Whether you’re new to shooting or have years of experience, doing it safely is what’s most important. Not only for your safety but for those around you as well. There are several basic safety tips that will make your shooting experience safe and fun.
Treat Every Gun As If It Were Loaded
Whenever you handle any firearm, even a gun that you know is empty, it’s important to handle it as if it were loaded. By doing this, you build muscle memory and good habits. This means that you keep your finger off of the trigger and always point the barrel in a safe direction. This goes doubly when you pick up a gun or you’re handed a gun and you’re unsure if it’s loaded or not. In this case, you should always clear the weapon first. For a semi-automatic pistol that means to eject the magazine and lock the slide to the rear. With a revolver, you simply open the cylinder to check for rounds.
Keep Your Finger Off Of The Trigger Until You Are Ready To Fire
Trigger discipline is one of the hardest things for beginners to master, but also one of the most important. When you have your pistol in your hand, your trigger finger should remain indexed until you are sighted in on your target and ready to fire. Indexed means that the trigger finger is extended along the frame of the pistol, directly below the slide and not inside the trigger well resting on the trigger. After you have fired, unless you are scanning for your next target, the trigger finger should move back to the indexed position.
Never Point Your Weapon At Anything You Don’t Intend To Shoot
The best way to get on the naughty list of a Safety Officer is by playing games with your gun. Posing for pictures, pointing it at people, or flagging other shooters will result in automatic removal from most ranges. Flagging is the act of pointing your barrel at someone, even momentarily. Imagine you have a laser sight on your weapon. If the red laser ever touches someone, you have flagged them.
Know Your Target And What Is Beyond
This rule is less for target shooting and more in case you are ever in a real-life defensive scenario. If you ever need to use your gun in self-defense or defense of others, you must be 100% sure of your target before you pull the trigger. There is no way to stop that bullet once it leaves your barrel. You must also (in a fraction of a second) assess what is around and behind your target. That’s because there is a chance your round could miss or go through its intended target.
These four rules are the foundation of safe shooting. Practice them each and every time you handle a firearm. As you become more familiar with firearms, these practices will become more and more routine until they become second nature. It’s important to understand that confidence comes with experience. When you’re a beginner, you must make a conscious effort to practice safety each time you go out shooting. But as your confidence grows, so will your safe handling result in good lifelong habits.
*DISCLAIMER: As a rule, we always encourage and recommend taking a firearm safety course before attempting to purchase, carry, use, or shoot any firearm. Handling a firearm without proper knowledge from an expert instructor is extremely dangerous and not recommended.