Rule 3: Load a firearm only when ready to fire

Only load a firearm when you intend to use it, and only in an area where it can be safely and legally discharged. Remember to unload it when you have used it.
The cartridge must be removed when not firing a shot (see Picture).
  • Only load your ammunition into the magazine when you have reached your shooting area. (The firearm is then carried with the bolt or action closed on an empty chamber. The rounds (i.e., ammunition) are readily available from the magazine and it only takes a second to open the action and feed a round into the chamber.)
  • Do not load the chamber until you are ready to shoot.
  • Unload the chamber when not firing a shot (Put the round back in the magazine and close the bolt on an empty chamber.)
  • Unload completely - no rounds in the magazine or chamber - before leaving a shooting area or entering a hut or camp. Double check.

Self loading shotguns and rifles

Because it is not practical to apply this rule to self loading shotguns and rifles, it is recommended that when you acquire your target you load the firearm and place the previously tested safety catch on ‘safe’. If you have released the safety catch and then decide not to shoot, re-apply the safety catch. Whenever a round is in the chamber you must be absolutely sure that the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction. Test the safety catch before loading any rounds into the chamber. If you have any doubt about the safety catch don’t trust it. Have it inspected by a gunsmith.

Note: No matter what type of firearm you use, you should be cautious when using the safety catch. In most cases they lock the trigger or the bolt but, like all mechanical things, they are subject to wear and tear and may not work properly. The safety catch is only one of several safety precautions you should use when handling firearms.

* A safety catch only supplements safe handling.