Human Factors Issues In Firearms Design And Training (worth a read)


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Drizzt
March 9, 2006, 09:05 PM
Human Factors Issues In Firearms Design And Training

Guns are tools. Like any other tools, they can be either good or poor at achieving their purpose. In an article published in the Winter 2005 issue of Ergonomics in Design entitled "Human Factors Issues in Firearms Design and Training," the authors look at the design and operation of firearms from a human factors perspective. Observations on standardization and the prevention of inadvertent use highlight some important ways in which the human factors/ergonomics (HF/E) community can contribute to the production of safe and effective future firearms.

Some of the problems identified by authors Peter Hancock, Hal Hendrick, Richard Hornick and Paul Paradis include the following:

Knowledge of how to use one type of firearm doesn't mean a person is going to be competent using other types.

Different firearms may use the same type of ammunition, but that's where the similarities end.

You don't have to be shot to be injured by a firearm; sometimes this happens when ejecting a spent cartridge in semiautomatic handguns or catching your hand on the sharp edges of some slide assemblies.

In some cases, it's nearly impossible to tell when there are still bullets in the chamber.

Even if there is a manual safety -- and sometimes there isn't -- a red spot may indicate that the safety is engaged, but sometimes it means exactly the opposite.

Handgun safety training courses are outdated; people taking these courses prior to 2000 got no instruction in safely using firearms to protect themselves at home.

Safety training does not address the matter of firearms use under high stress, when the operator may be affected physically, perceptually, and emotionally.

What can HF/E professionals do to make future firearms safer? In terms of design, HF/E research can help to determine a recommended standardized design for safeties and cylinder releases. Perhaps there should also be different standards for firearms design for different purposes, such as home defense versus law enforcement. One promising area is the "smart gun," which would recognize and be operable only by the owner, and HF/E input would be a valuable addition to design work in this area. Unfortunately, because of the long life span of firearms (collectors may own century-old guns), it could take decades for any design improvements to be effective.

"If one cannot change the tool to have an immediate effect on firearms safety," the authors say, "...it is possible to promote safer use through training and familiarization." Many accidents happen among users who either never took a safety course or had not had any training for many years -- not to mention the sometimes questionable content of such courses. By addressing the issue of use under stress, fundamental principles of pistol marksmanship, and exposure to more than one type of firearm before a user is considered qualified, training could be more effective.

To obtain a press copy of the full article, please contact HFES Communications Director Lois Smith (310/394-1811).


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The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is a multidisciplinary professional association of more than 4500 persons in the United States and throughout the world. Its members include psychologists, engineers, designers, and scientists, all of whom have a common interest in designing systems and equipment to be safe and effective for the people who operate and maintain them.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060306214532.htm

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Jeff White
March 9, 2006, 09:20 PM
Knowledge of how to use one type of firearm doesn't mean a person is going to be competent using other types.

There are four rules. Follow them and you will be safe with any firearm.

Handgun safety training courses are outdated; people taking these courses prior to 2000 got no instruction in safely using firearms to protect themselves at home.

Safety training does not address the matter of firearms use under high stress, when the operator may be affected physically, perceptually, and emotionally.

When is the last time any of these people went to school? 1955?

What can HF/E professionals do to make future firearms safer?

Nothing. Firearms and their use is too politically charged for their work to have a positive effect. It's obvious that they don't know enough about the use of firearms and modern training methodogly to be effective.

Jeff

HammerBite
March 10, 2006, 01:21 AM
One promising area is the "smart gun,"

These people can get you killed!

Brian Dale
March 10, 2006, 01:59 AM
What can HF/E professionals do to make future firearms safer? Develop some expertise in the field before publishing their notions, for one thing.

Few objects in the modern world owe as much of their design to "human factors/ergonomics" as firearms. The process of refining firearms design has been going on for hundreds of years. The lives of millions of interested parties have been affected by the design of the weapons they carried.

That doesn't mean that firearms are designed for use by the untrained, though. The authors might examine their goals, drop the hubris and realize that the field of ergonomics wasn't invented yesterday, nor by its current practitioners.

Vex
March 10, 2006, 02:01 AM
In every instance of formal training I've personally received regarding firearms, the instructors constantly stressed that true training comes from constant practice. You can never take a single class and claim to be the best shot. The same is true with safety and firearms handling. By learning how to safely handle a firearm with the 4 general rules and constantly exercising these rules, true safety will come naturally. I don't think a form of mechanical standardization among firearms manufacturers will work. As a universal issue, it doesn't seem like a viable solution to a non-problem...

GEM
March 10, 2006, 01:22 PM
Well, I sent away for a copy. I want to see what they actually said.

From summary pages, it's hard to reach conclusions. What I saw was (--- is my comment)

Knowledge of how to use one type of firearm doesn't mean a person is going to be competent using other types.

--- That's true. They may be talking about what we know about very specific equipment or procedure transfer of training. It's known in many other fields. I wonder if they did any experiments or this is a thought piece.


Different firearms may use the same type of ammunition, but that's where the similarities end.

--- So what?

You don't have to be shot to be injured by a firearm; sometimes this happens when ejecting a spent cartridge in semiautomatic handguns or catching your hand on the sharp edges of some slide assemblies.

--- That's true - big deal. Lots of stuff is dangerous. We do comment on this in reviews of guns all the time. No breakthrough here. I've gotten hit by things. Fishermen get stuck by hooks. There is always risk.

In some cases, it's nearly impossible to tell when there are still bullets in the chamber.

------ That's true - we are very careful about this and many accidents are do to this.

Even if there is a manual safety – and sometimes there isn't – a red spot may indicate that the safety is engaged, but sometimes it means exactly the opposite.

------ Is the implication that you must have a manual safety. That's been a debate for a zillion years.


Handgun safety training courses are outdated; people taking these courses prior to 2000 got no instruction in safely using firearms to protect themselves at home.

------- It depends on the course. Prior to 2000, we still taught safety. I certainly had such training.

Safety training does not address the matter of firearms use under high stress, when the operator may be affected physically, perceptually, and emotionally.

------ Not true universally true also. I would like to see where they got the info. FOF was designed just for this.

------ I'm going to read the thing. Given, I'm a cognitive psychologist and have firearms training, it should be interesting.

Maxwell
March 10, 2006, 02:07 PM
More than a few shooters have probly picked up a new weapon and been caught offguard by one thing or another. It wouldnt hurt to have some safety features standardized.

I'd more worry that this is meant to be the backing for some anti-gun rant.
"Not only are guns dangerous but their designed to be dangerous!"

Then someone writes a modest proposal of things to make guns safe, and out pops an endless list full of impossible requests. Things like electronic triggers, weeks of firearms training, and/or intricate safety mechanisms bound to gunk up and prevent the gun from being useful.
When its done your forced to a gun thats larger, more expensive, and less reliable. Meanwhile the criminals get by with old weapons or junk imported from other countries.

Nightfall
March 10, 2006, 02:30 PM
In some cases, it's nearly impossible to tell when there are still bullets in the chamber.Bullets (plural) in the chamber (singular)? :scrutiny: Anyway, what are these impossible to check firearms? Are there autos with slides that can't be pulled back? Revolvers with cylinders that magically make the rounds invisible? If you can work the action, you can check the chamber. It ain't exactly brain surgery.

GEM
March 10, 2006, 03:24 PM
The argument in the human factors world is between gadgets that can be used correctly if the person does it right. When there is a screw up, the usual defense is that with proper training, the screwup wouldn't happen.

In the gun world - we fall back on saying if the doofus (like Cheney) followed the four rules or such, the accident wouldn't happen. Interface designers say if the damn user would read the manual, blah, blah.

The other point of view is that one should not design based on the premise that lecturing the user will make them use the product safely. It should be glitch proof through design.

The truth is in the middle. I've taught a course on human computer interaction and delved into the traffic safety literature. There is nothing new here that isn't in an engineering psychology or human factors text.

However, in the gun world - the booboos also unless the political world which makes it more heated for debate.

Vern Humphrey
March 10, 2006, 05:19 PM
In some cases, it's nearly impossible to tell when there are still bullets in the chamber.

Yeah, the guy who wrote this piece is a real expert.:o

geekWithA.45
March 10, 2006, 05:54 PM
_Some_ of the human factors guys & gals I've worked with over the years are worth their weight in diamonds.

Most of them aren't worth....squat. HF seems to be the dumping grounds for industrial design grads with delusions of grandeur.

(But hey, I guess egomaniacal designers without the talent to back it up need jobs too... :neener: )

Nonetheless, I think if you could get the _right_ HF guy with some serious firearms background, it'd be a worthwhile excercise.

Wiley
March 10, 2006, 06:06 PM
Form follows function.

The trigger is used to check if there are still 'bullets' in the chamber.

Another soloution looking for a problem. Oh, goody, more grant money.

Vern Humphrey
March 10, 2006, 06:27 PM
Form follows function.

The trigger is used to check if there are still 'bullets' in the chamber.

The proper form is to push on the trigger while looking down the hole to see if any bullets come out.:evil:

JJpdxpinkpistols
March 10, 2006, 07:31 PM
Observations on standardization and the prevention of inadvertent use highlight some important ways in which the human factors/ergonomics (HF/E) community can contribute to the production of safe and effective future firearms.

Knowledge of how to use one type of firearm doesn't mean a person is going to be competent using other types.

That is very true. I have had folks look at my revolver and ask how it opens. These are very competent rifle-men or semi-auto shooters. I don't know if that problem can be solved by standardization, necessarily.

In some cases, it's nearly impossible to tell when there are still bullets in the chamber.

Sure it is! open the dang thing and LOOK.

Even if there is a manual safety -- and sometimes there isn't -- a red spot may indicate that the safety is engaged, but sometimes it means exactly the opposite.

I have noticed this. My shotty and my airgun are in reverse for button safety signalling. I woouldn't object to seeing a stardard used. OTOH, I carry a revolver...no safety needed ;)

In terms of design, HF/E research can help to determine a recommended standardized design for safeties and cylinder releases. Perhaps there should also be different standards for firearms design for different purposes, such as home defense versus law enforcement.

Anytime someone says "standard" they mean a law. More laws means more gunk we have to jump through and a higher cost for our tools. I have zero objection to listening to their suggestions...indeed, I would personally encourage all firearms manufacturers to do so. But I would reject, out of hand, any attempt to further regulate a constitutional protection.

AS for a different standard. I dont' see a problem with organizational requirements necessitating a firearm modification (we work in mud, so we need a nifty mudflap on this thingymabobber), but as a base guideline, we deserve the same materiel that the police deserve.

One promising area is the "smart gun," which would recognize and be operable only by the owner

Not gonna happen. Simply put: if I am unable to use it, it should be available to my wife to use.

Many accidents happen among users who either never took a safety course or had not had any training for many years -- not to mention the sometimes questionable content of such courses.

So teach it in schools. Wow...that was easy. PE class would actually be FUN again!

exposure to more than one type of firearm before a user is considered qualified, training could be more effective.

er...does anyone else see the camel-nose? Get outta the tent, you hump-backed beast!

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