Hunters and Shooters
Firearms Safety Rules
These rules are courtesy of the National Rifle Association, and every hunter and shooter should be a member.
The ALWAYS commandments:
- ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
- ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
- ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
- Know your target and what is beyond – there's not a gun in the world where you can recall a bullet once it has been fired. When you pull that trigger, make absolutely sure you know what you're shooting at, and what's behind it. This also applies to being informed about the capabilities of the weapon you're shooting, and it's ammunition. If you live in an apartment, shooting a high powered rifle at a shadow may not be a great idea, as the round will easily penetrate drywall and could very well kill your neighbor. Also, everything that goes bump in the night is not always a bad guy, make sure you don't draw down on your mother-in-law getting a glass of water- tactical flashlights can literally be lifesavers!
- Know how to use the gun safely – read the instructions, and if you're not familiar with a weapon take a class from a qualified instructor. You'd be amazed at how much faster you learn from an expert, and a beginner can avoid developing bad habits by learning proper shooting form first. Trust me, it's so much easier to do it right the first time rather than to have fix your fundamentals!
- Be sure the gun is safe to operate – like any tool, a gun will function best when properly maintained. Treat your weapon like your life depends on it, for some day it just may. Regular maintenance and cleaning, and if something isn't quite right, be sure to seek the help of a qualified gunsmith. Something as small as an 1/8” of improper headspace can maim or kill you, make sure your firearm is in proper working order at all times.
- Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate – “Eyes and Ears at all times”. When I grew up, the general thinking was that you can safely shoot outdoors without hearing protection. Unfortunately that's not the case, and even the brief crack of a gunshot can do permanent hearing damage. Shooting goggles have saved me from catching more than one shell casing in the eye, and if you do have critical malfunction they can save your sight. No they aren't the most stylish accessories- but they are very important.
- Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting – This one should be a no brainer, but you'd be surprised at the number of alcohol related firearm injuries. Just don't do it!
- Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons - Antigunners love to publicize the accidental shooting of innocents, usually children. While undeniably tragic, this is also completely preventable. First off, as a responsible gun owner, you weapon should either be locked safely away, or under you direct supervision. There is no in between, one or the other. Secondly, teaching kids about safe gun handling protects them as a well as others, and provides a bonding activity.
Personally I like the simplicity of Jeff Cooper's Wisdom.
Jeff Cooper's Four Firearm Safety Rules
Rule 1: All Guns Are Always Loaded – Since there's no such thing as unloaded gun, you never treat a weapon any differently than fully loaded, until you know firsthand it's empty.
Rule 2: Never Let The Muzzle Cover Anything You Are Not Willing To Destroy – in tandem with rule 2, since the gun is loaded, don't point it at anything you wouldn't want to shoot. I see this rule violated all the time at the range- and it is dangerous to do so.
Rule 3: Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target – as I mentioned earlier, the majority of accidental discharges occur when the trigger is pressed, not when the gun's mechanicals fail.
Rule 4: Be Sure Of Your Target – Always know what you're shooting, and what's behind it as well. Bullets can travel over a mile!
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