Start with these 10 tips:
- Take a hunter safety course. You and your children should complete a certified hunter safety course. Even if your child is too young for certification you can bring them along or teach the course criteria at home.
- Store your firearm under lock and key. Whether you use a vault, a locked firearm case or even trigger locks, keep your firearm out of reach and inoperable when not in use for hunting.
- Study and understand the mechanical operation of your firearm. Firearm construction varies including different actions, safeties, magazines and other intricacies.
- Think ahead of how you'll be using your firearm in the field. If hauling it into a treestand study the correct procedure. If packing it into the backcountry, consider backpacks built to cradle a firearm safely.
- Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times. When moving, loading, transporting and toting, be aware of muzzle direction, and where others are located.
- Enlist "other" firearm safety mechanisms. Most firearms are manufactured with a safety, but you can keep the action open or even remove the bolt to decrease the chance of a firearm going off while moving it.
- Always keep your firearm unloaded until the hunt begins. Many firearm accidents occur in and around vehicles as hunters begin or end a hunt.
- Bring only the correct ammunition for your firearm. Having shotgun or rifle cartridges of varying calibers, and gauges could lead to using the wrong one.
- After the hunt when you get back to your truck, unload your firearm, store it, lock it up and then secure your ammunition before doing anything else. After that chore is completed you can then enjoy a field lunch.
- Clean your firearm after the hunt. Dirt, moisture and other elements can impede the functionality of a firearm over time if not removed. Keep your firearm in top working condition for safe operation.
You always need to hunt safely, but handling your firearm before and after the hunt also requires a defensive nature for a successful and safe ending to your hunting adventure.
For more info on NSSF's Project Child Safe go to ProjectChildSafe.org.