Basic Safety Rules when Hunting with Firearms
Certainly hunting is a very exciting activity; contact with nature, being outdoors, adrenaline pumping when you are about to take down your game and magnificent views are some of the features which make of hunting a very popular activity where it's easy to forget the risks.
But being out there, dealing with animals, weather and handling firearms is not exactly a risk free situation; in fact, there's a real risk of severe injuries and even death, so keeping in mind some basic rules to keep you and your hunting fellows safe is always necessary.
Even when it should be a well known information for everyone hunting with firearms, next you'll find some basic safety tips to avoid accidents when manipulating these weapons; it's just a reminder to keep in mind the importance of safety.
1. Treat a firearm always as loaded
That's the best way to avoid accidents. If you think a weapon is unloaded, your safety measures will relax and just one round in the chamber is enough for the disaster; instead if you always manipulate a firearm thinking that is loaded, you'll never get relaxed enough to manipulate the weapon unsafely.
2. Never aim to anyone
The gun muzzle always must point downwards or upwards, away from people or animals. NEVER aim to anyone; a firearm is not a toy but a lethal device able to kill when improperly used.
So, aim to a target you will certainly shoot to; otherwise keep the barrel pointing towards a safe direction.
3. Keep your finger out of the trigger
Walking through the wood with your finger on the trigger ready to shoot pertains more to the movies than to the real life; in fact it's a dangerous behaviour you must to avoid.
Don't trust only on the gun safety; as any other mechanical device the safety might fail anytime at anypoint, and if your finger slips on the trigger, a simple mechanical malfunction could end on disgrace; so keep your finger out of the guard and the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
4. Be aware about what you are shooting to
Don't shoot unless you are completely sure what you have in the target. Hunting accidents are more common than desired and many of them are because of imprudence.
If you see movement on the bushes, take a minute to be sure it was due to your game and not another hunter or dog. Hold your fire until you are completely sure and if you are not able to figure out 100% what your target is, DON'T SHOOT!
It's better to lose a game than kill a fellow hunter or anyone else out there; after all you will have another chance to track a game later, but after a hunting accident, the guilt will last forever, and you will have to live with it.
5. Don't shoot towards blind points
If behind your game there are dense bushes, a house or any other element blinding your view of what's behind: DON'T SHOOT!
A clear shot needs a free line not only between you and your game, but also behind it; otherwise if you miss your shot it would be possible to injury anyone else behind the game.
So, if you are not able to be sure about what's behind your game it's better to hold your fire for a while in order to avoid risks over anyone else out there.
6. Avoid cross fire
It seems a basic rule, but in the middle of a hunting rush you could turn and aim towards other hunter's position, furthermore, if you are hunting in a group using more than one blind, be sure to set all of them in a manner that avoids cross fire; otherwise you are putting yourself and your partners in serious risk.
7. Don't climb with a firearm on your back
It doesn't matter if you are climbing a mountain or getting up to your tree stand; if you can't hold your weapon with both your hands, leave it apart, climb and later raise it using a rope.
When doing it, remember that the barrel must point downwards, and NEVER TOWARDS YOU!
By doing that you will avoid accidental shots, falls with the gun on your back and the risk of ruining your weapon because of any incident.
As you might see, everything is about common sense and following simple rules, however if you are not completely conscious and aware of how to proceed safely when handling firearms, it's easy to forget a small detail and end on a big tragedy, so keep in mind that safety is your top priority.