Handling firearms comes with substantial risk. Unfortunately, the risk doesn't disappear just when we leave the range. Many unintended discharges (UDs) occur when people conduct dry fire practice.
When Dry Fire Practice Isn't “Dry” Part II
For this reason, we decided to reach out to gun owners and peruse the internet for stories of unintended discharges while conducting dryfire practice.
We compiled a handful of stories that fit our criteria. First, the unintended discharge must have happened while conducting dry fire practice. Secondly, there must be some detail to the story that paints a picture we can learn from. And lastly, we asked that the story include a brief explanation of their experience with firearms.
As you can imagine, not everyone who shared their experience with us is eager to have their name attached to the story. So we agree not to publish anyone's name.
This is the second story we've published on the topic of unintended discharges during dryfire. In the last report, a person with many years of experience competitively shooting guns had a momentary lapse while conducting dryfire in his kitchen. If you haven't read that story yet, you can find it by clicking here.
Gun Shop Dry Fire Mistake —
I was working at a local gun range as an instructor and RSO. My experience with firearms spanned many years. People who know me would have said I was overly cautious when it came to safety issues.
On one particular day, I was in the office, and we had no customers. We had no one scheduled for a lesson and the weather was not great, so we weren't likely to have any shooters. I recently obtained a new firearm and decided that I would take the opportunity to conduct some dry fire practice, and work on skills and pass the time.
I removed the magazine, checked for an empty chamber, and spent some time working on my aim and trigger press. I reloaded my firearm when I finished. I repeated this process several times throughout the day.
In the afternoon, our gunsmith came inside the office. He had his little boy with him, and I felt uncomfortable having the gun out with him present. I just felt a “check” to put it away and finish the drill after they left the office.
Once they left, I began my dryfire practice again. I turned to a corner of the office because “never point your muzzle at anything you don't intend to destroy” and pulled the trigger.
I heard the loudest bang ever and it seemed as though the world stopped- time stood still.
I Don't Remember Loading the Gun —
I do not recall having put that magazine back in the firearm to this day. My mind is blank as to when I stopped the dry fire and reloaded the gun or why it was in my hand at that moment. Clearly, I had just reloaded the gun and holstered it, but I have no recollection of doing it to this day.
The event was devastating, and I have never stopped being grateful that I pointed the muzzle in a safe direction. After sharing my story, people I assumed would have never done anything so irresponsible came from the woodwork sharing similar stories.
I've come to realize that often, the more experienced we are, the more likely we are to become “automatic” in what we do without giving real thought as we go through those steps.
Now, I am adamant about not having any ammunition in the room when I handle my firearm away from the range. I TRIPLE check the breech and magazines. When handling a firearm in a classroom, I verify with at least one other knowledgeable adult to confirm it is clear.
I learned that carelessness could occur even with the most experienced if we become too complacent.
I hope you all are as grateful to the author as I am that he shared his story. I pray that we won't be too quick to dismiss this story as something that could never happen to us. No one who has experienced an event like the one in this post intended it to happen. Therefore we should all guard against complacency and continually assess our systems and processes, even more so if we've been doing the same thing for years and years.
As we've seen in the first two stories shared with us, an experienced competitive shooter and an RSO of a range both had a life-changing lapse in attention. It happens, folks.
We need to learn from these stories.
We have found a device that blocks the chamber, making it impossible for an unintended discharge to occur. It also provides a visual indicator that the firearm cannot fire. And the device does not affect the mechanical function of the gun.
The simple device is called BarrelBlok. Here is a recent post on the merits of the product.
Please consider using a BarrelBlok every time you conduct dry fire practice. After seeing how to use the product, I think you will agree that the product should be a fundamental safety device for every gun owner.