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Shotgun Safety … Never Point A Gun At Anything You Don't Want To Shoot

Safe gun handling consists of common sense, applied over and over and over again until it becomes instinct. All shooters must make sure they practice safe gun handling.Gun safety

Safe Gun Handling

In simplest terms, safe handling of your shotgun is whatever prevents you from firing it accidentally, and preventing injury or damage if it does fire unexpectedly.

The primary rule is to always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Never point the muzzle at any person, animal or object you don’t intend to shoot. The safest directions are upward or toward the ground (but not toward your foot or anybody elses).

Keep your finger off the trigger. Fight the natural tendency to put your finger on the trigger when you hold a shotgun. If you must curl it around something, use the trigger guard. The only time your finger should touch the trigger is at the instant you plan to shoot.

When not actively shooting, keep the gun unloaded, with the action open. Whenever you pick up a shotgun, develop the habit of opening the action and checking the chamber to verify that the gun is unloaded. Keep the gun unloaded with the action open until you are ready to use it.

More Safety Tips

Know your shotgun. Familiarity with your gun’s basic parts and how they function is a prerequisite for safe shooting. Know how to open and close the action, and how to safely load and unload ammunition.

Don’t depend on the gun's safety. Remember, the safety is a mechanical device, and it can break. The safety is not a replacement for safe gun handling.

Make sure gun and ammunition match. If there is any question about compatibility between the gun and ammunition, don’t shoot! For example, the gauge of the shell must match the gauge of the shotgun. The gauge of the gun is usually stamped on the barrel. The gauge of the shell will be indicated on the box, and on each shell.

shotgun blowoutDon’t carry shells of mixed gauge. Whenever you’re through shooting, immediately remove unfired shells from your clothing. It can be disastrous to slip the wrong size shell in the chamber. Any blockage to a barrel, such as a wedged 20 gauge shell in a 12 gauge barrel, invites disaster.

Always check your gun for barrel obstructions. Barrel obstructions can cause the gun barrel to burst. If you’ve stumbled and jabbed the barrel into the ground, or crawled to surprise your quarry, unload and check the barrel for mud or snow before you shoot.

Be 100% sure of your target before you shoot, or don’t shoot. And, be equally aware of what’s beyond your target. If there’s any possibility of a person being hit, don’t shoot!

Protect your eyes and ears when shooting and when around shooters. Guns make noise which can detrimentally affect your hearing. Guns also emit powder fragments and gases that can injure your eyes. Ear protectors and safety glasses are a must for all shooting.

Shooting, alcohol and drugs don’t go together. Don’t drink and shoot.

Field Etiquette

In any situation, etiquette is just good manners. In shooting, good etiquette introduces another element of safety. Practice proper shooting etiquette in the field and you’ll be a safe and popular shooting companion.

* Never shoot across another shooter.
* Don’t interfere with another hunter’s dog.
* Never put your gun off safety until game has flushed.
* Don’t shoot at low flying birds - you may inadvertantly hit a dog or another hunter.
* All hunters should wear hunter orange.
* Always maintain a "straight line" when hunting with others.
* If you don’t know where your hunting partners are, don’t shoot!

Black's Wing & Clay This material adapted from Black's Wing & Clay. All rights reserved.

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