A still photo from the moment of Travis Haley's negligent discharge filming video of Russian AK "safety" techniques.
Travis Haley’s negligent discharge while filming video of Russian AK “safety” techniques.

There’s a bit of conventional wisdom among motorcycle riders that it’s not a matter of if you’re going to lay your bike down, but when. It’s simply understood among riders that if you put enough miles on your bike, that one day you’ll hit some wet leaves, or a pothole, will misjudge a curve, get distracted for a moment, or have someone pull out in front of you.

BOOM. Down you’ll go, hopefully without serious injury. Among my friends who ride, all of them have laid it down at least once. It’s an understood risk associated with a much beloved hobby.

Likewise, if you spend enough time around firearms and fire enough rounds, you’re probably going to have a negligent discharge.

I’ve had a negligent discharge with a firearm. To be specific, I cranked a round into the dirt in front of my target after letting my trigger reset just enough as I was going to low ready and planning to reengage  the target during a class, my finger twitched with a minor muscle spasm, and BOOM.

Fortunately, I’d been following all the other rules of gun safety, so no one was ever at risk. I immediately owned up to it, and I like to think that I learned some things from that mistake.

But you can only learn from mistakes you admit to making.

That brings us to a subject that has recently been flying around on gun forums and social media sites on the Internet, a video of noted firearms instructor Travis Haley having a negligent discharge while filming with Panteao Productions.

In the video on AKs, Haley was demonstrating several Russian “safety” techniques and explaining why he didn’t think they were safe when his finger slipped, pressed the trigger, and he fired a round into the berm. It was a shock to everyone, and Haley shows his professionalism by keeping his rifle pointed at the berm and immediately putting the weapon on safe before exclaiming, “That didn’t work.”

The video of the negligent discharge was never intended to air.

It was used training aid for Panteao’s in-house use for training both film crews and instructors, and Panteao makes clear  in a statement (shown in full below) that the video was revealed by an instructor that they’ll not work with again.

Unfortunately, there are folks “from the Haley camp” who are not taking the release of the video very well. Some are claiming it was released intentionally to damage Haley’s reputation.

HSP

Others, including Haley, are apparently insisting that the negligent discharge wasn’t a negligent discharge.

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The video below, however, suggests otherwise.

Negligent discharges happen to the very best of us.

I’d really like to see Mr. Haley step up, own up to the fact that he did have a negligent discharge, and use it to teach others that we all make mistakes, and we can rise above them.

None of us is infallible, and all of us have room to improve.

* * *

Here is the full Panteao Productions statement about the incident.

This will be the first and last time we comment publicly on this incident. Given the firestorm surrounding the video which was recently released without our authorization, we felt it necessary to publicly state our position regarding the matter:

The relationship between Panteao Productions and Travis Haley ended over a year ago because of a disagreement over whether or not training should have an expiration date. Much to the disappointment of those who primarily use the internet to create and feed off of other people’s drama, and despite our past differences in opinion, we have nothing but respect for Travis’ accomplishments, and wish him the best in his future endeavors.

The video in question was not posted by Panteao for public consumption, and more importantly, was never intended to be seen externally. It was unlisted on our YouTube Channel, and was designated for in-house training purposes. It was intended to be a humorous reminder shared with crew members and collaborating instructors of what we don’t want to have happen during filming. It had been forgotten about until the link was shared publicly by one of the instructors we had been working with up until this point. At this time we are still unsure why they (the other instructor) felt the need to share the link publicly, regardless, once we became aware of the developing situation we deleted the video from our YouTube channel and had it removed wherever we came across it. There was nothing derogatory/defamatory intended by the video, or it’s description.

Anyone that has spent any serious amount of time doing this at the professional level knows that NO ONE IS ABOVE MAKING A MISTAKE. We have multiple layers of safety in place to prevent them, but at the end of the day there is absolutely nothing we are able to do that can entirely remove the human element from the equation. We decided to utilize the video as a tool to show our crew members that no matter someone’s level of past experience, background, or accomplishment that the possibility for an accident always exists. It served as a reminder to us; always wear eyes and ears on set, confirm the condition of any firearms the talent may be using to demonstrate techniques with, and to watch our position in relation to the muzzle whether or not a segment was intended to be live fired. Unfortunately individuals from the Haley Strategic camp have started spreading inaccurate statements about how the video was published intentionally to hurt Travis and that it was not a Negligent Discharge in the first place.It is disheartening that Travis has failed to acknowledge what took place.

We don’t care to speculate why someone with his abilities and background feels the need to deny their own fallibility, common to all of us, so vehemently. He handled the situation as best as anyone could at the time and pressed on during filming, as one would expect from a professional. Internally, we saw the opportunity the video represented for us, and utilized it to illustrate things that WE could do better on set.

The big question now is “was this really a negligent discharge?” or something staged or edited to look like one. The scene in question was not intended to be live fired, thus none of the crew had their hearing protection on, neither did Travis. It was strictly a demo of different Russian techniques. There were MULTIPLE individuals standing in close proximity to Travis, any of whom who would have reminded him to put his ears on if live fire was intended. In the crystal clear light of hindsight, one of the errors that occurred was having a hot gun for this particular scene. As the ones ultimately responsible for the safety of the production, that particular error falls on us, and it was one of the many lessons we took away from the incident. When the rifle discharged into the side berm, ears were ringing and as is common in these situations, everyone took a moment to look at each other and inspect for new holes. Travis summed it up best in the video “That didn’t work.”

So let’s talk about what works.

  1. All Guns Are Always Loaded.
  2. Never Let The Muzzle Cover Anything You Are Not Willing To Destroy.
  3. Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger (And Out Of The Trigger Guard) Until Your Sights Are On Target.
  4. Be Sure Of Your Target.

Most importantly, do not allow yourself to become complacent. Familiarity breeds contempt, and contempt breeds complacency. In this business, complacency kills. We are saddened that this has become such a public incident, but since the cat is out of the bag, let’s all utilize it for the learning tool it is. We are all human, we all make mistakes, and there is nothing wrong in acknowledging that.

If you have any doubts as to what happened, watch the whole uncut sequence. At the end of the clip we’ve also included two additional references to the incident that Travis made later that same day during shooting. As we have maintained throughout this entire incident, we have nothing but respect for Travis and his past accomplishments, and we wish him the best. However, we are not able to condone someone attempting to rewrite their personal history to save themselves a little embarrassment, especially when in doing so our own reputation and professionalism is called into question. Let’s all spend our energy on more productive endeavors, and move on from this incident having learned an important lesson.

Update: Travis Haley responds.