In LEO/Mil, Sports Applications, Videos

December 06, 2010

Video Article

Join Dave Re, grand master in the United States Practical Shooting Association, as he teaches gun safety to fellow CrossFit Central members Travis Holley and Crystal Nelson at the Austin Rifle Club.

Re goes through the safety checklist at a shooting range, including eye protection, hearing protection and the four basic safety rules:

1. Act as if every gun is always loaded.
2. Don’t ever point it at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
3. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot the gun.
4. Always know your target and what’s beyond it.

According to Re, “If you don’t break these, nobody’s going to get hurt if something crazy happens.”

After he introduces the rules, Re goes over the parts of the handgun and how to load it, unload it and operate it safely. CrossFit Director of Training Dave Castro also adds his expertise on firing technique and talks about shooting with one eye or both eyes open.

13min 33sec

Additional reading: CrossFit’s Right on Target by Dave Re, published March 29, 2009.

Free Download


44 Comments on “Handgun Basics Part 1: Gun Safety and Preparation”


wrote …

Hells yes... Very nice work!


wrote …

Filled with information and well shot. Re and Marston - job well done!


wrote …

I love this series. I'm always in a peak focus/grounded state after I shoot. Seriously, my blood pressure tanks.
This is archery for the 21st century.

1) these guys make it look too easy.
2) I can't wait to enter a Practical shooting contest. It's my next unscared event.
3) I'm coming for Dave (pretty gun) Castro.

Keep them coming.



wrote …

This has nothing to do with CrossFit.


wrote …

How are guns crossfit? or even fitness?


replied to comment from Patrik Karlsson

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't 2 of the 10 general physical fitness skills (that we all accept as CrossFitter's) ACCURACY and COORDINATION? Doesn't shooting a gun and trying to hit a specific target constitute as being accurate and having hand eye coordination? This video is a very instructive video on how to safely practice these skills using a handgun.


wrote …

How about a video on KNITTING, it has as much relevancy as shooting when it comes to fitness, however it does require ACCURACY & COORDINATION.


wrote …

Really? Guns? Come on...
I am a pacifist and believe guns have not done anything good in our history. Got kinda disappointed when I woke up and realized that I've paided for this :(


replied to comment from Richard Edwards

Knitting requires a great deal of coordination too :). Yeah I don't know how it comes to CrossFit either but I like wheapons, shooting...


wrote …

Make love not war ;)
Peace from Sweden ..


replied to comment from Jakob Kostolny

Then don't watch it.


replied to comment from Jakob Kostolny

So you don't agree with something and now you're wondering why you paid $25 for an entire years worth of quality information from Crossfit HQ? Better quit watching cable TV then, or better yet cancel your account with your internet provider...wait a minute...i guess i just won't watch those other channels, or click that link! WOW what a concept...

Anyway thanks Crossfit HQ, I liked the video because I recently purchased a firearm for home protection and wanted some good tips from an expert on gun safety and care. Good video and I look forward to the next.


wrote …

The page says its for LEO/Mil and its under SPORTS APPLICATION... who wouldnt want tips on how to shoot from a SEAL? People gotta realize that there are different types of people doing crossfit, one would be people training for military and law enforcement. Does this video not apply to them? And who said guns havent done anything good in our history? Last time I checked WW2 was not won with swords and hand to hand combat. Quality video.. quit complaining. Just my 2 cents


wrote …

So just to add something substantiative as well as argumentative...

I think that those "Four" rules are ridiculous, inaccurate and lack any integrity whatsoever.

Why might you ask, well I will answer.

Rule 1: Always act as if a gun is loaded... this would make the gun very hard to clean or replace parts on, on top of that, if you are on a range there are almost always places that you are not allowed to take a "loaded" gun. If that is the case then you wouldn't ever be allowed to enter those places without removing your gun, which almost never happens.

Rule 2:Don't ever point a gun at anything that you are not willing to destroy: Well, I am not necessarily willing to destroy the floor in my house, but it's a hell of a lot safer to point the gun there than at my child should I be in a situation that requires me to have a gun out in my house...

Rule 3: Always keep your finger off of the trigger until ready to shoot: Okay, I have no issues with this one, although it would be a better rule if you actually defined what "ready to shoot" meant and gave people a place to put the finger.

Rule 4:Always know your target and what is behind it: This is a very important "Range" rule, however it doesn't "Always" apply to the real world and so should be altered. What I mean by this is that there are times when it may be necessary to take a shot without knowing what is behind the target and time requirements don't allow for an extensive investigation. As this is a "Range Safety" article, I will gladly concede this point however I will also submit that it it the range master, instructor and or the range owner who is responsible for setting up a range with nothing dangerous behind it. That is my opinion.

As far as the relevance of the article: I love the gun stuff, please keep it coming! Guns have been and will remain forever an important part of our history. Anyone that says that guns haven't done anything good is kidding themselves. I am not a pacifist, but even if I were I would try to learn about the things that others may use in an aggressive nature against me. Pulling the covers over your head doesn't make the bad man go away. This isn't a Utopian world... grow up.


wrote …

Waiting for CF Journal videos on religion and politics. Best way to prevent CF spreading outside U.S. Hooyah!


replied to comment from Richard Edwards

Richard--Hilarious...chuckled pretty good at that comment. Point made. Although, I agree with everyone's comments (shooting is a sport) except Jakob's .02 Cents (which is about the cost of this journal article out of his $25 subscription).

Good video. Keep them coming. I'm going to see if there is any local ranges that host competitive shooting. Looks fun and challenging.


wrote …

Just to clarify my position, I have been a firearms instructor for around 11 years. 7 in the military and 4 years since being out; so I am not just rambling here. Here are the rules that I give when I teach a course, in case that comes up.

1. Keep your trigger finger on the frame of the gun until you are ready to fire. Ready to fire means that you have a target in front of you and you are standing on the firing line without anyone in a position that would likely get them injured.

2. Keep the firearm pointed in a generally safe direction. Generally safe means that if the firearm should happen to go off it is not likely to seriously injure or kill someone.

3. The big picture; keep in mind that you are holding a firearm and if used maliciously or negligently the opportunity for someone to be seriously injured or killed rises exponentially. And then I will give an example of someone dropping the ball on this rule.

4. It takes 2 people to verify that a gun is unloaded. The number of people killed each year by "unloaded" guns is retarded. If someone is handling a gun around you and you are unsure about it's state of readiness, ask to see it in a safe manner. It isn't a question of being rude, it's a question of staying alive.


wrote …

@ John Brown - "ridiculous, inaccurate and lack any integrity whatsoever" - rather strong words for principles you appear to agree with, in large part. I suppose you might think Colonel Jeff Cooper also is ridiculous, inaccurate, and lacked integrity (he's the origin of that presentation of gun handling rules)??

I present gun safety in the fashion that I do for a couple of reasons, but the most important is that, in the 15 or so years I've been teaching gun safety to folks, those four rules, defined as I present them, result in the student being the most aware of their muzzle, and the most focused on handling the gun in a safe manner. Softer rules, in my experience, result in poorer muzzle awareness (for instance, "generally safe" seems to get glossed over in the student's mind, and becomes "generally wherever the gun happens to point"). Your mileage obviously varies, which is fine.

Your #4, though, I have to take argument with. Proposing that in lieu of treating every gun as if it were loaded will eventually result in someone getting hurt. I don't mean that to be offensive - I've seen at least four guns go off that were declared unloaded by at least two people in each case. If the people involved in those situations had declared those guns clear, and then proceeded to have sloppy muzzle control (because, after all, the gun's unloaded, right?), someone quite clearly could've been badly hurt. The point behind treating every gun as if its always loaded is not to be pedantic, and never ever be able to clean the gun, or perform maintenance on it, or what have you. The point is to never make the mistake of assuming the gun is *unloaded* and thereby do something negligent.


wrote …

@ John Brown - sorry, I did forget to add: thanks a bunch for your feedback, and thanks for watching. We might disagree a bit on how to present the material, but I do very much appreciate your thoughts!


wrote …

All you guys hating need to check the original statement on CrossFit which incldues "regularly learn and play new sports." This video is actually more relevant to the original intentions of CrossFit than doing some 45 minutes chipper workout than you made up yourself.


replied to comment from John Brown

If you don't understand or can't figure out how to apply these rules you have no business owning a firearm. Your logic on rule number one is just ridiculous. Just because you are treating your firearm as if it's loaded doesn't mean you can't have it where unloaded firearm's are not permitted. If you are cleaning or replacing parts, your firearm is at least field stripped and therefore no longer an operable firearm. It's a pile of parts. You may not WANT to destroy your floor, but you are WILLING to if you point your weapon at it. As for rule 4, it's not just a range rule. If you shoot your gun in ANY situation you better know whats beyond your target! Even in a defense scenario you must know whats beyond your target. It very well could be the child you referenced in your criticism of rule 2. If you can't think quickly in a defense situation you need more training. I don't mean going to your local range either. I mean something like, Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, TDI, etc.

These rules were written by Col. Jeff Cooper. Col. Cooper was consider the expert on firearms and firearms training. There is not a more respected expert in the firearms industry. These rules are accepted throughout the industry as the gold standard. I don't know what your experience with firearms is but I would bet it's nothing even remotely close to Col. Coopers. I have put thousands of rounds through my weapons; on the range, in competitions, and in training. I have shot more than any police officer or soldier I have ever met. But, I would not even pretend to think I have anything even close to Col. Cooper's knowledge. Nor will I ever.


wrote …

Great video, keep 'em coming!


replied to comment from Charlie Mirkle

@Charlie Mirkle
Check or to find ranges in your area that host matches.


wrote …


First off let me say once again that I love the stuff. Nothing that I posted was in any way meant to be an attack on you or what you teach. I have in fact taught the very same things that you teach at various points, I have merely found a different path. With regards to Col. Cooper; he is a hero, legend and if but for him the face of modern firearms training would not be what it is. Please don't confuse my meaning. I do feel however that the things that he found to work 70 years ago might be improved upon with time and changes in understanding of firearms.

With regards to my fourth rule... I almost never mention it because in most cases I don't want firearms out of their holsters off of the line while I am teaching. The other caveat is that when the other three rules are followed it negates the need for the fourth and the fourth basically only happens at the end of the day when the guns get put away. I also don't want to misguide people, we have had people break the rules, but I have never had anyone significantly injured on a range that I have run...

You haven't met me, so you have no idea of what I know or how many rounds that I have shot and I seriously doubt that you have shot more than me. That isn't a challenge. I just find your tone to be disrespectful.

A firearm does not cease to be a firearm when dismantled and further, I don't always break my gun down when I clean it. Second, even if YOU have walked into a firing range and asked to see what was situated behind your target, I seriously doubt that that is the case for the majority of the people that shoot, anywhere. If someone is shooting at you regardless of location, you are not likely to think about what is behind your attacker and if you do, you are not likely to live long enough for it to matter. It is human instinct to take whatever actions necessary to survive a situation, most of those processes happen without cognition. And you made my point with the generally safe direction rule, you didn't refute it. What I said was that I was more willing to destroy my floor than I was another human being, but I never said that I wanted to destroy it.

It is obvious that you are passionate about firearms by your various misspellings. I hope that you can take some emotion out of your arguments and go back and read what I said and try to understand why I said them. I never asked you to agree with me, but to not ever challenge a rule leads us to never make an advancement in the way we train. If Coach Glassman didn't question the training modalities of his day, we would never have CrossFit either... food for thought.


replied to comment from John Brown


I am a LEO officer and believe that you are off on your stance of the 4th rule. As a LEO we are responsible for every round both in and out of our guns. I think that everyone should act this same way. Just over a month ago an officer on our department was faced with this very same question. He pulled up on a scene and immediately was taking rounds from a RIFLE in the middle of the day. He retreated to the back of his car and called for backup. He did not fire one round down range, because he was unable to verify what was beyond the subject that he would have been shooting at. It was the middle of the day in a urban area. He followed the 4th rule. Since he could not verify beyond the target and did not want to hurt an innocent by standard he held tight and waited for help. The subject was later subdued after he barricaded himself in a house.

I cannot say that I would have acted the same way as he did given the situation, but it is a good example of someone that was consciously thinking of that rule. I know for a fact that he is glad that he acted the way that he did. Could it have ended badly for the officer? Yes, but that is the risk that you run putting the uniform on every day. I realize that people are going to respond that in this situation he is justified to get rounds back down range at this subject, that is your opinion, remember we ARE RESPONSIBLE for EVERY SINGLE round.

On a side note, people that are against this article; they had no shooting in this video. All they did was talk about how to shoot safely and overall gun safety. The only thing that this video will accomplish is giving people that have guns, but have never received any formal training, some good standards to live by when handling their gun. It is not influencing anyone that does not already have a gun to go out and buy one. It is informative and assists in keeping people safe. I think that this video is as relevant as a video on proper technique of flipping a tire. Not everyone has them, but those that do need to flip them properly. Every John Smith can go pick a tire up, lets help them flip them properly so they don’t throw their back out.

None of what was said was meant to offend, just my 2 cents

If you have made it this far, thanks for reading



wrote …

I vote for aliens


replied to comment from John Brown

Oh boy, the old "I can't make a valid argument so I'll attack your spelling" routine. Misspelled words, a peril of hammering these things out on a phone.

I'm disrespectful? This coming from the person who posted this in their original post. "I think that those "Four" rules are ridiculous, inaccurate and lack any integrity whatsoever". Sounds pretty disrespectful!

I didn't say it ceases to be a firearm. I said it is "no longer an operable firearm". I field strip my guns when I clean them. When your firearm is field stripped, it is no longer an operable firearm.

I do know what is beyond my target on the range. A berm. I don't need to walk down range to see that. Even in a defense situation, you're responsible for every round you fire. You better know where it's going. Just because you're threatened doesn't mean you can just start blasting without knowing what’s behind the person you're shooting at. You're not allowed to endanger an innocent person’s life while defending yours.

I don't see how I made your point on rule 2. You said "I am not necessarily willing to destroy the floor in my house". I said "You may not WANT to destroy your floor, but you are WILLING to if you point your weapon at it". You said you weren't willing to destroy it. My point is you are willing to destroy it because you have your firearm pointed at it. How did I make your point?

I already covered the spelling.

I reread your post. Challenging rules are fine. Saying that four rules that most firearms enthusiasts and the industry as a whole adhere to as "ridiculous, inaccurate and lack[ing] any integrity whatsoever" is not challenging something, it's being obnoxious.

In closing I will say that it's these four rules that have allowed, hundreds of thousands of USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge, Multi-gun, Bianchi (the list goes on and on) matches to be shot worldwide without anyone ever being shot at them.

Disclaimer- This post made from my phone. It likely has spelling and grammar errors.


replied to comment from Ryan Palmer

Darn it, I had what would have been the second comment on this article all typed up and ready to post in an attempt to head this stuff off. Then I figured I was just being argumentative and didn't bother.

I should have tried.


replied to comment from John Brown

Go John!

I'm not qualified to comment on John's position. I do however know him and can report that in person he's just as forthright and emphatic in his opinions as you see here. He's also a heck of a nice guy, very caring (sorry to spoil your rep. John)and absolutely the person I'd be cowering behind in any form of physical confrontation.

If you check out his background on the Crossfit Agoge site you'll see that while his views may not align with standard practise, they're based on a lot of unfortunately practical experience.

Which isn't going to stop anyone arguing with him (I wouldn't want to spoil his fun), but hopefully it will help people realise that there's a human being behind the comments and one you'd probably enjoy sitting down and having a chat with.


replied to comment from Richard Edwards

Haha...nice. I guess if our LEO's/Military had to fight bad guys that attacked us with a nice quilt, then, yeah I guess knitting would apply here. If they had to knit to protect our freedom, then we should definitely put knitting in our WOD's to improve accuracy and coordination. Maybe instead of Helen Get Your Gun Helen Get Your Knitting Needles...


wrote …

Great video.

Informative and even entertaining. Whether you like guns or hate guns it is useful to know how to treat a firearm should you come across one. I can think of many situations in which a pacifist may wish to safety a weapon.


wrote …

Despite the fact that I am a gun owner, that many of my members are weapons instructors/military/security, and even that our Box in Israel is in the Olympic Shooting Center I still don't really see the point of this being on the journal. If you look over the guidelines for submitting material it says it must have to do with fitness or crossfit, correct? And i doubt that having CF trainers in the video qualifies as this.

The video was well shot and the advice is great, but this isn't what i go to the CF Journal to learn about.

Other than that I love whats on the site, I check it every day and 99.99% of the time I love what I see.

Zack Finer
-Crossfit Herzliya, Israel


wrote …

I know nothing about guns but I do think Dave Re is awesome. He is the kenny powers and practal shooting.


wrote …

I guess I have to put Eastbound and Down in my Netflix queue, now... LOL...


wrote …

CrossFit is fun.

Shooting is fun. Bows, hand guns, rifles, you name it.

I shoot for fun and I also tip over my own organic protein on a regular basis.

CrossFit has benfitted me in those persuits.

Go primal. Chase your food, kill it, klunk your woman on the head and drag her to your stack of pelts. Eat, rinse, repeat.


wrote …

I'm a fan of this. I've wanted to learn the parts of a handgun but never had the time. Thanks.


replied to comment from Jacob Campos

When reading and viewing all of the great Crossfit materials I didn't realize that this is a military site. Let me know where I can catch a Crossfit gun cert.

I can't think of another place to receive the proper training on how "fight bad guys."

Next week I will be teaching a level 2 Knitting Cert, where I will demonstrate the 4 points on how to handle the #4 needle with care.
These univerally accepted points are not open to interpretation and debate.
See you all at the yarn store, aka knitting box.


replied to comment from Richard Edwards

ahahahaha, let me guess I replied to a guy that has to win every debate with more sarcasm? hahaha ridiculous...


replied to comment from Glenn Adcock



replied to comment from John Brown

With no disrespect intended, what would your solution be? I'm all for criticism but make it constructive.


wrote …

I am a gun instructor who also loves CrossFit. It is understandable that many of you, especially the non-shooters, would think that CF and shooting have nothing to do with one another. But just for a minute, forget the sporting and competition aspects of shooting.

True.. to observe the gun safety briefing in the video does not require any level of fitness. Neither does shooting towards a static target from a flat-footed static firing position.. which, by the way, is all that is required to qualify for a concealed handgun permit in Texas. Most shooters never advance past this level.

However, many students opt to learn real defensive gun deployment. Their training will progress to running advanced tactical shooting drills, relying on their body's instinctive and intuitive reactions, incorporating quick movements, engaging multiple threats, shooting one-handed, shooting from alternate positions.. prone, supine, side-lying, etc,.. using multiple weapons, incorporating h-2-h tactics, shooting in low/no light, etc., to address dynamic critical incidents.

For these students, fitness plays a very important role. Stress inoculation drills involve significantly raising the student's heart rate to simulate the heightened level of stress that they would experience in a life-threatening situation. Wind sprints are just one way to accomplish this. With an increased heart rate, fine motor skills are lost, but the student must still be able to effectively engage the threats, reload, clear malfunctions..

There are several physiological reactions to stress that affect a person's performance in a life-threatening situation. Training that simulates reality as close as possible along with good physical conditioning enhances a potential victim's chances for a survival positive outcome if they have to actually defend themselves or a loved one in a real defensive situation.

Anyone still think that CrossFit training is totally irrelevant here? Not going to debate anyone.. just added my .02. :)


replied to comment from Bradley Newgent

Thanks! Will do.


replied to comment from Susan Rogers

Great comment Susan. Worth more than 2 cents in my opinion.


replied to comment from Susan Rogers

Well put, Susan. Thanks for chiming in! :-)

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