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Recreational shooting

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Recreational shooting can refer to several activities including hunting, participating in shooting competitions, or using firearms as a hobby.



The laws governing firearms and other weapons in Europe may be more complicated depending on which European nation you're traveling to. For travelers to member nations of the European Union they may be subject not only to the national laws of their destination, but also local laws and the regulations of the European Union.


Firearm regulation is regulated by law in France. All firearms have to be licensed and must have a unique identifier. Since the European Union creation, a European Firearm License has been created, allowing regulated and declared firearms to be transported cross-borders. An article about Firearms regulations from the Chateau de Janvry can be found here: How to Travel to France with Firearms.


In general Germany is a very restrictive country when it comes to firearms, however since the Weapons Act (Waffengesetz) was enacted on April 1, 2003 the regulations affecting hunters and recreational shooters have been significantly relaxed.

German law raised the minimum age for the purchase and possession of weapons from 16 to 18 for hunters, and 18 to 21 for marksmen.

North America[edit]


Hunting and fishing are big business in Canada and they attract many tourists, especially from the US and Japan. Typically the companies that provide services to hunters can also help customers comply with Canadian laws.

Canadian weapons laws are considerably tighter than the US, though there is less variation between provinces than between US states.

  • The Canadian Firearms Center [1] administers the gun regulations.
  • The firearms center also has a page on import regulations and the necessary forms: [2].

Canadian law regulates firearms into three catagories: Prohibited, Restricted, and Non-Restricted.

Prohibited Guns:

  • Handguns:
  *with a barrel length inferior to 105 millimetres (4.1 in), or;
  *that are designed to discharge .25 or .32 calibre ammunition;
  *exceptions are stated in the Regulations Prescribing Exclusions from Certain Definitions of the Criminal Code International Sporting Competition Handguns [3]
  • Rifles and shotguns that have been altered by sawing, cutting or any other means, so that:
  *the barrel length is inferior to 457 millimetres (18.0 in) (regardless of overall length), or;
  *the overall length is inferior to 660 millimetres (26 in)
  • Firearms which have fully automatic fire capability, or "converted automatics" (i.e.: firearms which were originally fully automatic, but have been modified to discharge ammunition in a semi-automatic fashion)
  • Hundreds of other firearms listed by name, including any variants or modified versions. The list includes shotguns, carbines, rifles, pistols, and submachine guns, as well as tasers. [4]
  • Magazines designed for semiautomatic centerfire rifles that exceed 5 rounds, and pistol magazines that exceed 10 rounds(Magazines designed for manually operated firearms and all rimfire weapons have no limits)

Restricted Guns:

  • Any handgun that is not prohibited (Handguns cannot be non-restricted)
  • Any firearm that is:
  *not prohibited;
  *that has a barrel length inferior to 470 millimetres (18.5 in)
  *and is semi automatic
  • Any firearm that can be fired when the overall length has been reduced by folding, telescoping, or other means to less than 660 millimetres (26 in)
  • The AR-15 by name and any vairant of it, centrefire and rimfire

Non-restricted guns:

  • any other rifle or shotgun, other than those referred to above

All firearms imported into the country must be accompanied by a Non-resident firearm declaration [5]. Getting an import permit for prohibited weapons is effecitvely impossible for general sporting activites however, and border agents are required to size and destroy any that come to the border. The declaration forms are to be brought to the border agent in triplicate. They will not make copies at border so have all the necessary paperwork before you get there. Also: Do not sign the forms until you are with the customs agent. Candaian law requires the signatures be done in the presence of a border agent. It is valid to deny the firearm import if the forms were signed before hand. Once a background check is complete the forms approved by the officer it acts as a temporary possession license for 60 days and allows one to purchase ammuntion and import up to 200 rounds.

For restricted weapons there some extra steps. They are only allowed to be used at shooting ranges and are specifically banned from hunting. In addition to the declaration forms, one has to contact the Chief Firearms Ofiicer (CFO) in the province one is going for a 60 day Authroization to Transport (ATT)[6]. This must be done well in advance of a trip. CFO's vary on their willingness to issue ATT's. Some have their own requirements such as a specific range and membership, while others will simply issue it after passing a background check. Once issued the ATT number and experation date are added to the declaration forms accordingly. In theory, as of Sepetember 2015, ATT's are supposed to be a condition of license, and by extension the form, but this remains to be seen.

For transport a firearm, at minimum, must be unloaded and made inoperable by removing the critical parts or being bound by a device (such as a trigger lock). Restricted firearms must also be in a locked sturdy container.

If one wishes to borrow a non-restricted firearm from an outfitter or a licenced Canadian citizen, a seperate form can be filled out and sent, in advance, to the CFO of the province in question [7].

If one has a criminal record other than traffic/civil violations or crimes of concience, border agents have wide descripancy to deny an firearm import. Those with a criminal record should seek and application directly through a CFO well before even considering entering the country with a firearm.

United States of America[edit]

Shooting sports such as hunting and competitive shooting are widely practiced. Rifle ranges often offer shooter safety and other classes for beginners.

Anyone who wishes to hunt must first purchase a hunting license valid for the state they will hunt in. Licenses are available at many rural stores or by mail/internet directly from the state. They are usually valid for a set period of time, or a set number of kills.

Foreigners on non-immigrant visas who wish to import guns for hunting or competitive shooting must file Form 6 NIA [8] with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [9], as well as have a valid hunting license. Approval generally takes 6-8 weeks, so plan ahead.

It is only legal in the US for US citizens and legal permanent residents (green card holders) to purchase or own firearms without any special permit. Foreigner, who are illegally or unlawfully in the United States, are specifically prohibited from possessing any firearm or ammunition. Foreigners lawfully admitted to the United States under a non-immigrant visa may possess firearm if they are admitted to the United States for lawful hunting or sporting purposes or are in possession of a hunting license or permit lawfully issued in the United States. Another option is to borrow or rent guns from the shooting range of your choice to shoot on premises. While technically illegal without a valid hunting license, the law is rarely enforced for the average tourist.

Individual US States have a significant say over most of the regulations of firearms within their state. Travelers will want to check with individual states to make sure other restrictions will not apply to them. The pro-gun lobbyist organization, the National Rifle Association (Commonly referred to as the NRA) [10] provides an excellent service that explains most relevant state-by-state laws.

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