When using a firearm, be sure to follow the five primary safety rules. You can remember these rules by thinking S.M.A.R.T.:

Here are additional firearm safety rules that you should know:

Nationally, about 5% of the population hunts, and roughly the same percentage actively opposes hunting.

History, Laws, Ethics, and Psychology


Hunting and trapping have been a part of Pennsylvania’s rich history since the beginning of the Commonwealth. When Europeans arrived in 1610, they discovered an abundance of wildlife. Elk, deer, black bear, waterfowl, and even moose, along with predators such as wolves and mountain lions, roamed the mountains, swamps, and forests of the state. Settlers hunted and trapped for food and furs to survive in the “wilderness” that was Pennsylvania. This way of life was not taught in a classroom but was passed on by family members from one generation to the next.

It wasn’t until 1959 that Pennsylvania provided any type of official training. The first courses were known as “safety courses” and were taken on a voluntary basis. By 2009, with hunter and trapper education mandatory, nearly 2,000,000 students have been certified.

How has this helped hunting and trapping in Pennsylvania? Since the beginning of hunter and trapper education programs, hunting fatalities and injuries from firearms have declined nearly 80 percent. It is the goal of this hunter and trapper education program to continue to produce safe, responsible, knowledgeable, and involved hunters and trappers in Pennsylvania.

During the 19th century, many game animals were hunted nearly into extinction. The thundering herds of bison that once roamed the plains were reduced to about 800 head. The beaver was almost wiped out. Elk, deer, and pronghorn were reduced to a fraction of their once-plentiful numbers.

During the 19th century, many game animals were hunted nearly into extinction. Hunting laws were passed to:


Involved Organizations

Hunting Education: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, state and provincial wildlife agencies, non-governmental organizations (such as IHEA-USA), hunting equipment manufacturers, and local organizations.


Pittman–Robertson Act (Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act):

Wildlife Management Law:

Fair chase rules: make sure hunters have no unfair advantage over wild game by balancing the skills and equipment of the hunter with the abilities of the animal to escape. (so you can't cheat, the game rule is written in law)

More Resources


Find Hunting Regulation in:


For example, an animal appears beyond a hunter’s effective range for a clean kill. Should the hunter take the shot anyway and hope to get lucky? Ethical hunters would say no.


Natural Resources

Respect Natural Resources



Landlords may get mad of you for the following reasons:

Respect Non-Hunters

Anti-hunter Protester: Report hunter harassment to law enforcement authorities. If possible, record the vehicle license number of harassers.

Gray Areas of Hunting:


Five Stages to Become Experienced:

Firearm Architecture


Parts of a Firearm: Pump-Action Shotgun

Parts of a Firearm: Pump-Action Shotgun

Bolt-Action Rifle:

Muzzleloaders have locks instead of actions.

Pump-Action Shotgun:

Double-Action Revolver: pistol, but with a revolver

Semi-Automatic Pistol: most common handgun





Rifles and handguns use a cartridge containing a single projectile (bullet). Shotguns use a shotshell containing either a single slug or a large number of small projectiles (shot or pellets).

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