Every year, hundreds of hunting accidents occur across America; just ask Vice President Cheyney. A number of these accidents could have been prevented by practicing basic gun safety techniques.
Know your weapon
Read it if your weapon came with an owner's manual. Practice taking apart your weapon and inspecting it completely. If you know what your weapon looks like normally, you will be quick to recognize any abnormalities of the weapon in the area. If you fall while carrying it or drop your weapon, take it apart and inspect it for damage. Be sure the slide works. Don't fire it if you are in doubt about the integrity of your rifle.
Educate yourself about the ammunition that you choose to use. A .22 caliber bullet fired from a rifle can travel over two and a half kilometers. This knowledge is necessary to line up a shot.
Transporting the weapon
Keep your weapon until you're ready to fire unloaded. If you will hike to a new place, unload before starting out. Store the rifle and ammunition and, if possible, keep the storage container secured. Never carry a loaded rifle or on an ATV.
Sighting your prey
When sighting up your shot, there are many things to consider before pulling the trigger. Never shoot at a partly obscured target.
Know what is in front of and behind your target before shooting. Do not shoot animals that appear on hilltops and near the tops of ridges because you cannot identify what may be behind your goal. If your game is water, rocks, or buildings, bear in mind that bullets can ricochet off hard surfaces. Do not use the range to sight your match of the gun. Use your binoculars first, and if the shot is apparent, switch to the extent.
Treat your weapon as if it is loaded at all times
Never look down the barrel of a weapon for any reason. Keep your muzzle pointed away from yourself and others constantly. Learn and utilize safe carrying positions for hauling your rifle in the field.
Keep a clear head
Never go hunting or handle a weapon if you've had any alcohol or drugs which may impair your judgment. Even a sleeping pill the night before can affect your reflexes during the day.
Get a lot of rest the night before your trip and go home early in the event that you end up becoming drowsy.
Sighting a fat bird or a large buck could be exciting. It's important to keep a level head and not let your emotions cloud your judgment. Do not allow yourself to act without thinking through the activity to determine whether it's safe.
Wear your safety gear
Bring along hearing and eye protection and wear them before shooting. Include safety orange in your choice of head gear and body clothing. This helps other hunters in the region distinguish you from the prey.