19 Dec 16
A friend and student suffered an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound last year. It happened on a training range during a training session.
I was not there.
However, he later talked with me about it and reveled important details I am sharing now.
The incident involved a 1911 pistol. The single round of ammunition was a Federal 230gr hardball. Subsequent investigation revealed that neither the pistol itself, nor the ammunition, were defective in any way. On the day in question, both functioned normally, and as designed.
The wound was in the shooter’s right buttocks. Entry and exit wounds were separated by fifteen centimeters. The bullet traveled just under the skin. The shooter was taken to a local hospital, but was released a short time later. No permanent injury, disability, nor disfigurement. The bullet went on to impact into the ground and caused no further damage. The shooter is fully recovered now.
The shooter was a well-trained and competent Operator. Gun and accouterments involved were all high-quality and in good repair. The 1911’s trigger pull-weight was a nominal five pounds.
The mishap occurred during the presentation of the pistol as part of a live-fire exercise. Drawing from concealment, from a strong-side, IWB, belt holster, the shooter’s light-weight shirt got between his strong-side hand and the grip of the pistol. As the pistol cleared the holster, the fabric of the entangled shirt started pulling on the pistol, retarding the draw sequence.
Manual safety was pushed into the “off” position, and a finger obviously made contact with the trigger well before it should have.
While physical wounding was relatively minor, the shooter reported that he is still struggling with the emotional aspect, which is, of course, understandable.
Here is what I think we can all learn from this:
1) Thin, filmy, flimsy concealment garments are a bad idea! Whatever you use to conceal your pistol needs to be substantial enough so that is unlikely to snag the gun itself.
2) Going too fast is a bad idea! We all need to train well, so that we can both draw, and reholster, our concealed-carry pistols smoothly and correctly. Smoothness is the key! “Pushing the speed envelope” needs to be done with great caution! Concentrate on smoothness and correct sequence. Speed will come naturally, and in its own good time!
3) As my esteemed colleague and friend, Skip Gochenour, reminds us every time we get together:
All guns, but particularly those designed and carried for serious purposes, are “deadly weapons.”
They are extremely dangerous, and designed to be!
On grounds you think are reasonable, you have voluntarily decided not only to own and keep these deadly weapons, but to interact with them regularly, and make them part of your daily routine.
Risk attaches to that decision!
Risk can be reduced significantly via competent training and respectable routine and practice. Significant lifestyle changes may even be required for you to keep and bear arms with a reasonable degree of safety.
risk can never be eliminated! No mater how careful you are, no matter how “safe” you try to be, no matter what kind of guns you select, nor in what condition you keep them, risk of UDs is always present.
Some professing “instructors” will tell you, “Handle guns this way, and nothing bad will ever happen.” Never believe it! These people are charlatans.
What we need to know about keeping and bearing arms is this:
“Safety” and “readiness” are always mutually antagonistic. The more “ready” your gun, the less safe. The more “safe,” the less ready. You can’t have it both ways!
Today’s pistols represent six thousand years of painful weapons evolution. I believe they are as “safe” as it is possible to make a gun, and still have it reasonably useful for its intended purpose.
As Jeff Cooper once reminded us, “A gun that is ‘perfectly safe’ is perfectly useless.”
Conversely, a gun in a high state of readiness is eminently dangerous, and should be!
There is no “risk-free” way to keep and bear arms. Conversely, significant risk also attaches to not keeping, nor bearing, arms.
Ultimately, there is no “risk-free” living.
All Operators know and understand this!