The world of shooting takes basic Gun safety extremely seriously and trusts you as a reliable shotgun license holder to take the necessary precautions in which to execute safe and conscious decisions on how to operate your firearm. All the specific rules and regulations are in place to keep those of you who are shooting and those around you, safe.
The safe conduct of shotgun shooting details respect for the countryside, due regard for health and safety and consideration for others which applies in both the field and on the clay ground or simply just taking the gun out of the cabinet and placing it safely in the slip safety is paramount. You must treat every gun the same way as the same rules of gun safety apply.
Tips for Basic Gun Safety
Keep it Locked up
Keep your shotgun kept locked up in gun safes, which are lockable purpose-built cabinets, when not in use. Making sure nobody has access to your keys as it is your responsibility to ensure no unauthorised individuals can gain entry to your firearms.
Carrying your gun in a slip
Always carry your shotgun in its slip. This prevents it from falling out should the fastening fail. Always keep the barrels pointed downwards. When opening the slip, make sure to break your gun with your fingers off the trigger before removing from the slip.
Never point in an unsafe direction
Never point a gun loaded or unloaded in an unsafe direction or towards anyone, you must be pointing in a safe direction at all times until you’re ready to fire. When loading a gun, always place cartridges in the chamber and bring the stock up to meet the barrels. Guns should always have their finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot at all times.
It is an offence to possess a shotgun with a current shotgun license or a temporary police permit which all gun owners should have.
In the field
It is of utmost importance that you take into consideration when shooting in the field. Be mindful of where your fellow peg buddies are and do not swing through the line after those low birds.
Cartridges and Suitability
Knowing which cartridges to use is incredibly important and to find out what is suitable check the flats of the barrels. Try and identify the proofs marks, bore or gauge and chamber length. Please be aware that some old English guns cannot take bigger loads due to variations in chamber sizes. If you ever have any queries then don’t hesitate to call your local gun shop or shooting ground.
Mixing your Cartridges
Be well aware of the importance of not mixing your 20g and 12g cartridges. It is a good idea to keep them separated in either bags or pockets. Should you accidentally load a 20g into the chamber of 12g the cartridge would lodge itself, the force of a 20g shot on top would cause the pressure of the lodged cartridge to explode, bursting the side of the barrels out causing serious harm or a possible fatality.
Misfires can occur at any stage. If you were to take a shot and hear a “click” then you must bring the gun down into a relaxed position with the barrels facing upwards and then wait for 30 seconds for a suspected “Hangfire” (which is a delay in the primer igniting the powder). You must then break the gun and face it away from the body. Inspect the cartridge when safe to do so. Usually, a dented primer cap indicates a faulty cartridge. No indentation may mean faulty firing pins in your gun. You must dispose of this cartridge responsibly.
Security and Travelling
Always make sure your gun is broken and unloaded when walking around with the muzzle pointed down, or if you have a semi-auto there are breech flags available to notify others that you are empty. In the case of travelling it is good practice to secure the shotgun in either a slip or a lockable travel case and have it kept out of sight in the boot. Alternatively, you could remove the fore-end and take it with you.
Remember to have a legal liability third party insurance to cover you should you have an accident.
If you have any further questions on our Shooting lodges or safe gun handling practices, then contact our expert team. You can also explore all our shooting trips. Alternatively, you can find a great selection of videos from our lodges here on our Youtube.