Most of us have seen videos online of “tactical” instructors teaching “Big Boy Rules” where someone is standing down range during live fire. Despite your thoughts on this, it’s almost universally a bad idea because things can and do go wrong, no matter how well trained the firearm operator is.
Case in point: Over the weekend I joined Ambulance Driver, Farm Dad and Farm Mom, Jennifer, and Evyl Robot at the Central Oklahoma Gunblogger Schutenfest. I had my AR-15 out there and we were banging steel at distances from 100-450 yards. Most of my shots were dead on, but every once in a while I spotted a round impacting the ground halfway between my shooting position and the target.
When that happens once, it’s easy to assume that it’s operator error and that the shot was pulled. But it happened again, and again, even when I know I called my shots reliably. So, I pulled out the chronograph and ran some rounds through it.
The first shot through the trap clocked in at 1173 FPS. This was XM855 Green Tip ammo, and typical muzzle velocity is in the neighborhood of 3,000 FPS. The next shot through the chrony clocked in at a more typical speed of 2895 FPS. The next one was normal as well, but then the fourth shot again clocked in at 1125 FPS.
I had found the source of my problems: a bad batch of ammo.
We were only shooting at steel, and nobody was down range. But if someone had been, the 15mph cross wind we were contending with could have easily blown the slower round off target and put someone in danger.
No matter how good the shooter is, things can and do go wrong. If you follow basic firearm and range safety, nobody gets hurt. If you don’t, people can be put in danger.