There was a 5.3 per cent increase in the number of new firearm and shotgun certificates granted in the last year.

The latest figures from the Home Office show how increasingly popular shooting is becoming across all ages and genders.

For the first time the Home Office has broken down the figures to give greater insight into the people who hold shotgun and firearms certificates by indicating age and gender.

There are thousands of young shots taking up the sport. 313 children aged 13 and under hold a shotgun certificate and 3,938 children under 17 hold a shotgun or firearms certificate.

Christopher Graffius from BASC said that the process of obtaining a licence helped impress on youngsters the importance of discipline and safety which are paramount to the success of shooting.

He said: “The police and courts and government over the years have said that it is in the interests of public safety that those that are being taught to shoot learn these habits at an early age.”

There are also new shooters taking up the sport. The Home Office report showed that there were 9,534 new firearm certificate applications granted in the last year – an increase of 5.3 per cent – and 21,884 successful shotgun certificate applications – an increase of 2.1 per cent.

BASC have welcomed the increase of newcomers to shooting. Mike Eveleigh, senior firearms officer at BASC, said: “It’s very heartening to see that more people are coming into the sport – there was an increase of over six per cent in successful certificate applications over last year.  There was also a slight decrease in the number of revocations.”

A total of 396 firearms certificates were revoked in the last year, slightly down from 406 from the previous. The number of shotgun revocations were also down, 1,349 were revoked in the last year, down from 1,373.

Peter Glenser, BASC chairman, added: “We are delighted to see so many new people taking part in shooting sports. The association works hard to ensure newcomers are welcomed so the increase in new certificate grants is particularly pleasing.

“We have also enjoyed a surge in women joining the association, which is another positive sign that shooting is enjoying wider appeal.”