H/T to Sipsey Street Irregulars, here.
A 12 year old girl was shot. In the stomach. By someone attempting to clear a weapon. Story here and here. It struck home because I have a 12 year old grand daughter and can relate to the utter horror the family experienced. If the stories are accurate, this should not and could not have happened if proper clearing procedures had been employed with proper supervision of the person serving as Range Safety Officer.
This post is not about anything other than the essential skill of clearing a weapon properly and safely.
First, the basics:
Retention Repetition: It’s always loaded; don’t point it at anything you don’t want destroyed; keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to take a shot; be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Simple. Repeat it often.
Now, let’s look at “clearing” a weapon. For ease of discussion, we’ll do rifles/carbines that are magazine fed, you can use the same basic procedures for bolt guns, pistols, revolvers and shotguns. It doesn’t matter how the action opens, what matters is that you ensure the chamber is empty in a safe manner.
STEP 1: Point the weapon in a safe direction (at the ground, down range, or into a ‘clearing barrel’ (designed and built for this procedure)).
STEP 2: Without touching anything else but the magazine release, remove the magazine from the weapon. Place it on the ground, in a pouch, or on a table near you.
STEP 3: Place the safety selector on safe. If operating a Garand or M14 type rifle, take care to keep fingers OUT of the trigger guard.
STEP 4: Lock the bolt to the rear. (If a round is in the receiver/chamber area, this action should extract and eject the round.) If the rifle/carbine does not have a bolt hold open feature, hold the bolt to the rear and check the receiver and chamber to ensure there’s no ammunition in either location.
STEP 5: Inspect the receiver and chamber area to make sure no ammunition is present. If a round is in the chamber, closing the bolt and locking the bolt to the rear again should extract and eject the round.
The weapon is now clear and can be prepared for disassembly/cleaning/storage.
STEP 6: With no magazine in the weapon and no ammunition in the receiver or chamber, activate the bolt release and allow the bolt to go forward.
STEP 7: With the weapon pointed in a safe direction (at the ground, down range, or into a ‘clearing barrel’ (designed and built for this procedure), place the selector lever (non-NFA weapons only have ‘safe’ and ‘semi’ aka ‘fire’) on ‘SEMI’ or ‘FIRE’ and depress the trigger.
STEP 8: Charge weapon once with no magazine and no ammunition in the receiver or chamber.
STEP 9: Place selector lever on ‘SAFE‘.
STEP 10: The weapon is now safe for follow on activities such as placing in transport cases, disassembly, cleaning, or maintenance.
It’s not mandatory, obviously, as these actions can all be taken whether in a group or alone. However, when in a group, designating a knowledgeable person to supervise weapons clearing is a good idea.
Leave nothing to chance.