Stay safe so you don’t end up with extra holes.
There’s a lot of variations of firearm safety rules, but today we’re going off the four biggies from Colonel Jeff Cooper, the father of the Modern Technique of handgun shooting.
1. All guns are always loaded
The purpose of this rule is to develop safe habits.
Even if you are home and are absolutely sure your gun is unloaded, you may develop unsafe habits which creep into when you’re on the range with a loaded weapon. If you get used to swinging your gun around in your room, you might accidentally do it at the range.
Always check yourself to see if a firearm is really unloaded before things such as handling or transportation.
Start by removing the magazine.
If you’re using a semi-auto…rack the slide and lock it back so you can visually inspect the chamber.
If it’s dark or you want to REALLY be sure…do a physical inspection of the chamber with a finger.
Got a revolver? It’s easy to check if it’s loaded.
Even if someone says it is empty/clear…check it yourself.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy
The muzzle is the front of the gun where the bullet exits and the keyword here is destroy. Bullets will mess up physical objects but they will truly destroy human bodies.
A great exercise is to Google “gunshot wounds” (NSFW)…I won’t post them directly here for the squeamish but it will instill an even greater sense of the possible damage bullets can do.
This rule also builds off of rule number 1.
If the firearm can fire, assume it will fire, and make sure it goes off in a safe direction. This means no playful pointing at other people and also being careful of where the front of the gun “sweeps.”
Pay special attention when you’re with friends at the range. If you’re shooting and someone talks to you…be super aware of where your muzzle is pointed.
3. Keep your fingers off the trigger until your sights are on the target
Since a firearm is normally fired by pulling a trigger, this rule prevents accidental discharges from events such as being startled, stumbling, or muscle spasms.
Even as you grip a gun but do not have the sights on target, keep your trigger finger out of the trigger guard area.
An easy way to spot a disciplined shooter is how they properly index their trigger finger when they are not ready to shoot.
See some of our favorite examples from movies & games.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it
The first part is to positively identify your target. Then realize that, even if you are firing at the correct target, other targets may be hit.
You’ll need to consider this rule when choosing a home defensive weapon and ammunition combo since there are most likely family members or neighbors behind the walls and ceilings.
Got all that? If you want some more reinforcement and a comprehensive video course…check out our beginner handgun course.