Two weeks ago was the monthly pistol match at the local range. Good times as always. It is a mix of experienced competitors and new comers. All are welcome. But there are several items of note during the match that concerned me. I point these out not to shame anyone, but to highlight areas of safety concern so we may all be better and safer.
Know how to operate you firearm:
It is a must to know how to operate your firearm correctly and safely. Every new firearm comes with an instruction manual. READ IT! If you bought it used, go to YouTube University and learn about your new firearm.
On the first occasion a gentleman came to the line with a 1911. A great gun with a manual safety. He loaded and chambered a round, then paused and said “I forgot it had a safety.” This phrase should not be uttered. Ever!
The second shooter came to the line with a SIG pistol, loaded and proceeded to holster his pistol without dropping the hammer with the de-cocker lever. SIG pistols do not have a manual safety. It is a double action pistol with a de-cocker lever. It is not designed to be carried with the hammer cocked. That is the point of a double action pistol. I should not hear excuses of why it is OK to start with a cocked pistol and no manual safety.
Read your instruction manuals. Know how to operate your firearm. For your safety and for everyone else.
Tuck in your shirt:
I know it is hot and uncomfortable and you want to be comfortable so you un-tuck your shirt to be confortable. Often times your un-tucked shirt covers your holster. This is a problem when re-holstering, you holster your shirt with your pistol. Possibly causing your pistol to fall out of your holster. Best to avoid dropping a loaded pistol.
Buy a proper belt and holster:
I understand shooting is not a cheap sport. There is a lot of new equipment you need to buy. But it is important to have a good belt and holster. The belt must be sturdy enough to support the weight of your firearm. The holster needs to securely hold your firearm in place.
What I noticed at the match some shooters simply wrap the belt around their waist loosely with their $20 gun sock flapping in the breeze. The problem with this setup is when you draw your pistol you tend to draw the holster and belt with it. It slows you down and potentially leads to you crossing the muzzle of your pistol across your own body. This is unsafe. Your belt and holster must be secure.
If using a single belt, feed it through the belt loops on your pants. Don’t wrap it around your waist, it must go through the belt loops. Then cinch the belt tight so the holster does not flop around. This prevents things from moving and flopping around too much. It also helps with re-holstering. You are not trying to place your pistol into a moving holster.
If you are using a separate gun belt to hold your holster instead of your pants belt, you want to use Belt Keepers to prevent your gun belt from flopping around. Belt Keepers are simple straps that wrap around your gun belt and pants belt to hold everything in place securely. They may be made of leather or other synthetic materials. They are fastened with snaps or Velcro.
Heck, buy some Velcro straps from the local hardware store and wrap secure your belt with them. They will work in a pinch.
One final comment on holsters. Avoid the $20 gun socks if you can. In general they suck. They are loose, floppy and generally do not hold your pistol securely. I understand you may not be able to afford better. But do try to afford better.
The same can be said about the cheap holster and magazine carrier many manufacturers ship with their pistols. These work if you have nothing else, but should be thrown away as soon as you buy something better. Do you really want to trust a $3 holster that came with the pistol? These are mostly marketing tricks to give the illusion you are getting something more than you are.
You may spend $50 - $100 for a good holster. It is worth it, better and safer.
Kydex is a great choice. So is old fashioned leather. Nylon is generally undesireable as it is loose and floppy. Make sure the holster is designed for your specific model.
These are a few of the safety concerns I saw during the local match.
The shooting sports are fun and challenging and you meet lots of interesting and friendly people.
But do be safe. Know your equipment and buy the right equipment so your shooting experience is safer and more enjoyable.
Regarding tucking in your shirt: I know some shooters leave their shirts untucked so it's "concealed" and to get practice drawing from concealment. That's all well and good, BUT ... make sure you clear your cover garment from the mouth of your holster and do not muzzle yourself as you're trying to reholster your gun. More than one negligent discharge has occurred because someone's cover garment gets pulled into the trigger guard, then the person (instead of stopping to see what the problem is) shoves their gun forcefully into the holster, which moves the trigger to the rear and *BOOM*.
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