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Safe Zones of Fire

The area into which a hunter may shoot safely is referred to as a "zone of fire." When hunting alone, your safe zone of fire will be determined by your field of view, the presence of unsuitable targets such as trees, rocks or water, and the range of your firearm.

zone of fire

When hunting with others, your zone of fire will also be determined by the location of others in your group. During such hunts, it is crucial that each person knows exactly where they may shoot without putting others in danger. It is also safer if there are no more than two or three hunters in the group.


A commonly used zone of fire when hunting with other hunters is an area that extends in a 45° angle directly in front of you.
checking for zone of fire

To determine a 45° shooting zone:

  • Start with thumbs up and out to the side.
  • Focus on a point on the far wall.
  • Draw arms straight in until both thumbs are in focus without moving your eyes.


Don't shoot beyond your zone of fire.
Pheasant and waterfowl hunters often use zones of fire similar to this. Hunters are in a straight line in sight of one another. No one runs ahead or lags behind the line. The area behind the hunters is off limits–no one turns to shoot behind. The middle hunter has the narrowest zone of fire–about 45°. Hunters to the left and right have a broader zone of fire since they can swing to the outside.
zones of fire with topographic map
Two hunters moving forward along a trail
Upland game hunters moving along a trail or through cover may use zones of fire similar to this. As they change position the location of their safe zone of fire changes accordingly. Each hunter, though, knows where the other is and respects his or her zone of fire.

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