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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF FIREARM SAFETY

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The Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety should be etched into your memory before you begin to handle firearms. These rules are intended to be followed by all persons handling firearms in the field, on the range, or at home. Please read, review and understand these rules before you begin to use your firearm.

Commandment #1 - Always Keep the Muzzle Pointed in a Safe Direction
This is the most basic and most important safety rule. A safe direction is one in which an accidental discharge will not cause injury to yourself, to others or property damage. This is particularly important when loading or unloading your firearm. Never point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. Treat every gun as if it were loaded at all times.
Commandment #2 - Firearms Should Be Unloaded When Not Actually in Use
Firearms should only be loaded when you are in the field or on the target range or shooting area, ready to shoot. When not in use, firearms and ammunition should be secured in a safe place, separate from each other. Remember to unload your firearm completely, so that there is no ammunition in the chamber or magazine. Before handling this or any firearm, or handing it to someone else, visually check the chamber and magazine to ensure they do not contain ammunition. Always keep the gun’s action open when not in use. Never assume a gun is unloaded - even if you were the last person to use it. Never cross a fence, climb a tree, wade through a stream, or perform any awkward movement with a loaded gun. When in doubt, unload your gun! Never pull or push a loaded firearm toward yourself or another person. And never carry a loaded gun in a scabbard, a holster not being worn, or a gun case.
Commandment #3 - Don’t Completely Rely on Your Gun’s Safety
Treat every gun as though it could fire at any time, even if you are not applying pressure to the trigger. The “safety” on a firearm is a mechanical device which, like any such device, can become inoperable at the worst possible time and fail to function. By mistake, you may think the safety is “ON” when it actually is not. Or you may think your gun is unloaded when there is actually a round of ammunition in it. The safety serves as a supplement to proper gun handling but cannot serve as a substitute for common sense. Never handle a gun carelessly and assume that the gun won’t fire, just because “the safety is on.” Never touch the firearm’s trigger until you are ready to shoot. Keep your fingers away from the trigger when loading or unloading. Never pull the trigger when the safety is engaged or when the safety is positioned between the “SAFE” and “FIRE” positions. Never place your finger on the trigger unless you intend to fire.
Commandment #4 - Be Sure of Your Target - And What Is Beyond It!
Once fired, a bullet (or shot charge) can never be called back, so before you shoot know where the bullet is going and what it will strike. Be certain your shot will not injure someone or strike something beyond the target. Never fire in the direction of noise, a movement, or at any object you cannot positively identify. Be aware that a .22 Short bullet can travel over 1-1/4 miles. A centerfire cartridge, such as the .30-06, can send its bullet over 3-miles. Shotgun pellets can travel 500-yards and a shotgun slug has a range of over a half-mile. Make sure your shot has a safe backstop such as a hillside. Keep in mind how far the bullet will travel if it misses your intended target. Once fired, a bullet can never be called back. You are responsible for your actions and judgment.
Commandment #5 - Use the Correct Ammunition
Every firearm is designed to use a certain caliber or gauge of ammunition. It is important that you use the correct ammunition for your firearm. Information on the correct ammunition to use with your firearm appears in the firearm’s instruction manual and the manufacturer’s markings on the firearm itself. Use of the wrong ammunition, improperly reloaded ammunition, or corroded ammunition can result in the destruction of the firearm, serious personal injury and/or death. Form the habit of examining every round of ammunition before you put it into your gun to ensure it is of the proper gauge or caliber and that it is in good condition.
Commandment #6 - If Your Gun Fails to Fire When the Trigger Is Pulled, Handle With Care
If a cartridge or shell does not fire when the trigger is pulled, follow Commandment #1 and keep the firearm’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Keeping the muzzle pointed away from your face and anything you do not intend to shoot, wait at least 30-seconds (to ensure that the ammunition is not delayed in firing) before carefully opening the action, unloading the firearm and disposing of the ammunition safely.
Commandment #7 - Always Wear Eye & Ear Protection When Shooting
Exposure to shooting noise can permanently damage hearing and flying debris, such as powder residue and ejected cartridge cases can injure your eyes. Thus, it is only common sense to wear both eye protection (such as shooting glasses) and ear protection (such as a sound muffling headset) whenever shooting. Also, wear eye protection when cleaning or disassembling your gun to ensure that cleaning solvent and tensioned parts (such as springs), do not come into contact with your eyes.
Commandment #8 - Be Sure the Barrel Is Clear of Obstructions Before Shooting
Discharging a firearm with an obstruction in the barrel can result in personal injury, property damage or death. Before you load your firearm, check the chamber and magazine to ascertain that no ammunition is inside. Also, check the inside of the barrel (called the “bore”) to ensure it is free of obstructions. Even a small amount of mud, snow or excess lubricating oil or grease in the bore can cause excessive pressures resulting in a bulged or burst barrel which can injure or kill the shooter and bystanders. It’s a good idea to make a habit of cleaning the bore and checking for obstructions with a cleaning rod just before each shooting session. If the noise or recoil experienced upon firing seems low or weak, or something doesn’t feel “right”, cease firing immediately and check to make sure that there is no obstruction in the barrel. Placing an undersized shell or cartridge into a gun (such as a 20-gauge shell in a shotgun chambered for 12-gauge ammunition) can result in the smaller round of ammunition falling into the barrel and acting as an obstruction. When a round is subsequently fired, the barrel may burst causing injury to the shooter and bystanders. For reference, re-read Commandment #5.
Commandment #9 - Do Not Alter or Modify Your Gun and Have It Serviced Regularly
Firearms are complex mechanisms that are designed to function properly in their original condition. Any alterations or changes made to a firearm after its manufacture can make the gun unsafe and will void its warranty. Do not jeopardize your safety or the safety of others by altering the trigger, mechanical safety or other mechanisms of your firearm. You should have your firearm periodically checked for proper functioning and serviced by a qualified gunsmith.
Commandment #10 - Learn the Mechanical and Handling Characteristics of Your Firearm
Not all firearms operate the same way. The method of carrying, handling and operating firearms varies with the mechanical characteristics of each gun. Thus, you should never handle any firearm until you become familiar with the safe handling, loading, unloading and carrying procedures for that particular firearm, as well as the rules for safe gun handling in general.

Source: Century GP1975 Rifle Manual © Century International Arms, Inc.
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