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Thread: Hunting with airguns

  1. #1

    Hunting with airguns

    hi all,
    I was very pleases to see that Ash has posted up information on hunting seasons and licences on the front page but i thought i would do my own bit on airguns.

    The law
    Even though airguns fire the projectile through a blast of air down the barrel with no substance being lighted, and that you do not need any license to own one under most circumstances, the law still makes no distinction between air rifles and more powerful guns for which you need a licence – they are all classed as firearms. This means that any offence you commit can carry a very heavy penalty – and there are at least 38 different offences. Some rules are relaxed slightly such as gunsafes and teavelling but if you are caught with an airgun on unauthorised land, you are trespassing with a firearm in the eyes of the law. Provided you are over the age of 18 you can go to your local gunshop, buy yourself a sub 12ftlbs airgun and ammunition and be hunting on any land you have permission to hunt on by the end of the week. If your 14-17 like me you can borrow an airgun and ammunition (basically this means you parents have to buy it for you and you have to ask them permission to use it) and hunt on any land without supervision under consent of the land owner. Under 14 and you can use an air rifle under supervision from somone at least 21 years old.

    Shooting
    Before you start on live quarry you need to get practice on paper. It is against the law to fire an air rifle within 50 feet of the centre of a highway if this results in someone being injured, interrupted or endangered. These offences could be committed, for example, when someone is shooting in their garden close to a road and the pellets ricochet onto the highway. There are many gun clubs around the country which not only will give you practice, but are also full of people with good knowledge and could help you become a better shooter. I am appauled to see on the basc website, which promotes clean shooting as much as possible, that the minimum group size advised beofre you start hunting is an inch and a quater from pellet to pellet. An 1 1/4" could easily be the difference between killing the pigeon and shooting off its beak, causing it to slowly starve. An 1"1/4 could be the difference between killing a squirrel and crippling it, causing it to die slowly and painfully in its drey. For my standards, i employ a 3/4" group, in the worst possible scenario this would disable your quarry enough for you to be able to run up and dispatch it, although what all airgunners want is for there quarry to be dead before it hits the floor. A commonly asked question is what range people you should be shooting at. this is simple, and is whatever range you can consitently group pellets within a 3/4" circle. This could be 40 yards or 10 yards, whichever it is that is the range you will be hunting at until you improve and you will just have to work around it. This is not , by the way, the distance you can achieve this accuracy from a comfortable bench rest; your range is the distance you can achieve it from the position your most likely to be using. Lying prone in front of a rabbit burrow, quickly dropping to a kneeling position for a squirrel, a rest against a tree for a pigeon; pracitce these thoroughly as you'll rarely be shooting from a solid rest. Fortunately, most modern airguns are capable of this kind of accuracy and only the shooter can be blamed in most cases.

    the airgun
    throughout this i have been speaking of these as airguns, although i should be saying air rifles as these are the only tools you will be using to shoot quarry. Hunting with air pistols is extremely irresponsible as they are limited to 6ftlbs in this country, and almost all fall well below that. I have been told it only takes 4ftlbs to kill a rabbit but even if your pistol had this power many are too inacurate and simply not suitable for hunting. There are basically 2 different types of hunting air rifle. here are the pros and cons of each:

    Spring Piston
    This is the most popular type of rifle.

    Generally Simple Operation
    The gun is cocked either by breaking the barrel or underlever depending on the type of gun.

    Spring Piston Mechanism
    The gun contains a piston and a large coiled spring. This procedure compresses the mainspring and moves the piston back, which connects into the trigger mechanism. When the trigger is pulled the mainspring is released, pushing the piston forward which pushes the air in front of the piston through a port and propels the pellet down the barrel. The movement of the spring and piston leads to recoil, which can affect the accuracy of the gun. The lighter the gun usually the more recoil. Hence heavier spring guns are often easier to shoot and more accurate. You may have to compromise with weight though, especially if you are hunting.
    To shoot a recoiling rifle accurately, techniques must be learned to compensate for the recoil of the gun. Learning and improving these skills is all part of the hobby, and a huge amount of satisfaction can be gained from learning how to get the best performance from your rifle.

    Spring guns are usually relatively cheap, simple and self-contained. They can be very accurate and powerful. An average weight is around 7-8lbs. A good one (new) will cost around the £250-300 mark

    Advantages
    Cheap to buy
    Self contained- you can't run out of shots with these (unless you break your spring)
    Quick to load
    Reliable
    value for money

    Disadvantages
    Generally single shot only (there are a few multishots available)
    The most accurate guns tend to be heavy
    More noisy than a PCP to shoot from muzzle and piston noise
    Recoil makes the gun more difficult to shoot accurately, requiring more practice and more concentration to become proficient.

    Pre-Charged Pneumatic Rifles
    This is the group of rifles that has advanced the most in the last 10 years. They use a reservoir built into the gun to hold a store of compressed air, usually about 2500-3000PSI. This reservoir can hold anything from 30-500 shots worth of air depending on the size of the cylinder.
    The compressed air cylinder is charged via a stirrup pump or divers bottle. The regular spray compressor, garage pump or foot pump will NOT do the job as they do not run at high enough pressure.
    These guns have many advantages. They are recoilless so they are very easy to shoot accurately. They are very quiet when fitted with a silencer. There are many different models on the market to choose from, so you should be able to find just the right specification for your purpose - multishots, single-shots, lightweight, large shot-capacity, fully adjustable, whatever you want!
    PCPs do have some disadvantages such as cost, the extra investment in charging equipment and the inconvenience of charging the air cylinder. A good pre charged rifle will cost around £350-450 new.

    Advantages
    Huge choice of brands and specifications - many multishots available
    Great choice of add-ons such as silencers, bipods and custom parts
    Relatively easy to achieve very good accuracy with.
    Full UK power
    Very quiet with a silencer fitted

    Disadvantages
    Cost of initial setup
    Can be inconvenient to refill, any pre charged gun you buy has to have about another £100 added onto it for charging gear. Or you have to go to a dive or gunshop to refill your gun for a few pounds.
    Whilst no recoil is great for accuracy, it also takes away some of the soul and challenge of the shooting experience.

    well i hoped that helped, i'll be doing a second part going into more detail on actually hutning with them soon.

    Atb
    Aaron
    "There's enough in this world for everyones need, but not enough for everyone greed"
    Ghandi

    "only when the last tree has burned, the last fish has been caught, the last river poisoned, will we realise we cannot eat money"

  2. #2
    Moderator & Poshcrafter™ Martin's Avatar
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    That's a really great post Aaron. Thanks very much for taking the time to write it, I've learned a lot from it.

    Martin
    Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.

  3. #3
    Ranger Tony1948's Avatar
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    Good on you Aaron,been hunting all my life and still enjoyed you'r post and lernt a thing or two,thanks,atb...............dont get eaten by the bears..........TONY

  4. #4
    Trapper
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    Very informative, and good to see such responsibility in one so young. When i was i little younger than you are now, i had to prove to my father an understanding of all you have written before i was even allowed to pick up an air rifle. Just one thing i will say, but dont recomend, i have used an air pistol for ratting for many years. Bear in mind this was at ranges of 10 to 20 FEET, but was in situations where an air rifle would be too powerfull to use safely. Cheers. Stan.

  5. #5

    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by bigstan View Post
    Very informative, and good to see such responsibility in one so young. When i was i little younger than you are now, i had to prove to my father an understanding of all you have written before i was even allowed to pick up an air rifle. Just one thing i will say, but dont recomend, i have used an air pistol for ratting for many years. Bear in mind this was at ranges of 10 to 20 FEET, but was in situations where an air rifle would be too powerfull to use safely. Cheers. Stan.
    i have seen a friend of mine shoot a rat at around 10 yards with his falcon fn19 pistol (shooting at 5.5ftlbs and with accuracy challenging me rifle) but most pistols simply don't reach this level. bearing in mind this pistol cost £360. the one you are speaking of is one of the few situations an air pistol is OK. i am writing this article from the bushcrafters point of view which is the ability to shoot quarry they can eat (i.e rabbits, pigeons and squirrels).
    atb
    Aaron
    "There's enough in this world for everyones need, but not enough for everyone greed"
    Ghandi

    "only when the last tree has burned, the last fish has been caught, the last river poisoned, will we realise we cannot eat money"

  6. #6
    Samuel Hearne Bernie's Avatar
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    That was VERY useful for me - both on legal and on technical detail. Thanks for writing it. I'm looking forward to the next part already!

  7. #7
    NaturalBushcraft Founder Ashley Cawley's Avatar
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    Thank you Aaron, superb post!

    I've got a feeling I'll be getting in to hunting more when my licence comes through .. and I would like to get my air-rifle out and make more use of it to.

    Thanks again,
    Ashley Cawley

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    Moderator jus_young's Avatar
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    Just sold the BSA Supersport. SKS relapse coming on as I feel the need for a new rifle. Shot an Air Arms MFR with the scouts during a visit from Bear Grylls last weekend, what a lovely rifle

  9. #9
    Trapper
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    Hi all, first post, new to the site but not to the hunting/ bush-craft scene.

    Very informative that, displaying some good knowledge. With all the bad press shooters have had over the last few years it good to finally be somewhere where people think like wise to me! Something that was slightly touched on thow is that as said you CANNOT walk into a gun shop at 18 and purchase an air rifle at 12ftlbs. you CAN purchase an air rifle UPTO and not including 12ftlbs. However anything over 12ftlbs in the UK has to be covered by a firearm certificate (FAC).

    i shoot a few different types of rifle. my main ' hunting' rifle so to speak is a (PCP) .22 Air Arms S410 Carbine, with a Walther 7 - 12 variable/ light adjustable mill dot site. using predominately RWS hyper velocity pellets. Great rifle, bolt action, 10 round magazine, around 80 good shots per fill up (its less being the carbine version) and is rated around 11.5ish ftlbs if i recall correctly. This for most small game, does the job expertly, cleanly, and more importantly, quickly. Currently have that honed in to a about 10 shots in a 5p piece!

    Start up cost is pretty outrageous if im honest. payed ni - on a grand to get the set up. 5 litre divers bottle, was not included, but then the age old phrase you get what you pay for springs to mind.

    I use a .22 BSA Scorpion pistol as a rare follow up if need be. rated at around 6ftlbs.

    I also own a shotgun and firearm cert, using a 12 Gauge Benelli Supersport for the shotgun. and a GSG - 5SD (carbon copy of suppressed mp5) on the firearm cert.

    Anyways, happing shooting. And remember, Good shooting is no accident.

  10. #10
    Trapper Raven's Avatar
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    like this post , lots of good info on air rifles, looking to get into this more over the next few months, expensive hobby tho, some of the rifles cost a fortune, its a little daunting when you don't know a lot about air guns, they range from 20 - 2000 pounds and so what do you look for, i'm sure you get what you pay for but it would be good to have a bit more of a clue! i just want something that can get me some lunch and takes a bit of skill to use, any advice would be great!

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