Whether you’re taking up shooting as a new hobby or are an experienced air gun enthusiast in need of a refresher, it is essential to have a good knowledge of how to safely handle air weapons.

When using air rifles in the UK, there are several important rules and safety considerations that help keep you and other people safe – in the wrong hands, air guns could do serious damage. Here are some basic air gun safety tips to make sure yours are the right hands.

Always Treat Your Air Gun Like It’s Loaded

This is a straightforward one. Always treating your air rifle like it’s loaded is a vital best practice that ensures you’re always mindful of the potential damage your weapon could do. Another good way to think of it is; your air gun is always loaded until proven otherwise.

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Point The Muzzle in a Safe Direction

Always point your air rifle at the ground unless you’re explicitly ready to shoot. Unless you’re lining up for a shot, the barrel should be pointed safely down at the floor and never in the direction of a person or anything you don’t want to shoot.

Keep Guns Unloaded Until You’re Ready to Shoot

Never load your air rifle or keep it loaded unless you are ready to shoot safely. When your weapon is stored away, it should always be unloaded.

You should also never put loaded guns down or leave them unattended, taking care to unload and uncock them. Better yet, avoid leaving your air gun unattended entirely, no matter if it’s loaded or unloaded.

Someone holding an air gun

Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger

If your mind is not 100% with your shot and your finger flinches or twitches, you may end up unwittingly pressing the trigger. Only put your finger on the trigger when you’re confident you can safely make a shot.

Check Your Surroundings

Remain mindful of your surroundings, always considering where your pellet will land once it's fired. Check around your target and ensure the surrounding area is clear before doing any shooting.

You should have a good idea of the layout of the shooting range or terrain, with a clear plan of how to get to first aid if it is required.

Don’t Rely on Safety Catches

Safety catches can be useful, but don’t rely on them entirely as they aren’t infallible – air guns can still go off, even if they have been made ‘safe’ with a catch.

Don’t Jump or Climb With Your Gun

You should always be steady and stable when handling an air weapon, so any erratic movements can be dangerous, giving you less control over the direction of the muzzle.

Transport Your Air Guns Properly

When transporting your gun, you should keep it covered at all times. It is best to use a proper gun slip or gun case.

Store Air Guns Separately From Ammo

Keep your air gun pellets in a separate location from where your air gun is stored to ensure loading a gun would have to be incredibly purposeful, involving additional steps.

Air gun ammo and a target

Store Guns Inside Rather Than in An Outbuilding

To ensure a sufficient level of security, air rifles and pistols should be kept in the house, ideally in a case or at least out of sight, rather than in an outbuilding or garden shed where they could be more easily tampered with.

Treat Air Guns With Respect

Ultimately, treat your air gun with respect. You shouldn’t forget that while it’s a pellet gun, it is still a gun that could cause harm and even pose a threat to human life if handled recklessly or improperly.

If you see someone using their gun dangerously, politely point out what they should be doing or bring their behaviour to the attention of the shooting range officials. There is no excuse for anyone to misuse air rifles or put other shooters at risk.

Air Gun Laws in The UK

The law sees no distinction between air guns and more powerful firearms, and using air weapons improperly can carry significant penalties and legal ramifications, including prison time.

Providing you are at least 18, there are no restrictions on buying an air gun that is not deemed ‘specially dangerous’ – i.e. the muzzle energy of your rifle doesn’t exceed 12ft lbs, and your pistol doesn’t exceed 6 ft lbs. You can shoot your air gun on any land where you have been given full permission by the owner, taking boundaries into careful consideration.

If you are ever unsure about the rules, you can read up on them on the government website – ignorance is no excuse for air gun misuse.

Here at Surplus Store, we stock a great range of air rifles, pistols and accessories for shooters of all skill levels. Browse now to see if we’ve got what you’re looking for. We’ve also got various helpful guides and articles full of air gun tips, ideal for those just getting into the sport.

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