In addition to the four rules of firearm safety, you must know and follow safety rules specific to muzzleloading firearms.
- Have an experienced gunsmith examine any used firearm you acquire.
- Never handle a firearm you’re unfamiliar with using.
- Never use any firearm without getting training on its operation from a qualified instructor.
- As a rule, avoid using a gun that does not have a mechanical safety. A half-cock hammer position is not a safety.
- If you use one-piece wads in your shotgun, be sure the bore is clear of plastic fouling after you fire.
- Use only appropriate wad materials in your shotgun. Never put newspaper, or other material that does not belong, into the bore.
- Use the granulation of powder recommended in your owner’s manual.
- Always keep propellants covered and away from the firing area.
- Always keep percussion caps on the firing line and away from the loading station.
- Load by volume only, using a powder measure.
- Don’t overload a muzzleloader. This is dangerous and wasteful and can result in an explosion. Overloading rarely improves accuracy or velocity.
- Focus closely on the tasks while following the steps to load a muzzleloader.
- Do not lean over, stand in front of, or blow down the muzzle.
- Don’t swing your head or arms over the barrel as you reach for items on the loading bench.
- Keep guns unloaded until you’re ready to shoot. Never prime the pan of a muzzleloader or cap the nipple until you’re ready to fire.
- After you fire a double-barreled shotgun, be sure the other load remains in place. Loads may move and cause gaps between the powder charge and shot charge.
- Never place any loaded firearm in a vehicle, boat, off-road vehicle, or airplane.
- Do not display firearms in window gun racks.