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Tune Up Your Gun Handling

March 19, 2012 by  

Tune Up Your Gun Handling
All the photos taken to show these examples were done using a handgun with a training barrel or other non-firearm props, to ensure that no gun safety rules were broken.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve taught everything from National Rifle Association Basic Pistol to Texas Concealed Handgun Licensing to Defensive Pistol Skills to students with a wide range of skill, experience and prior training.

As a competition shooter and customer of commercial ranges, I’ve had the opportunity to observe good, bad and ugly gun-handling habits. That experience has led me to accept an inconvenient truth about gun owners: Every gun owner believes that his or her gun handling is safe, regardless of how good or bad that gun handling is.

This is an example of illusory superiority: a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others. It’s also known as the Lake Wobegon effect, because none of us believe we are below average.

That means, of course, that none of the discussion that follows applies to you, but you probably know someone who would benefit from this article. What separates a gun owner from a “shooter” is how you handle your gun during the 99 percent of the time you aren’t shooting it. Strive to be a “shooter” and ensure that your gun handling is safe 100 percent of the time.

Most gun owners can recite either the NRA’s Three Rules of Gun Safety or Jeff Cooper’s Four Rules, and they will claim (even as they violate one or more rules) that they obey those rules all the time. My observation is that while the absolute gun safety rules are common to all situations, their interpretation varies widely, particularly with regard to gun handling at commercial shooting ranges and less formal situations.

Most of them occur because the person handling the gun does not fully grasp the concept of “safe direction” and incorrectly believes that there is an “It’s OK; it’s unloaded” exemption.

In addition to basic gun safely rules, there are fundamental rules of range etiquette, such as only handling guns at the designated firing line, and stopping all shooting immediately if a cease fire is called. Those who have shot only in informal situations or at poorly supervised ranges often are unaware of these range etiquette policies.

What to do when you encounter one of the Terrible Twelve at a range or a gun shop? As they are in the act of committing one of these gun handling sins, ask them, “Would you be willing to fire a shot out of that gun, pointed where it is right now?”

Hopefully they will answer “No.” Then ask, “Then why are you pointing it in that direction?” If enough people start correcting others on these errors, perhaps we can indeed, all be above average in our safe gun handling skills.

NRA Three Rules

  1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction
  2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
  3. Always keep guns unloaded until ready to use.

Jeff Cooper’s Four Rules Of Gun Safety

  1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. (This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.)
  4. Identify your target and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

The NRA rules are each stated as specific direction, with most important first. With the gun pointed in a safe direction, if you fire a round you didn’t intend to, it still goes in a safe direction. Cooper uses three of his rules (1, 2 and 4) to address safe direction in various ways. While he’s correct that failure to obey his Rule 3 is responsible for most negligent discharges, the safe gun handling failures described in the adjacent article are overwhelmingly a result of failing to follow NRA Rule 1 or the other three of Cooper’s rules.

SOURCES:, NRA Gun Safety Rules, Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries, April 2003.

The Gut RackerThis error most commonly occurs when the shooter rotates the pistol in his hand to be able to more easily lock the slide back. One solution to this problem is to insert an empty magazine and pull the slide back to engage the slide lock, instead of putting the gun in this clearly unsafe position.
The SpinnerThis error typically occurs when the gun is carried in a rectangular case that gives no indication as to which direction the gun is pointed inside the case. The simple fix for this is to mark one end of the case as the muzzle end, and be consistent about always placing the gun in the case facing that direction.
The CowboyThis practice is unsafe at all ranges except those which are fully baffled to block extremely high shots, and even in that situation, it’s clearly a case of pointing a gun in a direction that is not the intended target.
The DangleThis is also known as the “my gun is heavy” position and occurs when the person holding the gun gets mentally or physically fatigued, and simply lets the gun drop. Would you be willing to fire a loaded gun from that position? If not, then it’s unsafe. How to avoid this? Holster the gun or set it down on a downrange table or bench.
The CheapskateLast year, a shooter in Houston was shot in the leg and suffered serious injury when a range customer took an uncased rifle out of his vehicle. The trigger of the rifle snagged on something in the vehicle, causing the loaded, off-safe rifle to fire. How to avoid this? Carry your guns in cases, bags, boxes, holsters — something that covers the trigger guard of the gun.
The Side RackerThis is why the dividers between stalls at indoor ranges are bulletproof. As I heard one range user say to a side racker, “If it’s OK for you to point your loaded gun at me, that means it’s OK for me to point my loaded gun at you, right?” If you physically cannot rack the slide without using this technique, the solution is simple: Turn your lower body 90 degrees so that your muzzle is pointed downrange, and not at the person next to you.
The Lone (Up) RangerDon’t handle your gun when you are behind the firing line. If you are on the firing line, don’t handle your gun when shooters are downrange resetting targets. Is it possible to handle your gun behind the firing line and keep it pointed in a safe direction? Maybe, but unless you are under attack, there’s no reason to violate range etiquette rules.
The MuffThis often occurs immediately after the user has already fired one shot without hearing protection, and they reach to adjust their earmuffs, loaded gun in hand, pointed at the sky. Would you be willing to fire a loaded gun from that position? If not, then it’s unsafe. How to avoid this? Holster the gun or make it safe and set it down on a downrange table or bench.
The Trigger GuardianThe trigger guardian will insist that their finger is “off the trigger.” Technically it is. But when the finger is placed in that position, it’s extremely easy for the finger to get to the trigger, should the shooter be startled or bumped. Some argue that it’s tactically important to have the finger that extra quarter-inch closer to the trigger, resting on the trigger guard and not on the slide, because they believe that it makes them faster to the first shot.Nowhere in the shooting world does speed matter more than at the IPSC Grand Master level, where multi-day matches are sometimes decided by fractions of a second. If that marginal change in trigger finger position made a measurable difference in speed, one would expect that the top shooters would use that technique. They don’t, and I state that as a Master class shooter who has taken courses from, practiced with, and RO’d top level shooters.
The Palm ShooterThe disassembly procedure for a Glock handgun requires that two levers be pressed down, one on each side of the frame, and the trigger pulled to release the slide. Unfortunately, one technique that many shooters adopt for this procedure places the muzzle pointed into his palm. There are multiple firsthand accounts documented online (including photos of the resulting injury) of shooters putting holes in their hands as a result of failing to remove the round in the chamber before pulling the trigger.
The Barrel LookerThis usually occurs after a malfunction has occurred, and the shooter is trying to determine whether the barrel is blocked or the chamber is fouled. Unfortunately, this method requires the shooter to point the gun in an unsafe direction. Safe alternatives include removing the barrel from the slide before inspection or using a Bore Snake or cleaning rod through the barrel.
The Ammo SaverThis usually occurs while unloading a semi-automatic pistol. After the magazine is removed and the slide is racked, the ammo saver stops paying attention to muzzle direction and becomes obsessed with the ejected live round. Often, this results in the muzzle pointing at the shooter’s feet or pointing up range. To correct this unsafe behavior, the shooter should ignore the ejected round and instead complete the unloading process by checking the chamber to ensure that it’s empty, and then holstering the pistol or setting it down, muzzle in a safe direction, before bending over to pick up the ejected round.

Karl Rehn

Karl Rehn

is the lead instructor for KR Training ( and has taught classes in the Central Texas area for the past 20 years. He is an NRA Training Counselor, Texas Concealed Handgun License Instructor, and a Master class competitor in IPSC, IDPA and Steel Challenge, who has trained with dozens of well known tactical and competition instructors. To learn more, visit

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  • Mike

    A well written non-acusatory but factual article filled with something lacking in todays world, common sense. I look forward to more.

  • CJ

    I’ve witnessed many of the issues mentioned. Most people will not correct another, on the range or anywhere for that matter, because of the possibility of receiving a response similar to ‘mind your own business.’ Most feel above reproach and think ANY constructive comment is a personal attack and get defensive. As a society, we need to get this chip off our shoulder. But it may already be too late. Without a responsible rangemaster to mediate, many won’t speak up. The government’s intent to make sheeple of us is nearly complete.

    • Wumingren

      I use my smart phone to video my daughters during karate practice, so I can show them what they are doing right or wrong. It’s a lot easier than just words. Then, no matter what they thought they had done, I can show them exactly what they had done. No more arguments. “Gee, Dad, you’re right. I do need to get my block higher.”

      Perhaps a video camera trained on the shooter’s stall can be used by a range master to instruct individuals who need instruction. Of course, then we run into the cost factor and the conspiracy factor. I’m not sure it would be very expensive these days to set up wireless cameras and a computer, but I am sure some people will not want to be imaged, even though it is likely that they are already imaged upon entry into the facility.

      Frankly, I wouldn’t mind a critical review of my performance by an expert who can show me what I’m doing wrong, not that I’m doing anything wrong, what with being from Lake Wobegone.

      • Me

        Hmmmmm. I’m all for safety, but MORE CAMERAS???????? Come on! I know there are careless people out there, but when will we start treating people like grown ups and not two year olds? What to do about the careless people? I WOULD say let them learn the hard way, but that could mean that SOMEONE ELSE gets hurt because of THEIR carelessness. Aside from the intrusive, baby sitting camera idea, I only know of one solution, no matter what the reaction, TELL THEM POLITELY WHAT THEY ARE DOING and don’t be shy! This is YOUR life they are playing with.

      • JeffH

        Wumingren, there are some indoor ranges that do monitor the shooting stalls/lanes, much the same way one might have security cameras to monitor your home. Stricktly for safety. Generally, I’ve found that shooters tend to monitor their own.
        I shoot skeet weekly and any unsafe practices are pointed out very quickly and without negative confrontation.

        The first rule of any gun handling is to treat every gun as if it were loaded, without fail. The general rules of the NRA and Jeff Cooper are the standards to safe gun handling and the efforts of shooting organizations to teach proper safety and handling are at an all time high, as they should be.

        I’ll add that whenever I’m at the range, whether shooting clays, indoor pistol or outdoor rifle, when the range isn’t HOT(shooting), every gun muzzle is either pointed doewn range with the breach locked open for anyone to see. When shooting at the skeet, trap or sporting clays range, the guns are always open and empty when not shooting and always…the shotguns are carried with the actions open and the barrels pointed down at he ground or down range.

        Shoot safe and keep some powder dry.

      • Joe H

        We had a guy get shot the other day by some idiot pointing his glock across booth and accidental fire!! I think if they just practiced rule #1 most of these problems would be solved. Ask yourself ” would I point a loaded gun at a non-offender?” MOST would answer “NO”!

    • PARIS


    • Gayle Rogers

      I have weapons I have not shot in 30 years! I am 71 years young and the time to start learning “how to” again has come full circle, for many reasons! I’ll leave those to you and others, BUT I would never NOT say what I thought was pertinent to a “live” situation. And I would welcome anyone to “correct” my gun handling! I don’t want to shoot myself OR anyone else accidentally because I felt “too proud” or “too smart” to learn a “how to”, correctly.

  • Mike

    I am a range officer at a gun club twice a year. You have touched on safety! The only rule should be be safe! I can tell horror stories all day about idiots showing up with a new gun and wrong bullets. That is easy to fix. Had a non speaking english person putting 20 guage shells in a 12 guuage shotgun once. Good thing another person could communicate with him. I thought my days were over if he pulled the trigger. Thnaks for pushing safety.

    • Wumingren

      I had a non-English speaking Hmong man, a regular customer and very nice guy, purchase a Remington Model 870 12-gauge shotgun some years ago, when I worked at a sporting goods store. He always brought his English-speaking daughter with him to help with translation. I had to explain the difference between trap loads and magnum loads, lead shot and steel shot. And, I went through the small game regulations, just to make sure he understood bag limits, bird identification, treaspassing law, etc. It was an arduous task, because I had to get the girl to understand, and then she had to get her dad to understand. It took me all afternoon, but hunting season was some ways off, so I had the time.

      He came back a week later complaining that he couldn’t hit anything with the gun and thought it was defective. I had to teach the daughter about proper bead sighting and leading the fowl before pulling the trigger. Well, naturally, inability to hit what you’re shooting at is not one of the conditions that would allow the return of a firearm, but I did take a look at the gun anyway. Good thing I did. I found that the choke tube was missing. It turned out that Dad thought the choke tube was in there for shipping, to protect the barrel. He had thrown it away! I had him buy a new choke tube, which was a bear to insert due to the fowling of the threads. Both father and daughter laughed it off and went their way.

      Some of us grew up with guns and know these things just from observation. Others don’t have a clue. Of course, if the ones you were observing were doing it all wrong, well, I guess that’s how shooting accidents happen.

  • BigBadJohn

    Thanks good article.

    “That experience has led me to accept an inconvenient truth about gun owners: Every gun owner believes that his or her gun handling is safe, regardless of how good or bad that gun handling is.”

    Too funny same goes for drivers. Ever notice how everyone else is an idiot?
    If you are driving 5 mph over the limit and someone is in the fast lane in front of you, they are an idiot.
    If you pull over and drive in the right lane and someone passes you – they are idiots.
    If someone pulls up to a light and refuses to turn on red, they are idiots.
    if someone pulls up to a red light and turns right in front of traffic, they are idiots.

    • 45caliber

      I remember a comment I read once. A boy was riding with his dad. When they got home, the boy asked, “Dad, why do all the idiots drive when you do and not when Mom does?”

      • Randy G

        The Guy didn’t look in the mirror to see the biggest idiot of all.

  • Benton (Ben) Lindamood

    Please restructure the rules in a printer friendly format.
    Would I be in violation of copyright to post this on my gun clubs bulletin board.

    • Bob Livingston

      Dear Benton (Ben) Lindamood,

      You have permission to post this on the bulletin board. Our “printer friendly” option is not currently functioning properly, but the tech team is working on it.

      Best wishes,

      • Gun Doctor

        Thanks Bob, Benton can highlight the items, copy and paste to a clean documents sheet and then print. Worked fine for me and all the pcitures came out as well.

  • Marv

    That was a very accurate and informative assessment of gun safety or the lack thereof. Good job. Keep the good articles on such topic coming.

  • FreedomFighter

    To reduce the fear mongering of the left on guns and safety levels for legal carry and use of firearms is a noble cause and the artical was well written.


    Laus Deo
    Semper Fi

  • Gun Doctor

    Thanks for a much needed appearance in PLD. I am posting this article in my gun shop for all my customers to read and the 3 NRA rules along with Jeff Cooper’s 4 rules at ALL my gun counters. I am appalled at how many people come into my shop and ask to look at handguns and invariably point them at me or other customers. I am constantly correcting them and some even claim to be experienced. Another word of caution to all who go to public gun ranges. At our local public range, I am seeing more and more Hispanics and Latinos who I can plainly see have absolutely no knowledge or training on range safety and etiquet. Now, I have no problem with Hispanics or Latinos leagally having firearms, but some of them do not own them legally and are not themselves in this country leagally. Something the Obama administration has clearly neglected to warn us about. If, like me, you happen to incounter a similar situation, be very careful in approaching these individuals as I do. Fortunately, I can speak Spanish well enough to get their attention and my point across to them. If you can not or don’t feel comfortable with the situation, the best option would be to exit the range, contact local law enforcement and let them handle the situation.

    • 45caliber

      I agree. I will never use a gun range or knowingly hunt with someone who is unsafe. If the problem cannot be corrected, I go home.

      And some “hunters” – I use the name loosely for those involved – who believe in “sound checks” amaze me. Shooting at something you can’t see just because you heard a noise? These people need to lose their license and gun!

      One of the funniest stories I heard was from a game warden. He always camped during deer season at a bridge in the National forest in AR. He had a six wire fence around some trees he used as a corral for his horse.

      He told be that once, before daylight, he heard what he thought was a young war outside his tent. He came running out in his underwear to find his horse dead in its pen. Four men were standing over the horse (buck only season which means it should have antlers) arguing over which one of them had killed the “deer”.

      I asked him what he had done. He said, “I confiscated their licenses, rifles, and fined them $5000 each. Then I sent them home.”

      Incidently, he had also had three other horses shot while he was riding them.

      • Joe H

        where I used to deer hunt in Michigan, there was a wardens office about five miles down the road. I was hunting below a tree where I had spotted a good sized buck daily for a week before season and while sitting there, wearing blaze orange, had a branch shot off about a foot above my head. I yelled, and bellied over to where the shot came from. There, sitting on a log with an empty half pint on the ground and another in his hand was a guy, plastered all to hell. I came up behind him, grapped his rifle, knocked him half silly, and told him he could get his rifle from the warden down the road. I knew the warden very well as he was married to my girlfriends sister. I found out later that the guy got thirty days and lost his rifle along with his priveledges!! I guess the warden went out and the guy was asleep (passed out) on the ground. what an idiot!!!

    • JeffH

      Gun Doctor, excellant. One thing that is fairly common at public ranges are the younger, less experienced shooters who think they know it all about guns and safety. If someone approaches them with some sound advice on safety, they’ll generally say “I know what I’m doing”. That is a red flag for me and I’ll either attempt to politely correct them or if I get resistance, I’ll report them to the range officer and keep some distance from them until they clear the area. There is nothing more rewarding to the experienced shooter that to have a new shooter ask for help and then work at applying safe practices at any range. Most of us will help them in some way or point them towards someone who can help them.

    • independant thinker

      Since they are likely not using hearing protection do what a guy I know did. He went shooting and was in a similar situation. None of the hispanics had any hearing protection so he went to his truck and got his Barrett 50 rifle. He then fired a couple of rounds and watched them run around with their hands over their ears, gather up their guns, and leave. Of course you do have to be able to afford a big 50 to do that.

      • JeffH

        independant thinker, eye and ear protection is generally a requirement at most ranges…again for safety sake.

        I hunted waterfowl and upland game for years without any hearing protection and, to a small degree, am paying for it now. I now use hearing protection whenever I hunt or shoot as well as having safety lenses in my perscription glasses.

      • independant thinker

        It depends on the range JeffH. This occured at a public range in the National Forest with no attendants. There are several of these in my general area.

      • Alex Frazier

        I’ve been to outdoor ranges that don’t require ear protection. It was years ago, and that may have changed. But I don’t recall any issues with my ears ringing or anything like that, despite firing a .357. At an indoor range, a .22 will make my ears ring if my earplugs aren’t in correctly. So part of the ear protection issue might be the echo of an indoor range.

        I’m talking out of my a$$ to try and make sense of it … but that’s my take.

    • JeffH

      45caliber :)…I taught my nephew, Casey, how to shoot and hunt when he was 11 years old…bought him a Browning BPS 20ga youth model for his birthday as his first gun. When he was 13 I took him duck hunting with some of my buddies to a marsh near Lake Alminor/Chester, Ca. We treated him as if he was one of the guys rather than a child, which he embraced with respect. There weren’t any blinds so each of up hid where we could and new everyones location. I kept hearing a clicking noise and realized it was coming from my nephew’s spot. He was clicking the safety on and off out of boredom. I warned him that it was unsafe to do and told him to stop. His gun was pointed up as it should have been. Well, about 5 minutes passed and all of a sudden his gun went off and boy did I get on him hard. No damage except to his embarrasement. I got the point across and told him I won’t dwell on it…he saw the reasoning in my initial warning…we ended up having a safe, wonderfull weekend and all of my hunting buddies treated him as just another one of us. He earned our respect and volunteered to clean all of our ducks but all of the shotguns too.. I was pretty proud of him and everyone thought highly of him as a respectfull young man. He learned a valuable lesson, fortunately without incident, and we still have a chuckle about it now and then.

      • 45caliber

        I took both my sons to a deer camp to hunt. The owner was a friend. He had half a dozen old hunters with him.

        My boys went on stands and later came in with the rest of us. They were off doing something when one of the older men turned to me. “I’ve been watching your sons,” he said. “I’ll hunt with them any time.”

        It made me really proud as a father to know they were accepted by other experienced hunters.

  • Charles

    “The Gut Racker This error most commonly occurs when the shooter rotates the pistol in his hand to be able to more easily lock the slide back. One solution to this problem is to insert an empty magazine and pull the slide back to engage the slide lock, instead of putting the gun in this clearly unsafe position.”

    I must disagree! If the gun is in this state, do I KNOW that there is no round in the chamber? How to find out? Rack it. Putting an empty clip in DOES NOT REMOVE THE ROUND THAT MAY BE IN THERE. If you are able to logic your way thru to determine that there is no live round in the chamber you are also capable of pointing the muzzle in a safe direction. There is NO EXCUSE for the Gut Racker.

    The solutions is to adopt a safe position. As my Dad used to say: NEVER POINT A GUN AT ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY.

    • 45caliber

      I’ve always said, “Never point a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot right now.” That particularly includes people. If I do point a gun at a person it is not a threat; it is an intention.

    • Alex Frazier

      Putting an empty magazine in the firearm is so you can rack it and lock the slide back automatically, at which point you can eject the magazine and inspect the chamber and magazine well, all without having to point the firearm in an unsafe direction.

      And Glocks, by the way, don’t have clips. They have magazines. There is a difference.

      • independent thinker

        “And Glocks, by the way, don’t have clips. They have magazines. There is a difference.”

        Ah but the terms have been used interchangably for at least 50 years and probably longer. technacly (sp) all multi shot firearms except revolvers use magazines to hold the cartrages ready for loading into the firing chamber and clips are the items used to hold cartrages ready to replins the magazine but as I said the terms have been used interchangably for many many years.

  • Fox

    Excellent article. We need more like them.

    Who can mishandle a firearm? There are two answers, those who have and those who will.

    Having spent more years on firing ranges than most folks have been alive, I would like to say that in my long and happy shooting career, I have twice fired weapons accidentally. Fortunately, no one was injured and no property was damaged. But, with all my knowledge and skills of firearms handling and instruction, if it can happen to me, it can and will happen to you.

    For Ben Lindamood; To copy and save any text of any article, just highlight the text you wish to save, right click the mouse, select “copy”, then move the cursor to the place you wish to save it (such as wordpad or notepad) and right click again, then select “paste”. All the text you highlighted will appear magically there. You may then save it to a file which you name. Put that file in a place you will remember, then whenever you wish to print it, bring it up and do so.

    Hope this helps.

    The 99.9999999999999999999999998% safe shooter!

    • Jerry Marshall

      Fox, when I was competing in USPSA, we had a saying: “there are those who have had an Accidental Discharge, and those that will”!
      I’m still in the latter category, and hopefully always will, but everybody that handles a firearm has to get a completely new mind-set the moment a firearm is present. This was the theme of my teaching, when I was 5 years old, and was constantly reminded all through my developing years.
      When I went into the Army I was surprised by how many people had no idea how to handle firearms, and, thankfully, this was drilled into their heads!
      Preserve our Second Amendment Rights, and PRACTICE and enforce SAFE HANDLING OF FIREARMS! Why give the LEFTISTS anything else to beat us up about?

      • Alex Frazier

        I’ve only ever had a single unintended discharge. I don’t rightly remember how the discharge occurred. It’s been a while. However, because I was following basic firearm safety rules, the shot went off downrange (I was aiming at my target and it went off before I intended it to).

  • Ron

    As I read your article, I found that I was experiencing mixed feelings. While I agree 100% with what you are saying, I will also disagree on some points, in some regards. Many persons and groups have attempted to establish a “one size fits all” set of rules for gun safety. However, firearms safety is a relative subject. What you have said seems to apply 100% to the safe handling of weapons during competition. And for someone that is going through the process of learning how to technically handle and fire a gun, these rules would also apply The major exceptions to the rules as stated would be to Law Enforcement and the military. The world that these people experience can be so entirely different than what day to day life civilian life is, that a different set of safety standards needs to be used. Other than that, an excellent article. Thanks for posting it.

    • Gun Doctor

      How you handle your gun on the range or in public most likely will be different from how you handle it at home. And, that will be influenced by other factors such as children or grandchildren at your home. As for me, my personal handguns are ALWAYS loaded and ready. As Uncle Ted would say, “cocked, locked and ready to rock.” As with all guns, the way they deploy is based upon the manufacturer’s design of the weapon. A Glock, for instance, is ready when there is a live round in the chamber whereas a 1911 is ready when there is a live round in the chamber and the hammer is cocked back. With the 1911, I keep the hammer cocked back with the manual thumb safety engaged. The main thing to remember here is how you have stored the gun for deployment use. In other words, is there a round in the chamber or not and how easy is it to get to the weapon.

      • Ron

        Sounds like we are pretty much on the same page.

      • Alex Frazier

        The last thing you said is the most important. Just like having a muzzle side of the case, it is my opinion that the firearms you intend for home defense should be stored in the same way as each other. I, too, keep mine loaded and chambered. Since we all know that a perpetrator can cover thirty feet in a matter of seconds, the last thing I need is to grab my gun and have to chamber a round before I can use it. The delay could be the difference between life and death. I think they say that the average gun fight lasts about five seconds. There just isn’t a lot of room for error.

        And I have four kids in my house. I just taught them how to handle, fear, and respect a firearm.

  • Roger

    I’m a Master Electrician (35years). I relate this to my advice about electricity. If the power is connected to the building (or some other source or generator) then yes it IS HOT and you should handle it accordingly. The same goes for an “unloaded firearm” There is no such thing in my books. Thanks for the tips. I’m printing this out for my family to read and to teach to my children and grandchildren. I usually have just told them that anything that you point a firearm at will die and it won’t come back in the nest level. LOL

  • Dm

    I was at a public gun range last week (2nd week in march) a guy was putting his AR-15 away in a case sitting on the bench after just shooting it. I was standing at the back right corner of bench talking to him (he was on the back left side and his wife was near the left front corner) all of a sudden I heard a loud bang, like a firecracker went off. I said “what the hell was that”? here the gun had a round in it and went off while it was laying on the bench, about 2 feet away from his wife. the round blew a 3″ hole in the end of his soft case and blew some gloves off the bench 10 feet away. she would have gotten hit right in the stomach if it was pointed at her. scared the hell out of me! People, you gotta check your guns better after shooting, especially when other people are around.

    • 45caliber

      Ever heard of a “cook off”?

      This is when a gun gets hot enough from firing that it will continue to fire even if your finger isn’t on the trigger. The heat of the gun causes the powder to ignite.

      Since it WILL occur, always be extra careful where a gun is pointed.

      • Joe H

        Saw it happen TWICE with an M-60 in nam!! It CAN happen!!!

  • DavidL

    Great article and solid safety advice that all of us gun owners, and those we bring to the range for the first time, should review over and over again.

  • sean murrey ILLInio

    i always have my muzzle pointed down range until i am ready to shoot where i shoot at they hasnt an accident for years.

  • Roger

    One more thing I have to share. The infamous Remington 700. When I was 15 (my first rifle) 25.06 bolt action (loved that rifle). My first deer hunt. I had just walked into camp. safety ON. I flipped the safety off to unload the rifle… and boom…right through the corner of the tent without me ever touching the trigger. I did have it pointed at the ground, but my angle was just little off. I thought it was a fluke until about two years ago when I read an article about another and then found out there were thousands of the same. Please re-post for everyone. In my case luckily it was the very edge of the tent but that was a great first lesson at a young age for me and for everyone else in our camp.
    Thanks again

    • 45caliber

      I make a point of pretending the safety isn’t even on the gun. It is too unreliable to trust. If you aren’t planning to shoot something, unload it immediately. Depending on what I am doing, I may keep a magazine in the gun but never a bullet in the chamber.

    • JeffH

      Roger, “The infamous Remington 700″? Bet you saw CNBC’s broadcast of “Remington Under Fire”. The premise of the story is that for years Remington knew about a deadly trigger flaw with the Remington 700. I owned and used a Rem 700 for decades without an incident and have known many who’ve never had an incident with the 700. For nearly 6 decades, the Remington Model 700 rifle has been the preferred choice for millions of hunters, shooting sports enthusiasts and military and law enforcement personnel. I watched the broadcast and during the whole story I kept thinking that every one of the accidents they described could of been prevented by simply following the 10 commandments of gun safety and thought it very typical of a biased anti-gun report.

      NRA News – Remington CNBC Response

      Its not a malfunction or a design flaw. Its called having a negligent discharge and saying; ” I didn’t even pull the trigger !! …It just went off “

      • independant thinker

        I saw a video supposedly showing the flaw in the 700. It has been to long for me to remember the details but I do remember in every instance of an AD they showed it was obviously “operator” error not a manufacturing defect.

      • GeoInSD

        In addition to the NRA and Mr. Cooper rules, in my extended family we have a rule that the action be left open when not shooting. I won’t forget the scolding my grandfather gave me when I brought my .22 into the house with the bolt closed.

        It has always been maddening to me hearing on the news about someone being shot while one was “cleaning the gun”. As JeffH says, these “accidents” wouldn’t happen if people strictly followed basic gun safety, which isn’t hard to do. Some might say a person might slip up once in awhile during a brain f*rt. While true, I think it would happen far less if people had the attitude to never violate the rules, to make it a habit. I think it is human nature to do what one is conditioned to do, especially during a brain f*rt. So it is extremely important to ingrain those proper gun safety habits so brain f*rts are non issues.

      • 45caliber

        I was helping with a Scout troop one day when the Scout Master brought in an old guy to teach them about gun safety. In the process of handing around the guns, he slid a blank cartridge into one. Sure enough, within minutes someone fired it. It scared all of them badly – and all remember that to this day. (It was startling to me too.)

      • JeffH

        GeoInSD, I agree with you. Whenever I’m around others, I make it a habit to always keep my action open and try to make it visible to those around me, at home, on the range and when carrying my gun to and from the field. With a revolver, I’ll open the cylinder and carry it with two fingers under the top strap showing the empty cylinder.

    • Jerry Marshall

      Everyone that hunts in our family, and invited guests are always warned to unload their firearms before entering camp, and always have the action open on their rifles.
      We have never had an accidental discharge in 50 years that I have been going out, and hopefully all of these safety practices have helped to prevent accidental discharges, and I have not heard of any within our circle of hunters.
      It never hurts to be reminded, no matter how many times, of the importance of being safe, and assisting those around us to be safe, as well. I have found that the majority of people exercising their Second Amendment Rights try to be safe and responsible, but sometimes everybody can use a helpful reminder.

  • 45caliber

    I told my kids that if they were stupid enough to point a gun at something they didn’t want to shoot, make sure it was pointed at their own foot. That way no innocent person would be harmed. They got the point. This weekend I was teaching my grandson how to use a rifle. I told him the same thing. He understood it too.

    The main failure I see of hunters is a failure to look beyond their target to see what might be on the other side of it. They get too excited when they do see something. The real problem is that they get too excited to think.

    Recently I went to a gun shop to look at a gun. The clerk picked it up and set it down on the counter pointed directly at me. I didn’t say anything until I finished. Then I told the clerk, “You may get more business if you are careful to never point the gun at anyone.” She got the point and appologized. The next time I was in there, she was very careful to not point it in anyone’s general direction.

  • Don

    All of the examples shown are quite common proceedures for people that only shoot in stalls at the range. Most people that engage in the shooting disiplines like USPSA or IDPA quikly learn to avoid these mistakes or get set home .

  • scout

    Most people handle ALL firearms very carelessly. They are scary. I hunt and shoot alone…It even gets worse as time goes on. They do not respect anything…….

    • Jerry Marshall

      Scout, if you are finding “everybody is unsafe with guns” maybe you should get away from these people!
      But I think you are one of these people that have NO IDEA what you’re talking about, and just come to this site so you can stir up controversy for your LEFTIST anti-gun, anti-American friends!
      Go occupy something, and leave the important conversations to the GROWN-UPS!

  • Marc Albertario

    My first onboard cpo told us “You must be smarter than the equipment you operate, if not it will kill you and/or your shipmates.” We worked with S/A, S/S missiles and 5″ .54 Cal gun systems. There were many parts of the systems besides the armaments that could kill. I still have all my body parts and never harmed my shipmates! But after 40 years of gun handling I have had an unintentional discharge into the ground just 6″ from my foot!!!! It forever changed how I hunt, the gloves I wear and the thoughts I have in mind while holding a gun.

  • Ron

    Excellent advice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mark

    Obama sucks!!!!!!

  • so far so good

    Great article, and thanks for putting it out there. With the barely noticeable increase in sales lately, I’m sure we have a few newbies in the game….. I tell most I run into who are interested to go to a local indoor range. They will rent and instruct.

  • Paul

    Great article! You can never be too safe. One correction for palm shooter;
    it is not necesary to pull the trigger on a Glock to release the slide. The slide is pulled back too far if you have reset your trigger. Try pulling the slide back about 1/4 to 1/2 inch without exposing your palm (or any other body part) to the muzzle. The slide should release easily.
    We all need to practice safe gun handling and alert others politely when they stray from safe gun handling. The rules are simple but the costs of violation can be severe.

  • MontieR

    This is a great article. Sadly it is essentially about one thing missing from today’s society,
    common sense.

  • Godisalive

    Very well done & so accurate. My kids taught gun safety with their Father from the time they were about 10. Thank the Lord, they have never had any accidents. One son was shot 4 times once but it was no accident so I am well aware of the damage a bullet can do & of protection of our Lord. It was only a miracle, he survived. One cut a gulley in his head, clear to the skull could see the size & shape of bullet; 2 just missed arteries with one still in his thigh because it is too dangerous to remove & the fourth shot off the end of a finger.

  • ranger hall

    AMEN Some real good comments, 45 i liked your comment on the Boy and his Dad, That was Great, Smart Kid.
    Good habits are hard to beat.

  • Randy G

    As I learned gun saftey at SKY-Y CAMP , we used single shot bolt action 22 rifles & to be safe WHENEVER the weapon was not on the shooting pad The bolt was always pulled back open so no bullet was visibly loaded.

  • Wyatt

    Excellent piece . I am amazed at how many people think themselves safe shooters and yet violate every rule there is . I will admit to having violating a rule or two when not fully concentrating on the task at hand . None of us are perfect 100% of the time , but on the range or when handling our firearms we should all strive to be .Fortunately , I have never had an accident when I have caught myself in violation of a rule . And in those times I have caught myself , I have always suspended my activities at the range , cleared my weapon , put it on safe , holstered it and or cased it , packed up and gone home . Obviously I was either to mentally tired or distracted to properly handle a firearm and had no business doing so . My kids were taught by this ethic and by grace of God we have never had any accidents . And so far , I am the only one to receive any wounds . They were received in a combat situation while in service so I know exactly what happens when a bullet strikes . Even one fired accidentally .

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  • Fox

    When my son was 18 months old I started his firearms training. He had no bad habits to correct and only learned good ones. For years I was never concerned about him being at home where all my firearms were locked and loaded, even when he had friends over. He would educate them all quickly, and correctly. He never misused a firearm until he was 21 years old!

    One day when I was away, a group of thugs were threatening him and a friend while I was away from home. The threat passed without him ever having to present the weapon. After they all left, he started to clear the pistol by pulling the slide to the rear AND THEN DEPRESSED THE TRIGGER! When he released the slide, the pistol performed as designed and fired a ball round into the left calf of his friend!

    Fortunately, the round passed through without bone contact or major injury and by the time I got home his friend had been treated by paramedics and returned home. When my son relayed the information of the event to me, all I could do was to listen and shake my head. This was my son who had always been so conscious of firearms safety from little on.

    When I showed him that his friend was indeed fortunate, because the NEXT round in the magazine was an explosive round which would have probably resulted in his friend losing that leg, and possibly even his life, he turned the brightest clearest shade of pale I have ever seen on someone who has not been drained of their blood.

    The point of this post is simply that, no matter how well you train, common sense should always be uppermost in your mind.

    • 45caliber

      When my oldest son was 18 months old, my wife told me that I had to unload and lock up my guns. Instead, I took him outside and set up a gallon milk jug full of water. Then I had him stand right beside me while I shot it with a .22 pistol. The sound scared him and so did the water spurting out of the plastic bottle. He wouldn’t touch one after than. When he was four, I started teaching him how to handle one. At five he was shooting. The other boy and later my daughter were taught the same way.

      I grew up in the Ozark Mountains. (Yes, I’m an AR hillbilly.) At that time, all kids were carefully taught gun safety as well as how to shoot. Now many there are city kids who are just handed a gun and expected to know how to use it. None of the original people like it.

  • Jason

    This was a great visual and textural briefing. I will show it to my son ASAP and ” tune up ” our handling for sure! Thanks!

  • RichE

    OMG, now do you see why gun nuts make me nervous? Now do you see why I want those damn things highly regulated and controlled? There shouldn’t be a need for this article! Every damn person that owns a gun should know this stuff by heart! Geez! “I’d like a copy of this so I can post it at my gun range” Holy crap! You’re telling me you’ve got this going on. OMG! How can any of you bitch about gun regulation with these true examples? Guns kill! And don’t give me any of that crap, “Guns don’t kill, people do”

    • JimH

      RichE, Being on the highway must scare the living daylights out of you then. We are exposed to more bad drivers than bad shooters.
      Just stay away from the range and you will be OK.

    • anonymous

      i see we have a fan of socialism here

      • JimH

        Some believe we need a kind and benevolent government to protect us from ourselves, no matter how much freedom it costs us. Never enough rules.We need to save the idiots from themselves. As confident and competent people we should sacrifice our freedoms to protect the incompetent.(sarcasm)

    • JeffH

      RichE…you have nothing to fear but fear itself…get a life!

    • Godisalive

      You can NOT regulate common sense. We have more regulations & laws now that do nothing that the existing laws don’t do. For instance, I get sick of everyone wanting to pass laws against cell phone usage & or texting. Negligent driving covers all of that. A person who texts while driving or is careless while on the phone is just as dangerous with a passenger, radio or anything else they let distract them. My sister almost killed herself adjusting the radio. The government can NOT stop us from hurting ourselves or anyone else. They do not have the right to constantly protect us from ourselves…helmet & seat belt laws for example. My husband, sister & I would be dead had we had on a seat belt in an accident. The accident that my husband was wearing a seat belt, it broke his back in 2 places. The bottom line is God is in charge.

    • Gary Emch

      RichE, you tell me why everyone should pay the price for the few idiots out there. There are always going to be people who just should not be allowed beyond the confines of they’re room but they’re out there regardless. To impose stricter gun regulations because of a few morons is totally beyond any common sense. I am assuming you are not a veteran. I and many of us served our country and took an oath to uphold our Constitution and Rights. NO ONE and I don’t care who they are has the right to alter what so many of us swore to uphold. God I’m glad most people don’t panic and blame the law abiding gun owners for the actions of a few morons out there.

    • Joe H

      I’m 61 years old, been around guns all my life, my dad taught me to shoot at five. I’ve probably owned twelve rifles and seven pistols, both double action and semi-auto. the only weapon I’ve ever handled that injured ANYONE was the one issued to me in the service and those were trying to kill me. Are you trying to kill me? If not, you have nothing to worry about with me!

  • FreedomFighter

    Nearly 1 million American rifles.

    Banned by a stroke of Barack Obama’s pen.

    In a move unprecedented in American history, the Obama Administration quietly banned the re-importation of nearly one million American made M1 Garand and Carbine rifles.

    The M1 Garand, developed in the late 1930’s, carried the United States through World War II seeing action in every major battle.

    General Patton at the time called the M1 Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised.”

    The rifle is largely credited with giving American soldiers the advantage and securing victory for the allies.

    During the Korean War, nearly one million of these rifles were brought to South Korea and left with the South Korean government afterward.

    Now, South Korea wants to give American gun collectors the chance to get their hands on this unique piece of history.

    A piece of American history that Barack Obama would like to see go down the memory hole.

    That’s why I want as many Americans as possible to put themselves on record opposing this gun ban by signing the Official Firearms Freedom Survey the National Association for Gun Rights has prepared for you.

    Rand Paul
    United States Senator

    From National Gun Rights Org

    Laus Deo
    Semper Fi

    • JimH

      Be very concerned of the politition who is afraid of his people owning guns.(they’re up to something)

  • Joseph Jr Vanchieri

    I had a co-worker point his gun at me while hunting. He did it so many times I decided to give up the hunt and go home. I rolled through a stop sign and was pulled over by a NY State Trooper. When the officer approached the car he asked what we were doing. I told him we were hunting. He saw our shotguns in the back seat and asked if they were loaded. I told him ” no ” and at the same time under his breath my co-worker said ” would you like to find out? ” . Needless to say, after the thorough search and ticket for the traffic infraction he left. I dropped my co-worker off right there ( about 20 miles from his house ). I saw the State trooper in a restuarant two weeks later and he recognized me. He told me that he turned around a few mile down the road from where he stopped me and saw my co-worker walking. He gave him a ride home but told me he would have done the same thing. I always empty my weapons and leave the chambers open. The car was a hatchback so I didn’t have a trunk. I made a new friend and eventually gave the gun back to my co-worker. I am an avid gun safety practitioner and passed it down to my kids.

  • James Brownlee

    More people are either hurt or killed by carelessness or being in a hurry because they are not watching what they are doing. A gun is like anyother inadement object. It cannot do anything without human control. It will do what you tell it to rather you mean for it to or don`t. Accidents do happen and where guns are conserned they are almost always tragick.

  • Gary Emch

    This is a great bit of information to know. I know no matter how safe I try to be once in awhile I have the gun pointed the wrong way. Its not loaded and its in the house but it makes me ask myself what if it was loaded and how would I deal with the consequences afterward. I’ve found that when my gun is in my hand I really have to think about what I’m doing. I’ve known people who didn’t give it much thought only to have the gun go off. Fortunately for them no one was hurt or killed. I hope you have more articles like this to read.

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  • JimH

    A gun, chainsaw, welding torch, or steering wheel. You can’t get complacent.
    There are stupid accidents. There is no such thing as a smart accident.
    Pay attention.

  • Deerinwater

    Clearly you are exactly what you say you are Karl Rehn .

    Keep preaching!

    I would just add, each shooter “know your piece”. When I say that, I’m saying, it should becomes an extension of yourself. Each piece has unique characteristics and they are very unforgiving.

  • Commiefornia

    Once a customer had just picked up his pistol (probably his first as he seemed really excited) and kept sweeping me with the muzzle as he checked it out and I was looking at stuff in the display case. I should’ve said something, but I was also kind of surprised that the salesperson didn’t say anything either.

    I also heard a story of a guy at a gun show pointing a pistol up, (supposedly in a safe direction) dry firing it and it went off, the round ricocheting and hitting someone in the arm.

    I’m no expert, but I think it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for each other as gun enthusiasts and remind those new and not so new to the sport if we see someone do these things. I wouldn’t want to cause a serious accident and would take kindly to someone admonishing me if I did something potentially dangerous with my firearm. Great article.

  • Marc

    The best thing I did and do… train at Front Sight every year.

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  • FreedomFighter

    March 22, 2012 Press Release WARNING!!!

    Above is an interesting artical I came accross, dont know if any of it is real, but we will know for sure in about 48 hours.

    Laus Deo
    Semper Fi

  • spillingvoid

    Ok as far as “The Cheapskate” goes. If your transporting your weapon properly there should be absolutely no way for it to go off period. You don’t need a case, or bag or whatever, I’ve been shooting since I was six I’ve jumped out of many truck during my years in the Army both in Iraq and in training here in the states and not once was I or anyone in my platoon company I’d even venture to say nobody in my battalion got shot by there own weapon.
    It should have read “Never transport a weapon loaded, you don’t have a reason to, you don’t have excuse.”

    Other than that just common sense

  • Gary Emch

    I went out to the range today and would have to say that when I was loading my gun I thought about the article. I found myself correcting some bad habits I haven’t thought about in years. That article was great for older guys like myself who were trained in the military years ago but have forgotten some of what we were trained to remember.

  • FreedomFighter

    Survival Course Interview 24 Part II about gun fights

    This is second part of interview 24 in my survival course. I talk about concealed carry of weapons (not), use of hand grenades, typical gun fights and more. There is very little hollywood in all of this.

    I hope this helps you get more prepared and get idea how these situations happen in real world.

    Laus Deo
    Semper Fi

  • Gary Emch

    View this video! This is the reason we go to the range and practice.

  • FreedomFighter

    From: Anonymous Source
    Sent: Monday, March 19, 2012 8:27 PM
    To: The Americas, Israel & Europe

    Subject: Government buying out all the 5.56 Military surplus ammo and is telling ammo dealers to stop selling to their vendors and civilians.

    I have been calling allot of ammo distributors and ALL of them are telling me that our government is all the 5.56-.223 cal military surplus ammo. And their also telling the ammo distributors stop selling the ammo to civilians and their vendors because the government is buying it all up from everyone they can. I have also spoken with theses ammo dealers and they told me that the 5.56 and .223 ammo is going way up in price.

    For instance…I paid $149.00 for federal surplus 440 rounds of steal core and now at the gun show today it was selling for $440.00 for 420 rounds. I have checked and ALLOT of places online are out of the Military surplus ammo by federal. M193 and M855 SS109 ammo. I did find one place still carrying both these ammo’s and good prices still, but their the only place I could find. If interested let me know and Ill forward the info.

    I was also told by the same ammo dealers that the government is going to buy all the 9mm and .45 ammo up, so hurry and buy while you can at the lower prices while still available. Guess if they won’t take our guns because they figure that there are some many out there, they will just buy all most popular military calibers. Can’t shoot a gun with no ammo…stock up now while you still can.

    They also said the government will continue to purchase all the ammo through the presidential election and they will continue to until the president tells them to stop. And if obama gets reelected instead of rejected, you know he wont stop the purchasing of all the ammo mentioned above.

    Laus Deo
    Semper Fi

  • Captain Maury Polse

    Thank you for the refresher!!

    • Gary Emch

      I would have to agree with you.

  • ExNuke

    Regarding “the gun is always loaded”. The version I’ve always liked best is “Check for yourself. Never take someones word for whether or not the gun is loaded” Some will tell you it is when it isn’t and some will say it isn’t when it is. The only way to be sure is to “Check For Yourself”

  • Otto

    Thanks for the photos!

  • Gary Emch

    This is a very good and informative article. I have found myself at times making mistakes.


    Your entire article, “Tune Up Your Gun Handling : Personal Liberty
    Digest™â€ was in fact truly worth commenting here!
    Simply just needed to say you actually did a superb job.
    I appreciate it ,Glenn


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