Duck! Safety urged
Thursday, 26 April 2012
Duck shooting season is right on target for another year and while enthusiasts may be aiming to do more than ruffle a few feathers, the Mountain Safety Council is urging shooters not to become sitting ducks themselves!
Last year a Waiuku man died after being shot while out duck shooting. The tragedy highlighted the need for extreme care and perhaps, a little less enthusiasm during this highlight of the New Zealand shooting calendar.
With duck season opening on the first Saturday in May, Mike Spray, Firearms Safety and Hunter Training Programme Manager for the Mountain Safety Council says extra care is needed.
Every year the season is accompanied by a spate of shotgun incidents, some of which lead to serious injury or even death as was the case last year.
“These incidents can be avoided if duck shooters maintain responsible shooting behaviours and follow the Firearms Safety Code which comprises of seven basic and common sense rules of firearms safety,” Mr Spray says.
One of the big “no-nos” is pointing a firearm at anyone.
“Whether your firearm is loaded or unloaded you should always maintain control of the muzzle direction and never point the shotgun at anyone else including yourself.”
Maintaining a safe muzzle direction is especially critical when using a semi-automatic shotgun. Some shooters tend to leave the shotgun loaded and use the safety catch whilst in a maimai or shooting area.
“But shooters should never rely on the safety catch as it is mechanical and can malfunction,” Mr Spray says. “Remember to have the safety catch checked by a qualified gunsmith prior to the season opening.”
Other council advice:
Unload shotguns completely before leaving a hunting area – many incidents occur when firearms discharge whilst being transported in a vehicle, during cleaning or when shooters move from one shooting area to another. Store firearms and ammunition safely.
Be aware of tiredness when shooting. The duck shooting season is a social event. Late nights and early mornings can compromise safety and tired shooters are likely to be less alert. Never, ever mix alcohol and firearms. Alcohol and some drugs, including prescribed medication, can slow mental and physical reactions and must not be consumed prior to or while shooting.