How old do they have to be?

Children using rifles – is it legal?

Q. I am planning a fun day for the village on my farm, where I have a range that is suitable for .22 rimfires. Can I allow young people to use the range provided that they have their parents’ permission and are under close supervision? What’s the law on children using rifles of this calibre?

Shooting consultant and sporting author Graham Downing replies:

A: The circumstances in which young people may lawfully use Section 1 firearms are limited. Under the age of 14 they may do so only as members of a cadet corps, at a home office-approved rifle club or in a shooting gallery. If a person is 17 years of age or over then they may borrow a rifle from the occupier of private premises and use it on those premises in the presence of the occupier or his or her servant. This is assuming that the occupier lending the rifle is over 18.

Thus you could, in principle, allow over- 17s to use your .22 rimfire in your presence on your own land, provided they comply with the conditions on your firearms certificate.

For practical purposes, however, it might be easier for you to stick to air rifles under 12ft/lb, for which there are no age restrictions, provided, of course, that shooters are supervised by a person aged over 21.

Advice for shooting with young Shots

  • Safety is the first and only priority. Make sure the youngster is fully aware of the shooting safety rules. 
  • Joining an approved rifle shooting club is an excellent idea. The youngster will receive good tuition.
  • Young Shots should consider joining a shooting organisation like BASC
  • Be guided by the youngster’s keenness and actual physical strength. You don’t want them put off by the physical exertion of carrying and mounting a rifle.
  • Don’t push offspring into shooting if they continue to show no interest. Just because you’re keen on the sport doesn’t mean they have to be.