Can You Shoot Air Guns In Your Yard or Garden?

Can you shoot airguns in your yard or garden

Air gun shooting is among the most popular shooting sports both in the USA and the UK. It’s a fun activity for the amateur and professional alike. One of the questions I get asked most frequently by many enthusiasts is whether shooting an air rifle or pistol can be done in an individual’s backyard.

So can you shoot an air gun on in your yard or garden? The simple answer is yes. You can shoot in your backyard/garden or on private land if you have permission and over 18 years old. But each jurisdiction will have its own laws. You should check with your local authority first. In general, it is against the law to shoot within 15m of a road, public place or in a highly-populated area. 

We all know practice makes perfect and your garden could make the perfect practice range. We have some great information and tips about the law and safely setting up a range in your yard.

Things to consider before shooting in your back yard or garden

Although shooting an air gun may not be necessarily illegal when you do it in your yard, there are several restrictions and regulations as to how and who should participate.

Just like with all other firearms, there is the small issue of whether it is indeed legal to own and of course, use an airgun within your premise. It will depend on where you live, and the national or local laws, many states in the USA even class air guns differently.

While you can shoot airguns in your yard, it is essential to ensure that you have the necessary rights and permissions. Also that you are also aware of where the boundaries are.

If in doubt always contact your local authorities. I would recommend that if possible, you should get permission specifically in writing to clear any doubts. 

Why use your yard or garden for shooting?

Air guns are used both in recreational as well as formal target shooting and are an ideal introduction, especially for young individuals looking to join the shooting sport. 

Typically, both amateur, professionals as well as pest controllers, utilize airguns primarily because of the low cost and relatively quiet operation.

You can effectively practice and become a better shot if you have a relatively moderate-sized yard or garden to establish a shooting range for an air gun.

In particular, when the weather allows, you can delight in an entertaining shooting session and effectively boost your marksmanship altogether. 

What the Law Says About shooting an Air Gun 

In essence, the law makes virtually no distinction between typical powerful guns and air rifles that you need a license: all are classified as firearms. What this means is that whatever offence you commit may carry a hefty penalty and there are numerous different offences. I have found that adhering to this code will aid you in remaining on the right side of the law. You should always clarify with the local authorities for the various firearm licensing provisions. 

Is It Legal? 

Fortunately, for most government provisions including the USA and UK where shooting airguns is a popular activity, you are free to buy an airgun as well as the ammunition. It may be used at any setting where you are permitted, but only if you have attained the legal age. 

United Kingdom Laws

In England, for instance, you need not have a license to own virtually all airguns. Nonetheless, any air pistol that generates over six ft/lb, as well as those that make over 12 ft/lb worth of muzzle energy, are classified as ‘specifically hazardous firearms.’

To own such air guns, you need to pose a distinct Firearm Certificate (FAC); although owning such type of firearms is subsequently prohibited under the Firearms ACT of 1968.

Rifles and pistols below these outlined levels of energy such as air guns do not need a license. Therefore, own one provided you have attained a minimum age of 18 years.

In Scotland, any air weapon mandates for a firearm certificate.

United States Laws

Similarly, in the USA, the federal government does not usually regulate standard airguns. Nonetheless, this does not apply to all states since some local governments and states restrict the use of airguns. 

It also goes against the rules in the US to discharge your air gun or any other firearm within a 50ft range of a highway centre. Why? This is to prevent an individual using the highway from getting injured, endangered, or interrupted.

General Laws and regulations about shooting in your yard

While the rules may vary from one country to another, there are common restrictions to ensure both your safety and those of other individuals.

Typically, what the law prohibits is firing pellets beyond your premise boundary.

In essence, firing an air gun pellet beyond your yard or garden where you are permitted to conduct your shooting is considered an offence. Unless the owner of the neighbouring space (and who holds the necessary shooting rights) has allowed you to do so.

While I cannot deny that airgun shooting can be quite exciting, I highly recommend that you keep your shot within your boundary.

Target backstops

If you want to practice within your property, and want to avoid an offence, you need to have an adequate backstop.

Usually, a good backstop can be something like a sufficient soft soil bank (with no stones). Or like I often do, where there is a brick wall within your backyard, you can hang an old rug or carpet to prevent ricochets.

Refrain from using plywood, chipboards, or any somewhat thick composite material featuring a polished surface since it increases the probability of ricochets.

Who Can Shoot? 

Provided you are aged 18 years or more, there are virtually no restrictions on purchasing an air gun as well as even using it in your backyard. Or anywhere else you have obtained permission to do your shooting. 

Can you shoot in your yard with your kids?

After all, nothing quite feels as exciting as teaching our kids our favourite art and skill. Explaining the great responsibility of handling an air gun safely, and seeing them become comfortable and proficient can be a great experience for all.

You can engage in airgun shooting with your kids or younger adults…but only if they are of a certain age.

Generally, if you live in the UK, an individual aged 14 and above can subsequently use an air gun on private property but under the close supervision of an adult and with permission from the property owner.

However, your child cannot purchase or own an airgun until they are 18 years old.

In the USA, unlike in the UK where the age is set at 14 years, a young individual in the USA can only operate an air gun, (whether they are supervised or not), once they attain a minimum age of 16 years. 

What Can You Shoot In Your Backyard?

Shooting air guns is excellent for several reasons, and what I love about it is that when it comes to shooting targets. There is an assortment of challenging and exciting targets for shooting in your backyard or garden.

If you are looking to do some zeroing in as well as work out your pellets downrange performance, I have found that paper or card targets are the best options. Since they provide a clear indication of precisely where the pellets are striking and how they are subsequently grouping. 

Alternatively, if the issue of noise isn’t a significant concern, I recommend knockdown targets as they are great fun! Direct hits on these targets lead to the toppling over of the targets, usually with a pleasing clang. The best way of resetting most knockdown targets is using a long cord. You can also go for models which pop back up automatically once you land a subsequent shot on the reset disc. 

Another option is the spinning targets, which once you hit the kill spot will send them whirling around just before gravity automatically resets them.

You are literally spoilt for types of target choices! But like any other targets, ensure that you have a solid backstop set up before you take any shots. 

How to Shoot Safely In Your Backyard

Just like any form of shooting, safety the key priority, particularly considering the chances of other individuals being nearby when you are shooting in your backyard.

Mostly, air guns are relatively low-powdered in comparison to other typical guns; hence, one of the reasons they are ideal for backyard practice. However, they still pose a significant threat and can cause a significant accident or death.

This said this is not to say that you cannot have a remarkable and safe airgun shooting experience in your backyard. All you have to do is follow a series of straightforward safety guidelines as well as common sense. 

While there are a host of guidelines that can help you achieve this, I have taken the liberty to outline some here.

Some essential tips you should keep in mind while airgun shooting, including: 

Communicate with your neighbours about your intentions.

Unless you reside in the middle of nowhere, the chances are that you have neighbours surrounding you.

Typically, the most effective way of reducing and ultimately avoiding conflict is informing them of your plans before you begin shooting.

Explain to them the various precautions you intend to use.

Ensure that you are not causing any noise nuisance.

In fact, you can even offer to have them check out the setup or also whether they would like to join you.

One time, I visited a new neighbour to inform him that I would be doing some shooting in my backyard. I ended up toppling targets all afternoon with him and his son. 

Range layout and safety

While on your shooting endeavour, ensure that you take the shots in the safest direct possible and refrain from setting up in any place that comprises any unlocked downrange access points.

You don’t want someone unaware of what you are doing and entering the yard and walking across your range!

Before your shooting session, ensure that all individuals around your home are aware that the backyard is prohibited until you are done. This is especially true if you have kids or pets.

Usually, most of these guns utilize telescopic sights that are characterized by a blinkering effect at perhaps the most dangerous moment. It is, therefore, vital that you ensure no individuals or pets are in front of the gun.

I have a rule that I make very clear to all that are participating or watching. No-one is in front of the “shooting line” at any point until I give the all-clear. It’s incredible how many people after a shoot will run-up to the target and check the shot. I only allow this if all guns are down at unloaded.

In fact, when I’m busy shooting in my garden, I usually hang a sign saying ‘KEEP OUT – Shooting in progress.’ You can do the same to warn anyone, inclusive of unexpected guests, not to wander around the range when shooting is in progress.

Conclusion: Can You Shoot Air Guns In Your Yard or Garden?

So to answer the question, yes…you can shoot air guns in your yard or garden. Airgun shooting is a delightful sport and an attraction for numerous individuals.

So if you want to start shooting in your yard or garden, it is time you got started. But remember to take the proper precautions, and your backyard shooting range should definitely be worth your while!

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Can you shoot airguns in your yard or garden? An image of a man shooting in his garden.