Wild Times: Slow it down

It all started out rather innocently. A group of young men gathered together out in the countryside to do a little shooting. It was an informal event, just a fun time among friends.

They were all familiar with handguns. In fact, the majority of the group had been shooting for years. The group set up a set of targets out in front of the vehicles that they drove to the shooting site. The group pulled out their handguns and prepared for the day’s action. They were using tailgates as staging locations. Here were five friends looking to have a great time. There was no alcohol at the scene — they all knew that alcohol and guns don’t mix. They began their informal shooting session.

One by one, the shooters would advance to the front to take their turn at one of the targets. There was no set pattern or order to their shooting. Load up and walk up and shoot and then go back and load up again. Sound familiar? We have all done this.

Things went well for the first hour. Everyone was having a good time. It quickly went south. What was taking place here was that shooters were loading their firearms with other shooters milling around and out in front of them. Shooters were leaving the shooting line with live rounds still in the chamber.

In other words, there were shooters in all areas of the shooting area with loaded guns. One of the shooters behind the line was loading a magazine. He loaded the magazine and popped it into the handgun. For some unknown reason he chambered a round. He probably did not even realize he had done it. It was just habit. He was milling around behind the line with a couple of shooters out in front of him.

He was using a striker fired pistol that did not have a manual safety on it. Its safety was in the operation of the trigger. Somehow and some way, his finger found its way inside the trigger guard and at the most inopportune time, he inadvertently pulled on the trigger and a round went off. The round struck one of the shooter’s best friends in the shoulder.

To make a long story short, the young man struck by the bullet survived, but all of their lives were changed dramatically. Is this an isolated event? Hardly! Could this have been avoided? Absolutely! How?

Here are some quick guidelines for some shooting sessions such as these. The first and foremost rule is that no firearm has a magazine or clip inserted into the firearm until the shooter advances to the shooting line. Once at the line, the shooter pops the loaded magazine into the pistol. After the shooter is done firing, the magazine should be ejected from the firearm. If the slide is not locked back on the pistol, the shooter should pull the slide back and make sure it is locked. Put the clip into your pocket!

Another thing to keep in mind is even though it is tempting to pop that magazine into the handgun as you advance to the shooting line, don’t do it. Wait until you are standing at the line to pop that magazine into the handgun. It is so tempting when you are behind the active shooters to load up and be ready to go. There is nothing wrong with this at all. Go ahead and load that magazine but after that magazine is loaded put in your pocket.

You should never put that magazine into the handgun until you are at the line ready to shoot. A good practice is to have a place where the firearms can be laid down on a bench or something similar. When it is your turn to shoot, walk over and pick up your gun and advance to the line. Once at the line, pull out the magazine and insert it into the gun. There should never, ever be anyone behind the shooting line walking around with a gun in their hand.

Consider all guns as loaded and if one of your buddies is back there walking around with his gun in his hand, you have to assume that it is loaded! Give him the business! There is no reason whatsoever for someone to be walking around behind the line with a gun in their hand unless they are advancing to the line to shoot.

If you follow these simple guidelines, the chance of a shooting accident goes way down. Slow down and enjoy the day. Don’t endanger your friends by being in a hurry.

Tim Kellenberger107 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.

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