Everyone on a live-fire range knows what “cease fire!” means. You may have other code words or special safety words to stop drills. Rob Pincus uses “stop!” when he wants everyone to freeze in the middle of whatever drill they are doing. But “cease fire!” specifically means “stop shooting.”
When you have multiple people on the firing line, especially people who aren’t part of your firearms training group (if you are at a public range), and you need everyone to stop shooting, “Cease fire!” is the universal command. Call it out loud and clear and repeat it until everyone has stopped shooting.
When To Use “Cease Fire!”
One circumstance no one can afford to let go is when a negligent discharge occurs during firearms training or practice. A cease fire should immediately be called, first to confirm everyone is safe and uninjured; second, to make sure everyone understands what has happened so it won’t happen again; and third, to have everyone take a deep breath and calm down, especially the student who had the ND.
Breaking It Down
The first reason to call “cease fire!” is to make sure everyone is safe. The student who had the ND may be uninjured but the gun perhaps was pointed in an unsafe direction. Carrying on with a drill when someone is bleeding out is not the position anyone wants to be in.
The second reason is to immediately go back and reconstruct the situation so you can make sure it doesn’t happen again. Was it a gear issue, a misunderstanding of technique, a careless mistake by the student, or something else?
The third reason is to give everyone on the line time to calm down. The ND may cause distraction, insecurity, fear, and other problematic reactions in students and this may lead to unsafe behavior.