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BASC Shotgun Code of Practice

Safety

Above all, safety is the most important consideration. Always be aware of the direction in which the muzzle of your shotgun is pointing and NEVER point it in an unsafe direction. Whenever you shoot, make sure you know where the shot will go before you touch the trigger.

Follow these simple directions to be safe…

1. Carrying a shotgun in a slip

To prevent a shotgun falling out, if your slip fastening should fail, keep it with the barrels down and stock up when slung over your shoulder. A shotgun should be opened before removing it from the slip. Do not touch the trigger even at this stage. Your first action should always be to check that the barrels are clear while pointing the gun in a safe direction. Don’t point the muzzle end of the slip at anyone.

Remember, a shotgun should always be considered loaded until proven empty and, even then, still handled as if it were loaded…

On replacing the shotgun in a slip, you should check the gun is clear and insert the barrels into the slip before closing the gun and then fastening the slip.

2. Where to find the gun's information

If in doubt about the cartridges which are safe to use in your gun, check for this information, which is usually found on the flats of the barrels. You are looking for proof marks, gauge or bore and chamber length. If you are not sure what it all means, then ask someone who does know. Your local club, gun shop, association or police licensing section will always be pleased to help.

3. Carrying a shotgun out of a slip

When you are not shooting but have the gun out of its slip, it should normally be carried empty, open and over the crook of the arm, not over the shoulder or in any other way. The muzzles should not be rested on your feet.

4. Passing a shotgun to someone

When passing a gun to someone it should always be proved empty: that is open, empty and passed stock first so that the empty chambers are visible.

5. Crossing an obstacle on your own

Open the gun and remove the cartridges, then close the gun and, ensuring that the muzzles do not point at you, lean the gun with stock down and barrels up against or partially through the obstacle so that it cannot slip or fall. Otherwise place the gun carefully on the ground and out of harm’s way so that you can easily reach it from the other side.  Climb over the obstacle and retrieve the gun, again using appropriate muzzle awareness, open the gun, check the barrel for obstructions and continue. Carrying the gun over the obstacle is not a good idea.

6. Crossing an obstacle in company

Guns should be open and unloaded and held by one person while the other person climbs over the obstacle. The guns are then passed over (open, empty and stock first) one by one; the other person then climbs over and retrieves his shotgun on the other side.

7. Shooting safely

NEVER POINT A GUN, LOADED OR UNLOADED, IN AN UNSAFE DIRECTION.

·         Never shoot unless you are sure it is safe to do so.

·         Always have the safety catch on ‘safe’ until the moment before you fire.

·         Always bear in mind the possibility of a ricochet, particularly across water or off branches and vegetation.

·         Never load a shotgun unless you are expecting a shot.

·         Never travel with a loaded shotgun.

·         Never put down a loaded shotgun or leave it unattended.

·         Never touch the triggers until you want to fire.

·         Never attempt to shoot unless you are steady on your feet.

·         Never keep a dog attached to yourself while shooting, it may pull you off balance.

·         Never shoot unless you are certain of your target and can see it clearly.

·         Never shoot at, or near, overhead power lines or insulators.

Behaviour in the field

BASC and The Association of Chief Police Officers promote and insist on safe and sensible behaviour by shooters in all disciplines. By acting on these points you will reassure shooters and non-shooters alike that you can be trusted with a shotgun:

·         Advise the owner and/or tenant in good time when you intend to go shooting and check that it is convenient.

·         Confirm with the owner and/or tenant what quarry you may shoot.

·         Always respect the owner’s property, crops, livestock and fences and follow the Country Code. Open gates rather than climb them and close them after you. If you have to climb a closed gate, do it at the hinged end.

·         Never break fences, walls, rails, or hedges. Never walk through standing corn or allow your dog to do so. Keep your dog under control. Avoid disturbance to livestock.

·         Never leave litter and wherever possible collect that left by others.

·         Always treat a shotgun as though it were loaded and keep its barrel pointing in a safe direction.

·         On picking up or being handed a shotgun, check immediately that it is not loaded, i.e. that there is no     cartridge in it and that the barrels are clear.

·         Before you fire your shotgun, consider where the shot will go, allowing for possible ricochets. Do not fire at quarry unless you are sure it is within range and ensure you know what is behind it.

·         If you are not sure, don’t shoot!

·         Know your own limitations and those of your gun and shoot responsibly.  If you are not reasonably sure of a humane kill, don’t shoot! Shooting at quarry is not a competition.

·         Be careful in cold and wet conditions which can lead to loss of feeling and difficulty in operating the safety catch and the trigger.

·         Remember that all shooters will be judged by your actions and ensure that your conduct is always above reproach.  Always try, whenever possible, to encourage the same attitude in your shooting companions and in any other shooter with whom you come into contact.

·         Above all  - be safe and sensible

The Law

It is an offence (except in certain circumstances) to possess a shotgun without a current shotgun certificate or temporary police permit.

It is an offence to give or sell a shotgun to someone who is  not authorised to possess it – usually by virtue of a shotgun certificate.

When acquiring a shotgun, you must inform the police force which issued your certificate by recorded delivery within seven days of the transfer. If you give or sell a shotgun to anyone, (or lend a gun for more than 72 hours) you must enter it on the other person’s certificate and also notify the police force which issued your own certificate by recorded delivery within
seven days.

It is an offence to sell or offer for sale a shotgun, which is out of proof.

One certificate holder may borrow a shotgun from another for 72 hours or less without notifying the police, or entering the details onto the borrower’s certificate.

In most cases it is an offence to sell cartridges to someone without seeing their shotgun certificate.

You are responsible for the security of any shotguns in your possession at all times.

When not in use, shotguns must be stored securely, in order to prevent – so far as is reasonably practicable – access by  unauthorised persons.  When in use, reasonable precautions must be taken for their safe custody.

It is an offence to sell or hire a shotgun to someone under 18 years of age.

It is an offence for a person under the age of 15 to have with him or her an assembled shotgun except while under the supervision of a person of 21 or more, or while the shotgun is so covered with a securely fastened gun cover that it cannot be fired.

It is an offence to be in possession of a loaded shotgun in a  public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

The government has abolished the game licence in England and Wales but not in Scotland. It is also an offence to shoot game on Sundays and Christmas Day. In certain counties it is an offence to shoot wildfowl on Sundays. This applies to England and Wales; legislation is somewhat different in Scotland. Always check if you are unsure – never guess at what the law requires.

All birds and many animals are protected. There is an ‘open’ season for quarry species and it is an offence to kill or attempt to kill them at other times. Certain pest birds may be shot by authorised persons at any time under the open general licences issued annually by the devolved governments of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These are, as they say,
‘open’ and ‘general’; individuals do not need to carry or even hold a copy of the licences. Further guidance should be sought from BASC (
www.basc.org.uk).

It is an offence to shoot wildfowl or game with a self-loading gun having a magazine capacity of more than two cartridges.

You may only lend a shotgun to someone without a certificate  if you are with that person, on land of which you are legally   the occupier OR if you are at a clay pigeon shoot where the chief constable has granted special permission to allow non-certificate holders to shoot.

It is an offence (except in certain circumstances) to possess a shotgun without a current shotgun certificate or temporary police permit.

It is an offence to give or sell a shotgun to someone who is  not authorised to possess it – usually by virtue of a shotgun certificate.

When acquiring a shotgun, you must inform the police force which issued your certificate by recorded delivery within seven days of the transfer. If you give or sell a shotgun to anyone, (or lend a gun for more than 72 hours) you must enter it on the other person’s certificate and also notify the police force which issued your own certificate by recorded delivery within
seven days.

It is an offence to sell or offer for sale a shotgun, which is out of proof.

One certificate holder may borrow a shotgun from another for 72 hours or less without notifying the police, or entering the details onto the borrower’s certificate.

In most cases it is an offence to sell cartridges to someone without seeing their shotgun certificate.

You are responsible for the security of any shotguns in your possession at all times.

When not in use, shotguns must be stored securely, in order to prevent – so far as is reasonably practicable – access by  unauthorised persons.  When in use, reasonable precautions must be taken for their safe custody.

It is an offence to sell or hire a shotgun to someone under 18 years of age.

It is an offence for a person under the age of 15 to have with him or her an assembled shotgun except while under the supervision of a person of 21 or more, or while the shotgun is so covered with a securely fastened gun cover that it cannot be fired.

It is an offence to be in possession of a loaded shotgun in a  public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

The government has abolished the game licence in England and Wales but not in Scotland. It is also an offence to shoot game on Sundays and Christmas Day. In certain counties it is an offence to shoot wildfowl on Sundays. This applies to England and Wales; legislation is somewhat different in Scotland. Always check if you are unsure – never guess at what the law requires.

All birds and many animals are protected. There is an ‘open’ season for quarry species and it is an offence to kill or attempt to kill them at other times. Certain pest birds may be shot by authorised persons at any time under the open general licences issued annually by the devolved governments of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These are, as they say,
‘open’ and ‘general’; individuals do not need to carry or even hold a copy of the licences. Further guidance should be sought from BASC (
www.basc.org.uk).

It is an offence to shoot wildfowl or game with a self-loading gun having a magazine capacity of more than two cartridges.

You may only lend a shotgun to someone without a certificate  if you are with that person, on land of which you are legally   the occupier OR if you are at a clay pigeon shoot where the chief constable has granted special permission to allow non-certificate holders to shoot.