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Hunter unloading a firearm
  • Point the muzzle in a safe direction.
  • Put the safety on if it is not already on.
  • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard.
  • Open the action.
  • Remove the ammunition by first detaching the magazine. Eject cartridges or shells if it’s the only way to remove them.
  • Make sure the gun is empty by checking both the chamber and the magazine.

Loading and Unloading Firearms

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Video Transcript
Haley

Today, we’re hunting pheasants. There are three of us here and a dog. And because none of us want to get hurt, we are going to be very careful with our guns as we prepare for and hunt these fields.

The truck pulls into a field where another hunter is waiting.

Rob

Uh-oh. We’re late. They’re already here.

Rob stops the truck and gets out.

Rob

Hey. Sorry we’re late. We’ll hurry.

Haley

But we won’t hurry too much. Because that could get us into trouble.

Rob

So everybody’s excited to get on the hunt. But that can cause us to do things like placing our guns against an unsafe rest or pointing the muzzle in an unsafe direction. So what’s the solution?

Haley

Unloaded and still in their cases is how we keep firearms until we’re ready to head out from the vehicle. That’s the safest solution. Then we can cast the dogs.

Rob

So take your time and get everything else organized first. Then make sure to always point the muzzle of your gun in a safe direction. And then move away from your vehicle to load. Loaded?

Junior nods.

Rob

All right, fantastic.

Rob pulls two mismatched shells from his pocket.

Rob

Whoa. How’d this 20-gauge shell get in my vest? Here you go. Good thing I checked.

Rob hands the 20-gauge shell to Haley.

Haley

So what could happen if you put the wrong gauge or caliber shell in your gun, or accidentally loaded a 12-gauge shotgun with a 20-gauge shell, followed by a 12-gauge shell, without noticing it? The shell might jam or damage the gun. The shell might load but not fire. The shell might load, fire, and explode the barrel. OK. Not good. That’s why it’s important to return your ammunition to the manufacturer’s original box after each hunt to make sure that the wrong shell doesn’t get loaded and fired.

Rob

OK. So now we’re safe to load. Let’s go ahead and check off the points as we’re loading. First, always treat a firearm as if it’s loaded, and point the muzzle in a safe direction. If the firearm has a safety, put it in the safe position.

On screen: CHECK SAFETY

Rob

Open the action and visually make sure the barrel doesn’t have any obstruction.

On screen: INSPECT BARREL

Rob

Load the right gauge or caliber ammunition for your gun.

On screen: USE RIGHT AMMUNITION

Rob

Close the action, and put on the safety if you were unable before loading.

On screen: CLOSE ACTION & FINAL CHECKS

Rob

So we’re ready for some hunting action, right? Well, now that our guns are loaded, what are the key points for safely hunting the rest of the day?

On screen: HUNTING SAFELY

Rob

Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you’re ready to fire. Be constantly aware of the people around you. Always make sure your muzzle is pointed in a safe direction. And of course, well, don’t accidentally shoot your dog. That wouldn’t be smart.

Haley

The truth is all of these are vital for safe hunting. And now that we know and practice safe gun handling, let’s get after these birds. Let’s go.