The latest on the situation for English shooters
On Wednesday 13th May coronavirus guidance for shooters in England changed. You can now undertake both live quarry shooting and deer stalking in England, following the usual legal process. (The law is different in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.) Clay grounds are also permitted to reopen.
The situation in England
The Countryside Alliance advises: “Although there are no restrictions to distance that can be travelled to undertake these activities, we would encourage you to exercise common sense and only shoot and stalk as locally as possible. It is in the interests of limiting contacts and the spread of the disease, and it is therefore a responsible code to abide by.
“If you are shooting live quarry or deer stalking from 13th May, you must either:
- be alone;
- with members of your household, or;
- with up to five people from outside your household so long as social distancing measures are maintained.
“If you do go shooting or stalking with someone from outside your household then no equipment should be shared.”
Coronavirus and shooting
- If you have a shooting permission check with the farmer or landowner to see if they are still happy for you to shoot on their land, or whether they would rather as few people enter their property as possible because of the coronavirus pandemic.
- You can still go on shooting for pest control alone, with members of your household or with one other person from outside your household if you social distance (if you have permission and your local police force permits it).
- If you are carrying out essential pest control you should get a letter or confirmation from the farmer or landowner asking you to do this so that you can show something to the police if you are stopped and questioned. There have been reports of some shooters losing their licences for shooting on land (see above) for which they did not have a permission.
- Check with your local police force whether pest control and shooting are permitted where you live. Different police forces appear to have different rules.
- If you go out shooting, remember to keep a two metre distance away from anybody you come across.
- Carry tissues with you while shooting and put them in the bin safely when you get home. Wash your hands on returning home and don’t touch your face if your hands are not clean.
- With more people working from home and off work, remember that you may come across more members of the public on footpaths and land. It is against the law to fire a gun within 50ft of a road if it endangers lives but this doesn’t extend to footpaths, cycle paths and bridleways. BASC recommends that shooting should stop when a member of the public approaches and resume when they are out of earshot. The association adds: “To shoot across a footpath or bridleway that is in use by walkers or riders may constitute a public nuisance or wilful obstruction. There may also be a liability in negligence if it is known that people are on, or likely to be on, the path.”
- Your firearms licence may take even longer to renew and if you are a first-time applicant you may not even receive one. The British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) warns that it has evidence that some forces will be refusing all first time applications. In addition police forces are starting to divert officers away from functions considered non-essential, like firearms licensing. If medical records are required for a licence, these may be delayed due to increased pressure on GPs and health services. BASC advises that it has called for a six-month extension for all firearms licences due to expire to help farmers, gamekeepers and pest controllers who need firearms for their work.
- England‘s clay grounds have received the go-ahead to reopen after being shut for the coronavirus lockdown
- If you are thinking about shooting on your own ground with your own clay trap read this advice first.
- If you have a reasonable-sized garden, this could be a good time to introduce a youngster to garden airgunning. We have checked online and air rifle pellets are still in stock at some online stores, including Amazon.
- BASC advises: “Is there a risk that your activities could result in the emergency services being called out? For example, someone reporting shots being fired?”
- If one person in a household is suffering from a persistent cough or a fever, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days.
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- There is plenty you can do to improve your shooting while staying at home. For example, you can practise your gun mount in the mirror (find our tips here.) You can clean your air rifle, rifle or shotgun. Wash your air rifle pellets to make them perform better. We have plenty of videos to watch with advice on improving your shooting.
- It’s also the perfect time to perfect your gundog training.