Rule 1: Treat every firearm as loaded
Rule 2: Always point firearms in a safe direction
Rule 3: Load a firearm only when ready to fire
Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt
Rule 5: Check your firing zone
Rule 6: Store firearms and ammunition safely
Rule 7: Avoid alcohol and drugs when handling firearms
The law defines a firearm as anything from which any shot, bullet, missile or other projectile can be discharged by force of explosive.
It includes anything that can be adapted so that it can discharge any shot, bullet, missile or other projectile by force of explosive.
It also includes anything that for the time being is not capable of discharging any shot, bullet, missile or other projectile by force of explosive, but which by it’s completion or repair would be capable of doing so.
1. Treat every firearm as loaded
2. Always point firearms in a safe direction
3. Load a firearm only when ready to fire
4. Identify your target beyond all doubt
5. Check your firing zone
6. Store firearms and ammunition safely
7. Avoid alcohol or drugs when handling firearms
As long as a firearm is in good condition and handled and stored properly, it cannot hurt anyone. You are responsible for making sure your firearm is in good condition and handled safely.
Loaded or unloaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
Be aware that firearms can go off unintentionally when:
Only load a firearm when you intend to use it, and only in an area where it can be safely and legally discharged. Remember to unload it when you have used it.
Only load your ammunition into the magazine when you have reached your shooting area. (The firearm is then carried with the bolt or action closed on an empty chamber. The cartridges are readily available from the magazine and it only takes a second to open the action and feed a round into the chamber.)
Because it is not practical to apply this rule to semiautomatic shotguns and rifles, it is recommended that when you have seen, or expect to flush game at any moment, you load the firearm and place the previously tested safety catch on ‘safe’. If you release the safety catch but decide not to shoot, re-apply the safety catch. Whenever a round is in the chamber you must be absolutely sure that the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction. Test the safety catch before loading any ammunition into the chamber. If you have any doubt about the safety catch don’t trust it. Have it checked by a gunsmith.
Note: No matter what type of firearm you use, you should be cautious when using the safety catch. In most cases they lock the trigger or the bolt but, like all mechanical things, they are subject to wear and tear and may not work properly. The safety catch is only one of several safety precautions you should use when handling firearms.
Identify all of the animal.
When a hunter is tired, or excited about sighting game animals, emotions may override rational thinking (buck or stag fever). Perception can play tricks and you may ‘see’ what you expect to see. Objects – often people – look like game animals.
There could be other hunters nearby. They may make noises imitating the calls of game. Even the definite sighting of skin and antlers is not positive enough – hunters have been shot while carrying a deer. BEFORE you shoot! Ask yourself: “Is this a person?” This will focus your mind toward expecting to see a person, rather than assuming it is an animal.
Keep your finger away from the trigger until you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN it is safe to fire. Bright coloured clothing and gear can help you to be seen, especially in dim or fading light such as that in the early morning, late evening or under the cover of bush. However, no one colour will be easily seen at all times of the day and in all surroundings. Wear a colour that stands out from the background you are shooting in, and is different from any game animals in that area. While this may minimise your risk of being shot, it will only do so if other hunters properly identify their targets.
Hunters should use binocular vision, rather than rifle telescopic sights only, to identify their target. If using binoculars or telescopic sights, beware of the ‘tunnel vision’ which limits your view to each side. Sweep the telescope or binoculars from side to side to ensure no person is close to your field of fire.
Remember – it is ALWAYS the responsibility of the shooter to clearly identify the target. This is regardless of whatever strategies other hunters may or may not use to be seen.
Be aware of what could be hit in the area between you and your target, and in the area beyond your target.
Extreme range for projectiles may be as much as:
|.22 rimfire||1.5 kilometres|
|.308 calibre||4.5 kilometres|
|Airgun||up to 400 metres|
|Shotgun||from 250 metres to 750 metres (Depending on the type of cartridge.)|
Sights need to be set correctly to prevent rounds falling short or going far beyond the target.
Your firing zone changes rapidly when you follow a moving target with a firearm. As you swing the muzzle around in an arc be aware of the position of other hunters.
Make sure they are not caught in the path between your firearm and the target, or beyond the target. This applies particularly when shooting with shotguns. Duck shooters sharing a maimai can drive vertical poles into the ground to prevent an ‘over- swing’ endangering a companion.
You are required by law to have a safe and secure place to store your firearms. All firearms and ammunition should be stored separately, out of the reach of children, out of view and in a secure room, rack or cabinet approved by your Arms Officer.
A complete firearm is dangerous in the wrong hands, so lock away your unloaded firearm and ammunition separately. Do this immediately when you return to camp or home from shooting. Securing firearms out of sight will help prevent removal by thieves.
The Arms Regulations require these minimum standards when storing your firearm:
Anyone owning pistols, restricted weapons or militarystyle semi-automatic firearms (MSSA) is required to have security of a higher standard than that required for sporting firearms (‘A’ category) owners. Contact your local Arms Officer for specifications.
All family members, especially children, need to know what a firearm is, what it is designed for, and why it must not be touched. Letting children handle firearms when you are supervising them may help to satisfy their natural curiosity but it is essential that children realise that firearms are not playthings and must be treated with respect. Children should be taught not to touch a firearm without an adult present, and if they find a firearm to seek the assistance of an adult.
When handling a firearm you must be able to think clearly. Alcohol and some drugs (even if prescribed) dull and slow your mental and physical reactions. Alcohol and Firearms do not mix! Ever!