You may think mentioning firearm safety is unnecessary for hunters going to hunt in Africa. However, being out of their usual hunting environment with the added 'excitement of Africa', some usually safe hunters forget the basics.
Remember - it is the hunter that makes a firearm safe or unsafe.
Some basic firearm safety rules which should be second nature for all hunters but are still commonly seen unapplied in the field in Africa...
- Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
- Always keep the rifle muzzle pointed in a safe direction. This often gets forgotten in the excitement after shooting an animal and you see rifle muzzles going all over the place.
- Be sure that the barrel and action are clear of any obstructions.
- Know your target and backstop before you pull the trigger. This is how an extra animal often gets shot.
- Don't forget to reload immediately after a shot and don't move a step until you have re-applied the safety catch.
- Unload firearms when not in use.
- Never point a gun at anything you do not want to shoot. Don't game view through the scope.
- Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water.
- Know your firearm and required ammunition.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages and drugs (those that may alter awareness or cause drowsiness) before or while handling firearms.
- Keep the safety in the ON position while carrying your rifle in the field. Again, often forgotten after a shot at an animal.
- Keep your finger outside the trigger guard unless ready to take a shot.
- Learn to carry your rifle safely in accordance with the formation of the group you may be walking with at all times - whether single file or abreast. Be aware of where everyone is at all times.
- Put the rifle down or pass it to someone else while negotiating obstacles and this includes climbing in and out of the hunting vehicle.
- Never have a rifle with a loaded chamber in the hunting truck, even if it is a rifle which has a 'safe' action with a cocking/decocking lever, such as a Blaser.
- All rifles should be unloaded before getting back into camp and only loaded when clear of the camp and hunting starts.