What does the law say about it? Bill Harriman replies
Q: In terms of firearms, where would I stand legally with firing on private land? I have access to acres of land isolated from the public, but would I be legally allowed to purchase a firearm and perform target shooting there, with the landowner’s permission, or would I have to join a club and use their land? My intention is just target shooting with a rifle to improve my marksmanship while away from my work in the military.
A: Anyone can build and operate a range for private or commercial use. The circular (031/2006), issued by the Home Office when the Ministry of Defence withdrew support for range assurance, moved responsibility to the operator under the Occupiers Liability Acts, with public liability insurance as a minimum. Indeed, all target shooting firearms certificate conditions are worded to say the holder may shoot on any range so long as it is covered with “adequate financial arrangements in place to meet any injury or damage claim”. There are plenty of shooting ranges in the UK without Home Office approval or with approved clubs based on them.
A range does not have to be governed or run under the auspices of a Home Office-approved target shooting club. It can be but it is not mandatory, it all depends simply on whether the people wishing to shoot either own firearms for established approved target shooting clubs or rely on your range to acquire them. Operating a range and Home Office approval are different jurisdictions for different purposes. Put simply, range operation relates to insurance. Home Office approval is a matter of good reason.
Q: I am thinking of running an air rifle range at a church fete. Is this lawful and if so,…
A buffalo is staring straight at me. I hear my heart pounding in my ears and then the recoil hits…
The way to tackle this is to construct a range. This needs a really good backstop made from earth, railway sleepers and so on. An elevated firing position confers extra safety as all bullets are being effectively fired into the ground. Another good solution is to make a pipe range using large-diameter concrete pipes to contain any stray bullets. Look at the topography of the land for any natural backstops such as ridges or quarries. Once you have planned the range, discuss the matter with either the licensing manager or an experienced firearms enquiry officer. Once he or she is satisfied with any proposed safety measures, build the range and then apply for a firearm certificate.