Sean tells a story of a class he recently tried to take. I say “tried to take” because he had to leave part way through because of the instructors’ unsafe behavior. Go read the whole thing.
Sean (and his brother) did the right thing. They told the instructor that he was doing something unsafe, and when the instructor refused to stop, he left the class. First of all, big congratulations to him for doing the right thing. It’s had to stand up in a room full of people and say “Hey, you are doing something wrong!” and yet, that’s exactly what needs to happen.
If you hang around gun guys for a while, you will at some point see a strange ritual. Someone will take out a pistol, and check to see if it is unloaded. They will hand it to the next person, who will check to see if it is unloaded, and so on down the line. No one takes it for granted that the ammo fairies haven’t snuck a round in while no one was watching. Why? Because we are building habits.
When I became an pistol instructor, we went through elaborate practice to make sure that when we handled firearms, we didn’t muzzle anyone. It’s not that easy. It requires attention to what you are doing. You have to think about where your safe zones were, and soft of pre-plan your movements in advance. Oh, and by the way, these were blue guns. Inert pieces of plastic. Why did we worry about inert pieces of plastic? Because we were forming habits, and we were learning how to teach. And because safety is that important.
As a teacher, you communicate to your students not just by your content, but by your attitude, your body language, and your entire demeanor. So, what did the students from that class learn? They learned that we have “rules” that don’t mean anything. They learned that if you see a safety violation you shouldn’t say anything, because the instructor will ignore it at best and make fun of you at worst.
I will close with a personal admission. I’ve muzzled someone before. In fact, I did it in front of Sean. We were putting sight black on our sights, and I pointed my (unloaded) gun in the wrong direction. A quick, stupid error from training too long on ranges where no one was downrange. I had built bad habits. The person involved just said “Hey man!” and looked at me. I was embarrassed, said “Oh my God, sorry!” I holstered my gun, felt my face burn, and made sure I didn’t make that mistake again. If he had asked me to leave, I would not have complained. I was wrong.
If you make a mistake, admit it, and learn from it. If you see a safety problem, speak up. And if you are at the range, or a class, or a match and someone is being unsafe, be strong enough to leave.