Load your firearm only when ready to fire is the message of Mr Joe Green, Chairman of the Firearms Safety Council Aotearoa New Zealand as hunters’ head for the hills this Easter.
Around half of all incidents, where there is an accidental shooting ending in injury or death, are caused by a firearm being loaded when it should not be loaded.
Load a firearm only when ready to fire is one of the seven basic rules of safe firearms handling. Tragically there are incidents where individuals have been accidentally shot when crossing fences, cleaning firearms or transporting firearms in vehicles. At all these times the firearm should not have been loaded says Mr Green.
The magazine of the firearm should only be loaded when a hunter reaches their hunting area. The chamber of the firearm should only be loaded when the hunter is ready to fire, and after the target has been positively identified say Mr Green.
Hunters should use a half open bolt in a state of semi-readiness when game has been sighted or they expect to flush game at any time. A state of semi-readiness means a round is half chambered, but the firearm cannot be fired until the round is fully chambered, locked and the hunter is ready to fire. Also remember that the safety catch is mechanical and if not maintained could fail so should be used as a supplement to safe handling practices.
Both the firearm and its magazine must be unloaded when the hunter leaves their hunting area and the magazine and chamber of the firearm carefully checked that they are no longer loaded. Mr Green advises that it is a good idea for hunting mates to double check each other’s firearms are completely unloaded. This can be reassuring for all members of the hunting party says Mr Green.
The Firearms Safety Council urges all users to refresh their knowledge and comply with all seven basic rules of firearms safety this Easter period and make sure your firearm is only loaded when you are ready to fire and at no other time.