The First Rule of Firearms Instruction – Don’t Shoot Your Students
Rob Reed 10.01.14
If the first rule of Fight Club is “Don’t talk about Fight Club,” the first rule of firearms instruction is “Don’t shoot your students.”
While that rule may seem so obvious that it’s laughable, when experienced firearms instructors grow complacent, seemingly small violations of the safety rules can lead to their violation of that first, most important, rule.
Instructors shooting students has happened before in both civilian and police training, and unfortunately it happened again yesterday when a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper was reportedly killed by his firearms instructor.
According to this news report, 26-year old Trooper David Kedra (pictured at left) was shot by an “experienced state police firearms instructor” during a demonstration on how to “break down and clean his service weapon” when the gun “somehow misfired.”
Any firearms instructor or experienced shooter knows the gun didn’t “somehow misfire.” The instructor violated several standard safety rules, starting with using a loaded gun in a classroom setting and ending with the instructor pulling the trigger while the gun was pointed at Trooper Kedra.
The gun safety rules are designed to work together to provide multiple layers of safety. Each rule creates another chance to break the chain of events that leads to accidents. The instructor should have ensured there were no loaded guns or live ammo in the sterile classroom setting, double checked that the gun he was using for the demo was actually unloaded, and even after all that, not pointed the gun at a student and especially not pulled the trigger while doing so.
It’s easy to list what he did wrong and how he should have done it. It’s more difficult to acknowledge that “familiarity breeds contempt” and that many of us have probably also been guilty of handling guns so unconsciously that we have also violated many of those safety rules ourselves. That has to stop and the more experienced we are, the more we have to make sure we are CONSCIOUSLY aware of what we are doing with firearms at all times and especially in an instructional setting where other people’s lives depend on our actions.
The death of Trooper Kedra is a tragedy for his family and friends and a loss to the Pennsylvania State Police. Firearms instructors, students, and shooters need to take the lessons of his death to heart to avoid the next tragedy.