This Explains Something

This explains something that I have sort of wondered about for years:

Back in the late 1990’s a gun range near where I worked had an accidental shooting death. A church youth group had gone to the range and one of the new shooters, a young woman, after shooting a few rounds with a smaller caliber handgun was given a .44 Magnum by one of the more experienced people in the group. He stood behind her and on the left. The right handed, young woman fired one round without apparent incident. When she fired the second round the gun recoiled up over her left shoulder and fired a second round through the neck of the young man. He was killed.

I never quite understood how the double action trigger was pulled the second time during recoil unless the woman gripped her hand from the stress or something.

Now I understand. The recoil was so great it twisted the gun past her hand and wrist normal range of motion to the point the gun was cycled through the complete double action.

There are some lessons to be learned here:

  1. Always put just one round at a time in the guns of new shooters until you are certain they follow the safety rules when the gun fires (they sometimes turn around with a loaded gun and their finger on the trigger).
  2. Always put just one round at a time in the guns of new shooters until they can handle the recoil when the gun fires.
  3. As a range safety officer, always stand behind and to the strongside of shooters. It is easy for them to point the gun over the shoulder of their weakside at you. You can stop their rotation in either direction by blocking their shoulder. But you can’t block the shot over the weakside shoulder.

5 thoughts on “This Explains Something

  1. I took two of my girls to a several week long (two nights per week) basic firearms training class several years ago at the range Joe referenced. The last night of the class, the instructor gave an opportunity to any class members that wanted to fire a S&W 500. He always put a single round in the cylinder for each student. My girls did amazingly well. I will never forget when the older one touched the round off, controlled the recoil, kept the muzzle downrange and then turned her head to look at me with the biggest grin I think I had ever seen her give. I was also surprised at the number of students that, after multiple hours of shooting revolvers and semi auto pistols in calibers ranging from .22 to .45 failed to control the recoil of the .500 in any acceptable degree. I am not sure what mental mechanism was operating, or not operating, in their heads as the instructor warned each one of them about the magnitude of the recoil and how to be prepared for it; and they all got to watch as each student fired their shot. Looking at the video, I would say that there was likely no effective training offered before the shooter pulled the trigger. There was too much space between the top of his hands and the line of the barrel and he was not leaning into the shot in anyway. He was heavy enough not to get pushed of off his feet but if there had been another round in the cylinder, he was just lucky to only be scared and not dead. You can never be sure what a person will do until you see them in action, regardless of how much experience and/or training they claim to have had. Always better safe than sorry.

  2. And the reality is some guns simply have too much recoil for certain people to adequately control.

  3. It’s always been a thing. To hand someone an overpowering gun to see what happens/watch the reaction.
    And as mentioned, can go horribly wrong.
    Like telling people not to speed. All we can do is explain that’s it’s not the best way to do things. Then pray they listen.
    As much as one would like to stop this sort of thing, I’m not sure we can.

  4. “It’s always been a thing. To hand someone an overpowering gun to see what happens/watch the reaction.”

    U-tube is littered with videos of this sort of idiocy. Usually boyfriends/husbands handing a female a large caliber revolver or 12 ga shotgun, without any training, and standing back and laughing at the result. Makes me want to tune them up with a 2×4.

    My father’s version was to position me on a porch to fire a .41 magnum for the first time. He walked far away from the porch, I thought so he could see the target. No, it was to see the reaction to the ear-shattering muzzle blast. I was maybe 14. Near 60 years later, my ears still ring.

  5. Multiple videos exist of these revolvers touching off a second shot into the air.

    Exhuberation is not the response I’d have of an uncontrolled projectile traveling within arm’s reach of an innocent person.

Comments are closed.