Having a strong grasp on gun safety rules is the most important foundation you can build upon as a gun owner or range shooter. There’s an enormous benefit to everyone who takes the time to fully realize these standards prior to purchasing a firearm.
Being informed helps you learn which gun is right for you and prepares you for your first time firing it. Our complete gun safety rules guide navigates you through the importance of firearm safety so you can feel more confident at the range and in-store choosing your next firearm.
Gun safety doesn’t just stop at the tips we explore in this guide. The world of firearms is broad — rich with a variety of rifles, shotguns, handguns, and others. Each of these weapons will all have its own unique considerations.
The following guidelines are meant to apply to most firearms. However, always refer back to your owner’s manual for any specific safety considerations to be mindful of before handling any weapon.
Each state and city ordinances will have unique (even exhaustive) laws that you should be at least familiar with as a gun owner. It’s always a good idea to know them.
For example, if you’re traveling from your home to the gun range, how does your state or local ordinance expect you to secure the gun outside of your home? Knowing these laws can help you avoid future issues.
Firearm retailers can be a great source of help if you’re unsure about which gun to purchase. But did you know they’re typically also knowledgeable about any safety gear you’ll need for your first trip to the range as well as other safety recommendations and equipment?
When it comes to firearm safety rules, there are four universally recommended tips you should familiarize yourself with for maximum safety in and out of the range:
Anytime you handle a gun, it’s imperative that you first check the barrel to see if it’s loaded. It’s a non-negotiable best practice to assume that every gun you handle or are handed could be loaded.
Not only will checking the firearm to ensure whether it is loaded or not build up a positive safety-oriented habit. You’ll also show everyone around you that you respect the firearm and those around you regardless if you are at the range or not.
When you’re handed a gun you’re unfamiliar with, never be afraid to ask questions or get help checking to see if it’s loaded or not.
Whenever you handle a firearm, always orient the muzzle (or the gun point) in a direction that’s free of people. Part of responsible gun ownership is assuming that things can change and happen at any time.
Keeping your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times ensures that — even if the gun magically fires on its own, no one will get hurt nor will any property get destroyed.
Learning proper trigger finger discipline is a must-have skill for all gun owners and handlers. Whether you’re cleaning your firearm, dry-fire practice shooting, or are hunting or at the range, your finger must not touch the trigger until you have your target in your sights and are prepared to shoot.
A great place to rest your trigger finger when not prepared to shoot a target, keep it on the frame of the gun underneath the barrel.
At the end of the day, you’re ultimately the one in charge when you handle a firearm. Always acknowledge the responsibility you have for yourself and others around you.
Situational awareness is another learned skill that you’ll develop and sharpen the more times you handle and practice shooting your gun. Part of that situational awareness is maintaining control.
BEFORE your finger touches the trigger, you must know what the surroundings as well as what the target you intend to shoot looks like. The easiest way to avoid accidents and injury is to simply not be sure until you’re ready as well as the right, safe conditions are met.
To enhance you and your family’s safety, here are some other things to consider:
Firearm storage is another important consideration you should think about to maximize your safety. It will look a bit different for each type of gun:
Here’s a brief overview about the different types of safe gun storage:
Trigger locks come with either a key or a combination that clamps around the trigger and trigger guard, preventing the gun firing. Trigger locks are widely available and are typically more affordable than other options.
Gun safes are the most secure approach to firearm storage. They’re heavy and can be bolted to the floor and/or walls — making them hard to steal as well as fire-resistant. Most hold several guns and can be opened with a key and/or a code.
Gun cabinets are a more affordable alternative to more robust gun safes. They’re able to store several firearms while offering more aesthetic functionality. Cabinets, in a lot of ways, are more like furniture — meaning they’re not as secure as gun safes.
There are a number of ways you can improve your confidence and general firearm safety skills. Consider these easy, inexpensive options:
When you follow the previously mentioned 4 cardinal firearm safety rules, dry-fire shooting is a great way to practice safely handling your gun as well as to improve your firing skills. Best of all, this method is completely free!
So what is dry-fire shooting? Essentially, it’s exactly like taking your gun to a range — except with no bullets. In fact, we recommend you to keep your ammo safely stored away from your firearm any time you choose to use the dry-fire shooting method.
The best advantage this way offers shooters and gun owners is the convenience of doing this from the comfort of your home (or anywhere, really). And because there isn’t any ammo involved, it’s completely free (of course after your initial firearm purchase).
To optimize your dry-firing experience, you should consider getting a paper target to mount on a wall to give you a clear target to practice with. They’re inexpensive and will last you a while with proper care.
Another free or low-cost way to improve your confidence with handling your firearm is to clean it! Doing so gives you a strong understanding about the various pieces of your gun. To properly clean your firearm, you’ll have to:
If you want to improve your marksmanship and situational awareness skills in a group setting, you also have the following options:
You won’t learn these gun safety rules overnight, but committing to practicing proper firearm safety often will help you to understand these best practices as well as improve your situational awareness skills. If you’re ready to purchase a firearm, head to your nearest Academy to consult our staff for all your gun needs.