Do You Know Enough About Gun Safety to Not Shoot Yourself in the Foot?

John Miller

Image: Fish Cop

About This Quiz

Guns are vital tools for target shooting, hunting and, sometimes, warfare. No matter the purpose, firearms are one of the easiest ways to accidentally hurt yourself or someone else – particularly if you’re inattentive, reckless, or perhaps a little soft in the head. You can easily avoid being marked as an amateur, and prevent a life-altering tragedy, simply by practicing smart gun safety. In this quiz, do you think you know enough about firearms safety to avoid blowing off three of your toes?

There are about 270 million guns in America. And for everyone who has one, gun ownership is a full-time job of sorts. You must always know where your guns are secured, and you need to know where the ammo is, too. Because guns, as fun as they are, can be dangerous. 

In 2015, about 500 Americans died in accidental shootings, and in each of those statistics is a story that shattered families and caused heartbreak. Do you think you really understand your weapons well enough to prevent accidents?

For every unfortunate death, there are countless close calls. Accidental discharge, incorrect ammo, poor targeting habits and substance use all contributed to near disasters.

Draw a (careful) bead on this gun safety quiz now! Recalling these important tips could help you save a life.

Bullets emerge from which part of a gun?

The muzzle is the very end of the gun barrel. You should never point the muzzle at anything you don't want to destroy or kill.

When is the only time you should touch the trigger with your finger?

The trigger is what makes your gun go "boom." Never touch the trigger until you're ready to actually fire the gun.

What's a defining characteristic of a semi-automatic weapon?

Semi-automatics include any kind of firearm that shoots as fast as you can pull the trigger. They are much faster (and in the wrong hands, potentially more dangerous) than single-shot firearms.

Which part of the gun is meant to prevent accidental trigger pulls?

Safety design varies from firearm to firearm, but they all have the same purpose -- to keep you from pulling the trigger on accident. But safeties only work if you actually use them.

If you buy a brand-new gun, what should you do before you use it?

Oh, we know, you took the instruction manual and used it as kindling for your campfire. But each gun has slightly different characteristics, and just skimming the basics will help you prevent damage to your new gun … and might possibly save you from harm.

When should you load your gun?

You should never leave guns laying around loaded, especially when there are children present. Load the firearm only when you're ready to actually start shooting.

What should you do before you load a firearm?

Gun barrels have a nasty habit of picking up foreign objects. Before your load a gun, carefully check the barrel for obstructions, and if you see something suspicious, don’t fire the weapon until you're sure it's safe.

Before you shoot, you should pay careful attention to ______.

Too many shooters fixate on whatever it is they're trying to shoot, without stopping to consider what's behind the target. In doing so, they often strike an object or creature they didn’t see.

If your gun barrel is too long for your gun rack, what should you do?

Never alter or modify a firearm. Modern guns are made with exact tolerances meant to make them safe and accurate. Diddle with the mechanics of the device and you never know what might happen.

Always point your gun in _____ direction.

Gun accidents happen because people don't watch where they are pointing the muzzle. Always point the gun in a safe direction. And never point it toward someone you don't intend to harm.

What is the first thing you should check when you pick up a gun?

Once you're sure the gun is pointed in a safe direction, check the safety. If it's off, be sure to engage it right away.

"_____ first. Shoot second."

Your brain is the most important gun safety tool. Think first, shoot second. It doesn't make for a great Hollywood action movie line, but it prevents tragedy.

What is "dry firing"?

Dry firing refers to the act of pulling the trigger while the gun is not loaded. Every year, someone gets hurt when they yank on the trigger thinking the gun is unloaded, when in fact there's a round in the chamber.

What's one of the first things you should do when you first handle a firearm?

Whenever you first pick up a gun, open the action right away and make sure there are no rounds in the chamber. And even after you confirm it's unloaded, don't go pointing it at anyone.

True or false, are all gun ranges suitable for all types of weapons?

A .22 mm handgun and a .50-caliber rifle are not the same thing. Realize that every shooting situation is different and that you should think things through before you use any firearm, lest you blow holes the back wall of the shooting range.

Where should ammunition be stored?

Gun owners should always store firearms and ammunition separate from each other. Otherwise, it's far too easy for unauthorized adults and kids to use the guns.

What's something you should do regularly with your gun?

Firearms are like any other mechanical device in that they require regular maintenance. Guns that aren't maintained may became unsafe to shoot.

What should you do if you encounter a firearm that features an action that's unfamiliar to you?

There are some wacky gun designs out there, and no one knows them all. If you don't know how to safely operate the action, ask an expert for help.

Where should you store your guns?

A locked safe is the best place for gun storage, particularly if there are children in the home. No matter where you choose to store a weapon, make sure unauthorized people can't use it.

Which body part should you always protect before you start shooting?

Guns are very, very loud, especially in confined spaces. Protect your hearing … or lose it.

Always treat every gun as though it is ______.

"Don't worry, it's not loaded." They're the famous last words of many people each year -- and it's why you should respect firearms and treat all of them as if they're loaded.

What should you do with ammo that's been submerged in water?

Gunpowder and water don't mix. Ammo that's gotten very wet (or been submerged) should be discarded in a safe manner, and by that, we don't mean chuck it on the bonfire like Randy "Eight Holes" Rogers once did in 1988.

If you've taken a prescription drug with motor vehicle usage warnings, how should you approach your guns?

Alcohol and many prescription drugs come with warnings about not driving motor vehicles under the influence. You shouldn't use a firearm, either.

When you are hunting deer, what should you do before taking a shot?

Each year, a few numbskull hunters make headlines because they shoot at moving bushes or vague outlines … and wind up hurting a person instead of an animal. It's better to miss an opportunity at a trophy than to wound or kill a bystander.

Which kind of ammunition should you use in your gun?

Perfectly safe firearms become health hazards when you don't pay attention to ammunition. Always double-check your cartridges and shells to make sure they're the correct size for your gun.

What's one problem that can affect guns that have been stored (and not fired) in months or years?

Always store your firearms in a dry place where condensation isn't a problem. Moisture attracts dirt, and together, they can jam a gun and even make it unsafe to fire.

A bullet from a .30-06 can travel about how far?

This is why you have to be so careful about your intended targets, and your aim. A bullet from a simple .30-06 can travel up to three miles. Even a low-powered .22 bullet can zoom well over a mile.

What sort of glasses should you wear while shooting?

It's not uncommon for debris from targets or from firearms themselves to smack into people in the vicinity. Wear approved shooting glasses, which are shatter-proof and made to withstand the rigors of the range.

Using improper ammunition can cause personal harm. It may also do what?

Not worried about hurting yourself by using the wrong ammo in your firearm? Keep in mind that improper ammo will also likely damage or destroy your gun.

If you aren't quite sure how your new gun works, what should you do?

Guns often seem pretty much the same, but it only takes one or two quirks to make them confusing to just about anyone, even longtime shooters. If your confounded by a new gun, download the manual from the Internet or ask an expert for help.

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