Weapon Rules

SEND-A-VET ® Foundation

Weapon Handling Rules


A firearm is only an instrument. It contains no evil, no conscience, and no ability. It is strictly the intent, competence, and character of its user that decide the outcome of any and all actions taken with it.

  • Corollary: Socially and morally legitimate uses for the firearm are: Sport: (Hunting…);
  • Recreation: (Competitive, and target shooting, plinking…);
  • Defensive purposes: (Self-defense, and pursuant to the concepts embodied in the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States).

The right to self-defense is one of the inalienable God-given rights, while the Second Amendment is a right granted by the Constitution to preserve freedom. Both are individual rights as well as responsibilities which can never be delegated.

If the firearm is chosen for defense, it should never be the sole source of any defensive strategy. It should represent the last resort in a comprehensive defensive plan that at least uses prevention as its first measure.

A firearm is never to be used to perpetrate unprovoked aggression. A firearm:

  • Therefore; from the moment, I chose to handle it is I who am ultimately responsible for the consequences of any actions that may follow from the use of the firearm;
  • Therefore; it is my intent that determines its use;
  • Therefore; it is my character that determines the intent for which the firearm is used; and
  • Therefore; it is my competence that determines the accuracy of the firearm’s use.

Treat all firearms as if they are always loaded and ready to fire, until I verify otherwise.

Never point the muzzle of a firearm at anything I am not willing to destroy.

Be sure of my target and what is behind it before firing.

Never shoot at a sound, a shadow, or anything that has not been positively identified as a proper target.

Keep my finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target. It is best to keep your finger completely outside the trigger guard until the sights are on the target.

What Does Bowhunter Responsibility Mean?

Responsibility means personal accountability. You are accountable for your actions. Because bowhunting is not a spectator sport, you manage your actions by following legal and ethical guidelines.

Characteristics of a Responsible Bowhunter

Look over the list of words below, and choose three words or phrases that best describe a responsible bowhunter. Be prepared to explain your choices.

  • Safety-conscious
  • Competitive
  • Ethical
  • Honest
  • Environmentalist
  • Woodsman
  • Experienced
  • Prepared
  • Marksman
  • Law-abiding
  • Respectful
  • Neat and Clean
  • In-Control
  • Knowledgeable
  • Naturalist
  • Knows Game Laws
  • Well-known

Bowhunting Safety

Bowhunting safety rules apply to proper handling of equipment in transit or in the field. They supplement archery safety rules learned at home or at the practice range and include the following:

  • Obey archery and field safety rules at all times while bowhunting;
  • Hunt and shoot within your own physical limitations;
  • Exercise regularly and stay in good shape, especially before strenuous hunts
  • Let family or friends know exactly where you will be hunting;
  • Transport equipment in protective cases to prevent damage. For airline travel, use a protective hard-sided case that can be secured;
  • Dress properly for the worst weather conditions you expect to encounter;
  • Carry basic survival gear every time you go afield, even for short hikes;
  • Carry a flashlight, extra bulbs, and batteries. Always turn on your flashlight while walking to or from your tree stand in low-light conditions;
  • Make every effort to rejoin your hunting companions at agreed-upon times;
  • Clearly identify the specific game animal you intend to shoot before releasing an arrow;
  • Do not shoot at an animal standing on a ridge top (a “skyline” shot) where you can’t identify a safe background;
  • Place arrows in a covered quiver prior to moving around in the field;
  • Always carry broadheads in a sturdy quiver that fully covers razor-sharp blades;
  • Carefully cross barriers or obstacles with arrows securely in the quiver

Consider a Bow and Arrow as a Rifle and Bullet

In many states, a bow and arrow are considered a firearm, and the same rules and regulations that apply to firearms also apply to bows and arrows. Always check local laws, and follow these archery safety rules.

  • Only point the bow and arrow in a safe direction;
  • Only nock an arrow when it’s safe to shoot;
  • Be sure of your target and what is in front of it, immediately behind it, and beyond it;
  • Never shoot over a ridge;
  • Only shoot when you have a safe range or shooting area, and a safe backstop or background;
  • Never dry-firing a bow (releasing the bowstring without a nocked arrow). It may cause serious damage to the bow and can injure the archer;
  • Do not shoot an arrow straight up in the air;
  • Handle arrows carefully. Protect yourself and the arrow points with a covered arrow quiver;
  • Use a bow-stringer for stringing longbows and recurve bows;
  • Immediately repair defects in equipment;
  • Prior to each use, check your bow for cracks, dents, breaks, separating laminates, peeling glass, and defects in mechanical parts;
  • Check the bowstring regularly, and replace it if it becomes worn or frayed;
  • Use bowstring wax to extend its life;
  • Check arrows for cracks, dents, or bends; discard any that have permanent flaws;
  • Store your bow in a case—preferably hard cases—and store recurves and longbows unstrung; and
  • Store arrows in quivers and accessories in a sturdy box or padded bag.

Think Safety First


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