Thursday, June 06, 2013

Just walk away...

Sean Sorrentino posted his experience at a training class* recently, one in which he felt unsafe due to slack muzzle discipline and a resistance to being called on it on the part of the instructor.

The comments section erupted into an orgy of "he-said-she-said", complete with tactical chest-thumping and discussions of how many angels on the head of a pin can point guns at you as long as the slides are locked back and they say the chamber is empty.

All of which misses the point.

The point is that, as hard as it is, the time to leave a dangerous range environment is when you feel it's dangerous. Your hide is the only hide for which you are responsible. You don't have to wait until there's a group consensus that things are going off the rails, you don't have to wait until other people leave, and for Browning's sake, you don't have to wait until someone gets ventilated.

It can be hard to do, especially if it's a class or competition you have traveled a long way or spent a lot of money to attend, but a gunshot wound can cost a lot more than just a weekend and some cash. Just walk away.

*Well, I'm a day late and a dollar short, as usual.


mikee said...

Same thing, just walk away, applies to poorly supervised ranges where the other shooters are not behaving in a safe manner.

It isn't my job to tell the group of 20-somethings that hip firing their AK and spraying the dirt in front of the firing line is stupid, I just leave.

Julie said...

Wow, that comments section went downhill after I last read it and commented ...

pax said...

Appropos of nothing, here's a link to an experienced professional who locked the slide back and had another person check that the gun was clear before he handled it in front of a class while giving a lecture.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed most of the instructors I haven taken classes with now use blue guns for the point it at things/people sections of the class. We used blue guns at work for an active shooter course taught at a local theatre.

I agree 100%, if you don't like it walk away. Your always responsible for your own safety.


Al T. said...

Be nice if we knew who the instructor was so as to avoid him. Not all the bad instructors are clever enough to either go to jail or post Youtube videos.

Scott J said...

I have expressed interest in being an IDPA SO so I've gotten to run the timer some at local club matches (can't do a major until I'm certified and that can't happen until the new rule book is official).

I'm probably going to have to harden up about being willing to DQ someone for their muzzle.

Had one instance where a competitor turned all the way uprange as soon as he finished and snap back the other way all within about a second.

It all happened so fast I wasn't sure what to do but the official SO called the DQ.

Hated to see it happen because he was a first timer (and officer for a local municipality) but we can't slack on safety.

Anonymous said...

"Be nice if we knew who the instructor was so as to avoid him"

Bob McDowell - Lethal Weapons Training Academy

Ancient Woodsman said...

I've had the unfortunate experience of being an instructor with students who 'just don't get it' when it comes to safety. God Bless Sean and those like him. No one is infallible; none of us is unventilateable when it comes to being on the wrong end of a mishandled firearm.

Not all instructors or students who violate safety rules get caught, called on, injured or cause injuries, or God forbid die or cause a death. Many if not most 'get away with it' for a long time or even for their entire career as student or instructor. However, every single person bar none who has ever been injured or worse with a mis-handled firearm had it happen because someone indeed was violating a safety rule. It's that simple. After the tragic event is too late to wish you had been paying attention to the very simple rules. We cannot afford a culture of indifference on these things.

Robert Fowler said...

I spent time in the Marines as a small arms instructor. I learned a lot of safety lessons that I have carried through since. One is, When the weekend warriors show up to qualify, the probability of someone getting hurt goes up.

I had one turn around on the firing line with a round chambered in his M-16 and the selector on full auto. That will up the pucker factor about tenfold. Our range officer declared him unqual and ejected him from the range.

Bubblehead Les. said...

I've been on the Range with Sean when he was working as the RSO. I did something stupid, he called me on it, my fault, admitted it, never happened again, we moved on.

If Sean says it was Unsafe, then it was Unsafe.

aczarnowski said...

Thanks for the head check. I was musing over toward angels and pin heads, caught myself, and didn't comment at Sean's.

Staying true to your instincts is a lesson worth repeating.

Anonymous said...

Google has it cached if you are really interesting in reading it.

NotClauswitz said...

Just walk away also applies to internet commando comment-threads.

NotClauswitz said...

To repeat my comment at Sebastians's: I think I’d walk away.
Louis Awerbuck warned us at the outset of his class that there had been a rash of stupid accidents recently, resulting in fatalities, and warned us severely.
He told us to walk away – so I would be respecting my teacher to do that. I don’t travel very far or much anyhow so I wouldn’t be out anything but the money, however mainly I’d walk away because I would NOT want to BE THERE to see the accident, the spattered brain-matter and blood – or even be there when the ambulances show up. I don’t rubberneck at accidents. I’ve called-in the Ambulances (Life Flight) before and it wasn’t very fun or even educational – you really don’t “learn” from such experiences, you merely ~have~ them, or they have you. I think it would screw-up my gun-handling and training more than anything else I could imagine.

Anonymous said...

The Marine Corps has a simple rule regarding range safety. Any Marine, ANY Marine can call a cease fire at anytime if they see a safety/dangerous situation. On a USMC range there is one "coach" to every four to five Marines qualifying. If the Range Safety Officer determines that the cease fire was just and called for the offender CAN BE relived of his/her weapon, escorted off the range and sent directly to the BnCdr (after being read his/her rights) for review of possible charges.

Marines don't fuck around with range safety. Weapons are our tools of trade and treated as such. Nobody else should either.

Scott J said...

Same rule at IDPA, Light29ID.

Anyone can call STOP.

I've seen master class shooters end their match early for muzzle direction violations.

JustSomeGuy said...

I read it in the cache, and wandered down through all of the comments ( brain.)

I find it odd that so many were accepting of the idea of being muzzled. Sure, there were all sorts of qualifiers about "cleared, locked open, verified, instructor-mojoed." And still I was baffled.

I take it as a personal matter of faith that if no one ever pokes their bang-tube in my direction I'll never experience a sudden 2-300gr weight gain.

The more unblinking eyes I have to stare into, the more my faith is shaken.


Tom said...

Having been to Bob's many times I was also flagged by Bob and others. Not intentional as described in the notorious blog post but the usual "casual" gun shop gun pointing.

I think it is reasonable to assume this did indeed happen.

perlhaqr said...

It's difficult for me to grasp people who are "gun people" not getting this. One of the most mentally wrenching experiences I've ever had was as armourer for a movie. I had pulled all the firing pins on every firearm used in the movie myself, and it still practically took an act of God for me to not jump all over the actors when they (quite rightly, by the script) pointed their guns at each other.

That was a damned stressful period of my life. And even so, I'm glad I didn't lose any of my sensitivity to such "offences".

Kristophr said...

It looks like his comments got mobbed by that idiot's supporters.

It's too bad he didn't pull a Larry Corriea on them, and individually slap down every student who tried to defend this behavior. And yea, that would be a lot of Augean stable clearing.

This ain't the early 20th Century ... Ed McGivern was also a great shooter, but the stuff he considered OK would get you a perma-ban at any range today.

Kristophr said...

( Warning, Captain Pedant is in the room:

If anyone is interested in the origin of "Day late and a dollar short", it's an old Pacific NW logger camp expression.

Loggers were paid by the board-foot, so they disliked felling small trees. They would ride the train to the cut, and if the trees were too small, ride back on that train.

Logging companies prevented this by only allowing loggers to ride the train in on the day the cut started, charged them a dollar fee to ride the train, which was refundable if they rode the last train from the cut back. )

Alpheus said...

I am another person who went to the cached version of the article and read all the comments. The comment that bugged me the most was the near-last one, which said "You get muzzled whenever you pass all those guns on display in a gun store!" (which is true, but without a human sticking his finger in the trigger-guard, those guns aren't likely to go off any time soon).

He also said"if you cant get in front of the muzzle of a firearm without getting pussy hurt I suggest you don’t try hunting with a MUZZLE LOADING RIFLE ever!! They load from the muzzle ,holy s*** what a dangerous idea." I find this particularly funny, because I have a cousin who was showing us his muzzle-loader. It's not clear why (although the snow might have had something to do with it) but he pulled the trigger...and it didn't go bang.

He then pulled out a ram-rod with a screw on the end of it, and said "This is the scary part. I now have to pull out the bullet; since there's gunpowder down the other end that may or may not have received a spark when I pulled the trigger, the gun could still go off, and I might have this ram-rod go straight through my hand." Nothing happened, but if you're using a muzzle-loader, you should be fully aware that you are required to violate the 2nd rule, and if you don't think that it could hurt you some day, you are a far greater idiot than someone who decides to leave a range because of muzzle-sweeps!

Will said...

A long time ago, I came to the conclusion that gun ranges with gun stores were a dangerous combination. Invariably, management would decide that having the customer and/or clerk 'coon-finger the gun at the check-in/sales counter was a good thing.

I had such warm feelings after being muzzle swept by the participants who then demonstrated that the supposedly-unloaded guns had a round in the chamber, by dropping it on the counter-top, or putting another hole in the rear wall. Browsing at the counter quickly became a no-go zone for me.

Not too long afterwards, I decided to stop going at all, unless I needed to function fire a handgun after some work on it. Having the range inside the stores seemed to engender a lack of safety mindedness in both clerks and customers. Seeing them wander through the sales floor with a rental handgun they are having a problem with, that turns out to be loaded, just ruins the attraction of looking at things one wants to purchase.

Ed said...

Hmmm. I read the Google cached article and the discussion that followed.

Telling someone in authority that should know better, and who has done things a certain way many times before without a problem or anyone else complaining, that they are behaving incorrectly and need to immediately modify their behavior is rarely accepted with grace and immediate compliance. Knowing this, should you speak up anyways? Yes. Should you expect grief from the unaware who do not share your concern? Yes. Remember, if you do not speak up and someone does get hurt, then you will know that you might have been able to prevent it but did not act. Do speak up for your peace of mind. However, once you have spoken up and have effected no change in behavior, then get out of there. Odds are that eventually the preventable "accident" will occur.