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Course Outline

To be a responsible hunter, you should know how your firearm works and how to use it safely.

A firearm is a mechanical device that uses pressure from a burning powder to force a projectile through and out of a metal tube.


All modern firearms have three basic groups of parts—the action, the stock, and the barrel.


Before using a firearm, you should become familiar with its parts. The bolt-action rifle and the pump-action shotgun are commonly used firearms.


Single-action revolver
Single-Action Revolver

Handguns sometimes are used for hunting. They can be either revolvers or pistols.


The basic components of ammunition: case, primer, gunpowder, projectile and wad

The basic components of ammunition are the case, primer, gunpowder, and projectile(s). Shotshells have an additional component called wad. The type of ammunition you use depends on your firearm. Rifles and handguns use a cartridge that contains a bullet as the projectile. Shotguns use a shotshell that contains either a slug or shot as the projectile.


Projectile being shot from the barrel

When you pull the trigger to shoot a shotshell from a shotgun or a cartridge from a rifle or handgun, the firing pin strikes the primer in the base of the cartridge or shotshell. This causes the primer to explode. The spark from the primer ignites the gunpowder, which burns rapidly and converts to a gas. The gas rapidly expands and drives the projectile(s) through the barrel with great force.

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