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Unload first


Proudprado
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It’s the last run of a 7-stage club shoot in Pretoria. Thermometer is topping 90® yet again yesterday and I have to get into a very small car (Fiat) to shoot.

Gun down on the floor of the car (as per COF) and then I fold in on myself to fit into the car. I get a muscle spasm just below my diaphragm … it happened the previous time I got into that car too, so this is not unexpected, but it makes me nervous. And my head/ear protection is bumping against the roof.

At the buzzer, I pick up the G17 and put two in the body of each of the six targets around the car (arranged from 3 o’clock to 9). Reload on the last target and shoot one-in-the-head all the way back again. Obviously all of this happens from the inside of the car.

After the last shot, as per instruction, I put the firearm on the bonnet, get out, show clear, slide forward and as I’m about to pull the trigger to put the hammer down, the SO shouts:

“Stop!”

She saw I did not take the magazine out … I had no idea. So I take out the magazine, go through the process and holster. If she did not intervene, the shot would have hit the ground, in a safe direction, about 3-5m from me.

She assured me that she would have disqualified me if I fired the shot.

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Craig, I think the point the OP was trying to make was that he was uncomfortable in the car, but glad you contributed with such a meaningful comment.

To the OP, I always try to slow way way down on car stages or anything involving a weird position when it's time to unload and show clear. I just instantly glue my eyes on the gun and do everything in stupidly slow motion so there can't be any possible arguments about where the muzzle of the gun is. Personally, while it's not "cool", I wait for the SO commands too. The SO obviously isn't responsible for your firearm but I don't mind having a second set of eyes helping out. I'd be in a rush to get out of a cramped car too. I have short arms and a lot of times I get muscle strain on those stages from having to reach past my range of motion, just think about it for next time. I'd also suggest physically looking in the chamber when you unload and show clear. If you were physically looking and the magazine was still in there, you would have seen the next round ready to chamber.

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Well, glad the RO caught it! I've seen it happen, everyone messes up eventually, and that's why we learn to point in a safe direction!

What I do at the end of a stage is stop, I pause for a few seconds, and then start my unload process. It might take me twice as long to unload and show clear, but I use the time to remind myself of what I'm doing. Sometimes when you're running a fast stage, the unload/show clear is naturally fast as well. Just remember, it doesn't need to be. In fact, it should be slow, IMHO.

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If you had been in a "regular" sized car do you think you would have messed up the unload order?

I really don't know. I think the heat, the long day and finishing in the car had an effect on my mental stage, yes. I might have made the same mistake if I finished on any of the other stages too.

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As a new shooter myself, I try to watch what others do, and then see what the agreed upon best practice is. When in Rome... so to speak.

My process; I essentially wait for the RO commands before I do anything:

End of stage:

  1. I hit my mag release
  2. Mag drops to ground
  3. Wait for RO command: '(If you are finished) unload and show me clear'
  4. I pull slide back; round ejected; I show the empty chamber to the RO
  5. Wait for RO command: 'slide forward'
  6. I release slide forward
  7. Wait for RO command: 'hammer forward' or 'trigger'
  8. I orient the gun down range (not at ground) pull trigger to dry fire the weapon
  9. Wait for RO command: 'holster'
  10. I place my gun in my holster

I don't do anything during this process until the RO tells me to do so. That way, both he and I are clear what's happening.

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As a new shooter myself, I try to watch what others do, and then see what the agreed upon best practice is. When in Rome... so to speak.

My process; I essentially wait for the RO commands before I do anything:

[snip]

I don't do anything during this process until the RO tells me to do so. That way, both he and I are clear what's happening.

This is how I approach it also both as a new shooter and as someone who was introduced to shooting through law enforcement. In my mind RO = Range Sergeant. My brain won't allow me to get ahead of the RO because doing so reminds me of how badly that goes over with a police firearms instructor/sergeant. :)

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Roscoe, so do you unload before he tells you to?
No, review my steps 1-4. With regard to autoloaders only, one can't unload unless the magazine is dropped first. I suppose you could combine the mag drop with the racking the slide to eject the live round for the Unload & Show Clear command, but that's not my routine. Racking the slide, as you learned in your occurrence, doesn't unload a firearm unless the mag is already empty or dropped. I drop my mags at the end of every stage, regardless; its just my routine and helps me verify for certain that the weapon is completely unloaded, of course in addition to visually checking the chamber myself and showing the RO. Multi-layered safety systems :D HTH
This is how I approach it also both as a new shooter and as someone who was introduced to shooting through law enforcement. In my mind RO = Range Sergeant. My brain won't allow me to get ahead of the RO because doing so reminds me of how badly that goes over with a police firearms instructor/sergeant. :)

+1 Edited by Roscoe09292010
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  • 8 months later...

As a new shooter myself, I try to watch what others do, and then see what the agreed upon best practice is. When in Rome... so to speak.

My process; I essentially wait for the RO commands before I do anything:

End of stage:

[*]I hit my mag release

[*]Mag drops to ground

Why wouldn't you drop the mag into your weak hand rather than let it fall to the ground?

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Good question. By dropping the mag into your weak hand and then storing the mag on your belt you end up taking more time so you naturally slow down ... Also there is no temptation to bend over and pick up your mag before you have safed and holstered your gun ....

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Good question. By dropping the mag into your weak hand and then storing the mag on your belt you end up taking more time so you naturally slow down ... Also there is no temptation to bend over and pick up your mag before you have safed and holstered your gun ....

My reason to avoid an extra mag to clean from hitting the ground each stage, your reason sounds better

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Yep, gotta watch out for unloading after an unusual stage..

Last year at area match had a poor fella just ahead of me get sent home showing clear after a prone stage, since propped up on elbows and prone position was at 45 degrees to left, 180'd dropping the mag.

Have learned to very deliberately turn and face down range to make ready and to unload.

That way I can really focus on an awesome flip and catch!

Sorry couldn't resist, someone is gonna loose their mind now, but that is more fun than upper decking the BC's toilet.

Edited by Ultimo-Hombre
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As a new shooter myself, I try to watch what others do, and then see what the agreed upon best practice is. When in Rome... so to speak.

My process; I essentially wait for the RO commands before I do anything:

End of stage:

  • I hit my mag release
  • Mag drops to ground
  • Wait for RO command: '(If you are finished) unload and show me clear'
  • I pull slide back; round ejected; I show the empty chamber to the RO
  • Wait for RO command: 'slide forward'
  • I release slide forward
  • Wait for RO command: 'hammer forward' or 'trigger'
  • I orient the gun down range (not at ground) pull trigger to dry fire the weapon
  • Wait for RO command: 'holster'
  • I place my gun in my holster
I don't do anything during this process until the RO tells me to do so. That way, both he and I are clear what's happening.

I guess I've been shooting matches going on 3 years and I still wait for these commands, shouldn't everyone?

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  • 2 weeks later...

At my very first outdoor match some years ago, I was very excited to find I had been placed in the same squad with Dave Sevigny. He and I talked a bit before the first stage, and I was really looking forward to shooting with him and watching him shoot.

I shoot the first stage, and Dave is the RO. There's no reason for it, really, but I was nervous shooting that day, probably because Dave and several other good shooters were in my squad. So I finished the stage, and did just like I always do - rack the slide, drop the magazine, and pull the trigger.

I'm sure you can see the problem. Not sure where my head was at that day, but of course the gun went boom - safely pointed at the berm, as it should be - and my day was done. I rather doubt if Dave remembers this, but it's something I'll certainly never forget. Haven't had a DQ since, and I'm now MUCH more careful to slow down and take my time unloading and clearing when a stage is done.

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