There are four generally accepted firearms safety rules. The most important one in my view is “never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy!” If gun owners always follow this critical rule, they will never draw innocent blood. I’m not saying that the other firearm safety rules are unimportant, or that one can violate them with impunity. If the muzzle of the firearm never points and an innocent person then a worst case scenario would involve only property damage. With that background, let’s talk a little bit about proper muzzle discipline at shooting ranges. Though this article focuses on shooting ranges, this safety protocol applies everywhere.
Club rules prohibit the handling of any firearms while a person is forward of the firing line. It doesn’t matter if we’re dealing with any of the rifle ranges, Range Number 3, the pistol cells, or the pistol Bays, the rule applies equally. As a practical matter, it is easier to exhibit poor muzzle discipline when shooting in the pistol cells or the pistol Bays by yourself, or with one or more friends or family members. It is also easier and to suffer a lapse in judgment when the firearm is empty because you may subconsciously be thinking an empty gun is not a danger to others. While technically true, all responsible gun owners must avoid falling into this mental trap. Safety protocols work only if they are followed all the time.
If you and your buddy are taking turns shooting, make sure no one steps forward of the firing line to take their turn until the actions of all the other guns are open and they are laying on the table are bench. Obviously, proper muzzle discipline demands that one not allow a muzzle to point up a range at any time. For example, you have a table set up at the 10 or 15 yard line in a pistol bay and you decide to practice close range defensive shooting at 3 yards. When you have finished shooting and want to return to the table at the 15 yard line, make sure your muzzle is always pointed in a safe direction. If you have a holster, then holster your pistol. If you do not have a holster, then make sure the muzzle is pointed towards the berm as you walk back to the table. Don’t fall into the “empty guns are not dangerous” trap.
Proper muzzle discipline demands not only that you make sure to avoid pointing the muzzle at other persons, you must not pointed at yourself either. Don’t sweep your leg when drawing or reholstering your pistol. Don’t let your hand or fingers get info the muzzle when you are loading, unloading or dealing with a malfunction. By all means, don’t “fish” for your holster with the muzzle of your pistol. Doing so means the business end of your firearm is pointed toward your pelvic girdle and other things you don’t want to get shot!
There are other examples we could address, but the theme of this article is clear. Do not point any gun at anyone at any time, unless you are using deadly force in compliance with Texas law.
The PSC shooting club has an excellent safety record and this is because our members act responsibly on the range. This article is meant simply as a reminder and there will be others that focus on specific club safety rules and safety protocols that all gun owners should follow.