Be Safe This Duck Shooting Season
By Bill O’Leary, Firearms Safety Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (FSCANZ)
As duck hunters prepare for the delayed opening of the game bird season, the Firearm Safety Council Aotearoa New Zealand is urging them to focus on safety while harvesting ducks for their family dinner table.
The duck hunting season will open three weeks late on May 23 now that New Zealand has relaxed the tight Level 3 and 4 restrictions imposed to fight Covid-19.
“Safety with shotguns should be a priority for all duck hunters this season” Firearm Safety Council spokesperson Bill O’Leary says.
“Unfortunately, each year there are incidents resulting in shotgun injuries, ranging from minor to serious and tragically, even death.
“This need not happen – this year we want a safe and incident-free game bird season,” he says.
The Firearm Safety Council says to achieve a blemish-free hunting season, duck hunters should make sure they follow all seven rules of the Arms Code.
Bill O’Leary advises them to focus on two in particular.
“The key rules are one and five - treat every firearm as loaded, and check your firing zone. Failure to do this are the two major causes of duck hunting incidents,” Mr O’Leary says.
“Ensuring your firing zone is safe is vital to ensure no other person, property or domestic stock are at risk, but each year there are reports of shooters failing to this simple rule,” he says.
“Because ducks fly quickly, the safe area can change just as rapidly as a hunter follows the speeding bird with their gun barrels.”
The Firearm Safety Council recommends hunters prevent this happening by putting stakes in the ground on either side of them to block their guns from swinging onto a duck in an unsafe firing zone.
Bill O’Leary also advises hunters to unload their shotguns when they are moving to a new shooting spot and always make sure the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction.
“Before leaving your shooting area, check and double check your shotgun is completely unloaded including removing ammunition from the magazine,” he says.
“Be aware that ammunition can become jammed in tubular magazines so carefully check this isn’t happening. Do another check before cleaning or securing the gun in your safe at home – never let you safety standards slip. “
Bill O’Leary also stresses that alcohol has no place in the hunting field.
“Of course it should go without saying that firearm safety rule seven must be observed – that means avoiding all alcohol and drugs when handling firearms” he said.
“If you are going to drink this opening weekend, save it for afterwards, when the guns are safely secured, your gun dogs are fed and dry and the ducks are cleaned.
“The Firearm Safety Council wishes all hunters a successful and safe game bird season.”
The Seven Basic Rules of Safe Firearms Handling (these also apply to airguns)
1. TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS LOADED
- Check every firearm yourself.
- Pass or accept only an open or unloaded firearm.
2. ALWAYS POINT FIREARMS IN A SAFE DIRECTION
- Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Especially when loading and unloading.
3. LOAD A FIREARM ONLY WHEN READY TO FIRE
- Load only the magazine after you reach your shooting area.
- Load the chamber only when ready to shoot.
- Completely unload before leaving the shooting area.
4. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET BEYOND ALL DOUBT
- Movement, colour, sound and shape can all deceive you.
- Assume colour, shape, sound, and shape to be human until proven otherwise
5. CHECK YOUR FIRING ZONE
- THINK! What may happen if you miss your target? What might you hit between you and the target or beyond?
- Do not fire know others are in your firing zone
6. STORE FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION SAFELY
- When not in use, lock away the bolt, firearm and ammunition separately.
- Never leave firearms in a vehicle that is unattended
7. AVOID ALCOHOL AND DRUGS WHEN HANDLING FIREARMS
- Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms.
Firearms Safety Council of Aotearoa New Zealand
The primary objectives of the Council are:
- To provide advice to government agencies and other organisations, such as the media, on firearms safety related matters.
- To undertake and participate in research which will help set and promote firearms safety standards for individuals and organisations engaged in firearms related activities.
The Firearms Safety Council of Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of the (NZ Police) Firearms Community Advisory Forum. It has made submissions on a range of legislative initiatives.
See our website: www.firearmssafetycouncil.org.nz