New Jersey legalizes air rifles for small game hunting

Air rifles have come a long way since Ralphie’s Red Rider, haven’t they?

Growing up, shooting at cans with a BB or pellet gun was just something my friends and I did for fun. Today, however, air guns are powerful and accurate enough that several states have legalized them for hunting, at least in select situations. Among theses states is New Jersey, which will permit air rifle hunting for the first time this fall when it allows the to be used to shoot for rabbits and squirrels.

According to the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, air guns from .177 to .22 caliber will join shotguns and archery equipment as legal means for taking cottontail rabbits, hares and gray squirrels when the season begins this Saturday. The agency noted that modern air guns are quieter and lighter than some shotguns, making them the ideal tool for smaller framed hunters.

“Squirrels are probably our most abundant yet underutilized small game species,” said DFW spokesman Larry Hajna. “Squirrel hunting with shotguns doesn’t draw the interest of rifle or air gun hunting, which adds a level of marksmanship to the sport. We expect that this season will not only be popular with youth hunters but adults as well.”


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