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The Four Fundamental Firearm Safety Rules

Firearm Safety Rules

Owning and carrying a firearm is your right as an American citizen, but it’s also a responsibility you can’t take for granted. Knowing and understanding the rules of firearm ownership not only keeps you and your family safe from potential outside danger, it also prevents dangerous situations at home. 

Frontier Justice is dedicated to educating our community about firearm ownership. Safety education is a big part of that curriculum. We want to meet everyone where they are comfortable, and creating a safe environment around firearms helps advance that goal. 

When owning or operating a firearm, there are four fundamental rules you should follow. We break down those rules and how they tie together in this latest blog from our firearm experts. 

Fundamental Rule One: Always assume the firearm is loaded

Firearms are incredibly useful tools that make our lives easier and safer, but they can also be dangerous if not treated with proper respect. It doesn’t matter if your firearm has been unloaded and sitting in your safe for years—when you pick up a firearm, always assume it is loaded. 

Take out the magazine and make sure it’s empty. Check the chamber for rounds that might have been loaded already. It’s crucial to do this both before and after storing your firearm. 

Properly storing your firearm

Keeping your tool safely unloaded and stored is incredibly important for keeping your home safe from any accidents. If you own a firearm, you should also own a firearm safe that is only accessible by you or anyone else in your home you trust with the firearm. 

The last thing you want is for your firearm to fall into the wrong hands. Whether that’s an intruder to your home or a curious child, it’s incredibly important to safely and properly store your firearm.

Fundamental Rule Two: Always point the firearm in a safe direction

Inside our indoor gun ranges, we have a rule requiring all firearms to be kept at the barricades and pointed down-range at all times. This rule keeps both our staff and everyone using our ranges safe, because it follows this second commandment of firearm safety. When handling a firearm, you should never point it at anything you are not willing to destroy. 

Even when unloaded (and remember, you should always treat the gun like it is loaded), you should never point the firearm in a potentially harmful direction unless you are defending yourself. The same goes for any objects you may point your firearm at. If you’re not willing to destroy that object, do not put it in a potential line of fire. 

Fundamental Rule Three: Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire

There’s an excellent saying we use to describe trigger discipline: “On target, on trigger; off target, off trigger.” It doesn’t matter where you’re handling your firearm—on the shooting range, at your home, on a hunt—you should never put your finger on the trigger unless you mean to shoot. 

Once you lift your firearm and point it at the target, have a clear sight picture, and are ready to fire, you can then take your finger and rest it on the trigger. As soon as you have shot your target and you are bringing your firearm to rest, your finger should already be off the trigger. 

Trigger discipline is something we teach in many of our introductory firearms classes. Building that discipline early gives shooters a great foundation for safe and effective firearm ownership. 

Fundamental Rule Four: Know what you’re shooting at, and what lies beyond

If you’re following the above rules correctly, you should already know not to point your firearm at anything you’re not willing to destroy. But, have you considered what’s beyond your target? Say you’re shooting in your backyard at a can or a paper target; what is stopping your bullet after it passes through your initial target? 

Bullets can travel long distances past their targets, further than you may even see depending on the caliber. That’s why you have to be incredibly aware of your surroundings before pulling the trigger. As a firearm owner, you have an obligation to do as little harm as possible when using your tool. Being cognizant of what is behind your target is important, because if you pull that trigger and don’t consider the impact behind your initial target, lives could be changed forever. 

Respect the tool you’re using

None of these previous rules mentioned exist in a vacuum. They work together to promote overall safe handling of your firearm. You assume your firearm is always loaded, so you keep it pointed in a safe direction, with your finger off the trigger, and before firing you consider not only your target, but what lies beyond. If you leave one rule out but follow the other 3, you have failed to safely handle that firearm and could endanger someone’s life or your own.

These rules are the first step towards teaching firearms owners to properly respect their tool. Even experienced shooters need to be reminded of these rules so they don’t get too comfortable and relaxed while shooting. Firearms do not fire on their own, so there is no such thing as an accidental discharge. If you respect your tool and follow these commandments, you can be confident in your firearm safety. 

Tips for practicing firearm safety rules

Knowing the firearm safety rules isn’t enough. It takes diligence and practice to truly engrain these rules into your firearm routine. Below are a few ways to ensure you’re always following the fundamental firearm safety rules.

Take a class

One of the main goals of our introductory firearm courses is to cultivate proper firearm safety early in the process. Here are a few of our skill-building courses that teach you how to safely and effectively use your tool. 

Pistol Skills I

This class teaches students the basic fundamentals of how to handle a handgun safely and how to practice at the range. We use official teaching guidelines from the National Rifle Association and teach new firearm enthusiasts how to properly operate both a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol. We also offer a Pistol Skills I class exclusively for women, so they can learn proper firearm handling in a safe and judgment-free environment. 

Concealed Carry Classes

During this 8-hour class, we go over basic pistol operation for both revolver and semi-automatic handguns, and touch on important topics like safe storage, holster use, firearm cleaning, and ammunition types and storage. We also address important laws, like your state’s use of force laws, protecting persons and property, and the Castle Doctrine. This class fulfills training requirements for concealed carry permits. 

Situational Decision Making

Through the use of our state-of-the-art simulator and real-life examples, this class explores when the use of a firearm may help protect yourself or others in dangerous/high-stress situations. Participants will further their education in the use of deadly force and decision-making on whether to shoot or walk away. No two situations are the same, due to many changing circumstances or “what if’s”. We will explore the many “what if’s” as it relates to the use of a firearm.

Private Lessons

Whether you are a new shooter or just want some additional instruction to improve your skills, a private lesson with an expert Frontier Justice trainer is for you. Our instructors are incredibly knowledgeable and love passing along their knowledge to all levels of firearm enthusiasts.

Practice your skills at a shooting range

A great way to build up your skills and confidence with your firearm is through shooting at a range. This allows you to practice proper firearm discipline and apply the four fundamental rules in a safe and controlled atmosphere. Here are a couple of different drills that will help hone your skills. 

  • Dot torture drills: This is a target system and drill that helps shooters practice multiple pistol skills while using only one target. The target is set up with one dot on the top of the frame, then three rows of three targets cascading downward. Shooters can practice different drills on each of the 10 target dots, do multiple dots at once, or attempt to clear the entire target with one magazine. While going through the dot torture drill, you can practice your firearm safety rules by showing trigger discipline between shots and keeping your firearm pointed at the target or at the ground in a safe direction.
  • Failure to stop drill: This drill is a simple, yet effective way to prepare for personal protection. In the failure drill, a shooter will place two shots in the center mass of the target, then a third shot to the top of the target. Because of its simplicity, this drill can be adjusted greatly on the range. With our programmable target systems, a shooter can practice with moving targets, which provide a limited presentation and require the shooter to fire rapidly and accurately simultaneously. Proper firearm safety rules are a big part of this drill. You should always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire to start the drill, and as soon as it is over you should return your firearm to a safe position.

Frontier Justice is dedicated to firearm safety education

As proponents and supporters of your Second Amendment rights, the team at Frontier Justice is  dedicated to teaching our community about proper and safe firearm operation. We believe safe firearm ownership helps keep our communities safe.

If you want to learn more about the fundamental firearm safety rules, you can simply stop by any of our locations and speak with a firearm expert. You can also sign up for a class, or even check out our store, boutique, and range to see everything we have to offer.

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