Remember that you are always responsible for your air rifle, whether you are shooting it yourself, are allowing someone else to shoot it, or even if it is being used without your permission, if the person concerned acquired it as a result of your negligence.
SAFE GUN HANDLING
- Always treat an airgun as though it were loadedDevelop an awareness of where the barrel is pointing, and ensure that it is always pointing in a safe direction (toward the ground).
Safe gun handling comes from a state of mind in which you have a constant awareness of where the barrel is pointing, without conscious effort. This isn’t something you can achieve simply by reading about it – you have to develop the awareness by keeping it at the forefront of your mind whenever you have the airgun in your hands, until it becomes second nature.
- Do not load your airgun until you are ready to fire it and are sure that the shot will be safe.A significant proportion of airgun accidents occur when the person in control of the airgun wrongly believes it to be unloaded, usually after it was loaded in the vague anticipation of a shot that was not taken.
If you load your airgun and don’t take the expected shot, discharge it in a safe direction, preferably into the ground.
- Never rely on a safety catch to make an airgun ‘safe’.Safety mechanisms are mechanical devices that can and do fail. The ONLY way to make a loaded airgun safe is to discharge it in a safe direction, such as into the ground.
- Never put a loaded airgun down.Always safely discharge your airgun before putting it down to ensure that it cannot fire.
- Never leave your airgun unattended.You can never be sure who might pick it up.
- On picking up an airgun, first make sure it’s unloaded.Even if it’s your own gun, and you checked it was unloaded before putting it down. Get into the habit of checking, in case you ever pick up a loaded gun.
- Before pulling the trigger, consider where the pellet might travel if you miss the targetDon’t shoot unless the shot is perfectly safe.
A pellet can travel hundreds of yards, so look beyond the target to ensure the shot will be safe. Also consider the possibility of a
ricochet, which changes the direction of the pellet’s travel.
SAFE GUN STORAGE
- Never store a loaded airgun.Always check that your airgun is unloaded before putting it into storage. ‘Unloaded’ means that there is no pellet in the breach AND that the mainspring or hammer spring is at rest.
- Store your airgun and pellets separately.If an unauthorised person gains access to your airgun, don’t let them have pellets as well.
- Store your airgun and accessories out of sight.Never leave your airgun where it can be seen through an outside window, or by casual visitors. If transporting it in a car, either lock it out of sight in the boot or cover it.
- Do not store your airgun anywhere that unauthorised people, especially young children, might gain access to it.If necessary, buy a locking cabinet or lock the room containing the airgun.
- Consider whether there’s an easy way to render your airgun incapable of being fired.Proprietary trigger locks and security chains/hawsers aren’t too expensive, and there are sometimes other ways to prevent your airgun from being fired, depending on the type of airgun, such as unscrewing the bolt handle on some PCPs.
- Always keep a firm grip on the cocking lever (either the barrel or a separate lever) while loading a pellet into the breech.The mainspring is capable of pushing the cocking lever to the closed position with great force and, if your fingertips are in the
breech at the time, of crushing or even amputating them.
- Never allow your trigger finger to touch the trigger during loading. See above.
- Keep the muzzle pointing in a safe direction during loading.The muzzle is the front end of the barrel. When closing a break barrel airgun after loading the pellet, hold the barrel so that it is pointing toward the ground and raise the rear of the gun to close the breech, rather than swinging the barrel up.
- Never rely on an ‘anti beartrap’ mechanism.Anti beartrap mechanisms are designed to prevent the spring airgun from discharging while the cocking lever is in the open position but, like safety catches, they are mechanical and can and do fail. However, if your airgun has an anti beartrap mechanism and you need to make your gun safe, you cannot de-cock it, so discharge it into the ground.
- Never exceed the recommended fill pressure of a PCP.Apart from being extremely dangerous, over filling does not raise the power of the airgun and usually reduces it, so there is no point in exceeding the recommended pressure.
- Never fill a PCP with ANY gas other than breathing air.No other gas, whether inert or not, is safe to use in a PCP. Fill only with clean, dry breathing air, either using a stirrup pump, or an air bottle filled at a diving centre.
- Store your airgun and magazine separately.If possible, also store the magazine unloaded, and separate from pellets.
- Store your air bottle securely out of reach of young children. The bottle should be stored where there’s no chance of it being knocked over and, if there are children in the house, preferably under lock and key.