Saturday, 18 August 2012

Obtaining a pistol licence for sport

Over 730,000 law abiding Australian citizens own a firearms licence to use rifles, shotguns and pistols.
Five per cent of those (35,000) own pistol licenses for target shooting sports.

To obtain a pistol licence, you need to be squeaky clean character in the eyes of the law.  You must be prepared to shoot in at least six competitions per year to maintain your licence. 

Competitions that are held on a weekly or monthly basis at your local pistol club. National and International competitions exist for serious pistol shooters.

There are a variety of pistol discipline sports to suit all interests, the most popular being:
 ISSF - the Olympic disciplines.  
International 1920 - which comprises four courses of fire:  falling plate, mover, practical and barricade.  Shooters draw from a holster. 
Metallic Silhouette - shooting at metal cutouts of rams, pigs, chickens and turkeys, cut to different scales and set at varying distances from the competitor.  Prohibited pistols up to .45 caliber can be used in this sport. 
Service Pistol - based on FBI training.
Single action - cowboys shooting revolvers and drawing from the holster.  Never shot in this competition, but it looks like a lot of fun. 
IPSC - the only pistol discipline that involves drawing from a holster and moving, often running, with a loaded pistol.  The course of fire is always unique and competitors are scored based on speed, accuracy and the power of their pistol.  Pistol clubs will generally not allow new probationary members into this discipline due to the very high safety standards and experience in handling semi-automatic pistols required.   

Your local pistol club will host an open day once a year to allow people to try the sport of pistol shooting, and you can commence your probationary pistol training at your local pistol club by simply filling out a form.  Clubs will provide instructors to supervise new shooters on a one-on-one basis.  Clubs will generally have their own target pistols for you to use.  To begin competing, you must, however, have a probationary pistol licence or a full category 'H' firearms licence, have completed your training and passed a theoretical test on firearms safety and firearms mechanics.

To obtain a Probationary Pistol Licence (PPL) in NSW you must contact the NSW firearms registry to apply for a PPL.  They will conduct a federal police criminal history check.  You must also supply two references from someone over the age of 18 that you have known for at least two years.  

Once your application has been approved, which usually takes four to six weeks, a photographic advice will be issued in the mail and you will need to attend the RTA and pay a fee to have your PPL issued, which looks much like a drivers licence, but only for firearms.

Different clubs have different training programs, but you can usually expect to do 12 weeks (usually two to three hours each weekend) of classroom and practical training.  You cannot miss any of the training sessions.

At the end of the 12 weeks, you will be asked to sit a comprehensive test that focuses largely on safety and firearm mechanics.  If you pass, you will be issued with a safety certificate that you will need to submit to the NSW firearms registry.  Before you can submit your first permit to acquire a pistol,  you will also need to submit evidence to the registry from your local club that you have competed in at least three pistol competitions.  The waiting period for submitting your first permit to acquire a pistol is six months from when your PPL was issued by the RTA.  The permit issue waiting period is an additional 28 days to that six month period.  Whilst on a PPL, you may only apply for a permit for two pistols, but  cannot purchase a rimfire pistol and a centrefire pistol.  You can only purchase two centrefire pistols or two rimfire pistols.  Pistol owners across Australia cannot understand why this bizarre legislation exists.  All purchases must be made from a licensed firearms dealer.

A PPL holder can apply for a full category 'H' licence after 12 months and can own whatever pistols they desire, providing their club discipline coordinator believes they are suitable.  Pistols must have a barrel length of at least 120mm and magazine capacity is restricted to 10 rounds.

To raise your pulse and to get you excited about pistol shooting in Australia, I've attached a few videos of the exciting and dynamic pistol discipline IPSC.  If you have any questions, please feel free to reply to my blog.  Thanks for reading, have fun and most importantly be safe.  

Fast IPSC shooting by J J Racaza


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