Whenever firearms are being handled, an incident can occur if the firearm is not handled responsibly. Preventing hunting incidents depends on knowing and understanding firearms, and handling them skillfully and safely. Responsible hunters practice safe habits until they become second nature.
10 Commandments of Firearm Safety
- Watch that muzzle! Keep it pointed in a safe direction at all times.
- Treat every firearm with the respect due a loaded gun. It might be, even if you think it isn’t.
- Be sure of the target and what is in front of it and beyond it. Know the identifying features of the game you hunt. Make sure you have an adequate backstop—don't shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.
- Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot. This is the best way to prevent an accidental discharge.
- Check your barrel and ammunition. Make sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions, and carry only the proper ammunition for your firearm.
- Unload firearms when not in use. Leave actions open, and carry firearms in cases and unloaded to and from the shooting area.
- Point a firearm only at something you intend to shoot. Avoid all horseplay with a gun.
- Don't run, jump, or climb with a loaded firearm. Unload a firearm before you climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch. Pull a firearm toward you by the butt, not the muzzle.
- Store firearms and ammunition separately and safely. Store each in secured locations beyond the reach of children and careless adults.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages before and during shooting. Also, avoid mind- or behavior-altering medicines or drugs.