FAC application process should have an exam, says club chairman

29 July 2016 – A gallery rifle club chairman has publicly called for the firearm certificate application process to include formal lessons and a final test before the certificate is granted.

In an interview given to the South Wales Argus about whether shooting sports are a “dangerous risk”, Terry Lowman of Monmouth Rifle Club called for the FAC application process to become like a “driving licence with a course of lessons followed by an exam.”

“That would make it a little more safe,” he said.

While newspaper interviews are always fraught with ambiguity – we don’t know what else Lowman may have said which wasn’t published – it is disappointing to see a member of the licensed firearms community actively calling for new restrictions which are not needed and wouldn’t make anyone any safer.

There are two routes to getting a firearm certificate. Either you are a member of a rifle club, in which case you have to be a probationary member for a minimum of 3 months and receive a course in the safe use of firearms on a one-to-one basis by a full member or a qualified coach. All that takes place before you can legally apply for an FAC for target shooting, never mind receiving the certificate.

Or, you are a pest controller/hunter, and the land you shoot over and the firearm types you may use are directly approved or rejected by the police, usually following a personal inspection by a police employee.

section on DSC1 being all-but-mandatory deleted – see Jackson’s excellent comment below for why.

That Mr Lowman appears to have disregarded all this and instead thinks training courses and exams should be administered by the police is a cause for concern. While he could arguably be excused for his comments – after all, he was up against a former local councillor for Hungerford who held office at the time of the gun murders there, and this driving licence comment was a relative throwaway line compared to all that – it appears this “more restrictions on us now!” attitude is encouraged from the very top of gallery rifle.

Neil Francis, the current NRA rep for the discipline – who once came into UKSN’s comments section to sling mud at your correspondent – got chased off the Full Bore UK forum after managing to outrage even the hotheads on there*, after posting things like “I don’t really count aimless pinking as target shooting” and “People who are more interested in guns than shooting worry me.”

There is no word yet on whether he has called for the abolition of the Historic Breech-loading Small Arms Association or the Lee Enfield Rifle Association.

* Your correspondent managed to get banned from Full Bore UK for being too pro-NRA. No, really.

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3 thoughts on “FAC application process should have an exam, says club chairman

  1. Nick B

    I know what you mean about FB, I tend to have a break from it every couple of weeks. Trouble is that’s forums all over – internet keyboard warriors who most likely wouldn’t be as confrontational and down right rude to your face.

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  2. Solidslug

    Clearly, Mr Lowman doesn’t trust his own committee members or training officers to deliver and certify the required standard to pass probation and become a full club member, both of which are expected before you could hope to successfully apply for an FAC

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  3. Jackson

    With regard to first applications for an FAC for a sporting rifle there is no requirement for either a ‘mentoring’ condition or DSC1 if shooting deer.

    CC Andy Marsh the then lead of ACPO FELWG wrote to all CCs on 30th April 2013 under the heading ‘The Use of Conditions on Firearm Certificates’ specifically mentioning the then rampant use of the ‘mentoring’ condition by some (not all) FLDs:

    “At present common practice is to request a new shooter to be mentored. The mentor is nominated and checked by police and then authorised. However this mentor does not require any specific training or qualification to undertake this role. Furthermore, we do not enforce that the mentor actually teaches the new applicant and indeed if this were being enforced, I would question if this was the most efficient use of our resources.

    So through an unchecked and unqualified process, we the firearms departments, have to once again vary a certificate if the mentoring condition is applied, thus causing further delays and added bureaucracy.

    The shooting community would like to see the removal of this condition and I do agree. The use of the condition is not proportionate to the associated costs or, in my view, to promoting or protecting public safety. As a comparative analogy to other business areas, we would not seek to place unenforceable bail conditions.

    As such I would like forces to review the use of the mentoring condition and consider its removal. It is accepted that there may be a small increase in the number of refusals, however any applicant can be advised how to gain experience and even consider applying for smaller calibre firearms to gain experience in handling and safe shooting. When mentoring was initially introduced it was for ‘borderline’ refusals, not blanket practice.”

    Since then the ‘mentoring’ restriction has happily fallen into disuse, although some FLO/FEOs may still try it on. Needless to say it should be resisted.

    Although the deer training ‘industry’ may well be in favour of passing DSC1 becoming a prerequisite to obtaining a deer legal rifle, there is no legal requirement to do so. The DSC1 course is a largely classroom based 2 day affair (the assement of which can be taken in half a day without attendance of the training) and it is entirely feasible for someone who has never seen a deer or handled a rifle before to pass – it happens and I’ve witnessed it. The practical firearms element consists of a minimum of only 9 shots into a zeroing and deer shaped target!

    In any event, rather than focusing on specific quarry and promulgating the myth that deer somehow require some kind of specific training before applying for an FAC, the HO Guidance wisely focuses on previous experience of any quarry shooting being desirable (not mandatory!) before authority for a centrefire sporting rifle is granted:

    “It is desirable that new applicants should have some previous experience of the safe
    use of firearms before using such rifles. Experience is neither cartridge nor ammunition
    type exclusive. It may include the shooting of any quarry species. The aspect that police
    are looking to be satisfied about is the competency of the applicant to take a safe shot
    every time. The shooting of any quarry requires a safe backstop for the shot, and such
    experience is transferable between quarry species.”

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