A shotgun that’s loaded can be a lethal weapon, which is why every shooter needs to follow the shooting safety rules that govern gun use to the letter. Shooting has one of the best safety records, but it is the personal responsibility of each shooter to keep it that way to avoid doing anything to bring shooting into disrepute.
Instructors at firearm training will sometimes fire at a watermelon to show just how much destruction a shotgun cartridge can cause. A beginner that sees the destruction and devastation that follows – even at a range of 10 or even 20 yards – learns a lesson that he/she won’t forget soon.
The Shooting Safety Rules
1. Always Be Alert
Know where the rest of the shooters are. Not everybody might be as familiar with the layout of the shooting ground as you might be, and the ‘short cut’ they take to the next stand could be right in your line of fire. Always look around whenever you walk onto the stand because while it just takes a second, it could end up saving a life.
2. Check the Chambers
If you are handed a gun by anybody (especially if they are stupid enough to hand you a gun that’s closed), always make it a habit to open it and check to ensure that the chambers are empty and the barrels are clear – even if you are sure it is empty. This habit should ideally become instinctive behavior.
3. Loaded Guns
Always treat guns as if they were loaded. An unloaded gun is the only truly safe gun.
4. Broken and Unloaded
Your gun should always be unloaded and broken when it isn’t in use when you are on a shooting ground. The gun should only be loaded when you actually reach the stand and the muzzles are pointing straight ahead towards the target firing zone.
5. Avoid Turning Around
It’s a shockingly common, but possibly deadly, mistake that the inexperienced sometimes make in the heat of the moment. They fire the first shot with both barrels loaded before turning around to ask for advice from fellow shooters. You must never turn around on a stand with a loaded gun. You should always break it first.
6. Break It
When you are out on a shooting ground all the side-by-sides and over-and-unders should always be broken. The only exception to this rule is when you have safely put away your unloaded gun in its gun slip.
7. Prevent Accidents from Happening
Accidents cannot happen if a gun is broken. Never leave cartridges in the gun when it isn’t in use. To always be sure that you are safe, you should always break the gun while taking out the slip. With the muzzles pointing to the ground, break the gun by flicking the top lever while the barrels are still in the gun slip before completely removing the gun,
Semi-autos and pump actions can be quite worrisome since it is incredibly difficult for other shooters to be completely sure whether they are loaded or not. Shooters sometimes use a high-viz tag inserted into the breech indicating that the gun is loaded.
9. Slip It
There will always be some walking between stands, even on the smallest shooting ground. Be safe by ensuring that your gun is not loaded and carrying it in a gun slip whenever possible. That way, everyone is assured of their safety. If the gun isn’t in a slip, ensure that it is broken.
10. Avoid Pointing
Guns should never be pointed at anyone. This is perhaps the golden rule when it comes to handling guns.