Keep duck shoot­ing safe

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

The Moun­tain Safety Coun­cil is urg­ing all duck hunters to check their fir­ing zones.

With more than 30,000 li­cences ex­pected to be is­sued, many are ea­gerly an­tic­i­pat­ing the open­ing day of the game bird sea­son on Satur­day.

Open­ing day comes around at the same time ev­ery year al­low­ing friends and fam­ily to get to­gether and en­joy duck-shoot­ing tra­di­tions. But be­cause a lot of shoot­ing ac­tiv­ity is con­densed into the open­ing weekend and the first two weeks of the sea­son, there are of­ten non-in­ten­tional firearms in­ci­dents.

Al­though there were no fa­tal­i­ties last year, it’s no rea­son to be com­pla­cent about safety this year said the Moun­tain Safety Coun­cil’s firearms and hunter safety pro­gramme man­ager, Ni­cole McKee.

‘‘All in­ci­dents can be avoided if firearms users main­tain re­spon­si­ble shoot­ing be­hav­iours,’’ she said.

‘‘That means fol­low­ing the seven ba­sic rules of the Firearms Safety Code and us­ing com­mon sense.’’

The key re­minder for duck hunters is to check your fir­ing zone be­fore you be­gin shoot­ing for the day.

Take note of where other maimais, boats, hunters, stock and dogs are lo­cated.

‘‘With mov­ing tar­gets such as game birds in flight, it is im­per­a­tive you’re aware of your field of fire as the pat­tern of shot­gun pel­lets spreads as you move. Duck-hunt­ing par­ties need to set their fir­ing zones and stick to their shoot­ing bound­aries to keep them­selves and their mates safe,’’ McKee said.

Duck hunters should also be pre­pared for ob­jects (in­clud­ing people and pets) that could sud­denly and un­ex­pect­edly en­ter their fir­ing zone. No one should shoot if there is any pos­si­bil­ity that pel­lets could en­dan­ger oth­ers.

For those en­thu­si­asts who ‘jump shoot’ in the vicin­ity of dams and ponds, en­sure that your fir­ing zone is clear.

Maimais and shoot­ing stands also pose a sig­nif­i­cant risk as of­ten they are well within shot range of each other.

Hav­ing more than one hunter and sev­eral firearms in the same maimai can also pose a risk so make sure firearms are un­loaded and safe when not in use.

Don’t over­crowd and keep shot­guns out of the way so no-one trips over them.

Lastly, the lead up to open­ing day sees an ar­ray of duck-re­lated events and pro­mo­tions held across the coun­try, but it’s dis­ap­point­ing that some people get caught up with the so­cial as­pect of the sport and for­get that al­co­hol and firearms do not mix – EVER.

Re­sist the urge to load up on al­co­hol the night be­fore as an early-morn­ing hang­over can not only af­fect your aim but also your judg­ment.

Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, that tot of brandy to warm you up on a frosty morn­ing can ac­tu­ally in­crease your chances of hy­pother­mia.

‘‘It’s no prob­lem to cel­e­brate your suc­cesses or rem­i­nisce about your misses with a cou­ple of drinks once the guns are all safely stored away,’’ said McKee. ‘‘But if your mate has been drink­ing and picks up a gun, be a leg­end and stop them. Save the al­co­hol for bast­ing your game bird!’’

For more in­for­ma­tion about firearms and out­door safety, visit the Moun­tain Safety Coun­cil web­site www.moun­tain­safety.org.nz/firearms The firearms safety code: Seven Ba­sic Rules of Safe Firearms Han­dling

1. Treat all firearms as loaded. Check firearms yourself. Pass or ac­cept only an open or un­loaded firearm.

2. Al­ways point firearms in a safe di­rec­tion. Loaded or un­loaded, al­ways point the muz­zle in a safe di­rec­tion.

3. Load a firearm only when ready to fire. Load the mag­a­zine only when 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 when you 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 and firearms. Good judg­ment is the key to safe use of firearms.

Photo: ROBERT CHARLES/FAIR­FAX NZ

Safety first: Fol­low­ing the seven ba­sic rules of the Firearms Safety Code and us­ing com­mon sense will re­sult in an en­joy­able duck shoot­ing sea­son for keen par­tic­i­pants.

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