This is the second post of a four-part series on Becoming a Better Marksman. In the next post, I’ll discuss proper shooting positions and their pros and cons. However, before we discuss accuracy and what to do to hit your target, let’s discuss a few things not to do that will keep you from hitting something else.
The following rules are fairly straight-forward. Those of us who have been raised around firearms have probably heard them more than once. If you’re a newcomer, consider each point and apply it when you’re at the range or in the field. If you’re an old-timer, it’s never bad practice to refresh your memory.
1. Always keep firearms pointed in a safe direction. Some instructors teach the laser ruler – pretending that the gun is always shooting a laser that could destroy whatever it touches.
2. Always assume that a firearm is loaded. There are countless cases of “accidental” deaths and injuries where the shooter swears they thought the gun was empty. Check it when you pick it up. Check it when someone hands it to you. Check it when you put it away.
3. Never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire. Generally speaking, most modern guns will not fire unless the trigger is squeezed. Simply keeping your finger off of the trigger can prevent accidental shootings.
4. Know your target and what’s behind it. Be certain of the target you are shooting. Are you sure it’s a deer behind those bushes? Did you hear it and see movement but little else? Could it be another woodsman? If you don’t know for sure, don’t take the shot. Don’t shoot over hilltops. Don’t shoot into brush or trees without knowing what is behind them.
5. Know your firearm. Before loading live ammunition into a firearm, know how to operate it safely. Do you understand how it fires? Do you know how to load, operate, and unload it? How does the safety work? All of these points are essential. Additionally, did you check to see if it was relatively clean? A dirty firearm, or worse yet, a firearm with something lodged in it’s muzzle is a significant safety concern.
Some of the points may seem simple but I assure you that they can save lives. I recently heard a story of a couple of guys visiting a rifle range where they had an accidental discharge. Fortunately, they were following point number one and there were no injuries or fatalities. Accidents do occur! It’s best to be as safe as possible so that in the event of an accident, injuries are avoided and everyone goes home safe.
In the next post of this series, we’ll discuss rifle firing positions.
If you have any other firearm safety points, opinions on gun safety, or questions about firearms and safety, I’d love to hear about it.