The world is changing so fast these days that it’s not hard to see a future with drones everywhere. You may have heard that you can take down a drone with a BB gun, but is it true. Equally important, will there be legal ramifications if you shoot it down. When SHTF and the world falls apart, those flying menaces are free game. Practicing your skeet shooting isn’t a bad plan. However, in the meantime, it pays to know the laws. Assessing risk versus reward and knowing when there’s real danger are both vital survival skills. If you want to be prepared for emergencies, learning to fire a BB gun accurately is helpful. I’ll walk you through the mechanical and legal issues, so you know everything that matters about taking down a drone with your BB gun.
Can a BB gun take down a drone? A BB gun can take down a drone. It doesn’t take as much as you might think to tank the delicate mechanics of drones. From the rotating propellers to the internal circuitry, one good hit will wreck most drones. You might have a harder time with a military drone, but if you’re pointing guns at military equipment, you have bigger problems. Luckily, most drones are civilian.
Can You Shoot Down a Drone With A BB Gun
When you’re sitting in your own yard, minding your business, and a drone flies over, many people wonder if they should shoot it down with their BB gun. As a mechanical question, the answer is, ‘how good is your aim?’ Hitting the right part of any drone hard enough would mess it up.
According to a Popular Mechanics article from 2015, Marque Cornblatt, CEO of Game of Drones says, “If you were to hit a drone with [a BB], that pellet would penetrate and certainly cause some damage,” and Popular Mechanics adds, “Should you find yourself in range to hit it with a rock or a baseball, that’s likely to be a game-ender as well.” Naturally, hitting a fast-flying drone with a rock is going to be more difficult.
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Can My Neighbor Fly a Drone Over My Yard
Not long ago, there was a persistent internet rumor going around that you could shoot any drone over your property legally. Sadly, that was just fake news. It’s crucial to know the difference between internet hype and reality. You can’t believe everything you read, no matter how much sense it makes or how much you want it to be true. Since drones over your house are both alarming and seemingly invading your space, it’s easy to buy into the false logic.
The trouble here is twofold. First, the airspace over your home is almost certainly not your property. There are a few exceptions, but if you were one of them, you would know already. There’s paperwork, and it isn’t easy to obtain permission.
Not unlike buying the mineral rights to your property, this is a separate purchase. Few people put in the time and effort to do this research, but AviationUSLegal explains it succinctly. “The ownership of the airspace over property is vested in the several owners of the lands below. However, this ownership is subject to the statutory right of overflight.” Secondly, drones are aircraft. I’ll explain what that means below.
Drones Are Aircraft
Before you shoot down anything, keep in mind that all drones are aircraft. Code 18 U.S.C 32 states very clearly that destruction of aircraft is illegal, so you need to be very careful about where you point that BB gun. While it’s good to know that you can destroy unwelcome small flying visitors with a low caliber projectile, it is up to you to decide if and when that risk is worth taking.
Furthermore, the FAA classifies drones as UA or unmanned aircraft. Although you may see them use other names such as remotely piloted vehicle (RPV), remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), or remotely operated aircraft (ROA), all drones fall under the same protected class. Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board also considers drones protected as aircraft. It pays to know the laws if you want to fly under the radar.
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How To Tell If a Drone is Spying On You
More often than not, people who shoot down drones with a BB gun say it was spying. Sometimes knowing this is as simple as looking at the drone. The telltale gleam of a small lens is enough to disturb most people, but a single flyover isn’t exactly spying.
When a drone hovers over your yard or home repeatedly, you have cause to be concerned. Especially if the UA in question is slowly scanning the area and proceeds to come closer for any length of time, it’s certainly enough to make most of us feel like we’re being watched. Unfortunately, that can happen.
Worse still are the drones you don’t see. It is difficult to spot a drone at night. However, the light on most drones will blink. Additionally, you can listen for them. Even a very quiet drone will make some noise if it’s nearby. The most frightening thing, however, is knowing that a drone can sneak up, unseen and unheard, with enough cover and some background noise, so it pays to keep your head on a swivel if you’re concerned about drone spies.
Privacy Rights, Self Defense, and Drones
Though a drone operator can take you to court for destroying their aircraft, you have rights. It is tough to argue self-defense successfully. Unless a drone is physically hurting you, it’s not self-defense to shoot it down. Luckily there is recourse.
Less than half of US states have drone laws that help protect private citizens against unlawful spying. For example, Florida’s Criminal Code Section 934.50. states that drones may not be used for surveillance in violation of another party’s reasonable expectation of privacy. That protection includes use by law enforcement. Unless they have a warrant, it’s probably harassment.
States without such protections include Arizona, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Washington, among many others. However, no specific drone legislation doesn’t mean you lack rights. The reasonable expectation of privacy might still apply. Regrettably, you will have to engage a lawyer to enforce this.
Legally Take Down A Drone
Shooting down a drone with your BB gun should always be a last resort. Since inanimate objects can be trespassers, there are many steps you can take. The FAA prohibits drone operators from flying recklessly, so you could begin by filing a complaint.
Check the local laws for your property boundaries. Typically if the drone is flying lower than your roof or treeline, it may be trespassing. Seek out information on the maximum height for building in your neighborhood. you can safely assume that you have that much airspace included in your property deed. Still, ask a lawyer if you are uncertain.
Next, consider filing complaints about both nuisance and invasion of privacy. While this won’t stop every drone operator, it’s likely to scare most away. Moreover, you could file for a restraining order if you know the operator. Your area may call this an Injunction Against Harassment.
Finally, you may be able to discover the operator. The FAA tracks most drones. Anything larger than a child’s toy is likely to require a license and permit. Unless the operator is within line of sight and low to the ground, they need permission to fly.
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The whole point of prepping is to be ready for whatever occurs. In the case of shooting down drones with your BB gun, it isn’t hard to see a near future where dropping drones from the sky could save your life. Skeet shooting or duck hunting will help you gain the necessary skills to hit moving aerial targets.
Unfortunately, whatever you may have heard, it is not currently legal to shoot down drones. Since drones are classified as Unmanned Aircraft, it is a federal crime to shoot them out of the sky. No one wants to take a club-fed trip since being in jail won’t increase your survival odds when SHTF. Be careful about crossing those lines while society still functions. Otherwise, you could end up in big trouble for it.
Just because you can shoot down a drone with a BB gun doesn’t mean you should. That said, it’s also important to maintain enough legal, social, and political awareness of your surroundings to know when those lines become irrelevant if society crumbles around you.