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Airguns - safe shooting

campaign poster blow a hole in your walletAt present, most airguns do not require to be licensed. For an air rifle that is more powerful than 12 ft lb, (16.25J) you must have a firearm certificate, obtainable from Police Scotland.

The Scottish Government is committed to regulating air weapons in the near future.

Dos and Don'ts

On picking up or being handed an airgun, check immediately to ensure it is not loaded e.g. that it is uncocked and that there is no pellet in the breech. Be particularly careful when checking pre-charged pneumatic air rifles.

Never point any gun, loaded or unloaded, in an unsafe direction, for example, at a person.

Whenever you shoot, make sure you know where the pellet is going to end up before you pull the trigger.

Before you fire your gun, consider where the pellet could go. Be sure that no damage can result if you miss your intended target.

It is illegal to sell an airgun or ammunition to a person under 18 years of age.

Whenever you are in a public place you should carry a rifle in a gun cover and always ensure that it is unloaded and not cocked.

All birds are protected, and although there are seasons when you can legally shoot game, and some wildfowl, they are not suitable quarry for air rifles. However, as long as you are complying with firearms and wildlife law, and have the landowner's permission, you can shoot certain pest bird species. More information is available on the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) website.

You can shoot mammal pests at any time provided you have the landowner's permission. Air rifles are suitable for: brown rats, grey squirrels, stoats, mink and rabbits. More information is available on the BASC website.

Always shoot well within your capabilities. Practice on targets, never on live quarry, to establish the maximum range at which you and your rifle can consistently hit the point of aim.

Take care of your gun; it is a precision weapon and damage or mistreatment can seriously affect its performance and safety.

In 2001 the Home Office published the leaftlet Air Weapons: A Brief Guide To Safety, which contains further information on this subject.