In order to be eligible to purchase a hunting license in the state of Wisconsin, one must complete a course in hunter’s safety. The minimum age to enroll in the class is 12, but people of all ages have completed the course. My mom and I went through the class when I was 12, and it was a very interesting and thoughtful approach to teaching everyone proper, safe, and ethical firearm handling and hunting skills. There were four statements that were drilled into everyone throughout the course. These statements, however, do not only apply to firearm safety; they can be translated into many aspects of life.
1. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
Whenever handling a firearm, one must always assume that it is loaded with ammunition, and treat it as such until they themselves have checked and possibly unloaded it.
This can apply to many different situations. If someone hands you a drink at a college party, be skeptical of what’s really in it. If someone tells you gossip or information, be aware of the possibility that it may not be true, and should be treated as such until proven otherwise. Things are not always as they seem, and we should be prepared to deal with things that are not ideal.
2. Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
When handling a firearm, one must always point the end of the firearm straight up, straight down, or in a safe firing direction. This is so if the firearm unintentionally discharges, or does so when not everyone is prepared, everyone is kept safe.
Make back-up plans. If plans A, B, and C fail, you’ve always got plan D. Back up your computer’s hard drive in multiple places. Have spare sets of keys. Keep more than one writing utensil on you at all times. Think ahead, and know what you would do if worst came to worst.
3. Be certain of your target and what’s beyond.
When firing at something, you must know what you are firing at, and what is around that object to know you are being safe and not putting anyone or anything else in danger.
In real life, this can translate to being aware of your surroundings. Know whats around you at all times. Know who you are talking to, and who might be within earshot. Be vigilant, in situations where you think you have to be, and in situations when you don’t, for your personal safety, and the safety of others. Set goals, and know what steps you need to take before and after you’ve reached them. Plan ahead. Keep a balance between looking at your current situation and what tomorrow looks like.
4. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot.
In typical cases, a firearm will not discharge until the trigger is pulled. The most important safety instruction is not to touch the trigger until you’ve made sure to clear the area and identify your target and what’s around it. Only once you have made a conscious and complete effort to prepare to discharge the firearm, may you do so.
Recognize that actions and words cannot be taken back, just like a bullet only leaves the end of a firearm, and never returns. Be careful when choosing your ammunition and your target.
These statements are important to consider fully before operating a firearm, and before speaking or acting. Being conscious of yourself and other helps to keep everyone safe and content, wherever and whenever.