Wales 2017: The Year of The Dragon

Guidance on Law Relating to Air Rifles in Wales and England

This guidance note has been written on the assumption that all competitors will be using standard “FT” type rifles using either spring or compressed air to power the rifle.

The UK Firearms legislation is extremely complex. If any competitor is unsure about the legality of his or her Rifle, please contact the organisers for clarification.

In the UK. The ownership and use of Air Rifles is governed by some of the strictest Firearms Laws in the world.

The penalties for breaking the laws that govern the use of Air Rifles are severe and if broken, would bring you entirely under the jurisdiction of the Firearms Laws. In simple terms, when used unlawfully, Air Rifles are regarded as firearms, and so carry exactly the same legal status as shotguns and live-ammunition guns. There is no concession in law for an Air Rifle’s reduced power level.

It is an offence to have an Air Rifle if you are prohibited from possessing a firearm. Anyone who has been sentenced to a custodial sentence of between three months and three years is prohibited from possessing an Air Rifle or other firearm or ammunition for five years from the date of their release. Anyone who has been sentenced to three years or more is prohibited for life.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have different and more stringent rules governing the ownership and use of Air Rifles.

In Northern Ireland, all Air Rifles require a license.

In Scotland, it will be a criminal offence to have any Air Rifle without a licence from January 1st 2017.

Air Rifle Power

The legal muzzle energy limit for Air Rifles is (16 joules). For Rifles producing more than, a Firearms Certificate (FAC) is required. No licence is required for Air Rifles below 12ft.lbs

There is currently no restriction on the use of a moderator / silencer when used on a sub Air Rifle.

Trigger locks are not required in the UK

No Air Rifle requiring an FAC will be allowed within the grounds of the competition

Using an Air Rifle

Air Rifles may be used only on land where the user has full permission to shoot.

It is illegal:

  • To shoot on any land, including common land, river banks, public land, recreation and land covered by water, i.e. lakes and rivers where you do not have full permission from the land owner or tenant.
  • To fire an Air Rifle closer than 50 feet (15 metres) from the centre of a public highway, or footpath.
  • To fire an Air Rifle pellet beyond the land to which you have permission to shoot
  • For a person in possession of an Air Rifle to fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent someone under the age of 18 from gaining unauthorised access to it

It is legal:

  • For anyone above the age of 14 to shoot an Air Rifle on private land where full permission to shoot has been given.
  • For those below the age of 14 to shoot an Air Rifle on private land, but only if closely supervised by a responsible person over 21 years of age. The supervising adult is legally responsible for the actions of the junior shooter.

Transporting and Storage of Air Rifles

Air Rifles must always be transported in a securely fastened case that does not permit the Rifle to be fired whilst in the case.

The Rifle owner must take reasonable precautions to stop unauthorised access by people under the age of 18.

Persons between 14 and 18 years of age are not allowed to transport an Air Rifle to the venues at which they shoot without a responsible person aged 21 or over being present.

It is illegal to have an Air Rifle (loaded or not) in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. This restriction applies to all Air Rifles, even those that are being carried in a securely fastened gun case.

Transporting to and from the competition venue would be regarded as a reasonable excuse.

Guidance on Law Relating to Air Rifles in Wales and England