Eighteen years ago, I lost a dear friend in a hunting accident. He and his uncle were going rabbit hunting. They were both experienced outdoorsmen, and may have developed a lax attitude to gun handling. They did not follow all the appropriate safety measures. He recieved a shotgun blast at point-blank range to the upper thigh and torso. Even though he had the top surgeon in the area working on him within 5 minutes (another close friend) he bled to death right there beside his truck. His young wife lost her husband. His 2 year-old son lost his father. I hope his story will encourage others not to take firearm safety lightly.
This instructable is not intended to be the last word on safety, but rather just a start. Good safety habits are developed and maintained over years. It is also not about "How to Shoot/How to Shoot Better". That's a different Instructable, for a different day. It's not "How to Hunt". It's not a Second Amendment forum. It's just a few precautions on how not to shoot yourself or someone else.
NOTE: This is my first instructable, so if you like it, please rate it accordingly. If you have constructive criticisms, those are appreciated as well. Thanks.
Step 1: The Rules of Firearm Safety
1. Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to kill/destroy.
2. Assume the gun is ALWAYS loaded. You would not believe the number of people killed with "unloaded" firearms.
3. Keep your finger away from the trigger (outside of the trigger-gaurd), and the safety (if your gun is equipped with one)in the "Safe" position until you are ready to fire.
4. Always maintain control of your weapon. When in your posession, it should always be pointed in a safe direction. I usually point mine at an angle towards the ground.
5. When in storage, it should be under lock and key, and separated from the ammunition. There is nothing worse than having your weapon fall into the wrong hands (inexperienced, immature, or criminal). Trigger locks and gun-safes go a long way towards preventing unauthorized use of your weapon.
6. Your gun should always be unloaded and stored properly/securely during transportation.
7. Read the instruction manual for your particular firearm. Different types of guns function differently, and you need to know exactly how to operate the one you will be using. Pay particular attention to the manufacturers' safety features (locks, safeties, etc.)
8. Never handle your firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
9. Always know what is behind/beyond your target. Misses and over-pentration happen. You may hit an unintended target as far away as 3 miles with an ordinary hunting rifle.