Accidents happen, but when they happen at a gun range, things can get dangerous. That’s actually not the case in this video, as we take a look at a “happy accident” that shows exactly why proper gun etiquette is so important.

A shooter at a local match had an accidental discharge and was lucky enough to catch it on film. This was not a negligent discharge, as his finger was nowhere near the trigger when the gun fired.

Consider all of the things he does CORRECTLY during the incident:

1. Gun is pointed down range and in a safe direction.

2. After the discharge he does not panic, but rather surveys the situation.

3. After surveying the situation he awaits directions from the range officer instead of wildly handling the firearm.

This is such an important lesson for new shooters. Thankfully, no one was injured after the accidental discharge, which demonstrates why being aware at all times when handling a firearm is so important.

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13 thoughts on “Video: How to Accidentally Discharge your Handgun Properly

  1. Slow deliberate action is often preferred. In life or death, swift mediocre will often rule the day, but in a negligent or accidentally discharge… stop … consider … wait for the RO
    This was a great instructional video

  2. I had this exact same thing happen to me. I shoot steel and IDPA using unmodified duty weapons (Glock, SIG, M&P) and I forcefully rack the slide using the over-the-top method taught in tactical training with the trigger finger planted firmly on the frame just below the slide.

    A competitor who was proud of his new 1911 build costing him something like $5K wanted me to experience the smooth trigger pull. On an empty range with steel targets I face down range and was handed the 1911 and was given the command to load and make ready. I inserted the magazine and racked the slide hard with the over-the-top method just as I always do.

    The gun discharged down range. Good thing we did everything correct and by the book so the round struck in the rear berm just like any shot that would have missed a steel plate.

    Found out that the competitor had set his trigger pull to 0.5 lbs. (1/2 lbs.) to improve his times and increase accuracy by essentially taking the trigger out of the equation. I haven’t touched any of his guns since and will simply pack up and leave the venue if I see him there. His equipment is unsafe and that makes him unsafe for having unsafe equipment. What would happen if he stumbles and drops his gun during a stage? Where would that bullet strike?

    I understand this particular competitor has been banned from at least one venue that I frequent.

    Moral of the story, the safety rules followed to the letter will protect you from an unexpected mechanical failure. Excellent video. Kudos to the shooter and the RSO for acknowledging his adherence to the rules of safety. Would be nice to know what cause the malfunction.

    1. While I understand the IDPA “cold range” rules and philosophy, and I can’t imagine a public range or a commercial one running a “hot range” due to perceived or real liability concerns, the forced “load and unload” of every competitor on every stage is a safety risk. Example : 25 competitors, 5 stages? 250 loads and unloads and each one an opportunity for a mistake or equipment malfunction. And each one is easily eliminated. Alternatively you could be required to show up ready to go (if legal to do so) or use a spot against the berm where you gear up and load and then unless you are the active shooter on the clock your firearm stays in the holster. It sounds like heresy to many shooters but it’s actually far safer. You eliminate hundreds of unnecessary weapon manipulations per match. You can administratively remove a mag and top up while still safely holstered. Yes, to compete you should be able to load and unload safely but until we evolve into something else we are all human and we all make mistakes and we have equipment that will fail eventually, it’s just a numbers game. Sorry for the sermon….

      1. You say you can “easily eliminate” all of them, how? If you show up ready to compete, that means you don’t have to load the first stage, so you save 25 of your 250. That’s assuming everyone competes with their carry weapon and load. Your plan is to have everyone loading and unloading off the firing line, back among the other idle competitors? If you load and unload on the firing line, there’s a safe place to point the muzzle. What do you actually propose that’s safer than what IDPA does?

      2. I think I proposed above that either you show up ready to shoot, or you gear up at a designated “load area” up against the berm.

        Handling any firearm uprange of other competitors is unsafe and should be a match DQ. Then you remain loaded throughout the competition. You reload during the course of fire as you would have to anyway. Each time you reholster at the end of a stage you holster a firearm with at least a round in the chamber. But you are already handling the firearm and are not required to unload.

        You can remove a magazine and charge it and replace it wherever you are provided the firearm remains completely within an IDPA approved holster. At the end of a competition you can just leave or unload at the designated safe area.

        I realize that for many venues this is impractical or forbidden by club or range rules. That takes precedent. I also realize that for some this exposes everyone involved with additional at least perceived liability and is a non starter. I just want us to have a clear understanding of what is safe and what is safer or unsafe. Pretending we are adding something unneeded (at least partly) that has additional risk and calling it “safer” is bad logic. I would also add that any competitors feeling unsafe / uneasy with a loaded firearm while not competing would be permitted to load and unload as currently done.

        We run a cold range because the City/County/Town requires it, fine. We run a cold range because “The gun range incorporated” requires it, fine. We run a cold range because it’s safer. No.

        Ask two questions. 1, how many ADs during load and unload have you witnessed or reliably heard of? 2, how many guns have you heard of having discharged spontaneously while in a safe holster untouched by human hands? Doing nothing can not logically be less safe than doing something we know and acknowledge has risk.
        Thank you for a polite and civil discussion, it’s appreciated.

      3. All of my tactical training is at hot ranges and everyone uses duty guns. I’ve never seen a negligent discharge that was an equipment malfunction. I say negligent discharge and make no other distinction because every discharge not intentional via deliberately pulling the trigger is negligent and will get you sent home from the training. I have seen people dorking with the trigger and shoot the ground at their feet. These people were removed from the training and sent home. That trigger dorking was with a carbine not a pistol.

        I’ve seen a negligent discharge when a shooter kept his finger on the trigger during a speed load but he followed the rules of safety and kept the muzzle down range.

        Competition is a whole other world. You don’t have rock solid duty guns. You have an unlimited number of unknown modifications that affect functionality and ultimately safety of the guns competitors use. My story of the 1911 owner setting his trigger pull to 0.5 (1/2) lbs. is the perfect example. With a trigger that light it’s entirely possible for the gun to discharge if the person kicks a rock or something with one toe, stumbles and lands hard with one of his feet without falling down and creates enough vibration to set the trigger loose. What if he stumbles and falls down away from the firing line out in some common area with that 0.5 (1/2) lbs. hair trigger and vibration impulse from falling and hitting the ground causes the trigger to be released if this is a hot range as you propose?

        IDPA, Steel Challenge, USPSA, etc. all run cold ranges and I believe that’s the best solution. There are too many Gomers who don’t live safety as a religion and too many people who can be hurt or killed by them.

        I’ve given kudos to the RSO and the shooter in the video for following the safety rules which prevented a tragedy. However, after a closer review of the video, the shooter used a “hot dog, show-off” maneuver when he ejected the round into the air and caught it on the fly when instructed to unload and show clear. This shooter is not your average Joe with a duty gun. From my experience and observations, shooters who unload in that fashion are typically highly experienced and have performed a ton of modifications on their guns to enhance their competition times.

        He modified his gun and created the mechanical malfunction. Just like the owner of the 1911 in my story, I don’t want these guys walking around in on hot range. Their equipment is unsafe even in a holster.

      4. You make many excellent points. I agree with several.

        I have spent many many hours on hot ranges in classes and in competition (my pistol club ran hot ranges and my 3 gun group ran mixed ranges pistols hot long guns cold) my experience is the folks who modify their equipment to that extent aren’t safe on a cold range either. They needed to be weeded out regardless. That said I have yet to hear of an incident where a shooter stumbled and caused an AD/ND with the firearm secure in an IDPA approved holster. I have only my experience to draw on, you may be aware of such a happening? Steel challenge and some IPSC holsters are a different story, many are really “rests” intended to hold a loaded gun only while the shooter is stationary awaiting the start buzzer. They should be run cold, no argument. Other than that, it’s only logical that handling a firearm is more risky than doing nothing. Any risk that can easily be eliminated, should and pretending that something less safe is better than doing nothing.

        Oh, I have ejected and caught loaded rounds, not because I care what other shooters think but because after a USMC training accident (non combat) I have a damaged spine and I avoid bending over if I can. I’m aware some folks consider that “risky” and if it bothers anyone I’m happy to let the round fall, I can make more.

        Just food for thought. The biggest mistake is complacency and taking everything as gospel. Life is risk, all we can do is think for ourselves and listen to those we respect.

      5. Sounds like we agree on everything except IDPA so I’ll address that. Your statement “That said I have yet to hear of an incident where a shooter stumbled and caused an AD/ND with the firearm secure in an IDPA approved holster” focuses on the piece of the equipment called the “holster.” You can’t ND with a solid and functional piece of equipment called “an IDPA approved holster” seems to be your message.

        IDPA runs a cold range because of the piece of equipment called the “Gomer that wears the holster.” How many times have you seen Gomer and Goober somewhere off the firing line talking about how cool their guns are and one of them eventually take his gun out of his holster to show it to the other? Some bystanders duck for cover. Some bystanders rush over grabbing the wrist and slide forcing the muzzle to the ground. There is a roar of “STOP” from several people.

        Gomer and Goober don’t have their heads in the safety game, they are just chatting about their cool guns.

        Or maybe Gomer is just putting his gun in his range bag and forgets to do that in the safe area. He forgets because his head is not in the safety game. A potential tragedy on a hot range especially if he pulls the trigger to ensure the chamber is empty before the gun goes in the bag.

        Cold ranges anywhere are not about protecting people from mechanical problems. Cold ranges are all about protecting people from negligent people who don’t have their mind in the game. I see people without their mind in the game all the time and don’t need to see someone get shot accidentally to visualize that tragedy as a possibility.

        Use Google, Bing, or Yahoo! and search “IDPA negligent discharge” and read as many stories as you care to read about people who had a ND at a match.

      6. I guess I have been lucky. I have heard about gomers but haven’t experienced one personally. That behavior would be a match DQ IMHO and as a CD (which I am not) I would be reticent about allowing them to compete in the future. We did have one three gun incident like that but they actually walked to the berm to do so, the error was we were shooting on an adjacent range that had an imperfect barrier between ranges so they were effectively down range when they shouldn’t have been.
        IDPA matches usually have a “safe area” where you are allowed to remove your firearm from the holster, provided no ammo at all is allowed. I’ve seen that broken and myself was guilty because I picked up a dual mag carrier with mags inside and screwed up and didn’t check both and there was one round in the second. I notified the CD of the error and he allowed me to compete, I would have accepted a DQ.
        The question becomes one of trade offs. Which is more risky? The potential for gomers to pull out loaded guns up range or every single competitor being forced to load and reload X times per match? My experience says the load and unload is riskier but I understand that the perception is the reverse.

      7. It’s more risky to allow Gomer who doesn’t have his head in the safety game to walk around the hot range venue with loaded gun. Even worse if Gomer has tuned his race gun (IDPA ESP category) to get more speed which reduces mechanical safety reliability.

        Loading and unloading while pointing the muzzle down range under supervision of a RSO and only when commanded to do so is infinitely safer than a hot range with Gomer walking around. An ND such as we saw in the video goes down range and hits dirt outdoors or the bullet trap if shooting indoors.

        The discussion of DQ for an ND is not relevant. DQ is the least of your worries if Gomer shoots himself or a bystander because you are running a hot range. One Gomer who shoots somebody by accident or negligence is too many.

        Cold ranges protect people from being maimed or killed negligent people.

      8. I understand what you are saying, and I agree that Gomer walking around with a loaded gun on a hot range is a risk. I’ve just seen far more NDs during load and unload than anyone pulling out a loaded gun uprange. My former club (we moved south to get away from the Safe act among other reasons) ran and still runs a weekly IDPA rules match open to all comers, hot range from start to finish. In the fifteen years plus I was a member we had zero incidents of what you describe, though I wasn’t there for every event so it’s possible I’m unaware of even several similar incidents. What I am certain of is that zero NDs occurred. Though we had one ND in a pistol permit class which was a cold range and it was during an unloading. If it was infinitely more dangerous how is that record possible? I wish we had more hard data on NDs and their causes.
        I thank you for a polite and respectful discussion and I will reread your comments, you certainly make many excellent observations / arguments. Safety is everyone’s responsibility and any accidents threaten to undermine our sport and risk public pressure for range closure etc.

      9. Thank you also for the polite and respectful discussion. Awaiting your next comments but I’ll make this my last comment.

        I prefer that Gomer has an unloaded gun at all times except when it’s his turn to shoot and he’s told to load and make ready with the muzzle down range. Anyone running a cold range prefers the same.

        Safety is the #1 priority. A single ND that maims or kills someone is unacceptable. There is a 100% guarantee you will not have a ND if you have an unloaded gun…even Gomer.

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