Air Gun and Arrow Gun Regulations

Regulations regarding the use of air guns and arrow guns as a means of hunting were finalized by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at the August 23, 2018 meeting of the Commission.

Air Guns and Arrow Guns Means and Methods

Definitions:

  • Arrow gun: a device that fires an arrow or bolt solely by the use of unignited compressed gas as the propellant.
  • Air gun: a device that fires a bullet solely by the use of unignited compressed gas as the propellant.
  • Pre-charged pneumatic: an air gun or arrow gun for which the propellant is supplied or introduced by means of a source that is physically separate from the air gun or arrow gun.

Alligator, game animals, furbearers, squirrels, and non-migratory game birds (except Eastern Turkey) may be hunted with air guns and arrow guns provided:

  • Alligators, big horn sheep, javelina, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and turkey may be taken only with pre-charged pneumatic arrow guns, or pre-charged pneumatic air guns.
    • Pre-charged pneumatic air guns must fire a projectile of at least 30 caliber in diameter and at least 150 grains in weight with a minimum muzzle velocity of 800 feet per second or any combination of bullet weight and muzzle velocity that produces muzzle energy of at least 215 foot pounds of energy.
  • Squirrels, pheasant, quail, and chachalaca may be hunted with air guns that fire a projectile of at least .177 caliber (4.5mm) in diameter producing a muzzle velocity of at least 600 feet per second.
  • Arrows or bolts used with an arrow gun must conform to the same standards for projectiles for archery.
  • Arrow guns may not be used to hunt deer or turkey during archery season.

Guidance for Hunters to Reduce Wounding Loss

Air guns and arrow guns function much differently than centerfire rifles or shotguns most hunters have traditionally used to hunt game birds and animals. Therefore, a hunter’s understanding of the limitations of air guns and arrow guns is critical to minimize or avoid wounding loss when hunting and taking game. Before purchasing an air gun or arrow gun, a hunter should check the specifications to ensure they meet minimum caliber and muzzle velocity or muzzle energy requirements as listed in the Outdoor Annual.

As with any legal method of take, knowing the limitations of your specific equipment is critical to reduce or avoid wounding loss. Hunters should understand that although a number of air guns and arrow guns may meet minimum standards to make them legal for hunting, different brands and models have different levels of ballistic performance and effectiveness. Other factors such as proficiency of the hunter using an air gun or arrow gun, distance to target, and type and weight of bullet or arrow used, all factor in to the ability of that air gun or arrow gun to perform well in the field and deliver a lethal shot. Additionally, the amount of air charged in the reservoir on the air gun is diminished after each successive shot which changes ballistics and ultimately the effectiveness of the air gun in taking game. Hunters should be cognizant of the number of shots an air gun or arrow gun can produce on a fully charged tank before becoming ineffective at taking game.

Although big game animals have been harvested with air guns at distances greater than 150 yards, the effective range is recommended to be 75 yards or closer. Beyond 75 yards, the ability of some models of air guns or arrow guns to be lethal becomes diminished, so it is critical for hunters to know the limitation of the model of air gun being used and practice with the equipment just like with any sporting arm.

Shot placement into vital organs (heart, lungs) is also critical in order to minimize wounding loss since cause of death from air guns and arrow guns would be more similar to archery or historic muzzleloader equipment rather than that of a centerfire rifle. Similar to archery hunting, hunters taking animals with an air gun or arrow gun are encouraged to wait an hour before going to retrieve the deer or other game animals, allowing sufficient time for the animal to expire. Above all, hunters should strive to take ethical shots which will greatly reduce chances of wounding loss.