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Know Your 'Chops'...

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Fred Fuller, Mar 16, 2006.

  1. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

    Mar 26, 2004
    AL, NC
    It's important to practice administrative handling of your shotgun until safe conduct with it is instinctive and does not require conscious thought. ALWAYS double check the chamber (visual and digital) with the action cracked partway open to be doubly sure the chamber is empty before dropping the hammer on it- and then _don't fully cycle the bolt after the check_. I do the tactile chamber check with the bolt half open, using my trigger finger- if that finger doesn't feel the empty chamber's edge immediately before it feels the trigger then it 'knows' something is not right. Habit is a powerful force, it is no more difficult to develop good habits than bad ones. Practice until you get it right, then practice some more until you can't get it wrong! (I'm gonna steal that one, Mr. Farnam.)

    You don't want to have a ND with anything, but you especially don't want to have one with a shotgun.



    From an LEO friend in CO:

    "Had an ND today. One of our officers decided to clear her shotgun while waiting for her relief. She cycled the slide, put the manual safety "on," voided the magazine tube, pointed the weapon in the general direction of th e clearing barrel, pushed the manual safety "off," and pressed the trigger. The resulting discharge made a nice buckshot pattern in the side of the clearing barrel! The astonished officer was not hurt, but there was property damage, and a good deal of embarrassment.

    Of course, she got the steps mixed up."

    Comment: Exhaustion, combined with distraction, nearly always precedes NDs. A solid procedure is the only thing that will prevent accidents under such circumstances. This officer had practiced until she got it right. She neglected to practice until she couldn't get it wrong!

  2. sm

    sm member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Between black coffee, and shiftn' gears
    Worth me stealing too...

    Thanks Lee!!
  3. NMshooter

    NMshooter Senior Member

    Jun 13, 2004
    I wonder if clearing barrels promote NDs.

    These seemed to occur a couple times a year with the military and government security folks I used to work with.

    People would drop the magazine and then drop the hammer, or cycle the action before removing the magazine.:eek:

    I always visually check the chamber before dropping the hammer.

    For that matter, I always check the condition of any firearm I handle, since I have assumed in the past that firearms were in a ready condition when actually they were not.:eek: Finding that out after a really tense moment is a bit disturbing...:what:

    I guess luck is better than nothing, but I would hate to die because I relied on it too much.:uhoh:
  4. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Dec 20, 2002
    Thanks for posting. We cannot over emphasize safety and technique.

    Daughter noted a while back when I carried my cordless drill upstairs to fix something I had it pointed to the ceiling and my index finger fully extended.

    That's when it's nigh instinctive.
  5. cgv69

    cgv69 Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    N. KY
    I'm sorry but I'm going to have to disagree with that statement. This may just be a matter of semantics or misreading your message but when it comes to gun safety, I don't ever want to count on “unconscious thought”. IME, people are more likely to make stupid mistakes when they do things out of habit and\or actively thinking about what they are doing. There is such a thing as becoming too comfortable. People tend to let their guard down when they become too comfortable with a tool or process.

    Firearms are tools, like a table saw or a knife or whatever. IMO, anytime you are using a tool that can cause serious bodily harm, a certain level of fear\respect is required to keep you on your toes in order to keep you honest.

    Don't get me wrong, I agree that one should practice safety every chance they get. As an example, when I take a gun out of the safe, a gun that I put in there and know for a fact that I checked to verify it was unloaded before I put it away and that I know I am the only one with access to it, I still check to make sure it's not loaded before doing anything else with it. I agree that if you make it a habit to do that all the time, every time, it will become second nature. What I disagree with is I do not believe you should allow "habit" or "second nature" to cause you to stop thinking or to not stay alert and focused on what you are doing.
  6. exoduster18

    exoduster18 Member

    Oct 7, 2005
    Although I see your points cgv69, I have to disagree on the fact that we can all screw up because we do something out of habit or unconcious thought.

    There is a reason that I practice tactical reloads on my shotgun. There is a reason that I learn to shoot from any position. There is a reason that I shoot like I do. It is so that I can do it without conciously thinking about it. That unconcious thought is what I train for. The one time you stop and think it is going to waste valuable time...and may end up getting you killed. Making something instinctual is hard, but it's results in the end far outweigh the risks.

    That unconcious thought has saved alot of people. It is also the reason that certain military branches perform what is called "saturation training". It is so their memebers do without thinking and perform the duties fast BUT ACCURATLEY AND CAREFULLY!!!

    So while you make a very good point, I maintain the general consensus of muscle memory, unconcious thought, and instincts save lives.

    Diversity of thought is one of the many great things about THR. That is why it is here.
  7. exoduster18

    exoduster18 Member

    Oct 7, 2005
    Oh, and Dave, I'm guilty of the same.....Isn't instinct great? :) :D

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