Weapon Systematization: Safety

preventing injury or damage due to negligence

If you have started viewing firearms as weapons then it is probably because you want to protect someone. That’s good. But if you are careless and undisciplined in how you handle firearms you may end up causing the death of the very person you are preparing to defend, like the man who shot his wife while practicing house clearing with a shotgun that he thought was unloaded. Or countless others.

If you want to be able to fight using firearms then you first need to master how to handle them safely.


  1. Always treat all guns as if they are always loaded
  2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are prepared to shoot
  3. Never point your gun at anything you are not prepared to destroy
  4. Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond it

In my experience, individuals who have not disciplined themselves to obey these rules will usually violate one of them within seconds of being handed a gun. And it really is a matter of discipline, which is part of why I put this as the first item when it comes to learning to fight using a firearm. If you can’t discipline yourself to observe these rules and be mindful of them then you are not ready to learn anything more advanced.

Additionally, you should be mindful of the damage that will be sustained by firing a gun without hearing protection. Each shot, even from lowly .22s, does damage to unprotecte ears. For really loud guns consider doubling up foam and over-the-head muffs. If Jerry Miculek does it you can do it. Don't waste your hearing. Further, wear eye protection. ANSI z87 glasses will stop most richocetes and debris. 

How to learn: Ideally, when you were a little child and played guns your dad made you observe these rules, so that by the time you could read you were highly conscious of where your gun was pointed at all times and your finger was only on the trigger when you were “shooting”. But, for most of us that’s not the case.
I actually don’t know what to tell you about how to master this; the best way is to have someone watching you who will correct you every time you make a mistake.  And you don’t have to practice with real guns; anything with a trigger and barrel can be used to practice safe handling. That means toys, airsoft guns, etc.
If you have to teach yourself, simply drill the rules into your head and give the guns around you a high degree of focus. Consider the rules kind of like you consider your rear view mirrors – even while doing other tasks do a regular “where’s my finger, where’s my muzzle” check.

Competence is simple: don’t violate any of the rules.
Mastery is also simple: don’t violate any of the rules under challenging circumstances.