As a hunter education instructor it is my job to ensure that the next generation of hunters know how to safely handle a firearm. However, based on my first-hand experience in the classroom, I believe that everyone can benefit from reviewing and following the ten basic firearm safety principles (even seasoned hunters). We have all seen the headlines; “Hunter injured in accidental shooting” or “Man dies from hunting accident”. Those headlines and articles are often misleading. These were not accidents, these were avoidable incidents. The Oxford Dictionary defines “accident” as an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause. Nearly every hunting incident that involves a firearm can be attributed to someone not following one or more of the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety. Not following these ten basic safety principles is not an accident, it’s careless. The next time you are in the woods or at the range, remember these Ten Commandments; it could save your life or someone else’s.
Below are the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety which are taught in every state during their Hunter Education Classes. To learn more about hunter education classes in your state visit www.hunter-ed.com.
1. Watch that muzzle!
ALWAYS keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
2. Treat EVERY firearm as if it were loaded.
The firearm might be loaded, even if you do not think so.
3. Be sure of the target, what is in front, above, to the sides and beyond.
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.
4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
This is the best way to prevent an unplanned discharge.
5. Check your barrel and ammunition.
Make sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions, and carry only the proper ammunition for your firearm.
6. Unload firearms when not in use.
Leave actions open, and carry firearms in cases and unloaded to and from the shooting area.
7. Point a firearm only at something you intend to shoot.
Avoid all horseplay with a gun.
8. 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
9. Store firearms and ammunition separately and securely.
Store each in secured locations beyond the reach of children and careless adults.
10. Avoid alcoholic beverages before and during shooting.
Also avoid mind – or behavior – altering prescription medicines or drugs.
Guest Blogger Shawn McCardell
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