Written by Sierra Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin
Safety is, or should be, a major concern for all shooters. There are a few things to remember when working with a loaded firearm. I may not have been the first to say them, but I have found that at least four are top priorities to keep in the front of my mind at all times.
Every Gun Is Loaded. This relates to all other rules and should be the first thing you think about when you handle a firearm. I have upset some good friends, because even if they told me it wasn’t loaded, I’ll open the action and stick a finger in the chamber to know for sure. This has kept me out of trouble at least a few times because even though the firearm just came out of the safe, it still had a chambered round. It is real easy to drop a magazine thinking the chamber was empty. If you keep this at the front of your mind, the rest of the rules fall into place.
Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger. Of course until you’re ready to shoot that is. It takes training, sometimes a lot of training to keep a finger off the trigger, especially in a high stress situation. The over/under shotgun that my brother inherited has a release trigger so a familiarity with a firearm is paramount before ammunition is even introduced. Some target firearms have a trigger that is so light, all it would need is a heavy breath to make it release. If that firearm does happen to have something in the chamber, where would that bullet go when it came out of the barrel? That brings us to the next rule…
Keep The Muzzle Pointed In A Safe Direction. A safe direction would be defined as: if the firearm were to discharge, the projectile wouldn’t strike or deflect to strike another person. Even if you know the firearm is empty, it is still a good idea to keep it pointed in a safe direction. Your fellow shooters will appreciate this common courtesy as I’m sure you would from them. Concrete floors and walls will bounce a projectile easily. Now you not only have a projectile bouncing around, you have concrete particulate joining it in flight. I have witnessed more than my fair share of accidental discharges and because this rule was applied, the only injury was the pride of the shooter. Others have not been so lucky.
Know Your Target and What Is Beyond Your Target. At a dedicated shooting range, more than likely there will be a large dirt berm or catch system behind the paper targets. What about the hunt with the kids? When they miss the squirrel or the hedge apple, where is that bullet going? Even a 40gr lead bullet from a 22LR at a sub-sonic muzzle velocity will travel almost a mile when launched at a 29 degree angle.
You can read more about these and other rules of firearm safety by typing it into your favorite search engine. I’ll also be elaborating on each of these in following posts.
Till next time, be safe and have fun shooting.