The Third Quarter 2009 LOCKED AND LOADED …

Words From RSA President
Rich Shepler

I was helping a grandson who is starting shooting (and will
soon start hunting) with making a list of gun safety rules
when he asked, “Do these rule apply to your old antique
guns that you don’t shoot?
” My quick response was “Yes,
they apply to every kind of gun, and you know that means
your BB and pellet gun too.
” That made me think, and I had to
admit to myself that I have not always been as careful as I
ought to be when handling or looking at older antique guns.

It is always good for everyone to review their checklists
now and then. If there is an accident and a person has broken
any safety rules, in addition to
potential tragedy, there can be civil
and/or criminal consequences. I
would not want a pilot to take off
on a commercial flight without
physically going through his hard
copy pre-flight checklist, even
though I certainly hope he has it
committed to memory.

So in that spirit, and perhaps to
give you a head start on your own
safety lists to use with children,
grandchildren and other new
shooters, I will share with you the
list I made up to use with my
grandson. In most instances you
will need to add some additional explanation or reasoning when
explaining them to the people you are teaching so they understand
the reasons for the safety rules.

General Gun Safety (applies to every kind of gun, including air

  • If you see a gun, do not touch it. Tell your parents,grandparents, teacher or other adult.
  • The primary safety mechanism of any gun is theperson holding it. Mechanical safeties can and do fail sometimes. Always treat every gun as though it were loaded even if you believe it is not.
  • Never chamber a round unless and until you are ready to shoot.
  • Know or learn how a gun works and how to verify it is unloaded before you pick up or accept any gun.
  • Check to be certain a gun is not loaded every time you give one to someone else. Check yourself every time you receive a gun, even if the other person has just checked it.
  • Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to
  • Do not release a mechanical safety until you are ready to shoot.
  • Keep your finger out of the guard and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  • Never function test any gun with a live round, even if it is an antique gun and antique ammo.
  • Never consume alcohol before or during use of a gun. Wait until the guns are put away safely. Consult first
    with your physician or a pharmacist if you are taking legal prescription or over-the-counter drugs with whose effects you are not familiar. Taking illegal drugs stupid whether or not guns are involved.
  • Unload any gun which will be even briefly out of your control.
  • Never store a loaded gun or one with ammunition in its magazine or inserted clip. It is best to store ammunition away from guns.
  • Store all guns safely where they are not accessible to children or unauthorized adults.
  • If you see others handling guns in any unsafe manner, leave the area.Range and Hunting Safety Rules apply in addition to the general rules above.
  • These are in addition to all the general safety rules listed above and, as with them, apply to muzzleloader
    and percussion, metallic cartridge and shotshell, and air guns.
  • Never shoot unless your target is fully identified an visible.
  • Never shoot unless you understand the backdrop behind your target and know it is safe to shoot in that
  • When hunting with others, always know where they are and never shoot in that direction whether or not
    you can see them.
  • Never let the muzzle of your gun pass over another hunter, not even if you think it is above their head.
    Never allow your gun to point at you.
  • Unload your gun before crossing a fence or other awkward obstacle.
  • Keep loaded guns out of vehicles and don’t lean them against trees or leave them out of your control.
  • Never crawl into a stand with your gun. Unload it and use a rope to raise it up after you are safely in the stand.
  • When hunting in a stand or blind with others, be doubly cautious and safe. It is easy in those Page 59 3rd Quarter 2009 situations for a gun to be accidently pointed where it should not be.
  • Never use a scope mounted on a gun as a spotting scope.
  • Do not shoot a rifle or handgun into the air. Do not shoot at targets on water.
  • Understand how far bullets and shotgun pellets can travel and act accordingly.

    I have probably overlooked some good safety rules and
    you can likely add to these lists, especially in consideration of
    specific situations or places where shooting will take place. For
    hunting, there would be a companion list of hunting ethics you
    would want to instill and which I have not included here.

    Perhaps the most effective gun safety thing we can do is to
    teach gun safety to our children, grandchildren and others who
    might have contact with guns. If possible, take kids to where
    they can shoot safely and let them do it under your supervision.
    Perhaps the biggest reason kids mess with guns is
    curiosity. Take away the curiosity and you remove the most
    common risk.

    Be safe out there and best regards,

    Rich Shepler

    RSA President

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