tonight’s sage advice

Uhm, don’t do this.
(language NSFW)

~ vid ~

(What? No, ’twasn’t me. I’ve always missed.)
Okay, shootin’ lesson time. BTF

Finish your assignment! »

Hey! Siddown, maggot! I didn’t hear your Momma give you permission to leave!

Run the slo-mo again. Watch his trigger finger, and watch where the gun is pointed.
Rule-1 of gun handling: muzzle discipline. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, so an unexpected *bang* won’t hurt anyone, including yourself. “Safe” is a moment-by-moment varying judgment call, but body parts are just never safe to point at. (Shouldn’t be news to anyone.)
Rule-2: trigger-finger discipline. Guns don’t go off less’n the trigger participates.
His initial draw was okay, finger extended along the frame. His mistake was twofold:
• He didn’t rotate the muzzle to the target immediately upon clearing the holster.
Rotate the muzzle onto the target immediately, thennn move your finger to the trigger; you can shoot faster, and you’ll miss your foot. Keep your support (non-trigger) hand against your chest or tummy until rotation, then take your two-handed grip before releasing the safety or moving your finger to the trigger.
Don’t let your support hand wander in front of the muzzle … ever.
Then raise the gun to eye level, always pointing at the target. In a gun fight you can shoot any time after “rotate.”
• He touched the trigger before he was ready for a *bang*.
For safety purposes, think of it this way: when you touch the trigger, the gun always goes *bang*.
Wait until the muzzle is on the target before touching the trigger. That way, if it goes *bang* unexpectedly, you still score something.
• Additional 1: he dropped a loaded, possibly cocked, firearm and walked away. Most range emergency procedures dictate that, in case of an accident, your firearm is to be unloaded and cleared before you go over to render aid. No need creating any more casualties than you already have. Reckon he was distracted.
• Additional 2: an “FBI cant” (holster tilted forward) helps keep that muzzle pointed away from your leg when drawing. It also gets the gun forward faster. YMMV

Okay, sage advice time. Before you draw & fire with live ammo,
• Get some knowledgeable instruction in safe and effective draw & fire technique.
• Get some knowledgeable instruction in safe re-holstering technique. This is even more important, since re-holstering is more dangerous than drawing. You have to concentrate on that finger and where you’re pointin’.
• Practice a bunch with an unloaded frikkin’ weapon until you can do it safely/reliably without endangering yourself or me on the range position next to you. I recommend doing it at home in front of a mirror.

Double/triple check that the gun’s unloaded, m’kay?
Start slowly, and in segments. Watch your trigger finger. Watch where the gun points. Learn how to keep it pointed at the bad guy (your reflection) all the way up until you’re pointing at your own eyeball. Watch your support hand.
Watch your finger and muzzle direction when you re-holster.

Draw, double-tap, and re-holster properly at least twenty times before you ever do it with a loaded weapon.
This is an athletic skill — nobody’s born with it; you have to learn it.
(What? Oh, yeah.)
Practicing in front of a mirror will also train you to watch the target, not your friggin’ holster.

[insert lawyer disclaimer stuff]


  1. dick not quite dead white guy
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 8:51 pm |

    Owww. I wonder if he crippled himself.
    Did he pull the trigger, or did something snag?

    He seemed to be alone, not a good idea when practicing live fire, IMHO.
    An acquaintance went a few miles into the woods with a holstered Ruger Single Six .22, brush dragged it out, it fell on the hammer and discharged, shooting him in the buttock. By the time he walked miles out of the woods, drove miles to the hospital, he almost died of blood loss, passing out in the emergency room driveway where a passerby found him unconscious. He said he couldn’t apply enough pressure on his own to staunch the bleeding.

  2. DougM (jackassophobe)
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 9:10 pm |

    the vid (@ :31s in full-screen) clearly shows it went off when his finger went to the trigger, well clear of the holster.

    I ain’t buyin’ his Ruger story. All modern handguns have a feature that mechanically prevents the hammer, firing pin, or striker from impacting the primer, even if broken or otherwise knocked off the sear, unless the trigger is depressed all the way.

  3. Posted July 6, 2011 at 9:25 pm |

    OK, I know I’m going to take flak for this.

    Too damn bad.

    Raise your hand everybody who thinks a guy who uses the word “negligent” in his video title doesn’t know he screwed up. (Hint: read the definition for “negligent”.)

    Second (and I acknowledge I am going on other people’s comments; I have never used a retention holster), in the YouTube video, while completely accepting responsibility for the ND, Greber points out that earlier in the day he was using a different holster, with a different mechanism, for which the finger action he used was appropriate. He got his wires crossed in the heat of the draw.

    He did not, as many people seem to think, carefully and deliberately put his finger on the trigger before he was ready to shoot.

    Third (again second hand on my part) apparently many people have found, sometimes catastrophically, that the SERPA holster involved has an action that tends to lead your finger to the trigger during the draw. It requires specific, specialized practice. (And, apparently, pretty much requires you don’t ever use any other kind of holster.)

    Fourth, in the YT video he says he’s practiced this draw thousands of times, with no problems.

    It’s not at all obvious to me that he’s an ignorant, clumsy, unpracticed idiot.

    Fifth, “Pride goeth before a negligent discharge.” And, “There are two kinds of people: Those who have committed an ND, and those who haven’t…yet.” I have read far too many accounts by people who admit they sneered for decades at idiots too careless to own guns, until they eventually had a ND of their own, causing varying amounts of damage. Accordingly, I cannot believe that anyone, with any level of experience and training, is immune.

    No matter what you carry, no matter how you carry, no matter how assiduously you practice, you are not immune.

    You carry a gun, there are risks associated with that. There are risks associated with liberty, with life itself. Deal with it.

    It is good to confess our mistakes, as Grebner did (and let me say, I think it took real stones to do that). It is good to analyze the equipment and our actions, to identify the error, so that we can guard against it. It is good to identify and condemn outright foolishness and grossly bad gun handling.

    It is not good to mock, as an uncouth idiot, someone who made a training mistake, particularly one as subtle as this seems to have been.

    It is double plus outright bad to suggest, as many seem to on Youtube, that someone who commits a ND is not fit to exercise their right to carry. There are some implying that only the perfect may carry, and many of the ones saying that are military (particularly Marines).

    Raise your hand if you think that doesn’t play directly into the hands of the grabbers.

  4. Another Bob
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 9:26 pm |

    Doug, It is a plausible story. I’m not saying it happened that way. I recall that my Ruger Super Single-Six (post 1973) came with a notice that owners of the previous version could send them in to have them upgraded at no charge to have the
    transfer bar safety mechanism installed.
    There is mention of the problem at .
    The Colt Single Action Army of 1873, on which Ruger, along with other manufacturers, modeled his sixguns, was designed with the firing pin attached to the hammer which would directly impact the primer of the cartridge in the cyliner. Later Colt guns placed the firing pin in the frame but it was still directly struck by the now blunt hammer and with the hammer down, the firing pin still protruded through the frame. As a result of this, safety demanded that only five rounds would be loaded in a revolver, with the hammer resting on an empty chamber. This would prevent an accidental discharge if the gun were dropped or otherwise receivd an impact or if the hammer got snagged on a shirt of belt or other object. The easiest way to ensure this was to load using a pattern of “load, skip, load, load, load, load” which would, result in the empty cylinder ending up in the proper position without any extra thought. The Single-Six shared this problem.

    In 1973, Ruger rectified this on his arms through the use of a new “transfer bar” safety system…

    FWIW, I remember many years ago, practicing drawing and dry firing for an hour and then screwing up the very first time I did it with the firearm loaded. Fortunately it was pointed in a safe direction.

  5. Posted July 6, 2011 at 9:31 pm |

    UM, and you can commit a negligent keystroke, as well:

    The man’s name is Derek Grebner. Got it right the second time.

    Also, I did not realize right away that this was the naked LiveLeak video without commentary, and didn’t put the YouTube link in at the very start. Of course, if you only saw the LL video, you don’t know that he explained, in considerable detail, what happened.

    Sorry about that.

  6. DougM (jackassophobe)
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 10:41 pm |

    Another Bob (4)
    Yeah, the Ruger retrofit is exactly what I was gettin’ at.
    Anybody carryin’ an unmodified old six-shooter should know about the empty-chamber method.

    DJMoore (3),
    He. put. his. finger. on. the. trigger. before. he. rotated.
    This wasn’t a sneer, it was a “teachable moment,” an unusually good one, too, for the beginner CCH folks, here.
    (I re-read my tome, and I didn’t find a single sneer.)

    I’ve had a few ADs in my time, all of which hit the backstop. (knock on wood) I say AD, not ND, because they came unexpectedly, not unsafely, and not due to violating any of the safe gun-handling rules … just didn’t control the trigger pressure properly. That’s what finger & muzzle discipline do for ya, but it has to be nearly 100%. Being a Chief RSO also keeps me … motivated.
    (What? Well, yeah, there’s also the reformed-whore syndrome.)

    Sure, the poor video guy may have drawn thousands of times. Doesn’t mean he was doin’ it right. Practice doesn’t help, if you practice faulty techniques.

    I’ve heard a lot of people rationalize accidents (mostly of the dog-stepped-on-my-shotgun type). People caught in embarrassing situations lie. I’m not sayin’ he’s lyin’, just that I don’t believe people’s excuses. Usually doesn’t matter, though. Humanity is what it is.
    (What? Me? Never! Well, except for the “never” part.)

    Most folks, here, have no idea what retention holsters are, or the difference between the various brands and mechanisms.
    I teach beginners to shoot (sport and CCH), not law enforcement or competitors (taught a CCH class to special forces once, though). Retention holsters are not appropriate for most CCH situations or for beginners.

    I practice with my strong-retention Blackhawks occasionally (1911, S+W M+P 45, & S+W 642), even shot action-pistol & IPSC matches with ‘em, just to push my skill with ‘em a bit. I don’t like ‘em much, personally, since I carry using IWBs or pocket holsters almost exclusively; but I understand the retention-holster’s mission.

    Bottom line:
    this is neither a morality nor a political issue — it’s a simple safety lesson.

  7. mojo
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 10:44 pm |

    “Keep yer booger-hook offa the bang switch!”

  8. Jay
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 11:27 pm |


    I shoot local competitions with a Glock. Sometimes it’s in a Blackhawk SERPA and sometimes it’s in a different style retention holster on a tac-belt duty-drop with a thumb release so I can use my rail mounted light for low-light work. I choose to use retention holsters in competition because that’s what I’m used to.

    The SERPA takes getting used to, and like mentioned above, is NOT good for beginners.

    The SERPA forces the shooter to use their trigger finger to push in on the release to allow for the draw of the pistol. I’ve seen more than once on multiple shooters, the pushed in finger continues to push in as the pistol is pulling free of the holster. Sometimes the shooter indexes their finger along the frame of the pistol. Sometimes the shooter’s finger finds it’s way into the trigger guard and onto the trigger before the pistol is on target.

    Luckily I haven’t seen the SERPA slipped finger cause a ND in any of my competitions so far. It helps that many people use a holster in our shoots without that kind of retention device….

    Just like many things in life, It has it’s place and the individual needs to train and know what their limitations are.

    And I wanted to add that it looks like he shot himself with a 9mm, ‘cuz if it was a .45 his leg would’ve been completely atomized from the hip down and a pink mist drifting lazily to the ground above his shoe would be the only evidence that an appendage existed there seconds before….
    Lord help us if he had happened to be using 10mm. I heard that a 10mm was the only handgun round that fazed Chuck Norris.

  9. Posted July 6, 2011 at 11:44 pm |

    I’ll leave the debate as too what went wrong to the folks here who are immensely better qualified to make such a judgement. My first and only thought really was,….


    I was trained in infantry weapons, but never more than a brief introduction to handguns.. for our purposes, they were a dead last desperation fallback piece.

    Repeat after me,..


    Whether 5.56mm or 7.62 NATO,…. Two quick side notes,.. I was nearly given a lesson in close range 45cal. carnage, when after having gone to the civilian range off base to test fire a 45 Government Model a guy in my unit was selling,.. he’d cleaned it, then dry fired it, slapped in a mag, set it down, he was always goofing around with weapons safety, a trait which gave us fits… he got a section 8 sundown discharge for a similar incident,.. base housing, concrete walls.. anyway,..

    Walked back in, before anyone could even react, he snatched it up, pulled the slide, snapped it down 45 degrees and pulled the trigger. The round whizzed past my knee, missing me, but only just… burying itself in a cedar chest full of blankets.. after my friends were done sitting on me, we made our goodbyes, and we wouldn’t report him, so he wouldn’t report being struck by an airman, (he was an E-4). I was pretty by the book, but,.. nearly getting shot kinda pisses you off..

    Another time, on the M203 range, an airman anticipated the recoil,(which was savage), and jerk his arm down as he fired.. pulling the barrel off the sandbad he was resting it on to help steady the shot, and when the barrel dropped a few inches, the grenade struck the sandbag.. thankfully, it was inert target rounds that day, everyone in the blast zone was dosed in orange florescent powder… and I got to see an ass chewing by the female Redhat (small arms specialist) E-6 of truly biblical proportions… it was so good… that R. Lee Ermey would have bought her a beer..

    Ah the days….. when the unexpected might involve loss of limb…

    I don’t miss most of that,.. but when you’re young, and still alive with all your parts when a few seconds before, you weren’t so sure.. you never feel more alive than at that moment. I can see why some get addicted to the adrenaline.

  10. Lucius Severus Pertinax
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 11:56 pm |

    I never thot the M203′s recoil was that bad. No worse, really, than a 12 ga. shotgun , with 3 inch mags. Maybe it was just me. I was actually pretty good with that thing, back in the day. I had 4 of them in my arms room.;)

  11. Colonel Jerry USMC
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 12:51 am |

    The problem here is he was too far away from the target

  12. blindshooter
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 4:10 am |

    IMO the SERPA is a stupid design. I understand the reason behind retention holsters but this is not the way to do it.

  13. blindshooter
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 4:16 am |

    And your advice on how to dry fire is good, put the ammo in another room. My first wife thought I had lost my mind when I would get up on the morning before a IPSC match and stand in front of the mirror practicing over and over.

    I am afraid that if I ever get into a shooting scuffle I might try to show clear to a nonexistent RO behind me when its over.

  14. logdogsmith
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 5:48 am |

    Even with the best instruction and safety procedures premature firings can occur when the shooter is concentrating too much on how fast he can shoot and not enough on how well he can place the round.

    I say he for shooter as I have known a couple of men who have shot themselves (competition level shooters). One of them had taped down the grip safety of his MEUSOC .45.

  15. dick not quite dead white guy
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 8:33 am |

    Doug – the Ruger incident was in 1974, in Pulaski County Virginia. I, being a edumacated city slicker, knew about the five round load for Rugers and Colt peacemakers, but apparently he didn’t.

  16. mojo
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 9:23 am |

    I’ve got an old Colt SAA with the hard spur on the hammer, made in 1898. Nice solid piece, nickel with ivory grips, a la Doc Holliday. And I ALWAYS keep an empty chamber under the spike.

    If you can’t drop the baddie with 5 rounds of .45 Colt, you’ve got the wrong gun, I say.

  17. DJMoore
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm |


    “He. put. his. finger. on. the. trigger. before. he. rotated.
    This wasn’t a sneer, it was a ‘teachable moment,’ an unusually good one, too, for the beginner CCH folks, here.”

    ““Keep yer booger-hook offa the bang switch!”

    So, your advice to someone who’s just had an auto accident is, “Don’t run into other cars!”

    “Well, then, there it is.”

    Sure, it’s correct as far as it goes, but it does not help.

    What makes the moment “teachable” is examining exactly why this evidently experienced shooter violated the basic four rules. I’ll bet any amount of money it’s not because he’s never heard of them or deliberately ignored them. Heck, he’s probably taught them to others.

    If you watch the complete YouTube video, with narration, he does his level best to go beyond the cliches, to explain what happened, to actually teach other people.

    And the lesson goes beyond the mechanics of holster and gun, muscle memory, cross-training, and all the rest.

    The real lesson is that even experienced, practiced shooters, who know and live by the Four Rules, can be caught out in a moment of inattention, particularly with unfamiliar equipment.

    Grebner gets my respect for putting this video up, subjecting himself to a serious shit storm of criticism, and breaking down the root causes of his ND.

    That’s real teaching.

    And if you think this isn’t political, read the comments at Youtube. Lots of folks claiming this as clear evidence that guns should be banned. Several military and LEO folks saying that they never have and never will have NDs because of their strict training, superior morals, crisp uniforms, and shiny badges.

    Far, far too many gunnies implying that this kind of clumsy ignorance of the four rules means Grebner, and anyone else who commits an ND, should have his guns taken away.

    And a few gunnies calling Grebner out as a Traitor to the Cause for posting the video which the grabbers can (and did) use to smear the rest of us.

    It’s political as all hell, and no getting away from it.

  18. DJMoore
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm |

    Oh, I have to share this, a comment over at pistol-training:

    At a police equipment trade show a couple of years ago, the Serpa guys were trying to sell me on how good their holster was. I mentioned a nearby local LE agency had outlawed their holsters due to the trigger finger being used to defeat the locking mechanism and some negligent discharges that occured due to the design.

    The salesman poo poo’d that and proceded to show me and a couple of other guys that was not possible. “there is no way the trigger finger can accidentally go to the trigger” he said. On his third draw guess where his finger was at when he cleared the holster with his red gun…… right on the trigger. I and the other guys saw it and called him on it. He was very embarrased and insisted it was a fluke and would not happen again…. He began drawing again to show us just how safe the holster was and just 4 draws later, back on the trigger was his finger.

    This was the company saleman, self promoted as a gun expert and certainly proficient with his product.

    I’m seeing many, many comments against the SERPA holster, although Grebner specifically accepts responsibility himself.

    But it is clear to me, and to many others with expertise and experience far beyond mine, that this is not simple negligence, and nothing like obstinate or ignorant refusal to abide by the Four rules.

  19. DougM (jackassophobe)
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 6:05 pm |

    DJM (various)
    This ain’t a gun blog.
    Nobody mentioned “negligence,” here (except me to differentiate between my ADs and NDs); and nobody brought down a “sh*t storm,” here.

    Personally, I don’t give a flying fig about other blogs’ yakery.
    MY post was about a couple basic-shooting safety principles and the practicalities associated with ‘em. The “Sage Advice / Don’t do this” is just an ongoing bit of schtick.

    Your “even experienced, practiced shooters, who know and live by the Four Rules, can be caught out in a moment of inattention” is precisely correct. MY point is that beginners need to know what that moment of inattention can bring, i.e. it’s a teachable moment to illustrate what casual gun handling can cause.

    Actually, this post has little to do with the particular video incident, as such, or retention holsters at all; and I’m not about to get into a pissing contest with other-blog gungeeks about things most folks, here, don’t have any interest in.

    Frankly, I ain’t too all-fired pleased by having comments hijacked and sidetracked onto some other blog’s turf, either.

    Oh, and there are a heckuva lot more than four rules.
    There are four categories of rules, though.

  20. Susan Lee
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    Thanks, DougM, for a great ‘teachable moment’ for us beginners. I appreciate both the video and your commentary, hopefully it will keep me more aware in the future….

    Susan Lee, still a beginning shooter ;-))

  21. DJMoore
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 7:01 pm |

    OK, fair enough. I’ve made my points, such as they are, and I’ll shut up.

    (Oh, except: “negligent” is Grebner’s word, and I don’t think he’s using it casually. He believes he was negligent, and I admire him for admitting that.)

  22. Paul
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm |

    I’ve shot IDPA and IPSC for over 30 years. Been to many a shooting school too. The shooter in this film put his trigger finger on the trigger while drawing. And that was that.

    We have a saying, KYFFOTFT. That is Keep Your Frigging Finger Off The Frigging Trigger.

    See the trigger is the ‘go’ button. The gun is just a dumb piece of metal and if you mash that go button the gun will go off, no matter where it’s pointed.

    The gent is lucky he didn’t hit his femoral artery. If he does that he will be DRT (dead right there.)

  23. Paul
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 8:07 pm |


    Jay and Doug M. are right.