There are several reasons why someone might want to own an air weapon. Whether they intend to use it for recreational purposes, or want to take part in a hunting trip, air rifles come in handy for a wide array of reasons.

Hunting and Pest Control

Air rifles possess a decent enough level of force to cause a fatal shot to smaller animals.

This makes them ideal weapons for hunting – but there are strict restrictions on which species can and can’t be shot at. While a regular rabbit, for example, is fair game, a hare is too large to be ethically shot with an air rifle.

The animals which can legally be hunted with air weapons include:

  • Carrion Crows
  • Feral Pigeons
  • Collared Doves
  • Rooks
  • Woodpigeons
  • Grey Squirrels
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Magpies

These particular breeds of animal are designated as legal to hunt, owing to their classification as pests in the eyes of the law.

Pests are animals which infest an area, or cause general small-scale destruction as a result of their presence. A rabbit for example could become a nuisance when growing crops or vegetables, while a squirrel has the potential to cause major destruction to trees.

Whether you’re shooting for sport or pest control, you are within your rights to target these animals – assuming you have permission and a permit to fire on the land you’re using.

Shooting (Plinking)

For a lot of air rifle newcomers, plinking is their first recreational taste of using a pneumatic weapon. This form of shooting involves firing at specified (usually metal) targets which come in a wide variety and can be purchased for practice.

The term ‘plinking’ derives from the clanging sound the pellets make as they ricochet off the metal. Understandably, this can be loud and has the potential to disturb neighbours if you carry it out in the back garden.

When plinking in your garden you must:

  • Ensure all pets are kept inside
  • Supervise any young shooters at all times
  • Let everyone who has access to your garden know what you’re doing
  • Use a solid backstop to catch pellets that miss your target
  • Never approach the target while the air gun is operational. Similarly, never fire when someone is near the target

Plinking can also be carried out in public fields, but, once again, a permit is required from the landowner to fire in these locations.

Shooting (Target)

Like practically every discipline these days, air rifle shooting has been turned into a competitive sport. This comes in the form of field target shooting and has several formats, with standing, kneeling and even sitting variants all perfectly acceptable styles of competition.

The targets vary in design, with some classic symmetrical patterns used, alongside more extravagant targets like animal silhouettes.

Such is the growth in its popularity, field target shooting has evolved to the point where it is accepted as an Olympic sport – with the discipline providing the first medal contest of the 2016 games in Rio.