by TPWD staff
Beginning this fall, hunters in Texas will be able to use air guns and arrow guns that meet criteria established under new rules adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
The regulations create a new category of legal means for hunting in Texas defined as pre-charged pneumatic devices. Unlike pellet guns and traditional air rifles that can be charged manually or with an attached CO2 cartridge, pre-charged pneumatic air guns and arrow guns are those weapons for which an unignited compressed gas propellant is supplied or introduced from a detached source.
The TPW Commission decision follows months of scrutiny to avoid creating undue risks of wounding of wildlife from pneumatic weaponry. These devices must meet minimum standards of ballistic efficacy.
Minimum ballistic specifications of pre-charged pneumatics approved by the Commission for hunting alligators, big game and turkeys are: .30 caliber bullets weighing at least 150 grains powered by an unignited compressed gas propellant charge capable of attaining a muzzle velocity of at least 800 feet per second (fps) OR any bullet weight and muzzle velocity combination that produces at least 215 foot pounds of energy.
For furbearers, pre-charged pneumatics must be at least .30 caliber. For squirrels, chachalaca, quail and pheasant an air rifle does not need to be a pre-charged pneumatic, but it must be able to propel a minimum .177 caliber projectile at least 600 fps.
In addition to minimum standards for pre-charged pneumatic devices, the Commission adopted provisions that hunter education certification requirements be met in order to hunt any wildlife resource.
At least 10 other states permit the use of pneumatic devices for hunting big game, and all but three states allow their use for hunting certain other wildlife species. Their use in Texas previously was limited to hunting anything other than game animals (except squirrels), game birds, alligators, and furbearers.
The new rules will take effect Sept. 29, 2018. Additional information on the use of air guns and arrow guns is available online.