What You Learned
Follow these four primary rules for firearm safety whenever you are around firearms, including BB guns, pellet guns, and air guns.
- Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and under control.
- Treat all guns as if they were loaded.
- Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
When you carry a firearm while hunting, be sure that:
- The safety is on.
- Your finger is outside the trigger guard.
- The muzzle is pointed in a safe direction and is under control.
- The gun stays unloaded until you are ready to hunt.
The position you use to carry your firearm safely depends on the terrain and where others are around you. Make sure all hunters keep their guns pointed away from their companions. The six positions you can use are elbow (side) carry, sling carry, trail carry, two-handed (“ready”) carry, cradle carry, and shoulder carry.
Follow these safety tips when loading and unloading firearms.
- Never practice loading and unloading with live ammunition. If you don’t have dummy ammunition, don’t practice.
- Never handle any firearm if you are not familiar with it.
- Never accept a firearm from anyone if the action is closed.
- Always point the muzzle in a safe direction and use the safety.
- Do not practice loading or unloading firearms at home even with dummy ammunition unless your parents or other responsible adults are supervising you.
When loading and unloading firearms, follow the steps carefully.
Always unload guns before crossing any obstacle. If you fall, check the barrel for obstructions after you get up and make sure nothing on your firearm is cracked or broken.
The area in which a hunter can shoot safely is the “zone-of-fire.” Before hunting with others, hunters should agree on each person’s zone-of-fire.
- You should never turn around rapidly and fire at a game bird behind you.
- Only one hunter should aim at a target.
- Hunters should shoot only if there is an adequate backstop.
Before cleaning a firearm, unload it. Most shooters buy cleaning kits. Select a kit with the correct gauge or caliber for your firearm.
To prevent firearm accidents in the home, store firearms and ammunition under lock and key.
- Keep firearms unloaded.
- Store ammunition away from firearms.
In many areas of Washington, the only safe place to practice shooting is at archery clubs and shotgun, rifle, or pistol club ranges. If you shoot in other places, the safest backstop is a steep, dirt bank that is free of rocks. Never shoot at glass, cans, or other types of containers.
Do not use logging equipment, road signs, or insulators for target practice. Such vandalism is very dangerous and gives hunters a bad name.
Transporting loaded guns in a motor vehicle is illegal. When you are going to and from your hunting area, unload your gun and keep it in a case. Three typical cases are a padded, soft-sided case; a lockable, hard-sided case; and a gun sock.
When hunting from an elevated stand, you should use a fall-arrest system (FAS) that is manufactured to industry standards. Make sure your FAS includes a full-body harness, lineman’s-style belt and/or climbing belt, tree strap, tether, and suspension relief strap. Never use single-strap belts and chest harnesses. Carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use of your FAS, and follow all safety guidelines.