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How old do you need to be to go shooting?

How old do you have to be to have your own shotgun certificate? Your own legally owned shotgun? And how old to buy a shotgun?

How old to go shooting

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How old for my own shotgun certificate?

Q: I am applying for a shotgun certificate but am confused about the age you must be to go shooting by yourself. I am 15 coming up 16 and have a keen interest in  gameshooting. How old do you need to be to go shooting?

A:  You are not the only person who is confused by age limits for the younger shooter; they can be very complicated. There is no lower age limit for getting a shotgun certificate and plenty of teenagers have one.

Young Shots

Can I buy a gun at 15 years old?

I’m sorry to disappoint you but you are not allowed to buy a shotgun yourself until you reach the age of 18 years. Nor are you allowed to buy ammunition until you are 18.

However, at 15 it is lawful for someone (usually a parent) to give or lend you a gun. The person who gives you the gun must themselves have a shotgun certificate in order to be able to buy it and they then transfer it to you in the usual manner.

You must be 15 before you can use a shotgun without being supervised by an adult (who must be at least 21).

If you have never used a shotgun before I strongly advise you take some lessons at your nearest shooting school. This gives you the opportunity to learn about safety and will improve your standard of shooting so that you don’t miss too often.

In addition a good shooting school will have  a range of guns you can try. A 20-bore is a good gun for younger people to start with and plenty of adults use them too.

Supervising a Young Shot

It is sensible for Young Shots to be supervised by a knowledgeable adult

What about gun cabinets?

If your mum, dad or guardian already has a cabinet and there is space in it for another gun you don’t need to get a gun cabinet yourself, provided all the guns are on both certificates.

If nobody else in your house has a shotgun certificate the police will want to know about security in some detail.

Talk to the local firearms officer

My advice is to send in your shotgun cerficate application and then discuss these matters with the Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) when he or she comes to call. Your parent or guardian should be present when the FEO visits. Please note that a FEO will always make an appointment – they never call without doing so.

Police forces vary in the length of time they take to go through the administrative process so don’t be surprised if it takes longer than you would like it to.