Why people need training in gun usage

This video shows why, if you want to own a gun, you really need to have serious training in gun usage and safety if you are to avoid harming yourself and others. The video is designed to evoke laughter but the consequences of unskilled usage can be tragic.

Gun owners would also benefit from some basic lessons in physics, such as the law of conservation of momentum. Even though a bullet is small (around 5 grams), it can be fired with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 meters-per-second (not uncommon for modern high powered guns) and thus goes forward with a momentum of 5000 gram-meters-per-second, and the law demands that there must be an equal momentum in the opposite direction and the shooter has to absorb it.

To get a sense of how big the recoil is, it is equivalent to being hit with a basketball (about 500 grams) traveling at a speed of 10 meters-per-second (roughly 20 mph) or a baseball (about 150 grams) traveling at speed of about 35 meters per second (about 80 mph) which is similar to fastball thrown by a major league pitcher. Both can knock you over backwards if you are not braced and ready for it.

Experienced gun owners know to fire from a prone position or if they have to stand, either embed the rifle butt firmly into the shoulder or, if firing a pistol, brace their arms and their legs so as to spread that momentum over the entire body to minimize the speed of recoil.


  1. Rodney Nelson says

    The first rule of gun safety: Your weapon is ALWAYS loaded, even if you’ve just unloaded it.

    The second rule of gun safety: Never point a weapon at anyone you don’t want to kill.

    The third rule of gun safety: Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire the weapon.

    The fourth rule of gun safety: Know what your target is AND what is behind your target.

    The fifth rule of gun safety: You can’t make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

  2. jws1 says

    I like how all these “tough guys” instantly morph into frightened children when their boom stick goes off.

  3. slc1 says

    a baseball (about 150 grams) traveling at speed of about 35 meters per second (about 80 mph) which is similar to fastball thrown by a major league pitcher.

    Unless a major league pitcher is a knuckle-ball hurler, 80 MPH wouldn’t even attract major league scouts. For instance, Steven Strasburg has been clocked at 98 MPH.

  4. machintelligence says

    Your numbers are a bit on the low side. A .30 cal. 180 grain (10+gram) bullet at 3300 feet per second (1000 meters per second) is easily achieved with some modern magnum rifles. So double your figures. BTW the fellow who ended up landing in a chair on the far side of the room was firing a large bore magnum with four times the recoil you listed.

  5. says

    Yeah, recoil’s just funny funny funny. A friend of mine got hit in the face by a recoiling handgun and wound up with a concussion and stitches. Fortunately, it didn’t leave a disfiguring scar or damage an eye.

    See, some guns have sights that’ll tear a chunk out of you. Or if you have your thumb up against the slide it’ll do you just like a touch against a table-saw. Something like a revolver may have a hammer spur that’ll leave a mark in your skull after it’s gone through the flesh covering your face.

    I feel queasy every time I remember that afternoon. The blood never came out of the seat of my truck.

    When I see people posting potentially life-changing gun accidents on youtube I want to vomit.

  6. jws1 says

    @#6: Glad your friend came out o.k.

    Did the robber/rapist/muslimhorde/blackstreetgangthugs get away?

  7. Psychopomp Gecko says

    When I think about the average American owning a gun, I also think of George Carlin talking about how dumb the average American is, “and realize half the country is dumber than them!”

    The scariest one for me was the guy with the rifle. Pulled the trigger, nothing happened, went to look down the barrel. Like Rodney Nelson said up there, treat them all as loaded even if you just unloaded them yourself. And probably a good idea to keep the safety on.

    I think Uncle Billy puts the NRA attitude best. “If you want to do some major damage or something to somebody, just take something like this-” BANG! “Damn, that damn thing went off.”

  8. Cag says

    Yeah. I think what happened there was a delayed shot, basically, if the hammer hits the ammo, there is a chance that the ammo won’t go off right away. At that point, you do not remove whatever s loaded, or try to fire again. Just point it away from anything deadly and wait at least two minutes before you do anything else.

    And that’s another reason I don’t think I’d want to own a gun. It’s only a matter of time before I hurt myself.

  9. says

    Every time I was out at a qualifying range in the Marines, some idiot would break some safety rule and everything would shut down for 30-45 minutes while they escorted the idiot off the range. And that’s folks with training, surrounded by safety officials and coaches and people who outrank them, trying to get a score to get promoted and make more money. All you have to do to get a gun is count out cash and find a gun show.

  10. evilDoug says

    Yes, they all need some training, and seven of them need to be charged with criminally negligent discharge of a firearm and be banned from ever touching a gun again.

  11. sosw says

    Also consider that in the very first clip in the video, the guy almost certainly had a considerable amount of training…

  12. kyoseki says

    Not in California, all gun show sales go through an FFL dealer.

    That said, even the level of handgun training in California is practically non-existent and has no proficiency test.

    Major differences I’ve noticed between the US and other countries that have reasonably high rates of gun ownership with a low murder rate (and a low mass murder rate):
    1: They ALL have pretty stringent training and testing standards
    2: Almost none of them consider “self defense” a valid reason for owning a firearm
    3: They all have universal healthcare

    Insofar as I can tell, the actual TYPES of firearm available have very little to do with anything (though they all restrict automatic weapons, but then so do we).

  13. kyoseki says

    Oh, obviously there’s the whole major issue in that none of them consider gun ownership a “right”, but I still feel that a lot of the restrictions they place on firearms ownership could still be implemented here without suffering a major Constitutional challenge.

  14. says

    I think it was the fifth clip, indoors with a guy in a white shirt.

    I remember reading an article about the gun they were firing. The calibre on that rifle is simply obscene. In the demonstration videos, no one could handle it’s recoil, even holding it properly. The guys were playing around with a gun that humans literally cannot fire safely, and laughing about it.

  15. kyoseki says

    Yeah, it’s a .577 T-Rex hunting rifle, but it’s probably a single shot weapon (it’s definitely bolt action) so dropping it doesn’t really endanger anyone (except maybe the next guy to pull the trigger if someone bends something).

    Given some of the videos I’ve seen at that shooting range, I think it’s in the middle east somewhere (there’s a lot of guys wearing thawbs and given it’s general silliness, my money’s on Dubai), it’s almost certainly not in the US because it’s over 50 caliber (the National Firearms Act effectively limits all rifles to 50 caliber and below).

    I’m sure you *could* learn to fire it properly, but it’s only real use is bringing down big game, so it’s of limited application pretty much anywhere.

  16. lochaber says

    Another prior marine here.

    I didn’t like much about the corps, but afterwards, I do think they taught basic marksmanship technique, and safety fairly well. Unfortunately, there was such an overabundance of dumbasses that we would have at least one safety violation for almost every company sized or larger. range or live-fire training event.

    Anyways, yeah, these videos were appalling… I can’t quite understand what would cause someone to try and fire a weapon without supporting it, or what they thought looking down the barrel would accomplish….

  17. Psychopomp Gecko says

    Whew, I’m glad to know that just any folks down here around the Deep South where I live can walk around with 50 caliber rifles. Makes me feel much safer.

  18. Germanguy says

    It depends what you mean by ‘serious’.

    Generally, the following rules, if followed to the letter, suffice:

    -Any firearm is to be treated as if it were loaded
    -Never point a firearm at something you are not willing to kill/destroy
    -Be sure of your target and what it behind it
    -Altered states of mind and firearms do NOT mix well
    -Before handling a firearm that is new to you, get instructions from someone who knows it

    Most active shooters know these rules, they just fade into a moment of stupid (we all have them) and happen to be holding a gun at the time.

  19. machintelligence says

    Here are a few more people shooting the .577 T-Rex much more successfully (beginning at 4:05).
    The recoil is severe, but manageable, especially if you weigh two hundred pounds or more. The rifle itself weighs 13 pounds.
    BTW There is no big game animal on earth that requires such a round.

  20. baal says

    I stopped a minute in. It wasn’t watchable for the excessive levels of stupid (loaded gun and a classroom full of kids?). It also probably lends itself to confimation bias. OTOH, it’s very illustrative of what happens when you aren’t trained in gun safety or don’t take it seriously.

    On a second note, as much as the Southern hick bigotry works for me (I have a much harder time stamping out this bias than others), it’s a disservice to folks with that accent use it to underline the stupid.

  21. kyoseki says

    Any firearm over 50 caliber, whether it be a pistol or rifle (but not generally speaking, a shotgun) is considered a “Destructive Device” under Title II of the National Firearms Act, putting it in the same category as machine guns.

    You *can* own them (depending on your state, I’m in California so I can’t) but you need to get a Class 2 or 3 FFL license which basically means qualifying as a manufacturer or dealer in NFA weapons.

    Looking at the video, the gun seems to be a custom job, so my guess is that someone there has a Class 2 license.

    So I guess the original video could well have been in the US, but my money’s still on Dubai 🙂

  22. frog says

    “Dude, my mom’s gonna kill me!”

    I love tough guys who are afraid of their mothers. It’s such a fucked up dynamic.

  23. says

    I used to fire a .306 rifle. I would rock back about six inches, but not lose balance and the rifle didn’t kick up. I wouldn’t want to go much higher.

    The fellow whose nose was hurt looked like he had my condition: right-handed and left-eyed, so I have to hang my face over a rifle to sight.

    Firearms and alcohol, firing into bushes, leaning back to start with, holding the rifle loosely, waving it around, looking into the barrel (I’ll guess that guy’s blood turned to straight adrenaline), Jesus!

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