The Place for Safe
I had a safety laden firearms training throughout my childhood. My father was a Marine who competed on the rifle team and he instilled a constant awareness into my shooting skillset. Every time I took my finger off the trigger, the safety was engaged and I was allowed to lower my shooting stance. This repetition turned into muscle memory within my first days of shooting a bb gun at 6 years old. The second part to my training was to observe the shooters within my proximity and remain in my position until they too secured their weapons.
I still go to the range often, this time with larger firearms that propel larger pieces of lead downrange. I still observe the habits of the shooters next to me and although most have excellent range etiquette, some still remain clueless what condition your weapon should be in when the range is called “Cold”. While there is a sure need for a Safe on a weapon, (depending on the firearm and the situation) it’s usually not at the range. –Let me explain..
“Safe” is a last resort safety measure which mainly comes in handy while stalk hunting and tactical maneuvering. We all should know that the first safety is keeping your finger(s) and clothing away from the trigger. A new wave of handguns and some long guns lacking manual safeties are pushing back against the misnomer that firearms need them to be safe.
At the range, a safety is usually useless because all actions that normally entail using it are better if done with a totally cleared weapon. Adjusting sights, cleaning, reloading and checking hits are all prime examples with an exception for clearing jams and misfires. When the range is called “cold”, the magazines should be removed, the actions cleared and left open. All too often I see fellow shooters halt firing, switch safe then claim “cold range”. If your weapon has a manual safety, please feel free to use it, especially if it’s on a carry weapon. -This will bolster your muscle memory and minimizes incidents but please do not rely on it.
It’s everyone’s job to maintain proper range etiquette while fostering a positive and enjoyable environment. Please be cognizant of your surroundings and assist your fellow shooters if they fail to understand the appropriate condition for firearms when “cold range” is called.