Sound Hunting Safety Practices
Hunting has survived the modernization of civilization. In fact, it has flourished into one of the most popular pastimes and hobbies in the world. Unfortunately, one of the world’s favorite past times can also be one of its most dangerous. It’s always best to think Hunting Safety First! Every hunter should know some basic things before heading out into the fields.
The most important aspect of hunting concerns how to walk and carry a gun. It is important to make sure that the muzzle always points away from the hunter and any companions. There are many ways to do this. One option is the side carry, which is effectively carrying the gun with one hand and tucking the stock between the elbow and the body. It is not recommended to use the side carry when the hunter is walking through dense brush or with other companions walking in front, however.
Another option is the ready carry. With the ready carry, the gun is held with two hands and the muzzle is pointed upwards and towards the front of the hunter. The trigger finger should be rested on the proper guard.
The sling carry involves both hands of the hunter being free. A sling is used to carry the gun over the hunter’s shoulder, giving a clear range for the hunter to move however he or she wants.
Others prefer the shoulder carry method of carrying a gun. Using this technique involves the muzzle of the gun resting skyward. It is probably not a good idea to use this technique of carrying a gun with companions behind.
Finally, the trail carry involves the gun held at a point between the action and the trigger. If someone is walking ahead of the hunter, it is not a good idea to use the trail carry because the muzzle is pointing down but forward.
Once the hunter has established a safe and comfortable way to carry his or her weapon, it is very important to plan next what to do when encountering the game. Before encountering the target, all hunters should establish a “zone of fire” where each will shoot and track when the game appears. It is very important that one hunter never encroaches on another’s zone.
When hunting from a boat, there are general safety precautions that should be considered. First, make sure the weapon to be used by the hunter who will be sitting in the bow of the boat is unloaded. His or her gun must be placed facing the bow. The next hunter places his or her unloaded gun in the stern with its muzzle pointing to the rear. Hunters should always remember to anchor the boat before shooting and to fire in opposite directions.
To keep their skills sharp, hunters often practice on ranges. These controlled shooting areas also have a set of commands geared for the safe enjoyment of all the participants. If a hunter says, “the range is hot”, for example, it means that the range is open for shooting and that there are no live objects, such as people, on the range. If a hunter says, “cease fire”, it means to stop all firing immediately. Another command on the firing range is “ready”. This is the last precaution taken by shooters before the “range is hot” command. Each shooter repeats the phrase “ready” from right to left to ensure the firing line is clear and safe.