Gun safety is always the most important thing you can engage in when handling a firearm. And, among other things, you absolutely must be conscious of where your muzzle is pointed at all times.
It's easy to let some things get away from you if you aren't experienced (and even if you are), practiced and fully conscious of where exactly that muzzle is pointed, particularly if you're slightly distracted by friends or other actions around you.
Well known gun guy, Hickock45, discusses some of the most common gun safety errors and seemingly small things that, if an "accidental" discharge were to occur (and there are no "accidental" discharges, only negligent discharges), the result could be tragic.
He mentions 'dangling'. This is when you casually and haphazardly drop your arm holding your sidearm to your side, too close to your feet or body. I'm reckoning that more folks have shot themselves in the foot than just about any other injury.
Next is where to hold the firearm before you're preparing to shoot if you are free standing. That is, when you don't have a table or bench in front of you that you can lay the gun onto (if you do, always lay the gun, especially if it's hot, with the muzzle pointing downrange). But if you're free standing and are preparing to shoot, hold the gun with the muzzle pointed at about a forty-five degree angle in front of you.
Be aware of your trigger finger too. If you're cocking a revolver and your finger is on the trigger, be mindful that you don't shoot into the air and over the target area.
Where your firearm is pointed is everything. Hickock45 tells the story of a gentleman who was shooting in a match and he fell while shooting. He says that even though the man was falling, he kept his gun pointed directly at the target area. That's the kind of discipline you need.
"It doesn't matter if you skin your arm, if you break your arm, you hurt yourself a little bit, you slip, you fall... The most important thing is where that firearm is pointed."
It's like driving a car. Stay within your lane, regardless of any distractions that may present themselves. Always keep your gun pointed in your safe lane.
Muzzle discipline is as important as the first rule of gun safety: assume the gun is always loaded and treat it as such. Move slowly and consciously.
This is a good review, for anyone and everyone. You can never ever be too safe when handling firearms.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.