We care about your safety!
The safe and responsible use of firearms is the best insurance any of us can have for our own gun rights and the rights of future generations.
Please read each of the sections in our Safety University and make sure that you cover this material carefully with your family and friends, even if they are not the actual user that is in contact with firearms.
A responsible and experienced shooter will pay meticulous attention to the safety and rules regarding firearm ownership and usage. They will also pay close attention to the proper maintenance of their weapons. The importance of good gun care is critical to safe and smooth operation of the firearm. Cleaning, lubricating and rust prevention will ensure years of top performance.
Please make sure that ammunition is never present while cleaning a firearm.
NRA Gun Safety
The fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling are:
- ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances.
- ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
When holding a gun, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun. Until you are actually ready to fire, do not touch the trigger.
- ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
Whenever you pick up a gun, immediately engage the safety device if possible, and, if the gun has a magazine, remove it before opening the action and looking into the chamber(s) which should be clear of ammunition. If you do not know how to open the action or inspect the chamber(s), leave the gun alone and get help from someone who does.
When using or storing a gun, always follow these NRA rules:
- Know your target and what is beyond.
Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target. This means observing your prospective area of fire before you shoot. Never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for mishap. Think first. Shoot second.
- Know how to use the gun safely.
Before handling a gun, learn how it operates. Know its basic parts, how to safely open and close the action and remove any ammunition from the gun or magazine. Remember, a gun’s mechanical safety device is never foolproof. Nothing can ever replace safe gun handling.
- Be sure the gun is safe to operate.
Just like other tools, guns need regular maintenance to remain operable. Regular cleaning and proper storage are a part of the gun’s general upkeep. If there is any question concerning a gun’s ability to function, a knowledgeable gunsmith should look at it.
- Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
Only BBs, pellets, cartridges or shells designed for a particular gun can be fired safely in that gun. Most guns have the ammunition type stamped on the barrel. Ammunition can be identified by information printed on the box and sometimes stamped on the cartridge. Do not shoot the gun unless you know you have the proper ammunition.
- Wear eye and ear protection as appropriate.
Guns are loud and the noise can cause hearing damage. They can also emit debris and hot gas that could cause eye injury. For these reasons, shooting glasses and hearing protectors should be worn by shooters and spectators.
- Never use alcohol or over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or while shooting.
Alcohol, as well as any other substance likely to impair normal mental or physical bodily functions, must not be used before or while handling or shooting guns.
- Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
Many factors must be considered when deciding where and how to store guns. A person’s particular situation will be a major part of the consideration. Dozens of gun storage devices, as well as locking devices that attach directly to the gun, are available. However, mechanical locking devices, like the mechanical safeties built into guns, can fail and should not be used as a substitute for safe gun handling and the observance of all gun safety rules.
- Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions.
Regular cleaning is important in order for your gun to operate correctly and safely. Taking proper care of it will also maintain its value and extend its life. Your gun should be cleaned every time that it is used.
- A gun brought out of prolonged storage should also be cleaned before shooting. Accumulated moisture and dirt, or solidified grease and oil, can prevent the gun from operating properly.
- Before cleaning your gun, make absolutely sure that it is unloaded. The gun’s action should be open during the cleaning process. Also, be sure that no ammunition is present in the cleaning area.
12 Golden Rules
Gun Safety Rules
You never fool around or play with guns. Guns are dangerous when they are not handled or used properly and can easily injure or kill you, and those around you. There are no second chances with a gun and the rules for safe gun handling must always be followed to avoid accidents.
The 12 Golden rules for Safe Gun Handling
- Always treat the gun as loaded.
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
- Always keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
- Always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
- Never point the gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
- Learn the mechanical and handling characteristics of the gun you are using.
- Always use proper Ammunition.
- Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions before loading and shooting.
- If your gun fails to fire when the trigger is pulled, hold your shooting position for several seconds; then with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, carefully unload the gun.
- Don’t rely on the gun’s safety to keep it from firing.
- Be aware of your surroundings when handling guns so you don’t trip or lose your balance and accidentally point and/or fire the gun at anyone or anything.
- Follow the 12 golden rules.
- Know and follow all the rules of the Shooting Range.
- Listen and do what the Range Master tells you to do.
- Uncase and case your gun at the shooting bench, never behind the safety line.
- Always keep the barrel pointed down range.
- Always keep the gun on safe until you intend to shoot.
- Always wear eye and ear protection when shooting.
- Never shoot at water or hard surfaces.
- Follow the 12 golden rules.
- When hunting in a group, always pick one person to act as a Safety Officer for the Day or Trip.
- Establish and share everyone’s zone of fire with each other and know where everyone is at all times.
- Always keep the gun on safe until you intend to shoot.
- Never climb over anything with a loaded gun in your hand or on your person.
- Never use a scope on a gun as Binoculars.
- If you fall or trip, control your muzzle. Afterward, check the gun for damage and/or obstructions in the barrel.
- When in Doubt; Don’t shoot.
Always remember that guns are not toys and should be treated with respect.
Gun etiquette is something that is most often not taught but everyone who is around guns should know.
- Alcohol and/or drugs should never be consumed and/or used when handling or will be handling firearms.
- The first thing you do when you pick up any gun, is check to see if it’s loaded.
- Before you pick up or accept a gun from someone, make sure you know how it works. If you don’t know or can’t remember, don’t be embarrassed to ask someone to show you. It’s the smart thing to do.
- When handing a gun to someone, remove the magazine if it has one, open the cylinder or lock open the action and look in the gun including the chamber to make sure it is not loaded. Then, with the cylinder or action still locked open, hand the unloaded gun to the person with the muzzle pointing away from them. That person will then take possession of the gun and also check it for ammunition out of respect for the gun and the person who just handed it to them. The recipient is then clear to close the cylinder or action and inspect the gun. When the gun is handed back or to the next person, the same process is followed each and every time.
- Handle the guns of others with care and respect. When dealing with other people’s guns:
- Don’t let the slide or action slam forward in Automatic Pistols. (unless loading the chamber to shoot
- Don’t let the hammer fall uncontrolled.
- Don’t fling or slam the cylinder shut on Revolvers.
- Don’t let the bolt slam forward in Semi-Automatic Rifles and Shotguns. (unless loading the chamber to shoot)
- Don’t quickly and forcefully close the bolt on bolt action Rifles, Lever action Rifles and pump action Shotguns and Rifles.
- Close break action Shotguns, Rifles, and Pistols with care.
- Always pick up your spent cases and/or shells when you’re done shooting.
- Always take down your targets when you’re done shooting.
- Always straighten up your area before you leave.
- Never eat or drink while shooting. After shooting always wash your hands and face before you eat or drink. It is also a good idea to change your clothes as soon as possible and put them in the wash to avoid spreading powder residue.
- Know and follow all hunting rules and regulation for your type of hunt and the area you are hunting in.
- When approached by a Conservation Officer, Police Officer, another Hunter or anyone else, always hold your firearm in a non threatening manner. If your rifle or shotgun has a sling, use it and sling your firearm over your shoulder. If you are caring a pistol, put it in the holster.
- Always pick up your spent cases and/or shells after you shoot.
- Never litter and please pick up the trash and other stuff left behind by inconsiderate people.
- Always leave your camp or hunting area in better condition then what you found it.
“The first thing you do when you pick up any gun, is check to see if it’s loaded.”
Safe Gun Storage
Rules for Safe Gun Storage
- Keep all guns and ammunition out of the reach of children, untrained adults, and those who would use them improperly.
- Always keep your guns locked in a Gun Safe that cannot be easily broken into or taken away. If one is not available, use a Cable Lock or Trigger Lock (one that goes behind the trigger is preferred) and store the guns out of the reach of those who should not have access to them.
- Keep the keys to gun safes and gun locks hidden and out of the reach of those who should not have access to them.
- Store your guns unloaded and with the safety on.
- Keep the guns dry, cleaned, and oiled while in storage.
- Store guns and ammunition in a dry cool place and away from heat and fire.
Always keep your guns secure in some way when you have children and/or untrained people in your home. You can buy a steel gun cabinet that will hold hand guns, several long rifles, or shotguns for around a $100 and you can buy a Cable or Trigger lock for around $20. Every gun storage situation is different, but there is a locking method for every situation.
Reloading can be a safe and enjoyable hobby as long as you obey some simple rules. Just as you follow basic gun handling rules to make the hobby safer, you must so the same with reloading.
Never mix or substitute components.
Every lot of powder, primers, bullets, brass, and any other components can differ significantly. Different manufacturer’s components differ substantially. For example, never substitute Federal brand primers for Magtech, and expect the same results. One primer may be fine with your load, but another brand may cause extreme pressures with the same load. Don’t substitute magnum primers for standard primers for the same reason. Just because two brands of powder have similar characteristics, that does not mean they are interchangeable or mixable. Every time you finish with a lot of a component, you will have to back off the load slightly and start over, checking for overpressure signs, just as you did when you first worked the load up. You are in essence working up a brand new load.
Always wear eye protection.
You hopefully wear ear & eye protection while shooting, and you should do the same while loading. You don’t need the ear protection (hopefully) while loading, but eye protection is an absolute. Besides the obvious protection against an accidentally detonated component, you are protecting against flying particles (i.e. a piece of brass that jammed and shot out from the press). This is a press, and presses can generate some large forces. You are also working with hazardous components, mostly lead. You will be less inclined to wipe your eyes with your lead stained hands if you have glasses on.
Never eat, smoke or drink while working.
Just as your hands can introduce lead into the body by rubbing your eyes, food can do the same. Nothing is worse than getting a lead shaving in your tuna sandwich. The smoking part should be obvious. You are working with flammables and explosives! If you must take a food, smoke or drink break, wash your hands thoroughly to remove any contamination and take your break away from your workbench.
Block out all distractions.
While working, block any distractions. This means TV, radio, wife/husband, kids, dog/cat, pesky neighbors, and so on. It only takes one second of lost attention to produce a dangerous load. While loading, you must give 100% of your attention to what you are doing.
Keep your workbench clean.
Keep a tidy workspace. This will make things go much smoother. You are less likely to run into problems. It is not hard to have your scale give you a false reading because it is pushed up against a stack of papers that should not be there. Immediately clean up any spills. Use a dust brush and pan instead of a vacuum because of fire/explosion hazards.
Keep all components in their original container, and stored properly.
Do not store primers, powders, or other components in anything but their original containers. You need the container for proper identification. The factory containers are designed for long term storage, and is the safest and best way to keep the components. Always read the warning labels, and follow the recommended storage method (usually in a cool dry place).
Keep good records.
Don’t rely on memory, or a scribbled on post-it note for your records. Keep a good notebook, and track all lot numbers, brands, depths, weights, or any other data you would need to look at to go back and trace a problem, or reproduce a load.
Keep out of the reach of children and pets.
You don’t want unsupervised children, or irresponsible adults near your equipment or components. It is easy for them to, at best, change your settings or spill something, or at worst, start a fire or mix your components up causing you to make a dangerous load. Don’t rule out teenagers. Many young adults have a fascination with fire, and would just love to get a hold of a pound of gunpowder.
If you are in doubt of something, don’t guess. Stop and get help. Call the manufacturer for assistance. Most good component producers have a technical staff that is eager to help. They don’t want anyone to get hurt with their product.
Establish a good routine, and follow it exactly.
You will hopefully develop a method where you will have your own little production line. Once you find a good routine, stick with it. You will less likely have errors if you follow it.
Always check for overpressure signs while shooting your loads.
If a load seems strange, stop shooting it. Look for primer flattening or flow back. Also, case bulging, or difficulty with extraction. These are good indicators that your loads are too hot. Stop shooting them immediately and step your loads down. If recoil is severe (more so than with similar factory loads), then stop shooting them. A chronograph is a nice way to keep track of velocity. If the shots are significantly faster than what you were working for, you may have overpressure loads.
You can have low pressure loads too. If you get a mild pop instead of the usual BANG, then stop shooting them, and check your barrel for a stuck bullet. Never try to shoot out a bullet. It will ruin your barrel or gun, and possibly cause severe injury to the shooter or bystanders! This does not always happen from a load with no powder.
Following these basic rules will help you load safely, and get the most from your hobby. By no means is this a complete list. Read loading manuals, and keep an eye out for any others cautions. Above all, use common sense and good judgment.
REMEMBER, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFE OPERATION AND STORAGE OF YOUR FIREARMS!