In the United States, air gun shooting is one of the most popular shooting sports. It’s a fun hobby for both amateurs and professionals, and it’s an excellent place for beginners to start before moving on to heavier guns and hunting.
Are pellet guns legal to shoot in your backyard rather than using shooting ranges? This is a question that many enthusiasts have asked countless times.
So, can you shoot pellet guns in your backyard? The basic answer is yes, it is correct. If you have permission and are over the age of 18, you can shoot in your backyard/garden or on private property.
There are, however, significant differences in the legislation of each authority. Anyone interested in taking up shooting with a pellet gun should first consult their local government and check up on the gun laws.
Typically, you’ll discover that shooting within 50 feet (16 yards) of a road, a public place, or a densely populated area is usually against the law.
In our guide, you can learn a bit more about firearms legislation and how it affects air rifles and BB guns, or any other gun powered by compressed air. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of gun laws, yet this won’t be as detailed or accurate as the law laid down in your authority. (Learn How to Level a Yard)
Shooting in Backyard Considerations
When setting out to find out, can you shoot a pellet gun in your backyard in Texas or any other area? Understand the differences in legislation.
Although shooting an air gun in your yard may not be classed as illegal, you’ll find countless restrictions and regulations for who and who can’t take part.
While Texas is a vast state, you can see here, the restrictions can be limiting.
If you are within any city limits, check the city’s laws. Texas law allows municipalities to regulate firearm discharge inside city limits if the city population is over 100,000.
Even when you stick to Texas laws regarding firearm discharge, if the city doesn’t allow it, you could break the law.
Property size matters in Texas, as when you are on private property outside city limits, Texas law says you can fire your guns. However, to do so, you must have a tract of land that is 10 acres or more in size to shoot a shotgun, air rifle, air pistol, or BB gun.
When planning to shoot a rifle or pistol, Texas law states your tract of land must be at least 50 acres to shoot such guns.
So, with all other firearms, there is an issue of whether it is legal to own and use an airgun on your property. It depends on where you live, and any municipal or local laws, as states in the USA often class air guns differently.
You should always contact local authorities to seek permission. It is best to clarify writing in case you are questioned by any officer of the law. Officers will stop anyone they see using any weapons as it is standard practice. If you have written authorization, you won’t be doing anything illegal. (Find the Best Yard Design Software)
What The Law Says About Shooting an Air Gun?
In some areas, you can find law doesn’t present any distinction between air rifles and other weapons. It can say you need a license, and they are all classed as firearms.
Because of this, whatever offense you commit without knowledge can carry a large fine or penalty. Thus, you can see what you need to clarify with your local authorities for any firearm licensing provisions there may be for airguns in your region.
What makes it confusing is, so long as you are the legal age of 18 years or older, you can purchase air rifles and pellets. However, being able to shoot them is different.
Typically, you can find in the USA, the federal government won’t regulate standard airguns. yet, this doesn’t apply to all states because of the variations in state legislation that restrict the use of airguns.
If you ask, is it illegal to shoot a pellet gun in your backyard, you may find the following paragraph can help clear some things up, or at least show you what you need to contend with.
The federal government rarely regulates air guns, yet some state and local governments do. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has a list of states and select municipalities, which regulate air guns.
You can find twenty-three states and the District of Columbia will regulate air guns.
- New Jersey and Rhode Island define non-powder powered guns as a firearm.
- Illinois defines some high-power and/or large caliber non-powder guns as firearms.
- Connecticut, Delaware, and North Dakota define non-powder guns as dangerous weapons, but not as a firearm.
Any remaining states that regulate air guns impose restrictions on age for possession, use, or transfer of non-powder guns, and/or explicitly regulate the possession of non-powder guns on school grounds.
We see rules vary from one county or state to another, and it can be expanded on when you look at the related legislation from Ventura Country, CA compared to the above.
“It is unlawful to shoot, fire, or discharge any firearm, bow, and arrow, or air, gas, or spring weapon in the unincorporated area of Ventura County. The law states this is within three hundred (300) yards of any dwelling, house, residence or other building used without the express permission of the owner or person in possession of the dwelling, house, residence, or any other building.”
All laws will prohibit firing pellets past your boundary and firing an air gun pellet out of your yard where you are permitted to shoot is considered an offense and could have officers knocking on your door.
What Can I Shoot in My Backyard?
If you want to practice on your property without committing an offense, you’ll need a good backstop as they have in shooting ranges. You can make a good backstop by piling up soft soil and then using targets in front of this.
However, make sure the solid doesn’t contain large stones that can cause ricochets and thus the pellets leaving your backyard or worse.
Avoid using hard plywood, chipboard, or moderately thick composite material that comes with a slightly polished surface as this can lead to ricochets covering a fair distance.
Any shot that ricochets from the range of your yard can damage property or, if it hits a person, it can hit them harder than a direct shot.
Based on any of the above laws and legislations for your area, you can find if you live in the right sort of area, there are few limitations for obtaining an air gun or using it in your backyard when 18 years or older. Airgun shooting can be done with kids or younger adults unless they are underage.
In the United States, unlike the United Kingdom, where the minimum age is 14 years, a young person can legally operate an air gun once they have reached the age of 16 years, regardless of whether they are supervised.
Do BB Guns Differ from An Air Rifle?
You can see the above where a person can shoot an air rifle on private property so long as they meet all the requirements presented by their local legislation.
BB guns operate the same way as an airgun, yet they can fire repeatedly. On top of this, Many BB guns resemble firearms, which are deadly weapons. So, if any police officers spot you are wielding a BB gun or discharging a BB gun in your backyard, it could put you close to physical harm if the police approach thinking the BB gun is indeed a weapon being used by a person rather than for target practice.
Again, you can see that different states take a unique approach to airguns and in particular BB guns. Here you have a quick take on how the state of California looks at these guns.
For BB guns, California law stipulates that:
In California, owning a BB gun is permissible. It is, however, illegal for a person under the age of 18 to possess a BB gun without parental consent.
Any person who displays an “imitation firearm” in a public place is breaking the law, according to California Penal Code, and a BB gun falls under the imitation firearm umbrella.
Most types of BB guns can be transported in a person’s car if going to a paintball range. if there is any violation, it can lead to a penalty of a fine. (Learn How Many Wheelbarrows in a Yard)
While many BB guns are like paintball guns, they can do lots of damage if you point them at another person when up close. Shooting isn’t a game no matter which type of gun you use in your backyard, and you should carry them in the right way and always err on the side of safety.
When in your yard and firing at a target, you need to follow the same safety rules as if you were using a hunting weapon, no matter if it is less powerful or not.