Author’s Note: This article was originally written for the Yellow Rose Firing Range's Facebook page. Because I feel this information is important, I’ve had my editor polish all this up nice and fancy-like so I could re-publish it here for a wider audience.

The importance of Target Identification cannot be overstated and should be common knowledge to most shooters. After all, it’s one of the basic rules of firearm safety developed by Jeff Cooper. Cooper was a United States Marine, the creator of the "modern technique" of handgun shooting, and an expert on the use and history of small arms. He developed four rules of firearm safety that are often thoroughly drilled into new shooters’ heads, especially if, like me, you learned to shoot at a young age or served in the Armed Forces. These rules are:

1. Treat all firearms as if they are loaded.

2. Point the muzzle away from things you don’t want to destroy.

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire.

4. Be sure of the target and what’s beyond it.

This article will focus on the 4th rule, target identification. This is important for two reasons: 1) you don’t want to shoot the wrong person, and 2) bullets tend to pass through objects. You wouldn’t want to shoot a bad guy only to also shoot someone behind them. That’s bad for many reasons, and it will most likely end in an unfavorable lawsuit. Even worse, you’ll live with that guilt for the rest of your life. I think we can all agree it’s very important to shoot at the correct thing, be it a target on the range or a bad guy breaking into your house in the middle of the night.