Gun Safety

Built this up over the years…if it saves one life, it was worth the effort!

General Guidance

1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.

2. Avoid alcohol and horseplay when in possession of any gun.

3. Never point or fire your gun at anything other than the target. Always make sure that when handed a gun it is open and empty. Know your guns and keep them clean.

4. Beware, the bullet may miss the target and hit a non-target, around or beyond the target. In addition, a non-target may pass in front of the target and be hit with a bullet aimed at the target. Furthermore, the bullet may pass through the target and hit a non-target beyond it, so called “over-penetration”.

5. The likelihood of ricochet is dependent on many factors, including bullet shape, velocity (and distance), target material and the angle of incidence. Ricochets are a common danger of shooting because after bouncing off an object that now deformed projectile poses an ‘unpredictable’ and serious danger to bystanders, animals, objects, or even the person who fired the shot. If the deformed projectile does hit a bystander or a non-target it can become very dangerous. Instead of cleanly travelling through the “body/object”, the bullet can behave more like a hollow point bullet causing a larger wound cavity, or even fragmenting and causing multiple wound channels.

Bullets will richochet off stone, other hard objects and rock. Bullets can also richochet off water, be it a pond or puddle, at an angle of incidence between 3-8°. Most bullets will penetrate water at or above 15°. The angle of deflection off water is normally 2-3 times greater than the impact angle, but less than the impact angle of solid objects. Be sure of the type of ground you are shooting on, which may vary throughout the particular farm etc. Remember, a shot may therefore be safe one day and not the next.

In rare cases, ricochets can return to the shooter. This occurs when the object struck possesses enough resistance to withstand the impact of the bullet, and whose surface is perpendicular to the shooter. Some bullets are designed to deform at the nose, which is the main reason for the bullet ricocheting at such an extreme angle and returning in the shooter’s direction.

These factors require a gun handler to be sure of both the target itself and anything along the avenue of travel to and beyond the target.

6. Do not shoot through hedges/trees etc for fear of destroying something on the other side e.g. another person, farm animal, property, aeroplane/helicopter etc. NB some centre-fire rounds can travel up to 4 or 5 miles, depending on calibre and conditions. It is illegal to shoot within 50ft of the centre of a public highway, without lawful authority or excuse, if as a result a user of the highway is injured, interrupted or endangered. Be sure you can identify the quarry e.g. vermin/game/protected species etc, and have a good site picture and enough light. Aim for a clean kill, not to maim.

7. Never leave your gun in an unlocked or unattended vehicle. It is an offence to possess a loaded gun in a public place. Always place the gun out of sight, if within a vehicle. When travelling, always secure your shotgun in a case or protective gun cover. Never travel with a loaded gun. Prove your gun(s) unloaded to others, who will be travelling in the same vehicle as you, before placing in vehicle.

8. Only carry with you cartridges that are suitable for the gun you are using at that particular time. Never carry a mixture of sizes of cartridges. (e.g. do not mix 12 and 20 bore). A 20 bore will pass down but stick in a 12 bore shotgun barrel and when someone then loads a 12 bore cartridge on top, firing will be disastrous.

9. When shooting clays, never close your gun until you are on the firing mark, and then only when it is your turn to shoot.

10. Always carry your gun in a safe manner so that it does not point at anyone or bump into them. A shotgun is best carried open, empty and over your arm. Fixed barrel, e.g. repeaters, self loaders require different methods to show empty.

11. When shooting clays, keep your gun pointing down range at all times until you have opened and emptied your gun. Then you may turn and walk off the firing point. With semi-autos, there is some bias against their use against clays. This is mainly out of ignorance of how they function and how they are made safe. Before and after shooting, prove gun barrel breach and magazine empty to referee/shooting friend.

12. Always unload your shotgun before moving to the next stance. In the case of DTL. ABT and other disciplines where you move from peg 5 to 1 make sure your gun is empty.

13. Do not place any cartridges in your gun until you are ready to shoot, and when clay shooting, instructed to do so by the referee.

14. Do not leave your gun unattended at any time. Do not lean you gun against anything where it is insecure and may fall. When passing over fences/gates, unload your gun.

15. If fitted with a safety catch make sure your gun is on “safe” until you are ready to shoot.

16. Leave gates the way you found them. Open, rather than climb over gates; if stuck/locked, climb over near gate hangers, not the latch end.

17. Return dead quarry to the farmer or dispose of it yourself according to the law. Take home spent cartridges. Don’t litter the countryside.

18. When shooting over land, make sure that it is approved by the Police for the calibre you are licensed to use. Always contact the owner/tenant on the day of shooting so that he knows you are there and not poachers/trespassers. Find out who is working in which fields, and the location of roads, foot-paths and buildings. Advise him if there are any farm animals injured/loose or any dogs worrying farm animals. Police approval of land depends on the type of ‘open’ FAC held.

19. Always take and use protective clothing (including eye and ear protection), appropriate to the task in hand and prevailing weather conditions. Remember the law regarding knives in public places.

(Criminal Justice Act 1988 & Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006)

It is now ILLEGAL to have any sharply pointed or bladed instrument in your possession, in a public place without good reason or lawful authority.

There is an exemption in law for folding pocket knives. These must have cutting edges of less than three inches and blades which do not lock. However when pocket knives of this type are carried for example in a nightclub, at a school or to a football match they are likely to be viewed as offensive weapons even though the actual knife isn’t an offensive weapon in itself.

http://www.basc.org.uk/en/departments/firearms/knives-advice-and-guidance.cfm

Take food and water. Advise wife of where you will be shooting and when you will return that day. Take your charged mobile phone. Also, take first aid kit (in vehicle or with you if on foot far from vehicle). Membership of a shooting organisation like BASC is recommended, for advice, information and legal insurance.

20. Keep a copy of permission to shoot from land owner and your firearm certificates with you.

21. Unload guns when approached by others and point guns away from them. Use licensed moderators so as not to disturb the public and the land owners.

22. The police officers guide to shooters…well worth a read.

http://www.basc.org.uk/en/utilities/document-summary.cfm/docid/DE684145-D624-444C-915B521FB03D0766NB

The Range Conducting Officer (RCO) is in sole charge of everything that happens on the range.

COMMON SAFETY RULES

• All range users are required to sign-in to record books upon arrival.

• Always treat a firearm as if it were loaded until you have personally certified it to be clear and never trust another person’s word that it is clear.

• Never point a firearm at anyone, even in jest.

• All firearms shall have breech flags inserted where practicable and/or the bolt removed and/or the action/chamber open whenever they are out of their transit case/bag, but not in actual use.

• No person may uncase a firearm or move it on/off the firing point until the RCO has given permission.

• No person may load a firearm until the RCO has given an express command to do so.

• A loaded firearm must always be pointed in a safe direction i.e. downrange towards the target, always parallel to the ground – even when loading.

• A firearm shall not be pointed at any aiming mark behind the firing point. It is irrelevant whether a breech flag has been inserted or the bolt removed.

• No person shall walk downrange until all firearms have been cleared, bolts removed or breech flags inserted, or the firearms have been removed from the firing point and cased and the RCO has given an express command to move forward.

• Once firearms on the firing point have been inspected and the RCO and has given the ‘clear’ instruction, shooters shall not under any circumstances, touch the firearm again until the RCO has given an express command to do so.

• Unless authorised by the RCO, only shooters, their coaches and the RCO shall be present on the firing point during the shooting detail.

• No person may distract a shooter during a shooting detail, except the RCO or a coach.

• In an emergency, the RCO will use the command “STOP STOP STOP” to suspend shooting. Upon hearing this command, shooters shall immediately stop shooting, place their firearms upon the firing point and step away from them.

• Shooters shall only engage targets directly in front of their firing point. Cross shooting will not be permitted.

SPECIFIC SAFETY ISSUES

NEGLIGENT DISCHARGE

• A Negligent Discharge is either a shot fired (whether in a safe direction or not) without the order to fire having been given. Alternatively it may be a shot fired after the order to fire has been given, but in an unsafe direction. A Negligent Discharge will usually arise from a breach of the safety rules and may occur on or off the firing point.

• RCO Action:

– Make the situation safe.

– The firer may be suspended from further participation and asked to leave the range.

The matter shall be reported to the Committee who will decide what action to take.

UNSAFE BEHAVIOUR

• This constitutes an immediate threat to personal safety, e.g. a loaded firearm being removed from the firing point or someone using a firearm in an aggressive or irresponsible manner.

MISFIRES & SQUIB LOADS

• If a misfire occurs (no ignition of the cartridge propellant) or a squib load is noted (insufficient propellant charge to expel the bullet), the firearm must be held parallel to the ground, pointing at the target butt for a minimum 60 seconds before the bolt or action is opened.

EMERGENCIES

• In any emergency, the RCO will immediately take control as per the NRA “Guide to the duties of Range Conducting Officers”.

Do not leave the firing point until the RCO clears you to do so.

Check that the barrel / bore is clear of obstruction before loading.

Always keep finger off of the trigger until ready to fire.

Always remove bolt from gun when in a vehicle.

Avoid contra indicated medicines/drugs when in possession of any gun.

Clay Throwers…

Please read in conjunction with the above notes…

Clay throwers are safe when used correctly…

1. Make sure you are wearing all appropriate safety gear and carry out a risk assessment in accordance with Health and Safety legislation.

2. Do not allow anyone to stand near to thrower (automatic or manual) when in operation or otherwise. There is a risk that a clay may be launched in the direction of a spectator or shooter. Do not walk in front of thrower as even at 40 metres a clay can cause severe injury. Before moving or adjusting, ensure the throwing arm is in the “safe position” and not primed. There is a risk that the arm may come into contact with operator and others when cocking and releasing, leading to the risk of injury. Use safety guards.

3. RCO/Referee to ensure thrower is ideally out of sight from guns and that guns do not point their weapons at the thrower to engage early. Thrower must be placed in such a position that it is impossible to throw a clay at anyone or across footpaths etc. Referee/RCO must ensure that clays cannot land in public areas or in fields where animals are kept. Thrower operator to be placed so that pull instruction/ gun report can be heard without difficulty.

4. Make sure automatic thrower really is switched off before making any adjustments or reloading. One of the biggest risks of modern electric clay traps is someone pressing the release button while another is working on a faulty trap. Take the release button with you. Clays must be loaded only when thrower is discharged/isolated.

5. Adequate warnings and flags are posted when shoot is in progress.

6. Appropriate cartridges (shot and wad material) and clays are used in accordance with the law and competition rules.

7. Securing bolts to be checked before operation. Thrower must be properly maintained and serviced.

8. Operator must be properly trained and of mature age.

9. Horseplay must be avoided.

Do not mix 12 bore and 20 bore cartridges.

“Mixing 12 bore and 20 bore cartridges is a very dangerous practice. If a 20 bore
cartridge is loaded into the chamber of a 12 bore shotgun the 20 bore cartridge will slip
down into the forcing cone where it will lodge. When the gun is fired nothing will happen.
Upon opening the gun it will appear that the chamber is empty and the Gun may assume
that he forgot to load the weapon, especially if there is a long delay between loading and firing. A 12 bore cartridge may then be loaded on top of the 20 bore cartridge with
potentially catastrophic results. Each year the Proof Houses are asked to investigate a
significant number of barrel failures occurring as a result of mixing 20 bore and 12 bore
cartridges.”

http://www.basc.org.uk/en/utilities/document-summary.cfm/docid/DBC7BA25-2965-4A69-B075D7A0AF55BEE2

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