Where and when you may use firearms

Before you do any shooting, whether with a firearm or airgun, you need to know when and where it can be safely and lawfully used.

You should take steps to ensure that your shooting does not endanger property or frighten, annoy or put neighbours at risk. Telling your neighbours about what you are doing is always a good first step.

The permission of the land owner is required before shooting anywhere.

.22 Rimfire rifles

A .22 rimfire rifle has been the traditional first rifle of many shooters. It is regarded as a safe and inexpensive firearm for a young person. This rifle can be just as deadly as any other firearm and must be handled with respect caution and care.


A shotgun is the only firearm suitable for shooting at birds on the wing. Firing a rifle in the air carries the danger of some person or property being struck when the bullet falls back to earth. Although shotgun pellets fall too, they do not travel so far and are much lighter. This means they are less
likely to endanger someone.

The shotgun is used for fast moving game on the ground and in the air. A shotgun is also used for competitive shooting at clay targets.

Centrefire rifles

Centrefire rifles in various calibres are suitable for a whole range of game and target shooting. There is a considerable variety of calibres, projectile types and weights however and no single firearm or cartridge is suitable for every purpose. It is important, therefore, to think about where and for what purpose you intend to use your firearm before buying one. Ask someone who is involved in that sport.