04 May 2004
Many of us carry a weapon all the time and almost all of like to shoot, so when we get together there always a number of weapons at the site. While I have NEVER been aware of any "gunplay" at any Rubicon gathering (not only Safety Team but no other Rubie would stand for it!), it never hurts to review safe gun handling with the summer camping season coming up fast. Safe gun handling is really a matter of four simple rulz (at least in my opinion!) that have been covered in many articles here.
- Always keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction. If you are shooting or only handling the gun, keep the business end pointed away from you and all other people. When you are outdoors point it straight up, straight down towards the ground or in a safe direction away from all people. When you are indoors, point it at the floor or ceiling but be aware that a bullet can easily penetrate walls and floors so make sure that you know who and what is on the other side. The biggest safety hazard I have seen is swinging the barrel around so that it crosses across someone else as it moves to a safe location. Watch where you swing that barrel!
- Always treat every weapon as if it were loaded. keep the weapon unloaded until you are ready to use it, but always assume that
EVERY weapon is loaded, even if you're sure it's not... Most Gun Shows have a bucket by the admission desk. This bucket is always about half
full of live ammunition that has been removed from "unloaded weapons" when they are checked at the entrance. If you are shooting the weapon or carrying the weapon for protection, by all means load it. But there is no real reason to have multiple loaded guns sitting around at a campsite when they are not in use. If you do not know how to unload and make a weapon safe or check if it is loaded, ask someone. I know it sounds stupid but plenty of people wont ask how to make a gun safe as though they are supposed to know everything there is to know about every type of weapon made. Ridiculous! If you donít know, ask and someone will show you. Something else I want to say and I tell my kids this all the time, a gun is not safe until YOU make it safe. Watch the safety team sometime. Someone will ask about a gun or show a gun to someone else. First they check that it is unloaded and safe and pass it over to someone else. Then the person who is receiving it checks it again. Why? Not because they donít trust or believe the person passing it, but because itís not safe Ďtill YOU check it. Iíve seen training sessions that use a weapon where three or even four people will check a gun before it is declared safe. Maybe I didnít see a round in there, or it wasnít there but got dropped in somehow or was jammed in there someplace. Who knows but the moral is Ė check it!
- Always remember to keep your finger off the trigger. If you take a look at the picture of my 14 year old son shooting at the top of this page youíll notice that while he is looking at something down-range his finger is along the side of the receiver NOT on the trigger. Do not touch the trigger until you are taking up slack and getting ready to pull the trigger and fire the gun. There is no other reason to put your finger on that trigger! Many people have a natural tendency to touch the trigger or to put their finger in the trigger guard. Break that habit! One of the easiest ways to prevent an AD (or Accidental Discharge) is to not pull the trigger and not having a finger on the trigger sure helps ensure that.
- Always know what you are shooting at and what is beyond it. Again, very simple, but often overlooked. When you do pull the trigger on a loaded weapon, make darn sure you know what you are shooting at and what is beyond what you are shooting at in case the bullet carries. Shoot in a safe area and make sure that nothing has changed to make it unsafe. There are usually plenty of kids at one of our campouts, make sure that they have not gotten behind the shooting range. There is NO room for the "Oh well weíre way off in the woods, letís pop a few into the trees without checking" crap.
Remember that gun safety is really that simple Ė point it safely, keep it unloaded, keep your finger off the trigger, and know what you are shooting at!
Now, get out and train Ė safely!
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