Watch this video. 28 seconds into the video, look closely at the right side of the frame.
How close was that guy to the line of fire from the shots taken at 19 seconds? This makes my heart beat faster just watching it.
If the guy who was down there had been shot, who would have been at fault?
- The designer of the stage who designed a stage where the ENTIRE stage wasn’t visible to the RSO
- The RSO who didn’t make sure the down range area was clear before calling “hot range”
- The shooter for taking the shot without verifying what was behind his target
- The guy who was downrange for being where he was
- The bystanders who didn’t keep an eye out and speak up
My answer? All of the above. We as shooters are ALL collectively responsible when things like this happened. There is a lesson to be learned from every incident. If we are unwilling to look at it with an honest eye towards safety, things like this will happen more often.
Safety isn’t just the responsibility of the RSO. Nor the shooter. It is everyone’s responsibility.
Design the environment so the RSO can see the entire shooting area. As the RSO, make sure that you are aware of the environment. The shooter needs to follow the four rules. The bystanders should keep an eye out for each other to make sure that every one of those who go down range to paste targets come back.
I have supervised people in all sorts of environments. SCUBA Diving, firefighting, HAZMAT, all sorts of things. Safety incidents are rarely the result of one thing that went wrong. It is often the result of a list of minor things that each went wrong. Each of us is responsible for what happens.
Like many shooters, I have had an ND myself. Two, in fact. I was much younger, and not as experienced as now. The first happened when I was 20 years old. I was at the range and pulled the trigger on my S&W 4506. I pulled the trigger, and nothing happened. I pointed the gun at a 45 degree angle, sort of down range, and sort of in the air. I pulled the trigger again. I was surprised when it went bang the second time. Luckily, the weapon wasn’t pointed at anyone.
The second was entirely my fault. I was doing dry fire practice. After being done with that, I reloaded the pistol. For some reason, I forgot what I had done, dry fired again, and blew a hole in the front of my dresser. Again, at least I wasn’t pointing it at a person. A violation of Rules 1 and 2.
Both of those incidents were more than 30 years ago. I have never forgotten them.