Our previous blog post discussed the rapid growth in the number of new gun owners over the last several months. New gun owners are those new shooters who are seeking opportunities for safety and marksmanship training. This blog addresses the former – basic safety training – and provides some tips for avoiding three safety mistakes that are commonly made by new shooters.
1. Pointing your firearm in the wrong, i.e., unsafe, direction
Avoiding this mistake at an indoor or outdoor range is fairly straightforward — point the gun downrange. When loading your firearm, point the muzzle downrange. When loaded and awaiting the instruction or opportunity to commence fire, adopt a “low ready” position if the facility setup allows, that is, with your gun pointed downrange at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Otherwise, keep it pointed downrange parallel to the ground.
Outdoors, be aware of your surroundings. On grass or dirt, it is usually best to keep the gun angled toward the ground, rather than at your feet. Of course, do so away from the general direction of any homes or buildings. On concrete, in some circumstances pointing the gun upward may be best given the danger of ricochet.
Indoors, the layout of the structure — such as your home or business — will determine the safest direction to point your firearm. On the ground floor, toward the floor is probably best. On the second floor, pointing up toward the roof may be best. Knowing where occupants are — or maybe — is a strong determining factor.
2. Shooting without proper eye and ear protection
When you shoot without proper eye protection, you are subjecting yourself to a completely avoidable and unnecessary risk. The dangers of ricochet from bullet fragments, debris, as well as projectiles from a malfunctioning gun are very real. Shooting in enclosed areas increases the risk as nearby walls and partitions can direct spent shells, cases, and various pieces/parts back to you, the shooter.
I’ll give you an example: At a local range, the firearm I was shooting fired around with the bolt not fully into battery, exploding the brass case and damaging the bolt assembly. The extractor flew out of the chamber, deflected off the stall partition, and struck the lens of my safety glasses with considerable force. The manufacturer fixed my firearm at no cost, but without eye protection, the stray part could have done major damage to my eye.
Shooting outdoors, in the open, reduces opportunities for injury somewhat, but the risk remains. When shooting outdoors, you will most likely need protection from sun and glare, so why not combine that with proper deflection protection?
Proper ear protection — earplugs, noise-reducing earbuds, or muffs — is also essential no matter the age or location of the shooter. Damage done on a single outing may last a lifetime. Obviously, any shooting done indoors has an amplifying effect on the noise from discharging a firearm, so proper protection is essential. Even when outdoors, however, such noise can be damaging to the ears no matter the caliber of the firearm. So, whether you are the shooter, or you are in the vicinity of shooters, make it your practice to always wear comfortable, effective ear protection.
3. Prematurely placing your finger on the trigger of your firearm
Many new shooters instinctively place their finger on the trigger when picking up their gun well before they are ready to shoot. Train yourself, through repetition, to place your finger alongside the gun’s frame, above the trigger guard. If your finger is not on the trigger, there is no opportunity for an accidental discharge. Make this your practice at all times, whatever your purpose is in picking up your gun. Before too long, proper finger placement will become a matter of muscle memory whenever you pick up your weapon — whether it’s a 9mm Sig Sauer or a 2-liter SuperSoaker!
Basic safety precautions are a fundamental part of using a firearm safely and responsibly. You can learn these safety tips and more in a concealed carry permit course. If you’re in Tennessee, you can qualify for your state-approved concealed permit online in about 90 minutes. Visit our Courses page to learn more and sign up for your online concealed carry permit certification course.