Airguns can kill. But they cannot kill independent of the person who fires them. Nor can they kill without having been loaded with ammunition. The principles of safe conduct when in possession of air weapon for target shooting are to keep air weapon, ammunition and people apart until and unless the environment in which they are brought together is one which is known to be safe – a properly constructed range – and the situation is one in which the possibility of a gun being accidentally pointed at another person or discharged, is remote in the extreme.
Safety with any type of firearm is everyone’s responsibility. Shooting is one of the safest of all sports. The reason for this is that there are safety rules that MUST be observed at all times.
The two most fundamental of these are:
- Never point a gun at anyone
- Always treat a gun as if it were loaded
The majority of the other rules arise from the application of these two rules in different circumstances.
Safety can be divided into several different sections:
- Safety off the Range
- Safety on the Range
- Safety in Transit
- Safety – Aspects Particular to Rifles or Pistols
- Safety at Home
- Range Safety & Health
- The Law
Handling guns / Safety off the Range:
- When you get out your gun check it is unloaded and that it is not cocked
- Show that the gun is unloaded before handing it to another person
- When you put your gun away check it is unloaded and that it is not cocked
- Never put a gun away that is loaded
- Always check a gun is empty when taking it from/placing it in a box, case or bag
- When you are given a gun first check that it is unloaded and that it is not cocked. If you don’t know how to, ask the owner
- Never pick up a gun without the permission of the owner
- Never load a gun when not on a firing point
- Always carry guns with the breech open
- Always be fully aware of your responsibilities for the guns in your possession and their satisfactory security at all times
Remember it is better to check your gun is unloaded 100 times too often than once not enough.
Operating the gun / Safety on the Range:
- Keep the gun pointing downrange when in use
- Load the gun pointing downrange
- If you are using break barrel rifles or under-levers where the breach could snap shut on you fingers, keep hold of the barrel/cocking lever when inserting the pellet
- Only load magazines on the firing point
- Never handle guns when people are forward of the firing point
- Never load until safe to do so
- Never place your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire
- Always unload immediately if given the order to cease fire
- Only lead pellets
- Only steel and paper targets. No ‘bang’ targets
Moving around with guns:
- Never move between lanes with a loaded gun
- When moving between lanes open the breach and remove any magazine from the rifle
- When carrying a gun it must not be cocked, the breach must be open, the magazine removed and the gun carried vertically downwards
Safety in Transit:
It is strongly recommended not to leave guns or ammunition unattended in a vehicle: if necessary, ensure that they are locked in the boot.
Air weapons not to be loaded when in transit.
- Keep guns and ammunition out of sight.
- Air guns and magazines NOT to be loaded in transit.
- If you hear the command “CEASE FIRE”, stop immediately !
- Don’t rely on safety catches to keep you or your companions safe
- Don’t attract people’s attention when they are shooting as it may cause them to turn around
- Observe all the usual safety rules when “dry firing” – i.e. operating the trigger with the gun unloaded.
Supplementary Notes for Other Types of Rifle:
If you are using rifles which utilize compressed air as a power source the following additional safety procedures must be followed.
Safety with Compressed Air:
Many modern air rifles use compressed air as a power source. It provides for convenient and effortless shooting but we must never underestimate the amount of energy that is stored up inside a cylinder. A compressed air cylinder is a potential bomb if handled incorrectly.
- Store cylinder away from sources of heat
- Avoid dropping cylinders and hard knocks to the cylinder or decanting set
- Do not use any cylinder or fittings that appear to be damaged
- Always check the charge pressure of an unknown cylinder
- Make sure your cylinder is in test
- When using buddy bottles or other removable cylinders never stand in front of the bottle as it is charged
- Always keep control of buddy bottles and hoses when charging
- Always charge your gun slowly, don’t put full pressure onto the gun straight away
- Avoid contact between skin and high pressure air
- Avoid getting oils and greases in the high pressure air system
- Juniors not to fill from CLUB AIR BOTTLE
Safety with CO2 Cartridges:
CO2 Cartridges provide a convenient power source for modern rifles and pistols. However they require special care in operation in addition to the normal safety rules.
- In the club container
- Do not load magazines
- Do not install CO2 capsules
- On the firing point
- When installing CO2 capsule the gun must point downrange
- When installing magazines the gun must point downrange
- When exhausting a spent CO2 capsule the gun must point downrange
- Take care when handling exhausted CO2 capsules as they become very cold.
- Before leaving the firing point:
- Remove the magazine and make sure it is empty
- Put the gun in its case
Safety at Home:
- Always ensure that guns stored at home are kept in their approved place of storage at all times, and that the security of this place is maintained.
It is your responsibility to find out the legality of your actions. These include:
- Where the gun may be used
- Storage and safety in the home
- Letting another person use your gun
- Where to get advice
- Be aware of all relevant current legislation (Scottish Air Weapon Licensing).
- No air weapon is ever safe (unloaded) unless it is proved to be so.
Specific Rules: OCCUPATION OF THE FIRING POINT
Only the person shooting will be allowed to occupy the firing area. Friends and/or spectators must remain to the rear of the firing area.
Children under 14 are NOT allowed on the firing point, unless receiving instruction in the use of a airgun, and then only if supervised.
No animals at firing points.
ADJUSTING SIGHTS – PISTOLS:
Sights must only be adjusted with the airgun UNLOADED and the muzzle pointed down range.
- SIGHT – Safety glasses should always be worn when firing pistols