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The difference between shooting at paper in UK and the USA - Pt 1

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by tac, Jun 5, 2016.

  1. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    To shoot a rifle or carbine in the USA, or most anything else for that matter, you need -

    1. Your driving license.

    2. Hard cash or a valid credit card.

    3. To be 18 for a long gun and 21 for a handgun in most states, and

    4. To be a law-abiding [non-felon] citizen of the USA.

    You can walk into most gun stores, and walk out again with the gun of your choice, after your background check says that you are good to go.

    I think that's about it, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Note that we - that is, you and I - both live in a democracy of free people.

    tac
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016
  2. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    18 is the minimum for long guns and 21 for handguns in most states.
     
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  3. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    Part 2 - in the UK.... l o n g post, folks.

    Let's say, for argument's sake, that you've never been shooting before, just like 99% of the entire 65 million population of the UK. How do you get into it?

    Well, there are two methods. The first is to buy a shooting mag like Gun Mart, and check out your nearest gun club [there ARE over 1500, in case you think that there are actually none]. You call up the secretary, and make a date to go see what it's all about - turning up unannounced will likely get you shown the outside of the entry door in fairly short order. And take it from there......

    Or, you may have a pal who talks about his time on the range, and if you drop a hint or two, he'll take you along to a guest day at his club. There are twelve authorised guest days for full members to show their spousal units and pals/colleagues what they get up to, and having had a great time there, you might just think to yourself, WOW!!! I could get interested in THAT for sure!

    Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo,

    1. You join a gun-club that does the kind of shooting that you think will appeal to you. Apart from a few commercial ranges - not open to the general public who are not part of the firearms industry, and a VERY few private individuals who have their own land and facilities, there are NO ranges that do not have gun-clubs, and NO gun-clubs who do not have ranges. EVERY range in the country is an official government-sanctioned range, and EVERY gun-club is part of the National Rifle Association or National Small-bore Rifle Association. So every member of every gun-club right from the start is also a member of either or both of these two national associations, by association. That's the insurance thing settled.

    2. You serve a three or six-month probationary time, during which you learn all about shooting lots of different guns and disciplines by shooting lots of different guns and taking part in different disciplines. Most noobs get a mite bewildered by the club members offering them lots of different guns to shoot [I have nineteen, so it can take a while], and most, at first, ask if they can pay for the ammunition. The answer to tosh like this is simple - when YOU are a full member, YOU let a noob shoot your gun, and pass it all on along, right? You CAN buy ammunition at the club, in four or five calibres and six different varieties of .22RF, but you cannot take it away with you. You can, if you wish, take empties away for future use for reloading when you get your FAC - here in UK, and in the rest of the world, an empty cartridge case is a piece of brass with a hole in one end, and not any kind of live round. The only guns you cannot shoot are shotguns that shoot more than three rounds, or any shotgun firing slugs, or any kind of long-barrelled handgun of the kind permitted on mainland UK. Northern Ireland does NOT subscribe to this, BTW, and you can shoot anything that another club member puts in your hand. This sad stricture is a Home Office thing, and applies to EVERYBODY, not just noobies/probies.

    3. During this time, you are, of course, being watched like a hawk for anything odd that might give people cause for concern about your suitability to own firearms of any kind. Standing in a corner muttering to people that only you can see is a surefire way of NOT getting any kind of gun certificate. Many of us shooters are a mite odd, but just not THAT odd. And anyhow, shooting is a social thing - people who do it like to talk to other people about it. This is called 'instinctive teaching' or, more correctly, 'bragging'. If you don't like to talk to people, then you are most likely not a suitable candidate for any kind of shooting sport. Michael Ryan, the Hungerford mass-murderer, wasn't a member of a gun club, and didn't like people much, as he later proved by killing sixteen of them and wounding over thirty others. Here in yUK we like to think that the way that the application form is laid out, and the conditions demanded in it, render this kind of appalling act of violence 99.999% unlikely these days.

    4. You are tested, at least twice, on safety and safe handling and general knowledge on the firearms scene.

    5. At the end of the three/six months, the secretary tells you that you have done just fine, and to go ahead and fill out your application for a firearms certificate - the FAC - on which you may ask for the guns that you think that you would like to shoot. It is at this point that you suddenly realise that the very first referee in the application IS the club secretary, and weren't you glad that you behaved and did all that was required of you in terms of attendance and demonstration of good and safe handling an gun etiquette et al. So, your first application will be multiple firearms of the rifled barrel type - usually a .22 rimfire rifle or carbine, a .223 centre-fire rifle or carbine, maybe a .308Win for target work, maybe a 38/357 or .44/44 underlever rifle or carbine for the sheer fun of it, any kind of black powder firearm or rifle, carbine or handgun [of the kind permitted on mainland UK]. You also ask for as much ammunition for each gun that you think that you will need at any one time. You provide two referees who have known you for at least two years - NOT a serving police officer, or official of the club or any person with a police record, and give permission for the licensing authority to ASK your GP if you are a drugee or epileptic or habitual user of hallucinogenic powders or liquids. Alcoholism IS a problem, if you are a noted or documented sot, as is any record of violence, threat of violence or the threat of or use of threatening behaviour. Having such a record will usually stop your application dead in the water. However, carrying out acts of extreme violence, such as the killing of sundry foreigners on behalf of the wishes of the government of the day, either singly or en masse, does not count, as you were plainly carrying out your patriotic duty in obeying your superior officer at that time. Note that you will have made a declaration to the fact that you are NOT a drugee or epileptic, nor in the habit of taking mind-altering meds etc, in the body of the FAC application form. Lying about this will get you 3 - 5 years pokey, as the application form is, in UK legal terms, a sworn document, and you will be rightly guilty of attempting to obtain a firearm/firearms by deception.

    6. You buy and fit a suitable gun-safe - they are ALL made here in UK, unless you are fabulously rich, and can afford US-made Browning items. They all have to comply to the same rigorous standards. Nothing else is permitted, not even, as I saw once, a refrigerator converted into a 'gun-safe' and painted a natty shade of Hammerite silvery blue. Note that the fitting of a domestic alarm is NOT a compulsory requirement, until you have around 12 or 16 Section 1 firearms. I live in an outlying village, so it makes sense to have one, so I have two, to be sure. Here it makes not the slightest difference in the level of police response, no matter how many and of what kinds your alarms. If you get burglarised then the police will come round the next morning, maybe flap a few bits of paper around - even take a photograph or two for the station album to show willing, give you a crime number and b&gger off. You are unlikely ever to see them or hear from the again unless your guns were stolen, in which case they get a trifle concerned, make a note of your FAC details and circulate a list of your guns around the nation. Given the extreme unlikelihood of any self-respecting crook holding up a corner store with your 1862 Snider or F-Class target rifle and getting caught in the act, that is the last you'll ever hear of it. When I asked if any enhanced level of response in terms of rapidity of attendance might accrue from having a monitored alarm system fitted, one wag in uniform said that tearing round to the location with 'blues and twos' alight in an immediate response to 'attend the scene of the crime' was unlikely in the extreme, since the miscreants were, at that very moment, armed, albeit with stolen guns, and they, the police, were unlikely to have anything more lethal than a powerful torch. Suffice it to say that where I live, the Chief Constable supports the idea of people having monitored alarms, in spite of the fact that the Home Office guidelines make absolutely NO mention of the necessity for fitting even a basic system. The words of the Firearms Certicicate [FAC] read 'secure accommodation', so if you have seen any crime-buster TV programmes where the boys in blue have been trying to gain access to some scumbag's dreary little domestic unit on a sh&tty social housing estate in Buttwipeville-on-Glum, you'll have seen with your own eyes just how hard it is to gain any kind of access to a house fitted with even the most basic modern double-glazing uPVC doors and windows here in UK, let alone do it surrepticiously.

    We digress.

    Back to the process.......The Firearms Enquiries Officer [a civilian] comes around for coffee and biscuits/cookies, finds that you are what you say you are, checks out your safe, mentally agrees with your referees, shakes your hand and bids you good day. In our club there are five such people - invariably shooters of all kinds themselves, widely experienced in most, if not all aspects of the shooting sports, they are usually retirees from the police or military or conservation, in one case, all three.

    7. Your FAC plops into your mail box a couple of weeks later, and off you go to the gun dealer to spend all your money on guns, and, if you want to give it a try, any and all reloading gear to get you started making your own ammunition, like 90% of all other shooters do here.

    8. After a while, you give another discipline a try and find that it takes your interest, so you apply for a variation to your FAC for another firearm of the type you wish to shoot. It costs £40 to do this, but if you wait until renewal time, it's free. Same if you wish to swap out same calibre guns on a one-for-one basis.

    9. Your FAC lasts five years and costs, ATM, £80. Renewing it does not require you to justify your reasons all over again - you've already done that over the previous five years, and, in any case, anything aberrant that might cause concern has been notified to the licensing authority by the club secretary...it is not being a snitch, it is his or her legal duty to do so as part of the Home Office guidelines he or she has agreed to abide by on taking on the duty. Any infringement of range safety that shows that you are acting irresponsibly where live firearms are concerned is, of course, a matter for everybody around you, and whereas a simple and thoughtless action such as touching your gun while folks are forward of the firing point will earn you a loud ticking off, pointing it at anybody with obvious malice will get you kicked out of the club instantly and permanently. With a large proportion of serving or ex-military in my club, you are more likely to get a rifle butt to the back of the skull than a simple 'excuse me, but what are you doing?' The club sec is obliged to inform the licensing authority without delay of your aberant behaviour, and you WILL lose your FAC as a result. No club membership = no 'good reason' to own any target firearm, since that is THE condition under which you are able to acquire and possess a firearm in the fust place. Since the inception of the UK's HOLMES system [yup, true], that information will have been passed to all 51 mainland county licensing departments and the PSNI, and you'll have to take up knitting or something like it.

    As with most things, the more you do, the more you learn, and you improve as you get more familiar with your guns. There are always club coaches, like me, an NRA coach and British Disabled Shooting Association instructor, to help and advise, and the opportunity for you to put something back into the club by doing an RCO course, like almost 30% of our 300+ membership has already done.

    I've been asked by an interested person if all this personal instruction/mentoring and so on costs the probie anything extra to his or her initial joining fee.

    'course not. Everybody HAS to learn initially and safety is of paramount importance where firearms are concerned. It stands to reason that somebody who is safe and sure in his or her handling of guns is, uh, safe and sure...experience comes with confident handling of the firearm, and that comes with use and 'doing it' under the watchful eyeball of the person alongside you on the firing line.

    The only things that cost are extra-mural courses like those run by the NRA at Bisley, and the RCO qualification course that so many of our club have successfully completed. It is usual to save up the number of applicants to around ten or so, and get the peripatetic NRA RCO course instructor to come to us - cheaper all round, too. We have also a number of club members who are instructors for the British Deer Society qualifications, at all three levels of expertise, but that's really outside the remit of this post, which is primarily concerned with the target-shooting aspect of shooting sports.

    Hope this is useful.

    tac
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016
  4. edslhead

    edslhead Vanc Gold Supporter Gold Supporter Silver Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    So unless you really like fish N chips, stay here in the US?
     
  5. P7id10T

    P7id10T Cedar Hills Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    @tac - thanks for posting this. It sounds organized, slow and deliberate.
    In your experience, does favoritism or prejudice occur with any frequency, if at all?

    Sometimes I encounter people who need an overwatch system like this so they are filtered out. Same would go for even more drivers.
     
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  6. 308

    308 ΜOΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ ΜOΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ Platinum Supporter Silver Supporter

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    Hopefully whatever keeps you there you there is of great personal benefit.
     
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  7. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Sub Light Speed Well-Known Member

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    Well, That clears up quite a bit of misconception about our dear friends across the pond. Thanks for the detailed post Tac, That actually helps explain things. I do have a few questions, Is it ok to have a firearm for personal protection? Even if it's just "round the house? Is there any sore of permit you are required to have for this?
     
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  8. v0lcom13sn0w

    v0lcom13sn0w Keizer, or Well-Known Member

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    wow. :eek:
     
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  9. Koda

    Koda Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    so basically, guns are for the wealthy and among those leaning in favour of the ones who are really enthused about target shooting.

    I also would like to know if guns there can be used for self defense inside or outside the persons home?
     
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  10. etrain16

    etrain16 Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Makes me thankful to live where I do.
     
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  11. erudne

    erudne The Pie Matrix PPL Say Sleeping W/Your Rifle Is A bad Thing? Bronze Supporter

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    Do many Poms own their own range? Mine only extends to 750 yards, I'm sure the Brits do much better with their inbuilt EU metricocracy
     
  12. The Nothing

    The Nothing PDX Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    Hummm... So I'd guess my 28 days in Kirkland back in the 90s and friendship with Bill W would mean no firearms of any sort for me in the UK.
     
  13. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Very interesting, thanks tac!

    One question for now, keeping your firearms at home seems a big hassle! Can one secure they're guns at the club? Or, are there private companies in that business?:)
     
  14. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    Para 1 - not sure what you mean by favouritism. Favouritism of whom? By whom? For what purpose? If you fulfil the requirements, then you 'shall be granted' an FAC, that's the law that the county Chief Constable is bound by - the Firearms Acts. The terms and conditions of the Acts of Parliament are not open to interpretation or influence I've never heard of anybody being refused a grant, having complied with the legal requirements. As for prejudice, how would THAT work? In order to even get to the point where you apply for an FAC, after all the hoops that you have to jump through, you have to be pretty much committed, and have the ££££££ to fund it. There ARE certain elements of the population who don't go shooting for a sport, and without going into details that some would find offense, people of colour in shooting sports are rare indeed. We have a number of Asian members - a family, in fact - all of whom are doctors. We have just two black shooters - one is in the RAF Regiment, the other is a water engineer for Anglia Water, the regional providers of domestic water. We have no Arabs, no Somalis, Afghans, any kind of 'istanis, but then they don't figure in the local landscape either - this is THE farming county of the UK after all. I have lived in a number of locations in the UK, and found that our Asian brethren like to do things with other Asian brethren, whatever that might be. Shooting sports are not included there, that's for sure. Furriners in our club? Sure. Apart from Metis like me, we have one Pole, who is an industrial engineer at Cambridge Science Park and one Tanzanian - of Portuguese ancestry - who runs a company building generator sets and electrical power supplies for the oil and gas industry.

    Para 2 - Remember that the probie time is not an option - no probationary period = no application for a FAC. The purpose of the hoops is to ensure that no more Michael Ryans [Hungerford massacre of 1986 - 16 dead, thirty wounded] or Thomas Hamiltons [Dunblane Massacre of 1996 - 16 1st grade children and a teacher slaughtered] happen again.

    tac
     
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  15. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    No to everything.

    tac
     
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  16. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    No big hassle. I have three gun cabinets for mine. The wording on the FAC reminds you that YOU are responsible for the security and safekeeping of your guns. That's it.

    Keeping them at a gun club is not an option - no gun club I've ever heard of has facilities for storing privately-owned firearms of any kind. No companies to do it for you either.

    tac
     
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  17. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    Wealthy? Not really.

    The FAC cost £80 for five years no matter how many guns you have.

    The gun club costs anything between £100 - 150 a year. We can shoot eight times a week, BTW.

    Your guns cost as much as you want to pay.

    Reloading is an option that enables you to shoot more.

    Why do you need to be wealthy? I know Americans who collect airplanes, and others who collect old Italian speedboats made of wood, and another guy who collects golf clubs - he has eleven so far, mostly in Florida. THAT is wealthy.

    I'm not sure that my English is up to comprehending the second part of your first sentence - sorry.

    As for the second sentence, I've answered that already.

    tac
     
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  18. PaulB47

    PaulB47 Hillsboro Well-Known Member

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    And that's not likely to change, with the process over there. Just goes to show one can have prohibition without actually prohibiting.
     
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  19. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    Indeed.

    tac
     
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  20. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    I left out shotguns for a reason.

    ANY law-abiding person over the age of eighteen can actually have a shotgun of up to three shots capacity, providing they have a legal use for it.

    One Shotgun Certificate [SGC] allows you to have as many as you like - literally.

    And IF you are refused a SGC - for whatever reason - it is up to the police authority to justify why they have not permitted you to have one.

    Nobody knows how many legally-owned shotguns there are in UK, but in our county alone there are 19,000 SGC, covering any number of shotguns. A pal of mine collects Webley & Scott guns - he has around a hundred so far.

    tac
     
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