Our experts answer your most pressing clay shooting queries…
Q: My brother-in-law has applied for his shotgun certificate and has asked the local firearms licensing authority how long the process is likely to take. He wants to join me on his first competition shoot in April. He’s received no response and is increasingly anxious that he won’t receive his ticket in time. Is there any way he can ‘push along’ the process without his application falling out of favour? Or, failing that, can I lend him a gun for the event even though we won’t be shooting on the same stands at the same time?
A: The time it takes for certain firearms licensing departments to process shotgun certificate applications has become a well-publicised issue of concern and even complaint among shooters. On a certificate renewal application, it is slightly less frustrating because of the ability, at no extra charge, to obtain a Section 7 temporary permit. For new applicants, however, there is sadly very little that can be done to speed up the process. However, it does no harm to keep in touch with the licensing department (if they will tolerate it). When doing so, make a careful note of each contact, what was said, when and to whom.
Simply borrowing a gun and turning up at a competition expecting to shoot is not something I would recommend. The Policing and Crime Act 2017 (which became law on 2 May 2017) introduced new sections 11A and 11(6) into the Firearms Act 1968 that permit non-certificate holders to borrow a shotgun and shoot clay targets on private premises provided certain conditions are met. Those conditions include the borrower being in the presence of the lender (in sight and earshot) and, importantly, written permission being obtained before shooting. Established clay shoots open to the public can apply to the police firearms department for an exemption from the need to provide written permission in every case. It must not, however, be assumed that this exemption has been obtained – it is always best to check beforehand.
The important point to remember is that a shooting ground may decide, for health and safety, insurance or economic reasons, not to allow non-certificate holders to shoot at all unless they are accompanied by an instructor or staff member. In a competition setting, this would then raise the question of whether the rules of the competition are being breached because it implies that such a shooter will receive coaching/tuition while on the stand.