hot brass

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Flying brass is less dangerous than flying lead, but having trouble with the first one can lead to trouble with the second.

You might be wondering what the shooting sports and dancing have in common. Absolutely nothing — unless, of course, you’re talking about the hot brass dance. Never heard of it? Let me elaborate.

As many of you know, when you fire a semi-automatic firearm, a spent shell casing comes flying out of the ejection port. This is necessary to clear the way for the next cartridge to move into the chamber. This casing, made from brass, is very hot because of the burning gunpowder which it contained just milliseconds before.

This hot brass casing will go somewhere. It might bounce off the range partitions, hit your neighboring shooter to your right, or hit you. It’s very unpredictable. This is why I always stand to the left of my students when teaching. If the casing comes back at you, it may land somewhere highly inconvenient. Examples include in the inside of your elbow, between your face and your shooting glasses, and — most commonly — down the front or back of your shirt.

This is where the dancing comes in. The most common reaction to catching hot brass is to jump and to dance around in an attempt to free that little scorcher from your exposed skin. What I see more often than not is the shooter respond in a panic, gun still in hand and finger still on the trigger, waving it around while grabbing at their shirt or glasses.

While dancing may sound like fun, it is extremely important to avoid this dance. People have been shot and killed this way. Nobody around you wants to be a victim of an accidental discharge.

This is why I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing what to do if you should ever catch hot brass from your own gun or from the gun of a fellow shooter. Here are a few tips to avoid a potentially tragic experience.

• Always wear clothing with a high, closed neckline. Do not wear low-cut or V-neck shirts. Wearing long sleeves is also a good idea. This will minimize the chance of the brass making its way down your shirt.

• Keep your shirts untucked. It will make it easier for the brass to fall from your shirt with a little wiggling.

• Wear a brimmed hat. This will help deflect the casings away from your neckline and towards the floor.

• Always wear closed-toe shoes. It may be extremely difficult to get a hot casing caught in your flip flop, but it’s not impossible. The more skin you have covered, the better your chances are of avoiding the burn, and this includes your feet.

• A revolver doesn’t eject empty brass casings like a semi-auto does, but this doesn’t mean revolver shooters should ignore the advice I’ve given you. Brass casings from the person in the shooting stall next to you can and will come flying in your direction.

• When you catch hot brass, the very first thing you need to do is set the gun down on the shooting bench, facing downrange. While the brass does sting a bit, it will not kill you. However, the gun in your hand has the potential to kill. You want to take the gun out of the equation completely by putting it down.

One last pointer for my fellow lady shooters: Cleavage seems to be a magnet for hot brass. Do not try to dress cute while going to the shooting range. It’s not the time or place for it. Remember, when it comes to guns and shooting, safety is always first.

Jenny Malone grew up in the Charlotte County area and is an NRA-certified pistol instructor and range safety officer. You can talk guns with her at J&J One Stop Gun Shop at 2324 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte.

Jenny Malone grew up in the Charlotte County area and is an NRA-certified pistol instructor and range safety officer. You can talk guns with her at J&J One Stop Gun Shop at 2324 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte.

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