Yes, you’re a role model, so act like it.

I just returned from the southern chapter of the local indoor gun range.

The reasons for my visit I’ll detail at another time. I wanted to write about something else that happened while I was there.

While shooting, two gentlemen came to the adjacent lane to shoot. I overheard one of them express their newness, in asking the RSO for some help in how to load the gun. Yes that was a red flag to me to be more aware and mindful of what was going on a lane over. But to the range’s credit, I’ve been seeing RSO’s actually in the shooting area actively watching what’s going on. I must give them credit for that improvement.

Afterwards, I was able to talk with those gentlemen for a bit as they were parked next to me. They are new and very eager to learn. Of course I gave them a KR Training pen and disclosed my assistant instructor status there. We went back inside to look at a few things, and here’s where I winced.

The guys behind the counter… I guess they’re used to being muzzle swept all day and are jaded and don’t think anything of it, for they had no problem walking in front of the muzzle of the gun I was helping the gentleman look at. One guy behind the counter chimed in, and as this was their house I just let him talk and did my best to keep my mouth closed. To his credit, he gave a lot of good advice. He was spot on about getting a good holster. He recommended larger guns and not compromising. And much of what he said was pretty good stuff. That’s a welcome thing to hear, as all too often the guy’s behind the gun counter don’t know what they’re talking about and dole out bad advice.

But what bothered me the most was his gun handling.

I should have counted how many times I was swept by his muzzle. I’ve been muzzle swept enough, and I still don’t like it and still don’t take it casually. Maybe in my case I know the guns are loaded, and in the store they reckon the guns aren’t, but that’s a little too much complacency for me (Cooper Rule 1 and all that).

The store clerk took what I assume is his carry gun out of a bag, to show his Raven holster to the customer. He was very casual in the handling of the gun. I have no idea if the gun was actually loaded or not, but we all (should) know Col. Cooper’s Rule #1, right? I will assume it was loaded with one in the chamber tho, because the way he spoke implied it was his carry gun, there was a magazine in… and so I’m pretty sure it really was loaded. But again, it doesn’t matter — rule 1.

And that’s why it bothered me even more with how casually he held the holstered gun… with one hand on the grip, and the other hand holding the muzzle. And he kept doing it… just a fiddling thing, like you know how you might punch your fist into the palm of your other hand? it was a motion like that, punching the muzzle of the holstered gun into the palm of his other hand. Just one of those mindless things where you’re keeping your hands fiddling with something, but wow…. what’s Col. Cooper’s Rule #2?  And NRA Rule #1?

I was all ready to be impressed with how things are improving at the local indoor range, and then I saw this sort of gun handling.

The thing is, this customer was coming to these guys for answers. It’s completely understandable for customers to expect gun store clerks to know something about guns. The trouble is, when you don’t know anything about guns, you don’t know if the information you’re getting is good or bad… but based upon what you expect — gun store should know about guns — these newbie customers are going to take what you say AND DO as gospel.

So come on… you know people are coming to you expecting you to be the expert. Behave like one. This is not just what you say, but what you do. Walking in front of muzzles, not respecting safe direction, fiddling with loaded guns behind the counter, violating fundamental gun safety rules, violating your own store policy (that big sign at the front door about all actions must be open…). I was all set to be impressed, but was just let down at the end.

8 thoughts on “Yes, you’re a role model, so act like it.

  1. The only conversation I’ve ever had with Todd Jarrett was all about gun handling, how lousy it generally is, and how it needs to improve dramatically, and how he wanted me to promise to focus on that when I’m at the range with new shooters. Great minds? 🙂

    Thinking about it, maybe of the problem is that people focus on safety (if at all) when they’re on the line or when its cleaning time, but all that time in between is “not safety time.” And honestly I’m not sure “we” do enough to create good habits and procedures for those in-between times. Yes… some folks need that. Probably more than anyone wants to admit.

    • At KR Training we try to impress upon students, at least at the Basic Pistol 1 level, that what makes the difference in you as a gun owner, shooter, etc. is not what you do the 1% of the time you’re shooting, but the 99% of the time you’re not shooting. I forget the phrasing… TXGunGeek has the more eloquent phrasing of this.

      But hey… perhaps it’s a new movement to start within the gun community. Hrm.

  2. Shitty gun handling is an absolute epidemic. Whenever there is some sort of shooting accident (news is reporting there might have been one on San Marcos overnight) it is always a consequence of some idiot not adhering to 4 BASIC, SIMPLE rules. It is really a mindset thing. The last time I went to visit my father I ended up blistering him for his gunhandling for a variety of reasons (asking me to hand him a loaded weapon (?!?!?!), sweeping the neighbor’s house while reloading (the whole flip-the-gun-at-a-right-angle-to-the-body deal), etc. and he gave me a look like I was being some sort of overzealous asshole. Some people just don’t get it.

    • Well, you’ve read Karl’s article about gun handling:

      and no one thinks their gun handling is bad — because nothing bad has yet happened to them.

      I try to correct people, but it’s always difficult and touchy to deal with. I will say this tho. After all of this, I went outside with the newbie shooters and spoke with them a bit, and used this as a “teachable moment” about what is and what is not safe gun handling… and that one should be mindful about whom you receive your advice from.

  3. Wow, this is so scary. You’re absolutely right, when a newbie is looking for advice, you need to be a role model. What, do we need an RSO behind every gun counter now??? I don’t care if someone hands me a pistol with the action locked open, I still take a step over so I don’t muzzle the guy behind the counter.

    • I do understand it’s hard to find a “safe direction” in a gun store: lots of people, many awkward things, and so on. But you have to try your best. And while I specifically moved to a place at the counter where we could work in a “safest possible right now” way, the fact the guys behind the counter willingly walked right through my muzzle pointing was really bothersome. Then of course all of their sloppy muzzle direction was most bothersome. *sigh*

      Oh well. We just have to do our best to spread word, educate, and work to improve things.

  4. Lol, Austin, TX, indoor gun range located south of town. Hmmm… yeah, I know where you’re talking about.

    Yes, the guys behind the sales counter do become complacent. Last year, I was at a store geared more toward law enforcement north of Austin when a customer came in to look at some Glocks. His inexperience became immediately apparent when he gripped and aimed the handgun with thumbs criss-crossed behind the slide. The sales guy kindly offered his advice about better thumb placement to save himself a lot of pain. I was nearby and chimed in about not muzzle sweeping people, to which the sales guys says, he doesn’t mind, he knows all the display guns are unloaded, you can can sweep me all day.

    I just gave him a wall-eyed stare and walked off to browse further down the counter.

    • I know the store you’re talking about….

      I understand it becomes part of the job to expect it… you’d likely be a nervous wreck and ask for a transfer to another career after a week, because it is going to happen a lot. But, despite the fact I deal with this myself, I still can’t take such a “it’s ok” attitude… because it’s not. One day it could end up unhealthy for you, and it also just permits people to reinforce and get away with such poor gun handling. I mean, shit happens once in a while, but it shouldn’t become the norm.

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