Firearms Safety for Sportsmen: Avoid Becoming the Next Accident

Each year hundreds of thousands of Americans head to the woods to participate in one of the nation’s most iconic past times – hunting. Many will come home with trophies they will brag about for years to come, others will come home empty handed only too try their hand next season. Sadly, some will never come home at all. Although sportsmen succumb to injuries every season in every state almost all of them are avoidable.

Although hunting is a physically demanding and sometimes dangerous activity, it is not normally considered life-threatening. The dangers involved are generally related to the terrain or weather, not the act of hunting itself. Sadly, the majority of hunters lost succumb to self-inflicted dangers- not necessarily inflicted on purpose but the direct result of the hunter’s activities and decisions. Often times these decisions involve the firearms hunters carry and depend on for their success.

Firearms safety

Firearm-related accidents are not a common aspect of hunting, but they are a major contributing factor in accidents. Accidental discharges, misplaced shots and even firearm failures all plague the sport, and are all avoidable.

Accidental discharges – ask a firearms expert and they will tell you there is no such animal, but realistically they happen. Almost 100% of the time these accidents are the result of poor weapon handling practices and carelessness. You must remember the universal rules of firearms – treat every firearm as if it is loaded, never point your firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot and keep your finger off the trigger. Doing this will prevent most accidents.

Hunters are also notorious for leaning their rifle on fences while they climb over, climbing into treestands with loaded firearms and placing their loaded firearms on or in vehicles. All of these are dangerous and each results in accidental discharges every season.

Misplaced shots – no matter what you are hunting for the law requires you to identify your target prior to pulling the trigger. If this simple rule was followed each and every time some hunters would go home empty-handed, but they and the others sharing the woods with them would go home. How does a full grown man get mistaken for a turkey or a hiker shot as a running deer/ They do not – each and every time they are the victim of a hunter who failed to identify their target. You are much better passing on a questionable shot than taking the risk you will hit an innocent bystander.

Firearms malfunction – this is another aspect of hunting accidents that are generally the result of neglect or poor firearms knowledge. I admit I am a bit of a gun person. Although I do not collect firearms, every one I own is for a purpose. I am meticulous in knowing the ins and outs of their care, function, and limits. Each year I encounter other sportsmen who are not so knowledgeable and this is dangerous. Firearms which are not properly maintained, loaded with incorrect ammunition or even damaged a pose a serious risk to the shooter – and something which is not as uncommon as you might think. Spend a day patrolling and checking hunters on opening day in any state and I guarantee you will encounter each of these every time.

Even experienced hunters, those who have been handling firearms for years, fall victim to accidents. Not because firearms are notoriously dangerous or unpredictable, but because they become complacent and careless. It is easy to take firearms safety for granted, especially after years of never having an incident, but it is just as easy to remain vigilant as well as safe.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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