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Whether you’re a seasoned shooter or new to firearms, safety should always be your top priority. Guns, when handled irresponsibly, can lead to tragic accidents. This is why it is essential to follow rigid safety guidelines. In this post, we will discuss the four rules of gun safety that are considered universal, as well as some additional guidelines to help you stay safe in and out of the range.

The Top Four Rules of Gun Safety:

Treat Every Firearm as if it’s Loaded

Even if you are certain the gun is unloaded, this simple rule will help you instinctively follow the other rules of gun safety. Treating a deadly weapon as such means you will be all the more aware of your surroundings and the potential for harm. Always assume your gun is loaded and handle it accordingly.  

Keep the Firearm’s Muzzle in a Safe Direction

If we are assuming that a gun is always loaded, then it is common sense that you should point the gun away from yourself and others. Your firearm’s muzzle should always be pointed in a direction where an accidental discharge will not cause harm. Bottom line: when you raise your weapon, it should never be at anything you do not intentionally wish to destroy. 

Keep Your Finger off the Trigger Until You’re Ready to Shoot

Rule three of the four rules of gun safety: keep your trigger finger along the side of the gun, away from the trigger guard, until you’ve made the conscious decision to fire. This is what is known as “trigger discipline,” and it is just as important in self defense as recreationally. Along with rules one and two, this will ensure you hit only your intended target. 

Know Your Target and What Lies Beyond It

The last of the top four rules of gun safety may seem obvious; but it is not always the case that shooters are fully aware of what their target is or what may be behind it. You need to be aware that bullets can penetrate through targets or potentially ricochet. Anything behind or around your target should also be something you are willing to destroy. 

Additional Rules for Safe Shooting

We’ve discussed the top four rules of gun safety, but this is hardly an exhaustive list. We’ve compiled some additional guidelines for operating your weapon safely:

Wear Appropriate Safety Gear

Always use proper eye and ear protection when shooting. A public or private range should require you to wear protective gear, but you should also take the same precautions outside of the range. Even small caliber weapons can reach 140 decibels, which is enough to cause permanent hearing damage. Likewise, flying debris can cause serious eye damage or even blindness if you are not wearing shooting glasses.  

Clear Your Gun Before and After You Use It

You should always clear a semi-automatic weapon before you shoot it and when you are ready to put it away. Release the magazine of your gun or rifle and inspect it to make sure it is empty. 

Check For Obstructions in the Barrel

Before you shoot your weapon, be sure there is nothing blocking the barrel. If using a pistol, for example, strip it so you can remove the barrel and inspect it. If you are shooting an AR rifle, remove the upper receiver from the lower receiver, then remove the bolt carrier group and charging handle.

If you are unsure how to inspect the barrel of your particular weapon safely, seek guidance from a professional or refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations. No matter what, never look down the barrel directly. After all, if you are abiding by #2 of the four rules of gun safety, this extends to not pointing the gun at yourself while looking for a barrel obstruction. 

Keep Your Firearm Clean and Well-Maintained

 Regularly inspect and clean your firearm to ensure it functions correctly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance.

Store Your Firearms Securely

Store guns in a locked gun safe or secure cabinet, away from unauthorized access.

Use gun locks or trigger locks when not in use.

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

This should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: never handle a firearm under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Heavy drinking has been associated with a significant risk for self-inflicted gun injuries. The same is true of any substance that impairs your judgment and reaction time. 

Follow Local Laws and Regulations

Familiarize yourself with your state and local firearm laws and regulations. Comply with all legal requirements regarding the possession, transport, and use of firearms.

Communicate with Others

When shooting with others, establish clear communication and safety protocols. Ensure everyone on the range or in your group is aware of and follows safety rules. Report unsafe behavior or if you suspect a fellow shooter may be intoxicated.

Gun Safety Training in Nebraska

One of the most important things you can do as a gun owner is educate yourself about firearm safety. Inner10 offers a variety of courses for both new and seasoned shooters. We also provide introductory courses to our younger visitors, in the form of a Youth Camp and a Youth Firearms Safety Primer. Our professional instructors will guide you through every aspect of gun safety to ensure you have fun and stay safe. Check out our full line up of courses and sign up today. 

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