Whether you carry every day or only take your firearm to the range every couple of months, even experienced gun owners can have a negligent discharge. In fact, sometimes they can be more prone to accidents than beginners. As we handle and use our firearms, we gain familiarity. While that’s a good thing if you are in an urgent situation and need to use your firearm, it can be deadly if you don’t take the safety precautions that you should because you are complacent. How do you get complacent, and how can you prevent it from hurting you?

Complacency in Experienced Gun Owners

Do you think that most people who get into car accidents while sending a text message are doing it for the first time? No! Many of them have sent hundreds of text messages while driving behind the wheel before—this is just the first time that something bad happened. The same thing can happen with experienced gun owners. You are used to handling, cleaning, and firing your weapon. Skipping a safety precaution one time might not immediately lead to an accident, so gradual complacency can build to an incident that leaves you scratching your head and wondering how you were so lazy. 

What Factors Lead to Problems With Risk Assessment?

One of the biggest causes of complacency is improper risk assessment. When you are comfortable with what you’re doing, it’s easy to understate the risk because nothing bad has happened before. Some of the biggest factors that can lead to trouble with risk assessment include:

  • Autopilot errors/doing something without thinking
  • Overestimating your knowledge or ability
  • Underestimating the risk level or not understanding how dangerous what you’re doing actually is
  • Seeing someone else do a dangerous thing with no consequence and assuming you’ll have the same success (which is particularly common with things like leaving a loaded weapon in the nightstand if you have children in the house)

If you’re one of the millions of experienced gun owners in the United States, there’s a high chance that you’ve encountered at least one of the above issues before.

Strategies to Avoid Complacency

First, it’s important to recognize that even experienced gun owners are subject to complacency and being on autopilot. In fact, the more that you handle your firearm, the more likely you are to experience it. However, by acknowledging the risk of complacency, you can take steps to prevent it. Come up with practices that you can engage in to remind yourself of safety before carrying for the day. For example, a quick chamber check or press check can make sure your gun is safe and ready to use before you leave the house. Little procedures and steps like these make sure that you’re taking a moment to be conscious of the risk that you’re taking.

Another option to avoid complacency is to think about why you do the things that you do. Why do you always load or unload your firearm in your dining room? Is there another place you could do so that would be safer? Where do you store your firearm safely? Is there another location that would be more secure? Thinking about the motivation behind what you are doing and if there is a better way is essential. 

Don’t forget the 4 universal firearm safety rules:

  1. Treat all guns as if they are always loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle point at anything that you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to shoot.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is behind it.

Soteria Training Academy Helps Experienced Gun Owners Stay Focused

Soteria Training Academy helps both new and seasoned gun owners stay focused, whether they are at the range or in an emergency situation. We can help you grow your skills over time and avoid complacency. Contact us today by visiting our website, or call us at (410) 216-3176 to learn more.