Hunting with Airguns

Hunting with Airguns

Hunting with Airguns

Can airguns be used for hunting? The answer is yes, but there are a few things to think about, and this short blog takes a look at them.


Yes, they are! However, there are two key areas to look at. The first is accuracy: if you can’t hit the target, nothing else matters. Since Air Rifles are best-suited for small animals like squirrels, rabbits, rats and some birds, the area that must be hit to ensure a humane kill is small. How small varies from animal to animal, but as a general rule it’s no larger than a 5 pence piece, which is under one inch in diameter. So what range can you hit the target area every shot? That’s your maximum effective range for hunting with an airgun!

The most effective shot is a brain shot. If it’s done right, the animal dies instantly. If you miss and hit the animal elsewhere, it can escape dying slowly. So, you must know where to hit each animal you hunt. Small animals often stay close to a burrow in the ground or a nest that’s high in a tree. When they run, they can get to a spot that is inaccessible to the hunter. The kill must be instantaneous, or you risk losing the animal. Limit your shots to as far as you’re assured of hitting every time. You must exercise discipline to take a shot only when everything is clear. If the animal’s head is half-hidden, then the kill zone isn’t the size of a 5 pence piece anymore. If that’s the case, use your best judgment to decide if you can make the more difficult shot.


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.

For more information please see the BASC website


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