Some people just should not have guns. (Me)


January 30, 2005, 06:32 PM
So Stupid, perhaps I am done with guns.

I did something stupid today at a public range in front of
Friends in the same shooting lane I have been using since 1989.

At this range they call a cease fire. Then Clear your guns and put a safety flag in the chamber. Then step back from the benches past a red line. Then they allow folks to go forward and check or post targets.

After every one returns they check the range and call it hot.

After the range command to go forward and check your targets and people started walking out I stepped to the bench loaded my pistol and shot at the target. No one was hurt. No one was in front of me. I could not even see the people from my lane because of the shooting lane baffles. However this lapse is not excusable. I could have killed someone. Let me be clear: In conflict with clear range commands, I fired a pistol on a cold range with people forward of the firing line. I fired the gun three times before I heard people yelling at me. At first I did not even know what the hell they were yelling about. My first thought was, did some jackass go down range when it was hot?

This is one of those “Mistakes” that is so grossly negligent and so clearly indicates that I lack the judgment and self control to take on the awesome responsibility of shooting that I think after 24 years, its time for me to call it quits.

My pride and self image is in tatters. Until this morning I was considered one of the “real shooters”. The range master sent people over to me when they needed help. I am one of the few people that have actually worn out a gun from shooting and not abuse. I taught Hunter safety for years. I was the 19th California BFSC Instructor and taught that course for years as well. I hold 5 NRA instructor certifications.

All of that, and I still did this stupid thing. I am a changed man, and the process of change is still happening. Right now I think at the end of it I may no longer be a shooter.

I had to wait at the opening to down range for the people to return from down range to say I was sorry to each one. To a man they were more gracious than I would have been.

I am 43 years old and the sudden and undeniable realization that I am an IDIOT just like the hundreds of idiots I have yelled at over the years is a bitter pill to swallow.

Anybody want to buy 42 excellent center fire Pistols and rifles?

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January 30, 2005, 06:41 PM
I'm sorry that you had to go through that. I would say that the biggest thing here is that no one got hurt. To give up shooting is not the right move. The major thing is is that we take what we can out of our mistakes and learn from them. Remember the scene from "Top Gun" after Maverick had lost Goose? The head instructor kept sending him back up. Everyone gets thrown from a bucking Colt once in a while. it takes more to get back on it.

P.S. I'll give ya $50.00 for all your stuff!!! ;) :evil:

January 30, 2005, 06:43 PM

Damn! I wish I could console ya BigJim, but you're obviously sick about this and words must mean little. I will say I've made mistakes, we all have, or will sooner or later. Take some time to calm down before you sell your guns. It was a mistake you can recover from, imo. No one was hurt. Your pride is suffering, but you'll be back. I'd wager that is one mistake you'll never make again. Hang in buddy.

727 torqueflight
January 30, 2005, 06:48 PM
so what you did something stupid dont give up your guns just work harder a making sure you dont make a mistake like that again

727 torqueflight
January 30, 2005, 06:51 PM
circle of life,ashes to ashes poop to poop

January 30, 2005, 06:52 PM
Don't sell your guns yet.

The fact is that people sometimes make mistakes. Of course, this was a serious one.

Figure out for yourself why this happened, and whether there is anything you can do to keep it from happening again. Obviously, selling all your guns would work, but you may be able to figure out something less drastic.

Sleep on it, and think about it for a few days.

Most of us have made a serious error one time or another. The main question is what can be learned from it.

727 torqueflight
January 30, 2005, 06:52 PM
i dont even know why i posted that last reply

Old Fud
January 30, 2005, 06:55 PM
What ELSE is on your mind?

I don't know you, but can tell from your post that you are a good man.
A well-trained and conscientious one.

So your attention wandered onto some other subject.
It had to be important to you.
Find it and work on resolving it.

All the best.

January 30, 2005, 06:58 PM
If your love and respect for the sport of shooting is as you portrayed it, then quitting the sport will only be depriving the sport of someone who has been made even safer and more respectful. We young guys need old timers like you to instill in us the respect for the sport, and you can do the job that much better by recounting this story to those you teach. It's a very sobering personal account and would certainly help people have a respect for these dangerous tools.

Where are you from? I would be honored to have you instruct me in firearm safety at a range, as I have had very little formal instruction since Boy Scouts. Don't leave guys like me without good help at the range that can only come from seasoned shooters!

January 30, 2005, 06:58 PM
Jim - in this situation, I can well imagine I would be busy with little else than self-flagellation ... it is initially inexcusable. I would be deflated to the max, I would be wallowing in self condemnation and recriminations.

BUT!!!!! Know what? ... I consider that a guy of your experience, despite this awful lapse ... would still have kicked into ''safe mode'' the moment your peripheral vision saw the slightest movement and sensed a sufficiently dangerous situation. You screwed up on range discipline, big time but - I'll wager your knowledge of the rules themselves would have kicked in before harm was done. Your ego damage - that can mend and this is surely a more than salutary lesson to use positively - tell those you teach in the future ... make em see that even you could screw up.:)

I salute you for being courageous enough to admit it and share - it is a good reminder to us all - myself included - that however long we have shot and been experienced - lapses can occur. So - for me, it is a great reminder that 30 or more years of shooting does not guarantee me no screw-ups.

I have gained thru your honesty and candor - so I thank you.

Declaration Day
January 30, 2005, 07:00 PM
If it were me, I might be too embarrassed to go back to that range. I might be. But I certainly would not give up shooting.

Sorry that this happened.

January 30, 2005, 07:00 PM
Consider this at least before walking away. As a shooter of your experience, you at least are able to place your rounds where you want them, so folks downrange are at considerable less risk, even with you firing, than with the true "idiots" we see out there. I'm sure you practice the 4 rules, and are aware of your target and what's behind at all times.

Sure, there is a danger of ricochet or bullet fragments, but I'd rather walk downrange and have someone pull the trigger that is well aware of what they are shooting at than one of the crazies just blasting away.

Before you walk away, consider this question: Even in the "mistaken" state of mind you were in, do you believe that your experience and training would have screamed "STOP!" if someone had walked into your field of view? Do you think you would have kept shooting if you'd seen a person downrange?

If you think you would have kept pulling the trigger then yes, perhaps it's time to do something else. If you think you'd have stopped if you saw someone, then you were still aware of the rules and in control of the weapon.

Think on that one for a while.

January 30, 2005, 07:07 PM
Get a good nights sleep and return to the range ASAP.

Wild Bill
January 30, 2005, 07:08 PM
:what: WOW :what:

Yeah - that's a big OOPS!

Gonna take you a while to get through this. While you do remember:
- do nothing in haste
- you're human
- no-one was hurt
- you can be retrained

The best analogy I can give you is from way back i my construction days. Saw a senior rigger just walk off a platform with no line on. Watched a veteran rail switchman get crushed between two couplers because he cut through without looking or locking the track. Helped patch-up a 20 year carpenter who zipped the fingers of his left hand off on a table saw ... sadly the list goes on.

.. point is I wonder sometimes if it's just blind luck that saves more of us from your situation. The more time you have on,the easier it seems to forget the basics and have that one moment of inattention/stupidity/bad karma that leads to what you did.

You've been shooting for longer than some of our members have been breathing. I have no doubt that if you would have seen anyone downrange you would not have fired.

Give it some time before you decide to give it up. Lock the safe. Walk away for a time. Leave the decisions for later when you have a clear head and a more rational perspective that's not clouded by guilt and emotion.

Good luck man.

January 30, 2005, 07:08 PM
It's been said before...we all do things that, upon further reflection, we wish we hadn't. It also needs to be said that a dose of humility once in a while is strong medicine.

What impresses me most about this incident, and your reporting of it, is that you do not make excuses, you do not blame anyone else for it, and you hold yourself up for humiliation and ridicule. You will get none of those from me.

It takes a man to stand up and say, "I screwed up. Big time." Most people (myself likely included) would have gone home, licked their wounds, and never told a soul. You have taken the high road, and as such, have earned my respect, and I imagine, the respect of many others here.

We need your kind around here, and in society as a whole.
Best regards, Rich

January 30, 2005, 07:12 PM
You've been shooting for longer than some of our members have been breathing.
Like me. :D

January 30, 2005, 07:13 PM

Only you can know the answer to this particular problem. If you think that it is time to stop, then take that decision. But before you make any choice, give yourself some time for very careful reflection.

The truth is that when a highly experienced surgeon, an 8,000 hour pilot-in-command, or a winning F1 driver makes a mistake, the consequences are plain to see but they are still damn good at what they do. Being really good at what you do does not mean that you can not make mistakes - it does mean that you never repeat them.

Lastly, you may now want to think about all those "idiots" on the range. Each of us is a whole lot closer to being an "idiot" than we'd care to admit.

January 30, 2005, 07:18 PM
mistakes happen, to everyone, it is apart of life. you screwed up, you know guess is ..this will bring you to a much more aware point, with your shooting and everything you do, what is important now, is your next choice. You have faced this error, head on, now turn it into something positive for yourself. After reading this, I know I will do things with this story in mind...I think this goes for many of us, on the forum. You fell of the horse, dust yourself off, and get back on ! It is what one does after the fact, that defines the man.

January 30, 2005, 07:22 PM
Big Jim,

I was a fighter pilot in the USAF. One day on a simulated air combat mission I made a mistake that darned near killed me and scared the bejeesus out of my wingman. I felt like you do now - at the time I was an instructor at the USAF fighter weapons school! How could I do something like that?

Truth was, we all did at one time or another. To a man, we learned from the mistakes and got back into the cockpit.

You do the same. Don't quit.

January 30, 2005, 07:28 PM
I don't want to seem ungrateful for not responding to everyones comments.

I am reading these comments. I just have nothing to add right now.

Thank you

kayak bum
January 30, 2005, 07:39 PM
Don't dwell on what could have been. You made a mistake; you are well aware of it, you accept responsibility for it; and most importantly no one was hurt. Complacency and carelessnes sneak up on all of us from time to time.
Take what time you need, but get back in the saddle as soon as you can!

January 30, 2005, 07:40 PM
Big have 18 positive supportive and understanding comments, in less then a hour....from people who have all screwed one time or another.... personally I think the range should re-examine they rules as well...

January 30, 2005, 07:42 PM
It's hard to understand, and/or explain those moments when your brain switches off for brief period. In your case, the only things hurt were your pride, self confidence, and reputation (maybe). Now you get to confront it or run away from it. I doubt your the runnin kind. You wouldn't be here talking about it if you were. A few people may give you grief over it for years....but most won't. Deal with it.

January 30, 2005, 07:44 PM
I know a guy who drove up to a green light and stopped. When it turned red he pulled out, to the sound of screeching tires and honking horns. He had been driving about 30 years at the time. Brain farts happen.

I'm sure the fact that you were endangering somebody else instead of yourself is eating at you. Do like others have suggested, take a break, figure out why or how, and go from there.

January 30, 2005, 07:44 PM
At both the ranges I use, there are big obvious indicators of a cold range.

One, the larger and better-equipped, has a series of gumball lights and a siren ("beep-beep-beep") running to let you know that people are going down range and not to handle your firearms or ammo.

The other one, smaller and less expensively equipped, has a string of flags that you hang up in front across all the shooting stations so that if you approach a station, you see a bunch of flags in your face. This is an inexpensive way of accomplishing the same thing: an obvious reminder that you aren't supposed to be shooting right now.

The experience you had shows the need for some improvements at your range. You are obviously an experienced and safety-conscious shooter, but like any human being, you are fallible and subject to "brain fade" from time to time.

In safety-critical industries, experts are always trying to find ways to reduce human errors: built-in reminders to help get our attention when we have a "brain fade." For instance, in medicine, it is now against industry standards to package critical medicines in packages that look the same: the packages have to have different colors and different designs to reduce the chances of confusion. They don't do this because doctors and nurses are "idiots." They do it because doctors and nurses are human, and all us humans need a little help now and then.

Used to be in medicine, when someone made a mistake, we would do "train and blame." Blame the individual (often fire them and strip their license), mandate extra training for the rest of the staff, and then go back to the exact same way of doing business. And act all surprised when the same thing happened again.

Now, we are moving towards improving our systems to reduce the chances of errors. Most hospitals are also collecting information on "near miss" incidents - when something really dangerous almost happens, we analyze the situation and look for ways to improve.

The people who run your range need to take heed of this incident.
Yes, you screwed up. Luckily, nobody was hurt.
It sounds like, at your range, this is an easy mistake to make and it is very likely to happen again if they don't change how they do things. Maybe next time won't be so lucky.

A string of flags to hang across the firing line would cost what, $10?

January 30, 2005, 07:45 PM
Maybe a few trips to the range without your guns? Just you and yourself to sit back and think about what happened. Please, don't go with the first "knee jerk" thought you have. Think of it this way, those guns you might sell off, might wind up in the hands of someone not as careful as you are. Take a few days, or weeks, off from shooting and just give it some careful thought.

January 30, 2005, 07:51 PM
It was a mistake. Complacency got ya.

It's certainly not likely to happen again. You'll be fine.

Go get back on that horse.

January 30, 2005, 07:53 PM
A couple of points, take what comfort you can.

1. Pesonally, If I was downrange when you were shooting, I would not want you to stop shooting forever, just stop long enough for me to get on the other side of the line. More people go to the range, the more likely I am to get to keep mine from my Senators (boxer + feinstein).

2. Is there any way in (a particularly warm and unpleasant place) that you will do this again. My vote is hell no.

3. Apologize by giving away free t-shirts to people around you that say "BigJim, please do not shoot me, I am just setting up my targets."

Help Others. This mistake is a non-repeat. And you now have a new-found humility with which to serve others.

January 30, 2005, 07:53 PM
Big Jim,

We have had threads before about negligent / accidental discharges. I have maintained that were are all doomed to commit them sooner than later. Not because I am a defeatist, but we are human beings and we make mistakes. Remember that old line about “to error is human … “ , welcome to the human race.

I mentioned in an earlier thread a safety training program that I went through. It pointed out how there are four general types of errors that cause most injuries.

Eyes not on task
Mind not on task
Loss of grip, traction or balance
In the line of fire

Sounds like you fell into the third. These are usually brought on when one or more of the following states exist;


Only you can say how many of them were in existence when your error occurred, but the point is to recognize them so that you can be more on guard when they are present.

I agree with everyone else, you probably shouldn’t quit shooting. After this I will wager that you are even a more safe shooter. That sick, cold feeling in the pit of your stomach will stick with you for a while and it will make you a better person.


January 30, 2005, 07:53 PM
Antsi is dead right - for that to happen there needs to be something better to better show a cold range and it could indeed be quite simple.

January 30, 2005, 07:57 PM
We are all human and make mistakes, you sound as if you won't make this mistake again, refocus and get back to shooting.

January 30, 2005, 08:04 PM
Maybe a few trips to the range without your guns?

I was thinking the same thing. I know you feel embarrassed, and that's a hard thing to get over with all of your peers. But you will get over it. Visit the range sans firearms; see your shooting buddies, take a some abuse a little at a time.

Great advice from everybody.

Hell, I'd share a range with you ANY DAY. After something like this, I KNOW you're gonna' be the safest m'er f'er in the world!!!!

January 30, 2005, 08:04 PM
With your experience, it only proves that it can happen to anyone. The fact that you shared your experience on this forum shows that you care enough to let others learn from your experience. We can all be easily distracted at times, sometimes things become so much 'second nature' to us that we don't concentrate as we should.

I once stood at the range loading magazines when there was only one other person on the range. The RO mentioned that there was only one other person there, what he did not tell me that this person was downrange, not on the firing line. He was setting up targets at the 200 yard range which cannot be seen from the pistol range. In another 5 minutes, I would have been firing. Luckily, the RO came down to the pistol range where I was to berate me for handling equipment with another shooter downrange. Of course I then berated him for not clearly stating the shooter's position, there were no flags present and no horn sounded.

I agree with some of the previous posts. I encourage you to consider the source of distraction then get back out to the range. Heck, take a buddy with you for some extra encouragement, but go!

January 30, 2005, 08:08 PM
You are feeling what I felt one time when I had a negligent discharge. No one was hurt, that's the main thing.

What kept going through my mind was "what if?"

What if my dog or a family member or a friend or anyone had been walking by?

What if it happened and someone was killed?

That happened to me many years ago, although the memory of it is still so fresh in my mind I can still smell the burning powder and the feeling of the skin crawling on the back of my neck.

I mounted that shotgun shell on a plaque and I still have it, to remind myself to be careful.

I screwed up. You screwed up. Happens to everyone.

I considered selling my guns for a couple of days after that, too. I didn't even want to touch one.

Now, to the good part. That experience made me into the "gun guy" I am today. It made me nth degrees safer than I was then, and I was already pretty bloody safe.

You have had an extremely earth shattering, ego smashing, painful lesson. Learn from it and carry on.

January 30, 2005, 08:17 PM
One of the ROs at the local range always says it's 'when' not 'if'. He felt that way after he 'dry fired' and shot his TV!

January 30, 2005, 08:17 PM
There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have made a mistake and those who will.

An idiot is someone who keeps making the same mistake but does not know why and will not accept he/she is the problem.

You do not sound like that kind of person.

You know what you did wrong and how serious the mistake was. Good. It is very unlikely you will ever forget. Not only will you not make that mistake again but you will continue to evaluate the poteintial of making other serious mistakes.

No one got hurt. Don't let the lession go to waste. Get back up on the horse.

At the very least, go to the range one more time before selling anything. Give yourself a chance to calm down. Prove to yourself you are a responsible person.

Anyone else who thinks they could never make a mistake like this probably will. Compliancy is cause by people believing something can't happen.

Everyone deserves a second chance (as long as they understand what that second chance is worth).

January 30, 2005, 08:21 PM
Mistakes DO happen, they cannot be avoided..... look at it this way

youve been shooting for 24 years.... and only one mistake? thats a pretty good rating... I made my first mistake when I was around 18 had an A/D in the house with my rifle... 30-06 round went thru the roof.... I was very much ashamed of myself and it took a long time for me to get over it...

1 mistake out of 24 years and probably millions of rounds.... thats not bad thats very good.. give yourself some time and get back to it. Theres always room for improvement :)

One of the ROs at the local range always says it's 'when' not 'if'. He felt that way after he 'dry fired' and shot his TV!

Thats a hard lesson learned.... no TV and a A/D all in the same day...

January 30, 2005, 08:49 PM
Sorry to hear about your misfortune. You're the age I was when getting old began having an affect on me. The last 5 years have been tough. The older you get the more care you need to take with dangerous activities. That's why old people drive so slow ;)

I know it's hard to let yourself down but realize nobody got hurt. The reason nobody got hurt is because it wasn't as dangerous as you are making it out to be. Sure it's a safety rule and sure safety rules are important but they are layered for a good reason. Because things like this happen to people. Maybe not this one thing to everybody (it hasn't happened to me) but it is just plain impossible to be focused 100% of the time on everything. Had I been there you'd have caught some flak from me and I'd be expecting an apology but I think this transgression is forgivable by those who were there and know you.

Everytime I run a stop sign (maybe 3 times in my life) I feel like giving up driving. Seriously, I am that hard on myself also but that's a good thing because it redoubles our resolve to do better. The regret wears off eventually, the resolve won't, so take it as a warning and a learning experience but don't make a second rash decision based the first one.

Things like this Kinda make you wonder how those people we see screwing up everything they touch get through it all, eh? :D

Standing Wolf
January 30, 2005, 09:00 PM
It might be time for a thorough physical check-up by a competent doctor.

January 30, 2005, 09:18 PM
I sort of understand where you are coming from here. I almost had a ND a last summer. The only thing that saved me was the grip safety on my XD. If I had been holding the gun better I would have sent a 165 gr .40 S&W into the cement floor of my basement. I will never know where it would have gone after that. My wife was up stairs so hopefully it wouldn't have gone through the floor. After I realized what I had done I just sat down and stared at the floor. It was scary!

Don't make any rash decisions you probably are not thinking too well. At least you are man enough to post something like that. It shows that you will learn from your mistake and will be undoubtedly be safer in the future.

January 30, 2005, 09:22 PM
We've had all kinds of incidents at the range. And the thing that makes them a 'good' vs bad incident was the way the individual in question handled themselves after they had been corrected.

There was a guy who showed up at the range with his son. He proceeded to fiddle with the pistol at the stand when there were several guys down range checking out their targets. When the group saw him they yelled "Put the gun down!". And the guy then yelled back "It's not loaded!". Well basically an agrument ensued and the guy was absolutely furious that he was embarassed like that in front of his son. Intead of being a man and admitting "Hey, yeah you guys were right, I shoulda had my pistol down on the table when yall were down range. Thanks for the reminder", he decided to argue and be hard-headed just so he didn't look like an idiot infront of his son. He could have easily taken that lesson in stride, and better yet, taught his son several important lessons at the same time. But he handled it all wrong.

This guy was banned from the club and he happily declared he didn't want to be a member anyway.

I guess I'm saying that you can be the guy who takes his lessons and reminders in stride. Everyone must do it throughout our lives, regardless of sport, hobby or work. Think about things the way you need to. If it were me, I know I'd be hard on myself as well as take a huge hit to my pride and question my ability. I'd also think of the things that could have resulted, then quickly look away and be grateful that things came out alright. Then move on. I'm sure I would think about never going to that range again. I'm sure I'd think about continue at the same range, but hope I never run into the folks again. I'd think about writing a letter, stating the indicent in general, then stating the lessons as a reminder to all, maybe an open apology.

At any rate, take care. Remember the guy I wrote about above? He is an official part of orientation at our club of what not to do. Folks that have acted differently than him, meaning those that have taken corrections and incidents in stride aren't thought of in a bad light, heck they probably aren't even thought of anymore. But they are good examples we think about. They are the people this great sport is made of.

January 30, 2005, 09:51 PM
You made a mistake. We all do. The important thing is that you've 'fessed up to it and you're willing to accept responsibility for your own actions. You're not blaming this on the range for not having better procedures in place (even though they probably should) and you're not blaming it on anyone else other than yourself. You screwed up and you admitted it. There are fewer and fewer stand-up guys like yourself around anymore. If you must, beat yourself up a little bit, but then move on. Get back to shooting and educating others. We need guys like you.

January 30, 2005, 09:59 PM
I know a guy who drove up to a green light and stopped. When it turned red he pulled out, to the sound of screeching tires and honking horns. He had been driving about 30 years at the time. Brain farts happen.

doh! been there, done that

bigjim, a computer science professor friend of mine works with another one, an old timer who was on the original board that evaluated the WWW/HTML spec back when it was just a proposal. this guy REJECTED it because it... get this... "it wouldn't scale"!

anyways, for like, two decades, this guy has been using his own temporary loss of sanity as an object lesson and teaching tool. it's pretty humorous, although i don't know if you'll ever laugh your mistake.

still, that mistake probably made you a better instructor than all your nra certs.

Fred Fuller
January 30, 2005, 10:00 PM
Saw some helmet camera video a few years ago from a pro videographer who was also an avid skydiver. He had been on four or five lifts that day videoing freefall jumpers, waiting till they cleared the plane and going out after them to shoot footage.

It was the last video he ever shot, the last time out the door he had forgotten to put on his chutes.

As so many others have indicated, brain fades happen. Sometimes things intrude on what we are doing to a dangerous extent, it is one of the costs of being human. That loss of focus is the problem. You have now had a valuable lesson in loss of focus. NOT stupidity, loss of focus.

Don't give up on a long time hobby. Don't beat yourself up to an unreasonable degree either. You were "white" as white can be, never a condition to be in with a gun in hand- that always calls for yellow at minimum (per Cooper). Now that this has happened, it is most unlikely it will ever happen to you again. Use the lesson, don't abandon it. Make it a teaching point- you have been a big enough man to offer it here already, continue to do so for others.



January 30, 2005, 10:04 PM
it happens.. its tough sometimes with hearing protection.. everyone will yell clear, and it sounds like everyone is yelling clear, except one person.. who doesnt hear a thing, and no one knows this.. so he/she keeps shooting..

moby clarke
January 30, 2005, 10:37 PM
I often have used my own life expereinces to bring home a point in a sermon. You can not know the number of times that people have come up to me and agreed that it was not the scripture that I referenced that made the point, it was the human touch that brought it home. Further, many have said that when they see/hear a minister who makes the same mistakes they do, they understand that no one is perfect and that what shows the character of a man is how he learns from those mistakes. Sure, we can run away and hide and we will probably never commit the same mistake again. But as Christ said, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." The true character of a man is not in the mistake he makes, but it is in the lesson he learns and shares with others.

moby clarke
January 30, 2005, 10:41 PM
I often have used my own life experiences to bring home a point in a sermon. You can not know the number of times that people have come up to me and agreed that it was not the scripture that I referenced that made the point, it was the human touch that brought it home. Further, many have said that when they see/hear a minister who makes the same mistakes they do, they understand that no one is perfect and that what shows the character of a man is how he learns from those mistakes. Sure, we can run away and hide and we will probably never commit the same mistake again. But as Christ said, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." The true character of a man is not in the mistake he makes, but it is in the lesson he learns and shares with others.

January 30, 2005, 10:58 PM
that is scary. just be glad you did not hurt anybody.

January 30, 2005, 11:09 PM
Bigjim, don't overreact. We have all made mistakes that could kill people, and many of us do it with automobiles. We take classes, we tell our children all the right things, we criticize others for doing dumb things. and then we go do something like being distracted and run a redlight or stop sign. It happens. A mental lapse such as that is worthy of criticism, and I have been criticized with accidents and tickets on occasion. In each case I can look back and see that what I did was stupid. However, I learned from the mistake and carried on, still driving. I have many friends that I can point to that have had AD's, none fatal thankfully. I suggest that you continue shooting, and you will be a better man for the experience, and maybe a little more tolerant of those others that do something dumb due to a mental lapse. We are all human and make mistakes. No one is looking to crucify you, and you should not be too hasty in your actions. In a while, you will find that you still love guns and shooting, and will be able to point out other's mistakes again, with the added thought that "you can understand how it happened, it happened to me. Just don't let it happen again." Brain freezes are part of life. Now on the other hand a normally observant guy like yourself could have saved you if one had been watching. You may be able to save a life by carrying on with your experience being a lesson. We need guys like you around even if they made a mistake themselves at some time in their life. ;)

January 31, 2005, 12:25 AM
Don't give up shooting. You made a mistake. Because you followed the 4 rules, no one was hurt. (#3- Be sure of your target and beyond.) I had an ND this last summer, and because I followed the 4 rules, no one was hurt. (#2-Never point the gun at anything you do not wish to destroy.) I had an ND taking the (very unergonomic :cuss: ) safety off on a Mosin Nagant. It was pointed downrange, the only damage was to my pride. :o We have about the same amount of experience, and are about the same age. You were given a reminder about the importance of the 4 rules, and you have taken them to heart to the point of doubting your abilities. Don't. If anything this incident will make you a 'safety monger', as mine did me, and it has served me well. My nephew did the same thing you did, except, there were no dividers, it was outdoors. Yes, he was done shooting for the day. Yes, I reiterated the 4 rules to him, and had him recite them back to me, with a promise from his father that he will continue to burn them into his memory. No, I did not ban him from shooting with me. I know he will be extra vigilant henceforth. You will be, too. :) I wouldn't blame you if you probably go to another range for a while :o , but please don't give up shooting, or instructing new shooters. You're much too valuable to us, the shooting community, to just hang up your hat. :)

January 31, 2005, 12:32 AM
In a thread regarding an ND a while back, I posted that if it were me, I would lock the guns up and think about whether I'd go back. I was in the minority that didn't just waive it off as something that happens and is acceptable. The fact that your attitude places your participation in the sport in check shows your regret. It would be understandable to leave. However, I agree with others who say that you're a professional, and a safe one. Whatever you do from here, no one will fault you for. But I do hope you give some serious thought to hanging onto those 50 centerfire beauties, and taking them back out again sometime in the near future. Take care, sir.

January 31, 2005, 01:34 AM
Get back on the horse son

January 31, 2005, 03:04 AM
Hey ! The last person who walked this earth without making a mistake got nailed to a cross .

Many years ago my firearm mistake cut the strap on a sandel - while my brother was wearing it ! Now that's closer than you came to hurting anybody and it made me a much safer shooter from that moment on.

Don't be so damn hard on yourself - your mistake can make you an even safer person to be shooting next to , and most certainly I believe it will.

January 31, 2005, 06:16 AM
I think, that as distinguished and individual you are to the shooting community, that the best thing you can do is as everyone says, get back on the horse, and keep fighting. We need people that are willing to put the time in like you have to keep fighting for us. You may have done wrong, but that's just more reason to learn from our mistakes, and keep going.

January 31, 2005, 06:28 AM
Everything In The Universe Happens For A Reason

Now it is up to you BigJim, to discover that reason, and from that point on teach others what you have learned.
(I'll give you a hint... the reason this happened is NOT to stop you from ever shooting again.)

Perhaps you need to start teaching safety again. After all if it can happen to you it can happen to ANY of us.

Think of this incident not as a low point but as a turning point.

You have knowledge and years of experience. Please don't let that go to waste. To do that would be a definite shame.

Look at it this way. You have already made ALL of us think. Not just those of us who have posted but all of the others who have read this. You have re-opened our eyes to the possibility that this could happen to any one of us.

As embarassing as this may be, word of this will spread like wildfire around your range. BUT, everyone there will now be more careful. A LOT more careful.
The shooters will become more cautious, the RSOs will become more observant.

So you see a lot of good has already come from this incident.
As was previously pointed out, you have identified a deficency in the range procedures. Hopefully this will be addressed and corrected.

You might just have saved someones life.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
Exercise your new found strength my friend. Use it wisely.
We're all with you.

Cool Hand Luke 22:36
January 31, 2005, 08:13 AM
You are so familiar with this range that you were on auto-pilot and shot instinctively without really thinking about it. Sort of like how you put on your seatbelt without thinking about it when you first sit in your car.

It might be a good idea to visit several ranges rather than just the same one year after year. That would force you to become more aware of your surroundings each time you shoot.

January 31, 2005, 08:44 AM
I don't have an answer, but I will say this. I takes guts to admit and post (on a gun forum) such an incident occurred. Maybe that was your way of getting back on the saddle. Now all you have to do is ride. You'll be fine. Besides, just think how cautious you will be from now on. Welcome to the human race.

January 31, 2005, 09:16 AM
I am amazed the the responses here. Thanks to all of you. After a nights
sleep I am no longer in such a hurry to sell my guns and walk away from the hobby that has brought me so much joy so long.

I am still very upset however and that will take time to fade. I am going to take a hiatus from the range and the gun forums.

Am also going to go buy some flags and a flashing yell light for the range. They are always having to yell at folks that step back to the bench. That idea could help.

Once again thanks to all of you for being willing to let me off the hook.


January 31, 2005, 09:20 AM
IMO you need more than voice commands when people are doing things such as shooting guns, and wearing ear protection..... its like asking a blind man to read.....

January 31, 2005, 09:45 AM

Lots of good advise above. If you were an ???????, without a conscience, you wouldn't be airing your mistake here. It's obvious that you are sick with the situation and what could've happened. Good.

Now, if I were to point fingers it would be hypocritical. Just three years ago, on a vacation trip with my wife and little ones, I had a simular thing happen. It was late and dark, on the way home and I went to sleep. The trucker's attention and his airhorn were the only things that saved our lives. I had drifted off and was heading for his rig as he passed by. When I woke up my driver's side mirror was only an inch away from the big rig's trailer. Made me sick thinking of all those I might have killed with my moment of "inattention". My wife, the girls, the driver, the folks behind us and me. My wife finished the driving that night.

Did I quit driving that 4 ton "deadly weapon"? No. But, I make sure that there is plenty of caffein in my well rested system before I take it on the road at night. I'd bet that you won't make your mistake twice.

January 31, 2005, 10:00 AM
First of all, let me commend you on your acknowledgement as to the seriousness of your error. Many people would simply have blown it off as a little thing and vowed to never do it again. Since you appear to be a very conscientious person I am wondering if there was something else going on in your life that you were preoccupied with? I have a very strong feeling that you will never ever make this mistake again. If you do, then I agree you should not go to a range with other people around. Best of luck and don't continue to beat yourself up over this.

January 31, 2005, 10:03 AM

I'm glad you decided to stay with shooting. Your post took a lot of guts and humility. Had you quit, I think you would've made a second mistake. Thanks for posting---it helped us all. Don't stay gone too long.


January 31, 2005, 10:21 AM
Lots of older shooters have problems hearing range commands with plugs and/or muffs. For me, hearing loss was caused by shooting without protection in younger years and by jet engine noise on the flight line. If hearing range commands is a problem, get some Peltor 6 or 7 electronic muffs.

January 31, 2005, 10:25 AM
Another vote for you not giving up shooting.

You had a brain fade. While it COULD have been bad, it wasn't, and frankly given your level of skill and training it's highly unlikely it would have been. It's one thing to shoot at your target from a cold range, but if you'd actually SEEN people downrange would you have shot? If you couldn't see them you weren't likely to hit them.

Complacency gets everyone eventually. I have a feeling it'll be a LONG time before it happens to you again. You're just the kind of guy I'd like to have shooting next to me, because you've had your brain fade and you're not likely to have another.

Perhaps a good gift for the guys at your range would be to give each one a pair of clean underwear.

January 31, 2005, 11:16 AM
Big Jim,

I just saw this thread, and have to commend you on your candor.

The only thing I would add is that if you continue to instruct, you will have a very vivid real life experience to relate to your students. This can only be a good thing.

Although you made a mistake, it does not seem that you violated any of the four rules.

Best wishes.

January 31, 2005, 01:41 PM

Please give some thought to what people have written before you give up shooting.

I don't know about you but I once drove straight through a red light. I saw the light. I had been driving way long enough to know it was not only illegal but potentially fatal. Nothing beyond own mind distracted me. Fortunately, I did not get T-boned by another car or hit a pedestrian.

Do you think I should have given up driving because of that lapse? My error had just as much potential for fatality as yours. More really since I could have hit a school bus.

It has never happened to me again. Please reconsider. You are probably even safer now. I know I am.

January 31, 2005, 01:56 PM
Big Jim...what a story..what an experience..glad it was not me! I am, however, not as sympathetic.

Clearly you were on a brain fart, or distracted or or or.... but, that is the only the result of something that was underlying your thought process that day. Until you can fully explain (to yourself) why you were distracted and how you are able to correct that for the future, I would be really concerned.

I don't think that the comment about getting physical is out of line. For someone to make that big of an error, there is "something" wrong. The "I was distracted" etc. is obvious, but why? What would cause you to in effect ignore years of training?

You can't learn from mistakes until you are aware of the "why" or "what" caused the mistake.

Best wishes .... figure it out and get back on the horse.

January 31, 2005, 02:22 PM
first of all, dont stop shooting, and dont sell your guns.

i think what stands out is that you didnt just blow your mistake off as being 'normal'. i've seen a guy have a ND and act as if it didnt happen. (he was trying to put his homemade boot back on to the face of the trigger to his homemade racegun, while the gun was loaded. only casualty was my stapler, and i have yet to find an adequate replacement for that stapler!)

i've stopped a guy from shooting while people were downrange, and in his field of vision! stopped the same guy from running to the target while other people (also in his field of vision) were still shooting!

i've watched as a guy raised his hand, called 'cease fire', and started walking downrange while everyone else was still trying to clear their weapons, and the guy at the far side who didnt see the guy call the cease fire, was still shooting.

all those idiots i just mentioned, didnt think twice about their lack of regard for simple safety rules. you however, are not treating it lightly, and you are to be commended for that.

January 31, 2005, 02:37 PM
Big Jim: I think you are handling this well. If you had just shrugged the incident off and thought it was no big deal then I would consider you a danger to others. You have not shown that attitude.

I also agree that you should try to resolve in your mind exactly what it was that caused your momentary lack of awareness and make that the object of this "lesson". As a biker and a shooter, I know how important it is to never let my mind go on autopilot when engaged in these activities. But I am as human as you and every other person who has posted in this thread. Such a thing could happen to me one day if I ever let my guard down. Reading about your experience makes it just a little less likely -- it's a wake up call to all of us.

Don't give up shooting. Just commit yourself to a renewed clarity whenever you visit the range.

One more thing: those that think something like this can't happen to them are fooling themselves in a dangerous way. Thanks for sharing your story.

January 31, 2005, 02:46 PM
I've made many similar lapses in non-shooting situations, so I know exactly what you did. (Apologies if someone else already said this; I haven't read the entire thread.)

After years and years of shooting, you got to the point where everything was second-nature. Not just the mechanics of shooting, but the whole process of shooting, stepping back, walking to your target, etc, etc, etc, and you stopped thinking. And then your autopilot failed.

The lesson? Think. No matter how simple something is, no matter how second-nature it is, think about what you're doing. Always.

If it's any consolation, the reason something like this could happen is precisely because you were so good.

January 31, 2005, 02:53 PM
Let me add a small caveat - and i have mentioned these before. I try my best to apply them with biking, shooting - everyday life really.

"Don't assume" !!!

"Expect the unexpected".

In essence this helps make for that double take - first take you miss something - second time you see it ... saves face and butt often! :) Not infallable but sure can help - certainly at my age! :p

January 31, 2005, 04:06 PM
This is one of those “Mistakes” that is so grossly negligent and so clearly indicates that I lack the judgment and self control to take on the awesome responsibility of shooting that I think after 24 years, its time for me to call it quits.

Your are correct sir. It is clear that a mistake such as this is unforgivable. Someone who could behave in such a way is not to be trusted and should never touch a firearm again.

In fact, this shows such a severe lack of intelligence, judgement, and moral fiber, that you should also eliminate the following from your life:

Driving a car.
Handling anything sharp.
Touching anything that is potentially flammable.

I am sure that I am missing other behaviours that you should refrain from (sex perhaps???) in order to eliminate the possible danger you present to the human race.

In fact, after careful reflection, I think in the future you should probably just sit at home, with the lights turned out (you might electrocute someone!) and have no interaction with anyone else at all.

Yeah, thats the ticket!


Obviously, the above is written in jest -- My real comment is; Get over it -- you are human and infinitely fallable -- join the rest of us imperfect slobs!!!! And for goodness sake, drop the self-pity!

January 31, 2005, 04:19 PM
It was a mistake, you learned and I doubt you will ever do it again. What-if's don't accomplish anything.

January 31, 2005, 04:30 PM
I think we have all had an embarrassing moment at the range at one point or another, whether or not someone else took notice of it.

chalk it up to experience, it happens.

January 31, 2005, 04:33 PM
I haven't been on this forum that maybe it has happened before.... but, I am amazed that we all are on the same page...on this question, now look what you done have us all agreeing !!!!

January 31, 2005, 04:35 PM
Was it an unavoidable, or "inevitable" error? -No.

Will you be doing it again? -HELL NO !

Did you make sure that those at the range knew that YOU knew that you messed up big time, and you apologized? -Yes.

So please take our advice and return to the range with a freshly bolstered state of safety and situational awareness, with tail tucked firmly between your legs and dining on humble pie as penance until you feel "redeemed".

(I think from your stand up and seriously self-critical behavior after your admittedly negligent blunder, the folks who were there at the range that day would probably feel bad to see you give up shooting over it).


Henry Bowman
January 31, 2005, 04:36 PM
I'm neither going to scold or to pat you on the back and tell you all is fine. My observation is that if this story had been told from the point of view of one of those down range, the average THR comment would have been much different. Yes, the reaction of the transgressor (humility) does make a difference. But so many other stories posted here that draw so much ire rarely disclose the post-transgression attitude of the offender.

My point being that the newbe offender deserves even more forgiveness and tough compassion if we ever hope to enlarge the fold of the American "gun culture." Granted, having the lady in the next lane piont her misfire at your crotch and repeatedly pull the trigger would be unnerving. However, this thread will be cited the next time so many choose to "pile on" the mistakes of the "moron at the range."

January 31, 2005, 05:07 PM
HBowman excellent observation,

I touched on this very idea in my original post. One of the things that has made this humiliation so total and life changeing for me is the kindness and compassion that has been extended to me after my horrible error.

I would not have extended this understanding to anybody that did that to me! Nor do I expect it from the range personel or wittnesses at the range. Yet there it is.

Another thread I could compare this to are the cop bashing threads where people get livid at the idea that a mistaken no knock warrant service on the wrong house is excused by a simple I am sorry.

I think there are some things that you can just not say your sorry for. My conflict revolves around that.

Never the less on some level way down below embarrassment and anger I am grateful for the understanding being shown here. I am just not so sure I have it coming.

Perhaps Mods it is time to end this thread. I don't want to lose what ever shreads of dignity I have left by dragging this on forever. I think I posted it as part of my self imposed punishment.

Thanks again


January 31, 2005, 06:20 PM
Thankfully, no one was hurt.

I do know what it is like to mess up on range commands. 'Lock the bolt' sounds an awful like 'Lock and load' when you have ear muffs. Granted, it was no where as serious as what you did, but the point is people do make mistakes. Just a moment of not paying attention, and it serves as a reminder to me.

I think if I were you, and feeling real guilty, I'd offer the range to help make sure the situtation never happens again. I don't know what your range is like, but go and propose some sort of safety feature. Lights that signify when it is safe to shoot, maybe a bar that comes up when the range is cold, etc. Offer to help with the project, or to help raise funds. I know my range would probably take me up on it.

January 31, 2005, 09:43 PM
80 posts .. not bad!!! Somewhat at Jim's request I'll close this down. I think he is right to wish that this does not drag on ad infinitum, tho I hardly need say, any further posts would be almost guaranteed to add the huge measure of support he has already had.

Bottom line - we are all fallible. He has I think learned several things here, the most important of which is that he is in very select company - a family of shooters who all realize their limitations and who maybe sometimes have thought ''There but for the grace of God, go I" ..!! We identify, but do not judge too harshly and have all I daresay learned from Jim's courage and candor in bringing this to the forum.

Thx Jim ... We'll now let this rest - but remain as a tribute to your honesty, and to many very understanding and sympathetic folks. :)

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