Hunting Safety: What should be noticed in air gun hunting? About accuracy, striking power and choices of prey
Can air guns be used for hunting? The answer is yes. Historically, air guns have been the weapon of choice for hunters in North America. So is it humane to use air guns? The answer is yes, but there are specific points to consider to use them properly.
The first thing is accuracy: nothing else matters if you miss your target. Air rifles are best for shooting small animals and birds because these animals are usually tiny, so the hit error must be small. The exact error varies from animal to animal, but the general rule is less than one inch of impact error.
Small animals' most effective point of impact is the brain, and animals that are correctly hit in the head are usually killed with one shot. If the shot misses and hits another part of the body, the animal will likely escape and die slowly. Therefore, hunters should be familiar with the anatomy of each animal they hunt. For larger animals, such as whitetail deer, the heart-lung area is preferred to be hit because it is more extensive and offers a higher chance of success. Although deer do not die immediately after being shot, hunters can easily track and recapture them as they flee. On the other hand, small animals are good at burrowing, climbing trees, or flying away. They are almost impossible to find if they are injured and run away.
So when you hunt small animals, you have to kill them instantly, and you have to be within an inch of each shot. But hunting conditions are so variable that the margin of error is smaller if the animal's head is not fully exposed.
The second consideration in air rifle hunting is the power of the shot. Velocity without control is meaningless, so airgun hunters talk about muzzle kinetic energy, never speed. There are two schools of muzzle kinetic energy: those who believe all available power should be used for hunting, and those who think animals can be killed with a little party. A few troops can make a humane kill, but the fewer they are, the more they need to be accurate. No hunter wants his prey to walk away with injuries. That's why North American hunters with years of experience have developed a minimum shot size for air rifle hunting.
An animal can be humanely shot by content limited by the power and accuracy of an air rifle. The minimum recommended management for hunting with air rifles is 12-foot pounds of kinetic energy, which is equivalent to firing a 7.9-grains lead bullet (with a muzzle velocity of approximately 827 feet per second) from a .177 pistol or 14.3-grains ammunition (with a muzzle velocity of roughly 615 feet per second) from a .22 caliber air rifle. Of course, the energy retained by the shot after it leaves the muzzle changes. The weaker the air rifle, the shorter the effective range. A 12-foot pistol has a maximum capacity of about 35 yards; a 30-foot gun can have a range of more than 50 yards, which is a challenge to stay within an inch.
Hunt small animals with an air rifle
When it comes to small animals, North American hunters think first of the two most common: the cottontail rabbit and the grey squirrel. But when it comes to small animals suitable for airgun shooting, those are far from the only two. But there is also a big difference when it comes to fighting these two species: the cottontail rabbit is very easy to hit with an air rifle; basically, a hit to the head or heart can be fatal; the grey squirrel, on the other hand, is much more challenging to hunt and can run far away after a shot.
If the discussion extended to all hares, it would be challenging not to mention the wily hare, one of the most combative small animals, as tough as the grey squirrel.
The small animal category is enormous, and each has its idiosyncrasies and cannot be generalized. Larger animals, such as groundhogs, raccoons, and opossums, are also difficult to meet. Again, as a responsible hunter, you must know your prey well before hunting.
Shoot a pest with an air gun
In many places, the use of air rifles to shoot harmful animals is permitted. Two definitions of pests pose a clear danger to society or the community, such as rats. The other is a personal danger, like the red-headed woodpecker: it can damage your home, but it is legally protected in North America, and although the public is discouraged from shooting it, you can still shoot it if it's for your good. Herons, beautiful waterfowl, are protected almost everywhere in North America except Honolulu and Hawaii. The government hires air guns to shoot them off the runway because their acidic droppings cause damage to aircraft fuselages. So when using air guns against harmful animals, you must carefully check local laws and regulations.
About the diameter
Here we will discuss only four smaller calibers: .177, .20, .22, and .25 are suitable for hunting as long as they are accurate and robust.
The .177 caliber is the smallest projectile, but it often passes through the victim's body without reaching a vital point because it is too small. This caliber is faster than the other three, so most shots have their effect, but the size of the projectile is so tiny that the shooter must hit the target very accurately to make an effective kill. An impact error of less than an inch on the .177 is insufficient. It should be more accurate, to within three-quarters of an inch. Also, the brains of small prey are usually not round, such as the brains of gray squirrels, which are shaped like candy corn. Controlling the error is the only way to improve hunting success rates.
.20 and .22 are very similar, so I'll put them together. They are the best air rifle caliber for hunting in every way. Because of their larger size can spread a more extended range over their prey and have a higher success rate. Although the .25 caliber is more deadly, there are no great bullets. The only drawback is that they are expensive and cannot be fired at will like small-caliber bullets.
The range when hunting with air rifles is usually short, and air rifles are used primarily in or near urban areas where firearms are forbidden, which requires adequate safety awareness. Before firing, keep a close eye on your surroundings and make sure you do not hit anyone or anything when aiming. If there is too much disturbance, wait for a better opportunity to fire.
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