As of February 2011 owners of air weapons
must take reasonable precautions to prevent persons under 18 years old from from gaining unauthorised access to such weapons.
Air Rifles - A Code of Practice
The most important rule of gun handling……
NEVER POINT A GUN, LOADED OR UNLOADED, IN AN UNSAFE DIRECTION
It is estimated that there are four million air rifles in the UK, the vast majority of which are used in a safe and responsible manner. This leaflet offers guidance and advice to those who acquire and use them.
Above all, safety is the most important consideration. Always know where the muzzle of your air rifle is pointing and NEVER point it in an unsafe direction.
Whenever you shoot, make sure you know where the pellet is going to end up before you pull the trigger.
Firearms Acts 1968-1997/Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2004/ Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006
Air Rifles and Young Persons -
Aged 14 – 18 years
If you are aged between 14 – 18 years you may use an air rifle on private premises without supervision with the consent of the occupier – normally the owner or tenant. However, if you allow a pellet to go outside of the premises whilst you are shooting then you commit a criminal offence.
You may not carry an air rifle in a public place unless you are supervised by a person of 21 years or over and you have a reasonable excuse to do so, for example, whilst on the way to a club or land where you have permission to shoot. It is common sense to carry the air rifle in a gun cover and you should always ensure that it is unloaded.
Young people under 14 years
You may borrow an air rifle and use it under supervision on private premises with permission from the occupier – normally the owner or tenant. The person who supervises you must be of or over 21 years of age.
If a pellet leaves the premises whilst you are shooting then both you and the person supervising you commit a criminal offence.
Parents or guardians who buy an air rifle for use by an under 14 year old must exercise control over it at all time even in the home or garden.
It is an offence for anyone to have an air rifle – whether it is loaded or not – in a public place unless they have a reasonable excuse for doing so, for example, whilst on the way to a gunshop or to a shooting club.
As well as the offences already mentioned, it is against the law, in England and Wales, to fire an air rifle within 50 feet of the centre of a highway, if by doing so you cause any member of the public, using that right of way, to be injured, interrupted or endangered. This offence could be committed, for example, by someone on private property close to a road who uses an air rifle in a way which endangers people on the road.
THE WILDLIFE AND COUNTYSIDE ACT 1981
All birds and animals are protected by law. It is often thought that those birds and animals designated as pest species can be shot at any time and by anyone. This is not so. Only ‘authorised persons’, that is those who have proper permission, are allowed to do so. For this purpose the Secretary of State issues a general licence every year.
Always ensure that you are authorised by the landowner or person with the sporting rights to shoot where you intend to and that you know precisely where the boundaries are located.
There are numerous clubs catering for this growing sport throughout the UK and they can offer great help and guidance to both the novice and the experienced shooter alike. If you wish to practise on your own premises, you should ensure that your pellets do not go beyond your own premises, where they may cause damage or injury. It is also constructive trespass if your pellets stray onto someone else's land. You should make sure that you have a suitable backstop behind your target.
FOR THE QUARRY
It is the responsibility
of the sportsman to be able to recognise his or her quarry and know when and where he or she may shoot it. Never shoot unless
you have positively identified your quarry.
Always despatch wounded quarry quickly and with the minimum of suffering. Wounded rodents should be despatched with caution as they are capable of inflicting painful wounds. DO NOT TOUCH RATS. They may carry fatal diseases, so you should lift them with a fork or shovel.
Always ensure that your air rifle is suitably powered for the quarry you intend to shoot and do not attempt a shot of more than 35 metres. Never shoot at partially obscured quarry or shoot at quarry which could escape into cover before it can be retrieved. For example, do not shoot rabbits which are less than two metres from cover.
BASC supports the legitimate right of any member to possess and to shoot at sporting quarry with any lawful air rifle of his or her choice. However, we consider that air rifles of the type for which no Firearms Certificate is required (those producing 12 ft/lbs muzzle energy or below) are insufficiently powerful to ensure humane kills of certain quarry species.
We recommend that you refrain from using them on live quarry other than the following: crows, rooks, jackdaws, magpies, jays, woodpigeon, collared doves, feral pigeons, brown rats, grey squirrels and rabbits.
Certain types of air rifle are more suitable for hunting than others. Rifles to be avoided are those which take excessive time to charge, load and fire, and those which are in a poor state of repair. All air rifles must be well maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. If in doubt - consult your local dealer.
Pellets used for hunting should be well made, consistent and compatible with the rifle.
Apart from your rifle and pellets you may need a knife and suitable clothing. You must have a good reason for carrying a knife in a public place. Always remember to remove the knife from pockets or car after use. Apart from certain applications such as pigeon shooting, (where you will find decoys and hides useful) carrying excess equipment will only weigh you down.
Always wear suitable and sensible footwear and clothing to suit your surroundings and the weather. If shooting in company, appoint a leader and always ensure that each member knows the plan for the day.
- Do not
shoot at, or near, power lines or insulators.
BEHAVIOUR IN THE FIELD
- Always advise the owner and/or tenant, in good time, if you want to go shooting and check that
it is convenient.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
Always leave your shoot in the condition in which you would like to find it. Make sure that
you collect all your equipment.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Do not attempt to strip an air rifle without having the proper tools, facilities and knowledge to do this safely. Many air rifles contain powerful springs which can cause serious injury if released in an uncontrolled manner. After shooting, ensure your air rifle is dry and free of dirt before storing it away. Metalwork may benefit from a wipe down with a lightly oiled rag. The barrel should be cleaned using a proper barrel cleaning kit, and again lightly oiled. Only use the correct lubricants in accordance with the gun manufacturers instructions. Always carefully wipe the oil from the bore before shooting. Ensure scratches to the stock are repaired without delay, there are many products on the market for this. Small dents in the woodwork can be removed with a damp cloth and a hot iron.
BASC Ideal is ...
The BASC gratefully acknowledges the Shooting Sports Trust for its permission to reproduce elements of 'Airgun Law' in the Code of Practice.
Never guess at what the Law allows.
A BASC publication revised July 2004
in association with ACPO