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Shotgun safety in the Field


Remember before setting out to shoot give some thought to the matter of safety. If you are going shooting with a party or a companion mention the safety aspect of the trip before you set out. There should be agreement among the party to abide by the rules of safety. This is in everybody's interest. If a shooting companion will not follow the proper procedure on safety, in the field, you should, politely, but firmly insist that he does.


When walking up over bogs or rough shooting as we know it in this country: How many guns should travel together? The bigger the number of guns shooting together the greater the danger. If two people shoot together it is easy to keep in touch with one another.


I would strongly recommend that not more than two guns should travel together in these circumstances. Perhaps three is permissable, but when the number increases to four, I am of opinion the party should break up into two groups.


It is very important, when shooting with a companion, that each should know where the other is when game is flushed. If one man decides to wander off on his own, and then turn up in the most unlikely place, the danger is obvious. Agree on some signal before you shoot, such as a low whistle, for keeping in touch in cover, or rough ground.


When walking up in open fields or bogs or mountains, it is easy keep in touch and you should keep in line.




Always unload your shotgun before crossing an obstacle such as fences, gates, hedges, ditches, steep banks, fallen trees, jumping drains, or wading through rivers or very soft ground.


When shooting with a companion and you come to a fence, or ditch, you should:

  1.     Open your guns.
  2.     Remove the cartridges.
  3.     One shooter passes his gun open and stock first, to his companion.
  4.     Having crossed the obstacle, the first shooter takes both guns from his companion
  5.     The second shooter crosses the obstacle
  6.     He takes back his gun.


How to cross an obstacle alone: When shooting alone do not attempt to negotiate any obstacle without removing the cartridges from the shotgun chamber(s). If possible, lay the gun down, cross the obstacle and pick the gun up.

Remember when shooting alone to observe the rules on safety.

You may be tempted because you are alone, to disregard the rules onj safety. It is just as important when shooting alone to observe the rules. If anything it is more important than ever, because you are probably in a remote area and if you should injure yourself, you may not be able to summon help, and there may not be any person within hearing distance to hear your cry for help.


Checking for obstruction in the barrel: Always look through your barrels to check whenever an obstruction could have entered. You should be particularly careful about this when shooting in the snow, or very muddy ground, etc.


Always be aware of the possibility and consequences of a misfire: If there is a funny or unusual noise or recoil from a particular shot, make certain that you look down the barrel to make sure that there are no obstructions.

You should get into the habit of looking through your barrel before loading.

Always load a shotgun by placing the cartridge in the chamber and raising the stock to the barrel.

Always make sure that the barrels are pointing in a safe direction when reloading.

Always keep your fingers well clear of the triggersexcept when taking a shot.

Carry a pull through or something similar in your game bag in order to clear obstructions in the barrel of your shotgun.

Do not fire if you cannot see where the shot will go: i.e., bushes or a hedge.

Do not fire at sounds, or movement in bushes or cover thinking that it your quarry.


Clearly identify your target before raising your gun to the shooting position.


Always be sure of what youy are shooting: If in ant doubt whatsoever, DO NOT FIRE.
Better to be safe than sorry afterwards. DO not fire towards roads, houses, livestock, etc.


Do not fire at rocks or water or where ricochets can occur.