Shot Gun Safety

It is of paramount importance that shotguns are always stored and used in a safe manner. Whether in the field or simply clay pigeon shooting, it cannot be stressed highly enough how important it is to always be aware that you are in possession of a lethal weapon.

Safety in the home

When not in use, always keep your shotgun safe and secure, preferably locked away in your gun cabinet. It is preferable to store your cartridges, locked and secure, in a separate cabinet or compartment.

  • Never put a loaded shotgun away in your cabinet.
  • Always prove that a shotgun is unloaded as soon as you handle it.
  • Always prove that a shotgun is empty, before handing it to someone else, by offering it to them with the breech open.
  • Never load your shotgun indoors.
  • Never allow unauthorised persons access to your shotgun.
  • Never allow unsupervised or unsuitable persons, especially children, access to your shotgun.
  • Never leave a shotgun, even unloaded, unattended.
  • Never stand a shotgun in such a position that it can fall or be knocked over.


Transportation Safety

When transporting a shotgun(s) in a vehicle, the following steps are considered appropriate regarding your duty of care to ensure the safe custody of the shotgun(s):

  • Always keep your shotgun in its case or cover whilst transporting it and hidden, preferably in the locked boot or other secure load carrying area of the vehicle.
  • Never transport a loaded shotgun.
  • Vehicles used frequently for transporting a shotgun(s) should ideally have an immobiliser and /or alarm fitted together with provision for securing the shotgun to the structure of the vehicle for example, security cases, cage, cable or clamp.
  • If the vehicle is left unattended for any reason, the bolt, or other vital part of the shotgun(s) such as the fore-end, should be removed and carried on your person and the remainder of the shotgun concealed preferably in the locked luggage compartment.
  • Remember, when taking a shotgun to a venue which involves an overnight stay or longer, ensure the accommodation provides secure storage facilities. Leaving your shotgun in the care of a hotel or guest house patron, even in their safe, may expose them to being in unlawful possession of a shotgun, unless they are also certificate holders. Separating and retaining possession of integral part may prevent it being used or using portable security devices such as security cords.


It is true to say that the above safety recommendations equally apply to the transportation of a Section 1 firearms with the added responsibility of ensuring that where possible ammunition should be stored separately from the firearm and this too be concealed from view.
Safety in the field
It is a sad to say that accidents involving shotguns can occur "in the field", and following this guidance can hopefully prevent a tragedy or save a life.


  • Carry your shotgun in such a manner that it never points at anybody.
  • Have the safety catch on until you are ready to fire at your target.
  • Unload your shotgun before passing it to someone else.
  • Pass your unloaded shotgun stock first.
  • Unload your shotgun before traversing difficult terrain or obstacles.
  • Carry your shotgun "broken" and empty when travelling in close company.
  • Point the barrels in a safe direction when reloading.
  • Carry a hammer gun uncocked until ready to fire.
  • Point the barrels straight up while cocking the hammers.
  • Open a hammer gun, pointing the barrels toward the ground, and remove the cartridges before uncocking it.
  • Lift the stock to the barrels when closing your shotgun.



  • Lift the barrels to the stock when closing your shotgun.
  • Uncock hammers onto loaded chambers.
  • Load a shotgun until you are ready to fire it.
  • Fire your shotgun until you have positively identified your quarry.
  • Fire your shotgun until you are absolutely positive it is safe to do so.
  • Put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire.
  • Put a loaded shotgun down or leave it unattended.
  • Lean a shotgun against or on anything, including any vehicle.
  • Attempt to fire unless you are in a comfortable and well balanced position.
  • Fire a shotgun whilst having a dog on lead under your control.
  • Attempt to climb over an obstacle or traverse a stream with a loaded shotgun.
  • Use a shotgun that is in an unsafe condition, poor repair or out of proof.
  • Use the wrong type/calibre of cartridge in respect to your shotgun and quarry.
  • Use a shotgun whilst under the influence of alcohol.


Safety cannot be stressed enough

No matter how competent or expert a shot you may be, it is a fact of life that accidents can happen and in some cases can nearly be always preventable. Be vigilant and aware of possible dangers. Always act responsibly. Third party liability insurance is strongly advised to any shooter.

  • Always follow the Country Code and the following guidance could save your life:
  • Do not shoot at or near power lines or insulators.
  • Familiarise yourself with the location of power lines and other electrical equipment on the land where you are going to shoot.
  • Do not use power line poles or towers to support any of your shooting equipment.
  • Be aware that some power lines may not be obvious and obscured by trees.
  • Take notice of all warning signs and keep well clear of electrical apparatus.
  • Avoid the use of lofting poles in the vicinity of overhead power lines.
  • Remember electricity can "jump" a considerable distance if shorted out.
  • If an accident does occur, keep well clear. Call the emergency services via 999 and inform the local Electricity Company.
Remember it is illegal to:


  • Possess a shotgun without a shotgun certificate or permit.
  • Have a loaded shotgun in a public place.
  • Buy or sell a shotgun unless both parties hold a shotgun certificate, or are Registered Firearms Dealers, or the seller holds a permit.
  • Sell a shotgun that is out of proof.
  • Sell cartridges to someone not in possession of a shotgun certificate.
  • Shoot game without a game licence.
  • Shoot game on Sundays, Christmas day or at night.
  • Shoot game out of season.
  • Shoot protected species including racing pigeons.
  • Shoot wildfowl or game with a shotgun having a magazine capacity greater than two cartridges.