Firearms Safety

Safety is our collective responsibility. It is up to every participant to ensure the future for firearms users in New Zealand. We do this by following the arms code and keeping yourself and everyone else safe while using firearms. A key part of being a safe hunter is fully understanding and mitigating the risks around firearms.

Apply for your Firearms Licence with the NZ Firearms Licence Authority here

What are the risks?

Whether it is on the range, or out in the bush, people need to be extremely aware of themselves and their surroundings at all times. People using firearms for all types of New Zealand hunting have to encounter various forms of terrain, situations and other people while carrying a deadly weapon. Whether you are new to the game or a experienced with firearms, a small lapse in concentration can be fatal. 
What often goes wrong?  

Other than firearms mechanically failing, preventable incidents involving firearms are most likely the result of someone breaking one of the Seven Basic Firearms Safety Rules. These rules were generated as a means for hunters to keep themselves and others safe while handling firearms and should always be followed.

Did you know?

45% of hunting-related fatalities involve a firearm.
A Hunter's Tale, 2017

7 Basic Firearm Safety Rules

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
  • Wear clothing which contrasts to your environment

Learn more from our poster.


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.


6a. 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
  • As of 2023 there are new storage rules, learn more here.
6b. Avoid alcohol or drugs when handling firearms
  •  Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms

What to do next