MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recreational safety specialists and the state's 4,100 volunteer hunter education instructors urge all hunters to keep your safety and the safety of those around you in mind at all times this fall.
Hunters following the four firearm safety rules has resulted in a 94% percent reduction in hunting incidents since 1967.
DNR Hunter Education Administrator Jon King said conservation wardens investigate every hunting incident and provide information to the Hunter Education Program to gain a better understanding of how and why incidents occur. "When we look at all of the incidents, we see at least one of the four firearm safety rules being violated every time," King said.
Hunters commonly refer to the four firearm safety rules as TABK.
T: Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.
Never assume a firearm is unloaded even if you are watching as it is unloaded. Make it a habit to treat guns like they are always loaded.
When carrying a gun, setting it down, working with it, putting it away, or getting it out, it is always smart to check the action to make sure that it is unloaded and the safety is on. Be sure to plan on unloading your firearm whenever you are not hunting, which will help you reduce the chance of an accidental discharge.
A: Always point your muzzle in a safe direction.
When you are hunting with your family and friends, there are many ways to carry your firearm. No matter which way you carry your gun, make sure it never is pointed at another person, building or vehicle. A safe direction is one where the bullet will do no harm in the event of an unwanted discharge.
B: Be certain of your target, what is in front of it and what is beyond it.
Positive target identification is a must. Do not shoot at movement. Know what is between you and your target and what is beyond your target. You must be sure of your target before deciding to shoot. Remember your bullet can travel a long way after shooting it; make sure you have a safe backstop.
K: Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
Almost every year, there are incidents of people shooting themselves, friends, houses and vehicles while handling a gun. The main thing to remember when holding a gun is never to put or rest your finger inside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.
"It is not enough to remember the rules, you have to practice them while using a firearm all the time," King said. "Wisconsin hunters have done a great job of practicing the safety rules, and reminders from time to time help keep everyone safer."