We joke about this all the time, we act blasé regarding the dangers of negligent discharges. Yet, do nothing to really mitigate the risk.
Don’t Be That Guy
Recently I saw an image floating around social media showing a very unlucky individual. He suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound down his strong side leg. Three wounds appear in the picture (entry, exit & graze). While they were minor as far as gunshot wounds, if you ask this individual I doubt he would agree. Most accidents are not the result of a single failure. They are the cumulative effect of several smaller, seemingly insignificant failures. It doesn’t matter the playing field, whether with NASA or the average Joe no one is immune. Taking safety seriously is easy, taking it seriously all the time is the challenge. All to often we get lazy, or lackadaisical or take things for granted.
Worked as Advertised
To truly understand these failures we need to all agree shooting oneself is bad. Put this up there with steeling candy from a baby or punching a puppy type bad. From there let’s look at how this happen. An object, somehow applied enough force to move the trigger far enough to work as advertised. It should not come as a surprise when you apply enough force to the trigger with any object it will fire. By this point, many are questioning why they should continue reading. They say to themselves, “well , no duh.” Yet, here we are talking about the same subject. Self inflicted gunshot wounds.
Things That Go Bang
While there are many different objects that can exert force on the trigger, most culprits are the individual’s trigger finger being at the wrong place at the wrong time. When we start concealing handguns we expose the trigger to other objects as well. Things such as your under garments, cover garments and even the holster itself can all act as a surrogate trigger finger. Not only can these objects apply force during the draw stroke, they can do so while re-holstering. The solution is not complicated, but for some it may be a paradigm shift from your current set of techniques and procedures.
The procedures starts with keeping the trigger finger on home position until the sights are confirmed on our intended target. We see this being violated all the time. Everyone wants to come up with excuses why it is okay. They will say it is too slow, you have to get to shooting right away or I know what I’m doing. I’ll bet if you asked the guy who recently shot himself he was not thinking he would shoot himself seconds before he shot himself. Others will question my suggestions and even go so far as to say, “he’s not tactical enough.” Unfortunately, these are the same people who make it easy to write these articles. Others will mention they wait until their muzzle is on target and my response is if you cannot see your sights then how do you know the muzzle is on target. Should you negligently discharge the round what assurances do you have it will hit the intended target and not an innocent bystander.
There is No Prize For Fastest Re-holster
When it comes to re-holstering the conversation turns lighter. There is no longer the need nor justification for lethal force. You are re-holstering because you recognized the situation and make the conscious choice. In this case, you have all the time in the world. There is no pressure, no time standard. Simply re-holster safely. To do so, we teach the student to observer their trigger finger on home position. The home position is the intersection of the slide and frame. This ensures your trigger finger cannot accidentally move to the trigger under certain stressful conditions. Once you have confirmed the trigger finger’s position then clear your cover garment completely. Don’t be shy about showing your mid drift area, get your cover garment out of the way. Observe the mouth of the holster to ensure it is clear of any obstructions. Observe the muzzle into the mouth of the holster and ease it into place until secure. Then relax and replace your cover garment.
There are a lot of negative forces pushing down on our industry. If we are shooting ourselves because of ignorance or poor techniques we are only giving the anti-gun agenda the ammunition they want to illustrate we cannot be responsible adults.