Need help correcting bad safety habits


February 28, 2011, 03:28 PM
I have a friend that loves to shoot but his safety practices are horrible. And those habits that he developed were only reinforced by a sub par basic pistol safety class that he took so he could get his CCW. I have seen him load his pistol behind the line while other people are up there shooting, point his gun at people accidentally and when corrected make the comment don't worry I wouldn't shoot you :fire: and leave a loaded weapon pointed down range while people go down range to check targets, and the list goes on and on. I have tried to correct him repeatedly but I cant seem to get him to listen. What would you guys recommend trying? I should mention all this happens on property that his family rents so there is no RO and alot of times they have twenty or so people out there with kids running around.

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February 28, 2011, 03:32 PM
If it were me, I would just not shoot with him anymore. Either tell him why, or just make excuses. You tried.

I had an instructor tell me once "If you point a loaded gun in my direction, I will assume you want to engage in a gun fight and I will respond accordingly....."

February 28, 2011, 03:35 PM
Even though we grew up in the same household, my brother was the same way. I'm several years older than him so we hadn't shot together all that much until he took an interest in it again recently. Initially, I tried to give him some guidance in a friendly, joking manner. That didn't work. The next time we went shooting, I told him very directly, "I don't care what you do by yourself, but these are my rules when shooting" and "don't do this (whatever his current offense was) while we're shooting together or we won't shoot together." He's gotten a lot better after going shooting with me a couple times.

A tip: Try to make the direct comments when it's just the two of you so you're not embarrassing your friend in front of a bunch of people.

February 28, 2011, 03:49 PM
I agree, stop shooting with him. That might be the only way to get the message across. Let him know why you are concerned (again) and let him know you look forward to shooting with him again once he starts following basic, fundamental, and common sense safety practices. You are endangering yourself and others by putting up with such nonsense.

Frozen North
February 28, 2011, 04:03 PM
Me and my best hunting/shooting buddy have taken people home over gun handling carelessness. They learn quickly that we have absoloutely no tollerance for unsafe use of a gun.

Stop shooting with him. Continuing to shoot with him only encourages his behavior. Tell him that you wont shoot with him because he handles a gun like a nub and you don't want to get shot. Plain and simple, sometimes the truth hurts.

February 28, 2011, 04:06 PM
Stop shooting with him doesn't ultimately stop the problem, only your exposure to it.

Talk to him before going shooting again. Get it straight before being on the line/range.

You and a collective group have a talk with him. This might seem a bit of an intervention. But if everyone agrees with you then the point may take hold. Maybe the rest of the people haven't noticed him. Maybe they won't care.

Have a safety briefing and review safety with the group.

I think you should address the safety aspect even if you don't want to shoot with him again. It may prevent a tragedy.

February 28, 2011, 04:44 PM
Stop shooting with him, but tell him why. Let him know that you still want to be his friend, but you're not willing to put yourself into a situation where you could be injured or killed because of something he refuses to take seriously. Then, assure him that you will start shooting with him again when he is able to show you that he takes safety seriously.

February 28, 2011, 08:03 PM
How do you, and others react when these things happen? Maybe a little more aggression is needed.

Several close friends and I compete in two or three matches each month. If I even looked as if I were going to violate a safety rule any one of them would quickly and loudly let me know...and I would do likewise.

March 1, 2011, 10:17 AM
I usually try to correct him one on one , I really don't want to embarrass him in front of a bunch of people. Normally I would call him out as soon as I see the issue but he tends to get his feelings hurt pretty easy and I am hoping if he keeps hearing me rag on him he might eventually get the hint.

When they invite a bunch of people out to shoot most of them have never handled a firearm before so they are learning all these bad habits. So it goes from one guy to doing all that crap to about twenty and with 5-10 kids running around its just a tragedy waiting to happen.

He is a good friend and I do enjoy shooting with him most of the time and I am extremely cautious when I am shooting with him. I think I will try to be a little more aggressive with him but what would you guys do with those big shooting parties they have. Is it even worth going to them and trying to correct them or just avoid it altogether.

Also in my friends defense, this was the way that he was taught to handle firearms. His dad completely disregards the four rules even to the point a loaded gun at someone to intimidate them (I had his .45 pointed at me when he found out that I was dating his niece and I watched him point his .44 at his son and laugh).

March 1, 2011, 10:41 AM
Me: Look, you need to be aware that you are <insert unsafe behavior here>.
Him: Hey, it's no big deal.
Me: Yes, it is. You are endangering yourself, me, and everyone around you.
Him: Don't worry, I wouldn't shoot you.
Me: Look, let's just go ahead and pack up.
Him: Why?
Me: Because you are being unsafe, and when I try to bring it to your attention, you don't take it seriously. I am not going to shoot with someone who doesn't take gun safety seriously!

March 1, 2011, 12:05 PM
I really don't want to embarrass him in front of a bunch of people.

This issue is far more important than a little embarrassment.

If a little embarrassment in public will get his attention, USE that. He's left you little other choice.

If the public notice of his mistakes is not enough to stop the behavior, then DO NOT shoot with him, and be sure those in that larger group understand the danger as well.

If you cannot change him, you can possibly influence the others, and very well may save one of their lives.

It takes some intestinal fortitude, but adopting the procedures of a more formal range or competition setting could really help you.

The moment he breaks a safety rule (or sooner if you can) deliver a LOUD "STOP -- CEASE FIRE" command, such as will get everyone's attention. ANYONE on a firing line can call a cease fire because of a safety issue, and it is their responsibility to do so. If he's loading a gun or handling a loaded gun behind the line, and your STOP interrupts the shooting of the person on the line, fine. That gets multiple people involved and draws attention.

"Hey, man, why did you call cease fire?"
"Jimmy here was loading his weapon behind the line and pointing it at your back."

That should get EVERYONE's attention. That, by rights, should end Jimmy's day of shooting (as any gross safety violation would), but in an informal range setting probably wouldn't. But it will bring a lot more than your gentle nagging to bear.

If the group will not support your safety call, don't shoot with them either anymore. If that's the way the group dynamic operates, they are a roll of the dice away from a tragedy, and you don't need to witness it.

March 1, 2011, 03:26 PM
Over the last 40 or so years I have been saved only by the hand of God by individuals who think gun safety isn't important or doesn't apply to them. I pack up and leave the range from now on when I spot one of those types. Honestly, I'm not comfortable around individuals I have never shot with and if thre is more than just a hand full of shooters, I will leave. I have a couple of nice spots I shoot at now that are in the middle of no where. I bring my necessary gear so the quality of my experience is still decent, and then I can shoot without having to baby sit a bunch of morons. It's just not worth it for me to have to worry about everyone else practicing good gun safety.
I was shooting at an unsupervised range a few years back in Yuma, Az., myself and a couple of other guys were changing our targets when the only guy, still at the firing line, started shooting. We all hit the dirt and things got pretty hinky for a few moments. Those of us wearing reached for our weapons not knowing what the hell was happening. We all made it clear we were going down range and thought he knew what that meant. His reply was, oh don't worry I saw you, it's not like I was aiming at you all. I left faster than a top fuel dragster. That wasn't my worst experience, just the most recent and likely the last.

March 1, 2011, 03:49 PM
I raised 5 boys and 1 girl which were exposed to a lot of hunting and target shooting from early on. My policy and it was always without exception was, if you have to be reminded more than twice your done for the day! It was very rare that they messed up, and it kept them very aware of what they were doing. Losing your shotgun during a pheasant hunt of what ever the ocasion is a quick fix to safety enforcement. Now they are all grown and teaching my Grand KIds the right way. I feel safe shooting with my family members, and it's so good to see they have adopted the no nonsense policy too.
Back to your problem. Deffinitely tell your friend why you won't go shooting with him, he needs to know how serious his poor gun handling practices are and the danger it presents to everyone around him, including him. Guns are inheritently dangerous, and the risk can only be reduced to what you have control of. We can't do anything about the guy who is shooting without a back stop a half mile away, or a hunter peering at us through his rifle scope instead of a pair of binoculars. All we can do is address what we are aware of, and should do so without contemplation or hesitation. Don't be affraid to get serious with him, it is better to hurt his feelings than lose your life. A light hearted hint isn't enough, we are talking about a life and death situation to which no exception is acceptable, none! I can't stress this with enough, be down right direct and unwavering in your approach, he must observe and accept your input with sincerity and acknowledgement.

March 1, 2011, 03:50 PM
IF you want to try to help him change, there's one tactic that I use at my range. I insist on a "Range Safety Briefing" before each session. I gave the first couple, then I started a rotation with each participant having to give a briefing. Tell them ahead of time that they have the next briefing. Everybody wants to succeed, so most people will put a little more thought into preparation for a briefing, than just listening to one. The required topics were the basic firearms safety rules, the range specific rules and the cost of violating the rules. With one exception, the cost of a first rule violation was loss of a turn at the line, 2nd violation was loss of firing time for the rest of that day, 3rd violation was "nice knowing you, but don't bother to come back". The one exception was, and is, a loaded gun behind the line, and it's bye-bye time.

I don't know how much influence you have with this individual, but it may be worth a try. Just start out by explaining that you don't really feel comfortable with the safety practices of "some" of the people that you've seen.;)

March 1, 2011, 07:03 PM
Not to long ago I addressed a man at the firing line about his lack of safety, all the while he had this "duh" expression while his friends stood there open mouthed. I left. I simply wasn't going to be hurt by someone who thought the rules didn't apply to him.

Be honest with your friend, but as said above, if he can't change his bad habits NOW then don't be part of it.

It's a hard position to be in, but watching some child get hurt would be worse :(

March 1, 2011, 08:06 PM
He is a good friend and I do enjoy shooting with him most of the time...

He will feel really bad if he shoots you.

I think I will try to be a little more aggressive with him but what would you guys do with those big shooting parties they have.

If safety isn't the first priority, I would be busy elsewhere.

Frank Ettin
March 1, 2011, 08:54 PM
Safety is, and must be, non-negotiable. Every person who negligently fired his gun and hurt someone did not intend to make his gun go off and did not intend to hurt anyone. But he did anyway, and he did so because he handled his gun in an unsafe manner. Practicing safe gun handling, diligently, in all respects and at all times, means never having to say you're sorry.

So I hope you can get your friend straightened out before he hurts someone.

March 1, 2011, 10:22 PM
"Stop shooting with him."
But tell him why.

"Stop shooting with him doesn't ultimately stop the problem, only your exposure to it."
Very true, but we can only be responsible for our side of the street. Perhaps if a total stranger were to speak to him it may have some effect.
Firearm safety for the most part is common sense. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and never point a weapon at someone or something you are not willing to kill.

March 2, 2011, 12:23 AM
A. Talk to him about safety. The 4 rules.

B. Respond immediately if he still acts in an unsafe manner. "HEY!"

C. If this persists, do not go shooting with him again and tell him why.

Stupid gun handling is unacceptable, deadly, and fixable.

Be prepared. When you see it, don't even think. Say something and stop it NOW.

March 2, 2011, 12:51 AM
He will feel really bad if he shoots you.

But you will feel worse.

March 8, 2011, 02:39 PM
hey thanks for all the input guys. I think that I am going to see how it goes the next time we go out to the range. I will let you know what happens.

March 21, 2011, 12:12 AM
Hey everybody, just wanted to say thanks again for all of the advice. My buddy and I went our to the range yesterday and it went pretty smoothly. He did try to load a pistol and leave it on the bench while we went and set up targets, so I went over and unloaded it myself and told him that that wasn't safe. That seemed to get the point across. He even corrected this kid that he brought along. I still kept a pretty close eye on him but it was much better than usual.

March 21, 2011, 02:26 AM
I'm with the "stop shooting, and inform him why" line of thought. Poor safety is inexcusable, and I value my own safety enough I won't knowingly shoot with someone that I don't have 100% faith in. A flippant attitude towards gun safety is simply somehting I will not tolerate.

Shadow 7D
March 21, 2011, 03:56 AM
My cousin is much the same way,
he is always posting pics of him and his new gun...
and he is usually pointing at the camera or somewhere else...
that it shouldn't be pointed with a finger on the trigger...
So I told him, my peeve, been there seen that, had to help clean up the mess

Unleaded gun... should ALWAYS be treated as loaded (unless you have it in pieces, then just carefully)
too many people have shot themselves or others with a 'unloaded' gun.

So every time I see it, I just comment him, TRIGGER FINGER, and say it's an army thing... and safety thing.

March 21, 2011, 12:52 PM
I had a friend like this. I always told him he was unsafe with guns, etc. He told me to stop being a girl, get over it, he knows what he's doing. blah blah. I stopped shooting with him for a while.

After I stopped shooting with him he had 2 accidental discharges. One was with a .22 revolver that was loaded (for no reason, getting out of the car to walk to the shooting area) that he dropped and tried to catch on the way down. The second was with his new S&W Sigma in .40 that put a bullet through the floor of his car (luckily didn't hit his leg).

He's a good friend, and a nice guy, but he is stubborn and hardheaded when you try and tell him what he's doing wrong. After those two experiences though; he came to me and asked if I would help him be more safe. I've been shooting with him now for the last 6 months, and he hasn't made any mistakes yet.

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