Neither of us has a firearm certificate nor do we have any knowledge of what calibres or scopes to use.

I was a soldier for 12 years and used .303 and 7.62mm rifles but I do not think that is very helpful in relation to shooting deer and foxes.

Is there a book that deals with all the information we need, including how to go about applying for a firearms certificate. Where can I find out what knowledge or experience is legally needed?



Always read a good book before embarking on some new venture and you’re unlikely to go wrong. First, if you can’t handle a rifle safely after 12 years in the army you never will.

It’s not the rifle handling or shooting you need to worry about so much as how to go about shooting foxes or deer. I guess more foxes are shot with a .22 centrefire than any other calibre, although the relatively new .17HMR is becoming popular for use at shorter ranges.

People who shoot both deer and foxes, and only want one rifle, might go for a .243 which copes with both provided you choose the right bullet weight.

The law in England and Wales has recently been changed. It will soon be permissible to shoot muntjac and Chinese water deer with a .22 centre fire with a minimum bullet weight of 50 grains and a minimum muzzle energy of 1,000 ft/lb.

If you need to shoot larger deer (fallow, sika, red or roe) you’ll need a .243 or bigger and may decide you want something smaller for the foxes. If you and your shooting partner want to share one rifle you can have it put on both certificates.

For guidance on all aspects of getting a certificate I recommend my book Sporting Shooting and the Law which costs £5 from the Countryside Alliance 020 7840 9237 or write to them at 367 Kennington Road, London SE11 4PT).

Probably the best book on fox shooting is Foxing with Lamp and Rifle by Robert Bucknell (Foxearth Publishing, PO Box 6419, Springfield, Chelmsford, CM1 7WB or try Amazon).

For deer try Graham Downing’s The Deer Stalking Handbook (available on Amazon for about £13.20).

It’s always worth contacting keepers or stalkers in your area to see what advice they can offer. A chat over a pint will yield up a lot of useful information.