It never ceases to amaze me when I read in an online forum how some airgunner got himself crossways with a neighbor and then a Very Great Unpleasantness ensues. With a little forethought, it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you are planning to shoot an airgun in your back yard for the first time, or if you have been shooting in your back yard for some time, but now you suddenly have a new neighbor, here are some things to think about.
Know the law. Find out from a reputable source – like the local police, the town clerk, or perhaps the local library – what the law is regarding shooting airguns where you live.
Prepare a safe shooting range. Make sure you have a clear lane of fire and a safe backstop for your pellets. Further, make sure that your shooting lane appears safe to the neighbors. You may be shooting at a pellet trap, and you may know that you never miss the pellet trap, but if your air rifle or air pistol is pointed directly at the neighbor’s house, you would be well advised to have some additional protection (hay bales or some other pellet-stopping barrier) between you and them.
Prepare the neighbors. One of the smartest things you can do is to visit your neighbors and let them know that they might see you shooting an air rifle in your back yard. Let them know that you are shooting into a safe backstop, that there will be no ricochets, and that their kids, property and pets are absolutely safe, even if they inadvertently wander into your yard.
Do not take your air rifle or air pistol with you when you go to talk to them. Above all, they want reassurance that you take safety seriously. If your neighbors are receptive or even enthusiastic about the subject of airgun shooting, you might want to consider inviting them to participate.
Be considerate. If you know your neighbor works nights and sleeps until noon, mornings are not the time to be banging away with a big, booming precharged rifle. If you absolutely have to shoot in the mornings, you might want to use the quietest air rifle or air pistol you can find.
Be smart. If you have checked the law, and it’s legal to shoot airguns where you live, and if at the same time you notice a lot of anti-gun bumper stickers on your neighbor’s car, it would be smart to (a) not approach the neighbor about shooting in your yard and (b) shoot at unobtrusively as possible. I heard of one fellow who shoots a fully shrouded pre-charged rifle from his fully enclosed back porch into a pellet trap in his garden shed. Nobody knows what he is up to, and he is delighted to keep it that way.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott