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USER GUIDE ONLY  - Please check current legislation

The law 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. Following this code will help you to keep on the right side of the law, but, if you have any doubt, seek advice from BASC or your local police firearms licensing department.

What you should know about owning an airgun

You do not need a license to own and air rifle or pistol providing it is not capable of exceeding certain power limits. The power limit is set at

12 ft. lbs. For air rifles and 6 ft. lbs. For air pistols. These power limits are for any brand of pellet and it is your responsibility to ensure that the gun has a legal power output at all times. Special rules apply however, in Northern Ireland.

You may not possess an air rifle that exceeds the 12 ft. lbs. Power limit unless you have a firearms certificate (FAC) which allows you to possess it.

Possession of an air pistol capable of exceeding the 6 ft. lbs. Power limit is totally prohibited.

Who can shoot

If you are 18 years or older there are no restrictions on buying an air rifle and ammunition, and you can use it where you have permission to shoot.

14 – 17 years

Can borrow an air rifle and ammunition use an air rifle, without supervision, on private premises where you have permission to hire an air rifle, or ammunition, or receive one as a gift. Your air rifle and ammunition must be bought and looked after by someone over 18 – normally your parent, guardian or some other responsible adult. Have an air rifle in a public place unless you are supervised by somebody aged 21 or over, and you have a reasonable excuse to do so (for example, while on the way to a shooting ground).

Use an air rifle under supervision on private premises with permission from the occupier - normally the owner or tenant. The person who supervises you must be at least 21 years old.

Under 14 years

Cannot buy, hire or receive an air rifle or its ammunition as a gift, or shoot, without adult supervision.

Parents or guardians who buy an air rifle for use by someone under 14 must exercise control over it at all times, even in the home or garden.  

Where you can shoot

Where you intend to, always ensure that you are authorised by the landowner or person with the sporting rights and that you know precisely where the boundaries are. Get permission in writing, if possible, to remove any doubt.

Whenever you are in a public place you should carry the rifle in a gun cover and always ensure that it is unloaded and not cocked.


Going on to private land, or water, where you do not have permission is trespassing, and if you are carrying an air rifle it becomes armed trespass. Whether the gun is loaded or not, or whether you are carrying pellets, is irrelevant – armed trespass is a serious criminal offence carrying heavy penalties.

Firing pellets beyond your boundary

It is an offence to fire an air rifle pellet beyond the land where you have permission to shoot, unless the occupier of the neighbouring land has also given you permission. Where someone under 14 is shooting, both the young person and the supervising adult can be prosecuted.

It is also against the law, in England and Wales, 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.

It is an offence in Scotland to discharge any gun in a culpable or reckless manner. This means shooting without caring about the safety of others.

Where  you can shoot

Target shooting

There are numerous clubs catering for this growing sport, throughout the UK, and they can offer great help and shooting opportunities to both the novice and the experienced shooter.

Be Sensible and Stay within the Law and Enjoy our Sport the Information above has been Written using Current Air Gun Law and information from the BASC web site (2008)

A GUIDE UK AIRGUN LAW (Current 2015)