The 8 year old with the Uzi accident brings back painful memory


November 2, 2008, 10:25 PM
I taught my nephews how to shoot many years ago. Safety was paramount, and I was very careful to graduate them to larger calibers only after demonstrating competence in the smaller. Still, there was one incident which has invaded my thoughts recently and made me shudder anew as the recent Uzi accident hit the news.

The older nephew (about 10 years old then) was finally ready, it seemed, to shoot a .45--in this case, a Sig P220. I thought I had considered everything and that I was a good judge of his competence and readiness, but I wasn't. He loaded up the magazine, chambered the first round, etc. I smiled proudly at his mature manner and safe, adept handling. Everything looked good. Then he fired his first round. A Sig P220 positions the hand a bit lower than some more modern designs, and it is a light weapon. He wasn't repared for the snappy torque of its recoil. His arms were too relaxed, and the pistol struck his forehead in recoil. Stunned, he pulled his elbows down to his sides and bent his arms. The pistol ended up against his chest with the muzzle pointed straight up under his chin--with his finger on the trigger! My instinctive reaction was to swipe his muzzle back downrange, and fortunately, this didn't cause him to squeeze the trigger again.

I have since trained my son to shoot, but I always loaded only one round in the magazine on each new pistol he shot. Only after he demonstrated the ability to control the pistol under recoil several times would we load more than one round. And I still shudder to this day when I recall what could have been a terrible tragedy.

The "load only one round" rule in instructing children is probably common knowlege to most of you, but it wasn't to me those years ago. Was I alone in my ignorance then?

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Gun Geezer
November 2, 2008, 10:32 PM
I won't throw any stones, but I would not think most 10-year olds could handle a .45. That's alot of gun

I always suggest revolvers and 22LR for learners to start with an move up slowly.

I like your idea of 1 round though. Even with a revolver.

When I was a lad, the folks handed my a full auto .22 rifle. I pulled the trigger and started turning toward them! Lucky one of my older cousins was right behind me and stop that swing.

November 2, 2008, 10:33 PM
Thanks for that post. I'm not sure I wouldn't have made a similar mistake without having read this. I like your 1-round rule, and think it would be a good addition to a "four (or more) rules" for teaching children to shoot handguns.

November 2, 2008, 10:45 PM
I agree, that is a great rule. My grandfather started me out with a single shot 22 rifle. It was years later until I got to fire a single shot revolver. Now I know why? I think no matter how safe your kids appear to be, the single shot rule eliminates alot of chance for accidents.

Nobama Nobama Nobama Nobama Nobama

November 2, 2008, 10:49 PM
scary story.

as humans, we all make mistakes and not one of us has the ability to avoid "major" or "stupid" ones.

we all do it, unfortunatly for some, with terrible results.

some of us learn from our own mistakes, and in this case, thanks to your post and story as well as the tragedy with the boy with the uzi, we can learn from the mistakes of others.

i will remember the "one round rule" of training with semiauto pistols, and will call it that in fact.

there should be a sticky in the semiauto handgun section about training youngsters and evaluating their control abilities using the "one round rule"

good post.

November 2, 2008, 10:54 PM
Never heard of the rule before now. Thanks for sharing.

November 2, 2008, 11:06 PM
I won't throw any stones, but I would not think most 10-year olds could handle a .45. That's alot of gun

I always suggest revolvers and 22LR for learners to start with an move up slowly.

It is probably easier for one who learned to shoot as a child himself to instinctively understand this, but my father owned no firearms, and I was an adult before I learned how to shoot a handgun. Even so, I did know to start slow and small with my nephew. We started with .22 rifles and revolvers and moved very gradually and methodically to increasingly larger calibers over the course of a couple of years. He had demonstrated proficiency with a .22 and .38 revolver, and .22, .32, .380, and 9mm automatics before I let him try the .45 (I didn't own a .40 back then). And he was particularly fond of shooting my M1903A-3 in .30-06 by then, so he wasn't recoil-shy. He and I really thought he was ready to handle a .45 by then. We were wrong.

The "load only one" rule for teaching children makes perfect sense--all gun safety rules make perfect sense. Most responsible shooters consider them "no-brainers". But this just goes to show that not everything that makes sense is inherently known or understood until it is taught. Considering the consequences, (except for its indelible impression) first-hand experience is probably the worst teacher when it comes to gun safety.

November 2, 2008, 11:27 PM
John, that's an intense read. I'm glad no one was hurt.

I would add that when instructing new shooters (young or old), I stand directly behind them so that if the gun points anywhere other than down range I can control their body and the direction of the weapon. I agree with the one round rule, and use it for all uninitiated shooters when they're on the range for the first time. I learned that the hard way when I took a classmate to the range, and after going over the basic safety rules, loaded 5 rounds in my Beretta and handed it to her. She fired one round, making the 20 oz. pop bottle we were shooting at jump. In her excitement, she turned toward me with the gun still in front of her. I quickly seized her wrist, redirecting the muzzle downrange. We went over the importance of safety again, and she's now a competent (and safe) pistol shooter.

November 2, 2008, 11:42 PM
Man, I don't even have kids, but as I was reading your post, I was filling with absolute dread as it went on. Thank God that it didn't end in tragedy.

I learned as a very young child to shoot, and have never heard of the one shot rule. I like it very much, and will use it when I help my neice learn to shoot.

Thank you for posting.

November 3, 2008, 12:07 AM
I could not resist clicking on this thread and hoping for the best. As an avid shooter with a 7 year old son, the story of the boy with the Uzi actually made me tear up. The fact that I could imagine the recoil of that gun and its center of balance gave me a mental image I can't shake.

My son isn't mature enough yet to shoot that doesn't mean other kids of similar age might not be, but he isn't ready. We have a Red Ryder for now and when we start with firearms it will be .22 rifle first and then pistol but the 1 shot rule seems a good tool to remember.

November 3, 2008, 01:02 PM
I thought the 1 round rule was pretty standard when teaching a semi or full-auto to a child or adult. I even use it on myself when shooting a new caliber.

November 3, 2008, 01:13 PM
I know its not the same, but when I teach, I start with snap caps. we will spend a good 5 10 minutes going through drills for most scenarios. Then, I use blanks for the first shoot, then live rounds. This was for a rifle mind you, but I think Id do a pistol the same way.

Even tho that 1 round rule seems obvious, I never though about it with a rifle. Ive always preached muzzle awareness but I guess even with a rifle you can flag your buddy with live rounds, Ive seen it in the Army so there is no reason a civie wouldnt do it. Good little story and a good lesson learned

November 3, 2008, 02:28 PM
Loading only one round in any firearm that a child (or you, for that matter) has never fired before is a good idea.

I learned with a .44 magnum, which I loaded with one live round and five spent cartridges. I would spin the revolver before shooting so I never knew if it was live or not. This effectively taught me not to flinch. Jerking the gun up even when it did not fire was an obvious and embarrassing sign of flinching which I strove not to do.

The SKS is inexpensive and has fairly light recoil, making it the first centerfire rifle for many children.

If you remove the gas piston, it functions as a bolt action. You can put the piston back in after your child has demonstrated proper gun handling. You may want to set some marksmanship goal as well, like hitting an 8" Shoot-N-C target ten times consecutively at 100 yards. Make him fire from the prone position - there is no reason to ever fire an SKS off the bench.

Also, wait until he has a job so he can buy his own ammo. A semi-automatic in the hands of a youngster can consume a lot of boxes of 7.62x39 cartridges. You can pay for his ammo when he is firing one shot at a time, but when he burns up a half a dozen boxes in a single shooting session, the issue of money is sure to come up.

If he misbehaves, you can remove the gas piston and tell him to grow up. Being a "little kid" again with a disabled rifle is embarassing and he will strive to correct his behavior.

Incidentally, even grownups can lose control of a weapon. I was practicing offhand shooting with an M1 Garand once and the man in the next shooting station was zeroing a .375 H&H Magnum for an African safari. He offered to let me fire it and I held it the same way as I do with my M1 - with my elbow on my hip and the forend resting lightly on my left thumb and first two fingers.

The .375 literally jumped out of my hands and went flying over my shoulder. I turned around and caught it in mid-air. Oops! Good thing it didn't land in the gravel - it had a very expensive finish.

November 3, 2008, 02:57 PM
I would start a kid 10 and younger on a .22lr pistol and slowly move up from there (as far as handguns go)...

Loading only one round in any firearm that a child (or you, for that matter) has never fired before is a good idea.

This seems like some sage advice to me. Great idea.

November 3, 2008, 03:23 PM
Thank you for great advice, my son was 11 yrs old when I took him to shoot for the first time and it went great, I had already ingrained in him all safe gun handling, range safety rules, and started him out several years earlier with a Red Rider BB gun that he got for christmas when he was 8 yrs old. I have 2 younger girls I'm waiting on to get a little older before I start with them, but I will certainly remember the one in the mag rule when it becomes their first time to shoot a pistol. Again thank you.

November 3, 2008, 04:08 PM
All I can say is Phew.I think most of us sometimes think our kids are smarter or more capable than others and bad things happen.I guess Murphys Law was named for a reason.Poor Mr. Murphy.

November 3, 2008, 04:17 PM
this was an unfortunate occurance. hopefully the adults learn a lesson

November 3, 2008, 05:29 PM
I would start a kid 10 and younger on a .22lr pistol and slowly move up from there...

Start with a rifle - you can stand next to/near someone and make absolutely sure the barrel is down range. A pistol of any caliber is a lot harder to control when it's in someone else's hands.

I started on a J.C. Higgens single shot.


kentucky bucky
November 3, 2008, 06:55 PM
The "one shot" rule is a good one! Sometimes the obvious isn't so obvious. Thanks for sharing, I will remember this when my girls are old enough. Another thing, when dealing with new shooters or kids is they tend to think if the magazine isn't in the gun it can't go bang. I've seen this myself, but luckily it was addressed before any problems.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
November 3, 2008, 06:59 PM
:)Someone was watching over your son that day!

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
November 3, 2008, 07:07 PM
Oh man, that's scary. Glad it turned out ok. I had a similar scary incident that I'm almost embarrassed to tell about, involving negligence on my part (more negligence than you describe). On the back of the two front seats in my pickup truck, there is "map pocket" for sticking stuff in - I can reach behind the passenger seat and reach in there. So I had a Kel Tec P32 in there chamber loaded. Started dating a gal in 2003. She had a 11 yr old son and 12 yr old daughter. Hadn't been dating long, and not for many years before that (or since), and so wasn't really thinking about "kids - hide the guns" - just wasn't in that frame of mind. So we all decide to go for a ride somewhere, and there are little kid seats behind the main seats in the pickup. We all get in and 11 yr old boy is behind the passenger seat. He reaches in, grabs the gun, and says "What's this?" - to his credit and to that of his upbringing, he assumed it was real and did not pull the trigger. But had he not had any firearms safety knowledge, he could have easily killed his mother, me, or himself. I freaked out for about 3 days, thanking my maker and all that is holy.

November 3, 2008, 09:04 PM
Seems like those "old" wheel guns have even more uses than most think...... >MW

November 3, 2008, 09:08 PM
Start with a rifle

I agree, with guns n general. However, I would start a younger kid on a rifle sooner than 10 years old, and yes, I would start them in both occasions with a .22lr.

November 3, 2008, 09:26 PM
I was taught by my Dad on the "1 round rule".
It was one of the most valuable things I passed to my daughter when she was 12.
You will NEVER go wrong with that rule.

November 3, 2008, 09:44 PM
I do remember a gun smacking me in the face, and I was 19 at the time.

I was trying out a friend's 6" .357 magnum revolver (I think it was a Taurus, but I'd have to ask, I really don't remember). I was just loading it from this box of ammo, and I had basically gotten used to the recoil level and was lightening my grip to steady it on farther shots.

Well, turns out that he had put a few of his own handloads into that box as well (which was a half-full box of factory ammo), and I had loaded a few into the revolver without noticing they were different.

It jumped back, and I caught the front sight about an inch above my eyebrow.

It CAN happen to anyone, not just children! Stay alert!

B yond
November 3, 2008, 09:52 PM
I won't throw any stones, but I would not think most 10-year olds could handle a .45. That's alot of gun

I started with a surplus 8mm Mauser! :what:

After learning to shoot on a rifle with a steel butt plate that kicks like a mule, a .45 isn't so tough to control. Plus, with a bolt action it isn't going to go off again if you accidentally leave your finger on the trigger when the recoil dazes you. :D

November 3, 2008, 11:44 PM
Hats off to everyone suggesting and re-enforcing the one round idea. I had a guy in the lane next to me yesterday giving me funny looks because he saw me loading one round in each of the mags for my CZ 85b. Brand new just got it the day before, unkown gun, unproven to me i'm not going to fill 'er up, more especially at a small indoor range where others are so close. For all I know it could have exploded after a couple rounds. Of course it didn't and its a great shooter yay for CZ! Anyways I think its a good approach for any shooter of any age to take with one you haven't shot yourself.

1 old 0311
November 4, 2008, 03:51 PM
Hope they charge the Father. He is a idiot!

November 4, 2008, 04:29 PM
Both of my kids shot my 1911 when they were around 7 or 8, but it only had one in the chamber. I got some looks from folks who did not realize that. They are both quite efficient with firearms now. 17 & 21 years old.

November 4, 2008, 04:41 PM
I must admit I am a bit surprized by the number of avid shooters here who have apparently not taken the NRA Basic Pistol or Rifle course.

Every NRA Firearm Instructor uses the 4 steps to teaching a new position (if they follow the training manual):

1. Practice new position without firearm.
2. Practice new position with firearm (dry fire).
3. Load and fire ONE round.
4. Load and fire FIVE rounds.

Between each course you practice coaching and adjustment.

November 4, 2008, 08:45 PM
you dont have to take the NRA courses to be able to shoot. We each learned our own ways and obviously we are are here to talk about it. Were just commenting on how this rule is a good own. Just remember, there is no wrong way to eat a reese's

November 4, 2008, 09:12 PM
The visual of what you were describing is chilling. Thank goodness nothing happened. Whew!


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