What happens when a friend wants to borrow a gun or you want to lend one? It's a question our legal experts are asked all the time and here's the answer

Q: A friend is staying with 
me and will be using my gun 
on a formal shoot. He will not 
be bringing a shotgun. Can I lend him one and do we need a visitor’s permit or simply a letter from the shoot owner?

A: Your friend can take advantage of the exemption from the need to have a certificate at Section 11(A) 
of the Firearms Act 1968. All of the following criteria must be satisfied:

  • The borrower of a shotgun may 
be of any age.
  • The lender must be aged 18 or 
older and have a certificate in respect of the shotgun.
  • The borrower must be in the presence of the lender; that 
is in sight and/or earshot.
  • Use of a shotgun must comply with any conditions on the certificate held in respect of that shotgun.
  • The purpose of the loan is only for hunting animals, shooting game or vermin or shooting artificial targets.
  • The lender must be a person who has the right to allow others to enter the premises for the purpose of hunting animals or shooting game or vermin, or a person authorised 
by them in writing.

shooters around Landrover

To clarify

  1. The shotgun must be borrowed. Most of us understand the concept of borrowing and lending: a temporary parting of possession for which no charge is made.
  2. Second, the premises — which includes land — on which the borrowing takes place must be private. This would include most farmland or woodland in private ownership, whether or not any public footpath or bridleway runs across it. It would not, however, include designated public access land, Forestry Commission woodland or Crown foreshore to which there is public access.
  3. The borrower must be in the lender’s “presence”. This is not defined in law, and there is certainly no requirement for the borrower to be under the lender’s close supervision. This is required when a person under 15 years old is using a gun under the supervision of an adult over the age of 21.

It is generally held that if the lender is within sight or sound of the borrower, he is regarded as being “present” and the requirements of the law are fulfilled. So the lender could, for example, be standing at another peg in the line of Guns or observing the shoot from the sidelines.



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Who is the “occupier” of the land?

A lawful sporting tenant would be an occupier, as would someone with a written licence from the landowner to shoot on a particular piece of ground.

Remember that it is only the occupier who can lend his gun to the non-certificate holder. It is not permissible, say, for a shooting guest or syndicate member to turn up at a shoot with his guest in tow, and loan him a gun for the day, even though many people do exactly this and express great surprise when told that they are breaking the law. “But I’m standing right next to him and supervising him all day,” they say. If you’re not the occupier of the land, you can’t lend the gun.

lock, stock and barrel on shotgun

Gun lending rules

Q: When a person lends a shotgun to a non-certificate holder on 
a private shoot, must the gun be 

Young Shots

Likewise, the parent introducing to shooting a child who is not a certificate holder, or accompanying that child on a Young Shots’ day, cannot lend a gun unless they are the occupier. It is for this reason that Young Shots are always encouraged to have a certificate of their own because, as a certificate holder in their own right, they may borrow a shotgun from anyone for up to 72 hours. .


shotgun barrel

It is not permissible for a syndicate member to turn up at a shoot with a guest and loan him a gun for the day

Are you considering inviting someone who is not a certificate holder to shoot with your gun?

Then ALL of these four tests must be passed:

  • The other person must BORROW your gun
  • You must be the OCCUPIER of the land
  • The land must be PRIVATE
  • You must be PRESENT