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Firearms Safety

All firearms users in New Zealand must be in possession of a valid firearms licence and comply with the New Zealand Arms Code at all times.

Click here for more information regarding firearms licensing or contact the arms officer at your local Police station.

There is an abundance of information available to ensure you stay safe and to help you get the most out of your shooting. Whether you're hunting for game animals/birds or target shooting for sport, be sure to check out the Mountain Safety Council information pamphlets.

The Firearms Safety Code:

1. Treat every firearm as loaded

- Check every firearm yourself.
- Pass or accept only an open or unloaded firearm.         

2. Always point firearms in a safe direction

- Loaded or unloaded, always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

3. Load a firearm only when ready to fire

- Load the magazine only when you reach your shooting area.
- Load the chamber only when ready to shoot.
- Completely unload before leaving the shooting area.

4. Identify your target beyond all doubt

- Movement, colour, sound and shape can all deceive you.
- Assume colour, shape, sound, and shape to be human until proven otherwise.

5. Check your firing zone

- THINK:  What may happen if you miss your target? 
- What might you hit between you and the target or beyond?
- Do not fire when you know others are in your firing zone.

6. Store firearms and ammunition safely

- When not in use, lock away the bolt, firearm and ammunition separately.
- Never leave firearms in a vehicle that is unattended.

7. Avoid alcohol or drugs when handling firearms

- Good judgement is the key to safe use of firearms.  

The New Zealand Arms Code

All hunters should know the Arms Code well, and conform with all parts of it at all times.     

Where to get further help:

With all firearms pursuits there is a good case in favour of getting involved with an appropriate club. Whether your interest is collecting firearms, target shooting or hunting it will be to your advantage to belong to a club catering for your particular interest. The members of these clubs are enthusiasts who can pass on valuable information.

The Police Arms Officer, the Mountain Safety Council, or local firearms dealers can give you more information on clubs in all the firearms pursuits.

Another source of valuable information, advice and practical help is a qualified gunsmith. Even when brand new your firearm may need telescopic sights or other modifications.

For a list of contacts see our Get Outdoors page.


Going Hunting?
Make sure you check out our hunting activity guide.

You can also download firearm safety pamphlets and posters from our online store here.


Firearms Courses


Mountain Safety Council managed websites
Mountain Saftey CouncilAdventure SmartAvalanche.net.nz