The 4 Rules
of Firearm Safety


Always treat every firearm as though it is loaded.

The phrase “it’s unloaded” should never pass your lips and should never be trusted from someone else’s. Unless you are preparing to shoot, your first action with any firearm in all situations should be to point the muzzle in a safe direction, check the chamber, and clear the firearm.


Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

It might help to think of the muzzle as a laser pointer—and everything it points toward is in danger. Never let the muzzle cover anything you’re not willing to destroy. Regarding the “safe direction”: don’t forget the possibility of a ricochet!


Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.

The best way to prevent accidental discharge is to keep your trigger finger indexed along the frame of the firearm until your sights are on the target. Do not place your finger inside the trigger guard until you’re ready to pull the trigger.


Always be sure of your target and what is in front of it and behind it.

Know the identifying features of the game you hunt. If you pull the trigger, you cannot take back the bullet! Everything and everyone in front of, near, and beyond your target is your responsibility. Make sure you have an adequate backstop and never shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.

Gun Safety is Just the Beginning When You Can be Certified in 3 Steps

  1. Choose Your State

    Choose your state and register for free. Hunter Ed works with IHEA-USA, more than 35 state agencies responsible for hunter education, and various industry partners to develop approved and recognized online hunter safety courses.

  2. Take the Online Course

    Complete the online course on your smartphone, tablet, or destop computer. It works on any device! And we’ve made the official state curriculum fun and easy. Learn at your own pace with engaging and interactive animations and videos. Learning hunting safety has never been so simple!

  3. Get Out and Hunt!

    In many states, after you pass the online course you’ll just print out your certificate and purchase your hunting license. For some states, you'll print out your temporary certificate and complete an in-person field day. Then the state will get your permanent certificate on its way to you, so you can legally purchase a hunting license.

    Ready? Find Your State’s Course