It’s more than just everyone’s responsibility
Safety on the range during a class should be everyone’s first priority, especially for the instructors teaching the class. It’s a mutual trust that needs to happen for teaching and learning to occur throughout the day. At Steadfast Applications safety is something that we have developed our curriculums around and are always trying to facilitate. So how exactly do we accomplish this?
First of all, classes like our intermediate level “Defensive Handgun” have a pre-requisite of “Structural Handgun” or a similar class from a vetted instructor that instills the fundamentals of safe firearms handling and use. This may not solve all of the problems we may see, but it is a good starting point and will also help maintain the flow of the class. Sometimes we have to set our egos aside and take the class that is right for us and not the class we want to see ourselves in.
No, the second safety tip isn’t having you sign a release waiver or a paper that lists the NRA firearms safety rules. Although you are required to sign a few release waivers before the start of the class, we know that isn’t going to make anyone any safer. We do however start off with a very thorough safety brief that not only discusses our version of the four firearm safety rules, or as our buddy “Trek” from Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute (MDFI) calls them, the life safety rules of responsible gun ownership and we can’t disagree with him on that. So, here’s our take on them.
- Always know the condition of your firearm, loaded or unloaded and handle it in the safest manner as possible (as if it were loaded).
- Obviously, our firearm is not always loaded, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to say it is. It would be pretty hard to dry fire that way which we encourage you to do frequently.
- Muzzle awareness and discipline: always remain conscious of where the muzzle is pointed and the potential of any round that may be negligently fired IE: skipped rounds off the ground into another person even though the muzzle wasn’t pointed at them.
- Keep your finger off the trigger, outside of the trigger guard, and indexed high on the frame or slide as a reference point until our sights are indexed towards the target.
- This method keeps the trigger finger as far away from the trigger, allows for a tactile reference point under stress or complex movement, and allows for Range Safety Officers (RSO’S) the ability to watch the line and see daylight through the trigger.
- Although others mention sight alignment before putting your finger on the trigger, we would be breaking that rule if we ever had to shoot from retention.
- Always know what is in front of your target, behind your target, as well as left and right of your target.
- We all have a legal and moral obligation behind every round that leaves the barrel of our firearms and that safety mitigation starts by being aware of our surroundings. Imagine if we checked the “in front and behind” boxes in a defensive situation, but we were not aware of the left and right and we started to press the shot. Little “Sally” could have it set in her mind that she is making a run for the EXIT sign in front of her, but between her and the EXIT sign is the path of your bullet.
Next comes the medical brief. This is probably the most important topic of the day, because accidents, negligence, and sometimes life just happens. We start off with asking if anyone is more qualified than one of the Steadfast crew in terms of medical training and from there we delegate duties of primary responder, primary emergency caller, and primary driver (our range is off the beaten path and a truck would be needed to take anyone injured to the main road). Next is identifying where the various medical kits are and who is carrying medical equipment. Lastly, we go over a laminated Emergency Action Sheet (EAS) which has points of contact, the address of the range, a strip map to the hospital, and a fill in the blank response to dispatchers. We hope that we never need to utilize those kits or our EAS, but there’s a saying by Benjamin Franklin that goes “Failing to plan, is planning to fail” and that is simply not acceptable.
The last main way that we try to facilitate safety is by explaining the given task, demonstrating the task, having the students work their way through the task by dryfiring, and then if everyone feels confident we execute the live fire portion. Utilizing a co-instructing method with two main instructors and an extremely proficient Range Safety Officers (RSO) we feel comfortable saying that we bring a safe and fun learning experience to our students.
Finally, we try to instill a sense of accountability and safety in our students not only on the line but in every facet of their lives. Safety doesn’t only pertain to firearms classes, and it certainly shouldn’t end on the way home from the range. Pay attention to your surroundings, take medical training, and develop your mindset as it pertains to your individual mission.
We hope to see you all on the range this season.