Don’t miss the latest Ask the Experts

Our experts are back to answer more of your questions – covering lamping, licensing and more

Got a question? Contact: ollie.harvey@futurenet.com or post your question to:
Sporting Rifle, Future,
Quay House,
The Ambury,
Bath BA1 1UA.


Your Sporting Rifle experts

Foxing: Mike Powell Professional gamekeeper and foxing expert
Legal: David Barrington Barnes Solicitor turned specialist firearms law advisor
Technique/Kit: Mark Ripley YouTube star and extreme-range foxer

Legal

Question: Thirty years ago I was convicted of a serious assault and sentenced to four years imprisonment. I am now a family man with a steady job. Will I be allowed shotgun and firearms certificates?

David says: Before you can get a FAC you must apply for the removal of the prohibition on you possessing firearms of any description. As an offender sentenced to more than three years in prison you are, under Section 21 of the Firearms act 1968, subject to a statutory lifetime ban.

However, under Section 21 (6), you are entitled to apply to your local Crown Court for the removal of the prohibition. In hearing your application the Court will carefully consider such matters as the original offence, your behaviour in prison and your life post release up to the present time.

Assuming there are no aggravating factors you haven’t mentioned, the lapse of time between your release from prison and the present time is likely to be helpful to you as would be evidence of your settled family and employment situations.

In such cases the police may be helpful and may sometimes inform the Court that they have no objection to the removal of the prohibition. Occasionally they may support the application.

Either of these positions should improve your chances. Even when the police object to the application the Court may take a different view and grant it.

Only when a successful application has been made and the statutory prohibition has been removed can you then apply for Firearms and Shotgun certificates.

Your Police Firearms Licensing Manager will consider your applications and either grant or refuse them. In so doing his priority will be to decide whether you can possess shotguns and firearms without danger to the public and the peace. 

Technique

Question: Is it better to use a high magnification scope, low magnification or buy a variable power scope? What are the advantages?

Mark says: It very much depends on the type of shooting you’re doing, the time of day and personal preference.

For shooting in low light the image will be better with a lower magnification scope. It also gives you a better field of view helping you to acquire your target quicker, be able to better see the backstop and to see anything else that’s potentially about to wander into your line of fire.

For shooting at greater distance then a higher magnification is preferred to allow you to better see a distant target and aim more precisely.

If you are likely to be shooting a mixture of distances, I would opt for a variable power scope even if you almost always shoot on a low magnification. I’m a strong believer in that it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!

It’s also useful to have a variable power scope when using it with night vision as these are often best on a low power and, if need be, increasing the magnification once your quarry is in the scope.

Foxing

Question: I’m thinking of getting a roof light for foxing, what are your thoughts?

Mike says: I’ve tried most kinds of lamps for foxing at night over the years, some work well others not so well. Several years ago I fitted a remote-controlled light to the roof of the truck I owned then. In theory it was going to be the answer to shooting off road at night, in practice it proved a bit of a wash-out!

Although the remote worked well it was really difficult to catch up and locate a moving fox. I then tried a set-up where the lamp was manually controlled from within the cab – that too was not ideal.

The only advantage it had was that is it could scan through 360 degrees, but overall I was never too enthusiastic with roof mounted moveable lights, and have stuck to hand operated ones either out of the window or preferably from someone standing on the rear of the pickup ever since.

Incidentally, my shooting partner has recently fitted a LED light bar to the roof of his pickup, it is quite incredible as it lights up a complete field as if it were daylight. We haven’t been able to test it on foxes yet, personally, I have my doubts, but it will be interesting to try!

Legal

Question: Unfortunately, my stalking patch is being heavily poached. What protection does the law provide for the conservation of my deer?

David says: I have recently dealt with a question on the law affecting poaching with long dogs, trespassing in pursuit of deer and taking away deer carcases, and so will deal here with other legal protection most of which is contained in the consolidated Deer Act 1991.

The law on close seasons makes an offence of taking or intentionally killing any deer during its close season – see Section 2(1) of that Act. This is subject to exceptions which are unlikely to protect poachers.

Another offence is created by Section 3 making it an offence to take or intentionally kill deer at night. This is an important section of the act as poachers mostly operate in the hours of darkness.

Section 4 makes it an offence to snare deer amongst other illegal methods to kill them. Firearms, other than those that are of a deer law compliant calibre, cannot be used against deer and nor can bows and arrows. Deer may not be shot from a moving vehicle and it’s against the law to discharge a firearm from a moving vehicle or to use it to drive deer.

The exceptions that sometimes apply to occupiers and authorised persons, when for example they are involved in crop protection, does not protect poachers, so these laws will likely apply to them more than you..

The law in Northern Ireland differs only slightly from the English law and is to be found in Part 3 of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. The law in Scotland is considerably different as, indeed, is the Scottish Government’s overall  views on deer and the conservation of them.


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