The Family Guide to Archery and Air Gun Safety

Teaching Kids Early About Shooting and Archery Can Help Avoid An Accident Later

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Introduction to Air Gun Shooting and Archery

Air gun shooting and archery are distinct forms of target practice that utilizes a specific type of weapon. With an air gun, you will fire at a target with a gun that uses compressed air. A mechanical setup within the gun pressurizes the air and causes the projectile to shoot without chemical reactions. There are no combustible features inside an air gun.

An archery bow works a little differently. This focuses on the natural force of a bow bending backward plus physical pressure without any propellants applied. The intention is to launch the bow properly to where the target is hit.

Air gun shooting and archery are both fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. The challenge that comes with shooting is a true thrill. But you must watch for a few essential safe shooting standards.

Types of Air Guns

You have to look and see what is available in particular when looking for air guns for shooting activities.

target shooting

  1. The Break Barrel Air Gun

A break barrel air gun uses a spring to add compression into an air chamber. You would cock the gun by breaking the barrel down, loading the projectile and then resetting the barrel back into its original position.

This is a common type of air gun that you can find today. Such an air gun can produce speeds from 600 to 1,500 feet per minute or FPM.

Break barrel air guns come in many sizes. These include .177, .22 and .25 caliber options.

This is for older members of the family. It is designed with more power and requires an extra amount of effort to get it ready. Still, it fires just like a more traditional gun.

  1. The Multi-Pump Air Gun

A multi-pump air gun uses an air pump built inside its body. The air reservoir links to the pump so you do not have to break anything down. You will have to trigger the pump handle a few times before firing. This generates enough air to produce a proper shot. This does not require any outside equipment for it to work.

A multi-pump air gun comes in .177 and .25 sizes among others. Such a model fires at around 600 FPM on average.

  1. The CO2 Air Gun

A CO2 air gun uses compressed carbon dioxide. As the CO2 enter into a pressurized container, it transitions into a liquid. When you pull the trigger, the valve on the container opens. Gas leaves the barrel at this point.

The sudden change in pressure within the air gun causes an explosive reaction to occur. The added force causes the projectile to fire out.

The liquid inside the cylinder will move into a gaseous state to replace the gas that was lost as you fired the gun. The gas also cools down as it expands, thus causing the gun to feel a little cooler after a few shots.

The distinct nature of the gun makes it so you can fire multiple rounds in a short period. However, the projectiles you fire are typically smaller in size. BB rounds are often used in these guns. Also, they can only go around 400 FPS in most cases. It is a safer option to use and is ideal for most family members although proper care is still required.

Air Gun Target Shooting

Air gun target shooting is fun as you can test your skills with a rifle or other weapon. But to make it work, you have to watch for how you are setting up a target shooting range. You must focus on safe shooting when getting a proper setup ready.

air gun target

Creating a Good Target

The most common type of air gun target is a standard bullseye target. This uses a basic design where a series of rings surround one another. Each ring has its numerical value attached to it. The central ring is worth the most points. The goal is to get as close to the middle of the target as possible so you can get the most points out of it. Such a target should be around eight to twelve inches in diameter.

In most cases the target is stationary but in other cases you could use a swinging target. This features a body where the target will swing and move with each successful hit. Anything that produces sound with each successful hit is also worthwhile.

What Range Is Needed?

Stick with a range of about 10 meters from the target. This is the basic distance that competitive air gun shooters fire their guns at. Most targets and guns are gauged for 10-meter shooting. This is a safer setup for shooting as well as the risk of a projectile missing a target will be reduced provided you manage the layout correctly.

Longer range shooting can be achieved even as much as 100 meters using new airgun optic sights also known as scopes. The scope should be matched to the power of the air gun and it must be properly “zeroed” or calibrated to be more effective than physical sights.

Air Gun Projectiles

A key part of air gun safety is to watch for the type of projectile you are shooting. Lead is often used in some air guns. Any projectile can be dangerous, but lead poses an additional danger because it can fragment and become lodged under the skin unknowingly.

Lead can be used safely in air guns provided that the projectile does pass through targets or have the chance of ricocheting. A lead pellet will not break down and come apart if it goes faster than 600-800 feet per second. This is important if you plan on shooting your gun indoors as the risk of lead dust spreading could be dangerous in such an environment.

BB’s on the other hand tend to bounce off of targets and present extra special concerns from ricochet. Be sure target can either be penetrated with a backing, or projectiles can be deflected (preferably downward) away from shooters and bystanders.

Get a Backing Board

Regardless of the target you use or the air gun you have, a backing board is required. A thick 3×3 backer board is recommended as it supports most air guns. It will not break apart as the pressure from the projectile gets on the surface.

Always Wear Eye Protection

Wear proper eye protection when firing your air gun. Proper protection covers the entire area around your eyes so any lead pellets will not fly into your eyes. This part of gun safety is needed for ensuring you do not put yourself at harm.

kid archery shooting

Types of Archery Bows

Archery is a fun activity for the entire family. Archery is fun for how it entails a unique bow and arrow setup while using concentration and patience to hit a target. It is fun and challenging for anyone in the family to try out.

Archery bows are distinct for how they do not require any chemical reactions for them to be fired. But each bow is different based on how the organizational features operate. You must especially look at how well you are handling your bow and arrow as you need to be safe and careful with your work. There are four types of bows to look at.

The Compound Bow

A compound bow uses a series of cables and pulleys to produce draw. As you pull the pulleys back, the cable gets the strings to move backward, thus producing the pressure needed for getting the arrow to shoot forward. It produces less fatigue on your body although you need to be strong to draw the bow. Such a bow is designed for more experienced archers.

The compound bow is very powerful as it produces speeds of 320 to 400 FPS. Such a bow shoots an arrow around 30 to 60 yards off of one shot.

The Recurve Bow

The recurve bow is a basic model. The middle part curves towards your body while the tips curve away. This produces extra power in the bow while less strength is needed to draw on it. The basic arrangement is great for beginners although it does fire as quickly as a compound bow would.

A typical recurve bow produces speeds of 180 to 210 FPS. It produces shots that travel the same distance of 30 to 60 yards as what you would get out of a compound bow.

The Crossbow

A crossbow is designed with a crank mechanism. A string is drawn back and locked by the crank. A trigger is also attached to the setup. When the trigger is activated, the crank releases and the string is drawn forward. This needs a heavier draw weight for it to work. It also works at a shorter range.

It is possible for a crossbow to fire at speeds of 300 FPS. But it usually works at ranges from 30 to 50 yards.

The Pistol Crossbow

A pistol crossbow combines the functionality of a traditional crossbow but adds a pistol-like shape. It uses a handle that you can easily grip onto. A cocking mechanism may be included inside a crossbow to bend the string backward before you fire the arrow.

This shoots at speeds of up to 200 FPS. The projectile should travel around 30 to 50 yards.

Archery Target Shooting

Types of Targets

Traditional bullseye targets are always worthwhile for your archery target shooting needs. Anything with multiple circles to help you score your shot is always useful.

You could also find animal-shaped targets. These include ones shaped like a deer, squirrel or other common animal you might hunt in the wild. The target should be life-sized and come with a guide target to help you aim at the best kill spot for the animal.

How Thick?

A target should be thick enough to support the arrow you shoot. A target needs to be around two to three feet thick so it can handle the arrow without it puncturing through. This is enough to create a safe spot for shooting.


A backdrop is needed for archery safety purposes. This is a board that will collect any arrows that fire errantly from the target. Keep the background stretched out a few feet away from your target so you can collect any arrows that miss.

Target Base

A tripod-like body is needed for the target base. It must be implanted firmly into the ground too. It should fit a few inches into the ground so it will stay intact and not slide out.

Safety Points

Safe shooting is necessary when aiming after a target. Always keep 10 to 15 yards of space to the sides of your target closed off from others. This should keep people from getting too close to your arrows as they are in flight.

Avoid wearing any loose-fitting items while shooting. You do not want anything loose to get in the way of your bow and arrow.

Do not try to shoot when it is too windy out. The wind could cause the arrows to move in errant directions. It might be hard for your target to stay upright too.

Games For Air Gun Shooting and Archery

Card Shooting

Card shooting is one of the best shooting games to play. Specifically, you would have a sheet that features a series of playing cards printed on its body. You would have to aim in a proper spot to shoot the highest-value card.

Air Gun Golf

Air gun golf is a game where you aim at a series of targets on a large printout. There should be a series of targets depicting some golf holes. Your goal is to shoot as close to the pin as possible on each hole. You would have to avoid any sand traps or water hazards while shooting.

Balloon Hunting

One of the more entertaining archery games to try out entails balloon hunting. This is where a series of balloons are scattered around a field. Your goal is to aim for these balloons and to hit as many as possible. Think of it as a simulated form of hunting as each of the targets for shooting could be spaced out beyond one another.

Competitive Air Gun Shooting and Archery

Competitive air gun shooting entails 10-meter competitions. This is where you shoot at a standing at a certain position towards a target 10 meters in distance. Your goal is to shoot as close to the target as possible and get more points during a timed match. This is an Olympic-style setup that determines who can handle air gun targets the best.

competition air rifle shooting

This requires you to know how to align your sight and to breathe carefully so you keep your focus on the center of the target. Your ability to pull off the trigger in the right spot without shifting the air gun is especially important.

Competitive archery involves shooting at a target with the intention of getting as closer to the center as possible. Indoor targets for archery are typically 18 meters away. Outdoor archery competitions involve targets that go from 25 to 90 meters in distance. You would have two minutes to shoot three arrows or four minutes to fire six arrows. The target would be from 40 to 122 cm in size.

A Final Word

Air gun shooting and archery are both exciting activities to explore. It is much easier to shoot off one of these items thanks to the lack of highly explosive materials. The games you could participate in are also rather varied. But you must still look at how well you are planning your shots. Be sure when shooting that you are careful and cautious with what you are doing and that you follow all shooting safety standards.

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Richard Moore

Richard is a co-founder of and major contributor to Outside Pursuits. He has trekking and survival experience throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Richard contributes his extensive travel and outdoor experience to the editorial topics and content on Outside Pursuits including outdoor gear, motorcycle accessories, auto/4x4 accessories, and tools. In 1998, he survived in the wilderness for over a week without food or specialist equipment. He was stranded on the northern coast of Honduras following Category 5 Hurricane Mitch.

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