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.

  • The laws around New Zealand firearms - transportation, purchasing, licences and interaction with firearms. A key place to start is the New Zealand Police website 

Loading a firearm - BGH

Did you know?

There are over 190,000 (local and visiting) hunters who participate in New Zealand each year.
– A Hunter's Tale, 2017 


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Outdoor Safety Code

The first thing to remember is that every trip needs a plan. It doesn't take much to turn a short trip into an 'unexpected night out' in the bush. If you've planned before you hit the track using the outdoor safety code as a guide, there's a good chance you'll be prepared to handle an unexpected turn of events. 

Safety is the outcome of good planning and good decision making
– Mike Daisley, MSC CEO
Find our more about the Outdoor Safety Code below. 


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


Firearm Safety Rules

The vast majority of firearms related incidents can be traced back to one or many of the firearms safety code not being followed. Regardless of how experienced you are following the firearms safety code is essential to the safety of you and your fellow hunters. 

Helpful hint:

 Don't hesitate to call your mates out if they're not handling their firearm safely. Safety is everyone's responsibility. 

The 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 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.

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.
6b. Avoid alcohol or drugs when handling firearms
  •  Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms.

Helpful hint

If you see someone using firearms in an unsafe manner (putting themselves or others at risk), you have the right to tell them to stop.

Other essential things you need to know


  • The laws around New Zealand firearms - transportation, purchasing, licences and interaction with firearms.
    • A key place to start is the New Zealand Police website 
  • How to get a NZ Firearms Licence

Firearms Licence Process - 2016

To book a test, contact the local Arms Officer in your region 

  • Read more of our resources below which unpack what these rules mean to hunters.
  • Explore other risks to hunters, beyond the use of firearms in our Hunting Activities section.
  • The other 54% of fatalities, as well as causes of the many injuries, search and rescues that hunters face.
  • Plan a hunting trip and explore the resources you will need for that trip.


Helpful hint

To learn more about your firearm and all of it’s functions, talk to a gunsmith or local hunting store clerk.


Key Resources

Read our hunting activity guide

Available free online in English and Te Reo, this guide was developed with key delegates in the NZ hunter safety sector of New Zealand and unpacks what the Seven Basic rules mean for a hunter in NZ. This guide has been developed to help you plan your trip. It's available to read and download for FREE. 

Click the cover to read it online

Hunting English

We've also produced a Te Reo version below

Hunting Te Reo


We've got a range of videos that explore the latest research from 'A Hunter's Tale' produced with Hunters Club. Below is the first clip about Big Game Hunting. 

Hunting Playlist.

Head directly to the Hunting Playlist HERE 


Read more about different types of hunting

Whether you are after big game, pigs or birds we have specific insights and information you need for your favourite form of hunting.

Explore activities 

Watch our videos on YouTube

We partner with key groups to help get the message out. Watch and share them with your mates and you'll be helping us make New Zealand safer with firearms.

Find out more  

Read more of our insights

These insights explore the causes, effects and trends in firearms safety for hunters in NZ -

Find out more 

Attend a Firearms Safety Course

There is further information on Firearms Safety Courses and Whakatupato Courses on our Course Page. 

Join a club

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. See our clubs page.

Not into firearms?

Check out our Bowhunting activity page.

Other MSC resources

We have various items to help you with the following from our online store.

  • 7 Basic rules posters Māori and English
  • Selecting a Firearm Pamphlet
  • Firearms Safety Pamphlet
  • Going Hunting? Pamphlet
  • Chamber Safety Devices



What is #MakeItHomeNZ?

MSC encourages exploration and adventure in the incredible wilderness regions of New Zealand. We encourage you to participate, get out there and see what all the fuss is about. New Zealand is on the bucket list of so many people around the world for good reason.
We also encourage safe practices that ensure you make it home to your family and friends. We want you to make it home with adventurous stories, memories and photos. But, most of all we want you to make it home to do it all again next time. That's why on every advertisement, press release, video and resource we reaffirm our intent to help the 1.2 Million+ participants in outdoor recreation to make it home. You can help us spread this philosophy by sharing our resources and following the outdoor safety code so you make it home.
– Mike Daisley, CEO


Helpful links

NZ Police

Learn more about licensing processes

Find out more

Department of Conservation

Information about the species you wish to hunt and the DOC areas of land to explore.

Find out more 

Walking Access Commission

Get permission to go hunting on the land before you head out.

Find out more  

Explore our insights
Find out more 

Read Outdoor Safety Code
 Find out more

Stay Connected with our Hunting Facebook Page
 Find out more