To protect yourself from the increased risks of using a muzzleloader, remember to follow safety rules when loading or unloading your firearm. The primary rule is to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Do not lean over, stand in front of, or blow down the muzzle.
Take extra care when loading a muzzleloader. Before you begin, make sure the gun is unloaded. Then load only one charge at a time using black powder or a safe substitute and a calibrated powder measure. Using a marked ramrod will show you when the ball is properly seated over a specific load.
To unload a muzzleloader, discharge it into a suitable backstop or use a CO2 discharger. In-line muzzleloaders can also be discharged by removing the breech plug and pushing the projectile and powder out the back of the barrel.
Wait until you’re ready to fire before you prime or cap a muzzleloader. After firing, place the hammer in the half-cock position and swab the barrel to remove sparks that might be inside.