Vital things to remember when handling firearms
Guns have always been a vital part of every country’s history starting from the time where our ancestors have fought for independence up till now where they are being used to fight crimes. But as time passes, there seems to be a decline in gun literacy which leads to increased gun violence and fear.
Even if firearms can be a fun outdoor activity, they can still be dangerous especially for those who are only starting to handle such weapons. To increase gun safety awareness, here are the vital rules you should follow:
Always be sure the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction
Keeping the muzzle in a safe direction is the most vital thing every shooter should remember. Doing so will prevent any accidental discharge that may harm anyone, even yourself. When choosing a safe direction, keep in mind to avoid pointing the gun at humans, animals or inanimate objects that can be harmful once shot.
Always make sure that when you carry a gun, you have full control of the muzzle especially when walking or travelling so you won’t hurt anyone in case you trip or stumble. Even if the gun is not loaded, you should always assume that it is loaded so you can prevent pointing it at people.
Avoid touching the trigger
When you are not in the shooting range, always keep your finger off the gun’s trigger to prevent you from accidentally pulling it. If you are using a pistol, there is an area above the trigger point where you can rest your finger. But if you are using a rifle or any other type of gun, you should remove your whole hand from the trigger when the gun is not in use.
Even if guns have safety integrated into the trigger, it should not be a valid reason for you to solely rely on them. Keep in mind that guns are made by humans so there is always a possibility of human error which means the guns’ safeties can still fail. Also, some pistols don’t have any manual safeties at all so it is vital that you follow safety measures when handling such guns.
When you are on the line to shoot, make sure not to put your finger on the gun’s trigger unless you have already locked your point on the target. This habit may be difficult to always follow since it may feel natural to always have your finger on the trigger but learning this safety measure will reduce the risk of an accident.
Be aware of your position in the range
Now that you can fire your gun, make sure you can see your target clearly as well as the things or area behind it in case the bullet can go through and out of the other side.
Remember that bullets may still strike an unintended target when they bounce, ricochet or change direction. This is why you should make sure you do not stand behind anyone when you are shooting with other people around. Ensure that you are shooting side by side if you are in a shooting range to prevent any accidents.
Unload the gun before handing it to someone else
If you are going to hand your gun to someone else, check the magazine and chamber to make sure that the gun is unloaded. Likewise, if you have received a gun from someone else, you should check the magazine and chamber to ensure that the gun is not loaded.
Lock the bolt, slide or cylinder in an open position before handing the gun to someone else so they can easily know that the gun is unloaded. This will also ensure that when the trigger is pulled, no bullet will be fired.
Make sure to check the manual of your gun since it will mention the safest way to unload and carry the firearm. In many states, there are laws against carrying a loaded firearm without the proper permits even if you are just going to transport it to and from a repair shop or a firing range. This is why you should always unload your gun when not in use.
Use the proper ammo for the type of gun you use
Always use the proper ammo for your gun otherwise your firearm will be damaged, destroyed and worse, cause serious injury or death. Each type of gun has a specific calibre or gauge that requires a specific load of ammo. Overloading a gun with ammo or improper shells can be a danger to the gun, shooter and others around them.
When looking for ammo, the manufactured ones are the best since their loads and pressures are already tested many times using machines.
Wear eye and ear protection when firing
Even if you are only using small calibre rifles, ear protection is highly recommended. While the sound may not cause pain, it may still cause potential damage to your hearing especially if you are shooting anything larger than a .22 LR. If you shoot and you experience ringing in your ears, that means your ears are exceeding their percussive limits which can cause permanent damage.
Eye protection is also highly advisable even if you are confident that there will be no problems with your gun. Always keep in mind that small problems can still arise from your firearm when it heats up like brass and unburned powder flying through the air which can go towards your eye.
Take caution when your gun does not fire after you pull the trigger
When you pull the trigger and the gun does not fire, try firing the gun again once or twice. If nothing happens still, carefully remove the magazine and eject the ammo out of the chamber. Place the cartridge or ammo in a safe area far from any humans and other ammo. Contact the staff of the firing range when such cases happen.
Take care of your gun properly
Maintaining your gun is vital if you want to become a responsible gun owner which is why cleaning your gun after every use is a must. When cleaning, wear eye protection before you strip the gun to prevent any eye injuries caused by ‘launching’ springs or other components.
To clean a pistol, use a cloth or brush and solvent. Brush the barrel since there will likely be a lot of carbon and powder build up inside it. Once done, wipe the chamber with a clean cloth and remove any remaining solvent.
Lubricate with gun oil all the moving parts of the firearm, except for the firing pin since it might become gummed up with filth gathered by the oil. The exterior of the barrel and slide rails should be lubricated as well. But make sure not to use too much oil since it may encourage more carbon buildup in those areas.
To clean a rifle or shotgun, use a brush with solvent and clean the barrel. Rub oil on the trigger assembly, bolt and action. After that, pull the bolt back and forth so the oil will work its way in. Wipe any excess oil after doing that.
Your gun should be cleaned every 6 to 8 months so it can stay in perfect condition. If your gun is not to be fired for a long time, clean it before storing it in a dry area. Clean and re-oil the firearm again if you are going to use it after being stored for a long period.
Get your gun modified
While some people advise against modifying your gun since it has the best chance of retaining your warranty, modification can still be done properly. But you should not do it by yourself, you should leave all the adjustments to the factory or a certified gunsmith instead. Changes to your gun that are made incorrectly can result in permanent damage.
Learn how to fire safely
Before you hold a loaded gun, make sure you already know how to use it safely. Learn how to load and unload the magazine and chamber, clear any jams, use the safety if there is any and examine the field strip. If you are not familiar with certain aspects of the gun, ask someone who is an experienced shooter.
Never shoot hard surface and water
Any metallic or hard, flat objects can be dangerous to shoot and even water! This is because these objects can bounce or ricochet in other directions and might even bounce back to the shooter. In fact, guns with low-velocity bullets such as .22 LR are known to ricochet due to their lightweight.
Do not let your gun out of your sight
Always make sure you have your gun with you and never leave it unattended even if you are at home. You can’t be sure of its status or who may hold it so it is best that you unload the gun and keep it with you or in a locked area. Be sure to comply with all state and local laws about gun storage since some states do not require guns to be locked away.