ADTA Safety Protocols 

Learning to Live With Our Safety Protocols 

By Tony Wilson

Even when they were less structured than they are now, my first impressions of the ADTA safety rules and protocols was that they were a set of complex dance steps, the learning of which might outweigh the learning and experience I was going to get through ADTA’s shooting events. While I had had military training (Advanced Infantry at Fort Ord and Unit Armorer training at Fort Lewis) my early experience with guns was as a farm boy. We took our 22s on the school bus for overnight stays and sparrow shooting. There were only two basic firearms rules: no loaded guns in the house, and unload your gun before crossing a fence (upland bird hunting and jump shooting ducks).

Here, someone else will check your weapon to be sure it is unloaded; you are not allowed to touch your weapon except on the firing line and then only when instructed to do so; indexing, that is keeping your finger on the side of the gun until you are pointed at a target. What kind of rules are those for a boy who wore grooves in the stock of his 22 on bicycle handlebars? Or for one who spent afternoons with a buddy shooting rats at the dump?

Well, I stuck with ADTA and have gained many deadly serious and potentially life-saving skills related to urban self defense. This is not shooting rats on the farm. I have also become a strong advocate for ADTA’s safety protocols. It’s not so much that I am satisfied to be told what to do, though I don’t mind it anymore. It is being in a room with fifteen or twenty armed participants and knowing they will not be, or will be prevented from, loading their guns behind my back, pulling them out to adjust the sights, waving them around in an excited explanation of something, or letting them fall to the concrete because of a holster failure. I like having a safety behind a shooter who notices a shirt tail or hoodie drawstring getting sucked into a holster as the shooter reholsters his gun.

So, whether or not you are initially bothered by our safety protocols, go along with them and start to notice or imagine how it feels for the person next to you to violate those procedures. Then, if you are still bothered, bring up improvements to your RSO, instructors, or best, to the ADTA board.


Tony Wilson
June 23, 2016



Armed Defense Training Association (ADTA)
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