The Airgun Sporting Association, the trade organization of the airgun industry, announced that West Virginia will soon be allowing air-rifle hunting for both small and big game.
On May 3, Governor Justice signed legislation that modified Article 2 (Wildlife Resources) of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding a new section (Section 20-2-5k). This new section legalized airguns for hunting both small and big game during regular firearms seasons, provided that county specific regulations do not prohibit firearms for deer hunting. The change prohibits the use of air rifles during muzzleloader seasons and the Mountaineer Heritage Season. Also, arrow shooting air rifles are prohibited for both small- and big-game hunting.
Some specifics in the new code include:
- Air rifles used for big-game hunting must be at least .45 caliber and use at least a 200-grain bullet. Turkey hunting requires .22 caliber or larger.
- Air rifles used for small game must be at least .22 caliber.
- Air-rifle hunters are held to all other firearm hunting regulations and air rifles may not be discharged within 500 feet of a dwelling.
The West Virginia DNR will be finalizing air-rifle hunting regulations in the coming weeks.
“We are very excited to add West Virginia to the growing list of now over 24 states that allow airguns for big-game hunting” stated Mitch King, President. “Our goal is to work closely with our industry partners and the state wildlife agencies to develop their proposed regulations, legislative language and airgun safety training programs”.