Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The ____ Rules.

When I was still a teenager, I took a hunter safety class and had to learn the Rules Of Gun Safety, as promulgated by the NRA. I have since forgotten them, but I think they were
  1. Never, ever load a firearm unless you are about to shoot a deer.
  2. Never climb a fence or gate with a loaded firearm.
  3. Don't spill your gin & tonic on your Perazzi.
I don't know what it is about climbing fences, but they sure seemed to discourage it. In fact, I seem to recall that the safety rules stopped just short of telling me to leave the gun in the safe and take up crocheting instead.

Since then I have generally used the Four Rules a la Cooper
  1. All guns are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you are ready to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Which are handy and easy to remember and you have to break two of them to really ruin your day.


New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I'm thinking there was a SPATE of hunting accidents of prominent NRA members that had a fence climbing incident as the common denominator. Apart from NRA membership, of course.

HEY! The WV is 'bersa'

Anonymous said...

"as the common denominator"

Hmmm, I'm guessing there were two common denominators--fences and elevated BACs.

*Hic* Let's not load the guns until we finish our vodka collins. *hic*

That and the lack of slings on shoulder weapons so the goofy numbnuts are always shooting themselves.

I want few things in life:

1. hooks in bathrooms.
2. pants on monkeys.
3. slings on long guns.

Shootin' Buddy

wv: "ranter", hmmmm

og said...

Especially those damned vervet monkeys. Unsettling, that.

RipRip said...

Don't you "Tommy tacticals" get it, why run down a large part of the gun community? We are all in this together.

Miguel said...

Our safety briefings for new shooters (after they are embedded with Cooper's 4 rules over and over)in our club end usually with these rules:

1) Don't shoot me.
2) Don't shoot anybody else.
3) Don't shoot yourself.
At least follow rules 1 & 2. And remember, there are other people with guns here and they won't hesitate in shooting back.

TXGunGeek said...

I like to just go with the first two of the NRA's three rules.

1, Always keep the gun pointed in the safest direction.
2, Unless you are actively engaging a target, keep your booger hook off the bang switch.
These rules are immutable. There may not be what would commonly be considered a "safe" direction, just come up with the safest. Problem is different people think different things are safe. Some are most definitely not. (Hence the oft heard phrase "it's OK. it's unloaded) BULLSHIT! Besides, if someone is attacking you, the safest direction is at them so that one holds true ALWAYS. As for #2, there is absolutely no reason for your finger to be on or near the trigger unless there is something that you intend to shoot within the next second or two. Period. Unless of course you own a Glock and want to clean it. DUMB DUMB DUMB design flaw IMNSHO.

Follow those two, nothing complicated and you will never have an ND that does harm to anyone.

Tam said...

"1) Don't shoot me.
2) Don't shoot anybody else.
3) Don't shoot yourself.
At least follow rules 1 & 2.

I can get behind this initiative. :)

Anonymous said...

I used to give my morning range talk with if you shoot me by accident I will shoot you on purpose.


John said...

Fence climbing 101.

The MidWest of the Great Lakes region was once the premier pheasant capitol and destination for traveling hunters. F'r instance, right after WW2 and on into the '50's, Hollywood hunting luminaries regularly showed up, even in the backwaters of NW Ohio.

I cite this only to illustrate that were a flockin' lot of pheasants around. Partly their numbers were due to the war hiatus. But the real contributor was the farming practices and acreage of that era.

Many farms were from 120 to 160 acres, the traditional amount that one family could handle with the implements then available. Yes, there were larger farms, and agglomerations by marriage & etc.

However, until the post war kids went to Enormous State University, and learned from the Ag School that bigger is better, the acreage was divided thusly.

First you had the rotating crops of soybeans, corn, wheat, and hayfields, & perhaps cash crop 'stoop labor' tomatoes and cucumbers. Also, there was generally still a woodlot, where the bunnies liked to hang out.

The majority of farms also had family dairy operations with anywhere from twenty or forty twice a day milkers. In short, the farms of the Pheasant Kingdom were a lot closer to the Nineteenth Century acreage and uses, than the mega-operations of today.

Now, for the pheasants and hunters, the three most important items were:

1: the fallow grass fields that were in pasturage resting rotation.

2: the generous treeline windbreaks afforded along drainage ditches

AND 3: overgrown FENCEROWS.

And, those hogwire fencerows separated everything. The fields of that era were not large, and a 160 acre farm might have several enclosures, besides the big 'crop fields'. As well, there were always abandoned fences, overgrown leg-trapping stray remnants of decades ago.

So, whether you lived on a farm, or were some city dude in a happy group out to kill pheasants, lots of fence climbing was in store. There is even an etiquette for climbing by a sturdy post, so as not to damage the fence.

And,there was an even more important rule. NO ONE PASSES OVER A FENCE WHILE BEARING A LOADED GUN. Even if you are used to hopping right over that hogwire, it's difficult to guarantee control of that muzzle. Accidents and fatalities were common enough that fence crossing was repeatedly drubbed into every kids head, with adult WW2 veteran bluntness.

So, pass the guns, muzzle in the air, to the person already on the other side, or unload the gun and slide it under the fence, or...etc

I have found myself, while solo hunting, having a wet boot slip on a piece of icy wire, and struggling precariously not come down on painful parts, while trying to keep a loaded gun bbl skywards. After all I KNEW how to climb a fence, and that pheasant wasn't gonna wait for me, and I didn't want to take the time, and....

So, that's an example and reasons why fence climbing and passages were once part of the safety lore for some few generations. Nowadays, one could walk thru miles of acres planted to sterile monocrops in the Midwest, and never have to avoid stepping in a cowpie or climb a fence.

However, if one does find a rare and endangered stretch of hogwire barring one's path, it is useful to at least know the theory of safe crossing when in possession of a hunting firearm.

Anonymous said...

"As for #2, there is absolutely no reason for your finger to be on or near the trigger unless there is something that you intend to shoot within the next second or two. Period."

I'm sort of fond of dry fire practice myself.

I'm kind of in awe of the idea that some folks might not dry fire their firearms....

wv: druguawa, what the Drug War has turned into

fast richard said...

"Always look to your gun, but never let your gun look at you." Captain Rndolph B. Marcy THE PRAIRIE TRAVELER 1858

That is my all time favorite quaint gun safety rule. It seems there were many accidents when people pulled loaded percusion capped rifles out of crowded wagons, dragging them out by the muzzles.

Newbius said...

I just want to know how Tam got her Word Verifs to align with the theme of her blog...

wv: "untio" what urban dyslexics do...

TJP said...

Yeah, I remember the fence-climbing rule, too. The reason why they made such a big deal out of it is that a lot of these guys were placing the gun butt-down on the ground, holding it by the muzzle and using it like a cane. Apparently when you're a Fudd and you need a walking stick, your gun ceases to be a firearm as soon you hold it by the muzzle--loaded with the safety off--and knock it against the ground while pointing it at your face.

None of it ever made any sense to me, including all the other stupid ways of holding a firearm. I kept mine muzzle down with the chamber open. Never had a problem getting anything due to lack of speed.

og said...

"I'm kind of in awe of the idea that some folks might not dry fire their firearms...."

I'm happy for you. You've no doubt kept many a gunsmith in business replacing firing pins.

I have never in my life dry fired a firearm without a snap cap (or at least a fired cartridge) in the chamber. And even in those circumstances, I follow all four rules. I never point a firearm loaded with even a snap cap in anything but a safe direction, even the snap caps get pointed at the sand. yes, some firearms are capable of being dry fired, but it's a bad practice to establish. Want practice pulling the trigger? get to the range.

Hunsdon said...


I am NOT looking to spark an argument, but merely to point out that for many people, "getting to the range" is a proposition that involves an hour to two hour round trip.

og said...

Lewis: My closest range is 45 minutes away. Each way. not going to the range is what we call an "Excuse" Before I joined the private range where I shoot it was 65 miles each way. I somehow managed to get there.

Anonymous said...


What firing pins am I supposed to have broken? And why would I take it to a gun smith if I did break any?

I don't dry fire my older firearms all that often (anything made more than 40 years ago) or most of my rimfires. All of my modern firearms just don't care.

Dry fire is not a bad habit, no more than discharging a shot is. Do either of them incorrectly, and bad things happen, range or no range.

I am unable to live at any of the ranges in my area, so I find that I often must resort to dry fire if I have a few minutes to devote to practice, but not much more time.

og said...

Go right on ahead, they're your guns.

the firing pin on a centerfire firearm is hard to withstand repeated primer impacts. Some manufacturers, Winchester for instance, casehardens only the tip of the firing pin so the balance of the pin can withstand some of it's flexibility. I have seen post-68 winchester firing pins shatter after being dry fired twice. The firing pin on, for instance, many revolvers, is riveted into the hammer, and can only be replaced by a competent gunsmith, and many of those are glass hard, and shatter easily, to say nothing of potentially harming the firing pin bushing. Dry firing a 22 can do a great deal of harm to the chamber on many rimfires.

Like I said, your guns. I have paid a lot of money for my firearms, and the cost of snap caps vs the inconvenience or downright danger of having a broken firing pin is inconsequential. Dry firing without a snapcap is a demonstrably bad and destructive habit that endangers your firearm and it's ability to do it's job- see Tam's post below on the Dreyse. No firing pin, bad firing pin, improper firing pin, no bang.

I get in lots of trigger time, despite being a long distance from my range, which I can't "live" at either. You want to practice, get in trigger time? Snapcaps are cheap as chips.
Scenario 1: "Firing" firearm with snap cap: zero risk to firing pin. Scenario 2: "Firing" firearm without snap cap: Non-zero risk to firing pin.
You keep doing what you do, I'll keep doing what I do. I don't care.

Don't ever touch a firearm that belongs to me, ever. Don't even ask.

Frank W. James said...

With reference to JOHN's comment and the pheasant population of the 1950's. While it is true row crop farming of that era involved many fencerows constructed of woven-wire fencing and hedgerows along with smaller field sizes, the major contributor to the pheasant population of that era were two things; the state dept. of natural resource (at least in Indiana) routinely released half-grown pheasants throughout the summer prior to the fall hunting season and the federal government paid farmers for 'set-aside' and 'land-bank' acres as part of their effort to stablize agricultural commodity prices and deal with the problem of excess production.

That these land bank acres were also a perfect cover crop for said young birds was an unintentional side benefit.

The land-bank acres program ended in the early 1960's and the Earl Butz era of agriculture in the late 1960's early 1970's actively encouraged the removal of fencerows and hedgerows, but despite claims to the contrary, the latter had little to do with the demise of pheasant hunting in the midwest. The numbers were already diminishing after the loss of the 'land-bank' program.

Pheasants require massive acres of cover crops that simply aren't feasible in today's commodity market.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

NotClauswitz said...

Wrapped in burlap in the Chechen attic surrounded by zombies. Boris: "Yvgeny you idiot, don't spill your Molotov Cocktail on the Dragunov!"
Yvgeny: "Boris you dummy, that's a not a Molotov Cocktail, it's a Sterno Cocktail. Co ty nazywasz mnie, członek KOR?"

Keads said...

I think the 3rd NRA rule is: "give us at least 50 bucks a quarter or you guns will attack you!" Or some such. Before anybody gets in a wad, I am a life member, 'K?

John said...


Interesting contribution. There are no relatives now living with which I could have a talk about the LandBank, and it's effects on their farms or pheasants. My knowledge is zero on that subject, save for what you just posted. In NW Ohio there may have been a pheasant planting program, but one of which I was not aware back then, nor heard of since.

There is now [so far as I know] only 'chicken shoot' planting in state game areas, which opening day festivity much resembles a horde of starving Comanches descending upon forty or eighty hapless buffalo. The Chessies and I wait out of range and down wind, 'til we pick up a couple of busted wing roosters sailing in, and call it a day.

What I recollect from family stories, is that some of my father's people were quite deliberate about habitat creation, as far back as the post WW1 era. Dad said more than once, that they were able to eat a lot of game during the Depression, as a practical result of that husbandry.

Another factor I'd forgotten until this discussion that fur-trapping was a big local winter industry for school kids. There were still hundred year old wetlands and deep drainage ditches that kept the Great Black Swamp from re-appearing. A couple of adults in our little town of 750 souls were also large scale trappers in season.

Fox [no coyotes back then] and raccoon, mink and other weasels all were kept cropped back. And one of the worst game predators, feral domestic cats, were ordinarily shot on sight in any season, anywhere*.

Grand-dad used to issue 'a clear out the cats' order every so often, when the broods got into HIS game. For cat lovers everywhere, please remember, this is a looong before anyone spayed and neutered felines, and a fulltime outdoors killing-cat was what every barn needed -- just not too many.

*Refer to 'barn gun', generally a worse for wear single shot .22. I once found my great-uncle's Stevens Favorite high up in the haymow, on a handhewn beam, where he'd left it many years before after a pigeon elimination program.

At any rate, the lessening of the pheasants and the open land opportunities wherein they throve are pretty much fallen victim to progress, locally. However, sixty miles West of here in rolling country, with un-tillable broken ground, steep deep ravines and little streams, right along side big fields of corn and wheat, there is a tolerable native, reproducing pheasant population.

It would seem, that given the habitat and a modicum of proper conditons, tho old cacklers can still hold their own. Would that it would be so for our own species.

And, now, I'm plumb typed out, and it's not nice to hog another's board, anyway, so adios on the subject.

Adios, and safe trigger-time, anywhere, anytime, anyhow.

RC said...

Nice. Way to run down a group of gun owners. Perhaps we can go after SASS types next, and then the muzzle loader types, or perhaps the target shooters. Really fracture the gun owning community. It will be Christmas for the Brady Brunch.

FWIW, when I went through hunter's safety, it was 10 rules. In addition to the general four rules, they included rules on how to deal with situations you may run into on the field while stalking game, such as having to negotiate fences and the like. I suppose they seem silly to those who don't venture much further than the firing line at the local gun club, but they help when you're a hundred miles from the nearest emergency room.

Tam said...


As an NRA member who hunts, owns cap'n'ball revolvers, and target shoots, I cordially invite you to not be so melodramatic and butthurt with the "Christmas for the Brady Bunch" nonsense.

Seriously, lighten up.

Drang said...

As I discussed here, the NRA's Three Rules are:

1) Always keep your muzzle pointed in a Safe Direction.
2) Always keep your finger off the trigger unto you're ready to shoot.
3) Always keep your gun unloaded until you're ready to use use it.

I coined the terms "Three Rulian" and "Four Rulian" to describe the alleged or perceived sects adhering to one or the other set of rules, but, in truth, I think arguing about which set to adhere to is silly. (Once you get everyone to acknowledge that, in the Three Rules, "ready to use" varies according to what you are using the gun for; the gun will be loaded all the time if it is used for self-defense.)

Jeffro said...

Sometimes those fences are electrically charged. Just sayin.' So don't pee on 'em, either.

tickmeister said...

The grandfather of one of my high school classmates shot and killed himself while climbing through a barbed wire fence with a shotgun, so it did happen. Not so much now, there aren't any fences.

tjbbpgobIII said...

The rules for fences were because sio many would lean their shotgun against the fence and climb over. Then they would reach back over and pick up the loaded gun by the barrel. As they brought it over the unseen stick or a growing vine or weeds would catch the trigger and go boom - - opps no head. Heard of it happening but never saw it because we didn't do it at all. Drummed into us, unload at the fence, put gun on farside, climb the fence at the post, reload gun, continue hunt. Some of those fence rows were really grown up as per what Frank alluded too above.

Larry said...

I just took my NRA Basic Instructor Training course on Friday. It's going to be hard to adjsut to the NRA's 3 rules for the duration of teaching the course. I have a feeling there will be supplemental material.

Anonymous said...

Wait, so if you put something in the chamber, it's not dry firing?

What is the proper term for pulling the trigger on a gun that doesn't have ammo in it? In Texas we call this dry fire.

I don't believe I ever said anything about snap caps, either loving them or hating them. Doesn't change the safe direction aspect of things.

Mr. Og, you come off as such a nice guy, I doubt I'd be interested in being on the same range as you. The likelihood of my asking to shoot any of your firearms approaches zero mighty quickly, even if you own a M1941 Johnson or a nice M1917.

og said...

"Wait, so if you put something in the chamber, it's not dry firing"

Why, yes, you are in fact correct. From Wikipedia(Though I don't consider them a reliable source, it is the very first hit when you google "Dry fire")

"Dry firing is the practice of "firing" a firearm without ammunition. That is, to pull the trigger and allow the hammer or striker to drop on an empty chamber."

I am a nice guy, to people I know, who are not assholes. I certainly would not want to be on the same range as someone who makes a practice of dry firing firearms, no telling what other kind of dumb shit they're likely to do.