The Ten Commandments of Gun Handling
1. Always keep the gun muzzle pointed in a safe direction, away from anything you do not want to shoot or is not legal to shoot.
The most basic safety rule and one you must never ever forget.
2. Assume all firearms are loaded.
Treat firearms with respect. This goes together with the first commandment and helps as a mental bridge to keep the gun muzzle pointed away.
In the same vein it is your responsibility to ensure that every firearm you pick up or are responsible for is unloaded when not actually in use. And even when you have unloaded it, treat every firearm as if it’s loaded.
3. Always store or carry the firearm unloaded with the action open except when actually hunting or preparing to shoot.
Storage safety prevents accidents. Remember that it does not necessarily require human interaction for a gun to go off.
4. Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions (like mud plugs or the wrong ammo). You don’t want an explosion.
When loading a firearm, open the action to ensure that no ammunition is already in the chamber or magazine. Then ensure there are no other obstructions. Even small amounts of dirt, mud, snow, etc. can have disastrous effects.
Always make sure to use a cleaning rod immediately before you take a shot. And if you took a shot and something – anything – seems off, cease action immediately and investigate the firearm.
5. Confirm your target before you pull the trigger. Shooting a person will ruin at least two people’s days.
A shot taken can never be reversed. Never shoot unless you are absolutely, 100% certain what your shot is going to strike. Remember to account for inaccuracy, potential other targets behind your main target, splinters and shrapnel of hit targets, ricochets, and so on.
6. Never horseplay with any firearm.
A firearm needs to be handled by responsible adults who act with respect for the craft.
7. Never climb a fence, tree, or jump a ditch with a loaded firearm.
If you absolutely have to interact with terrain by climbing, jumping, or even running, make sure you unload your firearm. If possible, when hunting with another person, have one person hold the firearms while the other overcomes the obstacle, pass them by the butt (not the muzzle), and only then have the other person cross the obstacle as well.
8. Never shoot at a hard surface or water.
The impact effects and ricochets are outside of your control.
9. Store firearms and ammunition safely and in different places.
Each store needs to be beyond the reach of children and other non-authorized persons.
10. Never use drugs or alcohol before or during shooting.
A firearm always demands respect. Even if you think one drink or mind-altering medicine/drug has no effect on you, never handle a firearm until it has passed your system completely.