Shooting safety reminders

CHENANGO COUNTY – The continued warming of spring often is welcomed by target shooting enthusiasts who can go outside without bulky clothes, hats and gloves that make shooting a cumbersome endeavor. Whether it is just for fun or for competition, safety should always be the first concern when target shooting.

Always read your owner’s manuals for your firearms before shooting them as they may have suggestions or requirements before shooting your firearm. This could be as simple as removing excess oil or grease from certain parts, or what ammunition to use to break in the recoil springs.

Make sure you are familiar with the safety features of your firearm before heading out to the range. Understand how to load and unload the firearm and how to tell if it is loaded or unloaded. Don’t be afraid ask someone to show you what to do if you aren’t sure. Preferably do this when you purchase your firearm. Don’t leave the store until you are confident that you know what you are doing, every salesperson will take the time to make sure you will be safe with your firearm, no matter where you are buying it.

Eye and ear protection keeps you from any possible problems that can arise from firing your firearm. Prolonged exposure to gunfire without hearing protection leads to hearing problems up to complete hearing loss.

If you avoid ear protection because you have to go from wearing to not wearing it so you can converse with the people you are shooting with, consider a pair of earmuffs that have a microphone built in. They operate on one or two AA batteries and allow you to hear the regular noise without it being muffled but they do muffle noises that are over a certain decibel (the exact cutoff depends on the model).

A pair of safety glasses keeps anything from flying into your eyes from the gun going off, such as soot or debris, or even flying cases that are ejected from semi-automatic firearms. You can even invest in colored glasses that make it easier to see your target, like clay pigeons, depending on the ambient light.

Once you get to the range, or wherever you are shooting, start with the basics of firearms safety. If you go to a gun club, some of these steps will already be pretty established. Decide where you are going to be shooting from first. Then decide where you plan to put your targets. Make sure that you pick a target location so that you know what is behind the targets because the bullets will go through the target and keep going until they hit something or gravity results in them falling to the ground.

Shooting into a hillside will allow the bullet to fly through the target and then embed into the soil. Be careful to avoid rocky hillsides as they may cause ricochets.

Shooting from an elevated location will allow the bullet to go through the target and into the ground behind the target. Once you have your shooting location and target locations picked out, set your targets out, getting your firearms out as well.

Keep your firearm unloaded until you are ready to shoot it. Keep the action open to indicate that it is unloaded to the people shooting with you. Once you are done shooting, point the muzzle in a safe direction. If you are walking to your targets to inspect your shooting, don’t leave your firearm pointed towards the targets. If you are shooting at long distance, such as with a rifle, bring binoculars to look at your targets so that you don’t need to keep everyone from shooting while you go check out your targets. To help with this, buy reactive targets that make it easier to see where on the target your bullets hit by making a bright halo around the bullet hole.

With the popularity of binary targets (such as Tannerite) some added precautions should be mentioned. Make sure to completely read the directions on the package before attempting to use any of these targets. When the two ingredients are mixed, this is an explosive. You want to be a good distance away when shooting one of these targets. Typically a high velocity bullet is required to make the target go off so rimfire (.22s) and shotguns won’t work. There are rimfire specific binary targets that are available.

As you shoot throughout the day, make sure to pick up your spent shells or cartridges that are on the ground. They could cause a tripping hazard if you are shooting on a hard surface such as pavement or cement. Plus you keep the area picked up and looking nice. You might even find people who are willing to buy your spent rounds if they reload their own ammunition. Make sure that you are always paying attention to your surroundings so you can anticipate any potential problems that could arise.

Keeping safety first will allow you to enjoy your time at the range, while ensuring that you get to keep on enjoying it into the future.

– Submitted by Mayhood’s Sporting Goods

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