Do you have to be 18?
What’s the minimum age for a shotgun certificate? Well, there isn’t one.
What should be taken into account is how mentally mature the youngster is. The level of physical strength achieved and the practical aspects of possessing a shotgun certificate.
It’s all down to starting off would-be young Guns in the right way, making them a responsible and safe shooter who always obeys the rule of law.
Start with a day’s beating
My advice is to start off youngsters, from the age of six onwards, by spending a day with the beaters. You can pick up child-size kit at game fairs and online (read more about what to wear beating.)
Beating is probably the best possible introduction to shooting. Many beaters never pick up a gun and choose to spend their shooting lives in the beating line.
As a change children can spend time on the game cart or with the pickers up. In my view the best adult Guns are the ones who learnt at the coal face when they were younger. Youngsters will enjoy the actual shooting much more if they have a proper understanding of the work done by the keeper and by all the folk who turn up to help on the day. (Read how old should you be to go shooting?)
What about a starter gun?
As a parent you should think carefully about the age at which to start your offspring off with a gun.
Most pre-teens will find anything bigger than a 28-bore or .410 too awkward to handle. The downside is these are small guns and can be difficult for the beginner to use well.
There’s nothing more dispiriting than starting your shooting career with a load of misses or, worse still, pricked birds that are difficult to recover.
A few youngsters as young as nine have shotgun certificates and there are more still who start at 10 or 11.
However, my preference would be to wait another year or so until the youngster is able to handle a 20-bore.
It’s a serious piece of kit with a reasonable range of loads and you stand a much better chance of hitting and killing game birds and duck than you would with something smaller. Indeed, a 20-bore will serve you for the rest of your shooting life.
- You don’t need a shotgun certificate to be able to go shooting. Anyone can borrow a shotgun from the occupier and use it in his presence.
- As you have to be supervised by someone over 21 until you are 15, borrowing off a parent is often the best way to start. Furthermore it saves the cost and hassle of getting a certificate.
- However, members of wildfowling clubs are generally thought not to be an occupier for this purpose so you need a certificate if you plan to shoot below the seawall.
- Likewise a youngster who needs to travel to shoot, perhaps with a parent who may not have a certificate, needs their own. (Read should a youngster have his or her own shotgun certificate.)