By B.B. Pelletier
Whenever you shoot, safety is your most important consideration, so let's talk about few important aspects of how to be safe with an airgun.
Point that muzzle where you WANT to shoot!
Our No. 1 safety rule is ALWAYS point the muzzle in the direction you want shoot. I did NOT say to point it in a safe direction, because the only safe direction is the one in which a pellet can be fired and do no damage. Follow this rule, and you'll never have to say "I didn't know the gun was loaded" when you shoot something you really didn't want to shoot.
When you think about what would happen if your gun fired at any given moment in time, you'll always handle your gun's muzzle carefully by pointing in the direction you intend to shoot.
Keep your finger off the trigger until you take the shot
This is important with airguns for two reasons. The first one is obvious: if you stay away from the trigger, you won't violate rule No. 1. The second reason is just as important but not as well known: many spring-powered airguns can pinch fingers severely (even cutting them off!) if the barrel closes unexpectedly during loading. To help prevent that, STAY OFF THE TRIGGER until you are ready to shoot.
Wear eye protection when shooting
Always wear safety glasses while shooting. BBs are especially prone to bouncing straight back at you; at close range, lead fragments can also fly back and hit you. Safety glasses are a part of every shooting sport, so get into the habit of wearing them now. Safety glasses should be worn by everyone in the area - not just the shooter.
If you play games with airsoft guns, eye, head and ear protection is more important than any other piece of equipment. Airsoft is a lot safer than paintball, but that's no excuse for ignoring safety altogether.
Use a trap made especially for catching pellets or BBs
Responsible shooting means controlling where the shot goes after its fired. The mistake many people make is not having a good enough pellet trap for the gun they shoot. It takes a lot to stop pellets from a magnum rifle like the Webley Patriot. Wadded-up newspapers and phone books won't do the job. Invest in a trap like the Beeman pellet trap to stop your shots with a margin of safety.
BBs are harder to stop than pellets because they bounce off every hard surface they come in contact with. Crosman's 850 BB trap is ideal for this and is made exactly for this purpose.
There are other safety considerations, of course, so from time to time I will mention a few more. Airgun shooting is one of the safest sports in the world, but that's only because everyone tries hard to keep it that way. Do your part so we can continue to enjoy it!