Firearms Safety Code This booklet has been approved by the Firearms Consultative Committee to assist applicants for shooter’s licences to undergo the written test of their knowledge of safe firearm handling practices. Before attending the Firearm Safety Course and completing the Firearm Safety Test, you should read this booklet thoroughly. Acknowledgements The Firearms Consultative Committee wishes to thank the Firearm Safety Training and Education Sub-committee of the Firearms Consultative Committee for their efforts in compiling this booklet. The Firearms Consultative Committee thanks Mr M. T. Churches, Commissioner of Police, New Zealand and the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council Inc. for their assistance in providing illustrations for this booklet.
INTRODUCTION The objective of the FIREARM SAFETY TRAINING PROGRAM is to encourage all sections of the community to practise Firearm Safety and to ensure that all persons, prior to being granted a shooter’s licence, have received basic FIREARM SAFETY TRAINING and instruction in basic SAFE firearm handling procedures. You may be new to the sport of shooting, you may be an old hand. You may be a rifle shooter, a shotgun shooter or an air rifle shooter, it does not matter. All of the FIREARM SAFETY RULES and ALL OF THE SAFE HANDLING PROCEDURES discussed in this booklet will remain the same for whatever type of firearm you intend to use. If you remember what you learn from this booklet and put into practise the Firearm Safety Rules then you should enjoy the sport of shooting.
FIREARMS ACCIDENTS One of the main objectives of Firearm Safety Training is to reduce the incidence of Firearm Accidents. In reality there is no such thing as a Firearms ACCIDENT. In every case at least one of the FIREARM SAFETY RULES will have been broken. It is essential that you the Firearms Owner are aware of YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES TO: YOURSELF YOUR FAMILY AND TO EVERYONE ELSE In order to be a RESPONSIBLE USER OF FIREARMS, the Basic FIREARM SAFETY RULES MUST BE KNOWN AND APPLIED AT ALL TIMES.
FIREARM SAFETY RULES 1. TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS BEING LOADED Check every firearm yourself. Ensure that the firearm is unloaded and that the action is open when carrying, accepting or passing to or from another person or when removing it from storage. Remember it is the “EMPTY” firearm that kills. 2. ALWAYS POINT FIREARMS IN A SAFE DIRECTION Whether loaded or unloaded, make sure that the muzzle is pointed in a SAFE direction. 3. NEVER HAVE LOADED FIREARMS IN THE CAR, HOME OR CAMP Ensure that when entering a car, house or camp that all ammunition has been removed from all firearms.
4. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AND WHAT IS BEHIND IT Make certain of your target before shooting, also be aware of what is behind your target. 5. NEVER FIRE AT HARD SURFACES OR WATER Consider the area your target is in; could a ricochet occur? A ricochet will almost certainly result from shooting at smooth flat surfaces, water or rocks. 6. STORE AMMUNITION AND FIREARMS SEPARATELY When not in use, your ammunition and your firearm are to be stored separately under lock and key. Not only is this a safety requirement but it is also a legal obligation in the State of Victoria. 7. NO ALCOHOL OR DRUGS WHEN HANDLING FIREARMS Alcohol and/or Drugs or Medicines impair judgment and good judgment is the key to the safe use of Firearms. 8. DO NOT CLIMB FENCES OR OBSTACLES WITH LOADED FIREARMS Make sure before attempting to climb through a fence or negotiate any obstacle that your firearm is unloaded. DO NOT RELY ON SAFETY CATCHES.
OBSERVE THIS CODE: INSIST OTHERS DO THE SAME
LEARN PRACTISE TEACH AND PROMOTE THE FIREARM SAFETY RULES
LOCK STOCK & BARREL This commonly used expression very clearly names the three basic parts of a firearm. THE LOCK is the mechanism which fires the cartridge. Today it is more commonly referred to as “the action”. THE STOCK
is the part by which the firearm is held - the woodwork comprising the butt and the fore end.
THE BARREL is the steel tube through which the projectiles are fired. It is very important that you know how and why your firearm operates. It is suggested that you read all the instructions that come with your firearm. If you buy a second hand firearm 4
ascertain of the person selling the firearm the cleaning and operating instructions. Don’t rely on the fact that you think that you know how to do it. It could have disastrous consequences. If you think that your firearm is faulty have it looked at by a competent GUNSMITH.
TYPES OF FIREARMS AND ACTIONS There are many different types of firearms available in Australia today but, irrespective of the type or calibre you intend to purchase as your first firearm, it is important that you have some knowledge of the different types of actions. Let’s look at an explanation of the words used to describe the seven basic functions of a firearm. This is a generalisation of basic principles which can be applied, more or less, to every type of firearm. FEEDS COCKS
inserts a live round or cartridge into the chamber. compresses the firing pin main spring and engages the firing pin to the trigger mechanism. LOCKS locks the bolt tight to the breech ready to fire when the trigger is pulled. FIRES discharges (or shoots) one round. UNLOCKS unlocks the bolt from the breech face. EXTRACTS removes the case (fired or unfired) from the chamber. EJECTS throws the case clear of the firearm. As you can see each of the seven steps is employed each and every time a firearm is used no matter what type of firearm. In some firearms the seven steps may not be obvious but rest assured they all need to take place in order for the firearm to operate correctly.
ACTION TYPES There are six different types of actions which are commonly found in Australia today. You will over the next few pages see all of these actions see all of these actions and an explanation in general of how they work, BUT FIRST WE MUST UNDERSTAND WHAT IS CONSIDERED TO BE A FIREARM AS DEFINED BY THE FIREARMS ACT 1958. “FIREARM” means any weapon designed or adapted to discharge shot or a bullet or other missile by the expansion of gases produced in the weapon by the ignition of strongly combustible materials or by compressed air or other gases whether stored in the weapon in pressurised containers or produced in the weapon by mechanical means. So now that we know what a Firearm is let us look at the Action Types.
AIR RIFLES An air rifle is the type of firearm which young people most commonly come into contact with. They are relatively inexpensive to buy and operate. What mus be remembered, is that they are FIREARMS and they are capable of causing serious injury. They are not toys and must be treated with the same care as any other firearm.
BREAK-OPEN SINGLE OR DOUBLE BARREL FIREARMS The firearm generally fitted with this type of action is the single or double barrelled shotgun. This type of firearm is very popular in Victoria and is in the main used on moving targets. The most popular gauges are 20g. 12g. and .410 calibre. The break-open single or double barrel shotgun generally1. 2. 3. 4. 5. & 6. 7.
LOADS Feeds by hand Locks Fires Unlocks Extracts and Cocks Ejects. UNLOADS (this will be done either automatically or by hand, it will depend on the type of firearm).
SHOTGUN ammunition (see diagram): A cartridge or cartridges are fed into the barrels by hand. The barrels are then closed, allowing action to LOCK. The shotgun at this point is LOADED AND READY TO FIRE; EXTREME CAUTION MUST BE EXERCISED AT THIS TIME.
In order to fire the shotgun a simple squeeze of the trigger is all that is required. Once fired the locking lever is moved to the right allowing the action to break open (UNLOCK). The fired or unfired cartridges as the case may be, may then be removed from the chamber (UNLOAD). This then completes functions 1-7.
WARNING THERE ARE MANY OLD SHOTGUNS STILL IN EXISTENCE TODAY THAT WERE NOT MANUFACTURED TO USE MODERN SMOKELESS POWDERS. ALL OLD SHOTGUNS SHOULD BE INSPECTED BY AN EXPERT. DO NOT TAKE ANY CHANCES WITH THESE OLDER TYPE FIREARMS, THEY ARE LIABLE TO EXPLODE IF THE WRONG AMMUNITION IS USED.
THE BOLT ACTION FIREARM In general the term bolt action refers to rifles of all calibres. However we must remember that some shotguns are also bot actions. This type of shotgun is not very popular these days but many of them were sold in days past. The bolt action, like all other actions, generally follows the same 7 steps of operation1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Feeds (cocks) Locks Fires Unlocks Cocks Extracts Ejects
LOADS Bolt forward Bolt handle lowered
Bolt handle lifted Bolt rearward
Pushing the bolt forward and turning it down feeds a round into the chamber and locks the action. The firearm can now be fired by squeezing the trigger. Lifting the bolt handle and pulling it to the rear completes functions 5 to 7.
Bolt action firearms may be single shot or fitted with one of several types of magazine. They are sometimes referred to as bolt action repeaters.
SAFETY CATCHES To carry a loaded firearm relying on the Safety Catch is looking for disaster to happen. We must remember that Safety Catches are only a supplement for Safe Handling practices. They are mechanical, they are subject to failure at any time, they can be accidentally released and should never be solely relied upon.
THE LEVER ACTION FIREARM This type of firearm is more than likely the most easily recognised firearm of all, it has been seen in action in many Western movies and was dubbed the “GUN THAT WON THE WEST”. This type of action has proved to be very popular with all age groups. It can be purchased in both “CENTRE FIRE” and “RIM FIRE” calibres. This type of firearm, because of its internal magazine, its exposed hammer and the difficulty of ensuring that the breech and the magazine are empty, requires an even higher level of safety than other types of firearms. If you are going to use a Lever Action Firearm, then ensure that you are fully aware of the operating and Safety procedures associated with this type of firearm.
The Lever Action generally1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Feeds Locks Fires Unlocks Extracts Cocks Ejects
The lever, which is attached to the bolt, is moved upward, feeding the round into the chamber and locking the action. The firearm may now be fired by squeezing the trigger. The lever is then moved downward and completes functions 4-7. Again we must remember that there are several things about a lever action firearm that require special attention. 1. EXPOSED HAMMER, which may catch on clothing or scrub and inadvertently become cocked. 2. TUBULAR MAGAZINE. Some models may be of some considerable age. The magazine spring which has been continually compressed and expanded may have become weakened, rusted through or broken. The magazine tube may have been dented or have dirt or other matter in t causing a round to hang up, or in fact a round may even be slightly bent again causing a hang up. If a round hangs up in the magazine you may work the action several times and think that there are no further rounds n the magazine when in fact there is still a round in the magazine. A knock at a later time could cause the round to become free and be accidentally fed into the breech and cause an unintentional firing of the firearm. ON EVERY OCCASION PRIOR TO PUTTING A FIREARM WITH A TUBULAR MAGAZINE AWAY AFTER USE YOU SHOULD ENSURE THAT THE MAGAZINE IS TOTALLY FREE OF AMMUNITION. 3. COCKING THE FIREARM. We must remember that every time that the lever is operated (pulled down and returned up) the firearm IS COCKED (the hammer is fully back). Extreme care must be exercised at this time.
THE SLIDE OR PUMP ACTION FIREARM The pump or slide action generally 1. Feeds 2. Locks SLIDE FORWARD LOADS 3. Fires 4. Unlocks 5. Extracts SLIDE REARWARD UNLOADS 6. Cocks 7. Ejects The fore end, which is attached to the action bar and also to the bolt, is pushed forward feeding a round into the chamber and locking the action. The firearm can now be fired by squeezing the trigger. The fore end is then pulled to the rear, completing functions 4 to 7.
THE SLIDE OR PUMP ACTION This is very similar to the “Lever Action” and is operated by moving the fore end of the stock instead of a lever. It is also known as a “Trombone Action”. As with the lever action this is known as a “sliding block”. Usually it has a tubular magazine and is susceptible to the same problems of denting and spring weakening as previously described for Lever Action rifles. Particular care is required with this firearm because of – 1. EXPOSED HAMMER. (Some models are produced with exposed hammers). 2. TUBULAR MAGAZINE. (Some models are available with rotary and box type magazines.)
You must remember, as with the Lever Action, if your firearm has a tubular magazine or an exposed hammer, you must exercise extreme caution when unloading the firearm to ensure that the magazine is completely empty.
THE SEMI-AUTOMATIC OR SELF-LOADING FIREARM The semi-automatic action generally – 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Feeds Locks Fires Unlocks Extracts Cocks Ejects
There are two distinct types: (a) THE OPEN COCKED POSITION In one type, after firing a round, the block remains to the rear. When the trigger is squeezed, automatically – • • • • (b)
The block moves forward A round is fed into the chamber The firing pin strikes the round The block is driven to the rear again, leaving a cocked firearm, ready to fire again THE CLOSED COCKED POSITION
After firing a round the block automatically moves forward again to feed the next round into the chamber. When the trigger is squeezed – • • • •
The firing pin strikes the round The block then moves rearward, compressing the return spring The block is driven forward, feeding the next round The firing pin spring is compressed, leaving the firearm loaded, cocked and ready to fire.
YOU MUST REMEMBER WITH THIS TYPE OF FIREARM EVERY TIME A ROUND IS FIRED IT RE-COCKS ITSELF AND IS READY TO FIRE AGAIN. This type of firearm is frequently manufactured with a tubular magazine, so again you must exercise caution when unloading. Make sure that the magazine is completely empty.
FIREARM SAFETY RULES EXPLAINED Now that you have some basic knowledge on how your firearm operates let’s go over the SAFETY RULES again and explain them a little more.
1. TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS BEING LOADED Check every firearm yourself, DO NOT take the word of another person that a firearm is unloaded. Pass or accept only open and unloaded firearms. NEVER EVER accept or pass a firearm to another person unless the breech is open and all ammunition has been removed from the firearm. Get to know your own Firearm; learn thoroughly the way it works; what action to take in case of a jam or malfunction; how to tell if it is loaded or unloaded; how to remove the magazine and how to care for your firearm correctly. Keep you finger off the trigger and keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction; be muzzle conscious. If you do not know how to open a firearm LEAVE IT ALONE. When handing a firearm to another person remember the following points: • • • •
Point the muzzle in a safe direction; Open the bolt or action; Check that the breech is empty; Check that the magazine is empty or has been removed.
REMEMBER: NEVER LEAVE FIREARMS LOADED Each year several people (often children) are injured or killed because a careless firearm user left a firearm loaded. Remember, when you are not using your firearm unload it, remove all rounds or cartridges from the breech and the magazine. TREAT ALL FIREARMS AS IF THEY ARE LOADED TIMES FOR SPECIAL CARE: Be particularly careful at the moment of closing, cocking, taking off the safety catch, uncocking or opening a loaded firearm. Special care is required when using the action to unload live ammunition from a firearm, e.g. a Lever Action. These are danger times when a firearm can fire without warning.
2. ALWAYS POINT FIREARMS IN A SAFE DIRECTION Loaded or unloaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction. WHAT IS A SAFE DIRECTION? Many theories abound on this subject, all of them most likely correct, but it always comes to back simply this, “A SAFE DIRECTION WILL DEPEND ON WHERE YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU ARE DOING”. Remember bullets can go through walls, ceilings and car doors with relative ease. DO NOT AT ANY TIME POINT ANY FIREARM AT ANYONE ELSE OR YOURSELF. Do not allow careless habits to form. Concentrate on what you are doing, don’t become sidetracked and no day-dreaming. Never lean your firearms against a vehicle or put them in any place where they could slide or fall causing an uncontrolled discharge of the firearm. When removing a firearm from a vehicle or boat be very careful to remove the firearm butt first, NEVER remove it MUZZLE FIRST. Remember, do not let the muzzle point at anyone else, or yourself. BE MUZZLE CONSCIOUS.
3. NEVER HAVE LOADED FIREARMS IN THE CAR, HOME OR CAMP NEVER TAKE LOADED FIREARMS INTO THE CAR, THE HOME OR THE CAMP. Many people have been injured or killed in these situations due to this rule being broken. Before entering a car, home or camp completely unload your firearm. Ensure that the action is open and that there is no ammunition in either the breech or the magazine. Pay particular attention to tubular or rotary magazines to ensure that all rounds are removed.
4. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AND WHAT IS BEHIND IT Make sure of your target before firing. It is not good enough to just think that what you see is your target. REMEMBER:
DO NOT FIRE AT MOVEMENT ONLY DO NOT FIRE AT COLOUR ONLY DO NOT FIRE AT SOUND ONLY DO NOT FIRE AT SHAPE ONLY Your target must be positively identified before firing; if in doubt, DON’T SHOOT. In the early morning or late evening, it is not easy to see clearly. Be sure the object you are aiming at is clearly identified and that it is in full view before you shoot. WHAT IS BEHIND YOUR TARGET? What will happen if you miss the target or the bullet passes through the target? What MIGHT you hit between you and your target?
The firing zone is not only the area between you and your target, but also the area beyond the target which is still within the extreme range of your firearm. The danger ranges, which are killing ranges for projectiles, may generally be: .22 rim fire .303 Air rifle Shotgun
1500 metres 3600 metres 150 metres up to 300 metres
Check your firing zone with special care when shooting at birds in flight. Shotguns need extra care because of the greater spread of pellets. It is essential that you ensure that your sights are correctly aligned, especially when using a telescopic sight; if your sights are not correctly aligned then you may miss your target and increase the chance of hitting something that you did not intend to hit.
NEVER FIRE AT HARD SURFACES OR WATER Consider the area in which you are shooting. Could a ricochet occur? A ricochet will almost certainly result from shooting at water or smooth flat surfaces and rocks. Remember that when a ricochet occurs you have lost control of where the projectile will finish up, resulting in possible injury to another person or damage to property. Be especially careful when shooting with an air rifle. Because of the slow velocity of pellets fired from air rifles they are very prone to ricochet and should be treated with the utmost caution. Rim fire and centre fire rifle bullets are prone to ricochet as they lose velocity at the end of their travel, which as we have already seen in Rule 4 can be some considerable distance. When shooting with a shotgun your chances of a ricochet are multiplied by the number of pellets in the cartridge that you are using. It takes only one pellet to cause injury. Be particularly aware of this if you are shooting over water or over hard flat surfaces.
6. STORE FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION SEPARATELY When not in use, lock away firearms and ammunition separately. Not only is this good sense, but in Victoria there is a legal obligation on firearms owners to store firearms and ammunition separately in locked repositories or similar containers. FIREARM SAFETY BEGINS AT HOME As a firearms owner you are responsible for making absolutely sure that all the safety requirements within the home are carried out. Over the years a considerable number of children have been killed or injured because firearms were left in an unsafe condition in the home. So THINK when putting your firearm away. Do not put YOUR FAMILY AT RISK. Before storing your firearms – (a) (b) (c) (d)
Make sure both the magazine and chamber are empty Clean the firearm prior to putting it away If possible remove the bolt and magazine and lock away separately from the firearm For lever, pump action or self-loading firearms, don’t try to remove the action. Triggerlocking devices are available for this type of firearm. (e) Store firearms and ammunition separately in locked containers or similar repositories. REMEMBER YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO YOUR FAMILY AND TO OTHERS
Make sure that all members of your family, especially the children, are aware of what a firearm is, what it is designed for, and WHY IT MUST NOT BE TOUCHED.
7. NO ALCOHOL OR DRUGS WHEN HANDLING FIREARMS Good judgment is the key to safe firearms use. When using firearms: AVOID ALCOHOLIC DRINKS OR DRUGS/MEDICINES Alcohol and many day to day drugs and medicines (including hard drugs and drugs prescribed as medication) dull and slow your mental and physical reactions. At the same time you may be unaware of this slowing – even feel you are in better control than normal. When using firearms this is an extremely dangerous condition as the ability to recognise and react to dangerous situations swiftly and accurately is essential. ALCOHOL AND DRUGS MUST NEVER BE TAKEN Just before you go shooting, whilst you are shooting or until your firearm has been put safely away. Refuse to shoot with others who are, or have been, drinking alcohol or taking drugs/medicines. ALCOHOL, FIREARMS AND DRUGS DO NOT MIX
8. DO NOT CLIMB FENCES OR OBSTACLES WITH LOADED
FIREARMS Each year here are shooters who are shot (usually by their own firearm) as they attempt to cross fences and/or obstacles with loaded firearms. Before attempting to negotiate a fence or obstacle unload your firearm. DO NOT RELY ON SAFETY CATCHES. Safety catches at best only supplement the safe handling of firearms. If attempting to cross a fence alone: (a) unload your firearm; (b) place it through the fence and lay it on the ground with the muzzle pointing in a SAFE DIRECTION. Then cross the fence away from your firearm. If crossing a fence with a friend: (a) ensure all firearms are unloaded; (b) use the same method as for crossing alone, or hand your unloaded firearm to your companion and then cross the fence. Then have your companion hand to you your unloaded firearm and his or her unloaded firearm.
These two methods of crossing, if carried out correctly, will not result in anyone being injured by a firearm, as could be the case if neither method was used. THINK BEFORE YOU CROSS: UNLOAD THAT FIREARM.
AIR RIFLE SHOOTING The modern air rifle with or without rifled barrel is capable of surprising accuracy. It is not a toy and used under suitable conditions can give great satisfaction to all members of a family and is an excellent means of teaching firearms safety and the responsible use of firearms to children. Safe Shooting and Training Air rifles, if carelessly used, can cause injuries but the danger of serious injury is very small. The exception is eye injury which could result in the loss of sight and the most likely cause of this is a ricochet. When a pellet ricochets, it may even bounce back, just as a golf ball can. This danger can be eliminated by always shooting at a suitable type of target. Always remember that the target (and base) must be large enough to retain all shots. With inexperienced shooters, this means a large target area, It is important to remember that ricochet can only happen when shooting at unsuitable targets. The most likely cause is targets that are mounted on a wooden base or a hard-board sheet such as masonite. IMPORTANT: Regardless of what type of target you use if you ever have a ricochet or a pellet bounce back STOP SHOOTING and find out what happened.
Special Safety Precautions As with any firearm the different air rifles require different safety procedures. With the break type they can be carried “broken”. Those types where a lever is turned “up” to insert the pellet are best carried with the pellet lever in the “up” position. Both types should be carried with the bolt “open”. Remember, as with any firearm you should never allow the air rifle to point in an unsafe direction. For protection in all types of shooting it is advisable to wear safety glasses. Eyes are susceptible to injury, and while the odds are greatly in favour of you never suffering eye injury it is always best to be prepared. Equally important is the use of ear muffs or plugs. Repeated exposure to loud noise over a period of time may affect your hearing if you do not take the precaution of wearing hearing protection. Maintenance Never fire your air rifle without a pellet as this can cause damage. Always leave your air rifle in the “fired” or “uncocked” position. Most manufacturers advise the use of silicone oil applied very sparingly – just moisten. No oil is to be put in the compression cylinder. Sights and sightings Air rifles are usually fitted with “open” sights. With these sights the tip of the foresight is kept in the centre of, and in line with, the shoulders of the backsight (see Fig. 1). The sights should be adjusted so that the pellets strike the target at the position indicated by the tip of the foresight. Adjusting sights If on shooting, the pellets do not hit where the firearm is aimed, the sights must be adjusted, usually known as “shooting in”. To do this, shoot a group (say 5 shots) carefully aimed as above with the rifle held in the hands. You can support your hands but do not let the rifle touch any object. If the pellets are not hitting where you aimed, move the sights using these two simple rules: 1. Front sight follows the pellet holes; and/or 2. Rear sight the reverse. (It is easy to remember, “Front Follow”, “Rear Reverse”.) This means that if your group is high, the front sight is raised, or the back sight is lowered, that is, the reverse.
Similarly, for “windage”, if your group is to the right, front sight is moved to the right or back sight is moved in the reverse direction, that is to the left. If your rifle has an aperture or peep sight the tip of the backsight is held in the centre of the aperture (see Fig. 2) and pellets should strike at that position on the target.
Conclusion Air rifles provide a cheap and convenient method of learning to shoot. Many champion shooters spend hours practising hold and aiming, without even firing a shot. Providing you have a completely safe pellet trap system, because the air rifle is so cheap to shoot, you can get much more, and better, practice with your air rifle.
TRANSPORT OF FIREARMS All firearms should be transported in a properly constructed carry case or carry bag. All firearms should be completely unloaded and where applicable the bolt removed. If travelling by air it is advisable to contact the airline with which you are travelling well before your departure date and ascertain what its requirements are as to how your firearms are to be transported. Listed below are a few tips that may assist you when travelling by air: (a) firearm must be in locked container (b) passenger must have key to container (c) firearm will be checked by airline staff at check-in counter to ensure that it is unloaded. Passengers are advised to check in at least 45 minutes earlier than normal to enable this to be done. (d) All ammunition must be packed in manufacturer’s packaging. No loose ammunition nor ammunition not stored in the manufacturer’s packaging will be carried.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WILL AMMUNITION OR FIREARMS BE PERMITTED TO BE CARRIED IN THE PASSENGER COMPARTMENT OF ANY AIRCRAFT. On trains or buses all firearms should be carried in hard cases with the ammunition carried in a separate container from the firearm. The State Transport Authority recommends that if travelling on country trains any firearms should be transported with general luggage and not in the passenger compartments. If travelling on MET vehicles, firearms are to be at all times carried in a suitable container or bag. If you are travelling and you have to carry your firearm with you IT IS SUGGESTED THAT YOU CONTACT THE CARRIER WITH WHICH YOU ARE TRAVELLING AND ASCERTAIN ITS WISHES AS TO THE CARRIAGE OF YOUR FIREARMS.
STORAGE OF FIREARMS It is a legal requirement in the State of Victoria to store firearms and ammunition in separate locked containers. Let’s face it, it is also a good safety practice. Many firearm incidents have occurred around the home due to ammunition and firearms being stored together. The people who most frequently suffer injuries are children who through natural curiosity find a firearm
with the ammunition and then play, with the result being that they may end up injured or killed. SO LOCK UP YOUR FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION SEPARATELY. NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES LEAVE ANY AMMUNITION EITHER IN THE BREECH OR IN THE MAGAZINE. REMEMBER YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO ALL OTHER PERSONS TO ACT RESPONSIBLY IN THE CARE AND HANDLING OF YOUR FIREARM. When removing a firearm from the boot of a car or similar place remember: REMOVE IT BUTT FIRST. Never remove a firearm muzzle first. People have shot themselves or their companions by removing a firearm from storage muzzle first. When storing a firearm never block the barrel with soft cloth or similar, just make sure the barrel is clean and give your firearm a light coat of oil. If possible remove the bolt and store it separately from your firearm; this makes it even more difficult for an accident to occur.
AMMUNITION As we all know, ammunition basically consists of three types: (a) RIM FIRE (b) CENTRE FIRE (c) SHOTGUN CARTRIDGES It is very important that you do not mix up your ammunition. You should only carry with you the exact ammunition for the firearm you are using. It is very easy to confuse centre fire rounds of different calibres. The wrong ammunition in a firearm could result in the firearm exploding and injuring the user.
It is very important that you be able to identify and recognise the different types of ammunition to ensure that you avoid mixing your ammunition. Never under any circumstances attempt to dry out ammunition by placing it in a warm oven, a microwave oven or in front of a fire; you may cause an explosion almost certainly resulting in damage and or injury. The test firing of ammunition should only by carried out in an area that is safe to do so (i.e. a shooting range). HOME IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO DO SO. Never check the action of a firearm at home with ammunition. This should be done in an area where it is safe to do so. How many times have you heard this phrase: “HE WAS KILLED WHEN HE ACCIDENTALLY SHOT HIMSELF AT HOME WHILE CLEANING HIS FIREARM”. Remember, when checking the action “be muzzle conscious”; ensure that you point your firearm in a safe direction at all times.
IN THE FIELD This is a very important area for novice shooters. It is essential that you understand the basic principles that apply to using firearms in the field. In the field firearms must be carried unloaded with the action open, unless you are in your shooting area and you are expecting game to be flushed. Always point your firearm in a safe direction, be aware of your surroundings, and if hunting with companions be especially careful of where your muzzle is pointing; be aware of where your companions are, especially in thick scrub where you may lose sight of them. If hunting in a party such as in a quail flush where shooters are walking up quail, line abreast, be extremely conscious of the person either side of you. Take a shot only if the target is in front of you or if you are the last shooter on either end of the line and you can turn away from your companions and take a shot in safety. For this type of shooting it is best to accompany people who are experienced in this type of hunting.
If stalking game with companions and you are walking in Indian file (one behind the other), then the ONLY PERSON WHO SHOULD HAVE HIS FIREARM LOADED IS THE PERSON IN THE LEAD. If shooting from a boat or punt keep both hands on your firearm and control the direction of the muzzle at all times. Do not carry LOADED firearms in a boat or punt unless you are stationary and ready to shoot. Barrel obstructions are very common in the field due to objects such as mud, twigs etc, becoming lodged in the barrel. It pays to check your barrel frequently to ensure that you do not have an obstruction. If you drop your firearm you should immediately check the barrel for obstructions. If a cartridge when fired produces an unusual or soft sound, you should check the barrel for an obstruction before firing again. When shooting in the field do not use set triggers or hair triggers. These are designed for target shooting and really have no place in the field. A simple knock is all it may take to cause an unintentional firing of the firearm. When leaving or returning to a vehicle or camp make sure that your firearm is completely unloaded and where possible the magazine and bolt should be removed. A person who handles firearms safely should refuse to hunt with a person who insists on violating the principles of safe firearms handling. REMEMBER, IN THE FIELD AS ELSEWHERE FIREARMS AND ALCOHOL DO NOT MIX. When in the field ensure that your dress is suitable for the conditions that you may encounter, and if going into mountainous areas be prepared for sudden changes in the weather. Wear appropriate footwear when hunting to protect your feet from injury and prevent you from slipping. THONGS AND SANDALS ARE NOT SAFE AT ANY TIME WHILST USING FIREARMS. A HAT: Should be worn when hunting. In the winter a beanie or similar to keep your head warm. (approx. 60% of body heat is lost through your head). In the summer months a suitable hat should be worn to shade your face and head. KNIVES: Should be carried in a sheath so that in the case of a fall the chance of your being wounded by your knife will be minimal. HEARING PROTECTION: Whenever firearms are used it is advisable to wear hearing protection. Ear muffs may be impractical in the field but ear plugs will suffice. EYE PROTECTION: Should be worn at all times when using firearms to minimise the chances of damage to your eyes. Only wear good quality, impact resistant shooting glasses. All species of game, as distinct from vermin, have open and closed seasons. Be a responsible shooter and only hunt game during the open seasons. For more information on this subject contact the Department of Conservation and Environment. 27
It pays to be a member of a shooting club. It is through these clubs that you will learn more about your chosen sport. This booklet is only an introduction and a guide to basic safe handling procedures. Litter: Please dispose of litter properly, do not leave your rubbish behind you; if you carry it in, then carry it out.
FIRING ZONE The firing zone is that area between you and your target and the area directly behind your target. Consider what may happen if you should miss your target, or the projectile goes through your target and keeps going.
SIGHTING IN YOUR RIFLE Every firearm shoots differently. Some will shoot high, some low and some either to the left or the right, or a combination of these. In order to ensure that you hit what you aim at you will need to sight in your firearm. If you are using a telescopic sight then you will need to be very careful. Remember that a telescopic sight restricts your view of the firing zone. You may not see all that is in the area. Sighting in is best carried out on an established range. In any case it should be carried out in a place that is safely away from humans, stock or property. A safe back stop such as a soft clay bank should be used in order to stop all projectiles. From 25 metres shoot and adjust sights until the point of aim and the place the bullets hit are the same. If you are using open sights always move the rear sight in the direction you want the point of impact to move. The foresight is the reverse of this. With a telescopic sight follow the arrows. Then go back to 100 metres, fire shots in pairs, and adjust. WARNING: When using a firearm fitted with a telescopic sight, there is an area at the muzzle and a short distance beyond it which is not visible through the telescopic sight. Care should be taken to ensure that no object or obstacle is within this DANGER ZONE before firing. The size of the Danger Zone will vary depending on the power of your telescopic sight. GET TO KNOW YOUR FIREARM; BE THOROUGHLY AWARE OF THE WAY IT WORKS, AND HOW TO LOOK AFTER IT PROPERLY.
SPOTLIGHTS Spotlighting is a very popular form of hunting. However it is a form of hunting that requires a great deal of care and thought. You must know the area in which you are shooting. Remember when using a spotlight the only are that you can see is the area within the spotlight beam, be sure of your target. If you have any doubt whatsoever about taking the shot then DON’T TAKE IT. Remember Rule 4: “Identify your target and what is behind it.”
SHOTGUNS One of the most popular types of firearm used in Victoria is the shotgun. Again, we must exercise caution when using this type of firearm. Shotguns come in several types of action: BREAK OPEN: either double barrel, side by side or double barrel over and under. Single barrel break open shotguns are also popular, as are: PUMP ACTION
What must be remembered when using a shot gun is that shotgun pellets spread further over long distances and therefore your firing zone will increase. Also remember when shooting at moving targets the danger area will increase due to the fact that your target is moving. Be particularly aware of the location of other shooters who may be nearby. Do not use modern ammunition in old shotguns. They may not be strong enough to withstand the pressures created by modern powders.
Check to see what length cartridges your shot gun is designed to take. DO NOT LOAD 76MM CARTRIDGES INTO A SHOTGUN DESIGNED TO TAKE 70MM cartridges. Do not mix 70mm and 76mm cartridges together.
MUZZLE LOADING FIREARMS MUZZLE LOADING FIREARMS are becoming a very popular type of firearm in Australia. As with all other types of firearms great care is required when using and handling this type of firearm.
When loading a muzzle loading firearm care is needed first to ensure that it is not already loaded. A simple way to ensure that there is nothing already down the barrel is to put a ramrod or wooden dowel down the bore. When it will go no further, mark the dowel at the muzzle. Remove the dowel and position it on the outside of the barrel with the mark at the muzzle. The dowel should reach the flash hole. If the dowel does not, then the firearm may be loaded and dangerous. In any case you will not be able to safely load and fire it. You should take it to a gunsmith. This method of checking may be applied to muzzle loading hand guns as well as long arms. If the barrel is clean and you are sure that it is empty and the flash hole is clear, a measure of black powder can be poured down the barrel. A suitable bullet or ball and patch can then be pushed down the bore. Note that only black powder ir its modern equivalent may be used with safety. Powder made for modern firearms MUST NOT BE USED. Often a short starter rod is used to start the projectile down the bore. After that the ramrod should be used to push the projectile firmly against the charge. There should be no gap between the projectile and the charge. When loading, you must be careful not to double up on the powder charge and not to insert more than one projectile. After priming the flash pan or fitting a percussion cap, the firearm may be fired, taking care to hold your aim until it discharges. There may be quite a delay before the projectile is fired from a flintlock firearm, and with a percussion firearm the charge may not ignite immediately. This is known as a “hang fire” and you must hold your aim for several seconds until the discharge takes place. If the firearm fails to discharge, be careful to keep the firearm pointing in a safe direction while you clear the flash hole, re-prime, and again attempt to fire. When reloading, there is a danger that a glowing ember from the recently fired black powder may remain in the barrel. Use a damp patch to clean the bore and hold the muzzle away from your face and body while pouring the next charge down the barrel. Use a suitable powder measure rather that pouring powder down the barrel straight from a powder flask. Once your muzzle loading firearm has been loaded it is important to see that it is fired, or the charge and projectile is removed to ensure that it is not double loaded at a later time. Remember think safe, be safe, it is very easy to double load this type of firearm.
IS YOUR FIREARM SAFE? It is dangerous to use any firearm that you believe is not in safe working order. Do not attempt to repair firearms yourself, it is much safer to take suspect firearms to a gun dealer to have them inspected and any repairs that need doing carried out by a gunsmith. A gunsmith has the experience and equipment to do the job. It may cost you a few dollars but an accident will cost you a lot more. The following are a few items that may require attention from time to time. HEAD SPACE: The distance between the base of the chambered cartridge and the face of the bolt. FIRING PIN PROTRUSION AND SHAPE: Affecting safe, reliable firing. TIGHTNESS OF ACTION & STOCK: Affecting accuracy. CONDITION OF BARREL & CHAMBER: Important for safety as well as accuracy. GENERAL CONDITION OF FIREARM INCLUDING SAFETY CATCH: Particularly important for self loading shot guns and rifles. TRIGGER PULL: Vital for both safety and accuracy. The following are recommended minimum trigger pull weights. TYPE OF FIREARM
MINIMUM TRIGGER PULL
.22 RIM FIRE RIFLE CENTREFIRE SPORTING RIFLE SINGLE TRIGGER SHOT GUNS DOUBLE TRIGGER SHOT GUNS
3.5 lb or 1.5 kg 3.5 lb or 1.5 kg 3.5 lb or 1.5 kg 3.5 lb or 1.5 kg 1st trigger 4 lb or 1.8 kg 2nd trigger As regulated by competition rules Follow manufacturers rcommendations
TARGET RIFLES: SET TRIGGERS:
Self Loading Firearms often have a heavier pull than conventional firearms. Manufacturers recommendations should be strictly adhered to. WARNING: DO NOT EXCHANGE BOLTS, BOLT HEADS OR OTHER ACTION PARTS. THESE MUST BE FITTED BY A GUNSMITH.
DO’S AND DON’TS WITH FIREARMS Accidents with firearms occur due to people doing the wrong thing with their firearms. Most of these so called accidents could have been avoided if the do’s and don’ts of firearms use, as outlined below, had been observed. DO’S
• • • • • • • • •
DO POINT THE MUZZLE IN A SAFE DIRECTION, WHETHER THE FIREARM IS LOADED OR UNLOADED DO TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS BEING LOADED CHECK EVERY FIREARM YOURSELF. PASS OR ACCEPT ONLY OPEN AND UNLOADED FIREARMS DO IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AND CHECK THAT YOU HAVE A CLEAR FIELD OF FIRE DO MAKE SURE THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE A BARREL OBSTRUCTION BEFORE FIRING DO ENSURE THAT YOUR FIREARM IS UNLOADED PRIOR TO LEAGVING THE SHOOTING AREA DO GET THE PERMISSION OF LANDHOLDERS PRIOR TO ENTERING THEIR PROPERTY WITH A FIREARM DO LOCK YOUR FIREARM AND AMMUNITION AWAY IN SEPARATE LOCKED CONTAINERS WHEN THEY ARE NOT IN USE DO HAVE YOUR EYESIGHT CHECKED. SHOOTING REQUIRES GOOD VISION FOR TARGET IDENTIFICATION AND ACCURACY DO HAVE YOUR FIREARM CHECKED PERIODICALLY BY A GUNSMITH
DON’TS • • • • •
• • • • •
DON’T POINT A FIREARM AT ANYONE INCLUDING YOURSELF DON’T LEAVE FIREARMS LOADED AT ANY TIME DON’T DRINK ALCOHOL OR TAKE DRUGS PRIOR TO, OR WHEN HANDLING FIREARMS DON’T GO SHOOTING WITH ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN DRINKING ALCOHOL TAKING MEDICATION DON’T SHOOT WHEN IN DOUBT, AND: ! NEVER AT MOVEMENT ONLY ! NEVER AT COLOUR ONLY ! NEVER AT SOUND ONLY ! NEVER AT A TARGET ON A RIDGE ! NEVER WHEN COMPANIONS ARE AHEAD OF YOU DON’T LEAN FIREARMS AGAINST ANY OBJECT, THEY MAY ACCIDENTALLY FALL DON’T RELY ON SAFETY CATCHES. THEY ARE SUBJECT TO WEAR AND TEAR AND MAY NOT WORK DON’T CLIMB FENCES OR OBSTACLES WITH A LOADED FIREAR DON’T TRY TO JUMP A STREAM OR CROSS ON SLIPPERY ROCKS WHEN CARRYING A FIREARM DON’T DAY DREAM WHEN HANDLING FIREARMS. CONCENTRATE ON WHAT YOU ARE DOING
FIREARM SAFETY INSTRUCTORS
If you have any questions in relation to Firearm Safety, then contact a Firearm Safety Instructor. These people are volunteers who have many years of experience with firearms and who have been accredited by the Firearms Consultative Committee as Firearm Safety Instructors. Your District Firearms Officer can put you in touch with a Firearms Safety Instructor.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS ACTION: The mechanism of a firearm; the means by which it is loaded to secure the cartridge in the chamber. ANVIL: A component of the primer, against which the priming composition is crushed by the impact of the firing pin. AUTO-LOADER: SEE SELF LOADER. BALLISTICS: The science of moving projectiles. BEDDING: The fit between the metal and the stock of a rifle BOAT-TAIL: A special type of projectile or bullet, with a base of reduced diameter. BOLT: A device of a breech loading firearm worked by hand, spring or expanding gases, by which cartridges are fed into the chamber, held and extracted after firing. BOLT-HEAD: The front portion of the bolt which normally contains the firing pin hole and to which is attached the extractor. BORE: The interior of the barrel of a firearm. BREECH: The rear end of the chamber into which the cartridge is inserted. BULLET: See projectile. BULLSEYE: The round or half round black or red centre of a typical paper target. BUTT: The rear portion of a firearm stock which is held against the shoulder. CALIBRE: The nominal diameter of the bore of a firearm or the nominal diameter of the bullet or projectile. CANNELURE: A groove around the jacketed bullet into which the lip of the cartridge is crimped. A grease groove in lead bullets. A groove around the barrel of some self loading firearms. CARTRIDGE: The combination of components when assembled, i.e. case, primer, powder (wads in the case of shot gun cartridges), projectiles. CASE: The metallic paper or plastic container for the primer, powder (wads in the case of shot gun cartridges) and projectile. CHAMBER: The enlarged portion of the bore in which the cartridge rests in the position to be fired. CLIP: A device which holds a number of cartridges for easy or quick loading. CORROSION: Deterioration of the metal components of a firearm. Often caused by chemical or electro-chemical reaction and compounded by improper cleaning and oiling. EJECTOR: A device which ejects or throws the empty case clear of the firearm after it has been withdrawn from the chamber by the extractor. ELEVATION: The vertical movement of an adjustable sight to cause the bullet to strike the point of aim at various ranges. ENERGY: The potential amount of work that can be performed by a projectile. EROSION: The wearing away of the bore of a firearm by friction. EXTRACTOR: The device which grips the cartridge case and withdraws it from the chamber.
EXTRACTOR GROOVE: A circular indentation in the rear of a rimless cartridge case by which the extractor grips the shell. FIRING PIN: A device controlled by the trigger, which strikes the primer causing firing of the cartridge. FLASH-HOLE: The small hole (or holes) from the base of the primer pocket into the case interior through which the primer flash ignites the powder. FLOATING BARREL: A barrel which does not touch the fore-end of the stock. FLYER: An unaccountable shot wide of the mark or target. FORE-END: The forward part of the stock under the barrel. FOULING: A deposit of residue from burning powder or from bullet metal on the interior surface of a barrel. GAUGE: A unit of measurement for shotgun bore diameters, determined by the number of solid lead balls of the bore diameter obtainable from 1 lb of lead. GRAINS: A unit of weight used for bullets or powder charge – 1 ounce avdp = 437.5 grains. 1 lb avdp = 7000 grains. GROOVES: Spiral cuts or impressions in the bore of a firearm which cause a projectile to spin as it moves through the barrel. GROUP: The term applied to a series of shots fired at a target with a constant point of aim and sight setting to test accuracy. HAMMER: Part of some actions controlled by the trigger, which drives the firing pin to strike the primer, firing the cartridge. HANG-FIRE: Ignition in a cartridge which is delayed beyond the normal time after the firing pin has struck the primer. HEADSPACE: The space between the breech face and the cartridge base with the action closed. KEYHOLE: The imprint of a bullet in a target which shows that the bullet was not trvelling head on to the target. LANDS: The raised portion of the bore between the rifle grooves. LEADING: Particles of bullet metal torn off as the bullet passes through the bore, and which adheres to the bore. LINE OF SIGHT: The straight line from the eye through the sights to the target or point of aim. LOCK: The firing mechanism of a firearm. MAGNUM: A load or cartridge having large powder capacity in relation to bore diameter. MID-RANGE TRAJECTORY: The highest vertical distance of a bullet above the line of sight. MINUTE OF ANGLE: A unit of angular deviation equal to one-sixtieth of a degree. MUSHROOMING: The ability or capacity of a projectile to expand on or after impact. MUZZLE: The front end of a barrel. The point from which the projectile leaves the barrel. OPEN SIGHT: Metallic rear sight having a flat or U or V shape cut-out. PATTERN: The distribution of pellets from a shot gun at a given distance in a given area. PEEP SIGHT: Metallic rear sight with the sighting part a hole, aperture or ‘peep’. PITTING: See corrosion. PLINKING: Informal target shooting. POSSIBLE: A target shooter’s perfect score. PRESSURE: The force created by burning powder against case, chamber and projectile. PRIMER: A small metallic cup containing a detonating mixture which is seated in a recess in the base of the case and which, when fired, ignites the powder inside the case.
PRIMER POCKET: The cavity in the base of a cartridge case which receives and supports the primer. PROJECTILE: The shot, ball or bullet fired from any firearm. PULL: The pressure required on a trigger to release the firing mechanism. Also a term used to indicate the distance from trigger to butt plate, or in trap shooting a command to release the target. RECEIVER: The frame, consisting of breech, locking and reloading mechanisms of a firearm. RECOIL: The backward thrust of a firearm caused by the reaction to the powder gases pushing the bullet forward. RIFLING: Parallel spiral grooves cut or impressed into the bore of rifles and pistols in order to make the bullet spin, ensuring steady, point-on flight to the target. SEAR: A part designed to hold the hammer or firing-pin at half or full cock. SHOOTING AREA: Is the area where a shot may legally and safely be taken at any time. SPITZER: A bullet shape employing a sharp point. SPORTERISE: To alter, reduce weight and convert a military firearm to suit sporting requirements. STOCK: The wooden or synthetic part(s) of a firearm to which the barrel and firing mechanism are assembled. THROAT: The forward portion of the chamber where it tapers to meet the diameter of the bore proper. TRAJECTORY: The curved path of a projectile from muzzle to target. TRIGGER: The part of a firearm moved by the finger to release the firing mechanism. TWIST: Spiral inclination of the rifling grooves to the axis of the bore, measured by distance in which the bullet makes one complete turn. VELOCITY: The speed at which the projectile or bullet travels. WILDCAT: A non-standard cartridge which is not produced by commercial manufacturers. W.M.R.F.: Winchester Magnum Rim Fire. WAD: Plastic or fibre device which separate the powder from shot in a shotgun cartridge. L.V. North, Government Printer Melbourne