One of the first things people ask when they buy their new air rifle is where they are allowed to shoot it. It’s a good thing to ask as shooting in the wrong place can land you in trouble.
You can shoot your Air Rifle on your own land but you must ensure that any pellets do not end up in land that is not owned by you. If you wish to shoot on someone else’s land, then you need to get their permission. For hunting and pest control, more specific, geographic laws are applicable – you should check with your local gun club.
Why It Is Important To Know
Air Rifle usage is controlled by different laws across the globe. What you can do in one country is considered illegal in another. But it doesn’t just stop between countries.
If you’re in the United States then the laws vary between the United States and not only that, they can (and do) vary between cities!
As frustrating as this is, the very best advice I can give is to assume you can’t shoot until you’ve found out for sure otherwise.
If you’re interested in pest control, then there’s quite a lot of things you need to be made aware of, ideally before you buy your first gun! I don’t want to saturate this article with irrelevant information so if you’re interested in this, please pop over to here to check out this great article all about pest control.
Just Tell Me Where I Can Shoot!
- Your Own Land
- Someone else’s land but with their permission (preferably in writing but that’s not always possible)
- A Gun club
- If you wish to hunt or control pests that are not on your land then this is more complex and as the laws are so location-specific your best bet is to have a chat with your local club or rifle shop, they’ll know all the details (they have to).
Before You Start Shooting
There are some things that you really need to consider, so please just take a moment to go through these things.
Where are you going to shoot?
Will it be outside in the yard or inside, perhaps you have a basement or somewhere else that can accommodate this sport?
Wherever you’ve decided to shoot though you need to think about what would happen if (or when) you miss the target.
Where will your pellet go?
You need to be absolutely sure that when that happens, your pellet will not:
- Endanger other people.
- Fly into someone else’s land.
- Risk hitting a pet.
- Generally, risk hitting something you don’t want to.
Next, make sure you have a good backstop.
What’s this? It’s what the pellets will hit when they fly through your target or you miss what you’re shooting at. It needs to be something that will absorb the energy from the pellet and destroy it rather than have it rebound.
There are plenty of pellet traps available, or you can just make your own – old books are great, anything metal or even a bale of hay is dense enough to do the job.
Wood (including trees) is not a good backstop. It doesn’t dissipate the energy well and you will find your pellets are ricochet’ing all over the place. This happened to me just a few weeks ago when my son shot a low-powered .177 which hit a tree from 30 feet. It bounced back and hit me on the cheek with some velocity.
Is There Anything Else I Need To Consider?
What are you going to use your gun for? If you’re happy to just shoot in your garden then perhaps a CO2 powered Air Rifle will do the job. If you’re considering hunting and/or pest control then you’ll probably want a Spring Piston or PCP type.
My point here is if you’re in a restricted area, perhaps a small amount of land, then don’t get something that very easily will shoot into someone else’s property.
Is the pellet suitable for the environment you’re shooting in? There’s no point using a hollow-point if you’re just doing some plinking in the backyard. Get yourself some Wadcutter’s – my point here is that your pellet needs to be compatible with the environment you’re shooting in also.
There’s a good chance your neighbors are going to be concerned about what you’re doing with this new gun of yours (they may well not realize it’s an airgun).
The very best thing you can do is talk to them.
The very worst thing you can do is try and hide it from them. Invite them over and show them the rifle and what you’re doing with it, it’ll reassure them (as long as you’re doing it right). Let them have a go and you might find you’ve just converted your neighbor into a new shooter, which is great as you can then swap guns!
If you do have close neighbors then another suggestion would be to ensure your rifle doesn’t make too much noise. You can do some research before-hand of course but one thing you could do (if compatible with your rifle) is to additionally purchase a silencer for it. Not only does it make it quite a bit quieter, but it looks cool also.
Incidentally, if you’re after a good air rifle, that’s quiet and won’t cost you the Earth – check out the Gamo Whisper Air Rifle (click to get the latest price). I know a lot of people with these down the club, they’re awesome!
Last update on 2022-12-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
These safety tips are even more relevant if you’re shooting in an area with others.
First and foremost, you must make sure that everyone else is behind you. Not only that, everyone in the shooting area must be wearing protective goggles. It’s the only safety equipment you need when shooting Air Rifles, make sure you don’t forget them.
Always assume the air rifle is loaded and point the barrel down at all times. Only cock the rifle and place your finger on the trigger when you’re ready to shoot. There are some exceptions to this, such as when shooting – but at the very least, keep that finger off the trigger and the barrel facing downwards.
Finally about safety, I have a complete guide on air rifle safety that really is worth a little read if you have time. If you do, you can find it here (opens in a new tab).
One other thing, particularly if you have a spring-piston air rifle that keeps coming up. Don’t dry-fire them. If you’re not sure what this is or why you shouldn’t then check out my article on the matter here (opens in a new tab).
If you’re in the market for a new gun, be it a BB, Air Rifle or Pistol – then check out my totally unbiased reviews on what’s best out there right now. These have all been tried and tested so you don’t have to worry about buying something that isn’t up to the job.