Category Archives: Guns/Self Defense

Top 4 Gun Safety Rules For Everyone, All The Time

With the timeliness of self defense discussions and the way that firearms are an integral part of most prepping discussions, I have been a little more gun-centric with my posts and videos than I initially planned. I am perfectly fine with being heavy on self defense because it is one of the potential survival situations we will face in our lifetimes. I cannot, however, with good conscience continue the reviews and skill posts and videos without offering some basic safety rules. Along with these rules, we should also make sure we secure our guns when we aren’t in physical control of them. You can watch two videos about securing your firearms on my YouTube channel here and here.

Are There Really Safety Rules In A Gunfight?

The adage that has been handed down for years is that there are no rules in a gun fight. The sentiment is solid but the real truth is that there are rules. We should never quit trying to survive a violent encounter that we can’t escape, but we also cannot try to win “at any cost” in self defense scenarios because the cost might be an innocent person’s life. Safety rules surrounding firearms vary based on the location and variables you face. You may be at a range who has additional rules to make things safer for the shooters there. You may feel that you need to enforce stricter measures on yourself because of others in your household. Those are fine, but the four safety rules I am about to present will make sure that you do not cause an unintended injury with a firearm in your possession no matter the activity you are engaged in.

What Are The Four Firearms Safety Rules?

The following rules are universal and should apply to any type of shooting we do, be it hunting, competition, plinking, or self defense.

Rule 1: Treat Every Gun As If It’s Loaded

This rule lays the groundwork for other rules. By assuming that no gun is unloaded, we are setting ourselves up for safety by respecting the potential damage that can be done if we handle any firearm in a careless manner.

Rule 2: Never Let The Muzzle Cross Anything You Aren’t Willing To Destroy

The muzzle is the end of the gun’s barrel where the bullet or shot will exit. That means that anything the muzzle is pointed at is at risk of being destroyed by the gun if it fires. This is why everyone recommends performing any loading, unloading, or other necessary manipulations of any gun be performed while the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction. The “safe direction” is relative to the situation. Pointing a firearm down would normally be considered a safe direction, but consider if there were people on a lower floor than you in your home or apartment. Would they be injured if you shot through the floor? Up is often considered a safe direction, but what if someone is upstairs above you? Also consider that everything that goes up must come down. There are many injuries and deaths each year from celebratory gunfire in the air during fireworks shows on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Picture a laser extending a line from your muzzle through whatever it crosses and use that as a guide to what direction would be the safest in any given situation.

Rule 3: Know Your Target and What Is Beyond It

Let’s continue to consider the “laser” idea I mentioned in the last rule. Bullets are acted on by many forces that we cannot control once they have left the barrel, however we must make sure we control everything up to that point. We must first be sure of our target. This applies to all shooting, however, in a personal defense situation is critical to identify the target. Many people are injured or killed every year by being mistaken for a home intruder only to be an unexpected family member coming in unannounced. No person would want to bear that guilt. Knowing what is beyond our target is of equal importance. Bullets can zip through a target, be it an animal, a human, or a paper target at the range. We are still fully responsible for that bullet even if it passes through the intended target and strikes something or someone beyond it. In a defensive scenario we may have to fire our weapon at an aggressor in a crowded area. Picture the laser again. Standing level with them and shooting at the center of the chest means that the bullet could pass through and enter another person’s chest directly behind them. To avoid this may require us to move to one side or to or squat down to have the angle of our shot go up through the aggressor and above the crowd or individuals behind them. This is where mental exercises and dry fire training can help sharpen our skills. You can read more about Dry Fire Training Here.

Rule 4: Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until You Are Ready To Fire.

While guns are man-made and subject to failure, it is an absolute rarity to find that a gun fired on its own without manipulation of the trigger. It is not uncommon to see situations where shooters have an accidental discharge while drawing or holstering a pistol. These instances are almost invariably caused by the trigger being pressed either by the eager shooter’s finger, or by something getting in the trigger guard while re-holstering the pistol. To alleviate this safety issue, we must keep our trigger finger out of the trigger guard and extended until we are on target and have decided to shoot. Any sooner than that and the stress of a self defense situation could cause us to squeeze the trigger to early and miss, or worse, injure someone else. To reduce the chance of a discharge when we re-holster our weapon, we should make sure that the path into the holster is clear of garments or debris and stop if we feel any abnormal resistance in the holster.

Final Thoughts On The Four Gun Safety Rules.

The purpose of these rules is to reduce the likelihood of an unintended injury or death by someone with a firearm. In fact, you have to break almost all of these rules simultaneously to have an accidental injury or death occur, however these rules do not slow our reaction down. With regular training and practice we can keep our skills sharp and minds focused and react with speed and precision while processing and deciding what action to take. Building a solid foundation in the aforementioned safety rules will guarantee that we have the most control of our firearm possible.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate and may make money on qualifying purchases.

Should I Be Doing More Dry Fire Practice Than Live Fire?

What’s more fun than an afternoon of blasting at the range? Well, not much that we can discuss on this blog, however just dumping ammo down range to hear the noise isn’t helping us become better prepared if we need to defend or feed ourselves with that firearm. As I am going through this journey, I become more aware, almost daily, that sometimes we are bound heavily by time and finances when it comes to our abilities to prepare. Shooting practice involves both. I hope this article gives everyone a good option to help stay sharp with less expense. If you want some information to help you avoid some first time gun buyer pitfalls, read my post here.

How Much Does Shooting Cost?

As I am writing this post in the fall of an election year with an air of apprehensiveness about the future we as gun owners face, shooting is certainly not a bargain. Not only have people been scouring the country for ammunition and firearms to stock up on in case of any executive or legislative actions after the election, Covid-19 has had many manufacturers closed or at least reduced in staff and production. The combination of the two has left shelves bare and allowed supply and demand to increase prices as the market trends into scarcity. With the cost of guns and ammo moving up we have to also consider the time we have to invest into shooting well. Very few of us have the luxury of an at-home range to shoot at. We usually have to travel to a designated range and that often comes with a fee or membership that we have to pay. Both of those are costs to us. With all of these costs being drastically variable for each of us, I believe we can still agree that a way to reduce them is worth considering.

What is Dry Fire Practice?

Dry fire practice is the action of using your firearm to simulate a shot at a target but without having a live round in the gun. This requires some care and mindfulness to perform safely, but can be very efficient as well. First we need no ammunition. That saves us on the financial end. Also, we don’t require a designated shooting range. For most pistol and close quarters long gun practice, we can dry fire indoors. That saves us driving time and the money we spend on fuel as well. In addition to the savings, dry firing also helps us perfect muscle memory and smooth out fundamental aspects of shooting and gives us some feedback that we often can’t get with the noise, flash, and recoil of a live round firing.

A Word Of Caution About Dry Firing Practice!!!

As part of the cardinal safety rules of handling a firearm, we are taught to treat every gun as if it is loaded. To begin dry fire practice, we must assume that the gun is loaded and clear it as if we were planing to clean or repair it. We should point the weapon in a safe direction, remove the magazine and open the chamber. We must then follow up by both a visual inspection and a tactile inspection to see and feel if there is any ammunition in the magazine or chamber of the weapon. Because we are not at a designated range and likely do not have sufficient backstops in our homes, an accidental discharge could have catastrophic consequences. Once the weapon has been cleared and inspected by both visual and tactile means at least twice, then we should remove all ammunition from the room, or clear the weapon and move into a room with no ammunition present to start practice. While it seems like this should be a given, an honest survey of seasoned shooters reveals that more than a few have had a negligent discharge during a dry fire training session when they have had a mental lapse or interruption. If you follow the steps set forth, you should be very safe in your practice sessions, but complacency can creep in, so stay alert to your own mindset. Please read my post about the four cardinal rules of firearms safety Here.

Watch This Video To Get Some Important Information on Prepping Your Gun for Dry Fire Practice:

How Should I Dry Fire Practice My Shooting?

As I have mentioned before, I am not a firearms trainer, so the drills and details you need to do to improve your shooting skills should be based on your training experiences. I simply wish to outline a way to safely perform dry fire practice that can be adapted to your skill level and proficiency goals. A good way to start is to click the picture below and get some dry fire training cards.

Step 1, Clearing the firearm: As I mentioned in the paragraph on safety, the weapon must be cleared and inspected by sight and feel at least twice each before each dry fire session, regardless of how you “know” you left the firearm. This practice will remove the bulk of the risk of negligent discharges during practice.

Step 2, Enter the Dry Firing Area: With your weapon cleared and inspected multiple times, enter the area that you wish to practice. there should be no live ammunition in this room or area. Now you have a cleared weapon and no ammunition. This should effectively eliminate the hazard of a negligent or accidental discharge.

Step 3, Hang the Target(s): This is part of the mental safety preparation of dry firing. if we don’t hang the target until we have a cleared weapon in an ammo-free area, then we are less likely to have a slip of the memory and aim a loaded weapon at our target. You can also get reactive targets if you want to add the visual confirmation of your hits. It isn’t an absolute necessity to build the fundamentals you need to shoot well but it does give you the positive feedback of knowing you hit the target. If you want to give them a try, click the picture below.

Step 4, Declare Aloud “I am now beginning dry fire practice”: This sounds corny, but it affirms to our mind that we are dry firing. At any point during our routine, we are interrupted, we should begin by rechecking our weapons and surroundings for ammo and repeat this declaration out loud.

Step 5, Begin practice: Remember from the video above that almost all weapons besides revolvers and some true double action pistols require the action to be cycled to fire a second time. This means cycling the slide on pistols and pulling the charging handle or opening the bolt on rifles as well as pumping a shotguns action. This often limits us to one shot, but we are still able to gain a great deal of benefit by practicing our draw and first shot on target repeatedly without the expense of live rounds. Some manufacturers offer inert training pistols and rifles that simulate our real guns and allow us to practice without having to reset the action. Click the picture below to see one made by laser lyte company. The one shown is supposed to be similar in feel to the Glock 19 pistol, so you can search for your particular gun model once you connect through the link and look in the laserlyte amazon store.

Step 6, Remove the Target: Upon completion of our drills, we should remove the target. This removes the mental cue to shoot if we become distracted and forget that we reloaded our gun.

Step 7, Declare aloud “I have ended my dry fire practice session”: Again, this sounds silly but it helps flip that mental switch that complacency can muffle over time.

Step 8, Conclude The Session: Leave the dry fire area and return your firearm to the condition you keep it in (i.e. loaded and ready).

Final Thoughts on Dry Fire Training

Anytime you handle a firearm, you are undertaking a great responsibility. This post may seem wordy and redundant in some paragraphs, however the benefit of dry fire training to our abilities as shooters is huge, as are the financial and time savings involved. I have heard instructors say that a 1:5 to a 1:10 ratio of live fire to dry fire shots is probably the most beneficial to a shooters ability. Keep that in mind when you can’t make it to the range!

Disclosure: I am an amazon affiliate and may make money on qualifying purchases.