Question of the Day: How Safe Are Most Shooters?

I’m a safety Nazi. I never point a gun at another human being unless I intend to shoot them. I always keep a gun pointed in a safe direction (when a safe direction is available). I assume all guns are loaded – even if I can see a blaze orange Chamber View action blocking thingie gumming-up the action. I’m also highly alert to the safety habits of those around me. The other day, I handed my Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless to new shooting pal. His finger couldn’t have gone to the trigger any faster if he’d been trying to shoot a passing Archduke. Later, another gun guy inspected a wicked custom 1911 – pointing the barrel straight at the palm of his hand. In a previous episode of Who Wants to Die Ironically, some bright spark lasered me with a fully loaded Remington 870. As one of our commenters pointed out, gun store patrons’ gun safety habits are notable by their absence. Oy vey. Is it me or is it really bad out there, gun safety-wise?

comments

  1. I’d say only about 70% are safe. To see for yourself go to an unregulated public range the weekend before deer season opens. Only if you dare, not reccomended.

    1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      I mostly avoid those ranges at that time of the year because of all the Bubba’s and Fudd’s who show up with their 300RUM with a gigantic muzzle brake on it to “sight in” before the season opens.

    2. avatar Rabbi says:

      I am the opposite, I think maybe only 5-10% are safe from what I see at public ranges.

      The percentage is much higher for those that take classes, but the percentage of people that actually train in miniscule.

      1. You may have the better answer. The habits of some of the 70% need work.

  2. avatar James R says:

    Luckily the rules are redundantly safe with each other so you have to break several at once to get hurt. Some people still manage though…

  3. avatar CoolBreeze72 says:

    I’m like you. A safety freak. But then I don’t handle my gun frequently during the day. Are ND’s an unavoidable event for those who regularly handle their rod? That’s kinda the anti gun stance. What do you think? Yeah I know… Sexual innuendo not intended.

    1. avatar ShaunL. says:

      I handle at least 1 firearm Every. Single. Day. and have never had a problem. I know multiple other people that are the same in that respect as well.

  4. avatar NJ2AZ says:

    can never be too careful. to that end, if i ask to see a handgun at my LGS, i’ll recheck the chamber even after the clerk checks it before handing me the weapon.

    1. avatar Matt Richardson says:

      I was taught as a child to check a weapon every time I was handed one. Decades kater I still clear them and ALWAYS hand them over with the slide locked with mag out or cylinder open.

      My 7 year old does this (or tries, many guns are too stiff for her to work the action.)

      1. avatar tom says:

        ^ This, yes.

        Always lock the slide open when handing the firearm over is what my grandpa taught me, and what I’ve taught my kids.

      2. avatar Isaac says:

        Agreed. Growing up, my dad taught me to treat every gun as if it were loaded no matter what you were told by the person who handed it to you. I haven’t taken any classes or anything as an adult, but if you just do 100% of what your local range staff tell you to do, you’ll be just fine for your casual, weekend shooting.

  5. avatar Damarius Ilion says:

    When I remember the times I’ve heard drill sergeants go off about muzzle awareness and pointing your weapon downrange, I’m glad they were in place to stop people from committing serious accidents or worse!!!!!!

    . Salute the Troops!!!!!

    1. avatar BDub says:

      I once watched a Drill Instructor beat the holy hell out of a private, with a cleaning rod, for muzzling him with a ready to fire M16 at a range (after yanking it from his grasp by the end of the barrel, mind you).

      1. avatar burninghXcsoul says:

        When I was in Basic during the M4 zero range there was a private in a concrete foxhole who was firing and was done. He had picked the weapon and was almost holding it at port arms. The DS walked over to tell him to put it back on the sandbags and when he spoke, the private turned and flagged him with the M4. The DS then stomped him in the helmet and the private crumpled like a koopa in Mario…. It was full of win…

  6. avatar ST says:

    Gun safety would seem to be a lost art among the firearms community.Proof can be seen at every Cabellas and Scheels gun counter in America.

    1. avatar John M. says:

      Firearm accident rates are at all-time lows. It would appear that it was our grandparents and great grandparents who did not have the art of safe firearm handling and we who have found it. This thanks in no small part to the NRA and similar groups.

  7. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Gun store patrons are worse than gun shows!

  8. avatar Bear The Grizzly says:

    I think we remember the times people do dumb crap more than they do normal things. I only let people handle my guns after they’ve demonstrated proper safety handling.

    1. avatar Matt Richardson says:

      This!

      It’s not that an inordinate number of people are stupid or careless, it’s just that the stupid and careless ones are the only ones who stand out to us.

  9. avatar DisThunder says:

    Dunno. I see people do stupid stuff at the range, but I see stupid people do stuff in their cars, at work, and everywhere else, and yet I see very few dead bodies.
    This feels kinda click-bait-y. And a little inconsistent- since the truth is, and has been, that miraculously, despite how dangerous the media and the anti-gun crowd portrays them, an accidental shooting is pretty rare. Avoidable? Preventable? Absolutely. But that doesn’t make it much more dangerous than anything else people do absent-mindedly.

    1. avatar Bear The Grizzly says:

      +1
      Vehicles kill so many people it’s deplorable. Nobody bats an eye when they see a newly licensed 16 year old in a massive SUV, but the second someone is spotted with an AR-15 they’re an accident waiting to happen.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        The difference, to me, is that screwing up in a car is easy. It’s amazing we’re not all dead considering we are hurtling one-tonne vehicles towards one another at a combined speed of 110 mph all the time. One inch this way or that with the steering wheel… oops. One second too late on the braking… oops.

        But guns are relatively simple. Few malfunction in such a manner as to discharge. And all the user error can be avoided by not. pulling. the. trigger.

        1. avatar racer88 says:

          With nothing but an imaginary line, represented by yellow paint, keeping us apart. Yikes.

        2. avatar John Galt says:

          I think we should rebrand that yellow line.

          Let’s call it a “Crash Free Zone.”

    2. avatar Accur81 says:

      Word. People are straight up morons in cars. Please forgive me, I work in the LA Metro area, so we have a lot of unlicensed drivers. This city has a collective IQ right below Forrest Gump.

      Now compare vs. the Bubbas, Fudds, and regular hunters. In the first weekend of gun deer season in WI, there was not a single reported negligent shooting injury. There were heart attacks and injuries from falling out of stands (roughly 12 if memory serves), but zero shooting injuries from 600,000 plus licenses sold.

      If you remove gangbangers and murderers from the equation, people are remarkably safe with firearms. The NRA and hunter’s safety classes deserve a lot of credit for that, as well as individual gun owners who handle guns in a responsible manner.
      Granted there is definitely range stupidity, and I’ve definitely chewed people out, but flagging someone with a confirmed unloaded gun is a whole lot less dangerous than composing a lengthy text message while driving at 85 mph.

      Cars and voting rule the negligence arena.

      1. avatar Nick D says:

        It never ceases to annoy me how somebody can get 5,000 pounds of metal and glass up to 80 mph, but never bother to pay attention throughout the whole process because they have a super important phone call to make. I once asked a cop if I can assume that to be a form of negligent aggression and defend myself and my property accordingly. Unfortunately, shooting stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places is still not considered self defense.
        And MDA keeps screaming how Stand-yer-ground lets me do exactly that. I feel cheated.

    3. avatar Thomas says:

      This. I mean, not to say we don’t have a problem with people not following even the most basic gun safety rules, but it seems like almost no one follows any sort of rules for car safety, and they are far, far more dangerous statistically.

  10. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Thankfully, I’ve never seen anyone at the range whose gun handling caused me to fear for my life.

    But I’m sure that day is coming. Since Illinois passed its concealed carry law a year ago, tens of thousands of people have become gun owners for the first time. These are people who didn’t grow up with guns and who never learned gun safety from their parents. They are the people we see at Cabela’s pointing pistols at people.

    1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

      Man you are so right. Every gunshop and range is crowded and filled with noobs. This seems to be a companion piece to yesterdays everyone shouldn’t carry. And don’t forget the 60year old man who committed suicide at Blythes gun shop & range in Valparaiso,Indiana last summer. Very lucky he didn’t take someone with him. The ultimate in being swept with a muzzle…

  11. avatar Maineuh says:

    I had a gun store clerk point a gun at my belly the other day while she was pulling it out of the cabinet.She held it that way for a good three seconds before I stepped to the side to indicate my discomfort. It was a strange moment. You just assume that a gun store employee… but assuming is never a good idea.

  12. avatar Silverback says:

    I’m with you. Drives me crazy to see how some people don’t get it. I’m religious about not muzzling people, finger off trigger, always check twice when handed a firearm, never hand someone a loaded firearm, etc. Others, not so much it seems. Or maybe it’s just that the few who muzzle me, have their fingers on the trigger, etc wig me out so much that I think it’s more people doing it than actually are. The biggest thing I see if noobs on the range that want to turn around (smiling) with the firearm in their hand, muzzling the whole firing line. i TRY not to be a dick about it, but man… if that dude lazed me with a fully loaded 12G, after shitting myself, I might think about making him shit HIMself.

  13. avatar Steve in MD says:

    I was at a gun store in PA where a customer decided to use me as a target for the different guns he was looking at. The guy behind the counter didn’t seem to care.

    1. avatar BDub says:

      That’s either a lie, or evidence of a godly amount of self-restraint on your part.

  14. avatar neiowa says:

    Robert –His finger couldn’t have gone to the trigger any faster. DId you smack him up side da head? Insult his intelligence/manhood? Or take other aggressive steps, which he will remember, in order to retrain the idiot?

    Letting it go because he is an “adult” is no answer.

    1. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

      A smack upside the head would be good. After you get him to get his finger off the trigger and put the pistol down, of course.

  15. avatar Rabbi says:

    I occasionally had to visit a public range in MA. I hated going there because of constant safety violations.

    When folk ask me about safety issue there, I tell them this: Would you walk down a street where you know that untrained people would be pointing loaded weapons at you while there finger is on the trigger? Why would you go to a range where that is happening?

  16. avatar Silverback says:

    A couple of range visits ago, an apparent noob next to me decided to rack the slide/chamber a round with her finger IN the trigger guard (and with a weak wrist). BOOM. blew a chunk of aluminum off the table in front of her. Shut down the firing line. Freaked everyone out. I left.

    BRING BACK EDDIE THE EAGLE!

  17. avatar WRH says:

    People, in general, are stupid and unsafe. It takes time, energy and proper training to be safe. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a gun, a car or a kitchen knife.

  18. avatar David p. says:

    I can’t say that I am a safety nazi. I am horrible about using the safety switch. I guess I always felt the safety could give you a false sense of security. But I do take safety seriously. Never sweep my barrel over anyone. Always keep my finger off the trigger until ready to fire. When I started shooting with my kids I made sure the gun was unloaded and put one of those lasers down the barrel (the kind you boresight a gun with) and would allow them to handle the gun to make sure the laser never hits anything important.

    But I must be more of a safety nazi then I think because we bought a different house because it had a range on it. It wasn’t because I could shoot more or didn’t have to travel (although those are nice perks) but I know I am safe but I don’t know about the person to the left or right of me at the range is safe. Especially with so many new shooters.

  19. avatar Ralph says:

    Judging by the minuscule number of fatal firearms accidents — about 600 a year, counting suicides that are covered up — I’d say that most owners are pretty safe.

    Cars are designed to be safe, yet the number of accidental auto deaths are almost mind-boggling. Doctors and hospitals are supposed to be life savers, yet medical mistakes kill at least 98,000 patients a year. Guns are designed to be dangerous and yet the number of gun deaths don’t make the top ten list of accidental deaths.

    The trip to the range in your car is the most dangerous part of range day. But don’t walk to the range either (as I do) because ten pedestrians get splattered for every accidental gun death. Accidentally falling down stairs kills twice as many people as NDs, so if you live in a Colonial, you are flirting with death too.

  20. avatar Chris says:

    I wish LGS’ would put up signs somewhere that said “SAFE DIRECTION” that looked like something cool and obvious and Targetty that just makes you want to aim there, and not randomly at my head or other vital body part…

  21. avatar Defens says:

    It seems to me that many of the younger shooters are getting proper training and it’s sticking with them pretty well. I’m an NRA instructor, and in the personal protection classes I teach (where the students are supposed to already have some familiarity with firearms) it’s generally the older students that need some reminders (sometimes quite emphatically, when I’m getting a loaded pistol pointed at my midsection.)

    There were some really standout unsafe gun handlers in the group of people that used to hunt at our friend’s ranch when I was a youth. The ones that are totally oblivious are the ones that point their deer rifle out in front of them, then turn to converse – and sweep – everyone they talk to. Or – there’s the ones that use their rifle scope to check out the obvious human walking up the far ridge; but they carefully hold the rifle in some loony fashion, or don’t get a cheek weld, etc. so the practice is somehow “safer.” They know it’s a safety violation, but do it anyway.

    It’s really kind of surprising that there aren’t more accidental shootings – but, as observed above – the safety rules require a set of cascading events for something really bad to happen. Pointing a gun + pressing trigger + loaded chamber.

  22. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    I’m definitely a safety nazi anytime I am handling guns alone or around other people, but I find it doesnt annoy me as much at a gun shop as they are fairly sterile environment as far as live ammo goes, and if someone has the forethought to bring in live ammo with the explicit purpose of harming people then it doesn’t really matter how tight or lax the shop is on safe handling. As a courtesy to the other is the shop and out of habbit I will lower the muzzle if the clerk is walking by behind the counter while I am checking sight picture, and I always do a little press check if I am going to dry fire, again out of habbit. All the clerks at the shops I frequent carry and I like to believe they will notice someone stuffing live rounds in the magazine before something bad happens. I trust them enough at least to not go around being a dick to the other patrons for not practicing perfect muzzle and trigger discipline if if I do so myself out of habbit. I would be like demanding safety glasses and heavy gloves in the power tools section of home depot where they take the batteries out of/ or cut the power cords off of any of the tools you could actually hurt yourself with.

    My biggest “gun safety” pet pieve is the mindless, almost robotic, borderline obsessive compulsive going through the motions of gun safety you see a lot on youtube. It bugs the ever living hell out of me when watching youtube gun videos and the presenter spends 2/3’s of the total run time racking the action saying “see we gots tuh alwayz check ter make shir it aint lowdid” then talks for maybe 15 seconds and then racks the slide/bolt/whatever again and again and again while talking and saying the same thing over and over again. Such obsessive going through the motions breeds complacency if anything because eventually you will get to the point where you mindlessly rack the slide and dont actually check anything. A gun is not going to magically load itself in the 15 seconds since you first checked it, and it was never out of your sight or immediate control so give it a rest already and film the goddamn video.

    Now that doesnt mean point it at your head and pull the trigger after you check it the first time, but seriously. If you truly cared about safety you would be filming in an ammo sterile environment to begin with. So again, if you are so concerned that you have to compulsively check and recheck your gun even when it was never out of your immediate control, get a prescription for adderral or pick up a different hobby that involves helmets and soft padding.

    This isnt really a pet pieve but I also get a kick out of the idiots in the comments on youtube gun videos where the presenter is clearly using a camera tripod but the commentors still say mindless garbage like “is it me or am I the only one who ducked every time he muzzled the camera… herp a derpa hurrr… what a noob… ammiright? !” as if the gun can shoot through the internet at them or something. Again such obsession with mindlessly going through the motions of safety breeds complacency, and if anything is actually learned about actual safe gun handling it is only by accident.

    1. avatar PPGMD says:

      >”This isnt really a pet pieve but I also get a kick out of the idiots in the comments on youtube gun videos where the presenter is clearly using a camera tripod but the commentors still say mindless garbage like “is it me or am I the only one who ducked every time he muzzled the camera… herp a derpa hurrr… what a noob… ammiright? !” as if the gun can shoot through the internet at them or something. ”

      I wish they could be shot over the internet.

    2. avatar John M. says:

      I took some inexperienced shooters out recently and had them watch a couple of YouTube videos (four rules + how to load & unload an autopistol) beforehand. The how to load & unload guy kept muzzling the camera. While I recognize that it was safe, I wish he hadn’t gotten my new shooters used to looking down the barrel of a gun. That should not be a “normal” experience for most shooters and I didn’t appreciate it. I did have them watch the video, but I wish I could have found a different one who did it a different way.

      1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

        Wow, give your new shooters a little bit of credit for (hopefully) being able to distinguish the difference between a youtube video and real life. All this righteous indignation about sweeping/muzzling the camera is silly. Unless there is a person sitting on the other side of the camera there is ZERO issue. Hopefully you aren’t taking people to the range who are so clueless that they cant differentiate between the two things, you have a lot more appetite for risk than I do if that’s the case.

    3. avatar slow joe crow says:

      Have you considered the possibility that the endless slide racking is in imitation of another repetitive back and forth motion? I saw this interpretation years ago in conjunction with motorcycle throttles.
      While I do blip the throttle on my bike at stoplights to keep an old and finicky engine from stalling. With guns I know enough to cycle the action once to load, and to lock it open and remove the magazine if I want to guarantee it’s clear.

  23. avatar Tom says:

    One of my pet peeves is ‘up’ is not a safe direction. Gravity always wins. People that cycle the slide while their weapon is at a 45 degree up angle, or release the bolt like that :shakes fist:

    The range I belong too is a pretty heavy on safety range. So much so, people have quit the range because of it. One of those is you will not carry a loaded firearm to/from the firing line including your CC gun. That seems to annoy people and claim it’s anti-second amendment. It’s not anti-2A. It’s anti-stupid mistakes.

    I’m often surprised at how careless some folks can be, sweeping is my least favorite, even seeing it on video (I’m looking at YOU Yankee Marshal Gary the Glock Closing Credits) makes my scrotum retract. Probably has something to do with a kid I knew in grade school thinking it was ‘funny’ to call me into a room from another room and having a 1911 pointed at my face when I walked in.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      “… you will not carry a loaded firearm to/from the firing line including your CC gun.”

      As long as you keep your concealed firearm concealed, it isn’t going to harm anyone. That rule is just plain dumb.

    2. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      1000% agree with “up” is not a safe direction, see that way too often.

      1000% disagree with your last paragraph. Unless there is a person holding the camera, who gives a fuck if he sweeps the camera? As much as I dislike YM for thee reasons, the glock at the end of the video is not even on the register. Billets can’t travel through fiber optics, yet, so being affraid of being swept in a video is off base.

    3. avatar PPGMD says:

      >”One of those is you will not carry a loaded firearm to/from the firing line including your CC gun. That seems to annoy people and claim it’s anti-second amendment. It’s not anti-2A. It’s anti-stupid mistakes.”

      No actually it makes things worse as it means they will be clearing the gun in their cars at best case just off the range property, more likely in the parking lot. You want to make things safer have a procedure to allow those people to safely bring the CCW to the line and unload it when the range is hot.

    4. avatar Taylor TX says:

      Down is also not necessarily safe, at least in my experiences of shooting at outdoor ranges with concrete flooring or indoor square range.

  24. avatar Jon says:

    Who Wants to Die Ironically

    I’m guessing that’s an imagery show. I looked it up, but couldn’t find anything.

  25. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    While I definitely do not like the way some people handle firearms, the fact of the matter is that people who negligently discharged firearms killed about 600 people last year. Given that about 100 million people own firearms, that is an incredible safety record.

    So I would say it all depends on your exact definition of “safe handling”. If “safe handling” means you never violate any of the safety rules, then lots of people are “unsafe”. On the other hand, if your definition of “safe handling” means you did not negligently shoot anyone, I’d say firearm’s owners are extremely safe.

  26. avatar Kyle in CT says:

    I used to have a coach that was a former Marine. Every time we did something stupid with a rifle it meant pushups, and the numbers went up by 50 every time ANYBODY did something wrong or unsafe. By the time the count had accumulated to 350 pushups, people were pretty darn obsessive about making sure they did everything exactly right and completely safely.

  27. avatar Frank says:

    I was in Bass Pro the other day and the guys behind the counter handed a shotgun to a girl who promptly swept the barrel right past the faces of four guys behind the counter.
    They all instinctively ducked behind the counter even though we all knew the gun was unloaded.
    I wonder how many times a week that happens?

    1. avatar Paul says:

      Conversely, I was handed a shotgun at Gander Mountain and turned to the left to try the cheek weld, since I didn’t want to muzzle any of the employees (left side of the store was empty). Was told by the employee to only point it behind the counter, so I couldn’t avoid muzzling someone.

    2. avatar Avid Reader says:

      I asked a guy who works the counter at Cabela’s how many times a week he was muzzled in the store. He said he lost track so quickly he didn’t even count anymore.

  28. avatar PPGMD says:

    Meh expensive, and overkill.

    A safe weapon is one that is pointed in a safe direction with the owners fingers off the trigger. Being unloaded is not required.

    The handgun one is pretty pointless, I’m not aware of a major match that requires pistol chamber flags. They require the gun holstered after being cleared, or bagged.

  29. avatar tdubb says:

    I have left public ranges due to safety concerns. Gun counters are scary places.

    Some people are more concerned with playing dress up instead of actually knowing what they are doing. I have a lot of friends who love to talk a good game, but don’t have a clue when it comes to actually doing it. “I know what I’m doing” is usually followed by finger contact with the trigger as they pick the gun up off the table and sweep everyone.

    Competitions are usually the safest places. A lot of people who know what they are doing, watching out for each other.

    1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      The same can be said for people obsessively go through the motions of gun “safety” to the point to where it almost becomes mindless of complacent.

      I dont need to get to 3rd base with my Glock check that it is unloaded and safe.

      1. avatar dean wormer says:

        Do you suck on your glock’s barrel? or did you mean *second* base?

        1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

          I dont know how quickly kids move these days, but when I was younger third base was fingers in the magwell. I guess the times are changing.

  30. avatar Cam says:

    I always ask how to operate certain guns at the counter. I watched a kid drop the mag of a betters in the glass counter at bass pro.

    Stupid people are everywhere.

  31. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    The best I can do is what Tom Gresham passed around the other day. It is “the great one” Clint Smith giving all gun owners (and others) a good stern talking to. He does it in only the way Clint Smith can do ! Pls pass it along to others….

  32. avatar John says:

    Very, very, very few shooters are safe. Everyone thinks they are but very few are actually safe. I thought I was safe until I started competing at IDPA events and realized that I was not nearly as safe as I thought I was. Most people roll their eyes at the Nazi-like regulations at the matches but they’re there for a reason.

  33. avatar Southern Cross says:

    When I started shooting at my range, the safety and handling standards were drilled into me. When I was hunting, the same standards were imposed on the rest of the group. But the standards were not overbearing and were mostly common sense.

    At my range, before you can leave the firing point you are cleared TWICE. Self-clearing is not allowed. Post match accidental discharges in the 20 years I’ve been there, ZERO!!!

    Unlike other ranges which can be really overbearing, we have a balance between safety and usability that works for all involved.

  34. avatar Dan Baum says:

    It’s really bad out there, gun-safety-wise. And tragically for all of us, the knuckleheads don’t see any connection between their sloppiness and the political fight in which we find ourselves. Gun accidents, and stolen guns, feed the antis worst fears and animate them to do stupid things. We could, if we chose, radically reduce that.

  35. avatar tdiinva says:

    Safety is continuum and the real answer is none of us are intrinsically safe. As soon as you start thinking it can’t happen to you then you start down the road to breaking the rules and becoming, if only for an instant, unsafe and that’s all it takes to kill someone. My range is run by safety Nazis. Point your gun in an unsafe direction you get the boot. Mishandle a gun, get the boot. Bring an uncased/unholstered firearm behind the firing line you get the boot. That makes most of the people I shoot with as safe as one can be. There is always the chance that someone will show, break the rules and get the boot.

  36. avatar John Boch says:

    Safe enough not to perforate others as a rule. Accidental injuries are pretty low.

    I demand a lot safer than that when I’m around and in our classes.

    John

  37. avatar Larry says:

    A lot of very fair points. I would like to say that some folks can get into a there is only one safe way to do mind set that can be counter productive.

    As an example I first started shooting a double barrelled shotgun in the 1950s and I am sure the hours I have spent doing so number in the many thousands. Yet when I took up cowboy action shooting about 10 years ago when I went to shoot at my first match I was loudly upbraided by the folks running the monthly shoot for not carrying my old Parker 16 ga closed and pointed at the sky. I had it empty and opened in the crook of my arm which I maintained is the safe way to show that the gun is both unloaded and the barrels are pointed at the ground…
    Their patch and their rules so of course I did what was asked and I have the say the gun handeling of SASS shooters I have observed over the last 10 years has been exemplary and I would agree that a pump action shotgun or lever action rifle where the presence or absence of ammunition in the tube is not obvious from a distance then pointed up at the sky makes sense in a match situation.
    However I still maintain that the safest way to carry a double barrel shotgun is in an open condition and in the crook of the arm.
    As a side note I do not agree with the way some folks at a clay pigeon shoot carry a open double just balanced on their shoulder. If they are tall it can be hard to tell if it is empty for one thing and the barrels are constantly sweeping others as well as putting very expensive guns at risk. I saw fine high grade engraved Browning over and under slip off of its owners shoulder to the cost of I would guess almost a thousand bucks worth of damage at a sporting clays match and the kicker was it was loaded so it could have closed in the fall and possibly discharged… The way the officials shrugged it off upset me quite a bit and I was careful to not be in the same squad with that shooter after lunch.

  38. avatar Mercutio says:

    It’s like flying a plane – it’s not so much that folks are dangerous as it is the penalties when you do screw up. A higher level of caution is required (check those ailerons and elevators before you go up – check for that empty chamber) than for usual activities. Hard to make that mindset stick, particularly at the point where you have a bit of familiarity with firearms and are beginning to get (inappropriately) relaxed.

  39. avatar Mark in WA says:

    I see people doing stupid things from time to time, and I generally shoot in ranges with private memberships. I see it, I wait until it’s safe to talk to them, and I go over, but I don’t freak out on them. I find that when you point it out reasonably and with the expectation that it was a mistake rather than gross negligence, they usually react well and don’t do it again; I have always gotten an apology. At a public range near here – Bellevue WA – the RSO’s wait until things are really bad and then go berserk. This causes people to shut down, believe they were mistreated and ignore the request to fix the problem.

  40. avatar Anon says:

    I don’t go to the range on weekends, holidays and evenings. Seen too many newbies and careless old timers make mistakes.

    IDPA and IPSC can be interesting as I’ve seen ND’s at each.

    While I consider myself safe, I’ve broken 1 rule several times (barrel pointed in wring direction).

    I don’t trust myself and try hard to follow all the rules, including when I’m cleaning. Even if it’s just the barrel I won’t swing it across anything I don’t want to destroy, but it’s tough with fingers.

  41. avatar Bob says:

    Shoot more uspsa and 3 gun. It quickly beats into your head safety.

    Only loading at the line under super vision of the RO, 180 deg rule, unload and show clear after a course of fire, etc..

    Screw them up and you get dq’d. Shoot enough matches and it starts to stick everywhere

  42. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, and the majority of drivers consider themselves to be a better than average driver, a statistical impossibility.

    A cute trick they use in personality tests or pre-employment tests is to couch questions in terms of your view of other people, or what you think most others are doing. “Do you think most employees steal from their employers”, “Are most people happy at work”, and such. They know that people are apt to reveal truth about themselves if they’re given the cover of regarding it as normal or common. Well.

    When I read fifty guys each bitching about how everyone else is an accident waiting to happen, I lnow there are upwards of fifty guys whose personal safety would benefit from a serious self-examination of their own safety practices.

    1. avatar John M. says:

      It’s entirely possible for more than half of all drivers to be better than average if driving ability has a non-normal distribution. What’s not possible is for more than half of all drivers to have better than median ability.

      1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

        Think you’re getting a gold star for differentiating between mean and median? You’re not. We’re talking about ordinal data here, not ratio, not even interval, since there’s no meaningful measurement difference between observations. Only rank matters. Hence, only the median is relevant.

        The common language word “average” can refer to the specific statistical terms mean, median, or even mode, for that matter.

        Soooo……your desperate and, shall we say, below average, attempt at snarkiness/relevance earns you only a big fat “No shit, Sherlock.”

  43. avatar ken says:

    This would not be such a problem if the NRA and Boy Scouts ceased constanly training people that they should “never load the gun until they are at the firing line”.
    That one mistake has caused this entire mess. How can anyone not know that if you train new shooters that the gun will always be unloaded, then many of them will act as if that is true?
    But it is NOT true. It is yet another of the logical fallacies that large group seem to fall for so easily. And the larger they are, the worse the problem seems to get.

    1. avatar JasonMfromSoDakota says:

      Ken you are the closest post to my interest. I have been taught to assume all weapons are loaded and treat them as such. I understand that this is to condition the response into a person of the fact that bullets can never be taken back so err on the side of caution and treat the gun with the respect it deserves. Here is the but, when I know there is not a round in the chamber of a gun it is just a hammer at that point instead of a flashing sword. My training is to assume a gun is loaded until I know for a fact that it is empty, which then makes it just a fancy paper weight. If a person doesn’t know what condition their gun is in maybe they are not that responsible of a gun owner.

  44. avatar dean wormer says:

    The only way I would ever work behind a gun counter is if EVERY gun had a trigger lock and EVERY gun was either locked open or had the bolt removed.

  45. avatar 2hotel9 says:

    No, it is not just you. I shoot with a diverse crowd, many of whom carry weapons daily in their work, others retired LEO and military and as you say, oy vey. In any given day of shooting the term safety nazi will be applied to me at least once. And I am proud of that. I have been on ranges where people NDed, hell in Army it happened with frightening regularity, and even witnessed someone shooting themselves in the leg(rd went down the inside of right leg ripping from knee to ankle), that said, of all the ranges I HMFIC there are no NDs, and never had an injury other than heat related(some people just can’t figure out to drink their damned water) and one broken arm. Guy slipped on his expended 12ga shells and stuck his arm out as he went down. And yes, his Mossburg swept the whole right end of the line as he fell.

    Stressing safety makes people a bit cranky, do it anyway.

  46. avatar LordGopu says:

    Up here in Canada I’ve found it to be pretty safe. I’ve seen some dumb things like shooting at too high of an angle and putting a whole in the roof downrange, but never anything involving guns pointed at people.

    Once I thought someone lasered me with his crimson trace but it turns out his laser flew off as he was shooting and went downrange, lasering all over the room as it tumbled.

    I shot at a public outdoor range in phoenix once though and it was safe there. The rules were a bit more lax but again, no guns pointed at anyone. Most dangerous thing was s pump shotgun leaning up against a post while loaded. I guess it could have fallen over but it was out of the way and we fired it soon after.

  47. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Until one gets into 75mn guns or above, an automobile traveling at highway speeds can do far more damage than a firearm.

    Now look at the divers around you and cogitate on the words “safety” and “humans” in the same paragraph.

    Humans by and large are bloody, ignorant apes to whom no danger is actual until something bad happens. Sometimes not even that’ll teach ’em; I cannot tell you how many vehicles I’ve seen sporting a trashed front end, merrily maintaining an hundred millisecond following distance at 75 MPH.

    No, Robert, is isn’t just you; non stupid people are a minority, and an endangered segment of the population.

  48. avatar ChiGurh says:

    I still don’t understand how 95% of the people I see at my somewhat local square range shoot a bazillion times at the same silhouette target without at least marking past shots. Look, I shot more holes into the hole-infested target thus having no clue where I actually shot, but I get a A+ for trying! That’s why i don’t like going when there is a lot of folks there. Chances are, if you don’t care about you aim or abilities, you probably don’t put as much emphasis on safety as you should. But, that’s just my way of thinking.

  49. avatar Isaac says:

    Something I will say about articles like this: if we’re ever at the same range and you see me do something incorrectly, please don’t just ignore it and go home to write a blog post about it. I did some shooting as a kid with my dad, but in terms of hours spent with a gun, I’m a pretty new shooter. If I were doing something without knowing it wasn’t proper etiquette or safety protocol, I would want someone to call me out on it so I could do it the right way.

    1. avatar 2hotel9 says:

      I try not to. And, as hard as it may be for some people to believe, I don’t do it in a Gunny Hartman imitation. The fatherly concerned line works best, although, the “What the f**k is your major malfunction” approach has its place, too.

  50. avatar Joe says:

    Im an RSO at a public range. About 80% of the shooters I see are safe, concientious, courteous, and polite. The other 20% on the other hand…. Well lets see about 5% are just plain stupid. Another 5% are ignorant. 5% are careless by nature. The other 5% are a mixture of scumbags, dirtbags, criminals, goofs, old farts, ner’ do wells, ass clowns, foreigners, richy rich kids, and fools.

  51. avatar ryan s says:

    I will say that at the range it’s bad and there’s no reason. I try really hard to not point a gun at anyone but in a gun show/gun store setting this is nearly impossible. Heck when most guns are handed to me they are pointed at the person doing the handing over because they are hand in me the grip.

  52. avatar publius2 says:

    One public range I have stopped going to is just plain dangerous, due to noobs and COD gunboys.

    And they are so busy on weekends its often an hour+ wait to get a lane.

    I’ve found another place an hour away thats quieter, and a little more safety concious.

  53. avatar Raul Ybarra says:

    Late to the conversation, but I will add my thoughts anyway.

    What Isaac said a few posts up is right on the money. A big part of gun safety is us all looking out for each other without being jerks about it (unless it’s called for, that is… 😉 ). Sooner or later, each of us will either violate or almost violate one of the rules. Just like ebola, no protocol or person is 100% perfect 100% of the time. Usually, just a “careful” is all it takes.

    Another thing is to take a good look at the gun safety rules. The 3 or 4 (depending on whose list you’re using) really are very well thought out and do take into account that nobody is perfect. Failing a rule isn’t enough. It takes a Grand Fail on multiple grounds to have an accident. That’s by intent and recognizes human nature. That also doesn’t mean we ignore a goof, though. The reminders – gentle or otherwise – are necessary reinforcement.

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