Greyson Guns Shooting Club & Range Safety Brief
Our main priority at Greyson Guns is the safety of our guests. We know that shooters come to our club with a diversity of training backgrounds and experiences. Luckily, the four basic rules of safe gun handling are something that is shared by all. From military personnel to the avid sport shooter, we all know at least some variation of the following safe gun handling rules. Please review the ideas below carefully, they are responsible for the safety and comfort of all of our guests.
Rule 1. ASSUME all firearms are loaded, but KNOW the status of any firearm you handle.
Following this rule is paramount. This simple approach to all firearms brings a level of caution and respect necessary for safe gun handling. Following this rule will keep you from violating any of the other 3 rules because “the gun was unloaded”. A safe shooter should know the status of his firearm, whether that be loaded or unloaded, and perform appropriate and timely checks to confirm that status as needed. Having an unloaded firearm, and not knowing that when you intend to employ it to save your life can be just as dangerous as foolish behavior with a firearm that is thought to be unloaded, and is not.
We also cannot ALWAYS treat a firearm as if it were loaded, or we’d never be able to clean it or perform maintenance. What we can do is constantly know the status of our firearm, and assume it to be loaded, treating it as such until we’ve positively proven otherwise to our satisfaction and only for necessary functions…cleaning, disassembly, etc. Any time we set an assembled firearm down and pick it back up, it is appropriate to check status. To clarify, an unloaded firearm is one where there is no magazine attached, there is no ammunition present in the firearm, the breach is open, the bolt face is exposed and there is no cartridge in chamber.
Anytime we pick up a rifle, or holster a handgun, we need to know that it is also in an appropriate status. We will assume that it is loaded, in that we will, of course, not violate any of the other rules when we pick it up, but we will check status to make CERTAIN that it is indeed loaded, if that is where we want it to be. Check your status when you gear up, know your status, but if in doubt, check.
Do not get careless or hasty with status checks. Do them deliberately and consciously. Going through the motions and “looking” without “seeing” can be more dangerous than not checking at all. The old saying “familiarity breeds contempt” can also apply to our safety checks. Our lives depend on the serious attitude we all take towards our firearms.
Rule 2. Avoid covering anything with the muzzle that you are not willing to destroy.
Muzzle discipline, or keeping our muzzle pointed in the safest direction available and reasonable given the task at hand, and avoiding pointing the firearm at anything that we are not willing to put a hole in, at all times, is of primary importance.
The bottom line is to never point a firearm at another human unless they are a threat to your life. After that, we prioritize where we point our muzzle based on the direction that allows us to do what we need to do with the firearm and would cause the least amount of damage to persons and/or property, if the firearm were to discharge. This means considering the environment, backstops, material construction of structures we are in etc, to understand what the “safest” direction is.
Be aware and conscious of your muzzle direction at all times, with the above factors in mind, to be as safe as possible.
Rule 3. Keep your finger straight, off the trigger, and outside the trigger guard until your muzzle is pointed at the target and you’ve made the conscious decision to shoot.
Placing your finger in an exaggerated, straight extension, outside the trigger guard, and on a reference point well away from the trigger guard, provides you with the largest margin of safety in real life employment of a firearm, and does not materially affect the speed with which you can engage, should the need arise. When do we place our finger on the trigger? There are different answers to this depending on the situation at hand. The LE professional covering a suspect at gunpoint is in a different position than the hunter sighted in and waiting for a buck to turn. Once we have made a conscious decision that we wish to discharge the firearm and the muzzle is oriented at the target, whether verified by sights or otherwise, then we may place our finger on the trigger as we perform our trigger manipulation.
For the purpose of our range and the safety of our guests, the finger belongs on the trigger only after environmental safety has been established, sight picture has been established, and the shooter is ready to engage their target, in their designated shooting lane.
Rule 4. Be sure of your target. Consider its foreground and background.
On the range, we have a safe backstop, a target, and usually some method of control, whether physical or procedural, to prevent intrusion into the downrange environment. Here, we must simply verify that the backstop is indeed safe, the target is something safe to shoot at, unlikely to cause ricochets or flying debris and that no one moves in front of the firing line while the range is hot.
The last consideration to touch on is not really a rule, but a practice, and that is safe storage. When we are not actively using a firearm, we need to keep it somewhere. Where that is depends largely on how quickly we need to access the firearm and the degree of protection we would like to provide it. Loaded storage of firearms intended to be ready for home defense is perfectly acceptable, provided that access is appropriately restricted. We absolutely need to make sure that unauthorized access is prevented.
In the absence of more secure storage, using trigger locks or cable locks through the action at all times a firearm is not in hand is one way to restrict access. Gun safes or vaults of various kinds provide better security and can also provide a measure of theft and even fire protection for the firearms themselves. Unloaded storage is obviously safest, and is fine for the vast majority of firearms, but balancing security and readiness for home defense firearms that we wish to be able to deploy quickly is more complicated.
On the range, it is best practice to have only the firearm you are currently training with exposed and in the firing port. All other firearms, magazines and ammunition should be stored safely. This means: ammunition boxed and closed, magazines unloaded and in a bag/case, and most importantly, other firearms unloaded and secured in a case of some kind.
REMEMBER, IMPROPER STORAGE OF A LOADED FIREARM MAY RESULT IN IMPRISONMENT OR FINE.
There are many more considerations to overall firearms safety and responsible ownership, but the more we can learn about our firearms and the more we handle, manipulate, and shoot them, the greater our margin of safety should become. Care must be taken, however, that familiarity and knowledge do not lapse into overconfidence and carelessness, as this can be even more dangerous than ignorance. Training, such as that provided by Greyson Guns and other reputable organizations, is a great way to increase knowledge and capability with firearms while solidly reinforcing a diligent attitude towards safety.
A firearm is a tool which can be used to extremely productive ends. Like many tools, they can also cause harm in evil or careless hands, so we must take the responsibility of ownership seriously. Maintaining sharp vigilance for these safety rules and considerations is the best way to enjoy a rewarding lifelong experience with firearms, shooting sports, and other firearms-related activities.
Greyson Guns Team