Monday, November 30, 2020

"Safe directions", muzzle aversion, WMLs, and you...

Movies and television are great places to learn how not to handle your guns.

In this modern era when tactical teams carry handguns and long guns with weapon-mounted lights and/or lasers, the temptation for directors to show TV operators swarming through buildings with their weapons up in their sightline and the darkness being split by searching beams of light must be irresistible. It really does look dramatic.

Not a Hollywood studio.

No doubt the technical advisors on the sidelines are chewing their tongues half off while the director overrides their suggestions. The director has the gun and the actor's face in frame and the bright white light beam searches briefly right across the camera's lens...

Here's where someone reflexively blurts NRA Safety Rule #1 "ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction." The NRA calls it the primary rule of gun safety, and I've heard good instructors refer to it (or its close relative, Cooper's Rule #2) as the Golden Rule of safe gun handling.

When moving around an occupied structure with a gun in your hand, though, it can be hard to keep the gun pointed in a truly safe direction, unless you're moving around with the gun in one hand and a five gallon drywall mud bucket full of play sand in the other. In this case, you could phrase it "Always keep the gun pointed in the safest available direction."

You'll encounter passionate advocates of various muzzle-aversion ready positions and carry positions touting them as the one true path. 

Speaking as a photographer, "up" would not be the safest possible direction for these dudes.

"Low-ready is best because thus-and-such" or "A muzzle-up high-carry is superior for movement because this other thing", but a well-trained shooter should have access to a full repertoire of high-and low-ready and -carry positions and be able to transition fluidly between them as the immediate situation dictates. After all, the safest possible direction is different on a rubber raft than it is on the ground floor directly beneath your children's second-floor bedrooms.

One objection to weapon-mounted lights has been that muzzling unknowns in order to decide if they are a threat or not is a bad idea, and that's generally true. For a long time, a lot of people taught that the Best Practice with a WML on a handgun (and some folks even advocated it for long guns) was searching with a separate handheld and only bringing the WML into play once a threat had been identified.

This made a lot more sense in the 62-lumen incandescent days. Nowadays, when even a compact light like the Streamlight TLR-7 is putting out 500 lumens and full-size 2-cell lights on service pistols with a thousand or more are common, there's no need to go running around with the pistol at eyeball level just to illuminate a room. There's plenty of bounce and spill from the light when the gun is held in a low ready pointed at the baseboards or a high-carry, pointed at the ceiling, to illuminate a residential room or hallway and identify who and what is in it.

Besides, whether with a handgun or long gun, moving about with the weapon up in a firing position and viewing your surroundings through the sights is rapidly fatiguing and leads to tunnel vision. Save that stuff for the movies. 

My 2021 project: Using the 509 Compact MRD with Trijicon SRO and Streamlight TLR-7 as my regular carry gun and for all classes and matches, using a Spark holster graciously provided by Henry Holsters.