Even if you have been handling guns for years, or if you are new to the sport of waterfowl hunting, it is always a good idea to periodically review the requirements for safe gun handling. The NRA offers solid basic advice:
- The first rule of gun safety is to always point the firearm in a safe direction, so that even if it does go off, it would do no damage or injury. Control where the muzzle is pointed at all times.
- Keep your finger off the trigger at all times, until you are ready to shoot. Place your finger along the side of the gun or on the trigger guard.
- Be sure to keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it. As soon as you pick up a gun, check that the safety is on. Remove the magazine if there is one, and inspect the chamber to be sure there’s no shell in it.
Before using any gun, take the time to learn how it works. This includes reviewing the basic parts, how to open and close the action, and how to remove ammunition from the gun. Be sure you know how to determine that a gun is safe to operate, and what safety equipment like vests or hearing protectors should be used. Ammunition must be appropriate for your gun. Proper storage of a firearm, and regular cleaning and maintenance are essential. Completing a hunting safety training course like the Waterfowl School offered by Minturn Anglers in Denver, Minturn or Vail is the perfect way to get this hands-on training.
Hunting can be a dangerous sport, so it is important to keep your wits about you at all times. Alcohol or any other substance such as prescription drugs should be avoided before and during a hunting session. It is too easy to impair your thought processes and your coordination.
Finally, when you are ready to shoot, be absolutely certain you have identified your target. Remember to be just as aware of the area behind the target as well. Never fire toward an area where people are present or any other mishap could take place.
Enjoy your every waterfowl hunting expedition, but … think first, and fire second.