Firearms shooting or handling is an inherently dangerous activity! This means that any time people and guns are involved together the risk of serious injury or death exists. Firearms are incredibly powerful tools that precisely direct energy. When that energy is properly directed and controlled, benefits can be attained. When that energy is carelessly handled or improperly controlled, tragedy is likely. Most accidents are preventable, especially if the necessary cautions are observed and the proper amount of care is taken to maintain a safe environment. It is the responsibility of every gun owner to maintain a safe environment when their firearms are in use or in storage.
Storage is the easier consideration. When outside of your immediate control, firearms must be safeguarded against unauthorized access. This is a legal requirement in most states, particularly regarding children. Keep your guns locked up when not in use! A reliable way to do this is with a quality gun safe or secure vault.
When in use, there are two concepts that every gun owner or anyone who uses a firearm needs to know. The first concept is, what is a safe direction? The second is, how can I be safe with firearms? What constitutes a safe direction is defined, and the rules for firearm safety are listed below. It benefits everyone to be knowledgeable about these concepts, as anyone could find themself in contact with guns and should know how to treat them safely.
Safe Direction – is a direction where no death, no injury. and only minor property damage could occur if an unintentional round is fired. When handling a firearm, always keep it pointed in a safe direction!
Cardinal Rules of Firearms Safety
- Treat all firearms as loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
- Never let the muzzle point at anything that you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to fire.
- Positively identify your target and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.
The rules of firearms safety need to be known to be followed. Following them is necessary. Let us take a closer look at each rule.
Treat all firearms as loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are. This is an overall attitude of respect. Respect for the power of the weapon. Respect for yourself. Most importantly, respect for everyone else in the environment. This respect is maintained by knowing and following Rules Two and Three.
Never let the muzzle point at anything that you are not willing to destroy. What we are pointing out here is muzzle management. Guns need to be pointed in the safest direction possible. At the range this is down range, towards the berm or impact area. Employment outside of the range requires awareness, and care, and adaptability. As circumstances change muzzle management must be maintained. It is incumbent on the user to know where their muzzle is pointed and why it is directed there. Any inappropriate direction must be calmly, carefully, and quickly corrected. Muzzle management is affected by choice of ready position. Appropriate ready positions are necessary for defensive or tactical use. Know the why and the pros and cons of the ready positions you depend upon.
Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to fire. An effective way to think about Rule Three is trigger finger discipline. You must conscientiously control your finger not to index the trigger unless the target has been positively identified and you are certain that you want to engage the target. Trigger finger discipline is critical to maintaining safety, especially in a tactical environment. At JDC we teach being “in register” or “at home” as high along the slide as you possibly can be with your trigger finger to prevent any inadvertent trigger finger contact, particularly due to the phenomena of startle and sympathetic responses.
Positively identify your target and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified. Knowledge of your target is absolutely required. You must see it to identify it. If you are engaging a threat, you must see it, and determine means, opportunity, and intent at a minimum. You are responsible for every round you fire, therefore you must be aware of the backstop and its appropriateness for the situation.
Emotion or fear is no excuse for disregarding this rule. Numerous unintentional shootings of loved ones not expected to be home would have been avoided if this rule were known and followed. We must see, identify, and decide before we shoot defensively.
Firearms safety is paramount. You must know what a safe direction is, and what the safety rules are, and you must follow them. To disregard them is a strong invitation to peril, tragedy, and unnecessary loss.
In review, treat firearms with the respect they are do. Maintain that respect through proper muzzle management, and trigger finger discipline. You must also know your target and what is beyond before firing. This implies positive target identification. If you can do all of this all the time, regardless of stress or fear, you are on your way to becoming a competent gun handler. Be safe and be responsible! Exercise the necessary care and caution when using or handling firearms!
If you are looking for training or you know you need effective training, come see us at JDC. We will help you attain your shooting goals.