Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Skill Set – Rule #4

ImageSafety Rule 4: Identify your target, and what’s surrounding and beyond the target. Rule 4 applies any time you are shooting. Identifying your target is mandatory prior to firing a shot, whether it’s on the range, taking game meat, or in a violent confrontation. You also must know what’s surrounding and beyond the target to insure a safe path for any errant rounds.

On an established firing range confirming your target is easy. There are proper backstops to trap rounds, even if they bounce off something, go high or to the side. You and the targets are usually stationary. There are no bystanders around your target. On a range everything is controlled to insure a safe environment.

Shooting on an improvised range requires more care. Last year near here on Christmas day a shooter was zeroing a new rifle by firing at a cardboard box on top of a hill. The round went through the box, of course, over the top of the hill and traveled 590 yards before striking and killing a man in his backyard.

Rule 4 applies when hunting. Make sure what you are shooting at is your intended target. Never fire at movement, sounds, or something you think might be game. Pay attention to your bullet’s path. Bullets, especially high velocity rifle rounds, can travel a long distance before losing their energy and falling to ground. (Depending on angle of trajectory a .308 round can easily travel 2-3 miles or more; a 9mm roughly 1.3 miles.) With rural developments popping up all ’round you better make sure what direction you’re sending that round.

In a fight Rule 4 is absolute. First, you locate and identify your target, in this case a threat. You have to be able to justify, in my opinion both legally and morally, your reason for firing. Never fire on noise or movement. Every year people shoot family, friends, and non-threats because they lost control and shot without identifying their target.

Even though it’s a fight you’re responsible for every round fired no matter where it ends up. Bullets will penetrate multiple sheetrock walls, traverse a parking lot, or bounce off an object and zing out in a different direction. It would be a rare situation when you don’t have to be concerned with errant rounds. You may have to move to obtain a clear angle of fire or position a backstop behind the threat. You have a green light to fire but then a bystander takes a couple of steps putting themselves in your field of fire. The bad guy moves, using a bystander for cover. The green light can change to red in one second.

These are the four safety rules:

    1. Treat all guns as loaded.


    1. Never point the muzzle at anything you’re not willing to destroy.


    1. Finger off the trigger unless your sights are on the target and you are ready and willing to shoot.


  1. Identify your target, and what’s surrounding and beyond the target.

As owner of a firearm you memorize these rules and apply them at all times, especially during an armed confrontation. Got it?


October 11, 2012 - Posted by | General Training

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