The four basic rules of firearm safety:
The “TAB-K” formula.
T = Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Never assume a firearm is unloaded and never treat it that way, even if you watch as it is unloaded. Make it a habit to treat guns like they are loaded all the time.
A = Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. About one third of all hunting incidents are self inflicted injuries. That means the muzzle was pointed at some part of the hunter’s body. A safe direction is a direction where the bullet will travel and harm no one in the event of an unwanted discharge. There are no accidental discharges with firearms, only unwanted discharges.
B = Be certain of your target and what’s beyond it. Positive target identification is a must. To shoot at something you only think is a legal target is gambling. You must be absolutely certain that what you are shooting at is a legal target before you shoot. Otherwise, it’s reckless behavior. In addition to identifying the target, a shooter must know that a safe backstop for their BB or bullet is present in every shooting situation. We don’t always hit our target, and, in some cases, the bullet passes through the target. A safe backstop guarantees that no one will get hurt.
K = Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot. If you stumble with a firearm in one hand and nothing in the other, whatever that person does with their free hand will automatically happen with the hand holding the gun. If a finger is inside the trigger guard, that hand is likely going to close around the pistol grip of the gun and on the trigger causing an unwanted discharge. If you have your finger inside the trigger guard and turn around to see something behind you the natural reaction is to grab the pistol grip of the gun and thus the trigger causing an unwanted discharge.