Basic Gun Safety Rules

Whether you are a brand new shooter or a seasoned pro, it pays to keep the basic rules of gun safety in mind.


Basic Firearm Safety Rules


  1. Every gun is always loaded. Even if you “know” the gun is not loaded, treat it as if it were, because the consequences of being mistaken can be huge. It is a good practice, where practical, to keep the action of an “empty” firearm open. This allows all to easily determine for themselves that the firearms is not loaded and ready to fire. Many modern arms will lock the action open when the last round is fired. When carrying a break-action shotgun, it is a good practice to carry it “broken” whenever practical.

  2. Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot. That means that even when carrying or holding a gun, you should always keep it pointed up (preferred) or down. NEVER let the barrel of a gun cross the body of another person, even for an instant. It is dangerous, threatening, rude and careless.

  3. Keep your finger outside the trigger until ready to shoot.

  4. If you are not preparing to shoot, keep your gun ON SAFE (but do not rely upon the safety – safeties sometimes fail.)

  5. Be sure of your target. This is especially important when hunting.

  6. Be aware of what is behind your target. Think about it this way: If your bullet goes through the target, or you miss the target, where might your bullet wind up? The maximum range for some commonly-used hand guns is in excess of 5000 feet and many rifles have maximum ranges in excess of 3 miles. A .30-06 boat-tail bullet can travel 17,000 feet and arrive with a force of impact in excess of 100 ft-pounds. (This compares to a standard .22 long-rifle force at the muzzle of 117 foot-pounds or half the force of a .38 special at 50 yards.)

  7. Be aware of the composition of your target, especially at close range. Bullets may ricochet off hard surfaces. (At supersonic velocities, water can be a “hard surface.”)

  8. Use eye and ear protection when shooting. (Note: Use of both eye and ear protection is mandatory at the CSC range.)

  9. If you pull the trigger and your gun does not fire, do not assume that it won’t fire. In rare instances, the chemical reaction that takes place within the primer may be delayed. Do not open the breach of a firearm that has misfired until you count at least 10. As always, keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.

  10. Before shooting, it is a good idea to briefly inspect your firearm to ensure it is in good order. A barrel obstruction can be catastrophic in most firearms, causing extensive damage to the firearm and possible injury to the shooter. If your gun has been stored for a period of time, recently cleaned or out of your control for any reason, it’s a good idea to check to make sure the barrel is clear of obstructions. [Note: One common type of failure happens when a 20-gauge shell is loaded into a 12-gauge shotgun. The 20-gauge shell will drop through the chamber and come to rest in the bore. A 12-gauge shell can then chamber behind the trapped shell, producing a heavy obstruction which may add to barrel pressure by discharging as well.]

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