Realistic Safety Rules

Many times I hear the modern day safety rules referenced to as range rules. That is a huge mistake to make.

Thinking one dimensional

The mistake I see students and even instructors making is thinking these are “range” rules. These are safety rules that govern the handling of firearms. The actual environment should not matter, in other words these rules are not inclusive to the range only. They are to be followed at home, while in transit, at work and yes even in a tactical environment. In fact, the rules were taught to me more so from a tactical point of view versus a range point of view.

The snowball effect

Our industry is plagued with accidents, accidents that are usually the result of negligence. The safety rules are in place as a redundant system with the idea if one should fail, the rest will prevent injury or death. Most of the incidents I see or review are not the result of a single mistake, they are the culmination of several seemingly insignificant mistakes that add up to the mishap. This is not to say we forgo a safety rule, they all need to be enforced and there needs to be consequences for failures in training. Many times I see a failure to enforce consequences and as a result the safety rules loose their effectiveness. It is my experience when consequences are enforced consistently and fairly learning can occur.

The nuts and bolts of safety

We see this a lot in our CQB and Shoothouse Instructor classes. From the word go, we start out with a review of the safety rules. Many are common knowledge these days, but some either catch people off guard or are new to them. The ones that seem to get people the most are the ones you would think are the most engrained. Safety rules that encompass muzzle discipline are one of the biggest culprits. For some reason, it becomes “okay” to start pointing loaded guns at one another and when I say point, I mean if the muzzle covers a body part, even your own and you out the door to remediate.

Old school motivation

Remediation is in the formal of physical exercise and it starts out light on day one, but by the end of the week the consequences for a safety violation are no joke. The do not get scaled or passed to other members of the team, you are out there getting it done in all your gear on your own. I’m not going to lie, it sucks, but the lesson is clear. These safety rules are there for a reason, to prevent injury or loss of life. Now, move from a training environment to real world and this is where you see the benefit of this philosophy.

The real world

Real world things move much faster, add a degree of unpredictability in play and now you can see the importance to following safety rules and not range rules. You have a job to do, but trying to put a bad guy down should not supersede personal and team safety. There is no doubt high risk evolutions require high risk training to truly be prepared. Even then they need to conducted with a keen eye to safety as well as being relevant and realistic. This is the balance many instructors must walk and students must follow.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking safety rules are single dimensional. For them to be truly effective both in training and real world, they need to be multi-dimensional.

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