Proper Usage, Maintenance, and Storage Essential
Responsible gun ownership begins with a commitment to safety.
Excitement mounts as hunting season approach. However, strict attention to safety is vital as sportsmen and women prepare for the hunt. Every year, hunters and others are wounded or killed in accidents involving guns. Safety rules must always be followed to the letter.
Keep the Gun Pointed in a Safe Direction
A gun should never be pointed at anything the hunter does not intend to shoot. Every gun should always be handled as if it is loaded. Any type of horseplay or tomfoolery involving a gun is irresponsible and unacceptable.
Keep Fingers Off the Trigger Until Ready to Shoot
The shooter’s hand should be properly positioned with fingers away from the trigger, along the side of the gun, or on the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
Always Maintain Awareness of Target Area
A gun should only be fired at game or targets when there is no possibility of shooting another hunter or anyone else who may be in the area. Target shooters must make sure that there is no one in the area surrounding or behind the target. Hunters may fire only when they have a clear view of the game animal. More than one inexperienced hunter has shot at movement in the woods, only to find that they have shot another hunter.
Carry Guns Safely
When walking to and from the hunting area, or while stalking game, hunters must maintain constant awareness of the position of the gun as well as the positions of fellow hunters. When climbing fences, the gun should be placed on the ground or held by a fellow hunter. Handguns should be properly holstered, not tucked into a belt or waistband.
Keep Guns Unloaded Until Ready to Shoot
Guns should be unloaded for transport and for storage. The hunter should also make it a habit to check to see if the gun is loaded each time she removes it from the gun rack or safe, even if she remembers having unloaded it before putting it away.
Proper Maintenance Keeps Guns Operating Safely
The hunter should clean the gun properly after each hunting or shooting event, and check to be sure it is in good working order. Only correct ammunition should be used. If there is any problem with the gun’s operation, it should be taken to a professional gunsmith for repair.
Guns and Drinking Don’t Mix
Alcoholic beverages or any type of drug that impedes behavior or attention should never be used while engaging in hunting or shooting events. After the guns are properly cleaned, checked, and put away is the time for the hunter to enjoy a celebratory drink.
Store Guns Securely
Guns should always be unloaded and stored securely where they cannot be accessed by children or others for whom they would be dangerous. Locking gun cabinets or gun safes are highly recommended, and they should be kept locked, with the key kept in a separate location.
Knowledge Equals Safety
Classes on gun safety are readily available. More information about the safe use of firearms and about gun safety classes can be obtained from the National Rifle Association Training Department at 703-267-1430.