MISSOULA, MT -- With hunting seasons nearing, Budweiser and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation-two longtime partners in wildlife conservation and responsible outdoor recreation-are reminding hunters of three fundamental rules for safe gun handling:
1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction This is the most basic rule of firearm safety. Never allow a gun to point toward people or anything you do not intend to shoot. Whether you are loading or unloading, carrying or cleaning, inspecting a scope or dry firing, no injuries or damage can occur if the gun is pointed in a safe direction. The safe direction may be up, down or to one side-and may change frequently-depending on the situation. Remain vigilant at all times.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger Always treat guns as if they're loaded and never touch the trigger until you're ready to fire. Do not rely on a gun's safety to prevent it from firing and do not handle a gun carelessly simply because the safety is on. A safety is a mechanical device that could malfunction, so consider it merely a supplement to safe gun handling. Until you're ready to shoot, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun.
Firearms should only be loaded when you are ready to shoot, whether you're in the field or at the shooting range. Once it's loaded, don't lean a gun against anything, as it could fall with enough force to discharge. Also never cross a fence, climb a tree, get into a blind or perform any physically awkward action with a loaded gun. Unload your gun as soon as you are finished shooting. Keep your gun's action open when not in use.
Along with these fundamentals, safe hunters have many other considerations. Make sure of your target and what is beyond. Know basic operation and safe handling characteristics of a firearm before you pick it up, or get help from someone who does. Ensure all guns around you are unloaded and safe. Properly maintain and clean firearms. Use correct ammunition. Wear appropriate eye and ear protection. Store guns securely. And always use common sense.
Hunters should never drink alcohol or use over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or during the hunt.
"Many hunters enjoy relaxing with a beer back at the cabin or around a campfire with friends after the hunt," said Bob Fishbeck, senior manager, Budweiser Brands. "It's a great way to celebrate the day."
Budweiser has been the official beer of RMEF for over 23 years.
Since 1999, the "Help Budweiser Conserve the Outdoors" program, along with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and RMEF members, has raised more than $1.1 million for conservation and education.
David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, said, "Budweiser continues to be a true friend to hunters and conservationists, and is one of RMEF's longest standing and most valuable partners. The company's dedication to our mission began in 1988 with a major gift for our first-ever permanent land protection project, and it continues today with sponsorship and support on many levels throughout our organization."
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