How to perform weapon safety check on pistols and rifles?

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How to perform safety check pistol


In BZ Academy, we train responsible shooters, and each student should be responsible for his weapon status. We teach not only how to shoot but also how to think and understand what's going on with a weapon system you work with. Of course, we guide and educate the beginners from the very first day during PowerPoint presentations, dry training and live fire. 

In BZ Academy, we train responsible shooters, and each student should be responsible for his weapon status. We teach not only how to shoot but also how to think and understand what's going on with a weapon system you work with. Of course, we guide and educate the beginners from the very first day during PowerPoint presentations, dry training and live fire. We supervise the process until our shooters are confident and, with a specific weapon system, know how to check the status of their firearms and can perform safety checks without our supervision. When we clear the weapons after the drill, check them before the classes, pass the weapon to another shooter or are unsure about the status and want to recheck it, we do the procedure called SAFETY CHECK.



Here is how we perform a SAFETY CHECK and why.




1.       Find a SAFE DIRECTION.

       Ok, but what is the SAFE DIRECTION? Let me answer in the way we at BZ Academy understand it. When you go to any shooting range, SAFE DIRECTION would be downrange – where the shooting targets are. If you are unsure, ask a firearms instructor or safety officer. This sounds fair enough, and it’s true, but only half valid. In BZ Academy, we want to train responsible shooters, and many of our students are LE or Military personnel who operate with firearms in the real world, not only on the flat range. Therefore the definition of a SAFE DIRECTION for clearing the weapon or pointing it during their duty has to be adapted to what works in the real world – outside of a flat shooting range. In the real world, you must consider other factors such as innocent civilians moving around, lack of a good backstop for the bullet, our teammates, and moving vehicles. Plus, we are unsure if any object will stop or ricochet the bullet.


Don’t get me wrong most of the time, we show our students that the SAFE DIRECTION to unload the weapon and perform SAFETY CHECK is downrange, of course, but we also explain that this is not always the case. Sometimes we let students unload the weapon on the side bank of the range, and sometimes we tell them to do it somewhere else, for example when we work with FX Simunition in CQB Village, and there is no place such as downrange, and we use alternative safe spots.


I have a completely different safe direction when after the course, I have to check all the weapons again and put them safely into the armoury. Then usually, I point the barrel into the room corner close to the floor level, just in case if there is negligence discharge bullet will ricochet from at least two solid surfaces and lose kinetic energy before it comes back in my direction. Some armouries also have a special wooden box with sand inside to point the barrel to when unloading the weapons.


Ok, but there has to be a rule for it. The simple rule that everybody will remember, and at BZ Academy, we stick to this:


SAFE DIRECTION – is a direction in which you can point the gun, and if a negligence discharge happens, it will cause zero body injury and minimal property damage.


2.       Remove a source of feed (magazine).

        Check the magazine it both visually and by touching the tip of the mag with your pointing finger (low light conditions) to check if we still have ammo in the mag. You need to be aware of what you have in your magazine as well.


    3.       Lock the slide to the rear to see the chamber.

        With Pistol, it’s easy, with AR15, it’s easy, but with AK, you have to hold the bolt to the rear while visually inspecting the chamber. We explain in detail how each platform operates, about its selectors, buttons etc.

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4.       Inspect the chamber!

        We do a visual check-in case of rifles and a visual and physical check in the case of pistols.


a)       PISTOL – while the slide is locked to the rear, use the pinky of your support hand to perform what is called 3 POINT CHECK. We look into the chamber and check with our finger if there is a brass or round in the chamber. Look from the top into the mag well and check with your finger if there is a mag in it. Check visually and by the finger the firing pin/extractor area to make sure that it’s free of any objects/broken parts. Once you have completed our 3-point check,  turn your head away from the pistol and perform 3 Point Check one more time. This I necessary as sometimes, especially after prolonged and physically demanding drills, we do it automatically and don’t pay attention to the details, and you may miss something you don’t want to miss, like a round in the chamber. This can happen during a stressful drill when the heart rate goes high. Once you have completed  3 point check twice, perform CONTROL SHOT to a SAFE DIRECTION. When you are satisfied that the chamber of your weapon is empty, consider your weapon as clear, and you can holster it.



b)      AR15 Rifle  first, remove the source of ammo we lock the bolt to the rear (in case when we have no more rounds in the mag, it will be locked already. Visually inspect the chamber, and in low light conditions, we have to use our finger to check it. Turn the head away and repeat the procedure, and once you are satisfied that the chamber is empty, release the slide forward and perform CONTROL SHOT to the SAFE DIRECTION. Lock the slide to the rear and leave the empty chamber visible. Move the fire selector to SAFE mode.


c)       AK Rifle – remove the magazine turn the rifle anti-clockwise, and pull the charging handle to the rear. While holding the charging handle to the rear, visually inspect the chamber, and in low light conditions, use your finger. Once you are satisfied that the chamber is empty, turn the head away and repeat the procedure. After double chamber check, release the charging handle and send the bolt home, perform a CONTROL SHOT and put the fire selector on SAFE.



This procedure seems to be complicated when new shooters have to learn all three platforms (Pistol/AR15/AK) over the same weekend as it takes place on our Combined Firearms Course. However, we make sure everyone understands each weapon system and its buttons/selectors and how it operates. Only then do we move on to dry drills and live firearms training. With us, you’ll train in a safe environment, as the priority when we run our courses is RANGE SAFETY.

Bartosz Zukowski

BZ Academy Training Coordinator