By Jim Meacham, sergeant, Cache County Sheriff’s Department 

Shooting RangeThis time of year many enjoy target shooting with their kids or sighting-in rifles for the upcoming hunts. As we head to the range or out to open areas appropriate for shooting, it is important to remember four basic rules of firearms safety so the experience will be safe, fun  and something to look forward to.

Rule # 1: Assume that ALL guns are always loaded until you check. This means that when you pick up a gun, or are handed a gun by someone else, treat it as though it is loaded until YOU check to make sure it isn’t. This isn’t something you can ever just take someone’s word for. YOU need to check to make sure it isn’t loaded.

Rule #2: Keep your finger off of the trigger until the target is in your sights. This means don’t put your finger on the trigger while you are searching out a target. If your finger is on the trigger and you are startled, or stumble as you are walking through brush, you will very likely squeeze the trigger, and then you have a shot you don’t necessarily know where is going. If you keep your finger off of the trigger until you have decided on what you want to shoot at, there should never be a mistake about what you were shooting at.

Rule #3: Never shoot at anything you are not willing to kill, destroy or pay for. This means just what it says. If you are hunting and find the animal you want to take, follow all four rules and you can then shoot it. If you are shooting at any other object, make sure you have permission to shoot it, or it may wind up costing you later. Don’t take mom’s plates just to see if you can hit an 8-inch plate or you may be buying a new set of plates. Finally, about shooting objects you want to destroy: I have always enjoyed showing scouts and grandkids a trick of filling pumpkins with water and then shooting them and watching them blow up. I am willing to destroy the pumpkins, so there is no problem.

Rule #4: Be aware of what is down range from what you are shooting at. Understand that most bullets will travel up to a mile, or until they hit something. You don’t want to set up aluminum cans on a fence to shoot if there is a house even 600 or 700 yards behind where you have the cans because the bullet will go through aluminum. You need to know where the bullet is going to stop. Shooting into a hillside is usually a good backstop, but not necessarily during the summer if there is dried grass and bushes on the hillside with lots of rocks on the surface. A couple of years ago there was a fire started by a target shooter in the mouth of Millville Canyon when one of his bullets ricocheted off a rock, created a spark and started a fire.

There are many additional rules about shooting that will improve accuracy, trigger control, sight alignment, breathing, shooting positions, etc., but the four most important rules are the cardinal safety rules listed above. If you obey these four simple rules, nobody should ever get hurt, and we can all enjoy shooting any time of the year.