I’ve been involved with firearms, be it through work or play, for all of my adult life. I have seen many negligent discharges (accident infers nobody was to blame) in my time. I’ve also seen catastrophic failures on the firing line. In my teaching career, I refer to experience as knowledge gained immediately after it was first needed. Armed with this experience, I am passionate about safety. Not everyone shares this passion.
If you have been to a formal firing range, you have likely seen the Four Safety Rules posted. Most shooters pay lip service to these rules: Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy/kill. Know your target and what is beyond it. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Then we see poor trigger and muzzle discipline, with shooters often flagging (military speak for unintentionally pointing your firearm at someone) everyone on the firing line.
You may ask “What does any of this have to do with daily carry of a firearm?” I’d reply “Only EVERYTHING.” Training is learning what to do. Practice is perfecting techniques in which you’ve been trained. If you have not been trained to carry and present a concealed firearm properly, how can you expect to carry it safely? Carrying a loaded pistol requires us to follow the first rule. It’s loaded. If it isn’t, you’re carrying a really cool paperweight. I see folks ‘practicing the draw from concealment’ at the range. I see them point their loaded pistol at their hand, their leg, their foot and the person beside them. Don’t be That Guy! Start with a quality holster, then draw it straight up and point it out. Practice this with your empty gun at home, it’ll pay off.
Trigger discipline is a key unto itself. A good friend of mine from my Air Force days was known to say “Keep your nose-picker off the bang switch.” It makes sense. When you draw your pistol from the aforementioned quality holster, your grip should have your trigger finger along the frame of your pistol, not on or inside the trigger guard. Once you are pointed at the target, know what’s beyond it (collateral damage is not just frowned upon in war), THEN you move your finger to the trigger.
While all of this seems like common sense, it is important to remind ourselves to take care of these actions. When we are at the range people are watching us. Not all of them like guns or people that carry them. We must be a good example of safe, responsible owners.
Jeffrey Phipps is a 21+ year USAF veteran with extensive firearms experience. He is a NRA certified Pistol Instructor, an Emergency Vehicle Operations Instructor, a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach (safety instructor) and a Captain in a South Carolina Lowcountry fire department.