Basic rules of hunter and firearms safety

trail showing trees in fall color

More than a half-million people hunt every year in Minnesota. The DNR’s goal is that every one of them returns home safely at the end of every hunt. While hunting is one of the safest recreational activities there is, even one injury is one too many.

More than 21,000 students every year in Minnesota earn their firearms safety certification and since 1955, more than 1.3 million have done so. As more students have completed firearms safety training, there’s been a corresponding decrease in the number of injuries and fatalities that occur as a result of firearms-related hunting incidents.

The basic rules of safe firearms handling

By following these basic tenants, hunters can avoid most hunting-related firearms incidents.


Treat every firearm as if it is loaded by keeping your finger off the trigger

Never assume a firearm is unloaded. Place your finger on the trigger only when you’re ready to shoot.

child demonstrating finger off of trigger


Always control the muzzle

Keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction and remember that anything toward which the muzzle points is in the crosshairs. Don’t overlook the possibility of a ricochet.

child demonstrating two handed carry


Be sure of your target and what is beyond

You’re responsible for knowing what’s in front of your target, near your target and beyond your target. If you aren’t certain about any of the three, don’t take the shot.

child demonstrating safe shot


Protective gear

Hunters' eyes and ears are vulnerable to a number of potential hazards while hunting, so it’s important to protect them. Firearms create a high decibel sound that can damage hearing. Also, when a firearm is fired, it sends the projectile down range. Along with the projective, the firearm also discharges small particles of the projectile, burning gas and other residue that can damage your eyes. Always wear safety glasses and ear protection.

child wearing safety glasses and ear protection


The effectiveness of blaze orange

Blaze orange has made hunting safer. Spotting a hunter wearing camo is hard, but wearing blaze orange makes you visible to others hunting in the area. Read the blaze clothing requirements.

comparing person weargin blaze orange and camo


Hunter safety video

Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.

Two-handed carry provides proper muzzle control.

Be sure of your target and what is beyond.

Always wear safety glasses and ear protection.

Camo versus blaze orange in the field.