Shooters urged not to be complacent

By Mark Story

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Duck shooters are being urged to maintain responsible shooting behaviour ahead of this Saturday's opening morning. Photo/File
Duck shooters are being urged to maintain responsible shooting behaviour ahead of this Saturday's opening morning. Photo/File

The Mountain Safety Council is urging all Bay duck hunters to check their firing zones ahead of the season opener this Saturday.

With more than 30,000 licences expected to be issued, many are eagerly anticipating opening morning which starts at 6.15.

While punters get together and enjoy the annual duck shooting traditions, lots of shooting activity is condensed into the opening weekend and the first two weeks of the season, often resulting in a spate of unintentional firearms incidents.

Michael Leslie Meehan, 47, of Napier, died of an accidental gunshot injury when he was out with family members at the opening day of duck-shooting season on the outskirts of Napier, May 1, 2009.

On the same morning, in Central Hawke's Bay, a 22-year-old man suffered an eye injury when he was shot in the face while duck shooting with friends on a privately-owned dam near Waipukurau.

Although there were no fatalities last year, Mountain Safety Council's Firearms & Hunter Safety programme manager, Nicole McKee, said that's no reason to be complacent.

"All incidents can be avoided if firearms users maintain responsible shooting behaviours," Ms McKee said. "That means following the seven basic rules of the Firearms Safety Code and using common sense."

She said the key reminder for hunters was to check your firing zone before you begin shooting for the day. "Take note of where other maimais, boats, hunters, stock and dogs are located.

"With moving targets such as game birds in flight, it is imperative that you're aware of your field of fire as the pattern of shotgun pellets spreads as you move. Duck hunting parties need to set their firing zones and stick to their shooting boundaries to keep themselves and their mates safe."

Duck hunters should also be prepared for objects (including people and pets) which could suddenly and unexpectedly enter your firing zone. "Do not take the shot if there is any possibility that your pellets could endanger others. For those enthusiasts that 'jump shoot' in the vicinity of dams and ponds, ensure that your firing zone is clear before you take any shots.

"Maimais and shooting stands also pose a significant risk as often they are well within shot range of each other. Having more than one hunter and several firearms in the same maimai can also pose a risk so make sure firearms are unloaded and made safe when not in use.

"Lastly, the lead-up to opening day sees an array of duck-related events and promotions held across the country but it's disappointing that some people get caught up with the social aspect of the sport and forget that alcohol and firearms do not mix - ever."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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