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(courtesy keepinpiece210 @

By John Farnham [via]

Shibumi is a Japanese word that loosely translates to ‘effortless perfection.’ Anything that is Shibumi is quiet in refinement, noble, and fulfilling in a manner not shaped exclusively by analytical thought. In Japanese culture, Shibumi implies ‘simplicity of spirit,’ an attitude of refinement without pretense, honesty without apology, beauty without gaudiness . . .

Shibumi must be found, not won. Shibumi is understanding, rather than knowledge. It is harmony, in action. In art, it is understated beauty, elegant brevity. In philosophy, it is spiritual tranquility that is not passive; it is ‘being,’ without the constant anxiety of ‘becoming.’

In serious fighting, it translates to, ‘No wasted parts; No wasted motions.’” ~ Rick Wiggington

We run many hot-range Courses every year, including Urban Rifle. Negligent Discharge (ND)s are extremely rare. Even at that, most ND expend themselves harmlessly downrange, or strike the deck several meters in front of the blushing student. I believe students need the experience of personally carrying loaded guns (pistols and rifles), all day. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to train people to do things without actually doing them!

NDs happen, even on “cold” ranges too! Risk can be “managed,” but never eliminated completely. Risk is inherent to all weapons training, indeed to all gun-handling. Ill-conceived, indeed maniacal, attempts to absolutely do away with all risk, invariably result in “training” that is stilted, sterile, worthless, and little more than meaningless masturbation!

Sometimes, inexperienced students will cause an unintentional discharge as they holster loaded pistols. Fingers in inappropriate places are occasionally pushed into the trigger by the holster itself as the gun is holstered. Such NDs often cause wounds to the buttocks, leg, and/or foot. A number of years ago, I had a student put a streak-mark down her thigh during just such a mishap.

Last week, during an Urban Rifle Program, a student shot the dirt in front of himself with a single round from his AR. He was on-line, and the downrange area was clear, but the discharge was obviously unintentional, a great embarrassment to the student, and a startling surprise to the rest of us. The manual safety on his rifle had been inadvertently pushed to the “off” position, and he subsequently got a finger where it didn’t belong!

As loaded rifles are carried (slung muzzle down), I encourage students to confirm the position of the manual safety every few minutes, as gear, clothing, etc. can inadvertently push it “off,” as happened in this case.

In most such cases, the problem is not the strong-side index finger (trigger” finger) getting where it doesn’t belong, as students learn quickly the correct “register position” for that finger among their fist lessons. The culprit is usually the middle (“bird) finger!

Thus, in addition to learning the correct “register position” for the trigger-finger, students also need to learn that none of the other strong-side fingers, particularly the middle finger, are ever allowed above the trigger-guard. They must remain firmly wrapped around the pistol grip and never stray.

When beginning students holster pistols, the middle finger can often be seen straying upwards and onto the pistol’s frame. This must be corrected immediately, as it is the middle finger erroneously finding its way into the trigger-guard, that causes many, probably most, NDs.

The foregoing comes under the heading of “Form.” Correct form (in every detail), in gun-handling, other martial arts, dancing, and golf separates professionals from amateurs. Students, and instructors, need to understand this thoroughly!

“Often, hands will solve a mystery with which the intellect has struggled in vain.” ~ Carl Jung

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc

As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:

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  1. No Sale.

    Let’s be honest here. Even for most LEOs, the prospect of having to shoot another human being with a weapon is remote. Having to do so with a rifle, even more so. Ordinary folk who commute to their offices via car instead of via C130 are very unlikely to ever need to actually shoot another person.

    However,given the realities of maintenance all parties parties with firearms WILL need to know how to safely handle them administratively. This is why safety isn’t optional, and why cold ranges and rules are in place. A lot of people both in and out of uniform flatly do not understand that one careless press of the trigger by their finger can result in permanent disability or death for themselves or someone else. If someone hasn’t mastered keeping their fingers clear of the trigger, they have no business doing anything else with a weapon.

    • I’ve seen much much much less careless handing of guns on hot ranges than I’ve seen on cold ranges.

      On hot ranges there is an understanding that you should only handle for firearm while on the line getting ready to shoot. It should remain in the holster or slung at every other time. If you are seen with a weapon not in either of those positions pain is coming in the form of an instructor that makes a drill sergeant look calm.

    • “Even for most LEOs, the prospect of having to shoot another human being with a weapon is remote.”

      No Sale.

      Millions of people live in urban centers with annual violent crime rates on the order of 1 per 100 people … and the worst areas have violent crime rates on the order of 1 per 80 people. Live in such an area for 10 years, and something like 1 out of 8 people will be victims of violent crime. Live in such an area for 20 years, and something like 1 out of 4 people will be victims of violent crime. Live in such an area for 40 years, and something like 1 out of 2 people will be victims of violent crime. I’d say the prospect of having to shoot another human being in such an environment is almost commonplace.

      • Not busting your chops (you did, after all, qualify your numbers with “something like” – indicating that you know it’s not a straight multiplication), but this is a fun “odds” problem. Repeated independent events, with the same chance of a certain outcome for each repetition… what are the odds of getting that outcome at least once?

        Presuming a 1 in 80 chance of being a victim of violent crime in any given year, where no one person has any more likelihood of being a victim than any other person, where your chance of being a victim is the same every year, and repeating for N years, your odds of being a victim at least once in N years are…

        10 years: 1 in 8.56
        20 years: 1 in 4.5
        40 years: 1 in 2.53

        It’s easiest to figure out the chances of the event never happening, then subtracting from 1. For the 10 year case, the odds of it not happening in any given year are 79 in 80 (0.9875). Raise that to the 10th power (0.8818) to get the odds of it never happening in 10 years. Subtract from 1 (0.1182) to get the odds of it happening at least once, then convert to a “1 in X” fraction: approximately 1 in 8.46.

        (I became interested in the “occurs at least once” vs. “never occurs” problem when showing someone that, if he had $10 to spend on lottery tickets, it was best to spend it all on one draw, rather than spreading it out over multiple draws.)

    • I rarely have any point of contention with what Farnam offers, and this is no exception.
      What I want to know is, WHY THE HECK ISN’T THE PHOTOGRAPH, and the details surrounding it, EXPLAINED in his treatise????????????????

      EDIT: There are no pictures attached to this on John’s Ammoland column. Added for effect?

    • 22 years in the military. 20 + years as an armed security officer working in places like Roswell, New Mexico, and FLETC. The rules of engagement for a security officer are a lot different from LE and that makes a difference in how I deploy my weapon. In my time working with and around weapons I have seen a lot of AD’s. I have handed out more than a 50,000 new weapons to graduates and every so often one of them will take their weapon outside to the clearing barrel and shoot the barrel Me I have never had an AD. I have never thought for one moment that it couldn’t happen to me. The AD that goes off in the clearing barrel earns you a ribbing at role call. The AD, in the gun room where you shoot the carpit gets you three days off without pay. I won’t talk about the military part, that is a different kettle of worms and a different environment and you can’t compare what happens in the military to civilian life. However, working in a civilian environment I have never had to pull my weapon. Not that I haven’t had more that a few harry situations with some really interesting characters. I can attribute part of this to luck, and a great majority to having a very good instructor/trainer. His first words to me were. “The best weapon you have is between your ears.” While I was at FLETC I was constantly doing AD’s reports. All of them were avoidable. The term I used was “Contempt of protocol.” When you get to the point where you think This can’t happen to me. Or you hear about an AD and you think What an idiot. Consider yourself one step closer to performing the perfect AD. Never believe it can’t happen to you. Review your protocol, don’t take shortcuts, make gun safety a habit, do the same thing the same way every time. Don’t become complacent. Just because you did it right 99 time doesn’t’ mean that you can skip protocol on the 100th time. Or if you are not following safety protocol and have gotten away with it doesn’t mean that sooner or later it won’t jump up and bite you in the rear.

      Gun ownership.
      The first and most important rule
      Don’t go looking for trouble with a gun, because it will find you.
       Having a gun gives you no special powers nor does it grant you special favors, so unless you already have or lack the qualities listed below don’t expect a gun to grant them to you.
       You will not be taller
       It will not turn you into a hero.
       You will not suddenly become a better dancer.
       You will still be just as ugly and repulsive to women as you ever were.
       You will not be charming or witty
       You will still be a jerk at parties
       You will still be the person you were before you bought your gun.
       A gun will not grant you any more respect than you already have.
       If you carry a gun thinking it will make you look special then you are sadly mistaken.

       Use your head first and always, (bringing a gun into a stressful situation may only make things worse) your gun is the last resort when all else has failed.
       Never threaten someone with a gun. A gun is not a bargaining chip. If you point a gun at someone use it.
       The only time you point a gun at someone is if your life or the life of someone else is in immediate danger.
       A gun is always loaded and when you think it isn’t, that is usually when you shoot yourself in the foot or the kids playing in the next room. Bullets will go through walls with deadly results.
       Keep your gun clean and in good working order.
       Keep your rounds fresh.
       Know and use all safety devices that are built into the gun. That is why they are there..
       Keep your gun in your holster until you plan on using it.
       Keep your finger off the trigger until you plan on firing it.
       Keep your gun pointed down range
       A gun is a tool, nothing more nothing less. If used properly it can protect your home, your life and the life of your loved ones. Used improperly you may lose your home, your life or the life of your loved ones.
       Accurate shooting is a learned skill that diminishes with time and requires constant practice to keep proficient. Practice often.
       Alcohol and guns do not mix.

      Owing a gun is not only a right but a privilege. Abuse that privilege and you could lose the right.
      I have stated nothing here that is earth shattering or new. These are the facts and the rules as they have stood from the beginning. Adhere to them and you will never have to make excuses for what you did.

      Women and guns.
      Everything afore mentioned applies evenly to women, there are no physical or mental exceptions between men and women when it comes to firearms. Anyone that believes otherwise is a fool.

  2. Never had an ND, Seen a few. Had a cousin shoot himself in the leg. With a .45. Bullet traveled the length of his leg and exited thru his foot. He walked to his car and drove himself to the emergency room.

    Accidents do happen. It’s up to us to try to minimise their numbers and severity. Gun owners do a better job at this than car owners.

    • Are you sure that wasn’t a 9mm? I’m pretty sure if you shot yourself in the leg with a .45 you wouldn’t have a leg left.

      • Been shot in the leg with a .45, with hydroshock rounds no less. Walked around for a good 10 mins afterwards. It all depends on what the rounds hit when they impact.

        • True, When you shoot a .45ACP, the bullet doesn’t move, the world spins in front of it. And if two people stand back to back and shoot in opposite directions, the world spins in two directions at once.

        • If you pull the bullet from a .45acp case you will find two steel BBs attached to the back of the bullet. Because .45acp bullets have balls of steel.

        • “.45acp is the Chuck Norris of handgun calibers.”

          Yeah, but all handguns are the PeeWee Hermans of the firearms world…

      • .45s are for weenies. I’ve had 2 ADs (not NDs, due to equipment malfunction). Both in the same day! First, just kinda humorous except we should have seen what happened and prevented the second, pulling off a bombing run a 25-lb practice bomb departed the aircraft at a 45 degree angle UP, and so sailed several miles away, where there was nothing, big horselaugh that I had dropped a bomb in that attitude. Except I hadn’t. Second was a couple minutes later, when a 2.75″ FFAR (folding fin aerial rocket) departed my plane headed directly for the aircraft about 1/4 mile in front of me. I couldn’t even get the mic button pressed before it passed about 10′ under his airplane going about mach 3, and sailed on over an active highway. Much harassment about my incompetence, I had to chase down maintenance personnel since nobody else believed I hadn’t just screwed up. Eventually, maintenance found it or it would have happened again. A cotter pin about 3/4 inch long in the boot around the control stick, with burn marks where it had shorted out the fire control. I know, iffy post, but if a .45 projectile takes your soul, I’d guess a 2.75″ projectile might wipe out your ancestors’ souls back around 10 generations!

    • The best part of this article was to use the proper term “negligent”. You used the wrong term “accident”. Doing the wrong thing is no accident. It is negligent. Accidents are not 100% preventable. Negligence is. With proper care, not carelessness, you can go your whole life without an ND. And that should be your fixation.

  3. Hmm. I spent 7-year in the USAF as an SP. I worked around thousands of other SPs during that period, all of them armed. We had no NDs. I have been to hundreds of training courses both in the USAF and outside it. No NDs ever. Why have I missed out on this supposedly inevitable ND experience? Am I doing something wrong? Are the trainers I use defective?

    • I remember an incident in the late 70s at Torrejon AFS, Spain regarding two SPs in the ammo dump. They were playing “quick draw” with two supposedly empty pistols, probably S&W Model 10s. One of them apparently only emptied five of the six rounds in his weapon because he had an ND and almost killed his “quick draw” buddy. Luckily he was as bad at shooting as he was at clearing his weapon and only managed to hit the berm behind the other SP.

      I remember qualifying at Lackland AFB; we got 50 rounds to practice and familiarize our selves with the M-16 and then 100 rounds to qualify. I had future SPs on either side of me and after the 50 round practice session there were around135 holes in my target, one tight 50+ round grouping in the center and a spray of rounds all over target. The two future SPs targets were untouched. The firearms TI figured they had managed to actually hit the center of my target a few times.

      • Did they take points off for your flyers? (I saw that happen to a guy once in the AF – one about 6″ hole, and one flyer, so they gave him a 99. The guy next to him hit his target a couple of dozen times.)

        • What ever! I have seen Jar Heads at the range shooting up everything but the target. The safest place to be was down range.

        • Not for fliers, but … My initial qual at Lackland, I ripped several holes large enough to let a round through without hitting paper, and every round which could not be counted by a mark on paper was counted as a clean miss. So, I did not qual expert. Every time after that, for 22 years, I was much less attentive, sprayed the target wildly, qualified expert every time, except for 3 times when the sarge in charge suggested someone next to me was not going to qualify, wasn’t possible, and my score decreased and that person qualified. Like 10 hits out of 6 shots. Me and the guy on the other side.

      • Let me guess, the two SPs who played quick draw had an unexpected career change forced on them after they spent a little time in prison or CC. BTW, how old are you?

    • I spent 6 summers as an NRA volunteer at the National Matches at Camp Perry. One year, one of our good ol’ boy high power shooters, been around forever, turned one loose while carrying his gear back to his car. Loaded the car and took off. There was question just who had done it, some ruckus going on, all was answered when he showed back up after emptying his quarters, identified himself as the guilty party and withdrew from further competition, then left for home. He would have been tossed anyway and knew it. NDs are not humorous when shooting with that level of competition. Still, zero damage.

      • A 4000lb vehicle traveling at 100fps (68mph) packs 621,670lb/ft of energy. I’d think that would prevent any brain farts. Lack of respect for a moving vehicle is like broccoli in the gastrointestinal system. Yet there are thousands of brain farts by drivers every day.

        The point is, being too sure of yourself is an invitation for a ND, IMHO. You should never forget that it could be you that has the brain fart.

        • I admit it, I have been distracted behind the wheel and been in a fender bender. But for some reason, with a firearm in my hand or near someone with a firearm in their hand, I never lack the proper concentration to focus on safety. I rue the day when NDs become as acceptable as a minor automobile incident.

        • Who said negligent discharges should be “acceptable?” Inevitable, and not the end of the world do not equal “acceptable.” Nothing, especially anything involving human beings, is perfect. There is a serious difference between lazy indifference and facing the uncomfortable realities of life, I think.

          If zero tolerance is your goal, I suspect you’d probably not want to ever handle a gun – or travel outside your home. But even there you can’t control everything 100%.

        • ‘I rue the day when NDs become as acceptable as a minor automobile incident.’

          I’d say the inverse. Minor automobile incidents should not be ‘acceptable’. As I pointed out, that vehicle is 1750 times more powerful than that handgun on your hip and I’d guess that 1750 times as many people are killed in this country by automobile accidents than negligently discharged weapons.

          That said, I don’t think we need to demonize those who cause either one. We’re all fallible.

        • 100% correct. The weak link in the firearms safety chain is the Mark I Mod 0 Hominid. Anybody who says “it can’t happen to me because I am safe” is a candidate for an ND.

        • A little reading comprehension would go a long way. I did not say that collisions are acceptable. I said “as acceptable”. As is a big word in context. It is a comparison. I rue the day that NDs are as acceptable as automobile incidents.

          ” If zero tolerance is your goal, I suspect you’d probably not want to ever handle a gun – or travel outside your home. But even there you can’t control everything 100%.”

          I have zero tolerance for idiots. Are you defending idiots? I have no problem handling guns and I disagree with anyone that says NDs are not preventable. Several months ago someone posted a personal story titled “My Negligent Discharge”. It was a story about a guy that picked a shotgun up off his bed and thinking it was unloaded, shot a hole through his apartment wall and through the back of his refrigerator. Not one person gave him grief for the dumb ass move. Most of the comments were praising his bravery for sharing his story and many more were complimenting his collection of hot sauce shown in the picture of the damaged fridge.
          If you people have this laissez-fair attitude toward safety then I don’t want to go shooting with you.

          “That said, I don’t think we need to demonize those who cause either one. We’re all fallible.”

          Stupid is as stupid does.

          “Anybody who says “it can’t happen to me because I am safe” is a candidate for an ND.”

          You sound like you believe in that Karma bullshit. I believe it can happen to anyone being an idiot. I believe the the four rules of safety when applied every single time you handle a firearm will prevent negligence 100% of the time. Show me a negligent discharge and I will show you the rule that was broken. If you don’t believe that then why bother trying?

        • Mr. in GA,

          I’m just saying two things, 1) smart people do stupid things all the time and 2) complacency and arrogance are no better than carelessness.

          Everyone who has ever driven a car has had a brain fart, most of the time nobody dies, but no matter how smart you are the only way to avoid negligent driving is to not drive at all. I can’t see how firearms are any different. Yes if you faithfully follow the four safety rules you will not have a NG, but then if you followed the traffic laws you wouldn’t have run that red light either. Are people who run red lights stupid? OK, they’re being stupid for running the red light, but they are not necessarily stupid in general.

          Believing you’re too smart to have a ND is a recipe for disaster. Besides, if you belittle someone else for a ND where no one is hurt and then you have a ND and someone is hurt, you’d probably feel like a real dick.

        • Gov. we should be safer in cars too. I agree with you. As an analogy though, do you not agree that the general public barely bats an eyelash when somebody has a minor traffic incident? I just think gun safety is easier to achieve and for me I have a heightened sense of alertness when handling a firearm. As a matter of fact, on many occasions, I have been driving home from work and could barely stay awake. I would unload my pistol and dry fire at mail boxes all the way home. Keeps me wide awake every time.
          We need more gun owners and people not afraid of guns. Incidents of NDs don’t help. We have too many drivers on the road and most of us are guilty of not respecting cars. I won’t make that mistake with a firearm. That is my pledge, not an offhanded remark based on arrogance. Will you make the same pledge?

        • Michael in GA says:
          “…Stupid is as stupid does.

          I believe the the four rules of safety when applied every single time you handle a firearm will prevent negligence 100% of the time.

          Show me a negligent discharge and I will show you the rule that was broken. If you don’t believe that then why bother trying?”

          ^ This. absolutely!

  4. Bad crap happens all the time. However it is called a “negligent” discharge not a responsible one. If you follow the safety rules and consistently and consciously take all the steps the odds are reduced greatly. When using a tool, driving a car, riding a bike or shooting your focus must be on what you are doing at the moment you are doing it.

    • “When using a tool, driving a car, riding a bike or shooting your focus must be on what you are doing at the moment you are doing it.”

      +1 The human mind is designed to automate repeated motions and filter out extraneous information. Diligence and caution is naturally exhausting, making it all the more important to stay focused on the task at hand.

  5. Right on, John. I don’t know why so many people become hysterical about the risk invovled with learning to use guns, or in using them otherwise. There are a great many other objects and substances with attendant risks, some much more deadly than a momentarily lapse of judgment with a gun. Ever talk to someone who routinely handles explosives, for instance? 🙂

    If one observes the world rationally, it is obvious that risk is simply a part of life. The irrational and counterproductive attempts to avoid all risk produce the current mania that decrees children can’t even play in parks or their own front yards, and are punished for pointing their fingers. And, of course, the very lack of practical information and experience with dangerous things means that more children are hurt by them than would be true otherwise.

    I learned to cook at an early age, standing by my mother and helping her with more and more complex things as I learned and demonstrated my ability to perform the actions and observe the necessary caution and rules. By the time I was nine years old, I was doing all of the family cooking, clean up and shopping so that my mother could spend her time earning our living. I survived with only minor burns, cuts and so forth, and went on to learn more and more complex and dangerous things, taking the risks along with the new skills needed to overcome them. Nobody can gain a skill without starting at the beginning and learning from experience. A skilled instructor helps, lots, but a great many people learn all sorts of things merely by trial and error. What doesn’t kill us, usually makes us stronger and wiser.

    I’m now a certified firearms and self defense instructor, mostly training novices and women just getting started, but many others have come to my classes. The one that stands out was a 77 year old man who had been shooting and hunting all his life – all with a rifle or shotgun. He decided he wanted to get a “permit” to carry a handgun concealed, and so took the class.

    He had never had any formal gun handling training before, and he was not in the habit of keeping his finger out of the trigger guard… and not really good at muzzle control either. At the lunch break, I took him aside and told him that it was not safe to continue with him in the class and invited him to study the material in the book and come out to the range with me at a later date. He went home discouraged, and I feared I’d never see him again.

    He was obviously sincere in wanting to learn and to be safe, but 70 years practice of bad habits was not going to be overcome in a day or two. So, I was delighted when he called me and arranged for some coaching privately. He had worked hard at the dry fire exercises I’d suggested, and he did quite well shooting. He had a way to go to remember trigger and muzzle discipline all the time, but had made significant progress just by the first meeting. It took him some time, but he eventually earned his certificate of completion. All he needed was some coaching and encouragement to learn new habits.

    I’ve not had an ND or accident of any kind, either in the classroom or on the range, in the ten years I’ve been teaching… or in the 40 years I’ve been shooting otherwise – though I’ve come close a few times. I KNOW there is always a possibility of an accident or momentary lapse of attention, and take the steps I can to prevent it, but I’m not about to cancel the rest of my life in the silly hope nothing will ever go wrong.

    • “He had never had any formal gun handling training before, and he was not in the habit of keeping his finger out of the trigger guard… and not really good at muzzle control either. At the lunch break, I took him aside and told him that it was not safe to continue with him in the class and invited him to study the material in the book and come out to the range with me at a later date.”

      You waited until lunch break to address this behavior? Please tell me where you are a certified instructor so I can be sure to never seek your services.

      • Self righteous indignation is so ugly…

        It is a two day class. We have lecture/demonstrations, with simulator guns only at first. After repeated admonition, he was asked to leave the class when we began to handle the actual guns. I waited until the lunch break because I had no intention of humiliating a sincere elderly gentleman who simply had some bad habits. He had evidently managed to survive that way for 70 years, remember. And I must assume he’d never shot anyone else.

        I wouldn’t toss out any student without serious attempts to help them, and this gentleman is the ONLY student I ever actually had to ask to leave. The fact is that he did learn, and arbitrarily refusing to help him would have kept him unsafe for the rest of his life, most likely.

        • “Self righteous indignation is so ugly…”
          Then stop doing it.

          if you don’t address unsafe practices immediately out of fear of hurting someone’s feelings then maybe you should upgrade your instruction. I’m not saying you should kick him out. But if you see something…say something. Anyone in the group, not just you, should constantly remind each other when a safety rule is violated. Same thing applies to public ranges.

        • Michael, sounds to me like the operative thing you’re saying is that you are an operator operating operationally, so all others ought to worship your bazonga. I haven’t ever met anyone as perfect as you claim to be.

  6. It just so happens I was shooting with a cousin last night. He was shooting a S&W .44mag when the darn thing locked up on him with the hammer back. When he went to inspect why the trigger wouldn’t give the thing went off right next to his face. I happened to look over right before it fired, but I was unable to see if his finger was on the trigger as it went off. He claims no, but he is kind of a moron so i don’t know if I should believe him. The bullet went down range but because he was trying to open the cylinder he got scorched pretty good by some of the expanding gas. After counting his digits I threw him a FAK and nearly smacked him upside the head. Idk if that counts as a ND but I would call him an idiot for playing with a hot/jammed up .44mag, and trying to open the thing with the hammer back.

    • I saw a woman at the National Matches years back with a similar problem. Her 1911 had just been worked on in some way, she loaded and when she got the fire command held the pistol up but nothing happened. She placed the pistol down on the bench and stepped back until the firing was over and called for assistance. About that time, the gun went off, TWICE, BamBam. I was watching, she was not touching it. Fortunately it quit at two, since that started it spinning, not a good thing. Everything came to a halt while armorers were called, no one even wanted to remove the mag, she held it pointed downrange and awaited instruction. I have rarely seen anyone that scared/shook up. Then she started worrying about violating NFA and all manner of worries. I bet she never went back. I never heard what happened, from everything I know something had to actually break to accomplish that.

  7. I prefer the method of endlessly beating your students when they make safety mistakes for an extended period of time before they get live rounds…

    Sadly that’s not an option with new shooters that I bring to the range.

  8. Agree or disagree with the premise of this article, but admit that it is thought-provoking (as evidenced by the tenor of the comments).

    FYI, “Shibumi” is also the name of an odd book by Trevanian, author of “The Eiger Sanction” among others. Hardcore Trevanian fans will like it, others may find it puzzling. Either way, it’s worth a read. As is every Trevanian novel.

  9. Have any of the famous manufactures shooting team and exibition shooters been in gloved in either a ND or a defensive gun use where shots were fired… And if so what happened… Names need not be revealed

  10. “Farnhams Freehold” by RAH. Couldn’t resist. Heinlein actually had a fallout shelter in real life. He believed in being prepared for what life can throw at you. In the book, the protagonists also had full auto Thompsons. I would bet Heinlein had those as part of a gun collection.

    I believe Heinlein would agree with this Farnhams statement as well.

    “It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit:


    • Well, RG, it is. Because people are fallible. Just look at how many thousands upon thousands are injured or killed by negligence every years in the US.

      Negligent acts that cause injury or death can be reduced. For individuals with exceptional awareness and focus, they can keep it to a minimum. But for anyone to go an entire life without making some “Bonehead mistake” that causes at the very least, a non-life threatening injury, would probably be unique.

      Have you ever done anything that caused injury to yourself or others, had a fender bender caused by you, tripped over something skinning you knee, hit your thumb with a hammer, cut your finger on a sharp knife without thinking?

      Because if you have never injured yourself in this way, in your entire life; then you might be a god.

      • Your examples of boo boos are cute. Firearms should be respected more for the fact that the negligent discharged is not contained except by shear luck. If I am grating cheese and add my skin to the salad topping then that is bad enough. But to compare that to mistakenly firing a gun is such a poor argument that I am not even sure it qualifies as such.

      • That’s nothing. There simply is no such thing as an accident. Other than equipment failure and malice, all car crashes (and any other kind of “accident”) are caused by negligence.

        If you want to ensure that you never ever have an accident, just be sure that whatever you do, you’re doing it on purpose.

  11. All these comments are construing that the author is saying NDs are “acceptable” or “inevitable”. I didn’t think that was the tone. The point, at least how I took it, was that they do happen and he pointed out the reasons he had seen it happen. Bottom line, people will make mistakes.

    • Yeah, it seems most people are taking it to mean “shit happens” and I just can’t accept that attitude. When you lose $10,000 in the stock market…shit happens. When you fire a round unexpectedly…you effed up because you did not follow a very very very simple rule. There was another post that asked what is the one rule to emphasize because it might be to much for new shooters to take in all at once. I argued trigger discipline because it is the easiest to control. It is awkward and sometimes almost impossible to maintain muzzle discipline in a 360 degree environment, not that you shouldn’t try. I just think not enough emphasis is given to the purpose of the trigger guard and that not just the finger can make it fire but anything touching the trigger can. Besides, so many new shooters think gripping the gun with the trigger finger inside the guard is how it is done that why not first start to break that habit?

  12. Im so sick of Robert’s sht, I now avoid his articles, but I figured this would be a hypocritical post justifying NDs, and I was right. He and others like him flip their sht when a cop NDs and cry about how “they get a free ride and no criminal charges” (what charges for ND? none that I am aware of unless you immediately endanger someone). No mention about the daily NDs by everyone else, and now this article. fing hypocrite

        • One comment and I am a shil? Seems clear to me that he posted this article unedited in order to spark conversation on the topic. If you read my comments you see I don’t agree with the premise but I have the sense to know where to direct my counterpoints. The title was meant to be provocative…not to provoke haters.

  13. If things were cost effective, I’d love to have students do a full intro to pistol class with nothing but blank rounds. Run a few hours drawing, shooting, and holstering weapons. Get the feel for the whole thing before you switch to live rounds.

    Possibly even better, run it with marking rounds. You can still shoot the targets accurately at the distances that beginning students will be shooting (inside 10 yards or so) and if you have a ND, then it may hurt, but no harm done.

    Again, as long as marking rounds are 50% to twice as expensive as regular rounds, this is not cost effective, but perhaps with economies of scale we could get to a point where students don’t use lethal rounds until they are fairly confident with their firearms.

  14. Most of the NDs I’ve seen were a direct result of muscle memory.

    A lot of the Fobbits carry empty weapons all the time. They have to clear those empty weapons at least 3 times a day (when they go to the chow hall) – depending on where they work, and how stupid their chain of command is, there can be even more intra-day clearing.

    My point is, they practice clearing their weapon at least 3 times a day while skipping the “remove Source of ammunition” step.

    Occasionally, they will pull guard duty and something will happen, or they will go outside the wire. Now their personal weapon is locked and loaded.

    The next time they are in front of a clearing barrel, they go through the same motions they’ve gone through at least 3 times a day for months. And they shoot it.

    I always argued that the military is actually training them to shoot the clearing barrel. My opinion on the subject was not appreciated. 🙂

    • That is what the clearing barrel is for. You shoot the clearing barrel then it is just a ribbing and you wait for the next person to do it so you are off the hook. When you get the AD in the gun locker room or passing it through to the armory windo then things get a bit harry. ANd yep you can really get carried away with cleaning a weapon. I know that the dust in places like Iraq and Afganistan can really get into the working part of every thing. But I sometimes wondered if we weren’t wearing out the damn thing cleaning them. A firing pin can take only so much dry fire before it breaks. And they get a lot of dry fire from clearing and cleaning them. Especally when you are doing it three and four times a day or someone walks by looks at you and says “Clean that danm thing.”

  15. During my first deployment to Iraq, one of my teammates stepped into the office while shaking his head. I asked him what was up. He asked me if I had ever seen some of the soldiers from incoming convoys cleared their weapons? I said no, I haven’t had the opportunity to. He replied that he was on guard duty and our sister unit pulled into the compound. They than proceeded to clear their weapons in the clearing barrels, but he said it would have been hilarious if not for the fact they were actual weapons. He said he saw one Lt try to clear an M9 with a magazine still in it. He saw another Soldier didn’t even have his rifle in the clearing barrel when clearing it, and another had his rifle pointing at another Soldier. He said that he was sure there was going to be a ND one of these days, he just knew it. A couple of weeks later when I was working on a report in the same office, I heard a loud pop go off outside. I didn’t even have to get up to know what had happen. Turns out it wasn’t our guys, it was actually one of the Polish soldiers that was a liaison with us.

    • We had an Air Police accident while clearing while I was in SD, early ’80s. Instead of mag, rack, pull trigger, he managed rack, mag, pull trigger and killed his partner and best friend. Yeah, he violated this and that. Try keeping all that sh1t together when you’re 19, it’s 3 AM, and you’ve been on guard duty at an isolated ICBM facility miles from nowhere at 50 below zero for the past 8 hours. Sh1t happens.


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