A mistake with firearms is embarrassing at best, but often times tragic. As owner of a firearm it’s your responsibility to ensure every action you perform is done safely. Safety is the result of always using proper technique and when a problem is discovered, correcting it immediately.
In the beginning, when these actions may be new, you should think about how to do something before ever starting. Go over in your mind what you need to do, visualizing yourself performing the necessary actions. Before touching the weapon decide where is a safe direction in which to keep the muzzle directed.
“If I did have a negligent discharge what will stop or trap the bullet,” you ask, preventing it from causing any injury. Look around, taking note where other people are so you don’t muzzle them. Most rounds will easily punch through interior walls, so this includes people that might be in the same structure as you but not in the same room. Once you’ve decided what you need to do and calculated how to perform those actions, visualizing them, then you act.
While working with the firearm don’t get into a hurry or be distracted. Fast will get you into trouble with the opposite gender, motorcycles and guns. Going slow decreases the chances you’ll make a mistake. Avoid letting your mind become involved in anything else. When that firearm is in hand, your sole purpose in life is safety. If there is something else that needs to be done, secure the weapon first.
When you do make a mistake, stop and make a correction. Not correcting a mistake immediately increases the chances you’ll do it again. We tend to get locked into behavior patterns. It becomes “O.K,” and eventually forms a habit. You cannot afford bad habits with firearms. Applying an immediate correction – to yourself or someone else – disrupts the action, both physically and mentally.
When I make a mistake not only is it corrected immediately, but I’ll also perform the corrected action several times – right then and there. Otherwise it gets planted into my miniature brain as a right or acceptable action. Don’t let a wrong thought or action go uncorrected, and the best time to correct it is right then and there.
Finally, every time there are firearms present – whether it’s you or someone else handling them – stay serious. This is not the time to be joking around. You make sure everyone maintains the proper attitude. If there is a problem you can’t correct, you should leave, moving to a safe area. Firearms are lethal weapons, and must be treated accordingly.
The ability to handle a firearm properly is a skill. It’s developed over time, always using correct techniques, which ensures safety. Get instruction in how to operate your firearm safely. Always stay focused, never allowing yourself to become distracted. Watch yourself, and keep an eye on others. When a mistake is identified correct the problem immediately. And when you get it right, always congratulate yourself, creating confidence and a positive self-image.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama. He is the author of “The Book of Two Guns” - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk’s DVD, “Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html McKee’s new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite’s website: http://shootrite.org/AR15SkillsBook/AR15SkillsBook.html