Safe Firearm Handling

  • Control the muzzle by keeping it pointed in a safe direction
  • On the first night of class when you hand out material, give each student a 3-4 ft. piece of yard trimmer line and tell them it must be in their firearm when they show up at the range. When the string is in place you can clearly see it protruding from the barrel and action and know that the firearm is safe.
  • Always treat the firearm as if it were loaded
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot
  • Be sure of the target and what is beyond

Parts of a Firearm:

  • Action:
    • Types of actions:
      • Barrel
      • Stock
      • Muzzle
      • Sights
        • Types of sights:
          • Safety
          • Trigger
          • Trigger Guard
          • Barrel Stamp

Types of Firearms:

  • Rifles
  • Shotguns
  • Handguns
  • Muzzleloaders
    • Types of muzzleloaders: Flintlock, Cap-lock, In-line
  • Air Guns
  • Training/Simulated Firearm




Types of Archery Equipment:

Instructor should have all types of equipment (bows, arrows and different points) on hand for visual learning and demonstration.

  • Compound Bows
  • Long Bows / Recurves
  • Cross Bows
  • Arrows and Heads

Types of Ammunition:

Instructor should have all different kinds of ammunition available for demonstration and explanation of all of the subheadings listed below. This also allows for hands on learning for the students to visually see the different parts and better understand the function of each item.

  • Caliber vs. Gauge
    • If possible, have a cartridge and shot shell display available to show the different gauge and caliber of ammunition.
    • Instructor may use 12, 72ga round balls, 20, 62ga round balls and a one pound bar of lead to illustrate the relationship of gauge to the bore of the barrel size. This also explains how gauge is determined. Also, be sure to keep the lead in a zip lock bag to prevent lead contamination.
  • Rifle vs. Shotgun

 How Ammunition Functions:

  • Center Fire
  • Rim Fire

Muzzleloader Ammunition:

  • Powders
  • Caps
  • Primers
  • Priming devices
  • Bullets

Teaching Tools

Basic Rules of Firearm Safety

  • Pass a loaded mouse trap around the class, as well as an unloaded hand gun, and then compare the student's reaction to the handling of each "hunting tool."
    • Teaching Tip: Set a wooden mousetrap with a hair trigger and have the students pass it around the classroom. This demonstrates muzzle control, safe handling of a handgun, keeping your finger off the trigger, and gives the student the decision of handling a loaded gun.
    • Teaching Tip: Ask for a volunteer and when they come up give them a gun. Then ask them if it scares them, they always say no. Then bring out a critter, usually they jump or run back to their seat. Ask if that scared them and then go on to explain that the animal is harmless yet it scares them, but the firearm they just held can kill and it doesn't scare them. Use this as a teaching moment to explain one last time about muzzle control, firearm safety and respect.

Major Causes of Firearm Incidents

  • Teaching Tip: Make a wood or cardboard cut-out of the front and rear sight of a rifle and attach a handle to each. Use the cutouts to talk about and demonstrating aligning front and rear sights and adjusting point of aim.
  • Teaching Tip: Use air-soft guns for students to handle using proper techniques in situations where you cannot have real firearms.
  • Teaching Tip: Tape plain paper together, lay a firearm on it and trace around the firearm to make a pattern for cutting a replica of the firearm from a piece of in wood.
  • Teaching Tip: Use the Remington or Mossberg nonfunctional firearm sets and dummy ammo to teach firearm handling safely.
  • Teaching Tip: Use the Daisy Laser Ed Rifle or place a laser in the barrel of a nonfunctional gun.


  • Teaching Tip: Instructor may use a square pop sickle stick frame with rubber bands stretched across in a grid pattern to demonstrate the difference between sharp and dull broad-head performance.


  • Teaching Tip: A 12 gauge shot gun barrel may be obtained from a gunsmith with the receiver portion intact but cut at the point the barrel split from overpressure. The split barrel is then used, after demonstrating that a 20ga shell will enter the receive and travel deep enough to allow the insertion of a 12ga shell behind it, to show what can happen by carrying two kinds of ammunition or the wrong gauge or caliber.

Passing Firearms Safely:

  • Instructor should have a toy plastic pistol with a laser attached to it for a sight -- then pass this gun around the table. This shows how difficult it is to handle a short muzzle and keep it under control which will also apply to a rifle or shotgun. This exercise should enforce the fact that muzzle control should be the number one thought in one's mind while handling a firearm.

Shooting Skills and Practice:

  • Instructor should assemble a wooden gun with a laser attached and then have a student try and hold the laser dot on a target in a standing position. Then give that student a tripod to use to see the difference in stability. Go ahead and expand that exercise to sitting down on a chair or floor, perhaps using a sling to prone. It's amazing the difference the students will see by adding more contact points with their body and solid rest. Be sure and caution them about laser pointers before letting them use it.

Eye and Ear Protection:

  • Do an exercise to show how to determine dominate eye: Put both hands together to form a small triangle and focus on an object in front of you. Bring your arms slowly back to your face and the triangle will end up in front of the dominant eye. If a student is having difficulty with this procedure, stand in front of him and have him focus on your nose – you will see which of his eyes is dominate. To correct a right hand shooter that is left eye dominant there are three options; first he can switch to left hand shooting, second he can close the left eye or third he can place opaque tape over the left lens of his safety glasses.

Transporting, Cleaning and Storing Firearms:

  • Teaching Tip: Place a $1 bill down the barrel for an obstruction--student that finds it gets to keep it.

Additional Resources

Cartridge comparison guide

National Shooting Sports Foundation

10 Commandments of Firearm Safety

Muzzleloader Safety

Videos: Hunter Safety

Video: Midway USA - Firearm Safety

Video: NSSF and Project Childsafe: Parents Talking with their Kids about Gun Safety