Is Airgun Hunting Ethical?

For most hunters who use conventional weapons to hunt they are very good at what they do; however, some often wonder whether or not it is ethical to use an airgun in hunting. To put this argument to rest, there’s nothing wrong with using unconventional weapons to hunt animals for sport or food. Ancient people used spears, arrows and clubs to achieve something similar and we never questioned their motives for that. If you’re aware of the power of your rifle and your marksmanship, then it is technically accurate to say that your airgun is ethically useful in hunting deer or a duck. This is essentially the same set of parameters use in choosing their weapons for a hunting sport.

American Airgunner
Image (c) American Airgunner

Personally, I believe that hunting ethics applies to my skills in making the weapons I choose effective in hunting. It will not matter whether I take a Browning Leverage .177 Air Rifle w/3-9×40 Scope, or a Hatsan Model 125 Sniper Camo Sniper Kit- .22 Cal with Scope, Bipod & Sling, or even a Crosman M4-177 Tactical Pump Air Rifle out in the field and I’d still be able to hit a rabbit at 50 yards, and do it consistently. However, if the same rabbit was 50 yards further away, then that would be a different story. This scenario puts my hunting skills and marksmanship at a disadvantage as 1) the target (rabbit) is beyond the maximum effective range of the airgun, and 2) my aim – although true – will be undermined by the wind velocity and directional factor.

Apparently the difference between an airgun and a firearm is that you’ll need to be extra smart when hunting with an airgun, while a firearm has almost 3 kilometers of maximum effective range and makes hunting less difficult.

hunting animals
Image (c) American Airgunner

Airguns basically were not meant for long distance shooting and they do their job best at close range (and I mean 50 yards close), but for accuracy in long range shooting you’ll need to use .233 caliber rounds with that.

Another issue surrounding this ethical argument about hunting with an airgun is that people are trying to take down a target too large for the BB ammo to make an effective kill. Let’s get back to that earlier example about the jackrabbit at 50 yards away; if you’ll use a .22 pcp to take that rabbit down at that distance then there’s a 80% chance that it will work. However, if you’ll use the same gun on a bobcat at the exact same distance, then I’m sorry but the worst it will do is give the bobcat a flesh wound. Every skilled hunter knows and understands the difference between the guns they use to hunt and the type of animal they’re hunting – they would most likely use the right gun for a certain quarry and not try to push one gun’s limits.

hunter gear
Image (c) Grand View Outdoors

Ethics not only involves in the kinds of tools you use to harvest game, but also how efficient you are as a hunter when using these tools. Experienced hunters actually prefer airguns over firearms in hunting small game and controlling rat population (Australia once had rat infestation back in the 1990s). Airguns create small impact trauma on rabbits and other small animals that instantly kill them without destroying a large portion of their anatomy; the same is true for large rifles when taking down deers and antelopes. The bottom line is that as long as you know your skills and limits, you pick the proper gun and pellet, and you don’t overestimate yourself; then you can ethically hunt using air power.

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