Firearm Safety


These notes are intended as a guide to firearm safety and do not take precedence over club rules.  Please refer to Section 9 of the Club Rules for specific rules applicable to approved ranges used by the club.

(You can download a copy of the Firearm Security Handbook 2005 here.  This document covers the principles relating to the secure storage of firearms, firearms in transit, cabinets, safes, cable lock, black powder storage, locks, steel stores etc.  It was produced by the Home Office, the Associations of Chief Police Officers in England, Wales and Scotland and the British Shooting Sports Council.)


a.  OBEY THE RANGE MASTER OR RANGE CONDUCTING OFFICER AT ALL TIMES - No explanation should be necessary! If you do not have a Range Officer then you should appoint a responsible person and obey his/her instructions.

b.  ALWAYS KEEP THE ACTION OPEN AND FIREARM UNLOADED UNTIL READY TO USE - On a firing range this means the shooters are in a position on the firing line and the range has been cleared for live firing.  You should never handle any firearm while others are down range of your position.  

c.  ALWAYS POINT THE MUZZLE IN A SAFE DIRECTION - You should always keep the muzzle pointed at the backstop or in a safe direction - this applies whether the firearm is loaded or not.  Your colleagues may not know that the firearm is unloaded and may react in a non-friendly manner if they see a muzzle pointed in their direction.  Accidents can happen, and often do, so never allow a gun muzzle to point in any direction where an accidental discharge could cause damage, distress, injury or death.  When a halt in shooting is called you should unload, open the action and, if possible, set down the firearm until the all-clear and permission to resume are given.

d.  WHEN AT THE FIRING POINT KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER - Your finger should always be outside the trigger guard, until ready to fire or until permission to shoot has been given.  When adjusting your position, changing magazines etc your finger should be clear of the guard and, if possible, the safety should be applied.

e.  BE FAMILIAR WITH HOW THE FIREARM OPERATES - If not familiar with a firearm you should ask the owner to demonstrate it for you, this can be carried out with the firearm unloaded and in a designated Safety Zone .

f.  ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE FIREARM AND AMMUNITION ARE COMPATIBLE - Types of ammunition, loads, powders etc may not be compatible with the firearm you are using.  You should be 100% sure of the what you are using especially if using a firearm or ammunition which are not your own.

g.  BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS - Check adjacent areas to your firing position, those around you and the areas around or behind your target. 

h.  WEAR EAR AND EYE PROTECTION - In order of efficiency use high attenuation ear muffs, ear plugs or canal caps to protect your hearing.  Hearing protection should always be worn when using firarms and for maximum protection you should use ear plugs and ear muffs together to get 5-dB of additional protection over the most effective.

Continued exposure to noise at 85db can result in slight hearing loss and short exposures to 100db can also cause permanent hearing loss.  The pain threshold is 135 to 140db.  Compare these figures to the table below -

Peak Sound Pressure Levels (SPLs)

Type of Gun
  SPL (dB)
.44 Revolver    170 dB    
45 Automatic    165 dB
M-16    160 dB
357 Revolver    160 dB
12 Gauge Shotgun 
   155 dB
.38 Revolver
   150 dB
.22 Rifle 
   145 dB

Remember that your hearing cannot be 100% protected as the vibration of the bones of the head and neck directly stimulate the inner ear.


Safety is everyones responsibility