Risk-Free Living & Gun Accidents

By John Farnam

Accidental Discharge
Risk-Free Living & Gun Accidents
Defense Training International, Inc
Defense Training International, Inc

Ft Collins, CO –-(Ammoland.com)- Gun Accidents!

A friend and student suffered an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound last year. It happened on a training range during a training session.

I was not there.

However, he later talked with me about it and reveled important details I am sharing now.

The incident involved a 1911 pistol. The single round of ammunition was a Federal 230gr hardball. Subsequent investigation revealed that neither the pistol itself, nor the ammunition, were defective in any way. On the day in question, both functioned normally, and as designed.

The wound was in the shooter’s right buttocks. Entry and exit wounds were separated by fifteen centimeters. The bullet traveled just under the skin. The shooter was taken to a local hospital, but was released a short time later. No permanent injury, disability, nor disfigurement. The bullet went on to impact into the ground and caused no further damage. The shooter is fully recovered now.

The shooter was a well-trained and competent Operator. Gun and accouterments involved were all high-quality and in good repair. The 1911's trigger pull-weight was a nominal five pounds.

The mishap occurred during the presentation of the pistol as part of a live-fire exercise. Drawing from concealment, from a strong-side, IWB, belt holster, the shooter’s light-weight shirt got between his strong-side hand and the grip of the pistol. As the pistol cleared the holster, the fabric of the entangled shirt started pulling on the pistol, retarding the draw sequence.

Manual safety was pushed into the “off” position, and a finger obviously made contact with the trigger well before it should have.

While physical wounding was relatively minor, the shooter reported that he is still struggling with the emotional aspect, which is, of course, understandable.

Here is what I think we can all learn from this:

  1. Thin, filmy, flimsy concealment garments are a bad idea! Whatever you use to conceal your pistol needs to be substantial enough so that is unlikely to snag the gun itself.
  2. Going too fast is a bad idea! We all need to train well, so that we can both draw, and reholster, our concealed-carry pistols smoothly and correctly. Smoothness is the key! “Pushing the speed envelope” needs to be done with great caution! Concentrate on smoothness and correct sequence. Speed will come naturally, and in its own good time!
  3. As my esteemed colleague and friend, Skip Gochenour, reminds us every time we get together: All guns, but particularly those designed and carried for serious purposes, are “deadly weapons.” They are extremely dangerous, and designed to be! On grounds you think are reasonable, you have voluntarily decided not only to own and keep these deadly weapons, but to interact with them regularly, and make them part of your daily routine.

Risk attaches to that decision!

Risk can be reduced significantly via competent training and respectable routine and practice. Significant lifestyle changes may even be required for you to keep and bear arms with a reasonable degree of safety.

Negligent Discharges
Some professing “instructors” will tell you, “Handle guns this way, and nothing bad will ever happen.” Never believe it! These people are charlatans.

But…risk can never be eliminated! No mater how careful you are, no matter how “safe” you try to be, no matter what kind of guns you select, nor in what condition you keep them, risk of UDs is always present.

Some professing “instructors” will tell you, “Handle guns this way, and nothing bad will ever happen.” Never believe it! These people are charlatans.

What we need to know about keeping and bearing arms is this:

Safety” and “readiness” are always mutually antagonistic. The more “ready” your gun, the less safe. The more “safe,” the less ready. You can't have it both ways!

Today’s pistols represent six thousand years of painful weapons evolution. I believe they are as “safe” as it is possible to make a gun, and still have it reasonably useful for its intended purpose.

As Jeff Cooper once reminded us, “A gun that is ‘perfectly safe’ is perfectly useless.”

Conversely, a gun in a high state of readiness is eminently dangerous, and should be! There is no “risk-free” way to keep and bear arms. Conversely, significant risk also attaches to not keeping, nor bearing, arms.

Ultimately, there is no “risk-free” living. All Operators know and understand this!

/John

About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent and unlawful lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance, if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com

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Mike Murray
Mike Murray
3 years ago

The more often you handle firearms, the more chances you have to screw up. It’s simple statistics. YOU have to be safe every single time. Not the gun, not the “safety”, not the holster or garments… YOU. As far as depending on the safety to be “safe”, that is how ND’s are made. If you find yourself presenting the gun to fire, with the “safety on”, that means you ARE NOT SAFE, because you really don’t know the condition of the gun… and that can get you killed. The only safety that works is keeping your finger off the trigger… Read more »

Bob
Bob
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Murray

Yes, this falls under the “duh: category. However, in this particular instance, wasn’t a loose shirt or piece thereof the offending thing inside the trigger guard, not a finger? I do wish people would understand that accidental, negligent, unintentional (or whatever you want to call it) discharges can happen without a finger being inside the trigger guard. A piece of clothing, a slip on wet surface and finger falls into trigger guard, or any number of other unintentional ACCIDENTS can happen, because – and I will say it again – to err is human. Not only that, life is messy… Read more »

Inky mp
Inky mp
3 years ago

Safety should always come first, at our rangewith novice
Shooter we tell them to slow down and stay alive

2nd Amender
2nd Amender
3 years ago

The article mentions light weight cover getting between the gripping hand and the pistol resulting in the thumbsafety being placed in “OFF” position unintentionslly.

Sh– happens! Accidental discharges happen! Most times the muzzle is pointed in a ‘safe’ direction. This was not one of those times, but the lesson serves well. If you shoot long enough, if you shoot often enough, there will come an episode in your life that you would rather not happened.

Stay safe!

Trent
Trent
3 years ago

For myself, I like to err on the side of safety. Whenever I put my pistol on target and start to squeeze the trigger, only to discover that I forgot to take off the safety, I am elated, not angered, even if my so-called “perfect” aim is negatively impacted in the process. Guns are very powerful things, no ordinary human-being could ever hurl a small metal object as hard and fast as a 9mm pistol can, EVER, and that fact should always be respected.

Roy D.
Roy D.
3 years ago

Wouldn’t it have been easier if Mr. Farnam had just admitted that his friend was a dumba**; at least for that one particular draw. Though that might be a bit much for someone who turns ordinary people into “Operators.”

Bob
Bob
3 years ago
Reply to  Roy D.

The lack of grace in these comments has me questioning my faith in some of the shooting community.

… and yes, if you have enough people doing something enough times, despite the level of skill, experience, and care taken there will necessarily be mistakes made. To suggest otherwise is arrogant and foolhardy.

Peace and Merry Christmas.

Adam
Adam
3 years ago

While there certainly is no such thing as risk-free living, the notion that this sort of negligent discharge during practice is inevitable if you shoot “enough” is at best a serious stretch.

Besides the obvious issue of having a finger in the trigger guard during the draw, why was the thumb safety deactivated so early in the draw process? It’s supposed to be switched off as the pistol comes on target, not when clearing the holster.

Rock
Rock
3 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Zackley !

TheBob_1
TheBob_1
3 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Indeed Adam, so what can be made of both this article and YOUR point is this: We are all human and thus all fallible. “To err is human”. All we can do is our best – – then try harder. Even still, sometimes sh– happens. I think the whole point of articles like this is that no one, even those who pick the low-hanging fruit (that someone did something wrong (duh!)), are immune from human error. Learn from your own mistakes and better yet, those of others. Then, pray you are not the subject of overwhelming ridicule when your own… Read more »