Publication - Advice and guidance

Air weapon licensing in Scotland: guide

Published: 22 Feb 2019

Guidance published by Scottish Ministers on the practical application of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015.

Air weapon licensing in Scotland: guide
Appendix 4: Good Reason

Appendix 4: Good Reason

For the purposes of determining an AWC application, the Scottish Government believes that the following may be considered good reason to use or possess an air weapon, taking account of all the circumstances of the individual case:

Sporting Purposes: Shooting for sporting purposes may take many forms, from shooting as part of an organised competition, for example at targets, to shooting live quarry over land. It will be for the applicant to determine the appropriate weapon type and ammunition for particular quarry.

Vermin and pest control: Pest control would be a good reason to have a certificate, provided it would not cause any risk to the public. This may be as part of a business, or a person's employment, or may be undertaken by an individual because of an established pest problem. As above, is the responsibility of the shooter to determine what is appropriate to be used for a humane kill.

Target Shooting: Air weapon users may undertake target shooting, whether formal or informal, on private land provided that this can be done safely and without danger to the public. The applicant should specify the land over which they intend to or have permission to shoot regularly, providing the full address of that land (though this does not restrict their ability to shoot elsewhere where permission is also given). The land need not be owned or rented by the applicant, nor need they have regular or automatic access to it. Farmers and landowners may, for example, allow air weapon owners to shoot on their land, on a formal or informal basis.

Whether the shooting takes place on open land, such as a farm or in woodland, or in a residential garden it is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that appropriate measures are in place to protect people and animals from harm. The applicant should therefore, at Part B of application form AWL1, provide sufficient detail about the arrangements in place to provide assurance to the Chief Constable that shooting may be undertaken safely. This may, for example, include details of precautions taken such as the erection of backstops or other measures to prevent or contain ricochets or missed shots.

"Plinking" is a term often used by those who use air weapons and refers to informal target shooting undertaken at standard or non-standard targets, such as cans and bottles, often in built-up areas. As above, where shooting is undertaken in a confined space, such as a domestic garden, it is incumbent on the shooter to consider if this can be done safely, and to provide evidence of this in support of their application. Shooting in areas to which the public have unrestricted access, such as communal gardens or similar areas is not acceptable.

It should be emphasised that land is not intrinsically "safe" or "unsafe" and any person using an air weapon should exercise discretion in deciding whether to shoot in particular circumstances. However, in considering whether a person has "good reason" to use an air weapon for target shooting, the police will wish to be satisfied that the applicant has considered and taken appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of others. While the police may, in a number of cases, wish to seek further information from the applicant, it is expected that most cases will be determined on the basis of a properly evidenced application. It is expected that a home or land visit will be deemed necessary only in a very small number of cases.

Many applicants may state that their reason for applying for a certificate is to target shoot at an air weapon club (whether or not this is an approved club under the terms of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015). The applicant should normally provide evidence of membership of such a club.

Re-enactments: Re-enactors may use imitation and de-activated firearms which are unlikely to be subject to certification. If in doubt, they should contact the police.

Theatrical Use: Individuals may use or possess an air weapon without holding a certificate while taking part in a theatrical performance or rehearsal of a performance. However, the air weapons themselves should be provided by, and remain the responsibility of a named individual such as a theatrical armourer or a theatre manager who holds an air weapon certificate in their own right. Theatrical performance should be interpreted broadly to mean a theatre, film or TV production, or a similar pre-arranged performance, and the rehearsals associated with such performances. The police, in determining the application under this use, should seek evidence from the applicant that the production in question is pre-planned and programmed. Internet productions are less likely to be accepted as good reason for having air weapons.

Collectors: The collecting of air weapons by a genuinely interested collector should be accepted as a "good reason" for the grant of a certificate. There should be no blanket policy to prevent the collecting of modern air weapons (though collectable air weapons are more likely to be of a historical nature).


Central enquiry unit: