Water guns OK for target shooting, not for firing at other Scouts

As summer — and pool weather! — lingers on the horizon, it’s a good time to remind you that BSA policies prohibit pointing simulated firearms at people.

Yes, that includes water guns.

The official source for this information: the 2015 Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Sports Manual, available as a PDF right here.

You’ll find the relevant sentence on page 99. It reads: “Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn.”

Water balloons, meanwhile, have a size limit: “For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball.” (Page 100)

If you need more explanation, see page 61 of the Guide to Safe Scouting. The key paragraph reads:

“Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is unauthorized. Scout units may plan or participate in paintball, laser tag or similar events where participants shoot at targets that are neither living nor human representations.”

Why the rule? A Scouter once told me this explanation I liked quite a bit: “A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?”

True point.

Other unauthorized activities, weaponry and ammunition

The National Shooting Sports Manual also mentions these other unauthorized activities. The list includes but is not limited to:

  • Flintlock rifles and flintlock shotguns
  • Reloading ammunition and using reloaded ammunition
  • Crossbows
  • Bottle rockets
  • Exploding targets of any kind
  • Short-barreled rifles or short-barreled shotguns
  • Destructive devices or other regulated items such as grenades
  • Firearms included in the National Firearms Act
  • Cannons (Their use is limited to council camp ceremonies only and must follow the BSA’s guidelines for cannon use.)
  • Ballistas
  • Boomerangs
  • Blow guns
  • Anvil shooting
  • Ninja weapons such as stars, spikes, and torpedoes, and activities such as shovel throwing
  • Spears
  • Spear guns
  • Potato guns

A list of activities that are approved

Of course, there are far more activities a Scout can do in the program than those he cannot. He just needs to consult the age guidelines that you can view here.

Here are just a few of these high-adrenaline activities a young man or young woman enjoys in Scouting:

  • Fire Building
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Map and Compass
  • Mountain Boarding
  • Mountaineering
  • Orienteering
  • Pioneering
  • Rope Bridges/Pioneering Towers
  • Survival Training
  • Winter Camping
  • Flag Football
  • Ice Hockey
  • Ice Skating
  • Skiing/Snowboarding
  • Sledding/Tubing
  • Soccer
  • Street Hockey
  • Search and Rescue Missions
  • Ski Touring
  • All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV)
  • Dirt Bikes
  • Driving Derbies
  • Personal Watercraft (PWC)
  • Snowmobiles
  • .22 Rifle
  • Air Rifle (pellet guns)
  • Archery
  • BB Guns
  • Large-Bore Rifles
  • Muzzleloaders
  • Pistols
  • Shotguns
  • Slingshots
  • Belaying
  • Bouldering
  • Caving
  • Climbing
  • Advanced Climbing
  • Rock Climbing
  • Lead Climbing
  • Rappeling
  • Snow and Ice Climbing
  • Canopy Tours
  • Zip Lines
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Motorboating
  • Rafting
  • Rowing
  • Sailboarding
  • Sailing
  • Snorkeling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tubing (floating in an inner tube)
  • Tow Sports (including waterskiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, and tubing)



About Bryan Wendell 3240 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.