Shotgun Safety 
 
The most important rule of gun handling… 
 
NEVER POINT A GUN, LOADED OR UNLOADED, IN AN UNSAFE DIRECTION. 
 
It is estimated that there are more than 1.4 million shotguns legally held in Great Britain, the vast majority of which are used in a safe and responsible manner. Here we provide a code of practice for those who acquire and use them. 
 
SAFETY 
 
Above all, safety is the most important consideration. Always be aware of the direction in which the muzzle of your shotgun is pointing and NEVER point it in an unsafe direction. Whenever you shoot, make sure you know where the shot will go before you touch the trigger. 
 
Follow these simple directions to be safe….. 
 
Carrying a shotgun slip 
 
To prevent a shotgun falling out, if your slip fastening should fail, keep it with the barrels down and stock up when slung over your shoulder. A shotgun should be opened before removing it from the slip. Do not touch the trigger even at this stage. Your first action should always be to check that the barrels are clear while pointing the gun in a safe direction. Don’t point the muzzle end of the slip at anyone. 
 
REMEMBER, A SHOTGUN SHOULD ALWAYS BE CONSIDERED LOADED UNTIL PROVEN EMPTY AND, EVEN THEN, STILL HANDLED AS IF IT WERE LOADED….. 
 
On replacing the shotgun in a slip, you should check the gun is clear and insert the barrels into the slip before closing the gun and then fastening the slip. 
 
Where to find the guns information 
 
If in doubt about the cartridges which are safe to use in your gun, check for this information, which is usually found on the flats of the barrels. You are looking for proof marks, gauge or bore and chamber length. If you are not sure what it all means, ask someone who does know. Your local club, association or police licensing section will also always be pleased to help. 
 
Carrying a shotgun out of a slip 
 
When you are not shooting but have the gun out of its slip, it should normally be carried empty, open and over the crook of the arm, not over the shoulder or in any other way. The muzzle should not be rested on your feet. 
 
Passing a shotgun to someone 
 
When passing a gun to someone it should always be proved empty: that is open, empty and passed stock first so that the empty chambers are visible. 
 
Crossing an obstacle on your own 
 
Open the gun and remove the cartridges, then close the gun and, ensuring that the muzzles do not point at you, lean the gun with stock down and barrels up against or partially through the obstacle so that it cannot slip or fall. Otherwise place the gun carefully on the ground and out of harm’s way so that you can easily reach it from the other side. Climb over the obstacle and retrieve the gun, again using appropriate muzzle awareness, open the gun, check the barrel for obstructions and continue. Carrying the gun over the obstacle is never a good idea. 
 
Crossing an obstacle in company 
 
Guns should be open and unloaded and held by one person while the other person climbs over the obstacle. The guns are then passed over (open, empty and stock first) one by one; the other person then climbs over and retrieves his shotgun on the other side. 
 
Shooting safely 
 
NEVER POINT A GUN, LOADED OR UNLOADED IN AN UNSAFE DIRECTION. 
 
Never shoot unless you are sure it is safe to do so. 
Always have the safety catch on ‘safe’ until the moment before you fire. 
Always bear in mind the possibility of a ricochet, particularly across water or off branches and vegetation. 
Never load a shotgun unless you are expecting a shot. 
Never travel with a loaded shotgun. 
Never put down a loaded shotgun or leave it unattended. 
Never touch the triggers until you want to fire. 
Never attempt to shoot unless you are steady on your feet. 
Never keep a dog attached to yourself while shooting, it may pull you off balance. 
Never shoot unless you are certain of your target and can see it clearly. 
Never shoot at, or near, over head power lines or insulators. 
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