Gun Safety Rules and Working in a Team

By ninpo_student of The Ready Line and Deus Ex Machina

Safety is one of those things that is misunderstood as it relates to gunfighting. I hate the term “Big Boy Rules” because it is invariably followed by some retarded stuff that has no business on a range at the level of students its being taught to. We used the term frequently where I used to work, but it was understood there, that it didn’t mean a complete lack of safety for “reality based training”. It simply meant that we were aware that tough realistic training can have severe penalties should something go wrong and you were expected to bring your A game to work everyday to mitigate those risks as much as possible.

Here is my take on the traditional safety rules popularized and simplified by Col Cooper

1. You are responsible for knowing the status of your weapon 100% of the time. We know that all guns are not always loaded, you are required to give it respect due as an instrument of lethal force. People get killed by others doing dumb stuff with “unloaded” guns all the time. Be responsible about it.

2. Keep your finger off the trigger and the safety engaged until your sights on target and you’ve made the conscious decision to shoot. Every round you send downrange in a fight has to be the result of a conscious action on your part. If you don’t want to buy it, fix it or be responsible for it, don’t shoot it.

3. Never let the muzzle sweep anything you are not willing to destroy. In the real world, this is very difficult if not impossible to do, nor is it necessarily desirable. Sometimes you have to point your weapon at someone until you’ve determined if they are a threat or not. If they are, get to work, if they are not, stop pointing your weapon at them.

4. Be aware of your target, its fore and background and what is surrounding it. In a fight, there is going to be screaming non combatants running frantically in all of those areas. Understand the environment you are fighting in and adjust your position in relation to your target to ensure you’ve got the cleanest background you can get and don’t miss.

As you can see there is a great deal of ambiguity in those rules, just like a gunfight. They are a good system, and if you were to break one of them while maintaining the integrity of the others, you will be ok should something bad occur. Break more that one, and all bets are off. We had a couple of absolute no go’s that would send you packing from the assault teams if you broke them. Number One was do not muzzle a teammate. You muzzle should never come closer to a teammate than 1 meter. You generally have about a 15 degree spread off the muzzle to work with, depending on the environment. Muzzling a teammate was a quick trip to the job fair if you did it. Number Two was disengaging the safety without a target or sight picture. It was ( and probably still is ) common for new guys to try and shortcut the system to keep up with veteran assaulters by disengaging the safety when entering the room for the perceived speed advantage of doing so. This one you may survive the first time someone caught you, depending of whether or not they thought you were salvageable. There would be some painful and humiliating punishment to remind you of your failure to reinforce that this is not acceptable. Do it again and you were looking for a new job.

CQB is a thinking mans game, much more like chess than checkers. In addition to the safety rules ( always in effect, you have to fit them to the environment you are working in ), there is the structure, your teammates, non combatants, potential IED threats, victims, enemy combatants, and a thousand other things. You need to internalize the safety rules ( or principles really, because that’s what they really are ) and understand how to apply them and when. Put in the work to do it right, spend the time thinking about the principles and what they are designed for. Avoid the commercialized version of “Big Boy Rules”, it usually means something with little to no training value with a severe penalty for failure. Big Boy Rules simply means you understand the application of the safety principles and are ready to bring your best game to the show, while understanding the penalty for failure……..

Get That Gun Up!

By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts

Many students come to me in order for me to teach them to becomes as deadly as they can possibly be inside of a reactive gun fight. Many of these same students still refuse to ingrain some of the most fundamental aspects of reactive gun manipulations.

Here is a fact that I tell nearly all of my PSC students. “There is no way to be the very best of the reactive gun fighters if you do not have the very best of reactive manipulations.” The very core of this failure comes down to not getting the gun up into your work space and up into your line of sight.

It still amazes me the number of students that want to hold their guns down at hip level, with their eye balls out of the fight, while manipulating their guns like it was nothing more than an administrative issue. I know for a fact that FFC has covered this extensively inside and outside of the courses. I know for a fact that we have explained why we believe that this is so very important. I know for a fact that we have opened the floor to debate the merits of “gun up and eyes up” compared to “gun down and eyes down.” This is a debate that I felt was put to rest, yet I keep seeing people inside of “gun fighting” courses acting as if it was a “target shooting” courses. Since I have never heard one reasonable explanation on why “gun down and eyes down” was a better way to do things, it has become clear to me that there must be an issue with complacency for this problem to continue to occur.

Complacency kills!

In my opinion, it does not matter what the so-called experts of the past have said about there being two or three ways to manipulate your gun. It is my belief that there is only one way to manipulate your gun and you should do it that one way every time. This method should be exactly what you would do in the deepest of the trouble. “Get that gun up” in front of your face, frame the adversary while looking past your gun, use your peripheral vision to manipulate your gun, and glance at the gun if you need to. Anything short of that is ingraining failure.

Sometimes gun fights are chaotic events with innocents interspersed among the adversaries. If you look down you could lose the adversary and come back up on an innocent. I have seen this time and time again inside of non-chaotic training drills such as the Zigzag Drill. The student is shooting at his target while moving, the gun goes down, the eyes go down, then the gun comes back up on the wrong target. Somewhere around 50% of the student that have run the Zigzag Drill and takes their eyes off of the adversary have come back up and shot the wrong target.

“Get that gun up!” is the term that I use to remind you that you have fallen back into your administrative thinking while training to become a reactive gun fighter. The two simply do not go together.

The situational awareness of “gun up and eyes up” is not just about keeping track of your adversaries, it is also about keeping track of your teammates and insuring that you do not cover them. If my gun is up and my eyes are down range I dramatically reduce the chance of covering my team members.

How many times have you seen the gun go down, the eyes go down, and the muzzle begin to drift off of the line of attack? Inside of training this is absolutely unacceptable! If I set down a general guideline that states “I am only allowed to cover the dirt around my feet, directly to the threat, on the threat, and above my threat” the chances of me covering my friends drops substantially. This is a very important concept while training inside of teams. The last thing that I want to do is train with a teammate that holds his gun at waist level, pointing in varying directions, with his eyes down and on his gun, while taking car of his manipulations. It is one thing if we are taking incoming fire and he is holding his gun down to manipulate so as not to flag his position, but training is another deal.

Last weekend I taught an “Introduction to Team Tactics” course and this safety concern is one that has to be addressed before you can progress into the more advanced drills. When we are running bounding drills you simply have to “get that gun up” in order to take care of your teammates. It is this context that simply demands that you ingrain the proper way of doing things. If you do not believe it to be a big deal, you may change your mind when we send you packing because you can’t stop pointing your gun at your friends and team members because you have ingrained a bad habit of being lazy and complacent.

2018 Course Schedule

See course descriptions here
February 24-25, 2018 – Las Vegas, NV. Fight Focused Handgun II – The Fundamentals (Late Notice Discount) $75 for first day and $150 for both days
March 17-18, 2018 – Las Vegas, NV. Fight Focused Handgun II – The Fundamentals – $100 for first day and $200 for both days
April 21-22, 2018 – Las Vegas, NV. Fight Focused Handgun IV – Fight Focused Marksmanship – $250
May 19-20, 2018 – Las Vegas, NV. Fight Focused Handgun III – Point Shooting Concepts – $250