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Top 10 Hunting Safety Rules

November 17, 2007
1. Treat all firearms as if they are loaded and all archery equipment as if an arrow is nocked. Each time you pick up a firearm, check to see if it is loaded.

2. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Do not point a firearm or bow at anything you do not intend to shoot. Never place your finger on the trigger until the instant you are ready to fire.

3. Unload all firearms not in use, leaving actions open, and store in safe, cool, dry places.

4. Be sure of your target before shooting and know what is in front of and beyond the target. Use a binocular to study game, not the rifle scope. Never shoot at water, rocks or other flat, hard surfaces. Identify game animals before shooting.

5. Handle firearms and archery equipment carefully. Never climb a fence, a tree or ladder with a loaded firearm or archery equipment. When moving, carry rifles with actions open, carry shotguns open and empty and carry handguns with hammers over empty chambers.

6. Know your safe zone-of-fire. That is the mental image you draw in your mind as you move through the woods or a field. Never swing your gun or bow out of your safe zone-of-fire. If in doubt, never take a shot. Never shoot a shotgun at low-flying birds that are less than a 45-degree angle above you.

7. Wear ear and eye protection, especially while on a shooting range where noise can be excessive. Wear glasses to protect your eyes from escaping gases, burnt powder and other debris.

8. Control your emotions. If you have just missed a shot, chill out. Never turn with a loaded firearm toward a downed animal with the gun safety off. Show restraint and pass up shots that have a chance of being unsafe.

9. Do not drink alcohol or take drugs before or while handling a firearm or archery equipment.

10. Create extra rules of your own. Go beyond normal and often published safety rules to create your own list of safeguards, geared to your specific hunting plans, to ensure safety for you and others.

1967-76 21.7 61.0 82.7

1977-86 16.8 56.7 73.5

1987-96 8.0 52.5 60.5

1997-06 4.3 35.8 40.1

Note: Mandatory hunter education began in 1988

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department


(c) 2007, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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