When You First Pick Up a Rifle
When you pick up a rifle or take a rifle from another person, always grasp the rifle with your fingers outside of the trigger guard! Do not place your index finger on the trigger when you pick up or take a rifle from someone. Later, we will explain that the only appropriate time to place your index finger inside the trigger guard and on the trigger is when you are starting to aim at an actual target. While holding the rifle with your fingers outside of the trigger guard, you can apply the three safe gun handling rules that are paramount to assuring that you will never fire an unintentional shot.
Protect Your Eyes & Ears
Everyone on a range where firearms of any type are used is urged to wear eyeglasses or shooting glasses to protect their eyes and ear plugs or ear muffs to protect their hearing. Your vision and hearing are priceless and irreplaceable so protect them. At the range, it is common courtesy not to begin firing until everyone nearby has been given an opportunity to put on their eye and hearing protection.
The Goal: No Gun Accidents
In addition to learning to follow safe gun handling rules, range commands and established range and safety procedures, there are two additional safety concepts that must become part of your constant efforts to be safe with guns:
- Everyone is a Safety Officer. In an emergency when a safety hazard occurs or when someone in your presence does something unsafe with a gun, you can and must become an “Emergency Safety Officer.” If you see someone close the action on a gun or fail to open the action of a gun while handling it, it is necessary for you to step in and make sure the action is opened.
- Self-Discipline and Focus. Gun safety is not a matter of learning safety rules and then assuming you will always be safe with guns. Gun safety requires that you consciously practice safe muzzle control, check for open actions and keep your fingers outside of the trigger guard every time you handle a gun. That requires self-discipline and focus. You must discipline yourself to always pay attention to safety—for yourself and for those around you.
Everyone who completes marksmanship and safety training learns how to be safe while handling any type of rifle or firearm. By learning and following the rules of safe gun handling and by practicing those rules during target rifle practice, you will not only assure safety during your rifle marksmanship training and competitions, but you will ensure that any encounter you have with a firearm is safe and enjoyable.