This is the most important gun safety rule. A safe direction is one in which an accidental discharge will not cause injury to yourself or others. Never allow your gun to point at anything you don't intend to shoot. Be especially careful when you're loading or unloading. Treat every gun as if it were loaded. And make it a habit to know where your muzzle is pointed at all times, even when your firearm is unloaded. The Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety should be etched in your memory forever. Let them govern your actions wherever and whenever you're involved with firearms. In the woods. On the range. Or in your home. Please take time to review and understand these rules.
Load your firearm only when you're in the field or on the target range and ready to fire. Never let a loaded gun out of your sight or out of your hands. Unload it as soon as you're finished shooting - before you bring it into your car, camp, or home. Remember, unloading your firearm means unloading it completely, so there is no ammunition in the chamber or in the magazine. Before handling a firearm or passing it to someone else, visually check the chamber, receiver and magazine to be certain they do not contain ammunition. Always keep the gun's action open when not in use. Never assume a gun is unloaded even if you were the last person to use it. Always check for yourself. Let common sense rule when you carry a loaded gun. If you're in any situation that could risk accidental discharge - such as crossing a fence, wading through a stream, or climbing a tree - always unload your gun. Never pull or push a loaded firearm toward yourself or another person. And never carry a loaded gun in a scabbard, detached holster or gun case.
Treat every gun as if it can fire at any time, whether or not there's pressure on the trigger. Your firearm has been carefully designed to maximize performance and safety. However, a gun's safety is a mechanical device and, like any mechanical device, it could fail. Human error is a more likely reason for a gun safety to fail. By mistake, you may think the safety is on when it really isn't. Or the safety may have been disengaged without your knowledge. Or you could think your gun is unloaded when there's actually a cartridge or shell in it. A safety is not a substitute for common sense. It's merely a supplement to your proper handling of a firearm. Don't touch the trigger on a firearm until you are ready to shoot. Keep your fingers away from the trigger when you're loading or unloading. And don't pull the trigger when the safety is engaged or positioned anywhere between safe and fire.
You can't stop a shot in mid-air, so do not fire unless you know exactly where your shot is going and what it will strike. Never fire at a sound, a movement or a patch of color. A hunter in camouflage can easily be mistaken for a target by an impulsive shooter. Before you pull the trigger be absolutely sure of your target and what's behind it. Make sure your shot has a backstop such as a hillside or dense material like sand. Remember, bullets can travel great distances with tremendous velocity. Know how far your shot will go if you miss your target or the bullet ricochets.
Every firearm is designed to use a certain caliber or gauge of ammunition. Using the wrong ammunition, mixing ammunition or using improperly reloaded ammunition can cause serious personal injury or death. And it only takes one cartridge or shotshell of the incorrect caliber or gauge, or which has been improperly reloaded to destroy your firearm. As a gun owner it's your responsibility to make sure the ammunition you use exactly matches the caliber or gauge of your gun. Refer to the instruction manual to find out the specific requirements of your firearm. Always read and heed the instructions on ammunition boxes. Check all ammunition before you load it to make sure it matches your gun's requirements.
If for some reason the ammunition doesn't fire when you pull the trigger, stop and remember the 1st Commandment of Firearm Safety - always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Keep your face away from the breech, then put the safety on, carefully open the action, unload the firearm and dispose of the cartridge safely. Remember anytime there's a shell in the chamber, your gun is loaded and ready to use. Even if you tried to shoot and your gun didn't fire, treat your firearm as if it could still discharge.
Your sight and hearing risk injury from shooting and should be protected at all times. Wear protective shooting glasses to guard against falling shot, clay target chips, powder residue, ruptured cartridge cases and even twigs and branches in the field. Also be sure to wear eye protection when you're disassembling or cleaning a gun so that tensioned parts (like springs) and cleaning solvents don't come in contact with your eyes.
Before loading your gun, open the action and make sure there's no ammunition in the chamber or magazine. Check the barrel for any obstructions or debris. Even a small amount of snow, mud, excess lubricant or grease in the bore can dangerously increase pressure and cause the barrel to bulge or burst when firing. Use a cleaning rod and patch to wipe away anti-rust compounds or any other residues or obstructions in the barrel. Never try to shoot out an obstruction by loading another shell and firing! When firing, rely on your instincts. If the noise or recoil from your firearm seems off or weak, stop everything, unload your firearm and be sure nothing is lodged in the barrel. Remember the 12/20 burst? That's what can happen when the barrel is obstructed. So always be sure you're using the correct ammunition in your firearm and that it's free of obstructions.
Your firearm has been designed to operate according to certain factory specifications. You'll jeopardize your safety and that of others around you by attempting to alter its trigger, safety or other mechanisms. So never alter or modify your firearm in any way. Like any mechanical device, a firearm is subject to wear. It must be maintained and periodically serviced to assure optimum safety and performance.
Not all guns are alike. They have different mechanical characteristics that dictate how you should carry and handle them. Anyone who plans to use a firearm should first become totally familiar with the type of firearm it is and the safe handling procedures for loading, unloading, carrying, shooting and storing it. Before you even unpack your new Remington firearm, read the instruction manual from cover to cover and familiarize yourself with the different component parts of the gun. Then read, understand and follow the ten commandments of safety.