Firearms offer a lot of practicality and enjoyment, but before you become a marksman, gun hobbyist, or hunter, you need a firm grasp of how to handle them safely. The point of gun safety isn’t learning to fear them. It is just about learning to respect them and handle them properly.
Never aim at something you aren’t willing to destroy. This rule is one of the most crucial ones to keep in mind. Anywhere you are shooting, whether it be a range or a spot in the woods, should have a real or virtual 180 degree “danger zone”. In other words, a line where anything behind is safe and anywhere in front is in danger. Always keep the muzzle pointed down range. Accidental discharges shouldn’t happen, but you still have to be as diligent as possible.
In line with muzzle control, you always want to keep your finger off the trigger until the moment you are ready to fire. Even if you think the gun is unloaded or pointed in a safe direction, you need to keep your trigger finger resting outside of the trigger well. Trigger discipline will eventually come as second nature, but when someone is new to shooting, it should be drilled into them. Be wary of the false security that can come from the safety feature of many firearms. While having the safety engaged should serve as a layer of protection, it could be mistaken for being on, and not all guns have safeties anyway. Relying on a safety can be quite dangerous even if it seems counter intuitive. No matter the gun, the trigger finger should never be resting on the trigger or hovering over it when not ready to fire.
You always need to be aware of what is going on around you. Make sure you know what is in front of you. If you’re at a shooting range, then make sure everyone is behind the firing line. If you are in the woods, make sure you know that there are no people or buildings within shooting distance. You also need to stay aware of what people around you are doing. If there are children around, they should be heavily supervised, and everything they do should be watched. You also need to keep an eye on new shooters, regardless of their age. New shooters don’t have the rules of gun safety innately memorized. This can lead to some doing foolish things without realizing they are doing it. Simply make sure they are learning and being safe. There’s also the possibility that someone, new or not, will be acting unsafely. Being aware of your surroundings can go a long way to keeping yourself and others safe from any harm.
There isn’t a ton of gear involved with shooting when it comes to personal protective equipment, but the few pieces are crucial. The biggest is hearing protection. Guns are incredibly loud. In the short term, shooting a gun without appropriate hearing protection can cause ringing and momentary deafness. The real worry is long-term damage. It is easier than one might think to cause permanent hearing loss. Along with hearing loss, you can also end up with tinnitus. Tinnitus is a chronic condition where the ears are partially damaged, and people constantly hear a dull ringing sound. It can be a frustrating thing to end up with, but it is easily preventable by wearing hearing protectors. There are some different types of protection used. Some use general earmuffs. Some use noise canceling ear protectors. Some will simply use ear buds. This will come down to personal preference.
Protective eye wear is an often overlooked aspect of firearms safety. They are useful for deflecting spent casings and various debris from reaching your eyes. They can also be useful when disassembling firearms, as accidents do occur and you never want to be caught off guard when some spring comes flying at your eyes.
The first thing you need to be adept at when it comes to storing and cleaning firearms is checking to see that they are unloaded. Just simply take the magazine out to check it, and then pull pack the slide, bolt, pump, or charging handle to check the bore itself. You should always do this when you are leaving the range, when someone is handing you a gun, or when you are placing it into storage at home. You should make sure that you are storing your firearms somewhere secure. A gun safe with a luxurious interior is the best place to store firearms, but make sure it is somewhere out of sight that someone will not just stumble upon. This part is especially important if you have young children in the house. If you treat firearms with respect and do everything correctly to keep yourself and people you’re around safe, everything should go smoothly.