Duck shooting season begins this weekend and safety with firearms should be in the forefront of the minds of all duck shooters.
According to Joe Green, Chairman of the Firearms Safety Council Aotearoa New Zealand, duck shooters should always remember these important safety messages:
"Be aware the shot from a shotgun can travel 250 metres and has a wide spread particularly at longer ranges. Also, your firing zone will change when following a duck that is flying across in front of you. Always check all your potential firing zone."
Mr Green stated that safety catches can fail. "It is acceptable to rely on the safety catch of a semi-automatic shotgun when expecting to see ducks at any time however you must take extra care to ensure the gun is always pointed in a safe direction. If you use a semi-automatic shotgun, it is wise to have your safety catch checked by a gunsmith before the season begins. When using a break open or pump action shot gun, load only when ready to fire and leave the action open at all other times."
Mr Green said it is important to be aware of tiredness when shooting.
"The duck shooting season is a social event for many. Late nights and early mornings can compromise safety and tired shooters are likely to be less alert and may be more likely to drop their guard.
"Provide immediate supervision to duck shooters who do not hold a firearms licence," said Mr Green.
"Immediate supervision means the supervisor must be able to control the muzzle direction of the un-licenced shooter if required and the supervisor may not be shooting at the same time."
"Alcohol and firearms do not mix, EVER," said Mr Green. "When handling firearms, you must be able to think clearly. Alcohol and some drugs, including prescribed medication can slow mental and physical reactions and must not be consumed prior to or while shooting. Never shoot with others who are or have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs," he added.
Mr Green urges hunters to take special care this duck shooting season.
The Seven Basic Rules of Safe Firearms Handling
1. TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS LOADED
- Check every firearm yourself.
- Pass or accept only an open or unloaded firearm.
2. ALWAYS POINT FIREARMS IN A SAFE DIRECTION
- Loaded or unloaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction.
3. LOAD A FIREARM ONLY WHEN READY TO FIRE
- Load only the magazine after you reach your shooting area.
- Load the chamber only when ready to shoot.
- Completely unload before leaving the shooting area.
4. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET BEYOND ALL DOUBT
- Movement, colour, sound and shape can all deceive you.
- Assume colour, shape, sound, and shape to be human until proven otherwise
5. CHECK YOUR FIRING ZONE
- THINK! What may happen if you miss your target? What might you hit between you and the target or beyond?
- Do not fire know others are in your firing zone
6. STORE FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION SAFELY
- When not in use, lock away the bolt, firearm and ammunition separately.
- Never leave firearms in a vehicle that is unattended
7. AVOID ALCOHOL AND DRUGS WHEN HANDLING FIREARMS
- Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms.