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10 Commandments of Shooting Safety

1. Treat every firearm with the same respect due a loaded firearm. Check any firearm you hold and don't accept a firearm unless it's unloaded and the action is open.

2. Always control the direction of your firearm's muzzle. Point it safely. Keep the safety on and keep your finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until you're ready to shoot. If you fall or stumble, control the direction of the muzzle in case the gun discharges. Safeties are mechanical devices and can fail.

3. Be absolutely sure of your target and what lies beyond. Is there a house? A road? Don't shoot over a hill -- you can't see what's on the other side. Know identifying features of the game you hunt. Hunting accidents are rare, but a major cause is when another hunter is mistaken for game.

4. Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions and that you have only the ammunition of the proper size for the firearm you are carrying. If you fall or drop the gun, unload it and check to sec that the barrel is not plugged with dirt, mud, snow, etc. Obstructions in the barrel is the major cause of guns blowing up.

5. Unload firearms when not in use. Leave actions open. Firearms should be carried empty in cases to and from shooting areas. It's illegal to have a loaded shotgun or rifle in or on a motor vehicle. The second major cause of hunting accidents is due to a safety or law violation such as the discharge of a shotgun or rifle in a vehicle.

6. Never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot. Avoid all horseplay.

7. Never climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch or log with a loaded firearm. Never pull a firearm toward you by the muzzle. Never step into a boat with a loaded firearm. Lack of skill or aptitude is the third major cause of accidents.

8. Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water. Yes, bullets will ricochet off water. During target practice, be sure your backstop is adequate.

9. Store firearms and ammunition separately beyond the reach of children -- and careless adults.

10. Avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs before or while shooting.

Last updated on September 19, 2001