Anatomy of an accident

Firearms are relatively simple machines to understand. You load them, you point them at something you want to put a hole in, and then you pull the trigger. Easy, right?

So why in the name of Zeus is it so bloody hard to get people to avoid pointing guns at things they don’t want to blow a hole in?

“Excuse me, sir, but would you like to put a bullet through your hand? No? THEN DON’T POINT THE GUN AT YOUR HAND!”

I see this kind of stuff far too often when I’m at the range. On more than one occasion I have actually laid hands on another person to redirect the muzzle of their weapon away from either an innocent person who did not deserve to get shot, or in a couple of cases their own anatomy.

On a trip to the NRA range when I was shooting a drill, out of the corner of my eye I saw Todd Green dive into the next lane. I immediately ceased fire, brought my gun to a ready position and moved. I looked over to see Todd shoving an 8mm Mauser rifle away from my direction. The woman handling the rifle had it pointed directly at me.

Todd got a few inches away from the woman’s face and very sternly said “Do not point guns at my friends.”

Was he being rude? Hell no. He was doing exactly what everybody should do when someone POINTS A LETHAL WEAPON AT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. Endangering the life of another person REQUIRES an immediate and stern rebuke.


In this video we have a clear example of where an immediate and unmistakable correction could have prevented gunshot wound. The victim here appears to be the person who is less familiar with firearms of the pair in the video. I’m all for taking people to the range, but when we do it is incumbent upon us to emphasize safe handling and correct any mistakes instantly and unmistakably.

When the shooter here put his hand in front of the muzzle the proper response would have been to IMMEDIATELY direct the gun away from his anatomy and very simply say “Don’t point guns at anything you don’t want to kill!”

If someone is unable to take that sort of correction, they don’t need to be handling a gun. 

Of course, the shooter here did not mean to do any harm to himself or anyone else. He was simply being careless with a very dangerous object.

But tell me…did his lack of malice matter? Did he get any less shot because he didn’t mean to do it? 

Bullets are stupid. They do the same amount of damage whether you intended to launch one or not. So it is not a trivial matter when someone puts the muzzle on human anatomy…be it yours or theirs.

Rule 1 is rule 1 for a reason. You can screw up every other rule of handling a firearm, but if you observe rule 1 then there is some embarrassment and perhaps some drywall to repair but that’s it. If you screw up Rule 1 then somebody bleeds. Someone is permanently injured. Someone dies.



  1. Gawd. That pregnant moment when you know you are about to witness a Bad Thing, but can’t dive through the monitor to make it stop. Stuff like this is why I no longer feel guilty about rolling out the imperative, command voice early and often.

  2. this is exactly why i prefer ranges with officers as opposed to video monitors. i have packed up and left ranges where there were careless people handling firearms.

  3. Long time reader first time commenter. This happened at the range I worked at about a month after I left. The “shooter” was giving his friend his first shooting lesson. The trainee obviously didn’t listen to the safety video close enough to stop his moron friend from putting a hole in his hand. It was a 45acp fmj round. He somehow managed to get the round perfectly between the bones and last I heard had no permanent injury. It’s a lesson I don’t believe he will soon forget.

  4. That was pretty stupid. I had a negligent discharge, good thing i was following the rules when it happened. My ruger markII didn’t go into battery all of the way, and I didn’t notice it and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. With the barrel pointed downrange i pressed on the bolt which put the gun into battery where it promptly fired without pulling the trigger. A good thing to know,

  5. Last time I was at a public range a man was leaving the line through the door behind my stall. It was easy to tell he was a new shooter trying to figure things out himself. He had his arms completely full of all of his gear, no range bag whatsoever. Atop the pile of things he had in his arms was his pistol, slide closed. It was on top of the slippery plastic crappy case most pistols come in from the factory. Muzzle swept me at eye level. Didn’t have a chance to even do anything.

    I immediately left and have yet to return to a public range. Sad, because I live in the Chicago area and want to see them prosper.

  6. I wonder if this was a rental situation at this range? It doesn’t change the stupidity or the outcome but it may explain some stuff?

  7. Someone needs to point out that friend in the bay also violated rule #5: Don’t attempt to catch a dropped gun.

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