Saskatchewan Hunter Safety Course


The Twelve Commandments of Firearm Safety

Safety commandments are important rules that must be followed at all times to prevent firearm accidents from occurring.

The first four commandments are known as “The Vital Four ACTS” of firearm handling.

1. Assume every firearm is loaded.

  • Respect firearms at all times.
  • Never "play" with firearms.
  • Never be caught in a position where you have to say, "I didn't know it was loaded!"

2. Control the muzzle direction at all times.

  • Keep the muzzle of the barrel pointed in the safest possible direction.
  • Never point a firearm at a person.
  • Insist that your hunting and shooting companions do the same.
  • Never discharge a firearm near someone's ear. The shock from a muzzle blast can cause permanent hearing loss.

3. Trigger finger must be off the trigger and out of the trigger guard.

  • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you know for sure you are ready to shoot.
  • Watch to make sure branches and other snags don't catch on the trigger by accident.

4. See that the firearm is unloaded - PROVE it safe.

  • Always check a firearm yourself
  • Never take anyone else's word or assure a firearm is unloaded.
  • Never assume a firearm is unloaded, PROVE it SAFE:
    • Point it in the safest possible direction.
    • Remove all ammunition.
    • Observe the chamber to ensure it is empty.
    • Verify the "feeding" path has no ammunition in it.
    • Examine the bore to ensure there are no obstructions in the barrel.

5. Be sure of your target and beyond.

  • Positively identify your target before you fire.
  • Check to be sure the area beyond your target is clear of people, livestock, roads, buildings, etc.
  • The hunter must be even more careful in hilly areas. Another person may walk over a hill behind your target and into your line of fire.

6. Never shoot a rifle at water or a hard, flat surface.

  • Rifle bullets will ricochet off of water or hard, flat surfaces and travel for some distance.
  • Be sure you have an adequate backstop or clear line of fire at all times.
  • The shooter has no control over the direction of a ricocheting bullet.

7. Only point a firearm at things you want to shoot.

  • Avoid all horseplay while handling a firearm.
  • Never use a telescopic scope sight for identifying distant hunters, or as a substitute for binoculars.