Among firearm owners there are certain rules pertaining to safety that are treated as gospel that should be recognized and respected by new gun owners and veterans alike. The reason these rules have become so well known and respected is because they are the simplest way to minimize the possibility of unintended harm by firearm. Different groups of gun owners and different shooting ranges may have additional rules but every gun responsible gun owner abides by the twelve golden rules of gun safety. These are:
- Always treat the gun as loaded.
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
- Always keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- Always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
- Never point the gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
- Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
- Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the gun you are using.
- Always use proper ammunition.
- Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before loading and shooting.
- If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, hold your shooting position for several seconds; then with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, carefully unload the gun.
- Don’t rely on the gun’s safety to keep it from firing.
- Be aware of your surroundings when handling a firearm so you don’t trip or lose your balance and accidentally point and/or fire the gun at anyone or anything.
Abiding by these simple rules will ensure that no unintentional harm comes from the misuse of a firearm. These rules will ensure your safety and the safety of those around you when using a firearm.
Shooting ranges may have their own rules on top of the golden twelve. Some common rules for shooting ranges include:
- Follow the twelve golden rules.
- Know and follow all of the rules of the shooting range.
- Listen to what the range master tells you at all times.
- Always uncase and recase your gun at the shooting bench and never behind the safety line.
- Always keep the barrel pointed down range.
- Always keep the safety on until you intend to shoot.
- Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
- Never shoot at water or hard surfaces.
The rules may vary from range to range but the above guidelines will always be applicable. If you follow the golden rules and the above guidelines for shooting at a range you will not only ensure the safety of yourself and those around you but you will earn respect as a responsible and knowledgeable gun owner. With all this in mind enjoy your gun and practice in a safe manner.
We talk a lot about gun safety on this blog – we are, after all, trying to keep all gun owners safe and sound with the best gun safes around. We’ve rounded up some very simple, straight-forward, and essential tips to consider where around guns or while handling guns.
- Always Point a Gun in a Safe Direction. This is a no-brainer. Basically, never point your gun at anything that you don’t want to actively shoot.
- Assume That Any Gun, at Any Time, is Loaded. This tip is largely the same as the first. So long as you always assume that your gun is ready and loaded, you’ll be prepared if it even ends up accidently going off.
- Keep Your Finger off the Trigger. If you don’t have your finger on the trigger, it is less likely to go off…so unless you are planning to shoot something keep your finger off.
- Know What You’re Shooting at. When you decide to shoot something, make sure it is something that you know and understand—never shoot anything blind.
- Be Familiar With Your Gun. Taking the time to learn about and understand your gun—the grip, the trigger, the shooting positions. An informed gun owner will be a prepared gun owner and will see fewer accidents.
- Don’t Shoot at Hard Surfaces (Including Water). This one should be a no-brainer. Shoot at targets don’t shoot at metal, rocks, hard wood or water. You never know what will happen to the bullet with this sort of impact.
- Don’t Rely on a Safety Mechanism. This goes back to pointing your gun and assuming it is always loaded. Don’t trust your gun to protect you; trust yourself and assume nothing. Even if there is a safety, assume it’s broken or doesn’t work. Don’t make assumptions and take safety shortcuts.
- Load Your Gun When You Need to. Without bullets, guns are harmless thus by keeping your gun unloaded you are avoiding harm.
- Use the Right Ammo. Duh! A gun is a complicated mechanical device and as such requires the right equipment.
- Pay Attention! This is the cardinal rule of gun-ownership – be smart, be cautious, pay attention.
Do you have any other tips we should add about gun safety?
Most avid hunters understand the requirements of matching the selection of guns and ammunition to the game being hunted or nature of the target shoot. In a general sense the size of the game, the distance of the shot, and the environmental conditions govern the selection of appropriate guns and ammunition. Of course there are a avid hunters of large game that use large caliber handguns for hunting… but that requires the hunter to modify his/her capacity to reduce the distance of the shot. Recently, I started studying the science of ballistics to better understand the proper selection of guns and ammunition to different hunting situations.
Ballistics is the science of mechanics that deals with the flight, behavior and effects of projectiles. Gun ballistics are a subset of the larger field and can be further broken down in to four categories:
- Internal ballistics: the study of the processes originally accelerating the projectile.
- Transition ballistics: the study of the projectile’s behavior when it leaves the barrel.
- External ballistics: the study of the passage of the projectile through a medium, most commonly earth’s atmosphere.
- Terminal ballistics: the study of the interaction of a projectile with its target.
What is interesting is that most hunters understand these four factors very well. You choose your length of your rifle barrel according to the distance of the desired shot. (a longer barrel normally provides for greater accuracy, velocity, and distance). You chose your bullet type and grain according to the size and mass of your intended target. You might choose a specific pistol for your spouse based on the desired recoil they feel comfortable with. For target shooting you want a perfect round hole for tracking your shots so you don’t care about the aerodynamics of the ammunition. The more you examine your choices in guns are ammunition the more you start to see this art through the science of gun ballistics.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation recently ran a comparison of the relative safety of the top recreational sports. I expected that hunting would rank somewhere towards the top of the list, but instead hunting with firearms is actually one of the safest recreational activities in America. In the final report hunting ranks third in safety when compared to 28 other recreational pursuits, ranging from baseball to wrestling. Hunting with firearms has an injury rate of 0.05 percent, which equates to about 1 injury per 2,000 participants, a safety level bettered only by camping (.01 percent) and billiards (.02 percent). For comparison, golf has an injury rate of 0.16 percent (1 injury per 622 participants), while tackle football topped the list of activities with an injury rate of 5.27 percent (1 injury per 19 participants).
Take a second look … golf has an injury rate of 0.16 percent… hunting with firearms has an injury rate of 0.05 percent. Normally I do not find humor in statistics, but honestly this is the best statistic that I have come across in a long time. Next time your friends are ready to go out golfing you need to go grab your trusty hunting rifle and tell them “golf is too dangerous” and you need to stick with hunting. You might need to print out the compiled data that NSSF provides, as I can assure you that your statement will be debated.
Here are the highlights of the research by NSSF:
HUNTING VERSUS OTHER ACTIVIES:
A person is 11 times more likely to be injured playing volleyball than hunting.
A person is 19 times more likely to be injured snowboarding than hunting.
A person is 25 times more likely to be injured cheerleading or bicycle riding than hunting.
A person is 34 times more likely to be injured playing soccer or skateboarding than hunting.
A person is 105 times more likely to be injured playing tackle football than hunting.
In any sport there are the players (sportsperson), the sales industry, the sports organizations, and the repair/maintenance businesses. Most of the time I get caught up with the players and sports organizations and I fail to recognize the people and businesses that make up the infrastructure of the sport. Recently, I needed to repair my grandfather’s old shotgun and I started to research gunsmiths in my community. Following a few days of research and telephone calls I selected a gunsmith for my repairs. After my first visit to the shop I came away thinking that I don’t know 10% of a gunsmith’s knowledge.
A gunsmith must possess skills as a mechanic, a metalworker, a woodworker, and an artisan; be knowledgeable in shop mathematics, ballistics, and chemistry; and be capable of working accurately and precisely. In addition to this rather daunting list of skills the gunsmith must also stay abreast of, and comply with federal, state, and local laws, ordinances, and requirements.
The primary job of a gunsmith is to ensure that your gun functions safely. However in examination of my old shotgun the gunsmith checked for cracks, worn barrel, missing parts, bore obstructions, safety mechanisms, worn sear edges, and the condition of the firing-pin. After all of this, the shop also gave me great advice of how to properly and safely fire a proof-load through the weapon. Next time you questions the condition and safety of one of your old guns… find your local gunsmith and start asking questions that these experts truly understand.
I can still remember every detail of how my grandfather passed down his collection of guns to me. Amongst his collection was a beautiful old double barrel shotgun. I used this gun for years before retiring it to my father’s gun cabinet. A few years ago my father sent it back to me and now it sits in my gun cabinet. Of course every time I passed it by I wanted to take it out and see if it still performed properly. I started asking my gun-knowledgeable friends about the safety of these old guns and of course I got dozens of different responses. So armed with all these opinions I started researching this issue on the web.
My favorite article about ‘wearing out a gun’ was written by Charles Petty and published in Guns Magazine. This article breaks down the myths behind ‘wearing out a gun’ and talks more about the factors that can contribute to life span of a gun. The four factors that Petty isolates as contributing to ‘wear out’ are: quality of the gun, how much it is shot, intensity of the ammunition, and the care it receives during it’s life. In my case I can’t ask my grandfather how much he shot this shotgun, but I can assume it was only for periodic hunting, so the total number of rounds fired should be very low. I doted over this shotgun as a teenager, so I know for certain that it was maintained to perfection.
As you can probably tell, I really want to take my grandfather’s shotgun out and test it. So, I purchased a new pair of shooting glasses, cleaned and inspected the shotgun, and headed out. Yes, the shotgun works perfect… but I came away from this research with a new respect for proper cleaning and gun maintenance.
As I was studying the array of gun safe options it hit me that I did not know the truth behind the hundreds of ammunition storage opinions that I have heard over the years. I have always just kept my ammunition in an Army surplus container and never encountered a problem.
The two most obvious environmental issues that effect ammunition are moisture versus heat. Does moisture weaken or compromise ammunition and can fire explode ammunition in a dangerous manner?
Some of the best information about the effect of fire on ammunition comes from firemen who enter into burning homes where a reasonable amount of ammunition is stored. The response is ‘yes’ ammunition will explode in a fire but the explosion is basically weak and rarely causes severe harm. I did find documentation that the weak explosion of ammunition in a fire is strong enough to damage a person’s eyes.
Most gun owners agree that storage of ammunition in a dry location is preferred as exposure to long-term moisture can damage to the casing. There are stories of people still using WWII ammunition and stories of using water soaked ammunition, but most policemen will tell you to simply keep your ammunition dry and in a safe location. There are a lot of opinions on these issues, but in the end it seems like it is wise to drain off your older ammunition in a good target practice session and if your ammunition is exposed to prolonged moisture think about replacing it.
For those of us who grew up hunting or target practicing the use of firearms is almost second nature. My father sent us boys to firearm training for two summers before we were allowed to purchase our own rifle. However, many people have no experience with firearms and yet they want to own a firearm and gain knowledge of how to use a firearm for either sport or personal protection.
My first line of advice is to always turn to a local firearms training facility and complete several courses in both firearm use and home protection before purchasing your first firearm. With proper training in the use of firearms you can dramatically reduce the chance of harming yourself, family, or neighbors.
When selecting a local firearm training center you should ask about the background of the trainers. Sometimes retired police officers or retired military conduct the training classes and you can really benefit from the knowledge of these professionals.
After completing your firearm training you will have a sense of what type and caliber of firearm you want to purchase. In addition the firearm training facility will advise you on how to properly register your firearm. Finally, before your new firearm arrives please contact one of our security experts about acquiring a proper firearm safe or locking gun cabinet. Be prepared to tell our experts the type and caliber of your new firearm so they may recommend the proper size safe or cabinet.
With good firearm training and storage you can own a firearm and still maintain peace of mind about safety.
You and I both likely believe in the freedom of Americans to carry weapons for personal and family protection as governed by the US Bill of Rights. That is never the issue here on this blog – what we’re more concerned with is the use, storage, and safety of gun use.
Here is an interesting story about how something so surprisingly simple have has contributed to one of the great tragedies of our time. Few people have a major problem with the prevalence of gun-heavy video games. Kids play them all the time – first it was Deer Hunter, then James Bond, now things like Call of Duty make virtual shooting ever more realistic.
Well, there may actually be a deeper, darker side to these video games that we previously thought – only, surprisingly, it might not have much to do with the kids who so commonly play these games. It has come to light that the Norwegian man responsible for the recent bombing and shooting crime may have used Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to help train for his subsequent shooting at a political youth camp. He wrote in his inane manifesto published online just before the attacks that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was “part of my training-simulation.” He wrote that Modern Warfare 2 was ideal for target practice and training. Australian Newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian lawmakers are taking this information to heart and are calling for an 18 and over age restriction on video games that are excessively violent
As with all gun owners, we need to strive to be safe and respectful of weapons. In no way, should Anders Behring Breivik be looked up to in any way. He is a disgusting, irresponsible, and deluded man who used guns and shooting as a failed excuse for political protest. While we must be careful with guns that we have around the house with the use of gun safes, it is equally important that we teach our children and friends that gun ownership comes with a profound responsibility to keep others out of harm by storing and using guns safely and only when necessary for protection or in tightly controlled circumstances.
We recently wrote about the NRA’s rules for Gun Safety here
, and now we have the NRA’s rules for safely storing a gun in your home and elsewhere. This is especially important to know about in preventing accidental gun violence – especially among minors and children.Take heed when reading this and remember to be careful. One step to make sure you take is to ensure that you have an adequate gun safe
in your home or office. There are simple and easy ways to avoid accidents – just make sure you take the necessary precautions so that something terrible doesn’t happen to you or your family.
When using or storing a gun, always follow these NRA rules:
- Know your target and what is beyond.
Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second.
- Know how to use the gun safely.
Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine. Remember, a gun’s mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling.
- Be sure the gun is safe to operate.
Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun’s general upkeep. If there is any question concerning a gun’s ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.
- Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
Only BBs, pellets, cartridges or shells designed for a particular gun can be fired safely in that gun. Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel. Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box and sometimes stamped on the cartridge. Do not shoot the gun unless you know you have the proper ammunition.
- Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
Guns are loud and the noise can cause hearing damage. They can also emit debris and hot gas that could cause eye injury. For these reasons, shooting glasses and hearing protectors should be worn by shooters and spectators.
- Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting.
Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns.
- 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.
- Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.
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