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Pellet shooting is a fun activity, and it is readily available as a shooting sport for professionals and amateurs alike. However, most people don’t understand if they can carry the sport at home and shoot pellet guns in their backyard.
Understandably, the answer is Yes. If you own a pellet gun, you can shoot it as frequently as you want in your private land and, specifically, if you are above 18 years.
However, each state has its jurisdiction and laws. To be sure, check with your local authority because it’s easier to follow the law than to pay for its negligence.
What Is a Pellet Gun?
You might have grown up shooting cans using your pellet gun, but as a reminder, it’s not a toy, and you should know how to use it properly. Otherwise, there can be fatal consequences.
Technically, a pellet gun isn’t a gun like a rifle or a revolver, even though it resembles one and fires through a barrel when you squeeze the trigger. Unlike firearms, pellet guns use air as a means of propulsion and pressure on the ammo. Handguns and rifles use combustion and materials like gunpowder.
Therefore, the question of the safety and legality of firing a pellet gun in your backyard depends on the definition of what a pellet gun is and what it’s not.
Because it uses air instead of gunpowder, the range, trajectory and accuracy are affected. And these create significant differences when considering firearm laws.
Understanding Different Pellet Gun Projectiles
A pellet gun uses a different kind of ammunition from typical firearms. There are BBs that are round balls and the hourglass shape that have a wasp-waist. Pellet guns have different barrel designs that determine the appropriate ammo to use in them. These include
Each has a different aerodynamic and accuracy over the other. However, some pellet guns can shoot either BBs or wasp-waist pellets.
Can You Shoot a Pellet Gun in Your Backyard?
Not all states and municipalities favor the use of pellet guns, even when you do so in the safety of your backyard. It doesn’t matter why you shoot the pellet gun, and the best way to win such a case is getting a license or a permit.
Although a pellet gun is a small weapon, it can dispatch squirrels and other small game animals, and therefore, this puts it under your state laws or department of conservation.
There isn’t a need to risk the fine that is often hefty than the license. Whether you want to shoot at an upland game, squirrels, or possum, getting a hunting license is the way to go.
Can I shoot a pellet gun in my backyard for target practice? To answer this question, the law considers the kind of ammo that you are using. Most pellets and BBs are made of lead, and this will significantly raise your accuracy.
But some are made of steel which is lightweight compared to lead ammo. As a result, the spread may only wound and not kill. It is an inhumane way to dispatch the animals you are shooting at.
What are You Shooting at?
Federal law is concerned with what you will use to shoot at animals. Specifically, the law prohibits using lead to shoot or hunt water animals because of the environmental effects.
No matter the animal, predators like eagles and coyotes feed on the carcass of what you kill, and lead is poisonous when consumed. Lead also pollutes waterways.
The Legality of Your Shooting
As you know, not all birds are waterfowl. So, a hunting license doesn’t give you the right to shoot and kill birds like the bluejays. Even though these birds are noisy and pesky, they are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
General Regulations and Laws About Shooting Pellets in Your Yard
The rules vary from one country to another, and within the US, it varies from one state to the other. However, some federal laws are applicable in all states, wherever your residence is in the US.
The rules are there to protect animals, other individuals, and yourself. Typically, the law prohibits shooting your pellet gun in
- a public place,
- anywhere within 15m of a public road,
- and highly-populated areas.
Also, it’s an offense to fire your pellet gun beyond the area you are permitted to shoot it and beyond your backyard. But you can shoot beyond your garden if the neighbor allows you and has a permit for shooting using a pellet gun.
Pellet shooting has its perks, and most people find it exciting. However, it would be best if you restricted yourself to within the confines of your backyard and boundary.
Who Can Shoot Pellet Guns?
The Federal law is straightforward and anyone beyond 18 years is eligible to shoot a pellet gun. Once you are 18 and beyond, you can purchase a pellet gun and shoot it in the confines of your backyard and shooting ranges.
Can My Kids Shoot My Pellet Gun?
Nothing feels better than passing over your shooting skills to children. Besides, it’s an excellent pastime activity that forges permanent memories.
Explaining gun safety to your children is also a fulfilling experience. But pellet shooting with your kids anywhere requires that they must be of a certain age.
For instance, in 2016, a California law took effect, making it an offense to sell pellet guns and BB devices to all persons under 18 years.
The law (SB 199), as written by Senator Kevin De Leon, also made all BB devices subject to the laws that govern the imitation of firearms.
The USA laws are not similar to the UK laws where a 14-year-old kid can use a pellet gun. In the USA, children under the age of 16 shouldn’t use a pellet gun regardless of whether they are under adult supervision or not.
How To Fire Your Pellet Guns Cautiously
Toy guns are supposed to have an orange tip so that law enforcement officers can prevent making fatal mistakes when they see you or your child with one. But you can have trouble when using a pellet gun.
While a pellet gun isn’t a “real gun,” it’s also not a toy gun. Most pellet gun designs resemble actual firearms, and in essence, they should be viewed so legally.
It means that brandishing pellet guns in public can cause panic and lead to unwarranted confrontation with the law.
Parents give their children pellet guns while segueing them into hunting adolescents and adults. Pellet guns are less powerful therefore suited for teaching gun basics and safety.
But, from a distance, a police officer can’t tell if what you or your child is brandishing is a real gun or a pellet. Law enforcement is trained to make mistakes on the side of caution. Be careful and treat your pellet gun like you would a licensed conceal-carry weapon.
Are Pellet Guns Dangerous?
Even though pellet guns don’t have enough stopping power to kill deer and other large animals, they are still very fatal. If you don’t handle your pellet gun with the respect it deserves, you or the people around you can get seriously hurt.
The projectile doesn’t travel more than a few yards, but it injures people and things around you within short distances. Pellet guns are also inaccurate over long distances, and this is why the law sees them as loose cannons and that children shouldn’t play with them.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, deaths and injuries by pellet guns aren’t common. But this isn’t to say that pellet guns aren’t dangerous.
There are pellet guns that have a muzzle velocity of up to 350 feet per second. These are lethal and powerful and should be used under proper guidance and control.
The best way to use pellet guns is to handle them as if they were real guns. Common sense should prevail each time, meaning that you should never point it towards another person, object or animal even if you know it isn’t loaded.
Also, use pellet guns within its range to effectively avoid hitting targets that you aren’t aiming at.
When storing pellet guns, please keep them in locked cabinets where kids can’t reach them. Store the ammo and the pellet gun separately for extra precaution.
Are Pellet Guns the Same as Airsoft Guns
Pellet guns have many practical uses that border between target practice or rodent control. Like all weapons, it has both advantages and disadvantages.
As a consumer, you decide which pellet gun to buy by considering safety and execution. But people confuse between pellet guns and airsoft guns. Here is how you can tell one from the other.
The primary difference is the ammo you will use on either gun. An airsoft gun fires small plastic rounds using air pressure, and also the plastic bullets are the same size.
A pellet gun fires lead or steel rounds that vary in size. Firing smaller bullets through a pellet gun covers more distance, while larger rounds are lethal at short distances.
Airsoft guns are lighter compared to pellet guns, hence easy to use. Airguns use air pressure concentrated in the gun shaft to fire projectiles. However, both gun designs resemble popular firearm and military designs.
Most people start training to shoot with pellet guns and airguns primarily because they are safer to use. These are weapons suitable for killing small animals like the possum that are known to be pesky pests.
Pellet guns border toys and actual firearms. Therefore, they aren’t entirely safe to use even if you have legal standing. The best way to be safe while using a pellet gun is to make a stop or call at your city hall to determine if they are safe to use in your backyard.
When considering the safety use of pellet guns, also look at what you are shooting at and the ammo you are using. Once you get this in check, you can answer the question of whether it’s safe to shoot your pellet gun in your compound/backyard.
Even though this article backs the idea of shooting a pellet gun in your backyard, you can do so within specific confines of federal and state laws.
Like firearm regulations and restrictions, owning and shooting a pellet gun can be illegal for underage kids.
Depending on where you reside in the US, pellet guns have different classifications. The only way to shoot pellet guns in your yard without ruffling feathers with the law is by obtaining a hunting license.
Never shoot a pellet gun if you have any doubts. Making the call to confirm your position is cheaper than paying for the negligence of shooting and waiting for consequences.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.