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Advice New to shooting? Some frequently asked questions and their answers...

Discussion in 'Anything Airgun Related' started by Jackroadkill, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill Donator

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    Hi,

    After reading and contributing to a thread posted recently about the same old questions being asked by new shooters I have put together a list of 15 frequently asked questions and their answers. The list is not exhaustive (as I'm sure will be pointed out to me!), but covers some of the most important things to consider when starting out in air rifle or pistol shooting. Any information contained within is my interpretation of the law, and is not necessarily the views of the forum's owner.

    I hope it is of use.

    Thanks,

    JR



    Airgun FAQ’s
    Do I need a license for an air rifle or pistol?

    In England and Wales:

    No – anyone over 18 who has not been convicted of a serious / violent criminal offence can buy, keep and use an air rifle or pistol and its’ ammunition. Under 18’s can use an air rifle or pistol in the following circumstances:

    When under the supervision of a person aged 21 or over;

    When shooting as a member of an approved target club;

    At a shooting gallery (providing the air rifle / pistol does not exceed .23” in calibre;

    The person shooting is aged 14 years or older and is shooting on private land with the consent of the landowner or occupier.


    In Scotland:


    Yes; as of the 31st of December 2016 you must hold a Scottish Air Weapon Certificate in order to personally own an air rifle or pistol. Visitors bringing air guns to Scotland will require a visitor's permit; for extended durations or multiple trips it may be economical to apply for a full certificate instead. You do not require a certificate to use air guns at an approved club or under supervision of another certificate holder.

    In Northern Ireland:

    All air rifles must be held on a Firearms Certificate.


    How powerful are air rifles and pistols allowed to be in the UK?


    The legal limit for air rifles is 12 foot pounds energy (fpe) at the muzzle (end of the barrel). Pistols can be a maximum of six foot pounds energy. 12 fpe is the work done (or in this case pressure applied by) 12 pounds over one square foot. It’s a strange way to measure the power of an air pistol or rifle, but it’s what we have. Power can be measured with a device known as a chronoscope, which can easily be bought at UK gun shops.

    NOTE: Under certain circumstances air rifles can be used above the 12 fpe limit if the owner has the relevant condition on a Firearms Certificate (FAC). For the purposes of this FAQ it is assumed that we are dealing with legal – limit rifles. Under no circumstances is a pistol permitted to be above 6 fpe at the muzzle.



    Do I have to keep an air rifle or pistol in a gun cabinet?

    No, but you have to, in the words of the law, take “reasonable precaution to prevent a person under the age of 18 from gaining unauthorised access” to your air rifles and pistols. This means that you are committing an offence if you unwittingly store your rifle / pistol in a manner which might allow someone under the age of 18 to access it. Therefore keeping your rifles and pistols locked away is the safest option. This could be inside a cupboard or wardrobe, a steel gun cabinet or locked to the wall using a security cord and lock. Please note that in the eyes of the law a trigger lock is not considered to prevent access to an air rifle or pistol; the rifle or pistol must be kept in such a way that it cannot be removed.



    Can I shoot my air rifle / pistol in my garden?

    Yes, you can, in England and Wales, but you must prevent any pellets from leaving your boundaries and straying onto other people’s property or public property. Failure to ensure this could make your shooting illegal.

    The Scottish situation is largely unchanged and comes down to the discretion of the shooter UNLESS used as 'good reason' for the purposes of an Air Weapons Certificate application in which case the Chief Constable may first require to be satisfied that the land is suitable for the intended purpose (particularly in an urban or built-up environment).

    [See guidance p16 http://airweapon.scot/images/uploads..._June_2016.pdf]



    What does the law say about shooting my air rifle or pistol near a road, footpath or other public right of way?

    This can lead to confusion, but the simplest way of explaining it is this: you can shoot your gun near roads, footpaths etc, but if you are within 50 feet of the centre of that right of way and you cause other people who are using that right of way to become "injured, interrupted or endangered” by your shooting then you are breaking the law. This means that if you shoot, frighten or stop the progress of anyone who wants to use that public right of way you are committing a criminal offence.



    Where can I go to use my air rifle for hunting?

    You can hunt with your air rifle (pistols are generally not used for hunting due to being of low power) anywhere that you have permission of the landowner or tenant to do so. You cannot shoot on private land without permission, or on public land such as recreation grounds, road sides, canal towpaths, beaches etc. To do so is a serious criminal offence. Please not that these rules do not only apply to hunting – target shooting is also covered by these rules.

    There are hints and tips for gaining permission in the hunting section of the forum. Again, this is a contentious area and there are many methods you can use, so find one that suits you and go with it.



    What quarry can I shoot with my air rifle?

    You may only usually shoot pest species with your air rifle.

    Pest mammals include: Brown rats, rabbits, grey squirrels, mink, stoats and weasels. It is the responsibility of the shooter to at all times use methods which are likely to lead to an instant death for the animal. You may not shoot to wound or frighten an animal. Not only is this illegal but it is also morally reprehensible.

    Things become more complicated when we look at which birds may be shot with an air rifle. The basic principle is that all birds are protected by law and none may be shot unless for a defined purpose (such as protection of crops or human health) which are subject to something called a “General License”. No one has to apply for a General License, but you are strongly advised to research the terms and conditions of the General License, which can be different in different parts of the UK.

    In short, the following species are covered by the General License and may be controlled with air rifles:

    Carrion crows; collared doves*; feral pigeons; great black-backed gulls **; herring gulls**; jackdaws; jays*; lesser black-backed gulls; magpies; rooks, and wood pigeons.

    *= Except Northern Ireland
    **= Except England

    Please be advised that this list is not definitive; it is the responsibility of the shooter to ensure that any quarry is legally shot.

    Certain game species may also be shot with an air rifle during their open season (such as hare and pheasant) providing that all other laws regarding their taking are observed.

    It is the responsibility of the shooter to use sound methods to as reasonably as possible ensure an instant kill on any quarry. To deliberately or recklessly shoot any species in a manner which does not meet this requirement is a criminal offence.
    Please note that it is also a criminal offence to knowingly cause suffering to a pet animal – this includes by shooting at one. This may sound unlikely but it happens.
    Although accuracy is more important in hunting terms than power, it is your responsibility to ensure that your rifle is powerful enough for the job. If you are unsure of the power your rifle develops, check it with a chronograph. It is a criminal offence to use a rifle which is not of sufficient power to cleanly kill your quarry. “Sufficient power” is not defined by law, but for hunting, a muzzle energy of 10 fpe is usually seen as sufficient for small quarry species. Again, shooting at very long ranges may result in unnecessary wounding as the power imparted to the pellet will obviously drop when the pellet is in flight.




    Can I hunt at night?

    Yes, you can. You may only use a lamp, night vision equipment or any illumination device to shoot mammals and feral pigeons. All other bird species can only be shot using daylight to illuminate them. Again, it is a criminal offence to disregard these rules.



    What calibre is best?

    This is very often asked, and the simple answer is that no calibre is best. What is important is that you are confident with your rifle or pistol and possess sufficient skill to place a shot confidently at your chosen range. In brief, the four main calibres are .177”, .20”, .22” and .25” (4.5mm, 5mm, 5.5mm and 6.35mm). Performance notes are below.

    .177” – flat trajectory, high penetration, lower transmission of energy on impact (less hitting power).

    .20” – reasonably flat trajectory; high penetration, medium transmission of energy on impact.

    .22” – curved trajectory, lower penetration, high transmission of energy on impact.

    .25” – very curved trajectory, low penetration, very high transmission of energy on impact.

    The above notes are very simplistic – discussion rages about the relative merits and demerits of each calibre. Shooters tend to gravitate towards one or two calibres but it is not uncommon for a shooter to own and hunt with more than one calibre. The key to success with any calibre is to practise until you are completely familiar with how your rifle performs before entering any competition or shooting live quarry.




    What pellet is best?

    Again, there is no simple answer to this; each barrel will be most accurate with a certain variety of pellet – you just have to keep trying different brands and types until you find one that works well for your rifle or pistol. Avoid really cheap pellets, as they’ll not be accurate. Also, when hunting, do not assume that a pointed pellet is best – very often they’re inaccurate and contrary to popular opinion they do not penetrate well at all.



    How much will a good rifle cost?

    This depends; believe it or not a rifle can be had for under £40; however it will not cycle as smoothly, have as much power as or be as consistent in power and accuracy as a better engineered (and therefore more expensive) air rifle. Cheap new spring-powered rifles (springers) can be made to work very well, but you have to ask yourself if buying a cheap rifle that then needs the attentions of a gunsmith and several new components is a false economy. On the other hand, there’s no point in forking out over a thousand pounds for a top of the range, computer controlled rifle if you don’t know how well you’ll take to shooting. If you look in the sales section of the forum, you’ll find good value springers starting at about £150 including a basic telescopic sight.

    That said you can start with a pre-charged pneumatic rifle (PCP) if you like. It’s not “the rules” that you have to start with a springer and then progress to a PCP. PCP’s use an onboard charge of compressed air that you refill with a pump or diving bottle to power the shot rather than a spring and piston. PCP’s tend to be more expensive than entry-level springers, but can represent a very good investment nonetheless.

    The alternative is a CO[SUP]2[/SUP] powered rifle, which uses capsules of compressed carbon dioxide as the power plant.


    You can spend a fortune on rifles, pistols and accessories, but in the first instance this figure should give you some idea of what you need to pay.




    When do I need to upgrade to a “better” rifle?

    Whenever you feel ready. Some people hunt with the same rifle that they use for target shooting; this may be the first rifle they had as a teenager, which has filled the pot hundreds of times over the intervening years. Others constantly chop and change, upgrading as they go, always searching for the perfect set-up. This question is best answered by the shooter themselves; advice can be asked and given, but ultimately it’s the shooter who has to put his or her money where their mouth is.



    Do I need a telescopic sight?

    Well, it depends. Most hunters use them (although there is a joy to be had using an old springer with open sights) as they make aiming more easy, although this is sometimes at the expense of fast target acquisition. If you just want to shoot cans in the garden, open sights are fine. Telescopic sights range in price from £20 up to the wrong side of £2,000. Again, a good basic scope will be much better than a cheap scope that boasts dozens of features but has poor optical quality. We shan’t go into the details here, as this is a whole subject in itself, but looking in the sales section on the forum will give you a good idea of what’s available.



    Can I carry my air rifle / pistol in public?

    Yes, you can, if you are doing so in conjunction with a legal use of the rifle or pistol. This means if you are on your way to a range, to shoot at a place where you have hunting permission, are taking the rifle or pistol home after purchase, taking it to be sold or taking it to be repaired. The pistol or rifle MUST be in a case or a slip and must not be in view of the public. It is also a good idea to lock the case or the zip of a slip if possible. There’s no legal requirement to do this, but if you are stopped by the police it will help ensure that the officers know that you are a responsible shooter rather than a thug with a gun.



    Do I need insurance?

    You have no legal requirement to be insured, but it is good practise to be covered. Various organisations (such as BASC, the Countryside Alliance and the National Gamekeepers’ Association) offer insurance as part of their membership. Insurance will protect you in case of any accidents that may occur when shooting, either to yourself, to a third party or to property. Having insurance can also make obtaining hunting permission easier.


    Please see stickied threads in each of the various forum sections for more detail
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017
    R15JB, Nak, PLC1966 and 15 others like this.
  2. lone wolf

    lone wolf Pro Poster

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    Great heads up for any new comer into our hobby and more info the better mate well done:)
     
  3. Barcelona68

    Barcelona68 Banned

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    Excellent tips there JRK.
     
  4. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill Donator

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    Thanks guys.
     
  5. gasman

    gasman I Don’t like it !

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    far too much time on your hands dude :p,joking only nice right up:up:
     
  6. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill Donator

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    Aye, it took a while!
     
  7. strokebloke

    strokebloke Honorary Member

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    Excellent - but why didn't you write it two months ago, when I arrived ??? :rolleyes:
    Really first class JRK. Easy to read and understand with a number of useful reference suggestions.

    As a relative newbie to air-gunning ~ thank you :up:
     
  8. Reaper.

    Reaper. Engaging Member

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    Excellent....:up:
     
  9. mdurham

    mdurham Engaging Member

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    this really does cover the basics. I for one was very surprised to see how much had changeed in our sport after being away for a whole I expect these rules and guidliness were always there but are taken far more seriously nowadays!
     
  10. Liné

    Liné Active Member

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    Looks good, should be made into a sticky. :up:
     
  11. tobys

    tobys Engaging Member

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    Excellent effort mate! :) One small correction i think - distance from centre of highway is 50 feet not yards.
     
  12. peteb823

    peteb823 Posting Addict

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    Brilliant bits of info, all brought together.
    Nice one Jrk

    Pete
     
  13. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill Donator

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    Thanks very much guys -much appreciated.
     
  14. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill Donator

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    Have made some small amendments - thanks for drawing my attention to some errors.
     
  15. stevemandm

    stevemandm Honorary Member

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    excellent read and advice mate. its good to have all this info in one place, especially for those new to the sport
    :up:
     
  16. timmaaah

    timmaaah Engaging Member

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    Very well done mate - the only thing you need to change is the bit about carrying in a case in areas that the public has access to. You have stated that the rifle must be cased/covered. There is no legal requirement to have a rifle covered whilst in a public place, although it is highly advisable to do so :)
     
  17. PhoenixElite

    PhoenixElite Engaging Member

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    I found this very useful thankyou! although just as a clarification, i have only moved to england recently and dont have a car yet, so is it legal for me to carry my rifle in bag on my back on a push bike, where everyone can see it?
     
  18. Egg

    Egg Major Poster

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    Yep, that's how I do it mostly :)
     
  19. Roduzz

    Roduzz Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this. Helped me out as a proby.:up:
     
  20. Jackroadkill

    Jackroadkill Donator

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    No problems, fella - glad to be of service.
     

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