What the hell’s going on here? Where’s it all going to end? I can’t help but feel that the BASC and British Deer Society have bitten off more than they can chew by promoting Level One as a ‘suitable and proper’ qualification to have?



This is a real can of worms and there has been some serious ethical malpractice in efforts to push training courses.

Unsurprisingly, most of the pressure for training comes from those who will make money by providing it and that just brings the whole process into disrepute – which is a real pity because good training is immensely interesting and very valuable.

The position of government, when last I heard, is that there is no need to make training compulsory because there is no problem of public safety which could be addressed by doing so. The reason for the government’s position is that the shooting community looks after itself and fosters good and safe practice by peer pressure – in other words we won’t shoot in the company of people who don’t handle a gun or rifle safely and newcomers almost always seek help and advice as a matter of course.

However the rat is out of the trap and some police firearms licensing departments have been persuaded that training should be a prerequisite for the grant of a Firearm Certificate. (Makes you wonder how we’ve all survived these last 200 years or so.)

We also have landowners who have been advised their third party insurance may not be valid if they allow firearms on their land in the hands of untrained people. Curiously, this seems to relate mainly to the shooting of deer, for which plenty of training is available, but not generally to the shooting of foxes, rabbits or anything else.

I’m afraid the future is likely to hold more rather than less training, whether pushed by self-interested parties or seized upon by insurance companies as an excuse for not paying a claim and therefore insisted upon by landowners. If you do decide on some training – which can and should be both fun and interesting – just be careful to select a provider who will give you what you want and what you feel you need at a fair price.

Good training is unlikely to be cheap and bad training is always a rip-off. Word of mouth is the best source of reliable information.

Always go for a recommendation from someone whose judgment you trust and don’t be bamboozled by bullshit and glossy advertising. There are a lot of damn rogues, opportunists and bandwagon jumpers out there, some of whom do a lot of advertising.