Clayton Brumby, a Florida resident, shot and killed his son this year. The boy, Stephen, was 14 years old. While shooting at an indoor range, a hot shell casing bounced off the wall and down the back of Clayton’s shirt. Gun gripped in his right hand, he reached behind to stop the burning. Stephen was standing immediately behind him and took one shot from the .22 to his jugular vein.
The father and son were not in the midst of a heated argument; perhaps they had never argued in such a manner. Indeed, the family was and remains tight, even in the midst of tragedy. The shot that killed Stephen was a terrible accident, a split second of reaction without thought, and this kind of accident could happen to any one of us. It could happen cutting tomatoes in the kitchen or merging into heavy traffic or mowing the yard. That Stephen’s death happened at a quality shooting facility, to a family that believes in the Second Amendment and respects concealed carry and practices what they preach about “the family that shoots together…” is all the more tragic.
“We wanted our kids to be aware of guns,” Clayton said. “I wanted them to be comfortable around them, to understand them.”
What happened to Stephen and the Brumby family on July 3 at High Noon Gun Range in Sarasota is, I would imagine, profoundly upsetting to everyone in the firearms family. Clayton, of course, is traumatized, but has given a great deal of thought to the accidental shooting. He believes indoor shooting environments often have rigid walls that box shooters inside: “A shell casing ejected from a semi-auto thus hits hard, so a cloth or some relatively soft barrier would diminish the problem of bounce-back.” A rubberized foam cushion or even a treated section of shag carpet on the wall would soften any case-bounce, he says.
Since his son’s death, Clayton has had several conversations with firearms trainers and he always emphasizes the difficulties of flying brass—and points to the difference between an automatic reaction and a trained response. “Women have brass go down their blouses,” he said. “When it happened to me, though, I reacted instead of responded…and my son is dead as a consequence. But I’ve had people tell me dangerous reactions while shooting are far more common than any of us would be comfortable admitting.”
And thus, because he has spent countless hours agonizing about his son’s death and because the incident will haunt him and his family for the rest of their lives, Clayton has a suggestion, a meaningful contribution to the usual gun training regimen.
Of course, he encourages trainers to spend time on accepted standards—keeping firearms pointed downrange, for example, and never pulling the trigger until you are sure of your target and what is beyond it—but he also believes there is need for gun activists and concealed carry holders to train with what he calls a “bump drill.” A bump drill begins with a surprise while shooting, a surprise like a hot shell casing dropping unexpectedly down one’s shirt or some significantly disruptive element in the shooting situation; the essence of the drill is to deal swiftly but appropriately with the sudden event.
“You need to learn that when handling the gun, you have to put it down immediately, automatically, with the barrel pointed downrange,” he says, “when anything unexpected happens.”
Clayton wants to develop a drill and to name it after his deceased son as Stephen’s Protocol or Stephen’s Bump Drill. “I want my son to be remembered,” Clayton says, “and naming a shooting situation after him helps put a human face on a horrible, a tragic, situation.”
Look for the story of the tragedy that has engulfed the Brumby family in a coming issue of Concealed Carry Magazine. Until then and forever our hearts go out to the Brumbys.