Rule 4: Identify your target and what is behind it

You must positively identify your target beyond all doubt before firing. If in doubt, don’t shoot! The shooter, and anyone supervising an unlicensed shooter, must both positively identify the target.

  • Make absolutely certain that the movement, colour, sound and shape of your target is identified correctly.
  • Identify the whole animal
  • Do not fire at movement only
  • Do not fire at colour only
  • Do not fire at sound only
  • Do not fire at shape only

Target identification issues

When a hunter is tired, or excited about sighting game animals, emotions may override rational thinking (buck or stag fever). Perception can play tricks and you may ‘see’ what you expect to see. Objects - often people - look like game animals.

There could be other hunters nearby. They may make noises imitating the calls of game. Even the definite sighting of skin and antlers is not positive enough - hunters have been shot while carrying a deer.

BEFORE you shoot! Ask yourself:
"Is this a person?"
This will focus your mind toward expecting to see a person, rather than assuming it is an animal.

Keep your finger away from the trigger until you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN it is safe to fire.

Bright coloured clothing and gear can help you to be seen, especially in dim or fading light such as that in the early morning, late evening or under the cover of bush. However, no one colour will be easily seen at all times of the day and in all surroundings. Wear a colour that stands out from the background you are shooting in, and is different from any game animals in that area. While this may minimise your risk of being shot, it will only do so if other hunters properly identify their targets. Blaze orange is the recommended colour for all field shooting.

Hunters should use binocular vision, rather than rifle telescopic sights only, to identify their target. If using binoculars or telescopic sights, beware of the ‘tunnel vision’ which limits your field of view. Sweep the telescope or binoculars from side to side to ensure no person is close to your field of fire. 

Remember - it is ALWAYS the responsibility of the shooter to clearly identify the target.

This is regardless of whatever strategies other hunters may or may not use to be seen.

Positively identify your target beyond all doubt. Other hunters may be wearing clothing that blends with the surroundings so: Do not fire at movement. Do not fire at colour. Do not fire at shape. Do not fire at sound.