Do you have a pellet gun or intend to purchase one for target practice in your backyard? If that’s the case, you’ll need to keep your house free of visits from the authorities or your neighbours and use common sense because as with fires, pellet guns are deadly weapons in the wrong hands. Maybe you want to use a pellet gun to pest control possums, rats, raccoons, or rabbits from entering the backyard; this may not be the best idea.
With a smaller area and closer neighbours, you may be concerned about gun laws or safety. Then you need to know more about pellet guns, their design, kinds of gun and ammo, and operation. So if you are wondering: can I shoot a pellet gun in my backyard, well you’ve come to the right place!
Can I Shoot A Pellet Gun In my Backyard?
Yes, you can shoot a pellet gun in your backyard, and it is lawful if you are of legal age. There are still countless things to consider. And if you make a mistake in any of them, be prepared to face the implications of the law.
Most states in America don’t consider pellet guns as firearms. The only exceptions are New Jersey and Rhode Island. These two states consider non-powder guns to be firearms too.
Nevertheless, pellet guns are considered weapons capable of injuring or harming people and animals in every state or small town. Therefore, the local laws are strict for the possession and display of these guns.
In general, if you want to shoot a pellet gun in your backyard, you have to make sure that you are not within fifty feet of a busy road, a public place (school grounds, park, hospital), or a highly-populated area.
Plus, keep in mind that your pellet gun shooting shouldn’t threaten your neighbours in any way. If they are not cool with it, you should abstain from the practice. This will also mean that your backyard can’t be the common area of a flat or apartment building where there might be many people.
General Gun Restrictions In The United States
Can I discharge a pellet gun in my backyard? Before delving into the specifics, be certain that you are not in any way “non-eligible” to possess a pellet gun. These criteria of non-eligibility are defined by the federal government under the Brady Act. And non – compliance with them will entail criminal penalties and a visit from law enforcement officers.
For instance, if you were previously guilty of a crime and served more than a year in prison as punishment, then you can’t own a pellet gun, let alone shoot it. If you are considered a drug abuser by the state, you cannot use this gun even on private property.
The same applies if you have been found mentally unstable by the court or committed to a mental institution. Consequently, you are also prohibited if you are an illegal immigrant or have renounced your U.S. citizenship. The same goes for a member of the U.S. armed forces who got a dishonourable discharge.
You can’t own or shoot a pellet gun if your partner or their child/children has issued a restraining order against you. Or if you were charged with domestic violence in the past.
Global Gun Regulations
Africa Gun Laws
Most African countries follow the Bamako Declaration to control firearms in their countries. Take one of these countries, Botswana, for example. Each year, this country issues only 50 firearms licenses to its people despite the number of applications. So, you can understand that the acceptance rate is very low, and regulation is stringent.
Only 139 people can officially hold a gun license in the Central African Republic. And these people are primarily members of parliament. These license holders can own a twelve-gauge shotgun and a 9-mm automatic pistol. However, illegal firearms are rampant in the Central African Republic despite these restrictions.
European Gun Laws
Let’s take a look at Europe. In New Zealand, a person has to pass extensive written and viva examinations held by the police before becoming an eligible gun owner.
Needless to say, if there are past criminal charges, complaints of domestic violence, drug abuse, or mental instability, then you won’t get a license. Following the 2019 Christchurch Mosque Shootings, the parliament strictly restricted semi-automatic firearms that could fire more than ten rounds at a time.
India Gun Laws
Gun laws are pretty strict in India. Authorities reject around half of the applications for gun ownership. And the ones who get the permission have that license valid for five years only. After that, you have to re-apply. Unlike the USA, India is not liberal about granting its citizens gun ownership. You can only trust that your application will be accepted if your social standing makes you an invalid threat. Plus, the country’s government has established a monopoly on the production, sale, and circulation of firearms. So, it’s pretty tricky to get your hands on one.
Australian Gun Laws
In Australia, attitudes towards gun possession saw a radical change after the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996. At that time, the Australian government collected and destroyed around one-third of the nation’s firearm stock.
Currently, you need to have a firearm license in Australia if you want to own a gun. A “genuine justification” is sought by the authorities in order to get the relevant licence. And no, this genuine reason can’t be just “self-defence.”
Hazard Category Of Pellet Guns And Age restrictions
The age restriction for pellet gun possession is similar to any other firearm. Applicants need to be a minimum of eighteen years old and of good character and background. Anyone younger than that operating a pellet gun must have an adult present and need their parent’s consent to buy one.
However, the Gun Control Act of 1968, which is essentially the firearms regulation law of the U.S., doesn’t consider pellet guns as firearms. According to the law, a weapon is a firearm if it fulfils two criteria. Firstly, it will expel a projectile through an explosive action. Secondly, the gun’s frame and receiver should be a powder gun.
As pellet guns use compressed air to expel a projectile and their frames are different from powder guns, they don’t fall into the same hazard category as typical firearms under Federal law. However, their damage potential is still very much recognized by the state laws and thus regulated accordingly.
Discussing Gun Safety With Children
When applying general rules using air guns and even paintball guns for a young person, particularly a young adult, is a very enticing fun activity. This backyard practice may be a wonderful method to learn about hunting or to join an online forum community for like-minded gun enthusiasts, or it may serve as a training field for the Olympics or the military, or it may even serve as a training ground for local law enforcement.
Despite the strict regulations and the law enforcers’ best efforts, children are still primarily at risk of gun-related accidents. From school shootings to normal curiosity, a child’s worst-case scenario can be at the wrong end of the barrel at any time and place. So, the best measure is to educate them about gun safety as best as possible.
Firstly, prior to everything else, you should educate your children about firearms and how they ought not to be left carelessly about. So, a great way is if your child has toy guns, teach them to treat them differently than other toys. Tell your child to always put the toy gun in a safe place when playing with it. You can also teach them not to point the gun at others while playing.
Secondly, teach your child how to react to a real gun when they see one. They should stop and run away from the scene as fast as possible whenever they see a real gun. Then find an adult and inform them about the incident. According to the National Rifle Association’s ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll’ technique, you can also teach them.
Thirdly, cure them of unhealthy curiosity. Take a real gun and put it in your children’s hands. Then teach them to pull it apart into pieces and put it back together again. Or if they are too young, do it yourself in front of them. This would make the gun look like any other tool or machine, unlike some mysterious object.
Some Gun Clubs And Shooting Ranges To join.
If your neighbourhood isn’t safe enough to practise shooting in your backyard, a gun club or a shooting range is an excellent place. And most importantly, you’ll be safe with a good backstop and won’t have to worry about breaking any laws.
Lock And Load Miami, Jackson Hole Shooting Experience, Battlefield Las Vegas, Gun Fighter Canyon, and Arizona Tactical Adventures are some of the best gun ranges out there. These places have helpful staff to provide you with the necessary instructions and assistance. They have a wide selection of firearms and offer low prices for services.
For more gun ranges, go here.
Animal Briefing: What Can You shoot With A Pellet Gun
A .177 or .22 air rifle that shoots pellets at 1000′ per second can quickly kill small animals like squirrels, mongooses, rabbits, possums, and rats. However, the shot must be accurate, and the distance must be adequate.
However, you should watch out for endangered species in your area. Shooting these animals can result in facing fines and charges. You should also check the state laws to see your local government’s stance on shooting a .177 or .22 air rifle in your backyard.
Usually, as with any other non-powder gun, you need to be at least 18 to shoot a .177 or .22 air rifle in your backyard. Plus, you can’t be anywhere close to a busy street or the public. And lastly, make sure your neighbours are okay with it.
Is It Legal To Discharge A Pellet Gun In My Backyard?
Can I fire my pellet gun in the backyard? Well, it’s not strictly illegal to discharge a pellet gun in your backyard. In reality, in the vast majority of states, this is the only place you can lawfully display your pellet gun.
However, you have to make sure your backyard is not near a school, street, or public place. If you are shooting a pellet gun near such a place, eventually, someone will feel threatened and make a police complaint. And needless to say, that will get you into legal trouble.
Guns in Backyard
|North Carolina||The space should not be close to a public road or building.||Have to be above 12 years of age to use pellet guns. And 18 years of age to possess one||You can shoot your pellet guns in the backyard as long as it does not threaten the well being of your neighbour||Carolina northern flying squirrel, Indiana bat, and grey bat are endangered species in this state. So, it’s a good idea not to shoot those||Giffords Law Center|
|Minnesota||Should not be close to a public place||Outside of the municipality, a person has to be at least 14 to use a pellet gun. If the person is younger then they would need consent from parents||You can shoot a pellet gun in your backyard as long as you don’t use it in a threatening manner||Eastern spotted skunk, northern spotted gopher||State of Minnesota|
|Connecticut||Cannot use them in state-leased or permit-required hunting grounds||Public carrying of the gun is prohibited without police permission||You can use shoot it in your backyard if it’s not a shared property||Barn owl, long-eared owl||Connecticut laws/regulations|
|California||Cannot use or display in the front yard, near a park, or a side-walk||Have to be 18 to possess and all kinds of public display is restricted||Your Backyard can’t be a common area of your apartment building||Riparian brush rabbit, Giant kangaroo rat, Mohave ground squirrel||Threatened Animals of California|
|Pennsylvania||Illegal to use by minors on public grounds||Needs to be 18 years of age to legally possess. Otherwise, parental supervision required||Can shoot in your backyard, given that it does not endanger your neighbour||Indiana bat, the bog turtle||Pennsylvania Gun Law|
|Oregon||Cannot display in public spaces||A person should be at least 18 years to possess a pellet gun||Lawful to use in backyards, considering there isn’t a school nearby||Kitfox, Wolverine||Oregon Fish and Wildlife|
|Colorado||Unlawful to discharge a gun within city limits||Not for Minors under 18 years of age||You use it in your backyards as long as the neighbours are okay with it||Gray Wolf, Grizzly Bear, Swift fox||Colorado Legal Defense Group|
|India||Not to be used in a threatening manner in public spaces||Air guns with Muzzle force greater than 20 joules will need a firearms license||Use it if your neighbours are cool with it||Siberian crane, Great Indian Bustard||IPleaders India Gun Law|
|Australia||Not for public display or use||Irrespective of muzzle energy and calibre, all airguns are considered firearms in Australia and requires proper licensing||A shooting range is preferable||Numbat, Gouldian Finch||New South Wales Gun Law
|Scotland||Can’t be discharged at or near a public place||The person needs to be 18 and obtain a valid Air Weapons certificate||Backyard shooting is acceptable as long as it is of no risk to neighbours and passers-by||Scottish Wildcat, European Wildcat, Red Squirrel||
|New Zealand||Airguns can be discharged in controlled spaces- fenced shooting ranges, paintball fields, etc.||The person needs to be 18 years of age to possess and use one. Younger enthusiasts need adult supervision||The backyard should be a safety zone, i.e. no one is at risk of injury from the ricochets or suddenly walking in during the shooting. And should have an adequate backstop||Most animals are not allowed to be shot: Wildlife Act 1953
You could get away with a rat or a possum and even a hedgehog. They are pests.
|NZ Firearms Education|
|United Kingdom (England)||Not for use or display in public places or middle of a street||Air guns having muzzle energy of more than 12-foot pounds is regulated the same way as normal firearms||Your backyard can’t be within fifty feet of a public property||Red squirrel, Greater Mouse-eared Bat, Hazel Dormouse||Safety for Air Weapons (UK)
What Is A Pellet Gun, And What Is Its History?
A pellet gun is a gun or rifle that uses air pressure to shoot non-spherical projectiles known as pellets. Usually, there is a lever incorporated into the design of the gun. When the shooter pulls the lever, it pressurizes the internal reservoir. After that, when the shooter pulls the trigger, the pressure is released. This propels the pellet out of the barrel.
The Several Uses of a Pellet Gun
There are many reasons to use a pellet gun. First of all, they are far less deadly than powder guns. Secondly, they are more affordable. Also, these guns make less noise when shooting. And when you shoot small game with pellet guns, there is little to no damage to the meat compared to a shotgun kill.
Air guns, or guns that rely on pneumatic technology, were first used in 1580. From the 17th to the 19th century, airguns played a considerable role in hunting and warfare. Because fire-powered guns hadn’t yet caught up to them or exceeded them in utility. Plus, back then, powder guns were difficult to use in rain or wet weather. But air guns performed fine under those conditions.
Commercial mass production of air guns began in the U.S. in 1886. The company that made this possible was Plymouth, Michigan’s William F. Markham’s Markham Air Rifle Company.
Issues To Consider While Firing Weapons In The Backyard
From the above discussions, you might have found the answer to the question: Can I shoot a pellet gun in my backyard? So now you should be looking forward to how you can do it safely. Because every year, close to 500 people are killed by unintentional gun accidents. Let’s look at some safety practices during a backyard pellet gun shooting.
To commence, make certain you have safety for your eyes. Other body parts can take a hit, get hurt, and still survive. But a pellet to the eye can make you go blind. So, make sure everyone on the range is wearing safety goggles. Plus, you should also put on a vest.
Limit Child and Pet Roaming
Next, restrict the movement of children and pets when shooting is in action. If they keep scurrying around, there’s a good chance they’ll get scarred by the projectiles.
Avoid using Gun in Urban Areas
Also, make sure your backyard is not adjacent to a busy street or park. And again, watch out for the neighbours. Although they are quieter than powder guns, pellet guns are still significantly louder. And this might disturb or threaten some people.
Some states strictly prohibit, using, or even displaying a pellet gun in your front yard or in an apartment complex’s common area. So, consider your locality and property type before you delve into shooting.
Become a Gun Club Member
If you have any legal, safety, or social concerns about shooting a pellet gun in your backyard, then the best alternative is to join a gun club or go to a gun range. You can safely shoot all you want in a welcoming and safer environment.
What Am I Able To Shoot In My Yard?
With pellet guns, you can shoot small game animals in your yard, like squirrels and rabbits. However, some species of squirrels, rabbits, and rats (see chart above) are endangered in specific states. So, check that out before shooting. However, if any animal charges at you or threatens your or your children’s well-being, you can shoot it regardless.
Set Up a Mini Firing Range.
You can also build a mini shooting range in your backyard. But first, check with the local authorities to avoid future complications. You can do some work yourself, like levelling the ground with a tractor. And leave the essentials to the professionals. Ensure the area you choose has adequate drainage so that it doesn’t get muddy when it rains.
A 25-yard extended area might be adequate if you are shooting small pistols. However, if you are using rifles, a much larger land area will be necessary.
Your best course of action is to go for steel targets produced by authentic manufacturers to set up targets. Besides the steel target, you can also set up some target stands. These are made of cardboard and have a steel base with legs.
However, if you prefer, you can build a target board on your own. Build a four-by-four-foot frame, two sides extending down into the ground. Get two three-inch-diameter PVC pipes that are two feet in length and bury them in the ground forty-eight inches apart. You can then cover the four-by-four square with cardboard or plywood.
You will also need to arrange for a backstop. The best thing is to choose a spot with a natural backstop like a hill. If it doesn’t have one, you can build one yourself.
Shooting Small Animals
Using a pellet gun to shoot small animals is effective only if you have very high shooting skills. So, you can kill it with one shot. Otherwise, you will be injuring the animal and cause it to die painfully and slowly, which is inhumane. So, don’t use a pellet gun for pest control unless you have top-notch skills.
Types Of Ammunition And Pellet Used In Air Guns
There are mainly four types of ammunition used with air guns. Pellets, slugs, and B.B.s (ball bearings, or bullet-balls), to name a few. Among them, the pellets are the most well-known and popular. They usually have a ‘head’ and a ‘skirt’. The head can come in various shapes, flat, round, cone-shaped, or pitted.
Slugs are by far the most deadly ammunition you can use with an air gun. The introduction of these pellets is more recent. They have better aerodynamics and ballistic coefficients compared to average pellets. They can also hit targets at longer distances and have a similar structure to firearm bullets. However, they also require more powerful airguns.
B.B. or ball-bearing bullets were the most widespread air gun ammunition in the past. However, pellets eventually replaced them due to being more effective. Ball-bearing bullets are usually small metallic balls. Typically, they are made from steel and coated with zinc or copper.
These bullets don’t have the spin stabilization needed for long-range shooting. Therefore, B.B. pellets are mainly used for short-range shooting practices. You can also use them to teach shooting to your children.
Depending on the quality, the price of pellets and slugs ranges from $4 to $89. Crosman, JSB, and Podium are some of the most well-known manufacturers of air gun pellets.
What is the Distinction Between a BB Gun And a Pellet Gun?
People often use B.B. and pellet guns interchangeably, although there are a few differences between the two. The most obvious one is that B.B. guns shoot short-distance ball-bearing bullets. Meanwhile, pellet guns shoot long-distance pellets and guns.
The guns also differ in size. The pellet-only air rifles mostly tend to be 0.22 calibre. In contrast, BB-only airguns are noticeably smaller and also lighter.
Plus, as mentioned in the previous section, pellets are better for hunting small animals and birds. They are also suitable for target range practice as the pellets can hit long distances and leave visible holes. On the other hand, B.B. guns are better for safe, small range backyard shooting.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pellet Guns
Are Pellet Guns Loud?
Pellet guns are pretty loud, although they are quieter than firearms. The lead pellets can crack the sound barrier when you shoot them. Average pellet gunshots can be measured at 117-134 decibels. And as you might already know, the human ear finds anything above 85 decibels loud.
How Long Does CO2 Last In A Pellet Gun?
The CO2 cartridge lasts around twenty-four hours. In other words, it is suitable for 21 shots. This is estimated from the incident of the first trigger pull.
Are Pellet Guns Considered Firearms?
Only Rhode Island and New Jersey consider pellet guns as firearms and regulate them accordingly. Other states don’t consider these firearms but still hold them as weapons with damage potential.
Are Pellet Guns Dangerous?
Of course, pellet guns are dangerous. They have enough power to kill small animals over long distances. In that sense, it can easily take out someone’s eyes or injure other body parts. And if it hits the wrong body part, it can be fatal.
How Does A Break Barrel Pellet Gun Work?
Break barrel pellet guns have two mechanisms to shoot projectiles. One of them is a spring-piston mechanism, and the other is a gas piston mechanism. In the spring system, cocking the barrel squeezes the metal spring. After that, when you press the trigger, the spring is released.
On the other hand, the gas systems have a gas-filled cylinder inside. Cocking the barrels compresses them. Then, when you pull the trigger, the gas rapidly expands and fires the pellet.
How Far Can A Pellet Gun Shoot?
You can typically expect to accurately shoot as far as 25 to 30 yards with an average pellet gun and ammunition. However, you can shoot beyond 50 yards if you use more powerful guns, springers, and better ammo.
How To Sight In The Scope Of A Pellet Gun?
To sight in the scope of a pellet gun, take the first shot and zero in on that shot. Then aim the gun towards the bulls-eye and take a second shot two inches below it. Then move the target 30 feet away and zero in on the last shot. Shoot again. Then move the target 75 feet and zero in like before. Hopefully, you will be hitting the bulls-eye now.
Air Rifle Fundamentals for Beginners
Take a glance at this incredible video from Norfolk Man Cave that illustrates how an air gun works (at home). Visit his channel and subscribe if you find his videos about automobiles, cold starts, stationary engines, campers, and Air guns to be helpful.
Norfolk Man Cave. (2020, January 20). Beginners guide to air rifles [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTkabBdVCj4&t=153s
To Sum It All Up
Can I shoot a pellet gun in my backyard? Hopefully, you found your answer.
- Take a note of the regulations and hazards that come with shooting firearms and take heed of the laws and restrictions regarding the discharge of airguns.
- If purchased on good terms, there is much fun to be had with target skills and the use of pellet guns.
- The best way to avoid a misdemeanour offence and make a good choice is by doing your research. If you need to know more about what laws in your area or state. Or country, click on the links provided on this site.
A solid rule of thumb to keep in mind when you shoot pellet guns on property not close to any public place. It will be nice to have a natural backstop and at least 50 yards of space. And lastly, always make sure you are not upsetting your neighbours.
Sources of Information
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