All hunters and members of the shooting community know and practice safety with firearms. Proper firearms training has contributed to the fact that firearms accidents have been decreasing for decades, and that firearms are a lot SAFER than other everyday endeavors, and accidents.
According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), and a totally different entity, the National Safety Council, firearms are involved in 1% of ALL deaths and 1% of ALL deaths among children. More deaths are caused by motor vehicles (40%), falls (15%), and drowning (3%). The reason hunting and gun safety has done so well is because of Education of the general public by volunteer programs, NRA firearms safety programs, shooting ranges nationwide, and Law-enforcement. They all have contributed to overall firearm safety. The NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gun Safe Program was the first (since 1988) to teach children K through six grades to; “STOP-DON’T TOUCH-LEAVE THE AREA-AND TELL AN ADULT.”
Even with all these measures practiced by the hunting and shooting sports community, accidents with firearms can happen, and that is why a REFRESHER COURSE is always important and should be reviewed throughout the year, leading up to and during the hunting season.
Please follow these guidelines around firearms.
RIFLE AND FIREARM SAFETY
1. Always when you SEE A RIFLE, or GUN, ASSUME THAT IT IS LOADED. If it’s not yours, don’t touch it without asking.
2. Always keep the MUZZLE of the RIFLE POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION, away from people.
3. Keep your RIFLE UN-LOADED UNTIL READY TO USE. In hunting situations, keep rifle cartridges in the magazine with the bolt on top and “safety-on.” No bullet in the chamber and the rifle is un-loaded.
4. Keep your FINGER OFF TRIGGER UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO SHOOT. Just keeping you finger off the trigger is a great Life Saving measure.
5. Make sure your BARREL IS CLEAR OF OBSTRUCTIONS. snow, mud, dirt. Prevent debris from entering the muzzle. Always check your rifle safely if the end of your barrel contacts the ground or even debris from over-head.
6. Before you shoot KNOW YOUR TARGET, and WHAT IS BEYOND YOUR TARGET. DO NOT USE YOUR RIFLE-SCOPE to IDENTIFY THE TARGET, THIS IS A MISTAKE, BEST AVOIDED.
7. I.D. THE TARGET WITH BINOCULARS and KNOW BEYOND ALL DOUBT. If PEOPLE or BLAZE ORANGE is IN YOUR SHOOTING DIRECTION, HOLD-OFF and PASS ON SHOT. Many hunters pack ANTLERS ON THEIR BACK, when they get an animal down. Put
BLAZE ORANGE on yourself and the antlers if you are going to carry them this way. A couple of 1ft. squares along with a BLAZE ORANGE shirt or vest.
8. NEVER CROSS A FENCE, or JUMP ACROSS A STREAM with a LOADED RIFLE. UNLOAD RIFLE, carefully place under fence on the ground, (don’t lean rifle on fence with muzzle pointing “Up” towards you). Once you are safely accross the fence, creek, or ditch, then you can check your rifle for obstructions, and reload placing your cartridges in the magazine, with the bolt on top.
9. Also, if HUNTING WITH A PARTNER, BOTH OF YOU UN-LOAD, have one cross fence, while the other holds the firearms securely, then hand empty rifles over, then the other crosses the obstruction. Then reload when both of you are on the same side. Been walking for a while? STOP and CHECK to SEE if you are LOADED OR UNLOADED. MAKE SURE.
10. In the woods or out in the field, KNOW THE LOCATION OF YOUR HUNTING PARTNERS before You are ready to Shoot.
11. NEVER SHOOT AT WATER, or other HARD, FLAT, SURFACES, to avoid ricochet of bullet.
12. WEAR QUALITY EYE AND EAR PROTECTION IN THE FIELD. Especially with muzzle-break shooters. Today’s modern electronic ear protection, such as those products carried by E.A.R.Inc allow the users to speak to each other, while at the same time, both are protected from deafening muzzle blast!! Always allow those around you to cover their ears before you shoot. And it is always wise to get annual/regular hearing and vision tests.
13. STORE RIFLES AND AMMO SAFELY and SECURELY when not in use, with LOCKS and lock-able storage.
14. NO ALCOHOL DURING SHOOTING OR HUNTING HOURS, WAIT UNTIL DAY IS DONE AND WEAPONS SECURED.
15. GUN CLEANING: FIRST THING; MAKE SURE RIFLE IS UN-LOADED. Always check and point the muzzle in safe direction. Consider muzzle direction when setting up a reloading and cleaning room.
16. This is a very important rule and will go far in CONTINUING GUN SAFETY. Mark on your calendar “REMINDERS” BIG & BOLD to “REVIEW GUN SAFETY”.Throughout the year, (even though you may not be handling firearms at that time). One month before the hunt, and DURING THE HUNT. Post reminders where you will see them; in the truck, in the tent, on your gun case, in your back-pack, wherever you can think to put them. And speak these phrases out verbally and let others hear you reminding yourself; “watch the muzzle”, “finger off trigger”, “safety-on” and “safety-off”, “loaded” and “un-loaded”. Remember, you heard it here first.
Think the last rule is going too far? Not when you consider the destructive damage a bullet can do, when it hits something or someone you don’t want hit. The safer we are and remain, the stronger the image of hunter safety, and hunters who are safe, will we send to the non hunting, and shooting public.