By now most of us are probably sick of hearing or seeing posts about the recent negligent discharge. Surprised or not, safety is the top priority in any high risk training evolution.
It’s high risk for a reason
I don’t feel the need to regurgitate the incident, suffice it to say it was pretty stupid and I’m glad no one was hurt. The other day I was catching up with my good friend Pat Rogers and we were discussing the subject of negligent discharges. It is a very real possibility in firearms training classes and as instructors we have an obligation to ensure the safest training environment possible. Incidents like the one mentioned above are preventable by avoiding stupid behavior. The hard part is when your instructor is exhibiting the stupid behavior…ugh. My sincere hope is folks can look at this incident and see it for what it is, reckless and unnecessary. Learn from it and move on, focus on proper behavior during high risk training.
Set expectations early and often
Let’s pretend we live in a world where stupid shit like this doesn’t happen, or at least too often. As an instructor I set the tone early on for the expectations I have for our students while in class. It is clear and consistent from class to class because it is part of our programming and I hope it becomes a part of theirs once they leave. I truly believe if you hold your students to a higher standard, they will work tirelessly to meet the standard. From there we evaluate all training to determine it’s level of risk as well as ways to mitigate those risks. Sometimes, it means eliminating the risk completely as the best course of action. Next, we try to use redundant safety features where possible to minimize the known risks and even mitigate unknown risks that may pop up at times.
Begin with the end in mind
Safety briefing should be conducted and questions asked to ensure everyone knows their responsibility and what to do if the worse case should happen along with appropriate medical gear readily available. This type of training has inherent risks so creating a pre-mishap plan will help to expedite things should they go sideways. When a safety violation is committed it is important to deal with it at that moment and as a class. I can promise you, there are probably more of the same safety violations being committed and you are just not seeing them. So, it benefits explaining and addressing the situation as a group. If the same safety violation is committed by multiple students you need to evaluate your methods and your delivery of expectations as they are probably being overlooked.
As a student the best thing you can do is pay attention, pay attention to the details. I will be brutally honest; you cannot multi-task. If the instructor is briefing, listen! Don’t be loading magazines, trying to replicate the movements or wondering what’s for dinner. Stay focused during those moments and if you are unsure of what is expected ask for clarification. The worse possible thing you can do is try to argue over safety. The fastest way to be shown the door is when you try to save face or deny any wrong doing so own up to it if you make a mistake. The last thing I would add is look out for one another, don’t let someone do something dumb on the range because they are not paying attention or had a brain fart. Each class has the opportunity for failures, but also successes because we are helping one another. These are but a few considerations regarding safety, but it seems with the current incidents we have had it might be a good time to review them.
Safety is free; pay attention, know what you are doing and ask questions when unclear.