I once saw a shooter at the range who was having trouble with a new AR-15. He was having various types of stoppages, including a pretty nasty bolt over malfunction, with nearly every shot. He asked for some input so we checked a few things. There were no obvious issues so I suggested he take a few shots while I watched.
He was pretty exasperated with the rifle until I noticed that he was partially blocking the ejection port of the rifle with the fingers of his support hand which were wrapped around the magwell far enough and high enough that they were preventing the dust cover from opening fully. This created a circular problem. He would have a malfunction, work to clear it, insert a mag, work the charging handle, grip the rifle the same way, then try to shoot, and then start all over again unaware that it was his grip that was stopping the rifle.
That is a dramatic example but there are plenty of less obvious ways we sabotage ourselves. I’ve witnessed (or experienced) preventable stoppages caused by…
- improper lubrication
- riding the slide/charging handle forward
- improper press checks
- poor grip (hand placement, unlocked wrists, etc.)
- improper or nonexistent maintenance
- improper parts selection
- improper reassembly
- and who knows what else…
Some of these are training issues. Some are just absent-mindedness or laziness. All are preventable.
It all makes me wonder how many workable guns have been written off because of user error. It also makes me wonder how many people can pan the value of very basic firearm familiarity training like what the NRA provides. Some of these things would be taken for granted in a defensive firearm course or only corrected as needed.
Before you ever pick up a shot timer, spend some time learning the basics and don’t be ashamed to seek the most basic training. Don’t cause your own malfunctions!