Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Reflection...

After taking a few days to think about the MAJOR range safety violation I felt compelled to directly intervene in, I've come to the following conclusions:

1) I did not overreact to the situation, and yet I still feel like the ***hole for calling a fellow shooter out for a massive breach of range etiquette

2) Gun ownership does not equate to shooting experience

3) We absolutely cannot allow ourselves or those we know to become complacent at the range

Mrs. Normal and I joined a private indoor club to get away from the heathen masses with little to no education or experience in safe firearms use. Every session, we strictly follow the cardinal rules for firearms handling as well as clearly-defined range safety rules because we know we can't afford to slip - even once.

When I worked full-time as a range safety officer and instructor, I strove to always act in a professional manner, project confidence and authority, and demonstrate expert range safety skills at all times when on deck. I took that job seriously.

It amazes me to this day how many people bring their sloppy "goin' to the mountains to do a little shootin'" mentality indoors and how upset they get when they're called on lifelong bad habits or freshly-minted poor behavior when handing guns.

These are just a few examples of errant stupidity both when an RO is watching and when ignorant shooters don't think we are:

** One of the benches at our club bears the evidence of sloppy trigger discipline, a clean little 9mm hole punched straight through the board. Thankfully, that particular round went downrange after skipping off the floor about 5 feet ahead of the firing line.

** After exiting the range, a member removed a suppressed Walther P22 from its case at our counter with the intent of explaining a problem he was having with his "can," swept the muzzle across my midsection, and THEN told me "oh, by the way, it's loaded" when handling it.

** During one of my shifts, a member came out to tell me someone was walking around downrange. DOWNRANGE. AT AN INDOOR GUN CLUB. He was visiting the club, shooting an old M1 Garand, and felt it was acceptible for him to crawl under the bench and wander around on his hands and knees picking up brass that had flown forward of the firing line. Seriously.

** Countless times when "expert" shooters who don't need any new training and disdain the Guy in the Red Shirt watching them like a hawk walk off the line with a gun in their hand. Waist level. Muzzle forward. Sometimes they were loaded, sometimes they weren't.

** Countless times when "expert" shooters are showing off - I mean "demonstrating" - their gun knowledge on the line in front of a friend or a significant other and rotate a loaded gun back toward the stall, cover their hand with a muzzle, or perform GOD KNOWS what kind of manipulations with the finger on the trigger.

And that's just off the top of my head... even when everything goes right, weird things can happen. I've seen a Glock 26 completely lock up with a live round in the chamber and have even had to play amateur CSI to figure out what happened when a shooter's reloaded cartridge "spontaneously" detonated in its box on the bench.

begin rant
Given my time spent as a professional range safety officer, instructor, lifelong shooter, and frequent competitor, I'm ready to back myself up if I feel compelled to address a safety issue bad enough for me to have to physically go "hands-on." I'm not a poseur, I'm not tacti-cool, and I'm not an Internet Gun Expert. Coming home from work with the same number of organs, orifices, and appendages was my everyday life and I know what I'm talking about.

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