Friday, September 03, 2010

All Four Rules

Jeff Cooper's Four Rules -- or the NRA's Three, or the U. S. Army's old 14 -- include exhortations to control muzzle direction and to know one's target and what it behind it.

It's 2010 and the word still does not appear to have reached every shooter. The linked story tells of a local man, in his own suburban front yard, who was stung by a small-caliber round from a long way away. He's okay, other than pain and a slug stuck in the muscles of his back (he's saving up to have it removed); things could have worked out far worse if he'd been only a little more unlucky.

Colonel Cooper tells us, "Be sure of your target and what's behind it." My father, teaching me to shoot using the 1950s bomb-shelter behind our semi-suburban house as a backstop, favored a more Socratic method:

"Okay, your target is on The Hill (as the shelter was known). Where does the bullet go if you miss?"
"Into the ground...?"
"What if you shoot too high, what's on the other side?"
"The cornfield."
"That cornfield's not half a mile wide! A .22 bullet can go over a mile. What's on the other side of the field?"
"Ummm...a pasture...?"
"Yes, and?"
"...and Mr. -----'s farmhouse?"
"Yes. Yes, it is. You keep that muzzle down! You don't touch the trigger until the sights are on the target. Bullets always land somewhere!"

In hindsight, I can't fully imagine the degree of faith and worry that went into his teaching an 11-year-old child safe gun-handling; but he went about it in a way that stuck with me. My older sister and younger brother got similar sessions, too, and on more than one occasion. Kids didn't shoot unsupervised and supervision always came with instruction.

Safety: it's your business. Bullets always land somewhere.

Bonus Ijits: What goes "bang" and lives in a stewpot? Hint, it's occasionally found at airports! There isn't really a Rule for this, but if there was, it would be one word: Don't. If you can carry a gun, you can have it in your luggage on the plane if you follow the clear guidelines to flying with guns. Within the basic TSA procedure, the rules are a little different for every airline but you can find them via the web. The TV station, journalists, f'pete's sake! -- even managed to find the TSA guidelines and add them to their news story.


Matt G said...

The bullet in the X-ray was a jacket hollow-point spitzer, interestingly enough. I was thinking .22 L.R. when they said "possibly from a .22."

My great uncle Charley was killed by an errant .22 bullet, which had been fired from so far away, it struck him almost base-on in the chest (it was tumbling), and cut a large vessel. He sat down and died on the side of the road, near the car that he had stopped to check the engine of. We never found out who fired the shot, but it was certainly unintentional. This did not make us feel better about losing a lively character in our family.

Stranger said...

Your father was a good instructor. I wish there were more parents, and instructors, who would emphasize that that the bullet will land - somewhere. Usually at the precise place you do not want it to.


Eck! said...

My training started with the Red Ryder
and Pop make it clear by example and words that pointing and shooting are skills and hitting things can be. Where the end was aimed was important, where the BB might go was everything. Now even at a range I'll look and try to imagine all the places a bullet might go before I even unwrap, open or load up.

Scary is watching news clip of people shooting AKs in the air..


Bubblehead Les. said...

Ms. Roberta and Eck, as far as I am concerned, when I see those idiots from Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, the Taliban and others of that Species, I hope that they DON'T follow the 4 Rules. "Evolution in Action", as Larry and Jerry taught us. The rest of us who can lay some claim to being "Civilized", of course must follow proper Weapon safety rules.

staghounds said...

I've seen four fatal shootings, one in person, that the shooters couldn't have done on purpose for a million dollars.

Can't think about it too often.

Weetabix said...

Interesting discussion of Rule 1 at your link. I translate it in my head to "Treat every gun as if it were loaded." That way my literalism is satisfied, and I get the same result.

WV: smaklego - I have no smart aleck comment to go with it, but I love it nonetheless.

Stingray said...

While far from universally absorbed thus far, such sentiments are even (finally) trickling into video games. From the title currently sucking away at LabRat's evenings, Mass Effect 2, one of the background NPCs offers the following speech regarding Sir Isaac Newton.
(contains mildly NSFW language)
As said, Sir Isaac may be the deadliest SOB in space, but he's not exactly unforgiving dirt-side either. Tickled my funny bone at least.

John B said...

the army link led me to this comment.

It is of interest to note that none of " 26, a-d" has been negated by the passage of time or, much like the 1911-pattern pistol itself, supplanted by evolving technolgy.

I love an opinion that agrees with mine.

The 1911 pistol will be 100 next year, and I venture will be going strong in another 100.