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Safety Tips – Firearms Safety

All firearms users in New Zealand must be in possession of a valid firearms licence and comply with the New Zealand Arms Code at all times.

Click here for more information regarding firearms licensing or contact the arms officer at your local Police station.

There is an abundance of information available to ensure you stay safe and to help you get the most out of your shooting. Whether you're hunting for game animals/birds or target shooting for sport, be sure to check out the Mountain Safety Council information pamphlets.

The Firearms Safety Code:

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 when 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 when 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 or drugs when handling firearms

Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms.  

The New Zealand Arms Code

All hunters should know the Arms Code well, and conform with all parts of it at all times.     

The Arms Code is available for free download from

Former MSC Firearms Programme manager Mike Spray wrote an article for NZ Hunting and Wildlife which discusses the Arms Code. To read this article CLICK HERE.

The law regarding imported airguns and military-style firearms (December 2013)

The Mountain Safety Council recognises new laws that came into effect on 11 December 2013, which place import restrictions on some airguns and clarify the definition of military-style semi-automatic firearms.

Make sure you and your firearms comply. Click the link below to find out more from NZ Police and to download an information pamphlet:

Sights on imported airguns and military-style firearms in new gun laws.

Airguns flyer

Click here to download a PDF of the NZ MSSA pamphlet.

Airguns are controlled by the Arms Act

MSC and NZ Police have worked together to produce an informative flyer capturing points on ownership and legal requirements around airguns. The 7 basic rules of firearms safety also apply to airguns and as such the 7 Rules poster is available for printing on page 2 of the flyer.

The web version of the flyer has links at the bottom of the page to MSC Firearms, NZ Police Firearms and the Arms Code web locations.

NZ Police Airguns Notice

Click here to download a web-friendly PDF of the Airguns notice.

Click here to download a high-quality print PDF of the Airguns notice.

Firearms Licence Process

To apply for a New Zealand Firearms Licence follow this process.

NZ Police Airguns Notice

Click here to download a PDF of the NZ Firearms Licence process..

Chamber Safety Device (CSDs)

CSDs are inserted into the chamber of a firearm which then clearly demonstrates that it is free of live ammunition.

You can purchase CSDs from the MSC ONLINE STORE

Former MSC Firearms Programme manager Mike Spray wrote an article on the Chamber Safety Device for NZ Hunting and Wildlife.  To read this article CLICK HERE

Health & Safety

Shooting is a sport with a high risk potential. You need to be physically and mentally competent and capable of safely controlling your firearm. Good eyesight is also important because you must be able to identify your target beyond all doubt and shoot with accuracy. Even colour blindness can cause problems so if you have any doubts, visit an eye specialist

Wearing safety glasses will protect your eyes. You can protect your hearing with proper muffs or earplugs. This is particularly important at a firing range where others are firing alongside you.

All firearms users should have first aid skills. You may be the first to arrive at a shooting incident scene so you need to be prepared. Knowing what to do in this situation could prevent further injury and possibly save a life

 – The Arms Code

Where to get further help:

With all firearms pursuits there is a good case in favour of getting involved with an appropriate club. Whether your interest is collecting firearms, target shooting or hunting it will be to your advantage to belong to a club catering for your particular interest. The members of these clubs are enthusiasts who can pass on valuable information.

The Police Arms Officer, the Mountain Safety Council, or local firearms dealers can give you more information on clubs in all the firearms pursuits.

Another source of valuable information, advice and practical help is a qualified gunsmith. Even when brand new your firearm may need telescopic sights or other modifications.

For a list of contacts see our Get Outdoors page.


Going Hunting?
You can download several Firearms Safety pamphlets from the online store here

You can also download a free poster with the seven basic rules of firearms safety on here

Firearms Courses


Mountain Safety Council managed websites
Mountain Saftey CouncilAdventure SmartAvalanche.net.nzNational Incident Database