This is the most important gun safety rule. A "safe direction" is one in which an accidental discharge will not cause injury to yourself or others. Never point your muzzle at anything you don't intend to shoot.
Be especially careful when you're loading or unloading, and make it a habit to know where your muzzle is pointed at all times. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
Load your firearm only when you're in the field, or on the target range and ready to fire. Never let a loaded gun out of your sight or out of your hands. Unload it as soon as your finished shooting, before you bring it into your car, truck, camp or home.
Before handling a firearm, or passing
it on to someone else, visually check the chamber, reciever and magazine to be
certain it does not contain ammunition. Always keep the guns
action open when not in use. Never assume a gun is unloaded.
Use common sense in the storage of your firearms. Never store a gun loaded. Keep guns and ammunition in separate and secured places so they can't be touched without your knowledge, particularly by children.
Treat every gun as though it can fire at any time - whether or not there's pressure on the trigger. Remember that a gun's safety is a mechanical device, and, like any mechanical device, it could fail.
You can't stop a shot in mid-air. So don't fire unless you know exactly where your shot is going and what it will strike. Never fire at a sound, a movement or a patch of color. Never shoot without being absolutely sure of what you're shooting at, and what's behind it. Before you pull the trigger, be absolutely certain that your shot has a backstop-- such as a hillside, or dense material like sand. Remember, bullets can travel great distances with tremendous velocity -- know how far your shot will go if you miss your target or your bullet ricochets.
Every firearm is designed to use a certain caliber or gauge of ammunition. Using the wrong ammunition, or mixing ammunition, can destroy your firearm and expose you or bystanders to serious personal injury.
If for some reason the ammunition doesn't fire when you pull the trigger, stop and remember the FIRST COMMANDMENT of Safe Gun Handling: always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
Your sight and hearing risk injury from shooting, and should be protected at all times. Serious damage to your eyes, including loss of sight, can result if the barrel of your gun burst for any reason. Wear shooting glasses to guard against such injury, as well as falling shot, clay target chips, powder residue and twigs in the field.Continued exposure to shooting noise can damage your hearing. Use the maximum protection of a headset on the range, where shooting volume is the loudest. And learn to use ear plugs in the field - especially in the confined locations like duck blinds.
Before loading the gun, open the action and make sure there's no ammunition in the chamber or magazine. Check to see that there's no debris of any kind in the barrel. Even a small amount of snow, mud excess lubricant or grease in the bore can dangerously increase pressure and cause the barrel to bulge or burst on firing.
Never alter or modify your firearm in any way. Your firearm has been designed to operate according to certain factory specifications. You will jeopardize your own safety or that of others by attempting to alter its trigger, safety or other mechanisms.
Not all guns are alike. They have different mechanical characteristics that dictate how you should carry and handle them. Anyone who plans to use a firearm should first become totally familiar with the type gun it is and the safe handling requirements for loading, unloading, carrying, shooting and storage.
Alcohol, drugs and guns are a deadly combination. Never consume anything that will even mildly impair your judgment or physical coordination when you're using a firearm.