Rule 5: Check your firing zone

Be aware of what is between you and your target, and in the area beyond your target.

Ask yourself: "What could happen if I miss my target?"


Extreme range for projectiles may be as much as:
.22 rimfire        1.5 kilometres
.308 calibre     4.5 kilometres
Airgun             up to 400 metres
Shotgun          from 250 metres to 750 metres (Depending on the type of shot)

Sights need to be correctly aligned to prevent rounds falling short or going far beyond the target.

When firing a shotgun, be aware that the spread of the shot may endanger something other than the target.

Safety points

  • Never fire when companions are ahead of you, especially when you have lost sight of them.
  • Never shoot when stock, human activity or buildings are in the area.
  • It is unsafe to shoot at a target on the skyline. Remember that many hunting areas have rural and urban developments close by.
  • Night shooting can be dangerous, especially if using telescopic sights, so only shoot at night if you are certain it is safe to do so. Spotlights light up only a small part of the firing zone and the projectile’s range.

Telescopic sights restrict your field of view

Use extra care when shooting at a moving target, particularly with telescopic sights, because your field of view is restricted/limited and changes rapidly. There is a greater danger of someone moving into your firing zone without you noticing.

  • When shooting near thick bush or scrub you may not be able to see your whole firing zone.
  • A charge of shot from a shotgun is very wide, particularly at longer ranges.
  • Ricochets can be caused by any flat or hard surfaces - rocks, snow, trees and even water. Be especially careful in rocky river beds.
A hard, flat surface, stones or water, may cause a ricochet.

Firing zones

Your firing zone changes rapidly when you follow a moving target with a firearm. As you swing the muzzle around in an arc be aware of the position of other hunters. Make sure they are not caught in the path between your firearm and the target, or beyond the target. This applies particularly when shooting with shotguns. Duck shooters sharing a hide can drive vertical poles into the ground to prevent an ‘over- swing’ endangering a companion.