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Should you tell off an unsafe Shot?

Should you stay quiet or have your say?

Gun safety rules

So what should you do if you go out shooting with a friend of a friend and you think they are an unsafe Shot and that their shooting safety could be improved? A reader wrote to us recently saying:

“Last season, I went shooting with somebody a friend knows who shoots regularly.  His peg was, for most of the day, next to me or at least very close by. Throughout the shoot, he waved his unbroken gun up and down the line and I certainly was not the only one to notice. It was really quite alarming and I wasn’t sure how to deal with the issue of an unsafe Shot.

“Should I have had a quiet word with them or mentioned it to the host/keeper and left it up to them? I wasn’t sure what was best. I didn’t want to cause embarassment but of course the shooting safety rules need to be followed correctly.” (All those new to shooting should read our advice on shooting manners.)

Causing embarassment

A quiet word? There should have been nothing quiet about it. In fact, you should have had some very public and noisy words with the man who was endangering everybody because he was a lazy and reckless fool who could not be bothered to conduct himself in a safe and responsible manner.

We all have a duty to condemn dangerous behaviour as soon as it happens. Causing embarrassment to somebody is not life threatening; being peppered by their shotgun pellets, is.  If the person who has behaved dangerously is not contrite and nobody else will do anything about such lunatic behaviour, then go home. And tell your host, the other guns and the ’keeper why you are doing so.

At least you will be safe and if somebody else gets shot, then that is the problem of those who did not act.

You may want to consider telling the local Firearms Department. Clearly someone who behaves in an unsafe manner cannot possess a shotgun ‘without danger to the public safety or the peace’, as the law says.

broken gun

If it’s not in its slip, you always have your gun broken and unloaded when walking between drives

You don’t want to regret not speaking out

  • If you see a Gun behaving in an unsafe way, don’t hesitate to pull them up
  • Don’t think “it’s not my place” or not the ‘done thing”.
  • Get their attention and say “excuse me,  don’t you think you should unload your gun?”
  • As an experienced shooter comments: “If someone walked up to me with a gun closed I would have no hesitation in telling them to open it. I don’t care who it is.”
  • Too many dogs have been shot by Guns taking ground game unsafely
  • If you are a visitor or a guest on a shoot (you might have taken a peg via the internet), pay particular attention to what is going on around you – because you won’t know whether the other Guns are beginners or whether they are safe

Brush up on the shooting safety rules here.

This piece was originally published in 2017 and has been updated.