10 Common Firearms Handling Mistakes
A few years ago, John Meyer published an article in the IALEFI Publication, “Firearms Instructor” on 10 Common Firearms Handling Mistakes. The Article gets a lot of downloads so we wanted to summarize it here for you.
Basic Firearms Safety
First and foremost – remember the four cardinal rules of firearms safety:
- Treat every weapon as if it is loaded – all the time
- Point every weapon in a safe direction – all the time
- Keep your finger out of the trigger well until you have committed to fire the weapon
- Be sure of your target, backstop, and beyond
#1 Not following the four Cardinal Rules
#2 Multi-tasking when handling a weapon
In other words, people trying to do two things at once may trigger (no pun intended) an involuntary muscle reaction.
#3 Not protecting the trigger
When a 4-1/2 pound trigger isn’t protected from being pressed, pulled, snagged on clothing or hit by you, by some other person, like the criminal trying to get it away from you, the firearm is likely to go off.
#4 Choosing a poor holster
One, for example, that doesn’t protect the trigger—or, not using a holster and sticking your firearm in the waistband of your trousers. Mistake No. 4-A would be not practicing your draw and reholstering your weapon. You’d be surprised how many people start to holster their weapons with their fingers still on the triggers or, with the hammer cocked back with a double action weapon.
#5 is wearing poor choice wardrobe
Clothing can lead to accidental discharges, such as a cinch drawstring lock gizmo in an officer’s jacket got caught in his trigger guard thereby discharging the weapon when he tried to reholster. Clothing can also interfere with drawing a weapon the way the shooter practiced – leading to mistakes.
#6 Taking shortcuts
Taking shortcuts and skipping the six-step procedure for rendering your weapon safe.
#7 Assuming that your secret hiding place is secret!
It ain’t. How many times did you find stuff your parents hid from you? So what makes you think your kids and their friends aren’t as smart as you? Keep your weapon in a safe, or, use a trigger lock (and for God’s sake, never use a trigger lock on a loaded weapon).
#8 is not understanding how your firearm works or not being intimately familiar with it.
Yeah, intimately. Put your ego on the shelf. If you don’t understand something about how the weapon works, ask someone who does. One of our top firearms instructors once told a student that he works with his firearm at least ten minutes a day to stay proficient. Now, some people might think that sort of dedication was being obsessive. It’s not. After all, why do people who are in really good shape still go to the gym? To stay that way of course. Well, we have to maintain our proficiency with our firearms. That doesn’t mean shooting every day, but it does mean working with an UNLOADED weapon, practicing our draw and reholstering techniques, dry-firing, reloading drills, breaking the weapon down and reassembling it. Look at it this way: if you only used a computer program twice a year (most officers qualify only every six months), you’d have a damn hard time producing a complicated piece of computer work in just a few minutes. And it would be even tougher if you knew your job depended on the quality of your work. Same thing goes for firearms. You’re going to use your weapon under stress. So, you have to take the time on a regular basis to become v-e-r-y familiar with the tool that’s going to save your life. End of sermon.
#9 is using your firearm for something it wasn’t designed for
It is not a hammer, a pry bar, or an impact weapon. The exception being as the last resort, then hammer away. No matter what the flashlight ad says, please, don’t use your gun to drive nails. And mistake No. 10 is being complacent. Firearms are firearms. Put your mind in gear before you engage your hands. Take nothing for granted. When you handle a firearm turn the mental switch ON and keep it ON, if something distracts you, you should immediately re-check your firearm; magazine out, open slide/bolt and check chamber….you can never be too careful. On the other side, tactically, as a responsible
#10 is being complacent.
Firearms are firearms. Put your mind in gear before you engage your hands. Take nothing for granted. When you handle a firearm turn the mental switch ON and keep it ON, if something distracts you, you should immediately re-check your firearm; magazine out, open slide/bolt and check chamber….you can never be too careful.