Last week someone shot themselves in the hand at the range.  As far as I can tell he did it while he was loading his gun.  It is the first time that someone has shot themselves at the range while I was working.  It was truly unfortunate.  The individual is a regular and generally handles his firearm well.  It only takes one mistake to cause you a world of pain.  It did give me the opportunity to see if my medical plan worked.  He shot himself in the lower part of his palm, around the area of his ring finger and pinky finger.  It appeared as if the bullet went through at an angle, there was a clear hole, black powder burns over the whole hand and meat was hanging from one side.  Blood was pouring from the wound and the whole lobby looked like a crime scene.  I wanted to wrap the wound, so I grabbed my IFAK and cut open the wound dressing, a five-foot-long compression bandage.  I wrapped his hand tightly and secured the bandage.  Once the bleeding was controlled, I sat him down with his hand above his head and called 911.

I have practiced and discussed calling 911 hundreds of times.  Recently, Lee Weems discussed a common practice among trainers of saying that any firearm related injury in a class should be called a “training incident” as opposed to a shooting.  You should view that video and the response from Chris Cypert.  In any event  I stated that is was a training incident and described the nature of the injury and also informed that the range was safe and that all guns were secured.  The 911 operator took my information and informed that she was sending and ambulance and told me to keep my phone close in case she called back, it took about 15-20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.  Ultimately, there were five or six paramedics in the range.  They asked me who treated him, and I told them what I had done. They told me that I had done a good job and they were going to leave it that way to transport him to the hospital.  The police arrived shortly thereafter.  I must say that Ocala Fire and Police department were amazing.  No undue stress was added to the situation when they arrived.  They were exceedingly professional.

For those who are interested the gun used was a 9mm Glock 43 with 9mm FMJ.  I used a North American Rescue IFAK.  The patron who shot himself is fine.  It is too early to tell about any diminishment in the use of his hand.  As near as I can tell, he was loading the gun and was working the slide from the front with his hand covering the barrel.  He pressed the trigger as he was chambering the round.  Loading and press checking from the front is common among competitive shooters and can be seen all over you tube.  I don’t teach new students to do this, however I often press check my gun using the front of the front cocking serrations.  When an accident like this happens, it is a cascading failure of the safety rules.  Complacency with the safety rules can mean death or serious injury. We are not perfect.  We must guard against complacency.  If your instructor doesn’t have a safety plan and an IFAK, leave.  If you are at a shooting event where there is not safety plan, and no one has an IFAK leave.  I tell all my students that stop the bleed training is part of the self defense journey.  It is difficult to find a good stop the bleed or emergency medical class locally.  At the Rangemaster Tactical Conference, which I strongly recommend, I have had the opportunity to attend seminars by Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medical ( and Dr. Sherman House The Civilian Defender ( They are excellent trainers and offer a full day of practical and classroom training.

Scroll to Top