Why NRA Safety Rule 1 is 1

Posted to Bullseye-L

With all of the conversations on this list about sight picture, where to focus, how to hold, what loads are used at the short versus the long line, when to think and when to just shoot, safety is seldom mentioned but, nonetheless, is in every movement we make at the line.

I recently observed an AD [Accidental Discharge] at the range. The individual did *almost* everything right, and because this shooter kept the NRA’s Safety Rule 1 as their personal 1 that day, when *almost* happened, no one was hurt.

It was the first string of Rapid Fire. The targets faced the shooters and the shooting began. The shooter I was observing (from whom I hoped to learn some good lessons) methodically settled in and released four shots, and then the targets turned away.

The shooter lowered the 1911’s muzzle, ejected the empty magazine and readied the next one. Then, the muzzle was lowered all the way to the tabletop, still angled downrange, but the shooter’s body blocked my view. I couldn’t see what happened next but it was clear the shooter had noticed the slide hadn’t needed to be released on the new magazine. I presume the shooter was checking the gun when …


The fifth round from the first string went off. It had been chambered after the fourth shot in the first string but too late for the then turned away target. That was why the slide was forward when the magazine was replaced.

The AD punched a hole through the tabletop at an angle and went into the dirt a few feet downrange from the shooter’s table.

There was a stunned moment of silence on the line.

Everyone looked around to see what had happened.

The range master asked, “Is anyone hurt?”

Fortunately, everyone was all right.

A few nervous chuckles up and down the line relieved the tension and, after a double-check of the gun, the shooter signalled readiness for the final string.

And, as befits this individual’s skill and experience, that final string of five landed in the target like any other string of five … or four.

NRA Safety Rule 1: ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

Good lesson. Thank you.


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