So you've decided you want to purchase your first shotgun and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of shooting sports? If you are anything like me you will already be eagerly thinking about buying your first very own shotgun.
So how do you get one? How much does it cost? How long does it take? Are you even able to get one?
First things first - you need a police issued certificate to posses, buy or acquire a shotgun. The best place to start is here:
Shotgun certificates are issued by your local police force and this website will guide you to your local police force website from which you can download the relevant application form.
Application forms are fairly self explanatory to complete and they provide comprehensive information on what sections require completing. It is worth doing your homework to support your application. Having a referee who already shoots or a local shooting ground can help. I included a covering letter with my application dropping a few names of people I had shot with in the past and the names of a coach that had given me a shooting lesson before at local ground.
You will hear a lot of people say you need “good reason” for applying for a shotgun. At the time I doubted if I had good reason. I wasn’t born in to the sport, had no shooting experience and didn’t own any tweed. You simply need to state you are wanting to go clay pigeon shooting and that will suffice. Unlike with firearms applications where you need to prove good reason for wanting one. When it comes to Shotgun certificates the only reason you can't have one is if the police can prove good reason that you shouldn't have one. So in theory unless you have a criminal record or a medical issues that would prevent you from owning a shotgun you are more than likely to be granted one.
The police do want to assess your overall character so it is worth noting that heavy drinking, anti social behaviour and similar traits are not welcomed by the police and I have known people have their certificates revoked due to excessive drinking etc. even if they are perfectly responsible. The police will check with your local doctor to ensure you are both physically and mentally fit to hold a shotgun certificate so bear this in mind.
You will need a character reference for your application; a non family member who has known you for at least two years will do and of course a cheque payment made payable to your local firearms department.
A great place to visit for information on shotgun applications are the BASC website or ShootingUK website, both of which are full of advice information and resources available to support you.
When you have submitted your application to the police you can call them to chase the progress of your application and you can ask them questions on what preparations you can make to ensure you application is approved. They are extremely helpful and want to see more people join the sport. Your local FEO will pay a visit to your home to inspect the safety measures you have put in place and ensure you have a correctly fitting gun cabinet at home. You should consider first impressions and the way you present yourself when they come to visit you. Although they cannot be prejudice or discriminate, be welcoming, smartly dressed and hospitable. They will probably want to have a chat with you to get an idea of why you want a shotgun and what your experience is so far. Don't worry about being honest at this stage, if your experience is limited just say so. You can ask them questions also. There is no harm in saying you want to get in to clay pigeon shooting and if you get a certificate granted, you will be booking lessons with a qualified coach at your local shooting ground.
I would note that you must be honest on all parts of your application as the police will already know everything and do thorough checks anyway. Aside from that you have nothing to worry about, just be yourself and be honest with the police. The people that work in the firearms department are normally keen shooting enthusiasts themselves and want to see more people join the sport so they will help you with your application as much as they can and give you all the advice you need. You are about to embark on a fantastic journey!
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions but for more information you can visit the below sites that offer lots of very useful info and advice: