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Changes in the Air: Pre-charged pneumatics defined and accepted by FWC for several game seasons.

Attracted to cheaper ammo, reduced noise, and opportunities where landowners may be leery of high-powered rifles, John Offerman of Summerfield purchased an Airforce Texan .457 air rifle to hunt hogs. By tinkering with various weights of projectiles, John is able to shoot 1-inch groups at 100 yards and feels he can do better with further experimentation.

"I won't take a shot past 150 yards until I upgrade a few things on mine," John told me. "But, there have been several tests with other airguns at 500-plus yards that show they are more than powerful enough to dispatch prey humanely."

Obviously, we're not talking about the old pump leaning in the closet waiting to dispatch the next rat. This generation of airguns is capable of toppling big game and is poised to enter mainstream hunting. So-called airbows are also showing up a field, delivering full-length arrows and full-weight broadheads, all propelled by compressed air.

Starting this season, Florida hunters like John will be able to hunt more than hogs. During the February 2018 Commission meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recognized the airgun trend and approved the use of these devices for deer and turkey hunting.

According to FWC's Tammy Sapp, the new rules include:

* Defining a "pre-charged pneumatic airgun" (PCP)as a commercially-manufactured airgun charged from an external high compression source such as an air compressor, air tank, or external hand pump and designed to propel a bolt, arrow, or other projectile commonly used for hunting.

* Allowing on privately-owned lands PCP airguns propelling a single projectile-of no less than .30 caliber or an arrow or bolt-to take deer during the general gun season, and PCP airguns propelling a single projectile-of no less than .20 caliber or an arrow or bolt-to take wild turkey during the fall and spring turkey seasons.

* Allowing on many public lands managed by FWC PCP airguns propelling a single projectile-no less than .30 caliber or an arrow or bolt-to take deer during established seasons, including most general gun, family, supervised youth and mobility-impaired hunts, but not including archery or muzzle-loading gun seasons. PCP air guns propelling an arrow or bolt may also be used to take wild turkey during established spring turkey seasons. PCP airguns propelling a single projectile-to include a single bullet of no less than .20 caliber or an arrow or bolt-may be used to take wild turkey only during general gun seasons that already allow the take of wild turkey by area-specific rule.

As always when hunting public land, it's imperative to read property-specific rules.

Regarding current air rifle regulations for small game on private land, there are no restrictions on air gun type, caliber, velocity minimums or magazine capacity for furbearers, wild hogs, gray squirrels, and rabbits. However, bobwhite quail and migratory game birds may not be taken with air guns of any type. Most WMAs do not have small game restrictions regarding air rifles, but some do. See for more.

Caption: Air Force Texan kit in .457, with sample loads and respectable pattern for Florida hog terrain.

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Author:Nance, Ian
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Jun 1, 2018
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