Written by Sierra Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin
The next rule to live by is to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction until it is time to discharge the firearm. A safe direction could be defined as ‘If the firearm was to discharge, it wouldn’t strike or deflect to strike another person’ but you could expand that to include property or animals. When I carry my 45, it is in a Condition 1 meaning that there is a live round in the chamber and the thumb safety is engaged. I make sure the thumb and grip safety work before I put a magazine in every time I put it in my holster. That doesn’t mean it won’t break someday because it is still just a mechanical device, but thankfully, it hasn’t yet and I can identify a problem before I load it. Every move I make is planned from sitting to standing to running and I know exactly where that muzzle is pointed even when holstered. If the safeties ever fail and that round does go off without my intention, the only thing I want hurt is my ego.
There are stories that I’ve heard from hunters and shooters alike that will raise the hair on your head, even if you’re bald! One story was from a third party at a shooting range; he watched a shooter following her friend with the muzzle of her firearm as he replaced her target. His question was what could she have been thinking as she aimed it at her friend? Needless to say, he left immediately wanting no part of an accident waiting to happen. Was it his place to say something or did he do the right thing? We’ll never know because we were not there. To be honest, I have become intolerant to this type of behavior and to approach this situation requires a great deal of tact so the two must balance. If they don’t, fights break out and that is bad news on a gun range.
One of the Techs here had something similar happen to him in the hunting fields. As his deer season was all but over and trapping season was coming on strong, Paul could hear a truck coming so he stopped trapping by a tree to rest a while. Another hunter stopped his truck on the other side of the creek and stepped out looking his direction. Apparently not able to see him well enough, he reached into his truck and grabbed his rifle to get a better look at Paul through the scope. Not knowing his intention, Paul dove behind a brush pile to avoid getting shot by a potential road hunter. He may think it is completely unintentional, but someday that road hunter may lose his life because he’ll point his firearm at the wrong person, and they’ll shoot first and ask questions later. What a tragic day that will be because no one comes out a winner from that kind of outcome.
So far we’ve talked about three of the four rules to live by and next time we’ll talk about identifying a target and knowing what lies beyond it. Till then, stay safe and have fun shooting.
After publishing this article Philip recalled another story to share. Click here to read the additional story.