Hunting and shooting sports have never been any safer. Yet, there are more people involved in trap, skeet, sporting clays and still target shooting than ever. Cowboy action shooting is the fastest, newer shooting sport and it, too, is remarkable in safety stats. Why?

Safety is being stressed more and more these days. Hunters must take a hunter/safety course before going afield in most states. Gun clubs have set strict rules for their events. Participants can have firearms loaded only right before they actually shoot.

According to National Safety Council statistics, hunting and shooting sports are much safer than other participation sports such as football. Sunday School picnic activities record more injuries than shooting sports events.

More people die from falls in the bathtub and from drowning in the tub, than those who die when shot during hunting.

Pellet gun and BB gun injuries are ever fewer than a lot of other activities just mentioned. Unfortunately, some parents don't treat these guns like firearms. Pellet and BB guns have more of a possibility in injuring instead of killing, but can be dangerous if not used properly. Parents need to supervise children in the use of these guns and also should stress the dangers associated with pellet and BB guns.

Many automobile accidents come from carelessness. So it is with firearms. I'm still amazed at the number of hunters who don't watch where they point the muzzle of the guns they are using. I had the "business end' of a gun cross my stomach twice by a hunter who was nearly 60 years old this past season. He should have known better.

I recall duck hunting from a boat one season. During a lull in the shooting, I happened to notice that the guy next to me had his gun on his lap. It was pointing right at me. I told him calmly to make sure his safety was on and to carefully change the direction of the gun barrel. He was embarrassed and did not realize he had been so careless.

I've come close to being shot on three occasions. One deer hunter (He was a friend of a friend's friend with whom I had never hunted.) was so excited when a deer ran between us that he completely forgot I was there. We were in a shotgun only area of the state and three loads of buckshot came my way. I dove into a snowbank as I heard the pellets tear up a few small sapling in front of me.

Two other close calls were at shooting preserves. One shooter was impatient when a bird sailed over my head about 30 feet in the air. I was waiting for it to get out farther so my shot pattern would not disintegrate the bird. The other guy blasted at it just as I was about to shoot. Needless to say, I was rattled. He heard about it, too.

The second preserve close call came when a bird flew across the line of hunters. The big pheasant was coming right at me as I saw one of the other hunters raise his gun. I hit the ground. He claimed he never saw me.

We all have made mistakes. But let's take time to think about what we are doing. We all need reminders.

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