For Ruralco member, keen lifelong hunter, and father of 10-year-old twins Hugo and Ralph, Tim Silva, gun safety has been a crucial part of his sons’ wider education. “Our boys have been around guns from an early age as part of our family outdoor adventures ” Tim and wife Rachel, made the decision to get their boys into the outdoors early, with guns being just one part a wider outdoor safety education program by immersion. Just as important has been river crossing, fire lighting, camp cooking and route finding. The key lessons around guns has been to give his sons first-hand understanding of their devastating killing power and the responsibility that comes with pulling the trigger, not only from a safety perspective but also the ethical harvesting of game.
Like many families, recreational hunting provides the Silva family an outlet for adventure and time together. Highlights for the boys have been chasing rabbits and possums and shooting ducks on their family’s lifestyle block. The boys are also enjoying a few trips further afield. Both boys spent time during lockdown getting their eyes in (with their slug guns) while waiting for duck shooting to get underway. “So far, it’s been more about the overall experience than the hunting, but it’s great to see strong ethics and responsible behaviour coming through. Our best times as a family are well beyond the end of any tar-seal road, where the wi-fi can’t get us!”
Few other outdoor recreational activities in New Zealand have such a dramatic increase in participation as occurs during the opening morning of duck shooting season. Game bird hunting is a time when multiple shooters of various skills and experience get together and use shotguns at one. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a mai-mai creates a situation where correct muzzle control and firing zone management are important firearm safety fundamentals, especially in what can be challenging environmental conditions. The injuries that occur during duck shooting indicate many ‘close calls’ occur, and it is often luck, rather than good management, that has prevented many of these incidents from becoming a fatality.
Being the retail front for firearms and hunting equipment Ruralco supplier, Gun City, is often the first point of contact for hunters and firearms users. Gun City Manager, Brand Ambassador and Olympic Skeet Shooter Chole Tipple said “we educate and inform customers, matching them to the right products for their needs so that their family and mates can safely get a great result. We want to equip and inform our customers so that shooting can be a beneficial and enjoyable part of future generations.”
“People really appreciate being given advice on what firearms and gear to use as well as shooting tips. They come into us with a goal or problem to be solved and we love matching them up with the right gear to help them out” Chole said.
Alongside ensuring customers understand safety and licencing requirements, Gun City are a port of call for safety equipment and Chole advised hunters take all precautions. “Ensure you consider owing a good quality safe and ammo storage unit, good footwear - for even footing on terrain, locater beacon in case of emergency, gun bag or hard case for transportation, trigger and action locks, electronic earmuffs and where applicable a silencer for hearing. Hi-viz and all weather clothing, a powerful spotlight and light gathering scope will make it easier to identify your target in low light conditions.”
With almost all firearms related hunting incidents relating back to one of the 7 Basic Firearms Safety rules* quite simply the best way to play it safe and ensure family and friends make it home, is to stick to the rules.
The Seven Firearms Safety Rules**
Rule 1: Treat every firearm as loaded
Rule 2: Always point firearms in a safe direction
Rule 3: Load a firearm only when ready to fire
Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt
Rule 5: Check your firing zone
Rule 6: Store firearms and ammunition safely
Rule 7: Avoid both alcohol and drugs when handling firearms
Did you know? *
You are 8x more likely to sustain a firearms related injury while Game Bird hunting than any other hunting type.
91% of misidentified shootings occur in the daylight.
There are over 166,000 New Zealanders participating in hunting each year.
*A Hunter's Tale, 2017 - A resource developed by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, representing the most comprehensive exploration of hunting participation and incidents in New Zealand https://www.mountainsafety.org.nz/activities/hunting/
**Visit https://www.police.govt.nz/advice-and-services/firearms-and-safety for detailed explanation on each of the rules.