Posts Tagged ‘airgun safety’

To the readers of this blog: this marks the beginning of a new series that focuses on the basic stuff that every new shooter wants to know about or should know about. The site administrator at www.airgunsofarizona.com tells me that they will find a way to make this stuff readily available at the top of the blog so it will be readily available for new shooters and old hands who want a refresher. Now, to this week’s posting!

This is the most important thing you will read in this blog – read it carefully!

Make no mistake about it: you can, indeed, shoot your eye out with an airgun. You can also maim and kill people and animals and destroy property. So get this straight, once and for all: Airguns are not toys. Airguns are real air rifles and air pistols and can bring tragedy to your door if not handled with respect. Fortunately, virtually all airgun accidents can be prevented if you follow the Number One Rule of airgun safety.

And here it is: the Number One Rule of Airgun Safety is never, ever point your airgun at anything you don’t want to see a hole in. It’s really that easy. If you always observe Rule One – and always keep the airgun pointed in a safe direction – you should never have cause for regret. After all, with the exception of a ricochet, an airgun can only shoot where it is pointed.

This is the muzzle end of an air pistol. The muzzle of an air pistol or air rifle or BB gun should never be pointed in an unsafe direction.

This is the muzzle end of an air pistol. The muzzle of an air pistol or air rifle or BB gun should never be pointed in an unsafe direction.

Here are some other key things you need to know about handling an airgun (or any gun for that matter) safely:

  • Always treat any airgun as though it is loaded and with the same respect you would a firearm. Never point any airgun in an unsafe direction. Even if you are totally, completely, absolutely, positively certain that the airgun is unloaded, still never point it in an unsafe direction.
  • Read and follow all instructions in the owner’s manual and know how your airgun works before using it.
  • Keep the airgun pointed in a safe direction until you are ready to shoot.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until you’re ready to shoot. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard while loading the airgun.
  • Wear shooting glasses to protect your eyes and make sure others with you are wearing eye protection. (If your reading or prescription glasses are not safety glasses, wear shooting glasses over your regular glasses.)
  • Use only the correct BBs or pellets specified for your airgun. Never reuse ammunition.
  • Do not shoot at hard surfaces or the surface of water. BBs and pellets can bounce or ricochet.
  • Use a pellet trap or other backstop. Place it in a location that will be safe if the pellet or BB goes through. Do not use a hard backstop with BBs.
  • Look beyond your target. What happens if you miss? Where will your pellet or BB go? Be sure of the answer.
  • Check your backstop for wear before and after each use. Replace your backstop if the surface is worn or damaged or if a ricochet occurs.
  • Maintain control of the airgun when it is not being used, including at the beginning and end of each shooting session. Don’t load it and leave it unattended. Store your airgun, unloaded, where it cannot be used by curious youngsters or unauthorized persons. Store the ammunition separately.

A Word about Parental Control

Special Note to Parents: if you have any doubt at all that your children will observe the Number One Rule of Airgun Safety, you need to supervise your children while they are shooting. You know your children and their level of responsibility and maturity. If you are not positive that they will always handle the airgun safely, supervise them, no matter how old they are.

Supervision means being close enough to control or redirect the airgun if it is pointed in an unsafe direction. It only takes a moment for a child to turn while squeezing the trigger. Be close enough to prevent that from happening – no more than an arm’s length away.

Now, that may seem like a lot of stuff to remember, but it really boils down to this: keep the gun pointed in a safe direction; know where your shot is going, even if you miss; protect your eyes; and supervise the kids.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

When I was a kid, I loved to watch cowboy movies on TV. A time-honored gimmick in some of them was to have an interjection: “Meanwhile, back at the ranch,” and the scene would shift to the ranch, where something important was going on.

Well, I have a “meanwhile back at the ranch story for you.” This one comes from El Rancho Elliott, where yours truly tests airguns in upstate New York. About a year ago, I noticed that I was having trouble focusing on thing with my right eye, and that a kind of halo would appear around bright lights.

I went to the eye doctor, who said that I was developing a cataract in my right eye. The cataract was changing the optical characteristics of the lens in my right eye, which was making it difficult to focus. I got a new eyeglass prescription for the right eye, and that improved focusing, but I was still having problems with halos around lights.

Over time, the problem got worse. I could still shoot well  if I was using a telescopic sight, but after a while, my general vision in my right eye was like walking around with a piece of waxed paper over my right eyeglass lens. Finally, I decided I just had to do something.

About two weeks ago, I had a cataract operation on my right eye. The doctor made a 3mm incision in my right eye, inserted an ultrasonic probe into the lens capsule, broke up the right lens, and then sucked out the remains of the lens through the probe. Next, a folded plastic lens was inserted and allowed to unfold. Before the operation, I could barely read the second line on the eye chart. Now my vision corrects to 20/25, and the doctor expects even more improvement may be possible.

Just minutes ago, I came in from testing two airguns, and what a pleasure it was to shoot with good vision in both eyes! I was even able to shoot an air rifle with globe front sight and peep rear sight, something I hadn’t been able to do for some time. I am deeply grateful for the improvement in my sight. It’s simply glorious.

All this points out that sight itself is a gift, and that the smart move for you – and me – as airgun shooters is to protect that gift. That means that whenever you shoot, you and everyone else on the shooting line should wear protective eye wear. I normally wear polycarbonate lens eye glasses to correct my vision.

If you don’t wear something similar to protect your vision, let me humbly suggest that you try these shooting glasses. In fact, pick up a few pairs so that you have enough to protect the folks on the firing line. The cost is miniscule, particularly when compared to the cost and hassle of an eye injury.

Finally, to further protect your sight, take care in your selection of targets. Remember that BBs tend to ricochet when shot against hard targets. A soft backstop works best with BBs. On the other hand, shooting resilient spherical targets with a high-powered pellet gun tends to result in the pellet coming straight back at the shooter. My favorite backstop for pellets is a pellet trap that is filled with Ductseal. The pellets bury themselves in the Ductseal and stay there. So take a tip from Uncle Jock, who just had a reminder about the importance of eyesight, and protect your eyeballs when you shoot.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Thanksgiving is  just a few days away.

For me, Thanksgiving is the time of year when I take stock of my situation, and – more to the point – all the things that I have to be thankful for. I have been truly blessed. I have many things for which to give thanks, and I hope that you do too.

One of the things that I am thankful for are the folks who read this blog. I am grateful for your readership, your comments, and your feedback. And when you like one of my goofy shooting challenges . . . well, that’s the icing on the cake. So thank you, and keep reading!

The year is rapidly rolling toward the holiday season, and with visions of new airguns dancing in my head, I expect that some of you will receive new airguns for Christmas, and some of you will give new airguns for Christmas. With that in mind, I feel honor-bound to remind all of you that as airgunners our first concern should be for safety.

The basics are pretty simple:

  • Never point an airgun at anything you don’t want to see broken or destroyed, injured or killed . . . ever.
  • Treat all airguns as loaded even when you “know” they are not.
  • Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until ready to shoot and when you are loading your airgun.
  • Shoot at a pellet trap or other safe backstop. Don’t use a hard backstop with BBs.
  • Make sure everyone on the firing line is wearing eye protection.
  • If you are hunting or controlling pests, make certain you know where your pellet will go if you miss. If you are not certain, don’t pull the trigger.

The following is special to parents or anyone else who is involved with children shooting airguns.

Airguns are not toys. They are real air rifles and air pistols and can be dangerous if not handled properly. Your child needs to understand the difference between an airgun and a toy gun is like the difference between a toy car and a real car.

Remember and observe the number one rule of airgun safety: never, ever point your airgun at anything you don’t want to see a hole in, including any person, any animal (except for hunting) or someone else’s property. When the airgun is not aimed at an appropriate target, keep it pointed in a safe direction, such as at the ground.

If you have any doubt that your children and anyone who is with them will observe Rule One, supervise their shooting. If you are not completely certain that they will always handle the airgun safely, supervise them, regardless of age.

Supervision means being close enough to control or redirect the airgun if it is pointed in an unsafe direction. It only takes a moment for a mishap to occur. Be close enough to prevent that from happening – no more than an arm’s length away.

Maintain control of the airgun when it is not being used, including at the beginning and end of each shooting session. Don’t load it and leave it unattended. Store your airgun, unloaded, where it cannot be used by curious youngsters or unauthorized persons. Store the ammunition separately.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

 

–          Jock Elliott