Associations offer a variety of services including technical, legal and practical advice as well as insurance packages tailored for shooting and related activities. Some will provide legal costs to appeal against police licensing decisions.

Joining an association means your voice will be heard by government and adds weight to their political campaigns for legal firearms ownership.

The British Shooting Sports Council is the umbrella body for shooting sports in the UK and links to its constituent member associations can be found on its website.

Airguns are relatively inexpensive and not subject to the same licensing controls as shotguns and rifles.

Air rifles with muzzle energy levels of 12ft-lb or less and air pistols with muzzle energy levels of 6ft-lb or less do not have to be licenced.

Airguns can be used in the garden providing a safe backstop is used to stop pellets leaving the premises. Backstops can be made from easily obtained materials such as old carpets, plywood and newspapers.

The law on air guns and young people is complicated, and the Airgun Training and Education Organisation has an excellent website covering all aspects of airgun use.

Like any other species, deer need to be managed and the UK’s increasing deer population provides wonderful sporting opportunities for hunters.

The law allows someone of 18 or over to borrow and use a rifle under the supervision of the certificate holder. This is a good way of seeing if deer stalking is for you.

Many stalking opportunities are advertised in magazines such as Shooting Times, Shooting Gazette and Sporting Gun magazines.

The BASC stalking scheme offers opportunities for members to stalk in King’s Forest, Suffolk and on the Isle of Arran.

Clay pigeon shooting
People who do not have shotgun certificates can still shoot clays at approved venues such as clay grounds and practice ranges, and Game Fairs and country shows.

Learning to shoot is like learning to drive, it’s always best to have a series of lessons from a professional coach to stop any bad habits forming.

You can find clay grounds and clay pigeon shooting opportunities across the UK online.

All of these books are good introductions to the main types of firearms used in sporting shooting:

The Deer Stalking Handbook – Graham Downing
Total Airguns – Pete Wadeson
The Sporting Rifle – Robin Marshall-Ball
The Sporting Shotgun – Robin Marshall-Ball
The Shotgun Handbook – Mike George
Firearms Law: Guidance to the Police 2002 – The Home Office

Insurance whilst shooting is not compulsory, but it is common sense to have public liability cover. Many shooting organisations offer insurance as part of their membership benefits.

Shotgun certificates
Any UK resident can apply to the police for a shotgun certificate. This covers smooth-bore guns with barrels longer than 24″ which either do not have a magazine or a permanently fixed magazine which cannot hold more than 2 cartridges.

Applicants do not have to prove they have a good reason for acquiring a shotgun, but the police can refuse if they think the reason is not genuine.

Application forms can be obtained from police stations.

Find out more about applying for a shotgun certificate

Firearm certificates
Any UK resident can apply to the police for a firearm certificate. This covers rifles and shotguns with magazines which hold more than 2 cartridges.

Applicants must give a good reason for every firearm they wish to acquire. The police will want evidence you have permission to shoot on land. There is no legal requirement to provide written permission, but this may speed up the process if you can.

You must supply the names of two referees, who must be resident in the UK, not members of your immediate family, who are of good character and who have known you for at least two years.

There is no legal requirement to pass any test or undertake any training prior to the grant of a firearm certificate.

Application and referee forms can be obtained from police stations or the forms can be filled in online and printed.

A Firearm Certificate is valid for 5 years and a variation must be obtained before any firearm can be added to it. It will be issued subject to restrictive conditions.

Above all – remember to enjoy yourself!

  • Kate

    Have just been to a shooting range in the US where I shot Handguns (Bersa Thunder 22lr, Sig Sauer 9mm and M&P 22LR) and discovered I had surprisingly good aim. Is there anywhere in the UK (South East) that I can go shooting?

  • jack

    i dont think so

  • charly

    Can a tourist who is having a gun in his country do some practice in U.K and if so where?

  • Paul


  • Jamie