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An expensive lesson...

July 5th, 2011 (10:26 pm)

[h/t Tam]

Remember how I sneered at the DEA Agent who was playing Big-Man-on-Campus and shot himself in the leg after brandishing his sidearm?

Well, here's a guy who shot himself in the leg that doesn't deserve any sneering. Quite the opposite, in fact:

"This impromptu Board of Inquiry finds the following points of fact to be of particular note..."

1) The shooter states he began his training session with a Glock semiautomatic pistol in a 5.11 ThumbDrive holster. The Glock series does not incorporate a separately-operated manual safety lever; and the ThumbDrive's release is actuated with downward pressure from the thumb.

2) The shooter then states he switched for a Kimber 1911-pattern pistol in a BlackHawk SERPA holster. The 1911 is normally carried with hammer cocked, and manual safety engaged; and the SERPA's release is a toggle on the side that is depressed with the trigger finger. He then began a series of contact-distance defensive shooting drills

3) The shooter does NOT state that he performed any dry-fire drills before going live with the new rig.

4) The shooter states that he inadvertently actuated the manual safety at the beginning of his draw stroke, then used too much force to actuate the toggle on his holster. This allowed him to inadvertently slap the trigger as he cleared leather and fire the weapon.

5) The shooter states that, after shutting down his camera, he used a cell phone to call for help and administered self-aid while waiting for paramedics to arrive. He shows a through-and-through gunshot wound entering the outside of the upper right thigh, traversing downward, and exiting at the outside of the right knee.

6) The shooter characterizes this incident as a "negligent discharge" and accepts full responsibility for the incident.

"This Board comments as follows:"

1) The manual of arms for the Glock is significantly different from that of the 1911. The differences are underscored by the differences in operation of the ThumbDrive and SERPA holsters, both of which are unconventional designs when compared to more traditional thumb-break or friction holsters such as Galco's Fletch, or  Avenger. Significant adjustments to technique must be mad when changing from one weapon and holster to another, and any miscues are exacerbated by the contact drill the shooter was conducting,  which demands maximum speed.

2) The concept of "muscle memory" comes into play here. Muscle memory refers to the set of habituated responses associated with the mechanics of a technique, whereby each movement is preprogrammed to maximize efficiency. It is specific to the manual of arms of each particular combination of weapon and holster rig. Dry-fire drill (practice with an unloaded weapon) is critical to developing muscle memory. Safariland, for example recommends a minimum of two hundred error-free draws in dry-fire drill before the first live-fire training session with an unfamiliar rig. Professional firearms instructors recommend even more extensive dry-fire drills before going live.

3) It appears that the proximate cause of this mishap was inadvertent actuation of the safety due to an inappropriate movement carried over from use of a different rig followed by inadvertent actuation of the trigger due to improper execution of release technique for an unfamiliar rig. This could have been avoided by a series of slow, by-the-numbers, dry-fire drills to ingrain the manual of arms for the new rig. It is not readily apparent what motivated this series of errors; possible combinations of complacency ("I've done this hundreds of times before"), overconfidence ("I know how this works, no need to drill it"), and impatience ("I'm burning daylight - gotta git'r'dun!") vie for primacy.

4) What went right was the shooter's response to the mishap. He got help on the way to his location and administered self-aid. Moreover, he had the foresight to include a working cell phone and first-aid kit in his range load-out.  Things go wrong, whether through our own mistakes, the mistakes of others, or Murphy's Law. It is well to have a go-to-hell plan, and make preparations for it. The shooter even had the strength of character to publically admit his error, take responsibility for it, and debrief it in the hope of warning others. So, if we must fault him for his errors, we must also commend him for his recovery.

"The Board's recommendations are:"

1) Use caution when transitioning through different equipment rigs in the same training session. We recommend setting up one rig that works for you, and sticking with it throughout the session, and waiting for the next session before going to something different. If you switch to a different rig, then we strongly recommend you start with dry-fire drills - slowly until you achieve proficiency, and only then work on speed. More specifically, we recommend against switching out your rig and jumping right into a drill that pushes your limits.

2) Have a go-to-hell plan. You should have a blow-out kit (trauma dressings and tourniquet), and emergency commo (cellular service is your friend) in your range bag along with your ammo, targets, boo-boo kit, and eye & ear protection.Ask yourself: how far is the nearest hospital, and how long before you can expect an ambulance to arrive? You may want to consider self-evacuation, or, better, go to the range with a partner.

3) If you screw up, man up. Acknowledge it, save what you can, learn from it, and move on.

"This Board stands adjourned"


Posted by: Tozetre (tozetre)
Posted at: July 6th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)

Impressive. The Board's findings are informative and excellent guides, might I also add. ;3

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: July 14th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
very instructive

why not...

Posted by: michael_j_doyle (michael_j_doyle)
Posted at: July 14th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
Re: very instructive
Darth Doyle

"Why not...", what?

Please, feel free to elaborate. And, do include at least a handle as a sgnature block, so we know with whom we are speaking...

Warmest regards,


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