Following are a few simple, common-sense rules that will help ensure a safe, enjoyable shooting sports outing.
Many shooting sports (skeet, trapshooting, sporting clays, rifle, handgun) have safety rules in common; these follow directly below. Sport-specific safety rules are in the next sections. (Archery safety rules can be found on soon-to-be-published Archery Safety page.)
In-common Safety Rules:
- Always keep the shotgun (rifle, handgun) pointed in a safe direction.
- Never assume that a gun is unloaded. Always check the chamber(s) and magazine(s) for live cartridges when picking up any gun.
- Always carry shotguns (rifles) with the actions open, unloaded, and pointing in a safe direction. Carry handguns holstered.
- Load only when on the shooting station (on the post for trapshooters) and leave the station (post) with the action open.
- Eye and ear protection must be worn at all times while on the range.
- If there is a delay while shooting that requires trap/range personnel to be in the trap house/field, immediately unload your gun and exit the station or post until personnel are off the field/range.
- Keep fingers outside of the trigger guard until ready to call for the target (or ready to shoot).
- If a misfire occurs, keep the muzzles pointed downrange for 30 seconds before opening the action.
- Carry one gauge (caliber) of ammunition at a time. Loading incorrect ammunition (e.g., a 20ga shell in a 12ga shotgun, or a 40 caliber cartridge in a .45) can result in a serious explosion or jam.
Adapted from and used by permission of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.Additional Sport-specific Safety Rules
- Never load more than 2 shells at a time. Load just 1 shell if shooting your last singles target on a station.
- Never walk in front of the low house window! Targets may be released unexpectedly and may hit you.
- Never load more than 1 shell at a time in singles shooting or 2 for doubles.
- Change posts with the gun unloaded (pointed in a safe direction) and action open.
- When moving from post 5 to post 1, walk behind the shooting line.
- Never shoot mixed handicap squads more than 2 feet apart. (For example, if shooting handicap on the 23 yard line, other shooters should be no farther than the 25 yard line.)
- Never load more than 2 shells at a time.
Rifle and Handgun
- Never walk in front of the firing line until a cease fire has been called, and then only after the line has been made safe.