Airgun Safety thread

Discussion in 'General Airgun Chat' started by RobF, May 31, 2010.

  1. RobF

    RobF Administrator Staff Member

    Mar 4, 2010
    New Forest, Hampshire
    Parkstone Gun Club, South Dorset FTC, Southampton Buccaneers
    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.


    1. Never point a gun at anyone, under any circumstances.

    2. Always treat an airgun as though it were loaded.Develop an awareness of where the barrel is pointing, and ensure that it is always pointing in a direction that is safe if it was to be discharged.
    If handing over a gun to someone demonstrate that it is unloaded or not cocked. If receiving a gun from someone, check it is not loaded or cocked.

    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.

    3. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. Never put a loaded or cocked airgun down.

    Always safely discharge your airgun before putting it down to ensure that it cannot fire.

    5. Never leave your airgun unattended.

    You can never be sure who might pick it up.

    6. On picking up an airgun, first make sure it's unloaded or uncocked.

    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.

    7. Before pulling the trigger, consider where the pellet might travel if you miss the target - don'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.


    1. Never store a loaded or cocked airgun.

    Always check that your airgun is unloaded and uncocked 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, and that any magazine is empty and not in the gun.

    2. Store your airgun and pellets separately.

    If an unauthorised person gains access to your airgun, don't let them have pellets as well.

    3. 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.

    4. Do not store your airgun anywhere that unauthorised people, especially young children, might gain access to it. (soon to become law)

    If necessary, buy a locking cabinet or lock the room containing the airgun.

    5. 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.


    1. 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, or a flying barrel could cause injury to yourself, someone else and probably your gun.

    2. Never allow your trigger finger to touch the trigger during loading.

    See above.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.


    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. Store your airgun and magazine separately.

    If possible, also store the magazine unloaded, and separate from pellets.

    4. Store your air bottle securely and out of reach of young children. Pay particular attention to storage in cars. A bottle is a heavy item, and will carry some force with it in the event of an accident.

    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. An air bottle of even a small size contains a considerable amount of energy (approx 100x the pressure of a car tyre), enough to create severe damage to person or property if the bottle is ruptured, and even if the just the valve stem fails. Remember when watching this how heavy these bottles feel when you pick them up. I'm not even sure the practices shown in the video are that clever, but it demonstrates the point.

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    5. Handle compressed air carefully. Compressed air, if exposed to the skin, can create significant medical problems such as embolisms, which can be fatal or severely dibilitating. Also, discharging compressed air can dislodge particles which may cause injury or merely the pressure increase can cause hearing injury.

    (copied and pasted from the airgunbbs)

    If anything has anyone to add, please feel free.
  2. TenMetrePeter

    TenMetrePeter Paper punching member

    Sep 23, 2016
    Harpenden Air Weapons Club
    Safe gun handling item 6. Making sure gun is unloaded...
    ISSF rules which are followed by many precision air gun clubs mandate the use of brightly coloured nylon strimmer cord down the barrel showing either end whenever the gun is not actually being fired. Range official must give permission to remove safety lines. It is a practice that could be adopted by all airgun disciplines. Guns like Air Arms S400 may be left cocked to allow this. Moderator baffles could be a problem.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  3. Conor

    Conor Never been banned from sales Staff Member

    May 4, 2009
    Ardboe, Co.Tyrone.
    Back Hill Ballistics; DFTC; Nelson FTC
    I’ve been to Bisley and have shot 10m, you quote the ISSF as a shining example of Airgun safety, I was shocked by some of the practices and scenes I witnessed whilst I was there.
  4. RobF

    RobF Administrator Staff Member

    Mar 4, 2010
    New Forest, Hampshire
    Parkstone Gun Club, South Dorset FTC, Southampton Buccaneers
    Aside from the contradiction that a barrel is shown to be empty when you put something inside it, it doesn't work very well with guns that have muzzle brakes or rifles like springers. It also leads to people thinking it's ok to muzzle sweep because they're unloaded which breaks one of the two founding tenements of safety, that is, never assume a gun is unloaded. It's also still possible to discharge some rifles (like Daystates) because the bolt doesn't cock them and their electronic triggers actuate the shot. Whilst the latter doesn't fire the string down the barrel it doesn't stop it firing... and with a lot of rifles it demands the rifle is decocked after the string is removed... and that's not always done pointing down the firing line, which breaks the 2nd tenement, never point a gun in an unsafe direction.
    luddite and geoff like this.

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