Firearms Safety Tips

Safety Tips for Firearms

  • Keep your gun locked up
  • In a cabinet, preferably hidden within a larger storage area. This prevents curious children, houseguests or even burglars from accidentally mishandling your gun.
  • Never put a loaded firearm or shotgun away in your cabinet.
  • Never trust a safety catch. Treat it only as a second line of defence because it could be faulty. No-one was ever shot by an open, empty gun.
  • Never allow unsupervised or unsuitable persons, especially children, access to your firearm or shotgun.
  • Never leave a firearm or shotgun, even unloaded, unattended.
  • Always keep your firearm or shotgun in its case or cover whilst transporting it.
  • Never transport a loaded firearm or shotgun.
  • Do not shoot at or near power lines or insulators. Familiarise yourself with the location of power lines and other electrical equipment on the land where you are going to shoot.
  • Do not use power line poles or towers to support any of your shooting equipment.
  • Be aware that some power lines may not be obvious and obscured by trees.
  • Take notice of all warning signs and keep well clear of electrical apparatus.
  • Avoid the use of lofting poles in the vicinity of overhead power lines.
  • Remember electricity can "jump" a considerable distance if shorted out.
  • If an accident does occur involving electricity, keep well clear. Call the emergency services via 999 and inform the local electricity company.

It is a sad fact that most incidents involving firearm or shotguns occur "in the field". They are all preventable and following this guidance could prevent a tragedy or save a life.



  • Carry your firearm or shotgun in such a manner that it never points at anybody.
  • Have the safety catch on until you are ready to fire at your target.
  • Unload your firearm or shotgun before passing it to someone else.
  • Pass your unloaded firearm or shotgun stock first.
  • Unload your firearm or shotgun before traversing difficult terrain or obstacles.
  • Carry your firearm or shotgun "broken" and empty when travelling in close company.
  • Point the barrels in a safe direction when reloading.
  • Carry a hammer gun uncocked until ready to fire.
  • Point the barrels straight up while cocking the hammers.
  • Open a hammer gun, pointing the barrels toward the ground, and remove the cartridges before uncocking it.
  • Lift the stock to the barrels when closing your firearm or shotgun.



  • Lift the barrels to the stock when closing your shotgun.
  • Uncock hammers onto loaded chambers.
  • Load a firearm or shotgun until you are ready to fire it.
  • Fire your firearm or shotgun until you have positively identified your quarry.
  • Fire your firearm or shotgun until you are absolutely positive it is safe to do so.
  • Put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  • Put a loaded firearm or shotgun down or leave it unattended.
  • Lean a loaded firearm or shotgun against or on anything, including any vehicle.
  • Attempt to fire unless you are in a comfortable and well-balanced position.
  • Fire a firearm or shotgun whilst having a dog on lead under your control.
  • Attempt to climb over an obstacle or traverse a stream with a loaded firearm or shotgun.
  • Use a firearm or shotgun that is in an unsafe condition, poor repair or out of proof.
  • Use the wrong type/calibre of ammunition in respect to your firearm or shotgun and quarry.
  • Use a firearm or shotgun whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Handling & Loading your gun

  • Never point a gun at anybody. Even if you think it is not loaded. It will scare somebody if you point any gun at them. Can you be absolutely sure that the gun is not loaded?
  • Always prove that a firearm or shotgun is unloaded as soon as you handle it.
  • Always prove that a firearm or shotgun is empty, before handing it to someone else, by offering it to them with the breech open.
  • Never load your firearm or shotgun indoors.
  • Never stand a firearm or shotgun in such a position that it can fall or be knocked over.
  • Cleaning guns. Don’t leave bits of oily rag in the bores of the gun with the intent of preventing rust. If your gun is properly cleaned and stored, this won’t help and you could forget the rag is in there.


Transporting your gun safely

  • Transport your gun safely. If it is absolutely necessary to leave your firearm or shotgun in a vehicle, it must be stored out of sight, preferably in the locked boot. Consider taking a small part of the weapon, such as the fore-end, with you and always ensure that you lock the vehicle securely. If this is to be a regular habit, consider having a lockable metal storage case welded inside the vehicle's boot.
  • If staying away from home overnight, your firearm or shotgun should be stored, preferably with a Registered Firearm Dealer or in a secure cabinet of another suitable certificate holder.
  • Remember, leaving your firearm or shotgun in the care of a hotel or guest house patron, even in their safe, may expose them to being in unlawful possession of a firearm or shotgun, unless they are also certificate holders.

It is illegal to:

  • Have a loaded shotgun or firearm in a public place.
  • Buy or sell a shotgun or firearm unless both parties hold a shotgun or firearm certificate, or are Registered Firearms Dealers, or the seller holds a permit.
  • Sell a shotgun or firearm, which is out of proof.
  • Sell ammunition to someone not in possession of a shotgun or firearm certificate.
  • Shoot game on Sundays, Christmas Day or at night.
  • Shoot game out of season.
  • Shoot protected species including racing pigeons.
  • Shoot wildfowl or game with a shotgun having a magazine capacity greater than two cartridges.
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