Safe Firearm Field Practices

  1. Safe Firearm Field Practices
    • Handling firearms in hunting situations
    • Proper field carries
    • Safe zones of fire
    • Barrel obstructions
  2. Hunter Field Safety
    • Elevated Stands/Climbing Systems
    • Full Body Harness/Fall Arrest Systems
  3. Hunter Best Practices
    • Avoid alcohol and drug consumption
    • Outdoor preparedness
    • Preparing a "Hunt Plan"
    • Physical Conditioning

Teaching Tools

Shooting, like driving a car, is not a skill that you are born with or just know from watching others. It takes time and practice to learn. You first have to learn the parts of a firearm, firearm safety and basic procedures to load and unload a firearm before you shoot one. Learning with a firearm that is the correct caliber and size for the shooter is also very important. 

The fundamentals of shooting are similar for rifle, shotgun and pistol. The difference comes in the manner you mount or hold the firearm, your shooting position and body placement, and trigger control.

Handling Firearms in Hunting Situations

  • Zones of Fire
  • Shooting Positions Teaching Tip: Use a device to illustrate foot position when shooting
  • Crossing Obstacles Teaching Tip: Use use a demonstration fence made out of PVC pipe and light line for the kids to show how to safely cross the fence by themselves and with another hunter.

Clearing a Barrel of Obstructions

  • Teaching aid: A shotgun field cleaning kit can be fabricated from a piece of string long enough to reach through the barrel of the gun you are using, attached to a weight small enough to slide freely through the barrel and a cleaning patch tied on the other end.
  • Shoot / Don’t Shoot Scenarios

Proper Field Carries

  • Demonstrate the Different Types of Carries

Tree / Elevated Stands

  • Models
    • Full Body Harness / Fall Arrest Systems 
  • Safety Lines and Knots
  • Suspension Trauma

Hunter Best Practices

  • Hunter Orange
    • There are many reasons to wear it and not one good reason not to wear it.
    • Teaching Tip: Spin a half red, half green disk with a drill. Students will see yellow. Initiate a discussion of why deer can’t see hunter orange because deer don’t have red cones in the back of their retina. Further discuss why hunters should wear hunter orange to include its visibility in low light conditions.
    • Teaching Tip: Set out two hats or vests, at a distance in some brush. One hat or vest is hunter orange and one is camouflage. As students approach, when they see the hunter orange, ask them how many hunters are in front of them. Their response is usually one. This is an easy way to demonstrate the
      effectiveness of hunter orange. 
    • Teaching Tip: Have 2 or 3 instructors dress in either camo or hunter orange and go out ahead of the class 100 plus yards, in a wooded area. Have these instructors stand near 3D targets and see if students can see them.

Avoid Alcohol and Drug Consumption

  • Teaching Tip: To show the effect of alcohol or drugs on vision, have students wear a pair of strong reading glasses and try to identify a game animal and show the point of impact of a shot on the animal.

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:

Video: The Effectiveness of Blaze Orange

First aid checklist

NRA Outdoors

NRA Hunting Programs

Videos: Hunter Safety

Tree Stand Safety Powerpoint

Video: Tree Stand Safety (

Video: Tree Stand Safety (NSSF)

Tree Stand Safety: Infographic

Tree Stand Safety: Building Blocks of Tree Stand Safety