The following is a run-down of safety practices every gun enthusiast should follow, whether licensed to carry concealed or not.
1. Always keep the gun’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction. This means at the ground, down the range or at your target as opposed to up towards the ceiling. Never point a gun, loaded or not, at a human being unless your intention is to shoot them.
2. All Guns are Loaded, All of the Time. Always assume the gun is loaded. Double or triple check to be certain it is not before cleaning the gun or pointing it anywhere but at a target. Remember: semi-automatic weapons can still fire after the clip is removed as there is a round in the chamber!
3. Fingers off the Trigger! It is quite difficult to accidentally fire if your finger is nowhere near the trigger. The best practice is to keep your finger away from the trigger until your target is in your sites and you are ready to squeeze a shot off.
4. Get Training. Take a gun training and safety course. Every gun is a little different and you should know everything there is to know about your particular weapon, from what type of ammunition is appropriate to how to take it completely apart and clean it. Learning proper techniques will not only improve your accuracy but it will make shooting a much safer experience for you and those around you.
5. Never Shoot at Water (or any other hard surface). Many people make the mistake of thinking of water as a “soft” surface when in reality, the surface tension can actually ricochet bullets off of the surface in an unpredictable direction. This can also happen when shooting at metal and hard woods. Choose your targets carefully and be certain that you are aware of what is behind them.
6. Do not Count on the Safety. While it is true that guns have safety mechanisms intended to prevent accidental firing, you should never count on it. Sometimes the safety may fail and in rare cases, flicking off the safety has actually been known to cause the gun to fire. A safety is intended to be an added precaution but the rest of the rules should be followed regardless of whether or not it is on.
7. Don not Drink and Shoot. It is imperative that you be sober while using a weapon. Do not bring beer to the firing range and never mix recreational substance use with using a gun.
8. Wear Ear and Eye Protection. Protect your eyes and your ears from permanent damage by wearing safety goggles and ear plugs or ear muffs.
9. Stay Alert. Whether you are out in the country with some friends, hunting in the woods or at a shooting range, it is of vital importance that you remain aware of your surroundings at all times. Everyone’s safety, including your own, depends on knowing who or what is near you at any given moment.