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Old July 9, 2014, 10:56 AM   #1
45Gunner
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Accidental discharge?

Team Tactical Shooting is very much like flying in an aerobatic airshow in that one must develop a high level of trust in his/her fellow team members as they in you. You must be continually aware of where they are at all times as they must be aware of where you are. There must be an unimpeachable level of safety at all times while performing to the best ability of each individual and hence the team.

We are a four-man team that drills three times per week. Before each and every drill session we discuss and review the drills we are going to accomplish at the current range session, paying special attention to safety and to any maneuver(s) that requires extra special vigilance. At the end of each shooting session, we critique ourselves. However, if there is a situation that even comes close to being less than 100% safe, we stop that drill, make our guns safe, and then discuss that situation and come up with a course of action to insure that will never happen again.

Our range is a Private Club. There are no shooting booths as common to Public Ranges. For our intent and purpose, there are 4 unmarked lanes that are approximately 10 feet wide and 150 feet long. Benches are behind the shooters and are used as a place to put guns, ammo, range bags etc.

Targets, obstacles, and barriers are set out prior to each drill. Shooters begin each drill by drawing from the holster. Drills start with the command, “Shooters, load and make your gun ready.” When each shooter has accomplished that, he completes a press check, engages the safety, and places his gun into his holster raising his support hand to signal he is at the ready. At the end of a drill, all of us are downrange and the command is, “Shooters, unload your gun and make it safe.” We stop any walking/running motion, eject the magazine, run the slide open, remove a round if pertinent, do a visual inspection of the chamber, return the slide to battery, trip the trigger or engage the safety if applicable (depends upon which gun we are using), and then holster. The range then goes “Cold” and no one is allowed to take their gun out of the holster or handle any gun while any shooter is in front of the firing line.

This has been a long setup but pertinent that you understand how we work so you can envision how we operate to gain the most learning from the mistake(s) that I am about to describe.

Three team members are retired and no longer work. One team member still works but is self-employed and he checks his cell phone during breaks, returning phone calls or text messages when he must. Today was one of those days when he was distracted by business. So now you know where there is going.

We had just completed a rather complicated but satisfying drill, guns were made safe, which meant we all expected that no one had a loaded gun. While the working guy made his way back to the bench to check his phone, the other three of us examined our skill levels on the targets. As we were making our way back to the firing line, the fourth team member fired off a round downrange scaring the living daylights out of all of us.

Needless to say, after we checked to see if anyone was hit, we quietly walked over to our team member. I asked, “What the hell are you doing? You just put all of us at risk.” He said he couldn’t remember if he cleared his gun. His cell phone was in one hand and the gun in the other. The magazine was removed but instead of putting down the cell phone to rack the slide to visually check the chamber, he pointed the gun down range and pulled the trigger. He said, “It was an accident.”

Now for the lessons learned:

1. Never shoot when one is distracted. It puts everyone at risk.

2. There is no such thing as an Accidental Discharge, only Negligent Discharges
and this was gross negligence.


3. Because of his distraction, he became unaware of where his fellow shooters
were thus blowing safety out the door.

Other obvious safety violations:

1. Putting finger on the trigger without being ready to shoot.

2. Pointing the gun at an area he was unwilling to destroy or kill.

3. Not knowing what his target was and what was beyond.

4. Taking his gun out of his holster when the range was cold.

All of the above happened because his cell phone was distracting him. It took a long time to develop trust amongst ourselves so we could be very comfortable with each other during simulated close quarters combat drills. Now that trust is broken and the question becomes: can we trust this team member ever again? If we elect to keep him on the team, it will set us back in terms of complexity and exercising multi-faceted drills. If we banish him from the team, it will take a very long time to trust a new team member, virtually starting from the very beginning of our training together.

This is where you, THEFIRINGLINE.COM member come in. I am interested in knowing what you would do with this distracted team member? Banning his cell phone from the range is too easy and obvious. Please be specific as to what you would recommend for remedial training if you decide we should keep this member. If you recommend we dismiss him, please be specific with your reasons. Please try to refrain from critiquing our training methods. They are tried and true and based on SWAT TEAM TRAINING from some of the local PD’s that belong to our range.
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Old July 9, 2014, 11:11 AM   #2
dayman
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It seems more like a stupid (or at least highly questionable) action rather than an accidental/negligent discharge.
As such, I'd think it would be easily addressed, so that it won't happen again.
In all honesty, his embarrassment over the whole thing would quite probably keep it from happening again even if you didn't address it.

As I see it (and I wasn't there), he intentionally pulled the trigger, and made sure the gun was pointed in a safe direction. So, it wasn't exactly an accident, nor was it exactly negligent. I'm not sure what it was.
If he was aiming downrange - towards a berm or whatnot - he didn't have it pointed at anything he was unwilling to shoot.
Also, since he was intending to pull the trigger, he wasn't violating that rule either.
I'd be far more concerned with an issue that came up in the actual drills (a unsafe habit) than one intentional bad choice.
If it's a regular thing, maybe yo want to rethink things.
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Old July 9, 2014, 11:13 AM   #3
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Quote:
2. There is no such thing as an Accidental Discharge, only Negligent Discharges
I mostly agree. In the vast majority of cases when a gun discharges unintentily itnis a result of negligence.

I was working a contract in Baghdad and was forced into using a pistol other then the one i normally carried. No problem... Any gun will do, right? So i fully inspected this pistol including field strip, clean and lube.

Pre mission brief done i step outside the house to load up. Finger straight and along the frame.. Insert mag.. Run slideBANG

Now i KNOW 100% that my finger was not on the trigger. Turns out that about 1 time in 50 the hammer would bounce off the sear when the slide slamed closed and cause the pistol to fire. Just a worn sear but enough to get the gun to discharge. Strangly. On the range we got the gun to do it more often when loading a round then when the slide was dropped on an empty chamber

So its not always negligence.

The OPs case was though. Glad nobody was hurt. If you are around guns you are in a "no stupid zone". A single in incident of "stupid" puts people at risk
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Old July 9, 2014, 11:51 AM   #4
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Was this member as upset with his self, as you were with him? If the answer is YES, then the lesson was learned the HARD way.. It will never happen again.
If on the other hand, he blew it off, You Can Never Trust Him Again! He has no humility.

My dad always told me to look beyond my target, One day as I was leveling off for a shot, My Dad asked me was I sure of my shot… As the Glass broke and my face went Pale, He looked at me and asked, "Did you Learn anything" I said YES… He said, Lets go to the Hardware Store.. That is Called Hard Lessons, and I promise they stay with ya.
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Old July 9, 2014, 12:34 PM   #5
James K
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"Banning his cell phone from the range is too easy and obvious."

Why just HIS cell phone? Require that ALL cell phones and other distracting electronic devices be left in the car. On the range, a person's whole attention should be on what he is doing with his gun(s). He should not be selling stock, doing business, checking hotel reservations, or making a date with Beyonce. He can let his phone go to voice mail and return his calls when he is out of the gun-handling area (parking lot or off range property altogether).

If he or anyone else won't accept that, then what he is doing with his cell phone, laptop, or whatever, is more important to him than shooting safety; wish him well, but don't let him on the range again.

Jim
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Old July 9, 2014, 12:56 PM   #6
g.willikers
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Quote:
His cell phone was in one hand and the gun in the other.
Why did he even have his gun in hand while he was messing around with his phone and walking around the range?
Shouldn't he have automatically holstered it, especially with others still on the range?
Maybe it would be better to keep a hot range, with guns either being used or holstered and slung.
Then there's no question about whether there's a round in the chamber.
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Old July 9, 2014, 01:22 PM   #7
Frank Ettin
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You might consider another approach.

I have a fair amount of experience at Gunsite. Although I haven't participated in team drills, they look at range safety a bit differently. Gunsite is a hot range.

Guns are always loaded. When finishing an exercise, before leaving the line, we confirm the loaded status of our guns. This works because sidearms are always holstered (and long guns slung) except on the line when performing an exercise (or in a designated safe area in front of a berm or long guns make in in a rack, but unloaded with the actions open). In other words, guns are not handled except on the line or at a safe are with the muzzle down range.

Safety procedures are enforced by a zero tolerance policy with regard to unintentional discharges. If you have an unintentional discharge, you are done. You leave the range, go home and get a prorated refund of your tuition.
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Old July 9, 2014, 02:28 PM   #8
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There are "accidental" discarges, such as a malfunctioning weapon, i.e. Rem. 700 rifles. It happened to me years ago but the rifle was pointed DOWNRANGE, not at a person, house, vehicle, cow, etc.
22.5 yrs. police vetran, firearms training officer, among many other things.
Rookie had a Beretta 92, 9mm on the firing line.
I ordered load weapon, charge weapon, to which the rookie turned to me with his weapon pointed at my face and said "What?", to which I grabbed the weapon in a swipe away from my noggin when it discharged.
I got a muzzle blast burn to the hand. The young rookie saw the look on this old guys face & ran like hell. He was younger I coudln't catch him to "further instruct him on firearms safety".
After emotions settled & he ran out of steam & came back, badly shaken, I elected to spend lots more individual time with him.
Turned out to be a good (SAFE) copper.
I've been in knife attacks, gun fights, can't count the number of hands on encounters with gobblins but I believe the most dangerous jobs in police work are weapons training and directing traffic.
(been hit by cars 2 x!)
At night they were gawking at the ambulances & flashing lights & didn't see me with a reflective orange vest WITH strobe lights attached, & the flare in my hand?
(you gotta be kidding me!)
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Old July 9, 2014, 03:28 PM   #9
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People were down range...
He took a handgun and pointed it down range?!

If I have that right --
If people were DOWN RANGE
and he was HANDLING A FIREARM

In my opinion, he's banned from the premises, he's off the team.

Please tell me if I have something missing from the above.

If people are down range and he's handling a firearm, he's banned from the place. I don't see the point in trying to create rules to address what happened, all the rules are in place already and he skipped past them.

This isn't a situation where some piece of equipment could get broken or expenses could go up because of carelessness. This is human people getting shot, hurt, or killed.

I'd have a damn difficult time continuing any friendship. If I did, it would have to be non-gun related.
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Old July 9, 2014, 03:33 PM   #10
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45Gunner, few followup questions:
1. You said there are four lanes on this range, each 10 feet wide. Which lane was the negligent shooter on? Are there any obstructions between lanes on the firing line?
2. You said the three of you were walking back to the line, which you outlined as having a maximum range of 150 feet (50 yards). How far out were everyones targets? And what distance from you three to the negligent shooter existed?

From what I envision in my head of your range, its got to be difficult to NOT see people walking back to the firing line.

As for what to do about Mr Negligent.....Thats up to ya'll.
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Old July 9, 2014, 04:04 PM   #11
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Its very simple no one should have their hand on a firearm when people are forward on the range. I know if you did here you would be invited to leave the range, and possibly not come back.
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Old July 9, 2014, 06:12 PM   #12
raimius
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That's a tough one. I've face a similar situation.

(Sidebar story)
I was doing training with about 8 team members on a competitive shooting team. We were about half-way through a full day's syllabus. We had been working some live fire pistol drills. Then, we unloaded and moved to some dry fire rifle drills. After that, we started dry fire transition drills. The first iteration goes fine. Observer and participants switch, we start the drill and BANG! We all turn toward the guy who just transitioned to a LOADED pistol. He sat out the rest of the day (maybe week, I don't remember). We elected to keep him on the team. Eventually we let him go, but mainly for other reasons.
(end sidebar story)

You've got to ask yourselves if you think he is ever going to be unsafe again. If he had the "Fear of God" put into him by this event, maybe you can keep him. If he is going to do things while distracted or isn't 110% on board with STRICT safety rules, you should probably let him go.
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Old July 9, 2014, 06:54 PM   #13
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I see this as a TEAM failure...

You said you made your weapons safe. Did ANYONE verify that the other team members guns were made safe or did you just take each other's word for it?

Take a hint from competition shooting where the shooter removes their magazine, racks their slide to clear the chamber, and the must SHOW another person that their gun is safe. Only then can you claim that your team made the guns safe. No verification, no guns were safe.

Retrain the WHOLE team to verify guns are safe before considering them so. Also, get rid of the distractions (e.g. cell phone OFF).
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Old July 10, 2014, 02:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WW2
You said you made your weapons safe. Did ANYONE verify that the other team members guns were made safe or did you just take each other's word for it?

Take a hint from competition shooting where the shooter removes their magazine, racks their slide to clear the chamber, and the must SHOW another person that their gun is safe. Only then can you claim that your team made the guns safe. No verification, no guns were safe.

Retrain the WHOLE team to verify guns are safe before considering them so. Also, get rid of the distractions (e.g. cell phone OFF).
I think WW2 makes some very good points here, and perhaps a good suggestion for continuing to make safety a priority in your training. Perhaps, at the end of a drill, verifying not only that your own weapon is safe, but that your teammates weapons are safe as well, even by simply making eye contact with each team member and verifying the weapon is safe. If a team member is making the commands, than he or she should be the one to assure that commands are being enforced. If it is a 3rd party range master, than that person should be supervising all actions, including whether or not someone is doing something stupid. I also agree that banning all members from having cell phones on a hot range would be wise, and that once a cell phone rings, a range should go cold immediately before it can be answered.

As to the future of your teammate: I don't think he should be removed from the team. If he pointed the gun in what he saw was a safe direction and discharged it so as to empty his weapon, then we have no reason to believe he wasn't following the 4 rules. He knew it was loaded, knew his target, planned on destroying that patch of ground he shot, and intentionally pulled the trigger. I agree that it was negligent, in that it was not the safest way to clear his weapon with others on the range. I
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Old July 10, 2014, 08:43 AM   #15
green_MTman
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SIMPLE PROBLEM SIMPLE ANSWER


1.if everyone was back from downrange and behind the firing line,what does it matter if he discharged his gun

2.if there are people down range then one should never check the chamber for a round or tinker with a gun in any way at all.keep muzzle in a safe direction then once everyone is back behind firing line THEN check gun for round in the chamber while muzzle is in safe direction.

3.if this guy actually pulled the trigger on the gun while people were in front of firing line then he should kicked out of your group forever,no question
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Old July 10, 2014, 10:00 AM   #16
STEINER
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Cell Phones cause automobile accidents and fatalities.
Using one during a critical and responsible action should be avoided.
The solution to help prevent this in the future is a new range rule.
"Cell phones are prohibited on the firing line."
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Old July 10, 2014, 10:28 AM   #17
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Your team member stated: "It was an accident"

That statement, to me anyway,gives the sense that he is kind of minimizing the gravity of what he did. And, like others have said, there is no excuse for having a cell phone in one hand and a gun in the other. At least during training/practice.
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Old July 10, 2014, 10:30 AM   #18
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Banning phones from the firing line seems like a good first start, but I think that WW2's suggestion to have another person confirm a safe weapon is going to be more effective in the long run against distractions both known and unknown.
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Old July 10, 2014, 10:36 AM   #19
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This Range is a Cell-Phone-Free Zone

That's the sign on an indoor range to which I belong; the business area is separated from the range by a two-door airlock. Produce a cell phone on the range for any reason and you're told to leave. If you want to take a selfie, go outside; if you are taking pictures for training you make special arrangements. I think that's the take-home lesson from this incident. If having a cell phone in a pocket is part of an exercise, be sure that the cell phone is OFF.
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Old July 10, 2014, 11:51 AM   #20
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45Gunner wrote;
Quote:
He said he couldn’t remember if he cleared his gun. His cell phone was in one hand and the gun in the other. The magazine was removed but instead of putting down the cell phone to rack the slide to visually check the chamber, he pointed the gun down range and pulled the trigger. He said, “It was an accident.”
This sounds to me like he is "marginalizing" his involvement in a potentially lethal act of negligence on his part. I could not bring myself to trust him with a loaded firearm anywhere near me. As for the friendship ? That's your call. This was no "Accident"
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Old July 10, 2014, 12:42 PM   #21
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It was not an accident

"An accident or a mishap is an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance, often with lack of intention or necessity."

The above from Webster's dictionary... This event was not unforeseen or unplanned. He intentionally pulled the trigger....

You know the range layout, but from your description it sounds careless and dangerous.

My last employer had a zero tolerance policy. 1 Nd and you were on a plane home. Dont pass go dont collect... You were done

We had a guy (good, solid dude) had a ND on the training range while clearing a malfunction. No better place to have one. He was on the firing line... Muzzle downrange. Somehow he discharged a round INTO THE BACKSTOP. He was off the range packing his stuff that afternoon and on a plane stateside that evening

While i dont agree with that strict a policy, ND/AD/anytime you bang off a round when your not supposed to, its a serious event
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Old July 10, 2014, 01:16 PM   #22
Rj1972
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Originally posted by raimius:
Quote:
You've got to ask yourselves if you think he is ever going to be unsafe again. If he had the "Fear of God" put into him by this event, maybe you can keep him. If he is going to do things while distracted or isn't 110% on board with STRICT safety rules, you should probably let him go.
That's my feeling of it as well. It's one thing to say "It was an accident" and be only marginally concerned about how fantastically a screw up that was (and it's not an accident if you pull the trigger to check if you have a loaded round or not). If he has the complete gravity of the situation to indicate how much he put everyone else's life in danger, then that's one thing. If he's like "whoops, that was an accident. sorry bout that guys" and moves on, then it's time to move on further...
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Old July 10, 2014, 03:53 PM   #23
Targa
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I doubt any further action will be needed, a firearm unintentionally firing is enough to scare most normal people into a higher sense of awareness.
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Old July 11, 2014, 08:23 AM   #24
OuTcAsT
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Targa Wrote;
Quote:
a firearm unintentionally firing
Therein lies the problem.

1. Firearms do not "unintentionally" fire. A firearm will only fire if someone has his booger hook on the bang switch.

2. The OP explained this:

45Gunner wrote;
Quote:
The magazine was removed but instead of putting down the cell phone to rack the slide to visually check the chamber, he pointed the gun down range and pulled the trigger.
He fired "intentionally" , down range, in the general direction of people checking targets. This was no "accident" It was a careless, but deliberate action. The "higher sense of awareness" should have prevented him from doing it at all.
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Old July 11, 2014, 09:19 AM   #25
Jim243
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Quote:
We are a four-man team that drills three times per week.
There in lies your problem, you need two to four additional members to serve as SO's. It is not by accident that IDPA and USPSA require all matches to have trained Safety Officers at all drills or as they call it Stages.

While I do not condone your type of practice (too many chances for someone to really get hurt or killed). And many complain that IDPA has too many rules. Every month (or almost every month) you will see anywhere from 60 to 80 shooters per match all with holstered guns blasting away with 9,000 to 12,000 rounds of ammunition and everyone going home in one piece without any extra holes in them.

"Accidents will happen", that is a fact of life. And yes the other guy was the one that had the AD, but each of you need to take the responsibility for each others safety. So I blame all the members of your team for not paying attention to what was going on. Even at a public range, I am aware of what the guy next to me is doing at all times and will not hesitate to warn him if I see something that will cause harm to him or me.

You all need to review what you are doing and add an additional level of safety. give one of your members the responsibility as the Match director and add members as Safety Officers whose only job is watch for unsafe practices while the members guns are hot. I am sure if someone had yelled out "Finger" or "Phone" the AD would not have happened.

Good luck and stay safe.
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