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Firearms Safety - A refresher every hunter should have

From the Alabama Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources

-- So you think you are safe with a firearm? So do the thousands of people that attend Alabama hunter education classes every year.

However, in every class a few students inadvertently point the muzzle of one of the classroom guns at someone else while they are attempting to demonstrate how to load and unload it properly.

Even though the guns are non-firing, pointing the muzzle at another person breaks the first rule of firearm safety - TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS THOUGH IT WAS LOADED.

The students, some of whom are adults, are often concentrating so intensely on loading and unloading their guns they are surprised and embarrassed when it is brought to their attention the gun had been pointed at someone else. However, it is better to commit this safety violation with non-firing guns and dummy ammunition in the classroom rather than in real life.

Making this mistake in the classroom reinforces the fact that you MUST be aware of where the gun's muzzle is pointed at all times no matter what task you are attempting to accomplish.

It is a good idea for everyone to review the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety from time to time.
        1. Treat every firearm with the same respect due a loaded firearm. If you become careless with unloaded guns, you       will soon become careless with loaded guns.    
        2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
        3. Identify your target and what is behind it before you shoot. Never shoot at movement and make sure you know what     is behind your target before you shoot.
        4. Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions and that you only have ammunition of the proper size for     the firearm you are carrying.
        5. Unload firearms when not in use. Leave the action open. Firearms should be carried unloaded and in a case to and     from your shooting or hunting area.
        6. Never point a firearm at anything you do not wish to destroy.
        7. Never climb a fence, tree, or jump a ditch with a loaded firearm. Always unload the firearm before you cross and     never pull a firearm toward you by the muzzle. Never lean a firearm against a tree, fence, wall or automobile.
        8. Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water. Bullets can ricochet at odd angles.
        9. Store firearms and ammunition separately beyond the reach of children and inexperienced adults.
        10. Never mix gunpowder with alcohol or drugs. No one should drink alcoholic beverages or take drugs while hunting      and never go hunting with anyone that does.
In addition, remember that the safety of a firearm is a mechanical device that can and will fail. Just because the safety is on does not mean you can ignore safety rule number one or expect that the gun will never fire. Sometimes the safety does fail.

Following these simple rules will ensure a much more enjoyable hunt or shooting activity for everyone.

For more information on this subject or other opportunities offered by the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries please visit, or contact Marisa Lee at or (334)242-3620.  

--By Marisa Lee, Regional Hunter Education Coordinator, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

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