How and What Front Sight Teaches about
The range master and
one of his instructors giving intensive one-on-one tuition
to two of the students.
Part of a series on the Front
Sight Firearms Training Institute; what it does, how it does
it, and its relevance for you. Please click the links
on the right hand side for other parts of the series.
Before teaching us how to shoot
a gun properly, Front Sight first concentrated on teaching us
how to not shoot a gun improperly - what it terms a 'negligent
Through a series of vivid
examples, they explained to us how easy it can be to make a
series of accidental errors, any one of which, by itself, would
have no effect, but cumulatively, they add up to a negligent
discharge, a wounding, and possible a death.
But avoiding such things is
actually easy. There are only four things you must always
Safety - Training and On the
We're not going to get into
the debate (argument) as to whether guns are innately dangerous
or not, or whether the danger lies not so much in the gun itself
as the person handling it. But however one interprets this
philosophical point, the reality is that guns are designed to
readily kill things, and must be treated with care.
On the other hand, any
reasonably modern and well designed gun that is untouched will never fire a shot,
all by itself. It is only when
human factors intrude that the danger element arises.
If you have an older
pistol that could potentially self-discharge - particularly if
dropped - then you should destroy it and replace it with a
better designed more modern weapon. We had at least two
occasions during each four day training session where someone dropped their pistol
at the range, and with less than 40 people in total on the
range, that is a significant percentage of drops. Don't
ever find yourself with a weapon that might discharge if
Suffice it to say that the
combination of a firearm and a person handling it can definitely
be lethal, both in a planned situation and alas, also,
Front Sight of course give a
great deal of training on how to best control a weapon to
achieve maximum effect when defending yourself, but they give
even more importance to how to ensure that you never ever
accidentally fire your weapon.
This term refers to the
unplanned firing of a weapon. It is common to refer to
such events as 'accidental discharges' but Front Sight refuses
to use this term. Front Sight instead insists on
describing them as a 'negligent discharge' and that is by far
the better term, because it correctly implies that someone did
not just have an innocent faultless accident, but rather that
someone failed to observe proper gun handling procedures.
If you fastidiously follow the four
rules of firearm safety that Front Sight insists upon, there's
no chance of ever experiencing a negligent discharge and the
potentially tragic outcome that might follow.
You might think you know
these safety rules already, and you might even think you comply
with them. I thought I knew them myself, but I also know
there have been events in the past where I inadvertently
failed to comply with one of them, and have come close to a
nasty surprise as a result, and/or have found my following the
rules to have almost literally been a life-saver.
Anyone who handles weapons
sufficiently will sooner or later come across the gun they
thought was unloaded, but which in reality turned out to have
one or more rounds inside it. If you follow the four safety
rules, this won't cause a tragedy, but if you skip even one of
them, Murphy's Law dictates that you'll suffer the worst
possible outcome, and instead of your weapon protecting yourself
and your loved ones, it may cause tragic harm to them.
The Four Rules of Gun Safety
It is worth citing the four
rules. Front Sight define them as :
Treat every weapon as if it
Never let the muzzle cover
anything you are not willing to destroy
Keep your finger off the
trigger and outside the trigger guard until you're ready to
Be sure of your target and
what's inline with it
If you think carefully about
these four rules and understand the totality of them, and then
100% invariably always comply with them, you'll never have a
negligent discharge, but if you don't always observe all of them
in all aspects, you'll increase the odds of a discharge that will be the result of your negligence.
Always Follow The Four Rules
Sometimes these four rules
might seem like overkill (to use a perhaps poorly chosen word!).
And sometimes we might find ourselves tempted to skip one or two
of them, because we 'know' there is no need for that particular
rule in that particular circumstance. Please - resist such
temptation. If always following all four rules is a
reflexive action, always followed with no exceptions, there's
less chance of ever accidentally skipping one.
Let me give two examples
where you might think at least one of the rules is unnecessary.
First example - you are in a
gun shop looking at perhaps buying a new gun. You ask to
see a pistol, and the store assistant takes it out of the case,
checks to confirm it is unloaded, and hands it to you. You
then proceed to look at it, feel its balance, check the sights,
In doing so, you have
probably broken at least two and possibly even three of the four
safety rules. You would only be in compliance if you first
rechecked the weapon for being unloaded immediately upon
receiving it from the store salesman; if you made sure the
muzzle never went anywhere near anyone else in the store, even
for the briefest instant, and if you never put your finger on
Okay, so sooner or later,
you're going to want to put your finger on the trigger, but did
you comply with the other three rules?
Second example - to show the
fastidious way in which Front Sight insists on observing these
rules to the highest level possible, here's their 'unload a
pistol procedure'. Imagine you are on the range and have
just finished firing a couple of rounds, and your gun is still
in your hand, with more ammunition in the magazine and of course
another round automatically chambered, at the ready. How
would you unload it? You'd probably hit the magazine
release, remove the magazine, then work the slide and extract
the remaining bullet, and consider that you'd then done
everything necessary, right?
No, wrong. Here is how
Front Sight require you to do it. The first thing you do
is a chamber check - even though you know the weapon is loaded,
and even though the very next thing you'll do is to unload it.
The reason for this is primarily to make this a totally
instinctive action with no exceptions - every maneuver must be
preceded by a chamber check and magazine check.
So, after checking to see
that yes, indeed, you've got a loaded weapon, you then remove
the magazine and clear the loaded round, the same as you'd
probably normally do. But, wait - there's more.
The next thing you do is
another chamber check to ensure that the weapon is now unloaded,
even though you know it is. And then you do a magazine
check - in this case, by sticking a finger up the magazine well
to confirm there is no magazine in it, even though you again
know there isn't one. Only then is the unloading process
All of this semi-redundant
procedure points to the number one rule - treat every weapon as
if it were loaded - ie, never ever assume.
Oh - one more thing about
Front Sight's unloading procedure. They not only have this
as a massively redundant procedure, but before releasing us from
the range, we'd all have to go through a full formal second
unload drill, even though everyone already was supposed to have
an unloaded weapon.
You Will Win Respect Rather
than Derision by Following These Rules
Only ignorant fools will
snicker when they see you checking a gun that they know you know
is unloaded. People you respect, and people who you would
wish to respect you, will be impressed at your caution and
When it comes to firearms
handling, there's no such thing as too much safety.
Important Summary on the
Subject of Safety
There is a lot more to range
safety - and safe firearms handling everywhere else as well -
than what I've lightly touched on in this section. The
purpose of this section is not to teach you all about firearms
safety (that is Front Sight's job, not mine), but rather to explain that Front Sight is fastidiously
attentive to firearms safety, and will teach you what you need
to know to ensure that you too become safe.
Most of all, you will learn
that you have, on occasion in the past, been doing things that
were not fully safe and which did place you at risk of negligent
There are lots of reasons to
go to a Front Sight course, and while it is true that Front
Sight will teach you how to be more 'deadly' with a firearm,
Front Sight will also teach you how to be more safe with a
firearm, and when you think about it, that is perhaps the more
Somewhere between 99.999%
and 100% of the time, your objective with a weapon is to be
safe, not deadly, and so it is very appropriate to first learn
how to be ultra-safe. Front Sight will teach you this.
Part of a multi-part series
Please click the links at
the top right of this page to read through
other parts of this extensive series on Front Sight and the
training they offer.
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11 Sep 2010, last update
21 Jul 2020
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.