The area in which a hunter can shoot safely is referred to as a zone-of-fire. Before setting off in a group, hunters should agree on the zone-of-fire each person will cover. A zone-of-fire depends on many factors, including the hunter’s shooting ability, the game being hunted, the hunting environment, and the hunting strategy being used. A hunter’s zone-of-fire changes with every step. This is particularly true of groups hunting birds, rabbits, or other small game.
- For safety purposes, it’s best to have no more than three hunters in a group. For new hunters, two is a safer number until they become familiar with maintaining a proper zone-of-fire.
- Hunters should be spaced 25 to 40 yards apart and always in sight of one another. Each hunter has a zone-of-fire which spans about 45 degrees directly in front of each hunter. (Some states require an adult to be immediately beside a youth hunter. In this case, the adult should be a supervisor only—not a hunter.)
- A way to visualize 45 degrees is to focus on a distant, fixed object that is straight out in front of you. Stretch your arms straight out from your sides. Make a fist with your thumbs held up. Gradually draw your arms in toward the front until both thumbs are in focus without moving your eyes. This will give you your outer boundaries.
- If three hunters are walking side by side hunting pheasants, the hunter in the center will shoot at birds flushed in the middle which fly straight away. The other hunters will shoot at birds flying toward their end of the line.
- If a bird turns and flies back across the line of hunters, it’s best if all three hold their swings and do not fire. The same is true of a rabbit scurrying back between the hunters.
- No hunter, especially when swinging on game, should allow his or her gun to point at a person. Better to pass up a shot than risk injuring someone or damaging property.
- Everyone hunting in these situations should wear hunter orange whether it’s required by law or not.
Before shooting, you
must be able to answer YES
to these three questions:
Is it safe?
Is it legal?
Is it responsible?