Shotgun Safety: Shoot Straight and Safe This Season

It’s that time of year again! If you’re getting ready to go upland bird hunting in Central Oregon, now is a good time to brush up on your shotgun safety. From what you wear to how you handle the gun, you can dramatically improve your safety this hunting season. Here are some of the most important tips.

Wearing Hunter Orange

For your safety and the safety of any hunting companions who are joining you at the hunting lodge, don’t forget to wear recommended hunting attire that makes you highly visible in the wilderness. It’s been documented that failing to wear hunter orange makes you more than seven times likelier to be the victim of a hunting accident. Oregon is one of ten states that don’t actually require hunter orange, but it’s still a very good idea for safety’s sake.

Handling the Gun

The number one rule of shotgun safety is not to aim the muzzle of your gun at anyone, ever. Aside from this, consider these tips:

  • Keep your gun clean and maintained regularly to avoid mechanical problems.
  • Treat your gun as loaded at all times, even if you think it isn’t.
  • Don’t rely on your gun’s safety--it can fail.
  • Double check that your ammo is a match for your shotgun.

In addition to these tips, remember not to keep your finger on the trigger until it’s time to shoot. Until then, you should rest it on the trigger guard.

Shooting Your Gun

When you’ve chosen a target and you’re ready to shoot, consider your position relative to the target and its elevation. For pheasant hunting or other types of upland bird hunting, the rule of thumb is to shoot a minimum of six feet off the ground, whether aiming on flat ground or up a hill. This is particularly important if you or another hunter has hunting dogs.

You should also be aware of what’s beyond your target before you shoot. Many hunters get so focused on their target that they neglect to notice what’s behind or above it. Do a deliberate check to make sure the way is clear before you pull the trigger.

In the end, only you can take responsibility for how safely you conduct yourself during any hunting excursion. Take heed of these and other important safety tips, but don’t forget to have fun and enjoy yourself while you’re out there hunting game birds this season!

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