Beginner’s Guide for Gun Safety – From Home to Bootcamp

5 Rules of Gun Safety

1. Treat every weapon as though it were loaded


This first rule of gun safety may seem like a no-brainer it is still something that should be taken very seriously. The CDC reports that there were roughly 17,311 non-fatal unintentional firearm gunshot injuries in 2015 alone. This number consists of several different incidents including “Unaware the gun was loaded”.

To ensure the safety of yourself and everyone around you, always…


  • Point the firearm in a safe direction (generally at the ground at an angle away from yourself and others)
  • Eject the magazine (Depending on firearm: slide the cylinder out, or eject the shells)
  • Clear the chamber (Visually if you can, if dark, lock the receiver and inspect with a finger)
  • Lock the receiver in place


  • Look down the barrel of the gun. EVER.
  • Point the gun at anything you do not intend to shoot while inspecting.
  • Let the barrel wander during inspection.
  • As the saying goes “When you assume you make an ass of u and me”.

Below are some of the CDC statistics on Unintentional Firearm Gunshot Injuries:

Unintentional Firearm Gunshot Injuries – 2015

Type Number of Injuries
Non-Fatal 17,311
Fatal 489

For more info or to see the numbers visit:

2. Trigger Discipline


Trigger discipline can help to stop a good chunk of unintentional gunfire. The simple rule here is to keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire, guns don’t shoot by themselves.

Like any other discipline this needs to be muscle memory. This should be an unconscious reflex every time you handle a firearm. This should be practiced and practiced until it becomes part of you. Playing Nerf guns with the kids: trigger discipline, Playing Time Crisis: trigger discipline, Using a screw gun: trigger discipline.

Here are the basics of trigger discipline:

  • Extend your index finger straight out.
  • Rest your finger on the slide or cylinder.
  • When you’re absolutely ready to fire you can then move your finger in to place to pull the trigger.

3. Keep the Safety On


Another step to a safe gun is keep your weapons safety on until you intended to fire.

Most firearms will have the safety in reach of your index finger. If you are new to the firearm, before loading and preparing for use, inspect the gun to locate the safety. Each firearm may be different and until you are confident in its location you should not load or prepare to fire the weapon.

When looking for the safety follow these basic rules –

  • Make sure the gun is not loaded (See Number 1)
  • Point the firearm in a safe direction
  • Do not let the barrel wander while you are looking
  • Practice switching the safety on and off until you are comfortable.

Now there are some weapons such as the GLOCK that don’t have a physical safety, that does not mean the weapon is any more or less safe. These weapons generally have multiple internal safeties that prevent the weapon from firing unless the trigger is fully depressed. In these cases, Trigger Discipline (number 2) will be key.

4. Never Point a weapon at anything you don’t intended to shoot (and kill)

gun-safety-point-shootYou must be aware always when handling a weapon. The best way to do this is to understand that whatever the firearm is pointed at you are going to shoot and kill.

Muzzle awareness is a key discipline in gun safety and another practice that should be committed to muscle memory.

Here are a few ideas for practicing muzzle awareness:

  • Craft a squirt gun or training pistol with a bright painted dowel (roughly 2 foot long) from the barrel.
  • Use an old decommissioned hunting rifle and paint the barrel a bright fluorescent color.

The ideas above will help train anyone who is new to firearms to be aware of the muzzles direction.

5. Know your target and what lies beyond

gun-safety-know-your-targetAlways know when you pull that trigger that the round may not hit what you intended it to. There are countless variables when shooting, but if whatever you’re shooting at wasn’t hit, that round must go somewhere.

The normative for a round is to continue in the direction of your shot, that means whatever is behind your intended target has a high probability of being hit as well.

Here are some tips for home target practice –

  • Make sure you have enough land
  • Make sure you’re in a place where shooting is acceptable
  • When setting your target know what lies beyond the target (if unsure inspect the location thoroughly)
  • Set the target in front of a proper back stop or take time to build one (Mound up dirt or wood piles are excellent back stops)
  • Follow steps 1-4

Once its gone its gone, there is no pulling that round back once it has left the gun!

No matter what, safety is always your priority when handling and owning firearms. Even though you have the right to own a firearm it is your duty as a gun owner to ensure the safety of everyone around you when you are handling your weapon. Gun ownership is an enjoyable experience that everyone can have and safety is a key factor of the experience.

Be safe and enjoy your firearms!

If you need further information about gun safety there are a number of great resources out there for you to check out. Here are just a few:

The NRA Gun Safety Site:

NSSF Gun Safety Site:

Wikipedia Article on Gun Safety

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