Be "E-MFAT-IC" about firearm safety !!!

If you can remember my weird spelling of emphatic as "E-MFAT-IC" and what each letter of the mnemonic stands for, you will be well on your way to a safe coexistence with firearms.   Exactly NO ONE ever gave himself or herself an extra hole by FOLLOWING all the safety rules.   First, a brief outline of what the letters represent.  Later, I explain in detail the full meaning behind each letter..

 

E - Empty the gun of all ammo.  Every time you pick one up.

M - Muzzle.   Always aim the gun in the safest possible direction, even when it is empty.

F - Finger.   Keep your finger off the trigger until on target and ready to engage.

A - Ammo.   Keep your gun loaded when you are using it, and keep it unloaded when you are not.

T - Target.  ID your Target and know what is around it.

I - Information.   Gather all you can.  Ingest it.

C - Concentrate.   Give firearms 100% of your attention.

 

If there was a good way to work in an "R", it would stand for "Redundant".   These rules overlap each other -- on purpose -- by design.  So if you manage to mess one of them up, the others still are protecting you.  But this is true ONLY if you are following ALL of the rules -- ALL of the time.

Now, on to the detail.

E - Empty the gun of all ammo.  Every time you pick one up.  

          This applies when you are handling the gun for any reason other than putting holes in the target.   Examples might be cleaning, storage, adding new parts, show and tell; that sort of thing.   Utilizing the redundancy principle, I check for 'clear' three different ways before I start the process of cleaning.  First, I do a visual check -- by looking into the chamber(s) with either the slide locked to the rear, or with the cylinder open for revolvers.   Second, I check tactilely -- by feeling for a magazine and sticking a pinkie or cleaning rod into the chamber from the back (properly called the breech) end, NOT from the muzzle end !!!    Third -- I check visually again, from a different angle or from a different direction.    Mainly this 'check 3 times' process keeps my head in the game.  The point is to maintain the habit of ALWAYS checking for Empty.   If you get distracted while cleaning or working, check the gun again.

          If anyone hands you a gun, check for yourself that the gun is Empty of ammo.  Don't let the phrase "It's OK, it's not loaded" lull you into not checking.   Make sure to get the muzzle pointed into the safest possible direction first.  

 

M - Muzzle.   Always aim the gun in the safest possible direction, even when it is empty.

          Muzzle direction is the first of the classic "4 rules of firearms safety" as listed by Col. Jeff Cooper and many, many others.   MFAT is the acronym I use to remember them easily.  Of the four, Muzzle and Finger 'discipline' are tied for the most important.  These are the main two that complement each other -- always do both, because each is protecting you if you mess up the other.

          By "safest possible direction" I am trying to impress that there are two parts to this.  One is to be aware of the Muzzle itself; the second is to be aware of everything around you, so that you can choose the best aiming point.   Some things to watch for include:  Not sweeping the Muzzle over your hand or fingers while re-holstering or re-bagging.   Keeping the Muzzle clear of your knees while getting ready to clean your gun.  Setting your workbench up so that Muzzles will point to an exterior wall, thus not toward the kitchen, for example.  Consider a backstop for your bench.   At the range, pointing the Muzzle of a handgun straight up or straight down are both bad, but at a gun show either of these may be the least bad of all available direction choices.   Just be aware of where you are, and what the safest possible choice is.

 

F - Finger.   Keep your finger off the trigger until on target and ready to engage.

          Trigger finger placement is the other half of the 'Muzzle/Finger' critical pair.  Your finger should not only be off the trigger, but be completely out of the trigger guard, held straight and as high and away from the trigger as anatomically possible.   This is always the case, until you are actually firing a shot.   If you like the looks of the 'Hollywood' position with your finger on the trigger because you want to "be ready", I would ask, "Ready for what? To put a hole in the next thing that startles you?"  That may be your dog, your kid, or your spouse.  Or your foot, if you got lazy with Muzzle discipline.

 

A - Ammo.   Keep your gun loaded when you are using it, and keep it unloaded when you are not.

          This one often gets shortened into "All guns are always loaded".   Well, yes you should TREAT them as if they are loaded... but it is very important to know, without any doubt, the honest condition of any firearm you are handling.   I.e. is it loaded or not?   If the gun is a self-defense gun, you may be using it 24-7-365; therefore it will be loaded ALL the time.   All other guns stay in a safe, unloaded.  Even at the range, it is a good idea to have a simple gun-bag, with only guns in it -- and then an 'everything else' bag with ammo, tools, glasses, earplugs, etc.   Use a metallic Sharpie to mark Muzzle direction on the outside of your gun bag.  "M-->" e.g.

 

T - Target.  ID your Target and know what is around it.

          Look to the left and right, behind, and sometimes even in front of your Target.   Watch out for having 'tunnel vision'.    At night, when problems statistically are more likely, a flashlight or three is/are necessary.   If you have a light mounted on the accessory rail of your self-defense gun (I think you should) remember that whatever you shine that light at also has a Muzzle pointed at it.  Thus, your need for a second flashlight for 'searching'.   A handheld light of around 100 lumens is perfect for this.  Use the gun-mounted light for final ID of the target.  I keep a third light clipped to the collar of my shirt at all times.  USB rechargeable and with a 15 lumen output, it is perfect for daily/nightly tasks.

          Be absolutely sure you know what you are shooting at.

 

I - Information.   Gather all you can.  Ingest it.

          Read books.  Watch DVD's.  Go to classes.  Go to matches.  Ask questions.  You might even watch YouTube or read online bulletin boards, but filter these with your own common sense.   If you are not sure how to do something, find out how before you think "How hard can it be?" and give it a try.

 

C - Concentrate.   Give firearms 100% of your attention.

          At the range, and during matches, ignore the peanut gallery while you are on the firing line or loading and making ready.  It's natural to want to face people you are talking to, but when you do, where is the Muzzle pointed?  Beware of distractions...

 

Finally, never underestimate the importance of being as safe as possible (ASAP) around firearms.   It is difficult to be too safe, but easy to be unsafe.

Contact me at 765.425.1164 for usage.   Eric Welsh 14NOV2014.