You've decided you want to go hunting and you need a shotgun - but where do you start? If you've never
purchased one before, here are some key things to consider.
Applying for a Licence
Anyone who wishes to own, buy or use a shotgun or buy ammunition in the UK must first obtain a shotgun licence
or certificate. A shotgun is defined as a gun with a bore diameter no greater than 2 inches and a barrel length of at
least 24 inches. This is distinct from a firearm which requires a separate licence. You can apply for a shotgun
licence using a form available from your local police station. In England, Wales and Scotland you must submit your
completed form with four passport photographs, the fee (currently £50), and the details of one referee. The police
may also require evidence that you have adequate secure storage facilities in place for your shotgun before they
will issue a certificate. They may visit you at your home to assess your gun safe. A shotgun license is usually valid
for five years, whether issued new or as a renewal.
You must be eighteen years or over to buy a shotgun, but you can apply for a shotgun certificate below this age.
You are allowed to receive a shotgun as a gift from the age of fifteen, but an adult would need to take responsibility
for it and its safe storage.
Further details about applying for a shotgun licence are available at the official Gov website.
In Northern Ireland when you submit your application for a shotgun licence you will be required to give two
referees, who must have known you for a minimum of two years, or one year for an official of a shooting club of
which you are a member. Once your application has been submitted to the Firearms and Explosives department
you will be contacted by an officer who will arrange to meet you at your home to review your application
Choosing your first shotgun
So now you have a shotgun certificate, you can go and buy your first shotgun. A second hand gun may be a good
option for when you are new to shooting. Look out for a gun dealership which offers a warranty or refund policy so
you are covered in the event that a used gun is faulty.
When choosing a gun you will need to decide on the calibre, the length and whether to go for a single barrel,
double barrel, semi automatic or pump shotgun. A twelve gauge is ideal for the beginner, and is suitable for both
target practice and hunting. There is also a good range to choose from. If you plan to shoot targets primarily with
just occasional hunting to begin with, you might also want to consider a twenty gauge. Ammunition is readily
available for either of these gauges.
If you're a novice and need help with applying for your license or choosing the right gun, get an experienced friend
to help or find a local shooting club to join. Choosing your first shotgun is a big decision and it's worth taking the
time to get it right. Once you have that and your certificate, you can look forward to years of enjoyment from the
The information on this site is provided without representations or warranties about its completeness or accuracy.
You must not rely on this information as an alternative to professional advice.