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  #1  
Old 04-16-2017, 07:41 AM
graylensman graylensman is offline
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When It's Time To Stop...

I went to the range with my father in law and several other family members this week (in town for Easter). I'm pleased to still be here to describe what happened.

My FIL is a great guy, and getting older. He's 74, and has always had some difficulty taking advice when he's wrong about something. He like to be "the expert", and is in some areas; in others, he definitely is not. For instance, he is a good marksman (he can hit the target), but he's a crappy gun handler.

We were shooting from benches on a private bay, with me on the far left, my FIL to my right, and the rest of the clan on his right. After a string of fire, I holstered my pistol and noticed my FIL struggling with a type 3 malfunction. He was shooting a .45 1911, and his hand/arm strength is not what it used to be. As he struggled to rack the slide, he turned the pistol to his left and pointed it directly at me.

Startled, I shouted, "STOP!" Everyone on the line froze except him; he continued to struggle with the pistol as I backed out of his line of fire. I shouted, "Les! CEASE FIRE CEASE FIRE CEASE FIRE!" He turned slightly toward me and looked up, placing me in his line of fire again.

More quietly, I said "Les. Point your weapon downrange and get your finger off the trigger NOW." He complied, and I moved up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder, and took his weapon from him. I cleared the malfunction, cased the pistol, and put it in my range bag. Then I sat down and shook for a little while.

I called a cold range, and everyone else went downrange to check and tape, while Les and I had a conversation. It didn't go well - he was embarrassed and offended, and I was pissed off. He never did get the clue, which was surprising - he's been shooting for a while. He's had negligent discharges before, though, and has trouble with trigger discipline and muzzle control. I kept his pistol until we got home, and now he's telling the family I "stole his gun" (jokingly, but with an edge).

It's causing a little family upheaval, but I won't shoot with him again. I've tried to teach and be a good influence, to no avail. He's too hard-headed, and too unsafe. I'm concerned about emerging dementia, too.

I can't just go hands-off, though - other family members are at risk. No one else seems to share my concerns.

He has quite a gun collection, so it's not a matter of just getting "a gun" away from him.

What next? What would you do?
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  #2  
Old 04-16-2017, 07:57 AM
Johnny1944A1 Johnny1944A1 is offline
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What next? What would you do?

Have the talk again after things cool down. He doesn't belong on the range if he can't follow the number one rule, it's that simple. You just need to explain that the rule is older than him and if he can't comply with it, he doesn't belong there, period.

I'd get a cup of Joe, and say...Hey listen...didn't try to embarrass you, or belittle you. I only work one way at the range, and that's getting everyone home safe. You broke a cardinal rule and have shown to do this in the past. That either changes or you're going to hurt someone, and it won't be me because I'm not going to say it again.

Then take him back, and watch him like a hawk!
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  #3  
Old 04-16-2017, 08:07 AM
Minorcan Minorcan is online now
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I have a FIL that's 96 and he started off self focused and has gotten worse. At some point, and it's hard to say when, he changed not for the better. I don't mean this to be cruel but its true. It's like he stopped noticing or maybe caring about others. For example, he's still driving and there are dents on his car that he can't or won't explain. He may not remember but they got there some how. To me the car can be a dangerous tool just like a gun can be. My FIL has had a complaint filed with the police and his license is and has been under evaluation for months. I tried to talk with him explaining that he could injure or kill someone, loose his retirement money in a law suit or even go to jail. Doesn't matter. Many family members have written letters of support so he can continue to drive. Family opinions and emotions do not have to make sense.

In my opinion you are knowledgeable enough to make the right decision. If I were you I would lay down the law to my wife and kids, no more shooting with gramps, period. I may even write a letter to the rest of the family explaining in detail what happened and the rules your FIL broke and the risk he put his family in danger of. Then its up to them to protect themselves. I would expect you get some resistance and bad feelings for a while but that may not be avoidable. It sounds like you already know what you need to do, its just not going to be easy or even winnable. First priority is to protect your loved ones, even if it is from gramps.

Last edited by Minorcan; 04-16-2017 at 07:33 PM.
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  #4  
Old 04-16-2017, 08:09 AM
jlag19 jlag19 is online now
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If dementia is setting in, don't go back to the range with him. I went through the same thing with my dad, only it was concerning driving cars.


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  #5  
Old 04-16-2017, 08:10 AM
Minorcan Minorcan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny1944A1 View Post
What next? What would you do?

Then take him back, and watch him like a hawk!
I wouldn't take him back, this sounds like a bad habit and habits happen again and more often the older we get. I wouldn't risk my life and the livelihood of my family just to avoid hurt feelings. But that's just my opinion.
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  #6  
Old 04-16-2017, 08:23 AM
Oldspad Oldspad is offline
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I had just the opposite problem. At almost 82, I try to shoot often, and I take kids, like grandsons and their friends. Too many times I have had to correct one of the kids (not always the same ones) on his lack of safety procedures. One or two women friends are much easier to correct, they don't ever make the same mistake twice. The number of kids is dwindling fast, now just my safer grandsons...Your dilemma is not that difficult to remedy, he needs a stern warning and if that doesn't work, the guns have to be either locked in a safe that he can't open, or removed from the house. I do realize that at sometime in the future i will be surrendering my guns and my driver's license. It may be much later, but the time will come, it eventually gets us all...Be a good SIL, take measures that ensure his safety and everones.
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  #7  
Old 04-16-2017, 08:23 AM
Bestdog Bestdog is offline
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Sorry you are going through this. I do know how this is, as my sisters and I went through a similar thing with my father.

Fortunately for us, he admitted the problem and gave up all the ammo in the house and put a small lock on his pistol. That way he still had it in his possession but could not use it and did not have the key.

There is also a responsibility here to others outside your family, people on the range and nearby.

When people get unsafe, you have a duty to protect everyone else. No one should have to take a 45 slug in the gut or through the side window of their house because someone with dementia insisted on using a gun.

Perhaps a mid-course would be for you to take him to the range with the gun and ammo in your possession and then you stand with him like he is a beginner and let his shoot one round at a time. Nothing wrong with shooting slowly.

This is a tough one. My dad seemed ok with giving up the guns, but we soon found out he had sharp knives secreted around the house and under the cushions and mattress etc....

Part of the problem was he was a military historian with all sorts of WWII stuff all over the house and attic. I am pretty sure we were the only ones in the neighborhood with a collection of Japanese sniper rifles.

If he had whipped one out and sliced someone (a family member or a health care worker) who was checking him out and woke him up it would have been a disaster, and possible lawsuit.

Good luck. This is a very tough situation.

I am glad for all of you that he has made it into his senior years.
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  #8  
Old 04-16-2017, 08:25 AM
Snapdragon Snapdragon is offline
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He seems to be arrogantly aggressively set in his ways and will refuse any suggestions. Been there, done that with both old and young people. You are not going to change him, and he may dig in his heals and try to make you look like a jerk in the eyes of the rest of the family. About the only thing that would keep you safe is to refuse to go shooting with him. Keep your children away from him when guns are present. You can try to keep the other family members safe by explaining to them why you will not go shooting with him and suggesting that they should not go shooting with him either. If an adult family member wants to go shooting with him knowing the danger involved, that is their decision.
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  #9  
Old 04-16-2017, 08:55 AM
Dddrees Dddrees is online now
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Not sure why given your knowledge of his previous issues why you decided to go to the range with him this last time. Doesn't sound like when you decided to take action and have a conversation with him that things went well at all. Either with him or those others that were present. Given how it occurred I don't understand how you could reasonably think it would have. Even after a period to cool off how can you reasonably be thinking things will go much better? You can hope because you certainly have good reason to be concerned, but it surely sounds like pride will get in the way.

I have an 82 yr old FIL bound and determined that he will drive the next time he travels from FL to the Midwest this summer to visit relatives. For me as a middle aged individual I find that kind of travel with the traffic and condition our roads are in extremely stressful. At 82 I can't imagine how stressful that trip would be. I've tried to tell him politely for years how stressful I would find this same trip and how concerned I and others are however he's stubborn and he doesn't want to fly and do without a car, but he's unwilling to pay for a rental.

Although my wife agrees with me I have no way of forcefully of taking his keys away from him just as you can't possibly take your FIL's guns away from him. Further discussion isn't going to change any of this, so what are you going to do? For myself I don't see that I can make things any better but I have no plans of having me or my family ever riding with him on one of these trips.
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  #10  
Old 04-16-2017, 09:31 AM
walks with gun walks with gun is offline
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Maybe a call in advance to the range next time if they have a appointed range officer and ask if they would help keep an eye on him, maybe a good warning will help. i just talked to the significant other last night and explained to her I was tired of being extra nice to her brother when he comes to shoot. If I see anymore reckless stuff I was going to have to have a talk with him. And my father has always been a handgunner, but lately he's been doing things that need to be addressed. Pretty hard to give your 78 year old father a talking too. I feel for you, you really need to keep up with what tour doing, so to protect family members or strangers.
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  #11  
Old 04-16-2017, 09:34 AM
apipeguy apipeguy is online now
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I've spent a lot of time working at ranges over the last 30 years. As an old guy myself now, I'll profile a little and say a few old guys can be very unsafe at the range. I do not think that this is anything but never having any good training a very long time ago and now this behavior has become ingrained as the way to do things. "Haven't ever shot anybody, so I must be okay".

A couple guys that come to one of the ranges I belong to make me so nervous that I now leave if they show up. Have talked to them in a very friendly but serious manner and they refuse to listen or change their ways.

Most of us old guys are really the safest people at the range.

Not sure what advice to give but I'd be hesitant to take him back if there is no sense that he is willing to listen and change. Would not take him back at all unless just a one on one range session, certainly not with other family members.

Good luck.
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  #12  
Old 04-16-2017, 09:40 AM
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Johnny handgun Johnny handgun is offline
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Maybe pay for him to have a "special" one on one training session with a good instructor. Treat it as if it's some type of awesome gift and make sure he goes and then out for dinner afterwards. Let the instructer know the problems and let him work through things from there.
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Old 04-16-2017, 09:42 AM
00 Buck 00 Buck is offline
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Much better to give hurt feelings than receive a bullet wound!

If I couldn't make someone take safety advice and be safe, I would avoid shooting or driving with them. And keep my loved ones away from them during those activities...

It's basically their right to be unsafe, until they hurt someone.
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Old 04-16-2017, 09:54 AM
AZ Desertrat AZ Desertrat is offline
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If its dementia or Alzheimers starting in....its time to NOT handle dangerous weapons anymore.
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:16 AM
USMM guy USMM guy is offline
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I do not know what to tell you.

But I have a brother that I will never go shooting with again and he is not even very old. A former Marine and he just does not get it. He is just plain dangerous. And it is only by the grace of God that he has not plugged me a half a dozen times.

He is a really nice guy. I actually gave him a nice CMP Garand. But in retrospect I question the wisdom of doing so. But I will never go shooting with him again.

I would just tell the father in law how you feel. And that unless he can see the light in a really big way. Then you will never shoot with him again, and you will never let him on the range again when you are the RO. I might put a bug in the ears of the other ROs as well.
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:25 AM
Sgt. Y Sgt. Y is offline
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Take him his gun and his dog to the back yard with a magazine of snap caps and reenact the situation in front of him don't tell him they are snap caps and aim at his dog. Maybe he will get it, if not next thing a family intervention on taking his guns away until he passes an NRA approved gun safety course. If that doesn't work shoot him with a bb gun.

Last edited by Sgt. Y; 04-16-2017 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:42 AM
Plantar5 Plantar5 is online now
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I wouldn't shoot with him. If anyone else decides they want to, you can't stop them.
But you can inform whoever it is to be very aware of your FIL's gun safety, or lack there of.
We all enjoy shooting, but, not of we're around someone unsafe.
There's no feelings to spare.
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:49 AM
Vinnie Bagadonuts Vinnie Bagadonuts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlag19 View Post
If dementia is setting in, don't go back to the range with him. I went through the same thing with my dad, only it was concerning driving cars.


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I have to agree with this statement. The only thing you can do, without starting world war III, Is never shoot with him again.
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Old 04-16-2017, 10:56 AM
jtq jtq is offline
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Originally Posted by graylensman View Post
I called a cold range, and everyone else went downrange to check and tape, while Les and I had a conversation. It didn't go well - he was embarrassed and offended, and I was pissed off. He never did get the clue, which was surprising - he's been shooting for a while. He's had negligent discharges before, though, and has trouble with trigger discipline and muzzle control. I kept his pistol until we got home, and now he's telling the family I "stole his gun" (jokingly, but with an edge).

It's causing a little family upheaval, but I won't shoot with him again. I've tried to teach and be a good influence, to no avail. He's too hard-headed, and too unsafe. I'm concerned about emerging dementia, too.

I can't just go hands-off, though - other family members are at risk. No one else seems to share my concerns.

What next? What would you do?
I don't know why you "can't just go hands-off"? As you say, the other family members don't share your concerns.

I say present your concerns to the other family members, if you haven't already, and I suppose you've already expressed them to your father in law. He's an adult, and unless you want to have him given a psych eval, which probably wouldn't go over well, and is probably not your place to request as much, let him do what he wants.

I wouldn't shoot with him either, and I wouldn't let my wife or kids shoot with him. Everybody else, well you've had your say, they know the risks, let them take their chances.
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  #20  
Old 04-16-2017, 11:15 AM
sam1 sam1 is offline
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I would never go shooting with him again,his age and personality will probably keep him from improving.Don't let your wife or kids shoot with him like JTQ said.The aging baby boomers are just starting to show up.God help you.

Last edited by sam1; 04-16-2017 at 11:55 AM.
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  #21  
Old 04-16-2017, 11:44 AM
arjay arjay is online now
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Well,I'd say his ego got in the way,being the senior male in the group and he got defensive.Whether you go with him again is up to you,but I'd watch closely to see if he understood,and if not,I wouldn't go again.Ive seen this kind of thing with old guys (I'm almost there) that are used to being the alpha-it can be tricky.A direct confrontation with an audience like you did generally won't get positive results,sadly.
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Old 04-16-2017, 12:05 PM
BigW BigW is offline
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From what you describe, if it's not dementia, then he's either an idiot, an asshole or a combination of both. Either answer is enough that he shouldn't be around guns and you definitely need to stay away from him with guns.
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Old 04-16-2017, 12:11 PM
Beak Boater Beak Boater is offline
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That's a tough set of circumstances to deal with. Wouldn't shoot with him again, not sure of the range or area. Maybe a third person such as an NRA RO, if you have them at your range, talking to him. Might make more of an impression coming from a stranger instead of a family member. Possibly enrolling in a approved gun handling class for safety as a "refresher" maybe together, may change his habits. Good luck with what ever you decide to do.
Sometimes the sting of embarrassment coming from a family member is worse than that coming from a stranger. Getting old isn't easy.....I know..... pride gets in the way, and what you once could do is tough to admit you cant do anymore. He is lucky he has a caring individual to point out the error in his ways.
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  #24  
Old 04-16-2017, 01:55 PM
IL308Shooter IL308Shooter is online now
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I had a similar experience with an uncle, my dad's older brother. Thankfully, I don't think he shoots these days, but I won't go back to the range with anyone who has covered me with their muzzle.

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  #25  
Old 04-16-2017, 02:02 PM
jlag19 jlag19 is online now
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Originally Posted by Beak Boater View Post
That's a tough set of circumstances to deal with. Wouldn't shoot with him again, not sure of the range or area. Maybe a third person such as an NRA RO, if you have them at your range, talking to him. Might make more of an impression coming from a stranger instead of a family member. Possibly enrolling in a approved gun handling class for safety as a "refresher" maybe together, may change his habits. Good luck with what ever you decide to do.

Sometimes the sting of embarrassment coming from a family member is worse than that coming from a stranger. Getting old isn't easy.....I know..... pride gets in the way, and what you once could do is tough to admit you cant do anymore. He is lucky he has a caring individual to point out the error in his ways.


Assuming that dementia is not the issue, I really like the idea of the Range Officer being the enforcer of the rules for this hard head, but that would mean having to go to the range again with him. A difficult conundrum.


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