Shooting guns can be fun! There are few things as relaxing for me as going to the range and firing off some rounds to forget about the outside world for just a little bit.
Gun safety should not just be a set of rules posted on the wall of the gun range that you are at, but a mindset that you need to maintain whenever you are handling a gun or even near one.
There are a lot of different rules out there in terms of maintaining gun safety. For example if you are at a gun range, one of the main rules is to always adhere to the instructions given by a Range Safety Officer (RSO), who is responsible for the safety of everyone at the range. If an RSO tells you to stop shooting, you do it immediately without hesitation. I know firing off that last round in the chamber is tempting…but when the RSO speaks, you listen.
But to avoid getting too confused with various rules etc, the easiest way to build and maintain a gun safety mindset is to remember the 4 rules of gun safety, namely “4 Gun Safety ACTS”.
The 4 Rules Of Gun Safety – ACTS
There are a few variations out there on these 4 rules of gun safety, but originally it was formalized and made popular by Jeff Cooper. Jeff Cooper is a bit of a legend, having served in the US Marine Corp and is known as the father of the modern technique for handgun shooting. Jeff is also an expert on the history of small arms and its use.
Right, so now that we know some of the history behind the 4 rules of gun safety, we can get into what they actually are!
1. Assume every firearm is loaded
First rule of ACTS – always assume that every firearm is loaded. Even if you are 99.5% certain it is unloaded, you should still handle it as a loaded gun. This is a mindset that should be drilled into every person who handles or is near any firearms.
If you are at the range and your buddy hands you his shiny new Walther PPQ to check out, assume it is loaded and give it the necessary respect that a loaded weapon demands. Even if your buddy tells you it is unloaded, you need to handle it as a loaded weapon and make sure it is safe. You never know, he might have forgotten about that last round that is still in the chamber. To be sure there are no unfortunate accidents, you must trust, but verify!
If a weapon has ever has out of your sight or you handle a weapon for the first time, go through the process of ensuring the weapon is safe.
2. Control the muzzle direction at all times
This seems to be the rule that a lot of newbies forget. They have a gun in their hands for the first time and then proceeds to use it as a pointer!
If you have made sure the weapon is safe to handle, you should still handle and respect it as by not pointing the muzzle in a dangerous direction. Only point your gun at something that you are prepared to shoot at. It seems so obvious, but I am sure there are plenty of us that has seen someone at someone point a gun at something or someone without thinking. That is how accidents happen. This rule is specifically meant to reduce the risk and impact of a round going off unintentionally.
When you are not firing at a target, the best is point the muzzle in a “safe” direction. This can be pointing the muzzle up (toward the sky) or muzzle down (toward the ground).
Each have their pros and cons of course. If you point your muzzle to the ground and a round accidentally goes off, the round can ricochet or fragment, ending up hitting someone or something in your close vicinity.
If you point your muzzle upwards and it goes off accidentally, the round can still hit someone or something when it comes back down (what goes up, must come down!).
3. Trigger finger off trigger and out of trigger guard
If you are not in the process of actually firing your gun, keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard.
If you are suddenly startled or even trip over something and fall to the ground, you certainly do not want a gun in your hands that can go off!
If your finger is not on the trigger, there is a lot less chance that your gun will go off accidentally. The common practise is to keep your finger above the trigger guard when you are not firing, so that there is less chance of your finger slipping onto the trigger.
4. See that the area and target is safe
Before you fire at a target, make sure it is 100% safe to shoot. This is where listening to the RSO is important. If there are gun range staff that need to move around the target area, the RSO will order all shooters to cease shooting and make their weapons safe.
The areas that you need to always make sure is safe before shooting includes the area in front of the target, below the target and the sides of the target. An area that some folks forget to also keep in mind is the area behind the target. A round can move through and beyond the target, ending up hitting someone or something behind the target. So I always make sure I know what is behind a target area.
Wrapping Up – 4 rules of gun safety
Firing a gun can be a fun experience, but we need to always maintain our mindset of gun safety by adhering to the 4 rules of gun safety.
If you are teaching someone how to use a weapon, the first lesson should be about gun safety. That will help to ensure they, and people around them, stay safe.
What do you think about the 4 rules of gun safety? If you had to add one or two more rules, what would you add and why? Please share your thoughts with us by commenting in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!