There are no two ways about it: gun safety is paramount at all times.
In the light of the recent tragic shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the Rust film set in New Mexico, Marksman’s Nest chief ranger, Geoffrey Coetzee stressed the importance of adhering to the range’s gun safety policies at all times.
Stick to the rules
With safety being our highest priority, Marksman’s Nest officers and staff have absolute and final authority over the range. They may expel anyone who acts in an unsafe manner from the range at their sole discretion.
“Most of our rules are simply common sense,” Geoffrey said. “We teach our entry-level students: Always keep your firearm away from people; Finger off the trigger; Always treat a firearm as loaded; Know your target and what’s beyond it.
At the end of a session, all weapons should be unloaded and magazines removed. Back actions should be locked and these should remain open.
While on the range, weapons should be grounded with muzzles pointing down the range. This is the most basic safety rule. Because if this is observed, there would be virtually no firearm accidents. Plus, when not shooting, handguns should be holstered at all times.
Remember, never point your gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot – particularly when loading or unloading a firearm. Consider possible ricochets. Even when ‘dry firing’ with an unloaded gun, don’t ever point it willy-nilly into the blue yonder.
On the command ‘cease fire’, do just that – immediately. And under no circumstances should live ammunition or empty casings be removed from the range.
Unload firearms when not in use
Only load firearms when on the shooting range, ready to shoot. Unload your gun immediately after shooting, before taking it to your car or home. Importantly, store firearms and ammunition in a safe place, separate from each other.
Whenever you handle a firearm or hand it to someone, always open the action to check the chamber, receiver and magazine. Make doubly sure that they don’t contain any ammunition. Never assume a gun is unloaded. An experienced gun handler would always check for him/herself!
While on the range, the basic rules of firearm safety require you to unload your gun before climbing a fence or tree, or any awkward action you need to take.
In addition, common sense dictates that a loaded gun shouldn’t be carried in a holster, gun case or scabbard. When in doubt, unload your gun!
After misfiring, handle with care
If a gun has misfired, keep your face away from the breach. And point the muzzle in a safe direction. Open the action carefully, unload the firearm and dispose of the cartridge safely.
Always discharge firearms in areas with good ventilation.
Don’t rely on the safety catch
You should never handle a gun carelessly just because the safety catch is on. As a mechanical device, the catch can in fact get stuck at the most awkward moment. We’ve all heard stories of people who have had accidents by thinking the safety catch is on, when in fact it’s off.
Double-check your target
Don’t shoot unless you know exactly where your shot will land. Ensure that your bullet won’t injure anyone or anything beyond your target. Never ever fire at a movement or noise without being certain what you’re shooting at. That simply is nuts. Also, you should keep in mind how far a bullet will travel if it misses the intended target or ricochets in another direction.
Alcohol is a big no
It goes without saying that no alcoholic beverages may be consumed on the range. Guns and alcohol simply don’t go together. For this reason, persons under the influence of alcohol or drugs won’t be permitted into the range area.
Cover eyes and ears
Both eye and hearing protection are mandatory for anyone in the range area of Marksman’s Nest. But for your own sake, you should make a point of wearing this protection when hunting, or target shooting too. Exposure to shooting noise can damage hearing, while shooting glasses guard against falling shot, clay target chips, twigs and firearm malfunction.
In this, the month of love, be sure to love your gun too. Some loving will go a long way to ensuring your gun is in tip-top working order at a time when you might need it most.
It takes very little effort to maintain your gun. Ideally, maintenance should be done every time after you’ve fired it. And if your gun is relegated to the safe for long periods, it needs to be cleaned every few weeks.
What you need
You’ll need a set of polymer cleaning picks, a nylon gun cleaning brush set (or a toothbrush would also do the trick) and battle rope for cleaning the bore. Better yet, simply buy a good handgun cleaning kit.
In terms of consumables, get yourself a supply of cotton patches. Or save the planet by recycling an old T-shirt to do the heavy-duty cleaning. This will be used for getting the crud out of the gun’s receiver.
Cleaners and Lubricants
Don’t overdo the chemicals. Use just enough to clean, lubricate and protect. Using lubrication too liberally may cause all sorts of problems.
There are a number of non-toxic, non-staining, odourless and non-flammable cleaners on the market. If you’re stuck for choice, chief ranger Geoffrey Coetzee is the ultimate pro and he’ll definitely point you in the right direction.
The cleaning process
Step one is disassembling your gun. Most revolvers require virtually no disassembly. For other handguns, if you’re stuck and Geoffrey isn’t on hand to help, YouTube has good video resources.
Remember, only field strip your gun – always sticking to the four golden rules of gun safety. Then start by cleaning out all the old lubricant and gunk from every part of your pistol. Pay special attention to the feed ramp, spring, areas around the safety and mag release, the outside of the slide, the magazines behind the trigger, and the areas where the upper and lower frame meet. Clean until the cotton patch comes away clean.
Apply cleaner inside the bore, followed by the bore snake. Maybe also use the brass brushes to get it extra-clean. Once the bore is clean, apply a small amount of oil to a cloth patch and run it through the barrel using either the tip of your cleaning rod or a plastic pick.
For revolvers, clean the inside of the cylinders and run the bore snake through each cylinder.
Anything metal should have lubricant. So, with a precision applicator, oil the spring and any external parts, including the outside of the barrel, the spring, and the rails. Only apply enough lubricant to ensure that your firearm cycles without impedance. Too much will only give rise to grime.
You’re all set now to reassemble your firearm and check it for function.
Gun ownership requires responsibility. And part of this responsibility is to love your gun with regular maintenance.
Join us for an action-packed Four-gun Holiday Special during December 2021. For an hour, attendants will get to experience four different types of guns (handguns, shotguns, hunting rifles, semi-auto rifles) and clay pigeon shooting. And we assure you that, as with all Marksman’s Nest events, this occasion will not only be fun, but instructive and memorable too.
During the event, shooters will move through different stages and engage targets in a variety of different positions. Each stage will generally involve the use of different firearms and require the shooter to transition between them.
Targets might include clay pigeons, cardboard silhouettes, steel targets of varying sizes and anything else we designate as a target. Distances of the targets might vary.
This Four-gun Holiday Special will vaguely simulate combat or self-defence situations. And then there is the clay pigeon shooting too. This is extremely popular the world over. With this discipline, a firearm is shot at flying clay targets. Not only does this improve accuracy, but it also boosts your marksmanship skills.
What to expect at the range
Our shooting range offers people the opportunity to handle and shoot firearms in a controlled environment under supervision. We provide both eye and hearing protection to keep your eyes and ears intact. However, pregnant women are advised not to come along for the event since there’s no hearing protection for the unborn.
Naturally, gun safety is always top of our list. So rest assured, we have Range Safety Officers who keep an eye on things so you can focus on shooting rather than checking out the overall status of the shooting line. Our officers will provide safety briefings to visitors entering the range and watch for unsafe behaviour.
Don’t hesitate to ask one of our rangers any questions you might have. Believe me, they’d rather answer a beginner’s question than have to worry about the repercussions of a mistake.
Looking forward to seeing you on the range. Please contact Geoffrey here.
With great power comes great responsibility! And that applies particularly to owning a firearm. We at Marksman’s Nest continually stress the fact that firearms are incredibly dangerous if mishandled or misused. In the light of the recent mass shootings in America, we urge every firearm owner to educate him/herself and act responsibly.
Because of spiralling crime in South Africa, access to gun ownership is imperative. Background checks and restrictions on unsafe individuals owning weapons is something most responsible gun owners support.
Know the laws
Just as a driver needs to know the local speed limits and road rules, a gun owner should be well-versed in restrictions and regulations. You’ll need to apply for the necessary licence and permits.
Take training courses and practise
To keep yourself and others safe, it’s important that you undergo thorough training when you become a gun owner. Attend at least a few beginner’s classes and then graduate to more advanced classes.
Apart from knowing how to handle guns, your biggest priority as a gun owner needs to be stopping other people from handling your firearms. It’s usually said that guns should be kept away from children, but it actually should be kept away from any unauthorised person. To prevent accidents and/or theft, store your gun(s) in a secure place under lock and key – child- and theft-proof.
Use a sturdy SAPS-approved safe, a heavy-duty lock, and a mechanism that can’t be picked. And secure the safe to a wall or the floor.
A good scope
Using proper optics suitable to your hunting rifle goes a long way in ensuring there aren’t any stray bullets. This way you’ll be keeping your hunting partners safe.
Safety in your vehicle
Fact is that most gun thefts take place in vehicles. Lock-boxes and vaults are the best options for your SUV or bakkie. Ensure it’s secured to the vehicle, as well as having its own lock.
Cleaning and care
Improperly cleaned or maintained firearms are extremely dangerous. Prevent accidents by learning how to clean and maintain your weapons properly. Bring your rifles to Marksman’s Nest for hands-on tutorials. However, if you’re too far from us, always choose certified instructors.
Ammo is just as dangerous. Stray cartridges are particularly dangerous when live. Ensure that you haven’t dropped any when you go hunting. In addition, always collect spent cartridges. Any plastic casings or shells that you find should come back with you. The lead content in them will poison wildlife. The plastic is also a choking hazard to creatures.