Safe shooting tips

Submitted by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.

As sunnier, warmer days facilitate outdoor activities, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office is sharing friendly reminders about gun safety. Whether at target practice or shooting allowed by law on private properties, following these tips will help ensure everyone’s safety.

Always keep firearms pointed in a safe direction.

Never point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. This is particularly important when loading or unloading a firearm. In the event of an accidental discharge, no injury can occur as long as the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction.

A safe direction means a direction in which a bullet cannot possibly strike anyone – taking into account possible ricochets and the fact that bullets can penetrate walls and ceilings. Even when “dry firing” with an unloaded gun, you should never point the gun at an unsafe target.

Make it a habit to know exactly where the muzzle of your gun is pointing at all times and be sure that you are in control of the direction the muzzle is pointing – even if you fall or stumble. This is your responsibility, and only you can control it.

Treat all guns as though they are loaded.

By treating every firearm as if it is loaded, a habit of safety is developed. Firearms should be loaded only when you are in the field or on the target range or shooting area, ready to shoot.

Whenever you handle a firearm, or hand it to someone, always open the action immediately, and visually check the chamber, receiver, and magazine to be certain they do not contain any ammunition. Always keep actions open when not in use. Never assume a gun is unloaded — check for yourself!

Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

Never touch the trigger on a firearm until you actually intend to shoot. Keep your fingers away from the trigger while loading or unloading.

Never pull the trigger on any firearm with the safety on the “safe” position or anywhere in between “safe” and “fire.” It is possible that the gun can fire at any time, or even later when you release the safety, without you ever touching the trigger again.

Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond it.

Don’t shoot unless you know exactly what your shot is going to strike. Be sure that your bullet will not injure anyone or anything beyond your target.

Be aware that even a .22 short bullet can travel over 1 1/4 miles, and a high velocity cartridge, such as a .30-06, can send its bullet more than three miles. Shotgun pellets can travel 500 yards and shotgun slugs have a range of over half a mile.

You should keep in mind how far a bullet will travel if it misses your intended target or ricochets in another direction.

Follow the safety procedures outlined here, develop safe shooting habits, and remember, firearm safety is up to you.

Have a safe “backstop” when target shooting.

A “backstop” is an unobstructed earthen mound, bank, or berm which must stop the progress of and contain all projectiles, fragments, and ricochets in a safe manner.

Items prohibited to be used as targets or to hold or post targets include, but are not limited to:


Power stations, cell phone towers, utility poles, light posts, wind turbines, or other public utility structures

Gates, fence posts or rails

Vehicles, or parts thereof

Machinery, or parts thereof

Signs, kiosks, or informational panels of any kind

Appliances or electronics




Explosive and incendiary items, including binary exploding targets (i.e., Tannerite)

Containers of liquids, chemicals, paints, or compressed gas

Standing or moving water

Live or dead trees or other vegetation

9.06.040 Noise Disturbances

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to make or cause to be made any loud or unreasonable noise between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Noise shall be deemed to be unreasonable when it disturbs, injures, or endangers the peace or health of another or when it endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the community. Any such noise shall be considered to be a public nuisance and an unlawful noise disturbance.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person to make or cause to be made frequent, repetitive, or continuous noise from the discharge of a firearm between sunset and sunrise. Any such noise shall be considered to be a public nuisance and an unlawful noise disturbance.