Which 4 Rules?


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YankeeFlyr
July 21, 2012, 02:13 AM
I've seen a lot of talk lately about "The 4 Rules" of gun safety...I've been shooting a long, long time, and was in the military, and yet I have to ask:

Which 4?

There are MANY rules that could be prioritized to be the top 4, but which ones?

And, who established this top 4???

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metalart
July 21, 2012, 02:18 AM
The 1st Law - The Gun Is Always Loaded!

So EVERY TIME you pick up or draw a gun, inspect it in a safe manner (control your muzzle) and always treat it as a loaded gun.

The 2nd Law - Never Point The Gun At Something You Are Not Prepared To Destroy!

The only safe way to operate is to assume the Worst Case Scenario: Pretend that your "empty" gun is loaded and that it's going to function perfectly. When you press the trigger it will FIRE! Since you are prepared for that, you only point the gun in a Safe Direction. This way, when Brainfade does result in an AD, it will be into a safe impact area and there won't be a tragedy.

The 3rd Law - Always Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Behind It!

Bullets can penetrate lots of things, many of which will surprise you. Identify your target before firing - even before dry-firing at home. If you are not sure, DON'T FIRE! Make sure there is a safe impact area behind it before firing. For home dry-fire practice, find and aim only at a BULLET PROOF BACKSTOP. Even though you have checked and double-checked your gun, you should still treat your gun as though it is loaded. Plasterboard walls and outer walls are not bulletproof. A handgun bullet will easily travel through several rooms before stopping. Who is in these rooms? You don't know, and you still aimed in that direction?! Shame on you!

The 4th Law - Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target!

Almost all of the ADs during a match are caused by a finger on the trigger when you were not ready to fire. Some examples: Finger on trigger during reloading, during movement, during the draw, and during jam clearing have led to ADs and disqualifications (DQs). Finger on the trigger during reloading or movement is a DQ - you don't have to AD - and two ROs are watching for just that. Of the five Match DQs at the 1988 US Nationals, four were ADs.

YankeeFlyr
July 21, 2012, 02:36 AM
Interesting; I was aware of these, but also of a couple others...

Curious; whose list is it?

mljdeckard
July 21, 2012, 02:44 AM
metalart explains it very well.

There are a few things I can clarify.The military is vague, because frankly, they are terrible at enforcing the rules. They do things like, have squad tactic drills with real weapons. "Bang bang, you're dead." when I participate in these activities, I insist that the bolt carriers be removed. This way, they aren't functioning weapons. Whenever possible, we put BFAs on the muzzles.

Another thing that confuses people is the interpretation. Sometimes they don't clarify that they apply when you are actually HANDLING the weapon. Does my 1911 flag people behind me when it is in a shoulder holster? No. Because I'm not HANDLING the weapon. The Four Rules are intended to keep people from causing accidental shootings, not to keep guns from mechanically failing and going off by themselves. (In reality, this is so rare as to be considered insignificant. It just doesn't happen.) When you go to the range in a van with 200 M-16s lying in the back, are you breaking the rules every time they point at someone outside the vehicle? No, because they aren't being HANDLED. When you have a pistol in your waistband, sitting in a row of chairs, and someone puts their feet under your chair, you aren't flagging them, because you aren't handling the weapon.

The confusion comes in situations like, picking up a rifle by the sling, it's dangling horizontally. Are you handling it? Are your hands on it? Does it count before you actually touch it? This is why I teach my soldiers to pick up their weapon by tipping the muzzle into the ground before picking it up.

I have heard a few people say; "The four rules don't apply in combat." They ALWAYS apply. I won't stop combat to correct a soldier, but I will tell them when the fight is over. There are four for a reason. (Ok, two of them kind of go together.) But the point is, you can't have a gun injury unless you break ALL OF THEM AT THE SAME TIME. I have an ex bro-in-law who is missing a foot. I ask my boys; "Which rules did Uncle David break?" They reply; "All four dad." Was he treating the gun as if it was loaded? No. Was he putting his finger on the trigger when he didn't plan on shooting it? Yes. Was he pointing it at something he didn't intend to destroy? Yes. Was he (this is why two of them kind of go together, it sounds strange to ask it in some situations,) knowing his target and what was behind it? No. This is why he doesn't have a foot, and he has to pick out a chunk of 7 1/2 every few years.

The rules are generally attributed to the late COL Jeff Cooper. Look him up.

YankeeFlyr
July 21, 2012, 02:54 AM
Yeah, yeah, I'm AWARE of these rules, plus some others, just never heard them narrowed to 4, and was curious whose they were (I was wondering if it was an NRA training standardization concept).

Yes, I know who Jeff Cooper was.

mljdeckard
July 21, 2012, 03:04 AM
When I was terping for some Marine infantry doing training in Africa, they added a fifth. "Keep the weapon on-safe until you are ready to fire." I don't like this one as much, because there are a lot of firearms (Glocks, revolvers, old shotguns,) that don't even have an actual safety switch.

I'm not much of a fan of the NRA safety rules either. (I should disclaim; I am a lapsed NRA certified instructor, and when I do give their classes, I use their material and verbiage to the letter. But I don't like it.)

1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

What exactly is 'ready to use'? Should I not keep a magazine in my carry gun? What's the difference between carrying and using? See where the confusion comes in? Saying, "Keep it unloaded" opens up the possibility of unloading it, playing with it, and saying; "It's ok, it's not loaded. (BANG.) I prefer to state rule number one as; "Every gun is always loaded." Make it absolute.

Ignition Override
July 21, 2012, 03:26 AM
Almost none of these rules are followed at our gun shows near Memphis, unless somebody picks up a gun which is already upright in a rack, and they somehow keep it pointed only at the ceiling (seldom notice this), or is horizontal on a table and is picked up with the muzzle immed. pushed downwards.

Maybe the safest people are those who never lift the gun from a rack or table. But they can't inspect it.
Guns are always "sweeping" people, whether by prospective buyers or sellers.

Frank Ettin
July 21, 2012, 03:57 AM
The standard view is that the Four Rules originated at Gunsite. Founded by Jeff Cooper in the mid-1970s, it was probably the first school teaching defensive pistolcraft to private citizens.

I've been fortunate enough to attend three classes at Gunsite, and the Four Rules are core to safe gun handling. Note that Gunsite is a hot range. All guns really are loaded at pretty much all times.

http://i95.photobucket.com/albums/l142/fiddletown_2006/Arizona/IMG_0944-2.jpg

Here's (http://www.frfrogspad.com/safety.htm) an interesting discussion of firearm safety by another former student of Jeff Cooper's.

And to reinforce that, A short time ago I received the following (quoted in part) in an email from another Gunsite alumnus:...Negligent discharges that result in injury are the result of 1. IGNORANCE, and/or 2. COMPLACENCY and/or 3. HABIT that is inappropriate to changed conditions.

Proper training with the universal rules can only address #1 and #3.

...The great deficiency of much NRA civilian training ... is that muzzle and trigger discipline are not rigorously enforced except when on the range when the line is hot and sometimes not even then. Change the conditions to carrying a loaded gun at all times and adverse results are predictable.

EXAMPLE #1: Trap and skeet shooters often rest muzzles on their toes and point them at each other. They have almost no accidents on the range because guns are unloaded until just before they shoot. ...CHANGE CONDITIONS to a duck blind with loaded guns and the results are predictable....

One thing that Jeff Cooper said ... made a big impression on me. It is seldom repeated. To address complacency he said that every morning when he picks up his gun he says to himself "somewhere today someone is going to have an accident with a gun - not me, not today"....
The current Four Rules grew up on a hot range where it is customary to indeed go about with one's gun(s) loaded and where people are trained who will indeed be going around with loaded guns out in the world and about their normal business.

dmazur
July 21, 2012, 07:12 AM
While it wasn't part of the question, "exceptions" occasionally enter the discussion. To wit, some say there are no exceptions, while others insist that, for practical application of the Four Rules, there must be.

Cooper said (Cooper's Commentaries, Vol. 6, No. 2) -

RULE 1
ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
The only exception to this occurs when one has a weapon in his hands and he has personally unloaded it for checking. As soon as he puts it down, Rule 1 applies again. ...

A further clarification has already been mentioned, that the Four Rules apply to guns which are being handled. Cased guns, holstered guns, etc. are exempt. It is prudent to observe muzzle discipline when uncasing a gun, as the Four Rules apply as soon as you have it in your hand.

Hacker15E
July 21, 2012, 08:24 AM
For the purposes of this thread, people who are not long-time shooters need to understand that the "4 rules" concept, as it is widely understood today amongst US shooters, simply did not exist in widespread use 20-30 years ago.

It is to some extent a "recent invention" amongst American firearms users. They have not always been canon. I have met many people who consider themselves 'veteran shooters' and have only been firearms enthusiasts 10-15 years, and who believe that the 4 rules have been part of firearms culture since "the beginning".

All the OP is trying to sort out is where they came from.

beatledog7
July 21, 2012, 10:59 AM
As stated in post #6, the NRA teaches a similar set of safety rules.

From their site:

"The fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling are:

"1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.

"2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.

"3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device if possible, and, if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does."

I agree that "ready to use" can be seen as vague, and the further explanation I've included doesn't help to clarify. But if one always applies NRA rules 1 and 2, it won't matter.

I still teach that every gun must treated as loaded until you have proven to your satisfaction that it is not loaded, and that every time you put it down or hand it to someone it becomes "loaded" again.

The concept of knowing your target and what's beyond falls into the NRA's next category of rules, which it terms "using or storing a gun" rather than "gun handling."

Either set of rules (Cooper or NRA) will work. And keeping in mind two things will solve a lot of related safety arguments:

1) A gun that's got nobody's hands on it cannot fire, and is therefore safe.

2) A gun whose action is open or disassembled cannot fire, and is therefore safe.

I agree that it's generally bad practice to sweep people needlessly even with a gun whose action is open or removed, but there are times when it simply cannot be helped. I agree also that while a holstered, cased, or mounted gun is technically sweeping someone much of the time, it cannot be termed unsafe as long as no one is touching it.

Once the two points above are overcome by touching the gun and/or closing the action, the other set of safety rules is back in play.

Sheepdog1968
July 21, 2012, 11:46 AM
Loui Awerbuck who worked at Gunsite and knew Jeff Cooper for over 30 years used these four rules in the classes he teaches. About a year ago or so he was forced to add a fifth rule because of a new safety issue he was seeing frequently happen I don't recall the exact wording but it had to deal with cell phone usage and folks not paying attention.

Fishslayer
July 21, 2012, 12:36 PM
And, who established this top 4???

I have no idea but I've seen them attributed to Jeff Cooper. I could be totally wrong.

I was taught at a young age to always treat a gun as loaded & always point it in a safe direction. The other two make sense though.

Skribs
July 21, 2012, 12:38 PM
I always think #2 and #4 are a lot the same - both regard muzzle control.

I don't agree with rules like "always keep it unloaded" (my handguns are always ready and my long guns just need a round chambered...all of them) or "keep the safety on until ready to use" (uh...my handguns have no manual safeties, my long guns have the safety off so all I have to do is chamber a round).

9mmepiphany
July 21, 2012, 01:55 PM
The 1st Law - The Gun Is Always Loaded!

The 2nd Law - Never Point The Gun At Something You Are Not Prepared To Destroy!

The 3rd Law - Always Be Sure Of Your Target And What Is Behind It!

The 4th Law - Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target!
I'd like to add that these aren't laws, only rules. They are called Safety Rules.

Breaking one is usually rude, breaking two is dangerous, but breaking three is usually going to result in something bad happening.

I believe it is commonly accepted that Rule 3 is finger off trigger and Rule 4 for is target awareness

but also of a couple others...

I'd be interested in which additional rules you are referring to.

coalman
July 21, 2012, 02:20 PM
My Top 4 Gun Handling Rules:
1) Gun is loaded until I know firsthand gun is not
2) Do not point gun - loaded or unloaded - at people
3) Keep finger and objects out of the trigger guard when gun is loaded
4) Do not fondle loaded gun - unload it then fondle it

Fat_46
July 21, 2012, 06:29 PM
As a PTC instructor I've found that I often need to reinforce the "4 Rules" with additional descriptions in order to make my students take notice.

Rule 1: I don't care if you/your friend/your mom/ the Pope already checked - consider it loaded!

Rule 2: There is no do-overs with guns.

Rule 3: Keep your booger hooks off the bang switch

Rule 4: Your bullet doesn't care where its going. Look at, past, and through the target.

I once had a very nice woman in her 60s take a course from me. She was highly educated, and seemed extremely interested in safety. When it was time for the practical portion(shooting) of the course she asked me the following question:

"When we get to the firing line, and the target is ready, when can I put my booger hook on the switch?"

cpileri
July 21, 2012, 08:30 PM
A firearm is a tool and tools are SAFE if used properly.

1. Always point your firearm in a safe direction
2. Always keep a firearm unloaded until ready to shoot
3. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot

wwace
July 21, 2012, 11:58 PM
The standard view is that the Four Rules originated at Gunsite. Founded by Jeff Cooper in the mid-1970s, it was probably the first school teaching defensive pistolcraft to private citizens.

I've been fortunate enough to attend three classes at Gunsite, and the Four Rules are core to safe gun handling. Note that Gunsite is a hot range. All guns really are loaded at pretty much all times.

http://i95.photobucket.com/albums/l142/fiddletown_2006/Arizona/IMG_0944-2.jpg

Here's (http://www.frfrogspad.com/safety.htm) an interesting discussion of firearm safety by another former student of Jeff Cooper's.

And to reinforce that, A short time ago I received the following (quoted in part) in an email from another Gunsite alumnus:
The current Four Rules grew up on a hot range where it is customary to indeed go about with one's gun(s) loaded and where people are trained who will indeed be going around with loaded guns out in the world and about their normal business.
Your example #1:

EXAMPLE #1: Trap and skeet shooters often rest muzzles on their toes and point them at each other. They have almost no accidents on the range because guns are unloaded until just before they shoot. ...CHANGE CONDITIONS to a duck blind with loaded guns and the results are predictable....

is ridiculous. To imply that trap or skeet shooters somehow become less safe when hunting because they are somehow out of their element is crazy. Also covering anyone with a muzzle on range is completely unacceptable. Typically doubles are kept open and rested on your shoe while waiting your turn, this isn't even possible in most duck blind situations even if the shooter is using their skeet or trap gun which most probably are not. To imply that we are somehow complacent when the environment changes is just wrong. Complacency has no place in gun handling ever.

YankeeFlyr
July 22, 2012, 12:23 AM
The others I was taught were:

- Never hand someone else a loaded weapon.

- Never dismount/climb/cross obstacles with a loaded weapon.

Didn't say I agreed with any particular one as an absolute, but 9mmepiphany asked...

9mmepiphany
July 22, 2012, 12:54 AM
Interesting.

- Never hand someone else a loaded weapon.
...conflicts with Rule #1, but is a good reminder of polite behavior

- Never dismount/climb/cross obstacles with a loaded weapon.
...I believe is part of Hunter Safety

YankeeFlyr
July 22, 2012, 12:57 AM
No it doesn't conflict with number one; number one is to assume that it is loaded until shown otherwise (as the receiver).

Yes, the other is probably from hunter safety.

9mmepiphany
July 22, 2012, 01:33 AM
No it doesn't conflict with number one; number one is to assume that it is loaded until shown otherwise (as the receiver).
That could be how you learned the rule, but I learned it as taught at Gunsite: All guns are always loaded or Treat all guns as loaded.

Before handing someone a handgun:
1. I always check that it is empty.
2. Then I hand it to them, with the action open, without pointing it at them
3. I then expect them to verify that it is unloaded.

It is always treated as if it is loaded when being handled...it also allows me to take control of a gun that is suffering a malfunction/stoppage on the line

I would also like to repeat that the rules at Gunsite are written taking into account that the whole facility is a hot range/facility. All guns are loaded, unless the carrier doesn't feel comfortable carrying it that way

Frank Ettin
July 22, 2012, 01:55 AM
...I would also like to repeat that the rules at Gunsite are written taking into account that the whole facility is a hot range/facility. All guns are loaded, unless the carrier doesn't feel comfortable carrying it that way Of course if you consider that many people carry guns for protection as they go about their everyday activities, the real world is a "hot range."

mljdeckard
July 22, 2012, 01:59 AM
I like to think of it that way as well.

ExAgoradzo
July 22, 2012, 02:01 AM
I have taught my boys these rules with #s 3 & 4 reversed. I also teach them:
Don't talk about guns to someone unless I say it is ok. (OK, I live in CA!!!)
Also, Keep your gun cleaned, oiled, and safe. I've had some flack on the 'oiled' part, but using some brain power instead of going crazy I think 'oiled' is a good idea.

We say all 6 rules every time we handle guns no matter what we're doing.

YankeeFlyr
July 22, 2012, 02:30 AM
Yeah, I just got out of the basement, having gone through my neighbor's Mossberg Maverick pump shotgun. It had some surface rust on the barrel.

I cleaned the weapon out, oiled it a little and reassembled it.

A few months ago I did the same with his Norinco and his Polytech AKs; some rust here and there. I don't think they'd been stripped since the 90's. I did a detail strip of both of them, oiled and greased as appropriate and gave them back.

I just don't get the lack of attention that some people have with care of metal surfaces...and this guy does know how to use them, and keeps them for home defense.

I've never owned a firearm with corrosion of any type! I don't take rust very well...

claiborne
July 22, 2012, 11:35 PM
Rule # 1 ALL guns are always LOADED. :banghead:

This "Rule" is the dumbest thing ever. :cuss: It is posted at alll the ranges I use right next to the 'No Alcohol" rule. Common sense does not seem to come in play anymore.
This is the only safe firearm hadling rule that I completely disagree with and makes no sense to me.
ALL guns are not always loaded. If they were we would never be able to do anything but shoot them.
The proper way to use this rule as taught to me by my Grandfather, Father, an NRA Hunter's Education class way back in 1980 and the US Navy 1988-1992 was:
1. Treat all firearms as if they are loaded until you prove beyond doubt that they are not loaded.

Frank Ettin
July 22, 2012, 11:50 PM
Rule # 1 ALL guns are always LOADED.

This "Rule" is the dumbest thing ever....I think I prefer Jeff Cooper to your grandfather, et al.

Let's see what Jeff Cooper had to say.

Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, Vol. 6 (1998), No. 2, pg. 8.
ALL GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED
The only exception to this occurs when one has a weapon in his hands and he has personally unloaded it for checking. As soon as he puts it down, Rule 1 applies again.
Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, vol.9 (2001), No. 6, pg. 29:

...We think that "treat all guns as if they were loaded" implies with the "as if" qualification a dangerous choice of assumptions...
Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, vol.11 (2003), No. 13, pg. 64:

...A major point of issue is Rule 1, "All guns are always loaded." There are people who insist that we cannot use this because it is not precisely true. Some guns are sometimes unloaded. These folks maintain that the rule should read that one should always treat all guns as if they were loaded. The trouble here is the "as if," which leads to the notion that the instrument at hand may actually not be loaded....

Then as As John Schaefer, another student of Col. Cooper, puts it (http://www.frfrogspad.com/safety.htm), All firearms are loaded. - There are no exceptions. Don't pretend that this is true. Know that it is and handle all firearms accordingly. Do not believe it when someone says: "It isn't loaded."

And at that same link, Mr Schaefer quotes John Farnam in part as follows:
...The correct philosophical approach to serious firearms training is the "the condition doesn't matter" method. This was first articulated by Uncle Jeff in his four rules, but all four can all be rolled together in the universal admonition "DON'T DO STUPID THINGS WITH GUNS!" The "hot range" concept logically flows from this philosophical conclusion. Now, we handle all guns correctly, all the time. We don't have to "pretend" they're loaded. They ARE loaded, continuously, and all students need to become accustomed to it....

Those of us who have trained with the Four Rules, and teach with them, understand them as safe handling rules. We know and teach their proper application and context. So --

If you hand me a gun, don't bother telling me it's not loaded. Because Rule One applies, I won't believe you and will personally verify/clear the gun.


If I criticize you for pointing a gun at me, my spouse, my cat, or anyone/anything else I value, don't bother trying to excuse yourself by telling me that it's not loaded.


If your gun fires when you didn't intend it to, don't bother trying to explain yourself by saying anything like, "I didn't think it was loaded." You should have understood that under Rule One since it is a gun it is loaded, and you should have conducted yourself accordingly.

People complain about Rule One. They say that they know there are unloaded guns. But the The Four Rules are rules of gun handling and intended to avoid injury. So as far as I'm concerned, when I pick up a gun, there is no such thing as an unloaded gun, and I conduct myself accordingly.

So what do you do if you have a gun in your hand and you don't want it to be loaded? Well you clear it, of course. So that's what you would do if, for example, you wanted to dissemble if for cleaning or enclose/lock it in a case for legal transportation if the law requires that the gun be unloaded. But while the gun is in your hand you still follow Rules Two, Three and Four. And if the gun is out of your control, Rule One again applies -- so you conduct yourself accordingly and personally verify/clear it if you don't want it to be loaded. (And of course anyone one who uses a gun for practical applications, such as hunting or self defense, in any case needs to be able to handle a loaded gun properly.)

Skribs
July 23, 2012, 12:07 AM
Frank, I actually prefer the bit longer:

The firearm is always loaded, unless you want it loaded.

Basically, if you want it unloaded (fondling, cleaning, etc), treat it as if loaded until you are sure. If you want it loaded (say, going on your belt for a day's carry), assume it is unloaded until you verify there is a round in the chamber. Don't want to hear a click because that gun that is "always loaded" happened to be empty when you drew on an assailant.

357autoloader
July 23, 2012, 12:29 AM
My carry/go to guns are always loaded. I check them to make darn sure they are loaded.

akodo
July 23, 2012, 12:45 AM
- Never hand someone else a loaded weapon.

What? What kind of rule is that? Heck, that's the opposite of rule #1.

There are many times I have handed people loaded guns. Just off the top of my head last time I was out shooting with some novice shooters, we had a single spot where you'd shoot from. Novice shooter was there, I was standing by with a loaded rifle cradled in my arms ( Tube fed 22, muzzle pointed safely away, finger off trigger, etc). Novice was having trouble. My brother walks up, no gun in hand. I hand him my loaded rifle to go assist novice. I'd expect him to handle any gun just handed to him as loaded, and I'd expect in the reverse for the same to apply.

Or when taking a person to an indoor shooting pistol range, I'll run the target down, load a single 22 in a revolver and set it down. Then bring up the new shooter, go over things, then have them pick up the loaded gun and take a shot. I don't want the mechanics of 'how to put the ammo in' to be a concern when they should be concentrating on being safe, muzzle, sight alignment, etc.

mljdeckard
July 23, 2012, 01:12 AM
the reason I prefer the "All guns are always loaded" version is that it's simple, and easy to remember to a bunch of noobs. When you are teaching a lot of people of varying levels of intelligence and degrees of positive enthusiasm for the whole idea, you have a limited amount of attention and memory to work with. Exceptions, asterisks, whit ifs, special situations, etc just take up rapidly depleting attention span. Keep it simple, and it sticks better to rookies. Let them learn the extended versions if they ever pick up a gun again because they actually WANT to.

dmazur
July 23, 2012, 03:43 AM
I believe I would generally agree that it is a bad idea to hand a loaded gun to another, noob or not.

The use of a table as an intermediate position is important, IMO. It allows transfer while maintaining muzzle discipline. The instruction to "keep the gun pointed downrange at all times" is simple enough, and is consistent with most range rules. And you can emphasize that, if there's a question, they need to put the gun on the table before turning around to ask it...

When I taught my wife to shoot, inserting a magazine and racking the slide were things she had to do. She was definitely not comfortable with this, but she wasn't going to develop proficiency without doing it. Patience and repetition got her though it without incident. (We're still married...)

Now she is a dedicated practitioner of the Four Rules. And, if we're cleaning or passing guns around at home, after a trip to the range, she follows the "action open, muzzle toward yourself (pistol) or toward ceiling (rifle)" protocol commonly seen in gun stores.

JohnBT
July 23, 2012, 10:34 AM
"I don't want the mechanics of 'how to put the ammo in' to be a concern when they should be concentrating on being safe"

I agree. One example of this I run into frequently is people wanting to shoot my Rohrbaugh R9. It's a stiff little bugger with a two-finger grip when it comes to chambering a round. I just feel better doing it for most people, especially the newer shooters, some women and almost all of the skinny 12- and 13-year-olds. These are range acquaintances, or they could practice on the empty gun in my living room.

I see nothing at all unsafe about me standing next to them while I chamber a round and - keeping the gun pointed at the target the whole time - hold it up so when they grab it they're ready to shoot as soon as I step back.

I dislike setting down a loaded, unholstered handgun for any reason. Just the way I was raised I suppose. The new indoor range here requires it to be done that way; I guess I won't be sharing very much.

John

ns66
July 23, 2012, 12:58 PM
to be honest i find these rules too mouthful hard to remember
for me i just simply it LFT

1. Loaded (treat as loaded)
2. Finger (finger off till ready)
3. Target (be aware of what you target)

Frank Ettin
July 23, 2012, 01:36 PM
"I don't want the mechanics of 'how to put the ammo in' to be a concern when they should be concentrating on being safe"

I agree....I'm sorry but I have trouble with that. "Being safe" means being safe at all times when handling a gun, including when loading or unloading it.

In our Basic Handgun class, each student spends time handling a number of different revolvers and semi-automatics, including loading and unloading them with dummy ammunition and dry firing them, all under the direct supervision of an instructor. We can thus constantly reinforce safe handling and help students learn ways to manage what might be balky controls or hard-to-rack slides in a safe manner. All live fire is also done under the direct supervision of an instructor (one-on-one), and the students manage all the gun and ammunition handling themselves.

I think that's important to help teach that trigger discipline, muzzle discipline and safe gun handling generally are "all the time" things.

dmazur
July 23, 2012, 02:38 PM
For my wife, the rationale behind the safety rules "sank in" when we changed from shooting at a police range with motorized target retrieval at each shooting station to shooting at a private club which did not have that feature.

Instead, they had strict (on pain of loss of membership) range rules, which included "actions open, nobody touches guns when shooters are servicing targets."

One guy nearly lost his membership for touching his scope...other members explained that it didn't matter that his bolt was out. For folks downrange, they want to see nobody at the benches until everyone is back behind the firing line and the range is called "hot". No exceptions.

IMO, it is unfortunate that there are "target range safety rules" (NRA) and "hot range safety rules" (Gunsite et al). When it is realized that each set of rules was developed for a different set of circumstances, the puzzling "ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to shoot" is understood as obviously not directed at CCW. But, until this is realized, the plethora of rules can be confusing.

mgmorden
July 23, 2012, 02:42 PM
For my wife, the rationale behind the safety rules "sank in" when we changed from shooting at a police range with motorized target retrieval at each shooting station to shooting at a private club which did not have that feature.

Instead, they had strict (on pain of loss of membership) range rules, which included "actions open, nobody touches guns when shooters are servicing targets."

One guy nearly lost his membership for touching his scope...other members explained that it didn't matter that his bolt was out. For folks downrange, they want to see nobody at the benches until everyone is back behind the firing line and the range is called "hot". No exceptions.

The range I shoot at doesn't have any formal requirements regarding this except no shooting when people are down range, but I like to even take it a step further. If there are people downrange not only should the action be open and you not touch the gun, but I like to see people get up from the shooting bench and back away a few steps. Not that I'd "call" anyone on it as its not an official rule, but it certainly makes me more comfortable and I try to afford that courtesy to others when they're downrange too.

JohnBT
July 23, 2012, 08:11 PM
"I think that's important to help teach that trigger discipline, muzzle discipline and safe gun handling generally are "all the time" things."

I'm not training anybody, I'm letting somebody with their own guns and ammo shoot a mag or a cylinder in some of mine to see what the guns are like. I don't expect them to know the manual on a bunch of my guns or even one. It's safer to let me do it and all they do is aim and pull the trigger.

The muzzle is always pointed at the target. When I chamber a round and when the person takes it, it's pointed at the target. What's the problem? The technique has worked well since my father started doing it for me in the 1950s. Haven't seen one dropped yet.

John

Frank Ettin
July 23, 2012, 09:10 PM
I'm not training anybody,...Sorry, I misunderstood.

Hacker15E
July 23, 2012, 10:46 PM
I guess I can never look down the bore when I clean it, since it's "always loaded" and I can never point it at anything I don't want to destroy.

9mmepiphany
July 24, 2012, 12:05 AM
That is why they are Safety Rules and not Laws

dmazur
July 24, 2012, 12:13 AM
I guess I can never look down the bore when I clean it, since it's "always loaded"...

Please refer to post #29 (which said it far more completely than my thin reference in post #9.)

Also, there have been statements made that the Four Rules were written for a hot range (and can be easily extended to concealed carry.)

IMO, they were never intended to cover all aspects of gun ownership. That belief is something that has occurred out of lack of understanding and a desire for a simple solution to a complex problem.

I believe a wonderful "extension" to the Four Rules is the protocol followed at some gun stores, where guns are handed to customer with the action open and the muzzle pointed at the salesperson. This is not covered by the Four Rules, but most would not argue that it decreases safety.

Other extensions would include the previously-mentioned protocol for crossing fences, as well as others (such as lowering/raising a rifle into a tree stand.)

Again, IMO, the Four Rules are a wonderful treatise. But there is nothing wrong with extending them to fit the circumstances.

Warp
July 24, 2012, 12:55 AM
The above discussion is not surprising. I tell people these four:

1. Guns are loaded.
2. Keep pointed in a safe direction.
3. Finger off the damn trigger! (until sites are on target/preparing to fire)
4. Know target and what lies beyond.

If there was to be one Golden Rule, it would be #2. If that one is followed, you won't hurt anybody. But that is no excuse to break another rule.

Matthew Courtney
July 24, 2012, 01:03 AM
I Am an NRA Training Counselor, meaning that I train NRA Instructors. please allor me to clarify rule # 3 of safe gun handling.

Always keep your gun unloaded until ready to use- guns kept and carried for personal protection are being used for that purpose whenever they are under the personal control of the person keeping and/or carrying them and may be loaded. When a personal protection firearm is not under the personal control of the person keeping or carrying it, they are not using it and it should be unloaded.

Matthew Courtney
July 24, 2012, 01:06 AM
When the action is disassembled, the barrel is no longer part of a firearm, it is simply a gun part and may be handled as needed for inspection, cleaning, and such.

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