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Hunting season is (almost) open. Are you SAFE?
The autumn leaves have begun to fall from the trees. The days are shorter and the air is a bit cooler. This is one of my favorite times of the year. With the advent of fall comes traditions we all enjoy – raking leaves into piles and carving faces into pumpkins. Fall is also a time for another favorite tradition: the fall hunting season.
I learned to love the great outdoors and to hunt as a small boy. Hunting is one of my favorite past times, from small game like squirrel and pheasant to larger prey like white tail deer, the onset of the hunting season takes me back to some of my most treasured memories.
Fall is the perfect time to review the principles of gun safety and responsible gun ownership, the standards that will keep you SAFE. SAFE is the acronym used by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to remind everyone to practice gun safety. For someone like me who loves to hunt and relishes in the chance to sit in the beauty and peace of nature, these are lessons that can never be heard enough.
Now as a father, I have the opportunity to share that love of the outdoors and passion for the sport with my own son. I want to be sure to pass down the lessons I learned as a boy to my own son, lessons that go hand in hand with being a hunter and a gun owner.
Safety -The Basics
The basics of gun safety begin with the handling of firearms in general. One of the first things I was taught was to treat every gun as if it was loaded. That means you never point a gun at anyone, period. Here are a few more basic gun safety rules:
- Make sure every firearm is unloaded when it is stored.
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, whether it is on storage or while it is being transported.
- Know how to properly use and handle your firearm. Go over safety instructions for each gun you own and know where the safety is located.
- Use only the ammunition that is meant for your firearm. Store ammunition in a separate location away from the gun.
- In addition to unloading all firearms before putting them away in storage, store firearms in a locked cabinet or gun safe. Make sure that children have no chance to access your firearms.
- Trigger locks add an extra layer of gun safety, but should never replace storing your guns under lock and key.
Of course there are additional safety tips specifically for hunting season. Learning the right way to handle a firearm in the field is the first step to staying safe during hunting season. Along with the basics listed above, the following guidelines should be observed every time you head out for the hunt:
- Always transport your firearms unloaded. At the end of the day, every gun should be unloaded and properly cleaned before it is safely stored away.
- Whether you are big game hunting or target shooting, wear the proper safety equipment. This includes eye protection and ear protection as well wearing the traditional hunter orange so that other hunters can clearly see you.
- Do not place your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire the gun. Position your fingers on the side of the gun to properly hold it.
- Know what you are shooting towards. Always know what is beyond the intended target.
Most gun accidents, both at home and on the range, can be prevented with constant observance of the rules of gun safety. The rules of firearm safety and responsible gun ownership are some of the most important traditions we can share with our children. For a quick reminder of the principles of gun safety; just remember to be SAFE. SAFE stands for: Secure your firearms when they are not in use, be Aware of who has access to your guns; Focus on your responsibility as a gun owner; and Educate yourself and other about the rules of gun use and storage.