shooter. Indexing the trigger finger is always preferable because it is obvious and visible. For people with long fingers, placing the finger on the front of the trigger guard is obvious and visible. It’s when the finger is curling towards the trigger within 1/4in or so and is NOT obviously and visibly outside the trigger guard. If it’s behind the trigger and the trigger finger is touching the grip, that is fine. Again, it meets the criteria.

    By Cody on Aug 14, 2015

  13. You know this whole “religion” comparison brings the caliber wars and brand fights into focus too. Anyway, as “someone else” on the Internet I appreciate your honesty Mr. Bane. You gotta love the gun world, all of the condemnation and stoning, none of the “Go and sin no more” forgiveness.

    By ShannonS on Aug 15, 2015

  14. “I remember an incident from a few years ago where a shooter videoed himself shooting himself in the leg.”

    I’m familiar with that video and all the hoopla it garnered.

    As a general point of information that guy had a video of himself drinking his own urine on his YouTube channel. That video quickly disappeared when he gained notoriety for shooting himself. One wonders if he should have been playing with big boy toys?

    By JohnO on Aug 15, 2015

  15. I had a guy last weekend at the range, Federal LEO of some sort, doing draws and re-holsters out of one of those leather OWB things with the retention thumb break. His re-holsters concerned me: he wasn’t looking at the holster, he was jamming the thing in there as fast as he could, and he wasn’t thumbing the hammer (HK LEM gun). Those retention straps looked dangerously close to working themselves into the trigger guard. So I explained to him…

    1) Slow it down/this ain’t a race
    2) I’d really appreciate it if you’d either look at what you were doing or ensure that the retention strap is clear before jamming it in there (or both)
    3) Since you’re using an LEM gun, you can thumb the hammer in order to add an extra layer of safety during this process and, if you’re not going to look at the holster I’d prefer you do so

    He nods and goes back on, but stops the draw/re-holster bit and practices from a high compressed ready for the rest of the session. OK, whatever. I didn’t ask him to stop doing so (drawing from the holster is only allowed at my discretion), I just asked him to be a little safer in doing so. But there was no argument so I wasn’t concerned.

    I came into work the next shift and I got a second-hand earful from one of my managers. Apparently, I in my high-and-mighty RSO wisdom had questioned the legitimacy of the dude’s police training, insulted his safety practices, and condescendingly explained to him how to operate the gun he’s been issued for years upon years.

    Some people…

    By ssb on Aug 15, 2015

  16. Great post. The part about owning it is very important. I’ve trained for a while. I’ve been in real life situations where firearms have been in use.
    I also had an ND. Not an “AD” an ND.
    Luckily I remembered my other safety rules an they came into play. Owning it was the most important and eventually comforting thing I could have done.
    Plus having a highly experienced friend with me who saw how upset I was afterward tell me that it was ok, learn and move on, really also helped. I was lucky. I wasn’t hurt and no one else was. But shit sure does happen. I never want to forget how easy it can happen.

    By Joe F. on Aug 15, 2015

  17. ShannonS: Very true. The brand wars are a particularly bloody affair. I’ve had people go into full blown hysterics because I don’t carry a Glock (I didn’t say they weren’t an amazingly well made gun) they have just simply…..lost it. It’s kinda hilarious

    By Joe F. on Aug 15, 2015

  18. why do I have the feeling that whoever castigated Mr. Bane is the same person that would take offense if they were called out with a safety violation?

    By NWGlocker on Aug 17, 2015

  19. NWGlocker — Bingo!

    By ToddG on Aug 17, 2015

  20. Great observations. Could the attitude be chalked up to; 1) lack of familiarity with the weapon, 2) lack of training, 3) too much stubbornness to admit 1 and/or 2? I’ve run into a lot of attitudes over the years that are thrown out as excuses for poor gun handling and shooting. The include “I’m a trained professional” (cop or military), I’ve been shooting & hunting all my life, etc. Owning, carrying, and shooting firearms requires a serious mindset, and pride needs to be checked at the door. A good shooter accepts correction and critique, regardless of the nature (safety, fundamentals, etc.). A good instructor or RO understands what requires admonishment and knows how to convey it in a professional manner. A good shooter accepts it and tries to correct the deficiency. Those who don’t might hopefully lose interest before tthey do something that cannot be reversed.

    By Rt on Aug 18, 2015

  21. The fanatics will have their day of reckoning. As the old saying goes, There are those that have had them and those that have NOT YET had one. Something like that. We will see when they have theirs how they respond. I’m glad you shared Michael and that no one was hurt. Welcome to the embarrassed Had One Club. And no I do not encourage membership.

    By Mike S on Aug 22, 2015

  22. Valid point but you’re preaching to the choir – to keep the Holy analogy alive.

    Most people handle uninvited criticism poorly. Soft-handed mentorship is usually is received better.

    Anyhow, there are exceptions to the rule, appendix carry being one.


    By Timothy Slemp on Aug 25, 2015

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