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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Range Safety

Any time you handle a firearm, there is the risk of injury.  That's a simple, undeniable fact.

Most things in life have some level of danger.  Driving your car.  Jogging in the park.  Opening your door when the bell rings.

We all do various safety checks depending upon our activities.  We drive the speed limit and wear our seat belts.  We carry pepper spray when jogging.  We look through the peephole before opening the door.

There are "rules" when handling a firearm as well.  The NRA has 3 Fundamental Safety Rules for safe gun handling -
  • Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot.
  • Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
These are great rules, and are very effective when a gun owner has had proper training with his or her firearms.

But what happens when the rules are broken?  There is a saying I follow quite closely:  "Expect the best, prepare for the worst".

I can't tell you how many times I have seen people break these rules - primarily the last two.  People will be at the range in a shooting lane chatting with someone else, while their finger sits idly on the trigger.  Or they'll set down a loaded gun on the shooting bench.

I used to just keep an eye out to ensure the muzzle never left the shooting point.  It made for a very unenjoyable time at the range.

Nowadays, I'll go over, introduce myself and speak with the person.  Most times when I'm at the range, I'll be wearing my NRA Instructor gear.  I'll speak with them and offer them some suggestions.  So far, the suggestions have been appreciated and taken to heart.

But things can still go wrong.  Last week in one Northern California town, a man went into a range, rented a gun, and took his own life.  Thankfully, he waited until the range was empty before he shot himself in the head, so no one else was injured.

While this is an extremely rare incident, I still plan for something like this happening - an accidental shooting or even an intentional one.  Attached to my range bag is a first aid kit for gunshot trauma.  The intent is to help stabilize the individual until medics can arrive.  It contains large gauze bandages, tape, gloves, etc.

It also has eye rinse, cleansing wipes and regular Band-aids for more common injuries like fingers or skin getting caught in the slide.  Before every class or individual training session, I let my students know about the kit - I could be the one accidentally injured!

The kit is like a life insurance policy.  Things can happen that you don't expect.  I've never needed to use it, and probably never will.  But it's there, just in case.

Accept The Challenge

If you're going to handle a firearm, get proper training.  Learn how to safely operate and store it BEFORE you use it.  When you own a firearm, you are responsible - like it or not.  Most firearms "accidents" are preventable.  Excuses won't go very far if there is an injury due to your lack of safety knowledge.
Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

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