GUN & SHOOTING SAFETY† -† SPANIEL TRAINING
This policy is intended to provide minimum standards for club members who participate as gunners during club events, including training days and hunt tests.† The SCSSC is open to members interested in a wide range of spaniel sports and we want to encourage members to participate in training sessions.† It must be understood that the safety of all participants, by-standers, guests and others is paramount.†††
This document is not intended to address AKC Field Trial gunning since that is addressed by the AKC Spaniel Field Trail Gunning Program.††
Basic Requirement for Gunners
No one shall handle or shoot a loaded firearm during a club event that has not first completed one of the following:
Hunter Safety or Firearms Safety course and obtained a written certification in the past 5 years.
Held a valid hunting license (any state) in the past 5 years.
Obtained a level ďPĒ or higher in the AKC Spaniel Field Trial Gunning Program.†
Shotgun and Shot Shells
Shotgun:† 12 ga break open shotgun with IC and Mod chokes or tighter.† No pumps or auto-loaders are permitted.
Shot shells:† Factory loaded 12 ga with at least 1 oz of # 7Ĺ, #6 or #5 shot and 3 drams powder.†† Ultra-light loads, magnum loads or hand loads are not permitted.† If the training area has specific requirements pertaining to shot shells those are to be followed, such as non-toxic shot or maximum shot size.
Basic Firearm Safety
The Ten commandments of Firearm Safety can not be repeated often enough:
1. Control the direction of the firearms muzzle. Carry your firearm safely,
and keep the safety on until ready to shoot.
2. Identify your target and what is beyond. Know the identifying features
of the game you hunt.
3. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
4. Be sure the barrel and action are clear of any obstructions, and that you
have only the correct size and type of ammunition for the firearm.
5. Unload all firearms when not in use. Leave the actions open. Carry all
firearms in cases to and from the shooting area.
6. Never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot. Avoid
horseplay with firearms.
7. Never climb a fence or a tree, or jump a ditch with a loaded firearm.
Never pull a firearm toward you by the muzzle.
8. Never shoot at a flat, hard surface, or at water. During practice ensure
your backstop is adequate.
9. Store firearms and ammunition separately, and beyond the reach of
children or careless adults. Preferably in a cabinet and with trigger locks.
10. Avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood altering drugs before or while
Shotgun Pellet Range
Many of our training areas are in proximity to roadways and adjacent fields in use by others.† The maximum range of shot pellets from a shotgun is much further than many people think and posses the potential for conflict.† The maximum range of #7Ĺ† shot is about 220 yards, #6 shot is 250 yards and #4ís can approach 300 yards.† At this distance the shot has very little energy and is falling like rain.† While the risk of injury to a person at this range is slight, the perception of being shot at or the impact on a windshield of a car traveling 40 mph could be sufficient to involve law authorities and everything that might follow.† For these reasons you must never take a shot that might rain pellets on a roadway or area where others are likely to be.
As most people understand, a shotgun is designed specifically to produce a group of small shot pellets that travel in close proximity to one another, gradually separating over distance.† In general the majority of the pellets (350 in 1 oz of #7Ĺ ) form a group or pattern about 30-inches in diameter at a distance of about 30 yards.† However, in any shot pattern there are a certain number of pellets that stray from the group.† Generally, these stray pellets are few in number and donít stray more than a few feet from the pattern.† However, documented tests have shown that on occasion, even with high quality factory ammunition, pellets can and do stray as much as 10-feet from the pattern center at 60 yards.† This is why you must never take a shot that is in proximity to a person or a dog.
Gunning at a spaniel training session is not a task to be taken lightly. Every handler has a dog in a different phase of his training.† It is extremely important that the guns† know what the handler intends to do before they go into the field. Always ask the handler what he is working on and whether there are any special instructions.† Attendance at a number of training sessions before gunning is essential because it does help the guns to get to know the individual dogs and the idiosyncrasies of the particular handlers.
Always ask and understand each handlerís instructions:
∑ If a handler is steadying his dog, he will want the most expert shots in the field. Do not be offended if the handler asks someone else to gun for this particular dog. A young dog that is to be steadied must have a retrieve, if he performs appropriately. You should also always know whether the handler wants the bird shot if the dog breaks. Most of the time, the handler will not want the bird shot. The gun must be aware of whether the dog broke before he draws a bead on the bird.
∑ If the handler is working on honoring, the gun may be asked to throw a clipped-wing bird or to fire a steadying shot. A steadying shot is simply a shot fired while the dog is running toward the other side of the course. The dogs have been trained to hup upon a shot and the handler is merely reinforcing this training. If the gun is asked to fire a steadying shot, the shot should be carefully placed into the air to the outside of the gun.
∑ The gun should always know whether or not this is a veteran dog with a peculiar problem or a young dog. Attendance at a number of training sessions before gunning is essential because it does help the guns to get to know the individual dogs and the idiosyncrasies of the particular handlers. You cannot be an effective member of a gunning team without this knowledge.
In general handlers will ask for all birds to be shot within 35-50 yards. The guns must be consistent. A dog learns nothing from a 10 or 20-yard retrieve. It is essential that a gun use both barrels. If you miss the first shot take a second shot.
∑ Do not open your gun to eject a spent shell until the dog reaches the bird. Opening your gun too soon could cause an unnecessary distraction for a dog that is having steadying problems.
∑ Donít talk. Let the handler and the dog concentrate on the retrieve.
∑ Always stay even with the handler. It is extremely irritating to have a gun fall behind or walk ahead of the handler. This may create quartering problems for the dog. Remember, this is a training session and it needs to be as perfect as possible. When the dog starts to make game, the handler will move up and the guns need to move up with the handler. At no time should a gun ever run to catch up with a dog.
∑ Donít shoot volunteers unless a handler has told you in advance that you are to shoot. A volunteer is a planted bird that suddenly flies, on its own, without being flushed by the dog.