Scottish shooting groups are urging their members to respond to a consultation on the introduction of licensing for the country?s half a million airguns.

The Scottish Government has long stated its support for a licensing scheme for low-powered airguns ?needed for a legitimate purpose?, but stresses that there are no proposals to introduce a ban on all airguns.

However, both BASC and the Countryside Alliance Scotland believe that licensing is unnecessary and could be costly and difficult to administer.

A statement by the two organisations said: ?It is estimated and accepted by the Scottish Government that there are half a million low-powered airguns in Scotland.

?Bringing all or even a fraction of these into a licensing scheme will be an extremely difficult task which will involve the use of extensive police resources.?

?We are also concerned that further regulation will discourage many from starting shooting, which is a vital part of the Scottish countryside and rural economy.

?Airguns are an essential tool for pest control where more powerful firearms cannot be used and they are used for training and target shooting up to Olympic standards.?

The move to introduce licensing comes despite recent figures that revealed a 71% decrease in offences involving airguns since 2006/07.