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On drama, and trauma, and knowing when to walk away

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics, and Training' started by Fred Fuller, Jun 6, 2013.

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  1. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    Wow. I'm sorry I missed the original brouhaha (I think), because I would rather have known exactly what was said than to just see the rubble left in the aftermath and try to decide what was what based on only partial information. But, as with so many situations in life, this one is what it is and will have to be left at that.

    So, here's what the blog that started it all is saying now:
    http://www.ncgunblog.com/2013/06/06/gun-school-post-has-been-made-private/

    I first heard about it from Tam:
    http://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com/2013/06/just-walk-away.html

    And there's a thread on a local forum:
    http://forum.pafoa.org/training-tac...al-weapons-training-academy-near-erie-pa.html

    So now you know what I know about the situation.

    And I'd like to leave it at this: IF anyone, in any training, competition, practice range formal or informal, hunting or any other situation where firearms are involved, makes you feel unsafe, JUST LEAVE. Don't make a scene. Separate yourself from the situation safely and expeditiously and worry about sorting out the details later.

    Unfortunately, differences of opinion happen. I've seen them happen in a training venue, more than once. And I hate to see the egos come out. But they do, sometimes.

    As often as we preach ADEE here it should be a default position for any such situations, but a reminder never hurts.
     
  2. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    I read the original a few days ago. The cliff notes version is the instructor, whose safety briefing was based on the 4 rules, thinks it's ok to point guns at people as long as the slide is open and someone has 'cleared' it. A student disagreed, but went about it in a manner he apparently now regrets.

    my comment is simply, if you're going to follow NRA safety rules, follow NRA safety rules. If you're going to follow the 4 rules, follow the 4 rules.

    whatever you do, be professional and courteous so that people will respect your opinion when it's important.
     
  3. cassandrasdaddy

    cassandrasdaddy Member

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    i can't speak to anyone elses faults
    as to my own i need to be very conscious of a tendency to get "invested" in a situation and losing sight of whats really important. in my case i call it testosterone overload. and if i feel threatened it gets worse. gotten better as i got older. part age and part i hate the results. in my case if i think i need to walk away its usually past time and i need to do it. its an area where i get behind the curve very easily
     
  4. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

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    Watching the rain and being a bit bored (just cannot get into gear today), I just read the info at the links provided.

    Good Grief!

    Fred, you should mod your @SUBJ and change the word "drama" to all caps.
     
  5. Hoppes Love Potion

    Hoppes Love Potion Member

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    I thought the instructor's reaction was BS. He's been in that business a long time...I can't believe he's never had a student get nervous about being muzzled, especially if that's his SOP. And right after going over the FOUR RULES.

    So his standard reaction must be to say that HE'S THE EXPERT, the gun is safe, and the student needs to readjust his attitude. But we've all seen the video of the DEA agent visiting the high school, showing off his Glock, and proclaiming that ONLY HE was qualified and trained to use it, then shot himself in the foot as he holstered the gun. Then started waving it around some more as he tried to "calm" the students diving under their desks.

    The FOUR RULES are extra strict for a reason. You usually have to break 2 of them for somebody to get hurt. I don't trust anybody that casually breaks 1 of the 4 rules. They are walking around halfway immersed in a tragic accident.
     
  6. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    On a personal note, blue guns or red guns are pretty cheap any more. We own several of them (870, S&W J frame and Glock 19) and one 'drone' Spyderco folding knife, for training tools, along with eyepro and electronic muffs etc.

    And DW and I aren't professional (read 'paid') trainers, just pretty regular students.

    Can't see any real reason for any pro trainer not to avail themselves of widely available training tools these days.

    Just sayin'...
     
  7. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    I have walked away more than once, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again, regardless of money or time invested. I have been fortunate enough to have not caught a bullet by someone who just didn't get it, so I simply do not hesitate to just leave when one of the rules is violated. There is no fine line when referring to firearms, in my opinion, you either get it, or you don't, and if you don't get it, I will not be where you are, while you are handling a weapon.

    GS
     
  8. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    i've attended a lot of training classes over the years and can honestly say i never felt in danger. guess i've just been lucky, or picked good instructors. i can't remember ever getting muzzled in a class. (even by students when i do beginner classes, but then, i spend over an hour on my safety brief about this topic)

    now a gun store on the other hand... i couldn't even begin to count the number of times i've had to leave a gun store because a patron (or just as commonly) the guy behind the counter is unsafe.
     
  9. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    One of my old martial arts instructors, Bud Malstrom, stopped an entire class (being taught by Kevin "Mad Dog" McClung) because it was too dangerous.

    Considering that I took hits in that dojo that literally put me on the ground, and left me with bruises for weeks...I can believe the danger must have been more than just some bruises or hurt feelings. That time the school owner stepped in to protect all the students, but typically every martial arts seminar I've gone to starts with the admonition to listen to your body, and stop if you're not up to any particular part of the training.

    My worst dojo accident took me out of training for about three months. It was a good, if humbling, lesson. Accidents with firearms may take longer to heal...
     
  10. qwert65

    qwert65 Member

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    What happened? The links say the post was taken down
     
  11. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    I am curious as well. As an instructor whose methodology is somewhat off the beaten path (while very safe and still in full compliance with NRA), I would like details if they can be had.
     
  12. Prophet

    Prophet Member

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  13. qwert65

    qwert65 Member

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    Thanks prophet.
    That is a lesson for sure on how something can just snowball until it gets way out of hand
     
  14. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    Out of hand is right. I read the blogger, brother, and father accounts of the incidents, as well as some of the comments from others who claim to have been there and some general comments from others.

    I'm in a quandary after reading all that. You see, I'm not a real firm believer in the Cooper rule we often see quoted as "All guns are always loaded.” It’s not even phrased in the way a rule must be, as an imperative – “A ball out of bounds must be taken to a drop zone” or “The umpire will call a ball any pitch that does cross the plate…a ball.” Rather, it is phrased as a declarative. Nobody would ever say, “Stee-riiike!” is a rule. It is simply a declaration of the umpire’s assessment of that pitch.

    Like the strike call, Cooper’s “rule” is not rule one can follow; it’s a declaration, and one that’s patently false. I personally handled three guns today that were not loaded. I took each one from the safe without muzzling myself (only the ceiling) and as always opened its action to verify what I knew to be true—not loaded. But Copper’s “rule” says they are. The “rule” is not only not a rule; it’s in error.

    I’m an NRA instructor, and I admit that when I first took an NRA course I had a hard time adjusting my mindset to accommodate just three rules instead of four. Like most people, I had learned a version of Cooper’s rules, and the NRA had dumped one, or so it appeared to me. But both sets were in apparent agreement on one thing at least: Muzzle control, the very thing that made our blogger so upset.

    But how do the two sets of rules view muzzle control? The same? Not exactly.

    Cooper: “Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.”

    Never is a very strong word, and one that simply cannot apply in a practical sense to every firearm at every moment. Every shoulder holster, cleaning stand, safe, rack, and display case on Earth causes guns to violate this every day. I need not go into the details of why this is true. Even if one argues, as one certainly could, that a holstered gun or a gun on a stand is not being handled, they did have to be handled to get to that position, and thus something or somebody got muzzled in the process.

    Cooper’s rule certainly does apply on a hot range with military, LE, or other experienced shooters. They know what all the terms mean, and they are in a place where the rule as stated makes perfect sense.

    NRA: “Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.”

    To the average gun owner, and especially to those who are new to shooting, this way of stating the rule is much more useful. A “safe direction” is determined by one’s environment and the condition (in Manual of Arms terms) of the firearm in question. For a gun that is disassembled or rendered incapable of firing, any direction is, by any practical definition, a safe direction. It comes down to the context in which that firearm exists.

    I was at a class not too long ago where several firearms were arrayed on a table, all verified unloaded and with their actions open. There was no ammo anywhere near them. The attendees were sitting around the table. There was simply no way we could have carried out the required discussion in that venue if we applied Cooper’s rule literally; we shared an understanding of the context. Leaving one end of the table unoccupied and pointing all the muzzles at that empty spot resulted in muzzling street traffic, but there was no way around it.

    Whenever one of us picked up one of those firearms, he or she immediately and without sweeping the rest of us oriented the muzzle into our agreed “safe” direction, a corner of the room where walls met ceiling. There was no upper floor.

    Training tools to pop-tart guns...

    What are your chances of receiving a gunshot wound from a SIRT, a blue gun, a toy gun, or a breakfast pastry vaguely shaped like a gun? Zero, right? So, should we be muzzling people with SIRTS and blue guns? Some would say absolutely not, that we should treat training aids just as we treat actual firearms. Which would mean that the point of these training aids is…well, there would be no point to them at all. It would also mean we either have to follow the four rules with that pop-tart or finish eating it, grip first, of course.

    Which brings me to my final point. The chances of being shot by semi-automatic pistol with an empty chamber, a locked-back slide, and no magazine are exactly the same as the chances of being shot by that pop-tart gun: Zero point zero, zero, zero.

    Does that mean we should casually muzzle people with a pistol in that condition? I think not. Even though it amounts to a disabled stack of gun parts, waving such an item around willy-nilly and muzzling people at random in a training class or anywhere else is inappropriate and implies a cavalier and casual attitude about safety. This is especially true if the waving person is the instructor. I can’t think of a much worse example for students. But freaking out over being muzzled by something that by all rational comparisons has the same chance of discharging a round as the aforementioned pop-tart doesn’t score many points either. Unless our blogger knows nothing about firearms, he knew these guns could not fire as presented.

    When I have hold of a semi-auto with an empty chamber, the slide locked back and no mag, my brain shifts gears. I still index my finger, and I still pay attention to the muzzle's direction because good discipline and habit reinforcement demands it. (It has become nearly impossible for me to put my finger on a trigger without consciously and deliberately ordering it to go there.) But I also realize that THIS GUN CANNOT FIRE. That knowledge allows me to relax the muzzle protocol in the current context.

    If a student feels uncomfortable about an instructor's or another student's action in a training classroom, he or she should absolutely call attention to it in a proper and respectful (to all) manner. If it's on a range, he or she must call "cease fire" immediately. No argument there. But to launch into a conniption in either case is unhelpful at best. Both the instructor and the student were wrong.
     
  15. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    Well, reading the original blog post was educational - especially the comments. Thanks for the link, Prophet.

    Anyone recall the old saying "Number one, with a bullet?" If you're old enough to have ever been concerned with Billboard Magazine's top list of songs (yeah, the old man is telling his age again) where a fast-climbing song title was marked with a bullet icon, it might sound familiar.

    Popularity contests exist - that's human nature. People tend to be much more forgiving of other people they like. That's human nature too.

    But it's important not to be "number one, with a bullet" on anyone's personal popularity list. Even more important than being popular, IMHO.
     
  16. parsimonious_instead

    parsimonious_instead Member

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    One of my earliest THR posts described a heated verbal altercation at my local range - hadn't seen anything that bad before, or since.
    Busybody old man provoked a younger shooter over a minor issue - the distance of his homemade portable target frames. Younger fellow has a bit of a short fuse, and unleashed a pretty brutal torrent of vulgarity toward the old man.
    Fast-forward to about a few weeks ago. As part of the renovation, the Range finally built some rental frames (hotheaded guy brought his own, I never bothered to build or buy any, I simply stuck with our free homosote backers and metal u-frames at 25 yards) and one day I had some guests and we rented a bunch of frames. We set them at different distances (all safe and appropriate) but Mr. Busybody of course had to say something to me about it. I simply looked him in the eye and said, "that's what they're for, so we can shoot at any distance we choose." and walked away, tuning out whatever else he had to say.
     
  17. Doc7

    Doc7 Member

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    When I was in my very first NRA basic pistol class, 6 years ago, the off-duty LEO assistant trainer was going over his new gun with the class leader while they waited for the whole class to show up. While they were handling the firearm, looking at the slide, grips, etc, I was staring right up the muzzle for at least minute. I was way too awkward to say something at the time, but I made enough eye contact with them that they realized what was going on and stopped doing that in my direction.

    I hope if that happens to me again I speak up, I didn't Iike it one bit.
     
  18. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Emeritus

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    The follow on to that is "unless you've cleared the gun yourself". Other wise, we'd all have to low crawl into a gun store. ;)

    If the gun is not in human hands, it's pretty darn safe.
     
  19. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    beetledog, i have to disagree with your interpretation of the rules


    The sad fact is, a giant portion of people involved in shooting "accidents" claimed they thought the gun was unloaded. Many are trained professionals. So I don't accept that it is ok to handle a gun and point it in an unsafe direction just because YOU... THINK... it is "unloaded".

    However, I do parse the rule slightly differently because I understand how all 4 rules work together. Specifically, guns don't shoot themselves. So if it's just laying on a table and I walk in front of it, that's not muzzling or covering something because it's not currently being handled and there's no finger anywhere near the trigger.

    What I'm trying to say is that you have to break several of the rules at the same time to have an accident.... in practical situations that require you to relax one rule, you become obsessive about the others.

    For example, if your finger is near the trigger, you'd better be extremely careful about where the gun is pointed, even though you're always careful about where the gun is pointed. If there are not fingers near the trigger or it's not possible to handle it (because for instance, it's in a glass case in a gunstore) you can relax to a reasonable extent on the direction the muzzle is pointed.

    But All guns are always loaded. Given the unfortunate number of incidents where people were really sure the gun was "unloaded" and completely surprised when it discharged, I am simply not willing to compromise or relax on that rule, except when the gun is disassembled.

    A few years ago, I shot a match where the RO looked in my chamber and cleared me off a stage. I had bolt open and magazine removed. I spent about 2 hours with gun in this condition moving around until I got to the next stage when I discovered a round in the chamber! It was a complete surprise to me. I got DQ'd from the match, but at no time was anyone really in danger because I NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYONE even though I "knew" it was unloaded. And an RO had checked it. And my action was open. And no magazine.

    There was an incident earlier this year where an acquaintance of mine had a 22lr come less than an inch from shooting him in the head because an NRA instructor in a classroom next door thought a gun was unloaded AFTER teaching a class with it and decided to do slide down/hammer down/holster, while pointing it at a wall (which he thought was a safe direction) but was obviously a violation of rule 4.

    fwiw, i think shoulder holsters are about the dumbest idea ever and I don't hang around people i know who wear them (which is thankfully almost no one)
     
  20. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    I never said that. I said that when in the proper context I have verified that a gun is unloaded, I can then safely treat it as I would a training aid. Safely in that it cannot discharge no matter in what direction it is pointed, just like a blue gun cannot. I'm still not going to muzzle people with it.

    This is just plain false; I proved it in my post. Many have an emotional linkage to the statement (or perhaps to Col Cooper) which they can't get past, but any rational discussion of the matter has to concede that not all guns are loaded. If you say that we must treat every gun as loaded until the trained person holding it properly verifies that it is unloaded, and even must still practice muzzle control in a manner in keeping with the context in which that firearm exists, I'm all in for that. But once the action has been closed, the verification is cancelled.

    Indeed, they are unfortunate. But not a single negligent discharge would have been nor will ever be prevented by saying that all guns are always loaded. They are prevented by how we treat the gun, not by quoting a false statement. Further, you can't name one incident of an ND that occurred after the gun was properly verified unloaded. Nobody can, because such events are a physical impossibility. Given that you expressed your thoughts on a disassembled gun, you clearly do understand the concept of context.

    Given that there was in fact a round in the chamber, that firearm was NOT properly verified unloaded. We all agree on that, right? We should also agree that by rule your DQ was proper. Was that RO fired? It was entirely proper to not muzzle anyone, I agree. But even if the entire party in attendance had stood one at a time directly in front of your muzzle while that sly little round rested in your chamber, was it physically possible for that round to discharge while the gun's action was open? In a word, no. You can't name one case of that ever happening.

    Again, a firearm that was NOT properly verified unloaded. Had he been treating that gun as loaded until he properly verified it was not, the ND would not have occurred.
     
  21. conw

    conw Member

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    I guess I will give my 2 cents.

    Beatle I think you are being too understanding here. A high level knowledge of firearms safety rules should result in knowing when to break those rules... carefully... when absolutely necessary.

    The instructor did the opposite of this: careless, and unnecessarily, broke the rules, multiple times. He was also extremely unprofessional afterward (in general conduct and by repeating the mistakes).

    I do think the students who wrote the blog post over-reacted in terms of their emotional response. They probably over-estimated the actual danger to themselves at that particular moment. But that doesn't mean they are wrong in their underlying sentiment that the instructor was unprofessional, rude, and took unnecessary and (I think) unacceptable risks.

    I think they did a service in outing the guy, because he sounds like exactly the kind of person I would not want to train with regardless of whether he muzzled me.

    That's sort of a red herring and no true Scotsman type of thing, ain't it?

    Why should a student have to worry about this, when the instructor has no need to muzzle him/her, and should know better - and was told to stop? On the balance, I think focusing on the supposedly relatively low risk is beside the point when it's clear the instructor had no need, and should have known better, than to do this, multiple times.

    The other thing is that the carelessness and lack of regard demonstrated should have been (and were) interpreted as a big red flag. Of course no one gets shot accidentally, right up until someone gets shot. Because the muzzling was apparently unintentional I don't blame the students for being extremely concerned about the instructor's further gun handling, seeing as they had no reason to believe his muzzle discipline was going to improve upon handling a loaded firearm.

    If a student had knowingly signed up for a team tactics course where some near or brief muzzle masking with strict trigger discipline had occurred (and then gotten upset and written the post), I could see your point more. But as it was, this was a basic, cut-rate handgun class, not some kind of advanced tactical course where the boundaries were being pushed.
     
  22. Trent

    Trent Member

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    There's rules for a reason.

    At USPSA there's a "safe area" where you're supposed to take your firearms, without ammo, to holster them before the match. (Not allowed to handle firearms at any time during a match unless it's in the designated safe area, or you are actually shooting a stage under the supervision of an RO).

    This weekend, while I was getting my gear ready, someone opened their action next to me in the safe area, and a live round popped out. They were red faced, "I *swear* I cleared this". There was no magazine in the gun. The gun went to the range in a holster, in the shooting bag. There was no ammo nearby.

    We have rules like this for a reason, and that day, the rules worked. That person had failed to check their firearm properly before leaving that day. The safe area served as a final safety point to ensure all firearms were unloaded and holstered properly before people started squadding up and heading to stages.

    Anyway, that guy was an experienced shooter, had been doing it for a decade and a half. Our eyes lie to us occasionally. Which is why we are supposed to "FEEL" the chamber and magazine well with our finger to make sure our eyes aren't lying to us about the firearm being truly empty.

    Unloading a firearm, once it's done a few thousand times, TRANSITIONS From being a "conscious" act, to a purely "subconscious" act - just as anything involving muscle memory does.

    Which is why we consciously check with our fingers - to get a tactile response - to involve MORE than one of our sensory inputs.

    I don't trust a firearm is "unloaded" until *I* have verified it is unloaded. Ever. Period. And when I hand that firearm off to someone I expect THEY re-check it before THEY know it is unloaded. Anything short of that is a dangerous assumption.

    Anyway.. I consciously try to avoid muzzle-sweeping anyone. Does it happen? Probably. I don't have x-ray vision, and I cannot see through walls, floors, trees, etc. But I make damn sure that firearm is clear before I point it anywhere except the ground. At my house, which is a split 5 level house, I point firearms out the window at the ground outside when clearing them. But to try to avoid sweeping ANYTHING while I take it to the bench to clean, is impossible.

    SO I feel the chamber and magwell (if there is one) with my fingers, visually inspect it to see daylight through the magwell, and a hole instead of a cartridge in the chamber. I make sure any magazines and ammo are away from where I'll be working. Once the firearm is clear, it can be transported. It's impossible to carry a firearm through this house while not sweeping SOMETHING; cat, dog, neighbor, family member; the stairs run through the middle of the house and there IS simply no "safe way" to point the firearm while carrying it from upstairs to the basement, or vice versa.

    People who live in apartment buildings face a similar problem.

    So the point is, make damn sure it's empty before handling it.
     
  23. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not arguing semantics with you as i honestly don't care. it's not the point, and it's a childish objection.

    What I WILL continue to argue is that your mindset (it's safe after I've verified it's unloaded) gets people killed because people make mistakes and think it's unloaded when in fact it is not.

    Any proper security program uses layers of protection. defense in depth. One defense is unloading the gun. A second defense is continuing to treat the gun as if it were loaded, no matter what.

    You are creating a system with a single point of failure. Coopers system is fault tolerant and requires multiple failures in different areas before a catastrophic accident occurs.


    Of course they were not properly verified unloaded. You speak of possibilities as if you are sure accidents and mistakes are not possible. The only thing that is not possible is for people to act perfectly. People will always make mistakes and accidentally "verify" something is unloaded when in fact it is still loaded. Companies spend billions on Quality Control. Nobody gets it perfect.
     
  24. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Some years ago in a training course, the proper way to draw and present was addressed. Actual firearms were used.

    I was asked to remove the magazine from my .45 and to check the chamber.

    Then, one by one, each of three instructors, while the others were watching, checked the firearm.

    After it was handed back to me, I re-holstered--being watched all the while by three instructors.

    The none of the instructors stepped in front of me and faced me, and while the other two were still watching, asked me to draw and point the firearm at him.

    I refused. The reaction? A twinkle in his eye.

    I'm still not sure what they were really testing....
     
  25. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    There are probably as many approaches to appropriate muzzle safety as there are shooters. It will do us little good here to recount each level of muzzle safety each of us cherishes individually. There are a couple of consensus points, I think, and I had MUCH rather we work at reaching some agreement on where exactly those points lie.

    I have been muzzled on the line with a live loaded weapon by another student. I quietly brought it up to the instructor and the situation was handled most expeditiously. I have seen my dear wife threatened with getting tossed out of a carbine class because, at the end of a long day, her finger kept straying closer to the trigger guard than the instructor thought appropriate (I said nothing, but saw to it the next day she was shooting a lighter carbine that she could hold up all day without struggling). I've watched fellow students part like the Red Sea for Moses when they found themselves behind someone wearing a horizontal shoulder holster in class, when the gun in the holster was not being touched, drawn etc. And I have used the 642 I carry in a FOF class and actually - gasp - SHOT PEOPLE with it - with marker rounds, of course. And every one of us in the exercise was stripped of all live ammo, blades and anything else save our sidearms, which were inspected by a gauntlet of instructors along with us students, and wanded, before we were passed from the "contaminated" area to the "sterile" area.

    Different things happen in different environments, at different levels of training, with different instructors. Be sure you know what you are getting into in ANY training, competition, etc. in which you plan to participate. Be sure you know the expectations of the instructor. Pay attention to class handouts or the information that is emailed or otherwise made available before a class.

    If you have an issue with ANYTHING in the class, speak to the instructor quietly first, as soon as possible. Any worthwhile trainer is going to listen carefully to student concerns. If you aren't listened to, or taken seriously, depart the AO. Pack your gear and head out. Don't get into an emotionally overwrought situation in public. Just .... .... .... leave. AND DON'T COME BACK.

    If you want to address your complaints in public, on the web, be prepared for the usual pom-pom wavers on the one hand and the rotten tomato throwers on the other, with the usual sprinkling of inciters thrown in. As with everything, think before you post. Don't put up stuff you will think better of later. Let yourself get some distance, talk to people whose opinions you respect. And if there is in fact an issue, there you go.

    The training community needs honest objective appraisal if it is to have real credibility. If there are problems, and safety problems above all, those need to be aired. The Internet is an imperfect tool for that, but then we are all a bunch of imperfect people using that imperfect tool also. All we can do is the best we can.
     
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