A Teachable Moment

I’m going to be shooting an IDPA match this weekend, and my teenage daughter (whom I’ll refer to here as Nutmeg, one of her nicknames) will be attending with me. For a variety of reasons, this will be her first trip to the range, so we spent some time last night talking about safety. We talked about the four basic rules of gun safety, and I added a fifth. “When we’re handling guns, if an adult tells you to STOP, it means you’re doing – or about to do – something unsafe. If that happens, you need to freeze right where you are, and wait for the adult to tell you what’s happening that’s dangerous.”

After we talked safety, she wanted to learn a bit about gun handling. It happened I had a Glock Blue gun nearby, so I grabbed that and we did a brief lesson on the basics of gun handling – stance, grip, sights, trigger. While Nutmeg was practicing aiming, I noticed her finger drifting to the trigger. “STOP!” I told her.

She obediently froze. “Where’s your finger right now?” I asked her.

“On the trigger.”

“And is your gun pointing at your target right now?” The target was a 1/3 scale IDPA target I’d cut out of a cardboard box for practice.

“No…” She paused for a moment. “I know the safety rule says keep your finger off the trigger until your gun’s pointed at the target…but that’s silly, because this isn’t a real gun. It’s just a piece of plastic!”

Inwardly, I smiled. Nutmeg was about to experience what they call “a teachable moment”.

“You know,” I said, “how people get into the habit of doing stuff a certain way?” When she nodded, I continues. “It’s the same thing with guns. If you get into a good habit about safety – even when the gun is just blue plastic – you won’t make dumb mistakes when you’re handling a real gun. If you get into a bad habit, sooner or later someone’s going to get hurt.”

She thought about that for a minute. “I see what you mean,” she said, “but it feels embarrassing to act like that’s a real gun. It feels silly!”

I grabbed my iPad and pulled up the now-famous (or is that infamous?) YouTube video of Tex Grebner’s negligent discharge with his SERPA holster. We watched it together, Nutmeg giggling at Mr. Grebner’s matter-of-fact “I just f***ing shot myself!” comment. When it was over, I asked her, “which do you think feels stupider – pretending a blue gun is real so you get into a safe habit, or shooting yourself in the leg because you didn’t pay attention, for just a second, to the safe rules?”

She didn’t even have to think about that one. “Shooting yourself.”

“How do you think he’d have felt if he’d shot someone else? Or if someone had gotten killed because of that mistake?”

She looked down at the floor. “Pretty bad,” she answered. Then she looked up at me, and I could see that sassy twinkle she gets in her eye sometimes. “So you’re saying that looking like a dumbass by pretending a plastic gun is real is better than looking like a dumbasss because you shot your own leg,” she said.

I laughed along with her. She’s at that age where the word “dumbass” is still funny, and I’m willing to play along when it helps get the lesson across. That teachable moment? Unqualified success.


  1. davidc says:

    Good lesson to learn ! I don’t want to be a real dumbass ! Ha !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: