WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Project ChildSafe: 4 Rules of Firearms Safety (and Pumpkin Shooting)

Every family has its rules. As gun owners, we have some very important rules that everyone must follow. These rules apply to everyone, no matter their ages. We don’t grow out of the requirements to follow the rules of firearms safety, in fact, as we age, as we gain experience with firearms; it’s our job to teach the next generation. There are 4 rules for firearms safety that are commonly considered as THE 4 rules of firearms safety, and following them whenever you handle a gun is very important. 


Sponsored by NSSF & Project ChildSafe

Rules are for Everyone 

Brand new shooters generally are very mindful of when they put their fingers on the triggers. They are usually acutely aware of the direction they point a gun. That’s partly because it can feel awkward handing a new gun, after all, they are still learning and they’re nervous. For experienced shooters, whose lives daily involves guns, they might just be the ones who need to step up their games. That gun they just cleaned last night, do they need to make sure it’s unloaded? YES. Just because we know how to handle firearms, or are in the company of experienced gun owners, doesn’t mean we can skip the rules. The rules are there for a reason. They are there for everyone, from the grandpas and the moms, down to the children. 

Now, obviously you can skip checking if a gun is loaded if you are watching say, your dad show clear on his favorites pistol when he hands it to your husband, and you watched the entire process and decide that you want to see it. But will it really hurt to check? Can you cycle the action and see how it feels so you can check yourself? Sometimes we fear appearing as the overzealous “safety cop” to our family or friends. You don’t have to be a “safety cop” to follow all the rules. You can open a bolt/cylinder/action, just feel how the gun cycles and in the process, verify it’s empty. Teach your children to do this step – no matter who hands them a gun. It’s not just good manners, it’s a rule. Make it your own first rule for every firearm you handle. 

Establishing your own set of practices for handling a gun is something we not only should do ourselves, but teach our children. Teach them that even if their uncle, grandpa, etc. cleared a gun, that when THEY handle it, they will always check the chamber. Even ask to cycle the action and dry fire. Some gun owners are very particular with their firearms and don’t want them dry-fired. (Psst, it won’t hurt a centerfire gun to dry fire it!) But teach kids that all 4 rules work together, that just because you followed one, doesn’t mean you can skip the rest. And the rules start with, “Check that the gun is empty.” 

Yackley pumpkin shooting Firearms Safety

Symbiosis & Safety 

The next 3 rules of firearms safety all build from making sure the gun is empty. 

  • Never point that gun at anything you don’t want to destroy. 
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. 
  • Know your target and beyond.

These 3 could avert danger, had you failed on that critical step of checking that a gun is empty. But the symbiotic way these 4 rules work together prepares you to be safe with both empty and loaded guns. 

So next time you are handling firearms, or you are with someone who is, use it as a learning opportunity. Teach your children, educate yourself and those around you. Be safe with the guns you own by respecting and securing them to ensure the safety of your family and those around you. 

  • About Becky Yackley

    Becky Yackley primarily competes in 3 Gun, USPSA, Bianchi pistol, but has competed in shooting since 1989 in disciplines from service-rifle, to NCAA Air Rifle and Smallbore, air pistol and a little bit of long range rifle. She shoots guns and cameras at competitions around the country, and writes in her fictional spare time. Her writing can be found here The WON in her column titled "Not a Soccer Mom" and sponsored by Jagemann Sporting Group, as well as Guns America and Gun World.