In order to properly protect users and bystanders, weapons of any sort require prudent rules of safety when handling, operating and storage. Nobody wants to be the victim of an accidental weapon failure, but too many people continue to experience first-hand the tragic result of careless shooters. Although it is statistically proven that the majority of weapon owners handle their devices with care, it only takes a small number of ignorant operators to ruin the joys of gun ownership for unwitting victims. By adhering to the following are ten simple, practical rules you will increase the enjoyment of owning and operating your particular firearm. Following the ten steps below will help maintain safety for yourself and others.
- Never, ever mix alcohol or drugs with the use of firearms.
No matter how much effort you put into owning, operating and maintaining a weapon, the use of alcohol or drugs greatly diminishes thoughtful handling of these powerful devices. If you find yourself in the company of someone handling a weapon that is also under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is thoughtful to try to convince them now is not a good time, but at all costs find a way to avoid the situation yourself.
- Be certain that your mental state is suitable for safe operation of your weapon.
Many people find the use of firearms is a good way to relieve stress, but before picking up any weapon make sure you are in control of your emotions. Bouts of depression or anger are not appropriate times to handle them. You may think you are in control, but emotions are sometimes much more powerful than a person’s intentions or will. Never put your weapon in the hands of someone whose emotional state is in question.
- Even if you know for sure that your weapon is not loaded, always treat it like it is.
Developing safe practices at all times helps to minimize risks associated with accidental discharges or weapon malfunctions. This practice is most essential when it comes time to clean a weapon. Everyone is familiar with stories of people injured by a weapon they thought to be unloaded.
- Use only the ammunition recommended by your weapon’s manufacturer.
It can be tempting at times to use ammunition that is rated for more power than your weapon is certified for, but such carelessness can render it useless at least and cause injuries or even death at worst. If you really, really want to fire a higher power round, consider purchasing or using the weapon suited for that purpose.
- Maintain muzzle awareness.
The firing end of your weapon should never be pointed in such a direction that could cause anyone harm whether you know it is loaded or not. Most firearms come equipped with a safety mechanism, but these have been known to fail at times. Ensuring your weapon is always pointed away from people and property nobody will experience loose if an accidental discharge occurs. A shooting rest can aid in ensuring that a shooter knows the proper direction of fire, but it should not be relied upon without question
- Know for sure what is down range from your firing position.
Long before firing your weapon make certain you know what exists in the direction you are firing. Even controlled ranges can have moments of chaos or confusion at times and without careful observation and control there could be any number of hazards down range. Make sure you have a clear shot and that there is no chance of danger in the case of a miss or ricochet.
- Know your weapon and handle it safely
Even if they may appear to look alike, not all weapons are created equal. It is essential to know the safe operating procedures for your particular device. For example, you may be used to the pressure required to fire a gun, but a different product may require much more or less force. Safety mechanisms are not always the same and can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.
- Wear hearing and eye protection
Eyes and ears are delicate organs and can be easily damaged or destroyed. While there are certain remedies for the loss of sight or hearing, they are always expensive and not always effective. Be proactive and protect these two vital parts yourself before damage can occur.
- Store your weapon unloaded.
The probability of a dangerous situation diminishes greatly if the potential energy of a weapon is greatly reduced or even eliminated. Hopefully your weapon is stored under lock and key in an appropriate and safe location. In the event that unauthorized access is achieved an unloaded gun promotes a much safer situation especially for children and others that may not be well educated about weapons.
- Never let down your guard
Whether your weapon is stored safely away, is sitting at the range, or in the hands of someone getting ready to fire it your mind must be permanently fixed towards safety. Any time there is a question in your mind about safe storage or use it is important to check and re-check until you are satisfied with a safe and secure environment.
When you educate yourself on the safe operation and storage of your weapon you will greatly increase the opportunity for enjoyment for everyone involved. It is also important that anyone you are hunting or shooting with also understands these rules and agree to their importance. Group safety is a shared responsibility, but your weapon is nobody’s responsibility than your own. In regards to group safety, never consider that someone else “has it covered.” You owe it to yourself and others to ensure that someone is in charge and concerned for safety.