Watch, Man Shot During Reckless Live Fire Handgun Training—Exploring the Myth of ‘Realistic’ Training

Some in the firearms training world believe in the notion that taking unnecessary risks leads to more realistic and effective training. However, this belief rests on shaky ground, as it disregards the fundamental principles of safety and responsible firearm handling. In this post, I'll show you just one video of many available on the internet, where a couple of “professionals” throw safety to the wind and illustrate why there's no valid reason to jeopardize safety in the pursuit of “realistic” training scenarios.

man shoots while another man is downrange

Man Shoots Other Man During Live Fire Training:

This video recently popped up on social media, although I don't know when or where the incident took place. Some say the video shows a couple of French “Special Ops” Military dudes, others disagreed. Really, it doesn't matter much who these guys are, other than it wouldn't surprise me much if they are professionals.

It wouldn't surprise me if they were professionals, because I've observed something over the decads I've been involved with firearm training. Many times when inexperienced shooters violate safety rules, it is in ignorance or because of poor skills. When professionals violate safety rules—and they do—it's often on purpose, because they want to “train how they fight” and think because of their experience, they can push the limits of safety.

This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, but I've seen it far too many times to ignore it.

Let's Watch the Video:

We see a guy engaging targets from about 7 yards away. The twist is that another dude stands down range about halfway between the shooter and targets. The shooter alternates shots on either side of the guy downrange.

Downrange Dummy Dude stands stoically as the shooter cranks off one round to his left. Then, even though the shooter rolls out every gun handling technique that looks cool on video, he flags Downrange Dummy Dude, as he transitions from one side to the other. The shooter presses out and fires off a round on the Downrange Dummy Dude's right side.

Safety 3rd-and the Second Firearm Safety Rule

How To Ruin a Perfectly Good Shirt and Tattoo:

The shooter's second shot strikes and continues through Downrange Dummy Dude's upper arm. The injury is not life-threatening, however as we see in the video, it messed up the guy's tattoo.

I'm quite intrigued by both men's reaction to the incident. The shooter doesn't seem too concerned with shooting his ‘buddy' in the arm. And the injured dude doesn't really even flinch when shot. I don't know what the men in the video are saying while displaying his gunshot wound, but it sure seems as though they are laughing. Glad he isn't holding a grudge.

trauma gear banner

Why Were These Men Doing This?

It may seem shocking to watch, but this type of thing isn't unique. There are many videos online, and anecdotal stories of trainers doing this far too often. Proponents pose the exercise in one of two ways.

First, as a ‘confidence builder' for the shooter. By shooting with real people down range, the shooter will ‘learn' confidence when they have to use their firearm with team members or innocent people downrange. While it's true that innocent people may be ‘downrange' in any defensive gun use (DGU), there is no evidence that this type of thing results in better performance in a real DGU. The risk doesn't outweigh the benefit, and this is just nonsense justification for doing something stupid on the range.

dangerous instruction

Here is a still from a video of another ‘real life' training exercise.

Second, the proponents might say this is ‘stress inoculation' for the dude downrange. The thought is that if you ‘get used' to rounds flying past your body, you won't freeze up in an actual deadly force incident. There is absolutely credence to stress inoculation, and learning how to perform when under stress from loud noises, physical exhaustion, etc. However, yet again, the risk of this training far outweighs any stress inoculation payoff. Furthermore, there are safer ways to bring about stress and simulate more ‘real world' factors than having people shoot at you.

Safe Firearm Training Isn't Just for Newbies:

The big drive for unsafe training like we see in the video is a hunt for realistic firearm training. But, before delving into the concept of realistic training, it's crucial to reiterate that safety should always be the paramount concern. Firearms, by their nature, demand strict adherence to safety protocols. Ignoring these guidelines can have severe consequences, both for the individual and those around them. Prioritizing safety ensures that training remains productive, beneficial, and, most importantly, safe.

realistic firearm training doesn't have to be dangerous

The False Dichotomy: Realism vs. Safety

One of the key misconceptions surrounding training involves the idea of a trade-off between realism and safety. This false dichotomy assumes that in order to replicate real-world scenarios, one must accept higher levels of risk. However, this premise is inherently flawed.

9mm paint round used for realistic force on force training

A 9mm paint round (Simunition) used for safe and realistic force on force training.

  1. Properly Simulated Scenarios

Effective training doesn't rely on needless risk-taking. Instead, it focuses on creating scenarios that replicate real-world situations without compromising safety. Simulated scenarios, when designed and executed thoughtfully, can provide a valuable training experience that hones skills and prepares individuals for potential threats.

  1. Progressive Training Methods

Progressive training methods offer a safer alternative to unnecessary risk-taking. By gradually introducing complexity and realism into training scenarios, individuals can develop their skills in a controlled environment. This approach allows for a steady progression towards more challenging scenarios while maintaining a high standard of safety.

  1. Utilizing Technology and Simulation

Advances in technology have brought forth a wide range of simulation tools that can replicate real-world scenarios with a high degree of fidelity. Virtual reality and interactive training systems provide an immersive training experience without exposing participants to unnecessary risks.

While they are not ubiquitous, and can be expensive, virtual simulator technology is impressive these days.

The Legal and Ethical Considerations:

Beyond the immediate physical risks, engaging in unnecessary risk-taking during training can have significant legal and ethical implications. Negligence in firearm handling may lead to legal consequences, not to mention potential harm to bystanders or property. Responsible firearm owners understand that training can be effective without compromising legal and ethical standards.

Conclusion: Train Smart, Not Reckless

If you're new to firearms training, I suggest you check out this free online course called “Gun Safety,” available here.

In the pursuit of effective firearms training, it's imperative to dispel the notion that unnecessary risk is a prerequisite for realism. By prioritizing safety, utilizing progressive training methods, and leveraging technology, individuals can achieve a high level of proficiency without jeopardizing their well-being or that of others. Remember, responsible training is about honing skills, not putting lives on the line.


poster showing the universal firearm safety rules

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.


  1. Michael on October 9, 2023 at 2:00 pm


  2. MC on October 11, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Words cannot express how STUPID this was.
    The Training Officer, Range Officer, and Department should be held legally responsible for this and the TO and RO should be FIRED.
    You don’t use live ammo on or around live individuals, unless you actually intend to shoot them.

  3. ROBERT MOOREFIELD on October 15, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    As someone who has been teaching for over 60 years, I totally agree with MC’s comment.

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