Q I have been shooting clays now for 18 years and I’m delighted my son, who is 10 years old, has expressed an interest in coming with me to shoots and learning what the sport is all about.
I will take him, of course, but he is not yet big enough to handle my shotgun and so I would like to start him off with something far less physical such as an air rifle. If all goes well I am thinking of buying him his first gun but I read somewhere that there are legal restrictions on what I can do. Please could you point me in the right direction?
Elliot Chamberlain, Chesterfield
A There is strict legal framework, which must be complied with. The onset of the Olympics and similar high-profile events has seen an upsurge in the number of youngsters wishing to get started in shooting in recent times. The issue for parents is that they have to think very carefully about how to introduce their children into our wonderful sport in a way that is responsible, safe and lawful.
Perhaps a useful starting point is that it is illegal for a minor to have an air gun (or ammunition for one) unless under the supervision of someone over the age of 21. It is an offence to make a gift of an air gun to a person under 18 or for a person of any age to fire an air gun beyond the boundary of private premises and, for a person 21 or over, supervising young persons, to permit them to do so.
The Crime and Security Act 2010 also makes it an offence for a person in possession of an air gun to fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent it coming into the hands of a person under 18. The Government at that time wanted to ensure that air guns are stored securely, thereby reducing the incidence of children gaining access to them and injuring one another. The practical impact of this recent change, therefore, is that it obliges owners of airguns to keep them under lock and key.
While there still seems to be some debate going on about the extent or level of security actually required, it is nevertheless prudent to keep these changes in mind when you decide to introduce your son to the sport or begin to look for a suitable purchase. Stuart Farr