If you’ve ever watched “A Christmas Story,” you know the reason Ralphy couldn’t get his Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock. Everyone thinks he is going to shoot his eye out. Well, the BB guns of the 40’s were nothing compared to the PCP air rifles of today. Because of that, you need to pay more attention to air gun safety.
Back when a BB gun could break the skin and not much more, you could have BB gun fights with other kids in the neighborhood. Now, you hunt with an air rifle. Being that you can hunt with a PCP air rifle these days should tell you they are powerful, and therefore more dangerous than air guns used to be in the 40’s.
We are going to discuss some of the precautions you will want to take when using and cleaning your air rifle. Keep in mind, these safety tips are good for all types of guns, but this article is geared toward PCP air rifles.
Always Assume the Gun is Loaded
Guns are not toys. They can do harm to people and destroy objects, so you want to make sure you do things to ensure the gun won’t go off accidentally. This universal rule of all guns is of the utmost importance.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until you have your target in sight and you are ready to fire.
- Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.
- Never look down the barrel.
Make Sure It’s Clean
One overlooked benefit of a gun cleaning is the safety aspect. A dirty gun will be a problematic gun. Whether it’s the seals for your air tank or debris in the barrel, keeping your PCP air rifle clean will ensure it works the right way every time.
Having a dirty rifle can cost you time, money, and missed shots. Say, for example, you have a dirty thread or seal on your air tank. This will cause leaks. If nothing else, this will mean you need to fill your tank more. Another possibility is you may lose pressure in your shot because all of the air is not being directed to your gun.
Never Point the Barrel at Anything You Aren’t Willing to Destroy
Not pointing your gun barrel at anything you don’t wish to destroy is a universal rule for all guns. An “accident” can really cause damage. Pointing the barrel at something you aren’t intending to shoot is irresponsible and dangerous.
A .22 caliber PCP air rifle can really do some damage to a person and property. It can easily enter a person, go through drywall, glass, plastic, and other materials. It may not sound like much, but if you unintentionally shoot a pellet from inside your house, it could leave your gun, go through a window and strike the driver of a car or pedestrian.
Always Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger Until You Are Ready to Shoot
This rule is another universal rule of guns. The only time you should have your finger on the trigger of a gun is when you are ready to pull the trigger.
It’s called trigger discipline.
Resting your finger on the trigger of your air rifle is asking for an accident. You could sneeze or get surprised or spooked by something, and you will inadvertently send a pellet off where you weren’t aiming.
Always Know What You’re Shooting at and What’s Beyond Your Target
Universal rule four regarding guns is knowing what is behind your target. With a handgun or larger caliber rifle, you can easily shoot through a target. The same applies to PCP air rifles.
When aiming at small game, look what’s past your target. Are there people, property, pets, a road, anything you don’t want to harm or damage?
Knowing the range of your weapon helps tremendously. If you know you have a range of 100 yards, you can more easily determine if the objects behind your target are in any threat. Regardless, you shouldn’t fire at anything if you are unsure what’s behind it.
Sight in Your Scope
Sighting in your scope before you go hunting is common sense to some. Others (typically noobies to guns) however, might think the sight is already zeroed in because it came already installed on the gun.
The reason you need to sight in your gun is to make sure your pellet hits what you’re aiming at. Imagine the crosshair is dead-center on the pest you are trying to exterminate. However, when you pull the trigger and your pellet goes high and to the right letting the critter get away. You’re going to be frustrated.
When you sight in your rifle, you are pairing your sight and your rifle, so they work together perfectly. There are dials on your sight to adjust the crosshairs up, down, left, and right. You will want to use a known distance – 50 to 100 yards – depending on the power of your air rifle.
Take a test shot at a paper target. Make a small adjustment, then shoot again at the same target. Keep correcting and taking practice shots until you are dead on.
Always Wear Eye Protection
When shooting, there is always the possibility something could blow back in your eye. While you might not like to wear safety glasses because they aren’t stylish, they are much better than the alternative of being blind.
A pellet ricocheting off a target or object is common. If you shoot a tube tv in a junk pile, the likelihood of the pellet coming back at you is really good. Taking a pellet in the eye means a trip to the hospital and loss of vision in that eye.
The Safety Does Not Always Keep You Safe
The safety is the not the end-all be-all for safety when it comes to a gun of any kind. If you think you have the safety on, but it didn’t click all the way on, how safe is it? When you mishandle a gun, it’s never safe.
Don’t Brandish Your Air Rifle
If you aren’t sure what brandishing is, here is the definition:
wave or flourish (something, especially a weapon) as a threat or in anger or excitement.
What this means is, it’s flashing your gun to threaten someone. You may think it’s funny, but it is a crime. It could also get you shot.
Something to consider before flashing your gun. If someone fears for their life and they have a permit to carry a gun legally, they can defend their self.
Carelessness is the Biggest Cause of Accidents
Carelessness is not being undereducated or even not having enough experience. Careless means not paying attention to what you are doing. Guns, even air rifles are serious business. Handling them should be treated in a serious manner.
Hunting and pest control with a PCP air rifle are very common. You can shoot them in areas where a rimfire .22 caliber rifle would get you arrested. Even though they are quieter and have less range than most .22 rimfire rifles, they are deadly. Treating them like any other weapon is the smartest and safest choice.
If you’re an adult, training your kids to shoot with an air rifle is a great idea. You can teach all the basics, and even hunt small game with a PCP rifle until they graduate to fowls or larger game where they will need a different rifle or shotgun.
What air gun safety tips do you have for new (and undereducated) PCP air rifle shooters?