A Plea for Safety


This posting is a difficult one to write…

At this moment, a Florida family is living a nightmare that will never go away. Every day for the rest of their lives, they will be haunted by the loss of a child and a brother all because a father had a momentary breach of safety protocol.

Of course, I am referring to the Florida range shooting when a hot brass casing bounced off the lane partition and went down the back of the father who held the loaded pistol in his hand.

He was not wearing proper range attire so the brass easily went down the back of his loose tank top. Instead of exhibiting any sense of stoic discipline when the body is exposed to pain, he panicked and tried to dislodge the hot brass with his hand that held the loaded semi-automatic pistol. His finger was on the trigger as he frantically tried to stop his own discomfort. His fourteen year-old boy was right behind him and now, the boy is gone.

Sport shooting is ranked among the safest of all sports. Anti-gunners don’t accept this but the statistics don’t lie. The injury rate per 100,000 participants is just a tad higher than the injury rate for chess. When asked, all shooters believe that they are safe shooters. Most shooters are actually safe but some shooters do not pay attention to range rules and are in constant need of Range Safety Officer supervision.

Experienced semi-automatic pistol shooters are quite aware of the hot brass issue. They are aware of the trajectory and speed of their spent shells and they dress appropriately most likely because they have endured the errant shell that landed on their exposed skin or in their hair.

These experienced shooters are familiar with the slight burning pain of spent shells so when it happens, they no longer panic. They set their firearm down on the bench before dealing with the hot brass.

Inexperienced shooters, on the other hand, are still dealing with remembering their firearm manipulation and basic marksmanship fundamentals. Their stress level on the range is higher than regular shooters and they still are a bit intimidated by the idea of controlling a small explosion that sends a projectile 1100 feet per second through a target.

With so many elements already on their stressed out minds, these new shooters are prime candidates for an unsafe reaction to hot brass landing down their shirt or between their toes.

So how do we collectively mitigate unsafe and often dangerous reactions on the firing line?

  1. If you are new to the sport, allow reason to intervene, put your pride on hold, and take a beginner firearm class with an experienced instructor who has empathy with the fears of a new shooter.
  2. If you are an experienced shooter bringing a novice to the range, you owe it to the novice, yourself, and adjacent shooters to concentrate on the safety aspects of shooting above all else. On the ride over to the range, explain to the new shooter what they might experience out there, have them read and understand the safety rules, and make sure that they are dressed appropriately for shooting.
  3. What OnTarget will do to ensure safety is to provide Range Safety Officers to patrol the ranges offering help and guidance, answer all range and safety questions upon customer check in, and make sure that all shooters are properly attired for shooting.

We realize that many new shooters are thinking about their comfort first especially during hot summer days. Inexperienced shooters regularly come in wearing shorts, sandals, and loose tank tops or low cut blouses that invite the hot brass.

We know it’s hot out there but please dress appropriately for shooting.

Last week, a woman wearing sneakers, but no socks, had a .223 shell casing land right inside her sneaker against her bare skin.

The wearing of proper shirts we control by recommending the purchase of one of our OnTarget crew neck T-shirts prior to shooting. If the under-dressed shooter does not wish to buy the OnTarget T-shirt, he or she must purchase one of our standard $4.00 crew necks prior to shooting.

The bottom line is that OnTarget has put in place multiple layers of safety regulations but we need your help when you bring your less experienced friends and family to the range.

Be safe, be trained, and be prepared,

Tom Dorsch
Director of Operations