Hunters Urged to Identify Their Target Beyond All Doubt

Press Release – New Zealand Mountain Safety Council

A hunter has been charged with careless use of a firearm causing death after he shot his hunting companion on a property near Wanaka last December. Mike Spray, Firearms and Hunter Training Programme Manager for the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, …Mountain Safety Council Urges Hunters to Identify Their Target Beyond All Doubt

A hunter has been charged with careless use of a firearm causing death after he shot his hunting companion on a property near Wanaka last December.

Mike Spray, Firearms and Hunter Training Programme Manager for the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, believes a head lamp worn by the victim may have been mistaken for the eye of a deer.

“This tragic death highlights the need for hunters to take extra care when shooting at night. You must take the time to positively identify your target beyond all doubt BEFORE pulling the trigger,” said Mr Spray.

“There have been 8 deer hunter deaths in the past 10 years,” added Mr Spray. “All of these incidents could have been avoided if hunters had followed the seven basic rules of firearms safety.”

Mr Spray went on to say that in 6 of the 8 deaths from the last 10 years, the shooter and the victim were in the same hunting party, starting out together but for some reason became separated. Mr Spray emphasises the need for hunters who lose visual contact with a hunting companion, to cease hunting immediately until visual contact has been regained and confirmed.

“Wearing coloured clothing that contrasts with the environment can help hunters be seen by other hunters,” said Mr Spray. However, ultimately the responsibility of target identification lies in the hands of the shooter.

The Firearms Safety Code: Seven Basic Rules of Firearms Safety

1. TREAT EVERY FIREARM AS LOADED
– Check every firearm yourself.
– Pass or accept only an open or unloaded firearm.

2. ALWAYS POINT FIREARMS IN A SAFE DIRECTION
– Loaded or unloaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

3. LOAD A FIREARM ONLY WHEN READY TO FIRE
– Load the magazine only after you reach your shooting area.
– Load the chamber only when ready to shoot.
– Completely unload before leaving the shooting area.

4. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET BEYOND ALL DOUBT
-Movement, colour, sound and shape can all deceive you.
-Assume colour, shape, sound, and shape to be human until proven otherwise.

5. CHECK YOUR FIRING ZONE
-THINK! What may happen if you miss your target? What might you hit between you and the target or beyond?
-Do not fire if you know others are in your firing zone.

6. STORE FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION SAFELY
– When not in use, lock away the bolt, firearm and ammunition separately.
– Never leave firearms in a vehicle that is unattended.

7. AVOID ALCOHOL AND DRUGS WHEN HANDLING FIREARMS
Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms.

Mr Spray urges hunters to take special care during the forthcoming roar.

About The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council
The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council was formed in 1965 in response to the increasing number of mountain, bush and firearms fatalities. Today, NZMSC is a national organisation responsible for safety in land based outdoor activities. We facilitate the setting of standards, offer training, distribute resources, lead public awareness campaigns and foster positive support in the community so that more people can discover and enjoy New Zealand’s outdoors safely.

MSC’s volunteer firearms instructors are approved by NZ Police to deliver firearm safety training and administer the Firearm Safety Test to new firearms licence applicants. MSC is also proactive in delivering key firearms safety messaging campaigns throughout New Zealand and produces publications including the ‘Going Hunting’ pamphlet.

www.mountainsafety.org.nz

ENDS

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