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Five basic rules of safe firearm handling

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Whenever you handle a firearm, safety must always come first. The following are five basic rules of firearms safety and should form the basis of your actions:


Always point the muzzle in a safe direction

The most basic safety rule when handling any firearm is never to point the muzzle at something you don’t intend to shoot, especially when loading or unloading a firearm.

A ‘safe’ direction is one in which a bullet cannot possibly hit anyone, considering ricochets and the fact that bullets can penetrate walls and ceilings.

Be sure that you stay in control of the direction in which the muzzle is pointing, even if you stumble. If the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction during an accidental discharge, no one will be injured. Also remember that pointing a gun at someone or discharging in public can lead to criminal charges and you can lose your licence.


Keep your firearm unloaded when not in use

Firearms should only be loaded when you are ready to shoot in the field, on the target range, or in a shooting area, and should be unloaded immediately after shooting before bringing it into a car, camp, or home.

When not in use, firearms and ammunition should be stored separately in a secure location to prevent children and unauthorised adults from gaining access to either firearms or ammunition.

Always keep actions open when not in use, and never assume a firearm is unloaded — always check for yourself! Only when the action is open and completely empty can you be certain that a firearm will not fire.


No firearm’s “safety” is really safe

The ‘safety’ on a firearm only aids in proper firearm handling and is not a replacement for common sense. Because the safety is a mechanical device, it can fail; therefore, always treat a firearm as if it is ready to fire.

When loading or unloading a firearm, regardless of the position of the safety, keep your fingers away from the trigger.


Be aware of your target and everything beyond it

Before moving your finger to the trigger guard and onto the trigger, always identify your target and make sure it is both legal and ethical to shoot. Before you pull the trigger, take a moment to double-check your target and where your shot will end.


Have your firearm serviced regularly

Make it a habit to clean the bore and check for obstructions with a cleaning rod right before firing your firearm. However, because it is a mechanical device, it will not last forever and will wear out. As a result, it necessitates regular inspection, adjustment, and service by properly qualified technicians.

Any object that can injure you or your firearm by blocking the path of a bullet. Before loading a firearm, open the action and inspect the barrel for obstructions, as even a small amount of mud, excess lubricating oil, or grease in the bore can cause dangerously increased pressures and cause the barrel to bulge or even burst on firing.



Beginners, in particular, must be closely supervised when learning to handle firearms. Gun owners and handlers should always follow all safety procedures to develop safe shooting habits.

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