I teach a lot of newbies how to shoot a gun. So should you. Taking a noob to the gun range is the best – if not the only – way to “convert” an anti. Once they get to grips, literally, with the idea that guns aren’t inherently dangerous, they can begin to understand why their fellow Americans cherish their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. Of course, gun are dangerous. What would be the point if they weren’t? And they’re most dangerous in the hands of a newbie. To defend yourself against getting shot by an anti – the most ironic fate I can imagine – you need to avoid confusing them. And I’m here to say four safety rules is three too many . . .
In the video above, Hipster Chick (HC) struggles to remember the four gun safety rules she supposedly learned the previous week. “The gun is always loaded,” she begins. She remembers the importance of trigger finger discipline. And . . . that’s it. fxhummel1 prompts the next one: “always be sure of your target and what’s behind it.” The other woman in the vid provides the fourth: “Don’t let your muzzle cross anything you’re not willing to destroy.”
First of all, people best remember things in threes (e.g., in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost). Second, people best remember things that are easy to remember (i.e., phrases using rhymes or short words or phrases with clear meanings). Hence HC’s ability remember “the gun is always loaded.” Hence her inability to remember only two of the four safety rules, and “don’t let your muzzle cross anything you’re not willing to destroy.”
Which is THE gun safety rule. If your newbie obeys this rule you will not be shot. Nor, it should be said, will anyone else. OK, the gun novice needs to know that a safe-seeming direction may not be safe (“always know your target and what’s beyond it”). But they’re not out plinking in the woods by their lonesome. They’re with you at a gun range or safe shooting area.
I can’t stress this enough. The ONLY rule that a newbie really, truly, deeply and completely needs to know for their initial training is the muzzle crossing thing. Yes but – using the words “muzzles” and “destruction” ain’t gonna cut it with someone who barely knows what a gun’s “muzzle” is and thinks of “shooting” things rather than “destroying” them. And doesn’t want to “destroy” anything. (Yet.)
You need to tell them “always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.”
Before I take a new shooter to the range, I lay it out: “There’s one rule you need to know to be safe with a gun. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Do not aim it at yourself, me or anyone else. If you point the gun in a safe direction, nothing bad can happen. Do you understand?” I make sure they do.
I repeat the rule before I get the gun out. When I do: “This gun is pointed in a safe direction: downrange. You must keep this gun pointed in a safe direction at all times. No matter what. Do you understand?” THEN I tell them to keep their finger off the go-pedal “until I tell you to put your finger on the trigger.”
I ask the newb to repeat the One Safety Rule to Rule Them All before they hold the gun. I put the firearm in their hand facing downrange (obvs.) “Keep your finger off the trigger until I tell you. Is the gun pointed in a safe direction? Will you keep the gun pointed in a safe direction? No matter what?”
And then I begin the lesson, including fxhummel1’s most excellent instruction on an aggressive, recoil-taming stance. Assuming the novice shooter observes muzzle discipline, I stress trigger discipline. If the student violates muzzle discipline at any point, I jump in (sometimes literally) and correct them, taking a break from training to do so.
If you and your student leave their first range session with the same number of holes you came in with, the instruction was a success. If they’ve learned the importance of muzzle discipline they will know enough gun safety not to do something stupid and they’ll know that shooting a gun can be safe. Which is an enormous first step towards acquiring an appreciation of firearms freedom.