The 10 rules of firearm safety
Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
Whenever you pick up a firearm, open the action and check to see whether ammunition is present. Do not accept a firearm from another hunter unless the firearm is unloaded and the action is open.
Keep a firearm’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
It is your responsibility to always control the muzzle of your firearm and ensure it points in a safe direction. Follow this rule at ALL times, even if the firearm is unloaded or in a protective case. If you remember and obey this rule, you will not have to worry about hurting any other person or damaging property.
Be sure of your target, both in front of and beyond it.
Being a safe hunter includes making good decisions. Always identify the target and ensure it is both legal and ethical to shoot before your finger goes into the trigger guard and onto the trigger. When you hear something approaching you, take a deep breath and remain calm. Take care not to mistake another hunter for a game animal. Remember: once the trigger is pulled, you cannot call back that bullet. Always have a good backstop when shooting your firearm. Be careful of rocks and water; they can cause the bullet to ricochet, sending it in an unexpected direction. Also, never shoot toward the top of a hill.
Keep your finger off the trigger.
Safe hunters always protect the trigger. Your finger should be inside the trigger guard and on the trigger only after you have identified your target as well as what's in front of and beyond that target.
Check the barrel for obstructions.
When debris gets into a firearm’s barrel it’s referred to as an obstruction. An obstruction blocks the path of the bullet and can cause injury to you or to your firearm. If you suspect that your barrel has an obstruction, unload the firearm and clean the barrel with a cleaning jag.
Keep the action open.
When traveling by vehicle to or from your hunting spot, always keep the action open on your firearm. Also, make sure your firearm is unloaded and in a protective case. Keep the action open while walking to your stand or hunting location. Only when you are ready to start hunting should you load your firearm, engaging the mechanical safety until your target is sighted.
Only point the muzzle at something when you intend to shoot.
Never joke around with a firearm. Never use the scope on your firearm as binoculars and always maintain control over the direction that your firearm is pointing. Do not use the barrel of your firearm as a pointer for giving someone directions.
Unload your firearm before jumping, running or climbing.
NEVER jump over a ditch, or climb a tree or fence with a loaded firearm. When pulling a firearm toward you, never pull it by the muzzle end. Once you have finished climbing or crossing, inspect the firearm to ensure it is not damaged in any way before reloading.
Store firearms safely.
They should never be close to children or careless adults.
No drugs or alcohol.
Never consume alcohol before or while you handle a firearm. Avoid legal and illegal drugs that can alter your behavior and mental status; only use a firearm when you are in full control of your body.