Donít Forget to Be Afraid --Ron Ray

As part of my real work, Iíve been going through Managing the Risk of Organizational Accidents by James Reason. Itís directed at people who professionally use or manage complex and hazardous technologies (nuclear plants, oil rigs, trains, airplanes, etc.).

One concept struck me as particularly applicable to recreational shooters- "donít forget to be afraid" or "chronic unease". Someone who hasnít had an accident or close call lately tends to get confident and complacent and forget the hazards they are dealing with. Safety gets pushed into the background, and the lack of an accident or close call increasingly becomes a matter of pure, dumb luck. The wake-up call may be a near miss or minor accident that scares them back into safety consciousness; or it may be a disaster.

Many of us have heard stories of experienced shooters who "knew better" but "got stupid" and had an avoidable accident or close call. Those people "forgot to be afraid", got overconfident and complacent, and received a reminder why we have overlapping safety rules that give us redundant defenses against disaster.

We engage in a potentially hazardous activity when we shoot. Do be a bit uneasy when you deal with that firearm. Actively think about, understand, commit to, and follow the safety rules. We want you to come back tomorrow.

Originally published in the GGC Newsletter - Spring 2000