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Basic Firearm Safety


Handle all firearms as if they were loaded!

Never forget that a gun has the potential to produce serious injury or death in a single instant of carelessness. After you determine that a gun is unloaded, continue to handle it as though it were loaded. Make safe gun handling a habit to be followed at all times by yourself and by anyone around you handling any kind of firearm; real or fake.

Always Keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction!

In selecting a safe direction, you must also take into consideration that a bullet can ricochet or glance off any object it strikes, and that bullets can penetrate walls, ceilings, floors, and windows. Do not point your gun in the general direction of people. Do not point your gun at objects with people in or behind them. When not aimed at the designated target your gun should always be pointed in the safe position (usually straight up or down) or holstered to prevent accidents.

Keep your finger out of the gun's trigger guard and off the trigger until you have aligned the gun's sights on a safe target and you have made the decision to fire!

By keeping your finger completely outside of the trigger guard until you have aimed at the target you guarantee that any shots you fire will go safely in the direction of your intended target. If your finger is resting on the trigger, it is too easy to fire the gun accidentally. A sudden loud noise could startle you, or you could trip and fall, or even have your finger slip readjusting your body position. Simple tension in a high stress situation can cause you to tighten the muscles in your hand without being aware of it.

Always be certain that your target and the surrounding area are Safe before firing!

Remember that a bullet can travel as much as several miles, so you should be certain of what your bullet could strike before you pull the trigger. Never fire at a movement, a noise, a flash of color, or a rustling bush without positively identifying your target.

Always wear ear and eye protection!

All shooters should wear protective shooting glasses and some form of hearing protectors while shooting. Exposure to shooting noise can damage hearing, and adequate vision protection is essential. Shooting glasses guard against twigs, falling shot, clay target chips and the rare ruptured case or firearm malfunction. Wearing eye protection when disassembling and cleaning any gun will also help prevent the possibility of springs, spring tension parts, solvents or other agents from contacting your eyes. There is a wide variety of eye and ear protectors available. No target shooter, plinker or hunter should ever be without them.

Most rules of shooting safety are intended to protect you and others around you, but this rule is for your protection alone. Furthermore, having your hearing and eyes protected will make your shooting easier and will help improve your enjoyment of the shooting sports.

Always use the correct ammunition for your firearm!

You must assume the serious responsibility of using only the correct ammunition for your firearm. Read and heed all warnings, including those that appear in the gun's instruction manual and on the ammunition boxes. Using improper or incorrect ammunition can destroy a gun and cause serious personal injury. It only takes one cartridge of improper caliber or gauge to wreck your gun, and only a second to check each one as you load it. Be absolutely certain that the ammunition you are using matches the specifications that are contained within the gun's instruction manual and the manufacturer's markings on the firearm. Firearms are designed, manufactured and proof tested to standards based upon those of factory loaded ammunition.


Do not use improper reloads or ammunition made of unknown components. Ammunition that has become very wet or has been submerged in water should be discarded in a safe manner.

Form the habit of examining every cartridge you put into your gun.

Never use damaged or substandard ammunition. The money you save is not worth the risk of possible injury or a ruined gun.

Do not rely on your gun's "Safety"!

A "safety" is a mechanism on a gun designed to prevent the gun from firing. Since keeping your finger off the trigger also prevents the gun from firing, safeties are mostly intended to prevent accidents if the gun is dropped or snagged on something. (Note: Most long guns are not drop safe, regardless of safeties. In most cases long gun safeties only block the trigger. They do not block the firing pin or even the hammer.)

You should learn how they work, and you should use them whenever possible, in keeping with the idea of minimal readiness. However, a safety is a mechanical device and any mechanical device can fail. Use them, but never depend on them, especially when a life is ever involved.

Keep in mind that even the best safety mechanism is not as safe as unloading the gun; and since you should never relax your safe handling with an unloaded gun you certainly should not be any less careful with a loaded gun that has the safety on. In particular, do not assume that it is okay to pull the trigger or violate any of the other safety rules just because the safety is on.

Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons!

Many factors must be considered when deciding where and how to store guns. A person's particular situation will be a major part of the consideration. Dozens of gun storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the gun, are available. However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the observance of all gun safety rules. Simply "hiding" your gun is never a good idea. Invest in a secure way to store your firearms, one that can protect your guns as well as your loved ones.

Learn how to properly clean and Maintain your firearm!

Regular cleaning is important in order for your gun to operate correctly and safely. Taking proper care of it will also maintain its value and extend its life. Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used.

A gun brought out of prolonged storage should also be cleaned before shooting. Accumulated moisture and dirt, or solidified grease and oil, can prevent the gun from operating properly.

Before cleaning your gun, make absolutely sure that it is unloaded. The gun's action should be open during the cleaning process. Also, be sure that no ammunition is present in the cleaning area.

Never Handle a gun while impaired!

The old adage "alcohol and gunpowder never mix" is as true today as ever. You should never handle a gun while under the influence of alcohol or any type of drug. This includes any over-the-counter drugs that cause drowsiness. Any substance that could impair your judgement or reaction could cause dire consequences!

Non-firearm safety is important too!

Airguns, paint guns, and dart guns, and even toy guns aren't firearms, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't follow the safety rules with them too. Some do fire projectiles which could hurt people under the wrong circumstances. Some of these guns even look enough like real firearms to frighten people into thinking you are dangerous. This is definitely rude, possibly illegal, and sometimes dangerous. Bad habits can be easily learned if not misdirected with the correct safety habits. Obviously, you'll have to make adjustments. For example, the whole point of having paint guns is that you and your friends can play with them and shoot each other. Still, it's good practice to treat these guns like real firearms by following all the safety rules (finger off the trigger, muzzle pointed in a safe direction, unload when not in use, etc.) except when it is necessary to shoot a participant in the game.

These types of "guns" are fun, but should also come with a lesson of respect for the real deal and the lethal results of their misuse and mishandling.