We will be into hunting season soon and I thought it would be a good time to do a quick review of some firearms safety basics for those of us going out hunting!
This might be a very good time to have a look at your firearms and your ammunition. Make sure everything is in good condition and ready to go. If you have any doubts whatsoever, it is time for a trip to a local gunsmith for an inspection and possible repairs. Using a rifle or shotgun that is not working correctly is a recipe for accidents!
It is also worth a quick trip to the shooting range. Not only can this be a fun event, but it also gives you a chance to evaluate your equipment and your own shooting abilities. Make sure you are in practice and your scope (if you use one) is properly sighted in. How about your own eyes? Have you been to the optometrist lately? Can you see well enough to shoot safety?
Having good eyesight is critical. When you are hunting and have an animal you wish to harvest, you must be sure of several things. Is the animal the right sex, species, and size/age? Make sure you understand the regulations for the area you are in. You also need to evaluate the space in front of the target and behind the target. Where will the bullet end up? Some bullets have a dangerous range of over 4km, and you are responsible for the bullet from the time you pull the trigger until it comes to a stop.
Remember to use the ACTS and PROVE acronyms we all learned when we took the Canadian Firearms Safety Course whenever you handle your firearm. Don’t remember what that stands for? Maybe it is time to dust off your course textbook and do a little review. Don’t know where your textbook is? I’ve got your back, here is an online copy: PS99-2-2-1-2014-eng.pdf (publications.gc.ca)
Point the firearm in the safest available direction.
Remove all ammunition.
Observe the chamber(s).
Verify the feeding path.
Examine the bore for obstructions (visually or with a rod)
Before you get out in the wilderness, do your planning and be aware of what crown land and privately owned land is. Confirm that you have permission to hunt on privately owned land. Make sure you have adequate gear in your vehicle should you have a delay or breakdown, especially in the cold months. If you are stuck, it is great to have a full tank of gas to keep the heat on. Having a basic first aid kit in the car is also a great consideration.
When you are in the bush, away from roads and trails, it is easy to get turned around and lost! My personal minimum gear when I am away from the vehicle is to have a lighter (or matches), a sturdy knife, and a compass. Make sure you are dressed for the weather; in case you are delayed.
Looking for more education?
Our friends at the Alberta Hunter Education Instructor’s Association (AHEIA) offer a number of online courses including hunter education, bear and bighorn sheep essentials.
We also offer restricted and non-restricted firearm safety courses here at DF Safety. View our upcoming firearm safety courses in Edmonton, Alberta.