The 4 rules, redux

Folks are talking about the 4 Rules.  I was going to write a post about it, but then I realized that I already did that a year ago.

The short version is that the 4 Rules are elegant, but when you become dogmatic about them, they lose their meaning.  An example of “good” use of Rule 1 is that you simply verify the condition of any gun that hasn’t been in your immediate control.  If I set a competition gun down and walk away for 2 minutes, a week, whatever, I’m going to clear it before I dry fire again, just in case the bullet gremlins snuck a round in the chamber.  The 4 Rules: They’re more like guidelines, anyway.

8 thoughts on “The 4 rules, redux”

  1. Hmmmmm…….I wonder what Mr.Cooper would have thought of the popular ‘ Miami Classic ‘ ? Maybe he would have shot anyone wearing it for being so ostentatiously stupid of muzzling eyeryone and thing behind them.
    I like Mr.Coopers rules they are based on common sense and the Kiss principal and they are the exact same rules my father taught me with the addition of rule 5 ‘ Any Questions ? always refer to rule 1 ‘

  2. Oy, veh, my head. I’m always reminded of the tale of the blind men and the elephant when the gun bloggers get the tools out and want to tinker with the Four Rules.

    1. At API there was originally one rule “all guns are always loaded”. Via experience it was discovered that that meant different things to different people as to what they could do–it was subjective and unworkable.

    2. When Clint Smith became ramrod at API, he and Cooper and Cooper expanded them to the Four Rules. As Clint has observed, “I painted the signs . . . numbnuts (he was talking to me).”

    3. Cooper always had an exception to Rule 1 (the one in your hands that you have verified as unloaded, but that does not mean you get to swing it around like a jump rope). When you set it down, the weapon magically loads itself and you then verify that it is empty.

    4. Smith always used the term “treat” in Rule 1. Cooper did not like that so Smith, who STILL refers to Jeff Cooper as “Mr. Cooper” did not use “treat” at Gunsite.

    5. Cooper did not favor shoulder rigs out of several concerns. Smith uses them but stresses that they need specific training as he witnessed a Fort Wayne detective shoot himself, not once, but twice with a P-35 in a shoulder rig.

    6. The Four Rules are objective, that is why they were created. “Don’t be stupid” was simply too subjective at API/Gunsite as many people are so uneducated (not they fault, they are just ignorant) that they are unaware that they are being unsafe. Thus, the objective standards of the Four Rules were created.

    I hope this helps.

  3. Like most sets of rules, the 4 Guidelines were created with the lowest common denominator in mind. What idiot is going to pick up a gun, not clear it, then decide to dry fire practice and end up ADing? What moron would go to reholster with their finger on the trigger and end up shooting themselves in the leg? Well it’s happened, but not always to morons, to normal, educated gun owners who simply got careless about the 4 rules.

    At the end of the day guns are dangerous, and should he treated with respect of that danger. While it’s not always going to be possible to follow the 4 rules, it’s prudent to be aware of the danger of the one you are not following and be prepared for the consequences. If I were to AD into my TV during a dry fire session that would be stupid enough that I owe myself a new TV. If I have to flag my hand to reholster you bet my safety is on and my finger is so far off the trigger they forgot about each other.

    There is a time and a place to disobey a rule or two, but not respecting them, even when disobeying them, is what will get you shot by your own gun.

    1. I would also like to add that if you need to flag your hand to reholster, you need a new holster. Which is another way of observing the 4 Rules – don’t buy gear that forces you to violate them!

  4. “the 4 Guidelines were created with the lowest common denominator in mind”

    Absolute bunk. They were created at Gunsite, not some cold pogue range. They were created by and for people who live around firearms.

    “While it’s not always going to be possible to follow the 4 rules”

    The Four Rules light is always on, in your home, on the range, in a fight. If you cannot follow them, then you need to expel people from “your” range.

    “If I were to AD into my TV during a dry fire session that would be stupid enough that I owe myself a new TV”

    But since you were following Rule 2 and 4 you would not do this.

    The Four Rules apply to dry practice.

    “If I have to flag my hand to reholster you bet my safety is on and my finger is so far off the trigger they forgot about each other.”

    If some numbnuts is flagging his pudknocker, then he needs to be kicked off “your” range ahora miso and then given the Milt Sparks website so he can get a proper holster not some nylon sack of crap.

    “There is a time and a place to disobey a rule or two,”

    No, there is not.

    What possible reason, other than the stupidity given by cops (we are so professional that we can point guns at each other), could justify violation of the Four Rules?

    1. Just to play devil’s advocate for a second, what if there is no safe direction in which to dry fire? Say you live in an apartment with neighbors on 3 sides and the back of the apartment faces a school. How do you observe the 4 Rules in that situation with your dry practice without necessarily buying a bullet backstop for your house?

      1. How do you observe the 4 Rules in that situation with your dry practice without necessarily buying a bullet backstop for your house?

        If you can afford to enter IPSC matches (thus necessitating all the dry practice,) you can surely afford a five gallon bucket and some play sand.

        Failing that, even a new refrigerator is cheaper than having to spackle a hole in your neighbor.

  5. “what if there is no safe direction in which to dry fire?”

    Don’t dry practice.

    You’ve been to Gunsite. You have seen the holes in the hotel rooms, you’ve heard about the Marine with his unloaded M14 shooting through several hotel rooms (and then having to check each one for a body), you’ve at least heard about the two numbnuts drawing on each other with their unloaded guns.

    All guns are always loaded.

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