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Official Montana Hunting Safety Course Link to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Hello, hunter! Montana's online hunting course has moved. Click here to go to the latest version of the Today's Hunter in Montana course—the official hunting safety course of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

The following course material is for reference only. Please go to the new course to complete your Montana certification.

Basic Firearm Safety Rules

Safe handling of firearms begins with four basic rules. Know these rules and follow them at all times!

  1. Always point the muzzle of your gun in a safe direction.
    Never point the gun at yourself or others, even if you are certain it isn’t loaded. Determine the safest available muzzle direction (at the ground or in the air) and keep your gun pointed in that direction.
  2. Always treat every gun as if it were loaded.
    Even if you are certain a gun is unloaded, act as if it were loaded. Even double-check yourself!
  3. Always be sure of your target and beyond.
    Never point your gun at something you do not intend to shoot. You must positively identify what you are shooting at and know what lies in front of and beyond it.
  4. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
    The natural instinct when picking up a firearm is to put your finger in the trigger guard. DON’T! This could cause an accidental discharge if the gun is loaded. In addition, there are some other principles of safe gun handling (see the inside cover of this manual).

Accepting a Firearm

When accepting a firearm from another person:

  • Check that the action is open before touching the firearm. If it isn’t, ask the person who is handing you the firearm to open it to show it is unloaded.
  • Visually check that the chamber and magazine are empty of ammunition before touching the firearm.
  • Grasp the firearm with both hands, keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Say “thank you” to alert the passer to release the firearm.


Once you pull the trigger, there is no way to bring the bullet or shot back. THINK about your actions before, rather than after, you touch the trigger.

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Official hunting safety course for Montana hunters last modified: November 16, 2011
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