Safe Handling of Firearms Outdoors

  • Always remember that people or livestock you cannot see may be close enough to be injured. Be aware of the dangerous range of your firearm and ammunition.
  • Control the muzzle direction at all times. Keep the safety ON until you are ready to use the firearm.
  • Under all circumstances, protect the trigger and safety while carrying your firearm. A twig or branch may catch the trigger, put the safety off, or swing the muzzle around.
  • When carrying a firearm, remember that you can slip and fall causing a discharge. Plan how to protect the firearm and control its direction if you fall, and if possible, unload it before crossing uneven ground or ice.
  • Always be sure of your target and beyond. Don’t shoot at game near the top of a hill. People or livestock may be in the line of fire over the hill. Never shoot near a building without permission. Someone may be using it as a shelter.
  • Water, rocks or flat surfaces may cause the bullet to break up or ricochet. Use caution.
  • When you cross a fence or other obstacle, unload your firearm and leave the action open. The same goes for areas that are slippery, rocky or uneven.
  • When crossing a fence alone, unload the firearm and place the firearm under the fence. Make sure the firearm is flat on the ground with the action open and the muzzle pointed away from where you are crossing.
  • If you are in a group, one person should stand away from the crossing point. This person should hold the unloaded and open firearms while the others cross the obstacle.
  • When hunting alone from a pit or blind, unload your firearm and place it outside before entering. Then enter and bring the unloaded firearm into the pit or blind after you.
  • Remember to check your firearm for dirt if you lay it on the ground. This is especially important for the muzzle.

Use binoculars if you need to see something more clearly. Never use a scope mounted on a firearm as a substitute for binoculars to identify persons, animals or objects.