Airgun law UK – what you can shoot in your garden


Airgun law UK: What can you shoot with your airgun in your back garden in the UK?

It’s a garden, it’s a private premises where you have permission, and you are happy with your backstop and that backstop is in your garden. What birds can you shoot? We will come to those in a moment. Pest animals – yes! Grey squirrels, rats, rabbits are fine to shoot, as are stoats and mink.

Do airguns need a licence? Are airguns legal?

Don’t forget the air gun laws on age rules in the UK: under 14 years you can borrow a sub 12 ft/lb airgun (that’s most of them) and you have to shoot under supervision, 14-17 years old you can borrow an airgun and shoot without supervision, 18 and over you can own your own airgun. In Scotland, you have to have an air weapon certificate if you want to shoot unsupervised. In Northern Ireland, if you are shooting supervised, that supervisor has to be aged 21 or over.

Pest birds – can you shoot them? This is where it gets complicated. In England, air gun laws used to list birds you CAN’T shoot. Then the government almost accidentally banned all bird shooting so they had to rush out a new list of 20 birds you CAN shoot – it’s a list we call the general licences.

Let’s start with doves and pigeons: You can shoot woodpigeons and feral pigeons all over the UK. You can’t shoot stock doves, collared doves or turtle doves. Woodpigeons make good eating but you can’t shoot one to eat it. And if someone questions you, you have to show that you were preventing serious damage to crops. Here’s a crop. Or foodstuffs for livestock. Here’s some foodstuff. Plus it’s worth being able to produce a scarecrow to show you have tried other means. Seriously.

How about corvids? You can shoot carrion crows and magpies all over the UK, hooded crows only in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Jackdaws in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but not England, jays England Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland, rooks England, Scotland and Northern Ireland but not Wales, and Indian house crows only in England.

In Scotland only you can shoot greylag geese, in England, you can shoot ringnecked parakeets but not monk parakeets, and in Northern Ireland only you can shoot starlings.

Can you shoot a duck, pheasant, partridge or grouse in your back garden? Yes you can. But you probably live next to a shoot, so your local gamekeeper won’t love you.

You are now up to date. Good shooting.

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