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Hunting season safety tips: What to know about handling your firearm

Darren Sikes, NRA certified gun trainer for Nichols Guns, said that regardless of an individual's experience in handling firearms, safety is always a top priority.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — With hunting season in full swing, it's never a bad idea for a refresher on hunters education and safety tips when it comes to handling a gun. 

Darren Sikes, NRA certified gun trainer for Nichols Guns, said they see a variety of customers who come into their store -- from long range precision shooters to those who have never handled a gun in their life.

Regardless of their background, Sikes emphasizes the most important part of handling a gun is safety.

"A lot of accidents occur when we are too comfortable with the gun," Sikes said. "Lackadaisical, going through the motions, that's when bad things happen." 

According to Sikes, Nichols Guns offers a variety of courses to fit each individual's needs, but no matter their level they should always practice three golden rules. 

"One, always keep the gun down range, or where you intend to shoot," Sikes said. "Know what your target is. Third, keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot." 

Texas Game Warden Lerrin Johnson said she's witnessed hunting accidents every year, adding that the majority of all firearm mishaps come from mishandling. She encourages handlers to keep their gun unloaded until ready to use. 

"You know, where someone was pulling a firearm out of a vehicle, or climbing up into a blind, and it accidently goes off," Johnson said. 

Johnson added that hunters are required to take a hunter safety course if they were born after 1971 in an effort to reduce hunting accidents and fatalities in Texas.

"We have seen a downward trend of hunting accidents occurring," Johnson said. "Which means the safety course is working, and that's why it is a requirement and will continue to be a requirement for hunters."

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