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Guns are designed to be efficient killing machines.  If not treated with great care and respect, they may kill the wrong person, unexpectedly.

Front Sight places extraordinary - even obsessive - importance on gun safety for this very reason.

We all should carefully take on board their training on these vital issues - the life we save may be our own, or that of a loved one.

 
 
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Gun Safety Issues

How and What Front Sight Teaches about Gun Safety
 

The range master and one of his instructors giving intensive one-on-one tuition to two of the students.

Part of a series on the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute; what it does, how it does it, and its relevance for you.  Please click the links on the right hand side for other parts of the series.

 

 

Before teaching us how to shoot a gun properly, Front Sight first concentrated on teaching us how to not shoot a gun improperly - what it terms a 'negligent discharge'.

Through a series of vivid examples, they explained to us how easy it can be to make a series of accidental errors, any one of which, by itself, would have no effect, but cumulatively, they add up to a negligent discharge, a wounding, and possible a death.

But avoiding such things is actually easy.  There are only four things you must always heed.

Safety - Training and On the Range Practice

We're not going to get into the debate (argument) as to whether guns are innately dangerous or not, or whether the danger lies not so much in the gun itself as the person handling it.  But however one interprets this philosophical point, the reality is that guns are designed to readily kill things, and must be treated with care.

On the other hand, any reasonably modern and well designed gun that is untouched will never fire a shot, all by itself.  It is only when human factors intrude that the danger element arises.

If you have an older pistol that could potentially self-discharge - particularly if dropped - then you should destroy it and replace it with a better designed more modern weapon.  We had at least two occasions during each four day training session where someone dropped their pistol at the range, and with less than 40 people in total on the range, that is a significant percentage of drops.  Don't ever find yourself with a weapon that might discharge if dropped.

Suffice it to say that the combination of a firearm and a person handling it can definitely be lethal, both in a planned situation and alas, also, accidentally.

Front Sight of course give a great deal of training on how to best control a weapon to achieve maximum effect when defending yourself, but they give even more importance to how to ensure that you never ever accidentally fire your weapon.

Negligent Discharges

This term refers to the unplanned firing of a weapon.  It is common to refer to such events as 'accidental discharges' but Front Sight refuses to use this term.  Front Sight instead insists on describing them as a 'negligent discharge' and that is by far the better term, because it correctly implies that someone did not just have an innocent faultless accident, but rather that someone failed to observe proper gun handling procedures.

If you fastidiously follow the four rules of firearm safety that Front Sight insists upon, there's no chance of ever experiencing a negligent discharge and the potentially tragic outcome that might follow.

You might think you know these safety rules already, and you might even think you comply with them.  I thought I knew them myself, but I also know there have been events in the past where I inadvertently failed to comply with one of them, and have come close to a nasty surprise as a result, and/or have found my following the rules to have almost literally been a life-saver.

Anyone who handles weapons sufficiently will sooner or later come across the gun they thought was unloaded, but which in reality turned out to have one or more rounds inside it.  If you follow the four safety rules, this won't cause a tragedy, but if you skip even one of them, Murphy's Law dictates that you'll suffer the worst possible outcome, and instead of your weapon protecting yourself and your loved ones, it may cause tragic harm to them.

The Four Rules of Gun Safety

It is worth citing the four rules.  Front Sight define them as :

  • Treat every weapon as if it were loaded

  • Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy

  • Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you're ready to shoot

  • Be sure of your target and what's inline with it

If you think carefully about these four rules and understand the totality of them, and then 100% invariably always comply with them, you'll never have a negligent discharge, but if you don't always observe all of them in all aspects, you'll increase the odds of a discharge that will be the result of your negligence.

Always Follow The Four Rules

Sometimes these four rules might seem like overkill (to use a perhaps poorly chosen word!).  And sometimes we might find ourselves tempted to skip one or two of them, because we 'know' there is no need for that particular rule in that particular circumstance.  Please - resist such temptation.  If always following all four rules is a reflexive action, always followed with no exceptions, there's less chance of ever accidentally skipping one.

Let me give two examples where you might think at least one of the rules is unnecessary.

First example - you are in a gun shop looking at perhaps buying a new gun.  You ask to see a pistol, and the store assistant takes it out of the case, checks to confirm it is unloaded, and hands it to you.  You then proceed to look at it, feel its balance, check the sights, etc.

In doing so, you have probably broken at least two and possibly even three of the four safety rules.  You would only be in compliance if you first rechecked the weapon for being unloaded immediately upon receiving it from the store salesman; if you made sure the muzzle never went anywhere near anyone else in the store, even for the briefest instant, and if you never put your finger on the trigger.

Okay, so sooner or later, you're going to want to put your finger on the trigger, but did you comply with the other three rules?

Second example - to show the fastidious way in which Front Sight insists on observing these rules to the highest level possible, here's their 'unload a pistol procedure'.  Imagine you are on the range and have just finished firing a couple of rounds, and your gun is still in your hand, with more ammunition in the magazine and of course another round automatically chambered, at the ready.  How would you unload it?  You'd probably hit the magazine release, remove the magazine, then work the slide and extract the remaining bullet, and consider that you'd then done everything necessary, right?

No, wrong.  Here is how Front Sight require you to do it.  The first thing you do is a chamber check - even though you know the weapon is loaded, and even though the very next thing you'll do is to unload it.  The reason for this is primarily to make this a totally instinctive action with no exceptions - every maneuver must be preceded by a chamber check and magazine check.

So, after checking to see that yes, indeed, you've got a loaded weapon, you then remove the magazine and clear the loaded round, the same as you'd probably normally do.  But, wait - there's more.

The next thing you do is another chamber check to ensure that the weapon is now unloaded, even though you know it is.  And then you do a magazine check - in this case, by sticking a finger up the magazine well to confirm there is no magazine in it, even though you again know there isn't one.  Only then is the unloading process complete.

All of this semi-redundant procedure points to the number one rule - treat every weapon as if it were loaded - ie, never ever assume.

Oh - one more thing about Front Sight's unloading procedure.  They not only have this as a massively redundant procedure, but before releasing us from the range, we'd all have to go through a full formal second unload drill, even though everyone already was supposed to have an unloaded weapon.

You Will Win Respect Rather than Derision by Following These Rules

Only ignorant fools will snicker when they see you checking a gun that they know you know is unloaded.  People you respect, and people who you would wish to respect you, will be impressed at your caution and prudence.

When it comes to firearms handling, there's no such thing as too much safety.

Important Summary on the Subject of Safety

There is a lot more to range safety - and safe firearms handling everywhere else as well - than what I've lightly touched on in this section.  The purpose of this section is not to teach you all about firearms safety (that is Front Sight's job, not mine), but rather to explain that Front Sight is fastidiously attentive to firearms safety, and will teach you what you need to know to ensure that you too become safe.

Most of all, you will learn that you have, on occasion in the past, been doing things that were not fully safe and which did place you at risk of negligent discharges.

There are lots of reasons to go to a Front Sight course, and while it is true that Front Sight will teach you how to be more 'deadly' with a firearm, Front Sight will also teach you how to be more safe with a firearm, and when you think about it, that is perhaps the more important skill.

Somewhere between 99.999% and 100% of the time, your objective with a weapon is to be safe, not deadly, and so it is very appropriate to first learn how to be ultra-safe.  Front Sight will teach you this.

Part of a multi-part series

Please click the links at the top right of this page to read through other parts of this extensive series on Front Sight and the training they offer.

 

If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.

 

Originally published 11 Sep 2010, last update 08 Jul 2017

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
Related Articles
Front Sight Firearms Training Institute - an Introduction to this Series
About the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute
Front Sight Update 2011
Gun Safety Issues
Discounted Front Sight Course Certificates - too good to be true?
Front Sight Lifetime Memberships
Join the Travel Insider at Front Sight, November 2011
The Instructors and Instruction
Front Sight's Ranges and Training Scenarios
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What to Bring to a Front Sight Course - Pistol
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What to Bring to a Front Sight Course - Other Valuable Equipment
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All About Body Armor and Bullet Proof Vests
 
 
 

 


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