The importance of firearm safety when hunting
Here are important safety tips to remember during rifle season!
As we head into late season rifle hunts it’s imperative that we revisit the rules of firearm safety, no matter how long you have been hunting. A firearm accident can happen so quickly with tragic results, please take five minutes and read these rules so that you ensure you will return safely with good memories and meat for the freezer.
TREAT EVERY GUN AS IF IT’S LOADED
This is the most simple, yet important rule of gun safety. Never assume a gun is unloaded, even if you personally are handling your own firearm. People forget or get excited in the moment and an accident can happen quickly to anyone. Always assume the gun is loaded and treat it as such. If you always assume the gun is loaded and follow the other rules outlined below, the chances of having a gun accidentally fired are almost non-existent.
ALWAYS POINT THE MUZZLE IN A SAFE DIRECTION
This is one of the most basic gun safety rules. If every hunter handled a firearm carefully and never pointed the muzzle at something they didn’t intend to shoot, there would be almost no firearms accidents. Never point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. This is critical when loading or unloading a gun. A safe direction means a direction in which a bullet cannot possibly strike anyone, even if it were to ricochet. The safe direction is typically down, but never at anyone or anything not intended as a target. Make it a habit to know exactly where the barrel of your gun is pointing at all times, even when laying the rifle down or setting it up on a bipod. Make certain that you are in control of the direction in which the muzzle is pointing, even if you were to fall or stumble.
BE SURE THE BARREL AND ACTION ARE CLEAR OF OBSTRUCTIONS
Before you load your firearm, open the action and be certain that no ammunition is in the chamber or magazine. Be sure the barrel is clear of any obstruction. Hunting can take you to some wild places and even a small bit of mud, snow, ice or debris can cause the barrel to bulge or even burst on firing. This can cause major injury to the shooter and bystanders. You should make a habit to clean the bore and check for obstructions. A barrel topper, cover, or even a piece of duct or electrical tape can help keep your barrel and action clear when hunting, but even still those are not a replacement for checking to ensure the barrel is clear of obstruction.
Make certain you are using the proper ammunition for your rifle. You can avoid an accident by paying close attention to each cartridge you insert into your firearm. Never use damaged ammunition, it’s simply not worth the risk to you, your hunting party and to your rifle.
BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET, INCLUDING WHAT IS IN FRONT OF IT AND BEYOND IT
Be sure of the target and what is in front of it and beyond it. Most states issue more rifle permits than other weapon/seasons and there are typically more hunters in the field during this time of year. It’s always our responsibility to take the time to observe and ensure that there are no other animals or hunters in front of or beyond our intended target. Take the time to clear the path of the bullet before you shoot. Be aware that hunter orange requirements differ across the western states, as such, thoroughly search the path of the shot and beyond before you point the gun in the direction of your target. Please make sure you have a safe backstop so that the bullet cannot hit an unintended target. If you cannot see what lies beyond the target, do not take the shot. Never take a shot on an animal that is skylined, a bullet can travel several miles.
After a bullet is fired you cannot take a shot back, be absolutely sure of what your bullet is going to strike. One of the leading causes for firearm accidents in hunting is caused by hunters that mistake a person for an animal or are unaware of another person being in front of or beyond the intended target. Do not fire at noises or movement. No trophy is so important that you cannot take the time before you pull the trigger to be absolutely certain of your target and where your shot will stop.
To read the full article from Go Hunt, click here.
Photo Credit: Original Author