20 Steps to Your License
1 Contact the firearms Registry and ask them to send out the application form and genuine reason forms.
2Join a club.
3Do your safety test.
4Fill out as much of the forms as you're confident to fill out. Unless you want hunting only, always tick both target and hunting and both Category A and B. It makes a mockery of the governments attempt to categorise us.
5Take your forms to your club and get the club officials to fill out the rest :-) particularly the genuine reason components when using club membership as a genuine reason.
6Introduce your completed forms and safety certificate to a photocopier. Make multiple copies of each.
7Post your application registered post to the registry. Many applications get lost in the post. For a couple of dollars spent on registered post you can prevent a lot of wasted time sorting out documentation issues.
While you're waiting...
8Buy and install a safe
9Contact you local police and ask for their licensing people. Ask them to come out and inspect your safe.
10 Ask the registry to send you some PTA forms. This could be interesting because you're license application is processing. Ask them to include some with your license when they post it to you :-)
Also while you're waiting...
11 Look longingly at guns in gun shops, catalogs and magazines
12 Make good use of the ability to try shooting by contacting your club and other clubs and shooting under supervision. If your club doesn't allow it look around. Other clubs do permit it.
13Learn as much as you can about the equipment.
14 Try the online forums. There are a lot of people who are extremely knowledgeable who inhabit them (there are also a few idiots)
15 When the mailman turns up with your photo advice pull a sickie and go to the RTA and get your licence.
16 Make use of the rest of your day off (or wait impatiently for the weekend) and go visit some gun shops and handle some of their guns for the first time.
17Put down a deposit on something totally unsuitable but which you really really want.
18Send in your PTA form for the gun that you want.
19When your PTA arrives go and get your gun.
20Head out to the range and shoot your new pride and joy.

Getting a License

Getting a license is a time consuming process so the first thing you will need is patience. Read through the information below and try and follow the process as much as possible. Don't get put off by what you see. Just remember that it's a government controlled process. It's going to involve lots of forms, lots of waiting and plenty of red tape.

Feel free to visit the Official NSW Police web site where sample forms are available for download

Firearms License Application Forms

Telephone the Firearms Registry (1300 362 562) and ask them to send you the Firearms Licence Application forms.

The forms that you want are the License Application form P561 (P561 Fact sheet, P561 Sample), Genuine Reason Target Shooting P660 (P660 Sample) and Genuine Reason Hunting P661 (P661 Sample).

The registry staff will ask you for some basic information and send you the personalised application forms. The simplest thing to say to them is that you want hunting and target Cat A and B and they'll know what to send you.

You can download the National Safety Code Brochure from here on the NSW Police web site. There is an older one which is slightly out of date with respect to the legislation but still available on the NSW Police Website here. If the links break because the Police NSW procedures have resulted in documents being moved or renamed then please let us know and we can help locate a copy for you.

Minor's firearms permit

A "Minor's firearm training permit" may be applied for by an applicant who is at least 12 years of age with the written permission of a parent or guardian. They must complete the same Firearms License Qualification Course that applies to all shooters. A "Minor's firearm training permit" authorises the holder to use a firearm of a specific category when receiving safety training under the supervision of a licensee who holds a permit for a similar category. Minor's permits expire three months after their 18th birthday, at which time they must apply for a full firearms licence.

You can download the Minors Permit Fact Sheet from here on the NSW Police web site. And the minors permit application form can be downloaded here. We do recommend that you call the registry as they are presently migrating to automatic systems and the downloaded application may cease to be usable despite it still being available for download on the Firearms Registry web site. More information can be found here

Firearms licence qualification (safety) course

This course contains both a theoretical and practical component so before handling a firearm you must complete the P650 form and obtain approval from a club official. More information can be found here. We advise that you study the Firearm Safety booklets and contact an approved instructor to arrange a time for the practical training and safety test. The test is a multiple choice test similar to the driving test.

You must pass this course and obtain a Firearms Licence Qualification Course certificate before you send your completed firearms licence or minor's permit application forms to the Firearms Registry. The test should cost less that $100 depending on who does the test for you. Some commercial testers charge significantly more. Most clubs have a tester available and these are usually the cheaper option.

Our Club will do the test for FREE if you become a full member.

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Genuine Reason Categories

Ignoring collecting which is almost purely for those who wish to keep their firearms without shooting them there are two main categories of "sporting" license genuine reasons. Target and Hunting.

For many people the main difference between the two is the number of attendances required (see below). Mostly regular range going shooters will have both even though they only do target shooting. If you're a member of a club (like Bankstown Chatswood) which is both a target club and a hunting club and you attend more than 6 times a year there is no reason not to have both genuine reasons. There is no additional cost and no additional paperwork.

In legal terms the differences are a little more significant. Without a hunting endorsement on your license you cannot go hunting. That may be fine for many people but a lot of target shooters do hunt and you'd hate to have to decline an invitation for a hunting weekend because you didn't put hunting on your license. Without Target endorsement on your license you cannot compete in competitions. That doesn't mean that you can't shoot the same format as the target shooters. Shoot their format and use the score that you would have received (had you had target endorsement) to indicate the accuracy of your firearm and whether it's sighted in or not.

For quite a number of years, many range controlling clubs were preventing licensed shooters with hunting only on their license from using their ranges because they didn't have target endorsement. There is no (and never has been) such a legal restriction and the people running these clubs are doing it because they have small man's syndrome. It should be pointed out that while target shooters are a lot more visible there are a lot more hunters in NSW than there are target shooters.

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Firearms Licence Categories

When applying for a firearms licence we recommend that you apply for a Category 'A' and Category 'B' licence to allow you to participate in the full range of target sports. You do this by ticking both boxes on the genuine reason form. To shoot F-Class and T/R you must have Category B. It costs no extra to have both on your license. It's easier to have both from the start than to try and add one later on.

Category A Firearms

Air rifles

Rimfire rifles (other than self loading)

Shotguns (other than pump action or self loading)

Shotgun / rim fire rifle combinations

Category B Firearms

Muzzle loading firearms (other than pistols)

Centrefire rifles (other than self loading)

Shotgun / centrefire rifle combinations

Category C and D Firearms

Self loading rifles and shotguns

Category H Firearms

Pistols and revolvers

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Firearms licence application

When applying for a licence you must post the following to the Firearms Registry:

1. A completed "Application for a Personal Firearms Licence Form" (P561)

2. One or more of the following completed "Genuine Reason" forms: Target Shooting (P660), Recreational Hunting/Vermin Control (P661), Collecting (P662)

3. A certificate showing you have completed the Firearms Licence Qualification Course

4. A photocopy of your shooting club membership

A 28 day cooling off period applies to the issuing of all new NSW firearms licenses. The process normally takes about 6 to 8 weeks. When you receive the notification granting you a licence you take this to a Motor Registry together with proof of identity and the licence fee to obtain a photo id firearms licence.

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Minimum attendance requirements

All firearms licence holders must maintain proof of a genuine reason to hold a firearms licence by retaining records to prove that you are actively participating in shooting/club activities. The number of attendances required depends upon the genuine reasons that you specified when applying for your Firearms Licence and which your Firearms Licence specifies as approved.

Well that's what the legislation says... what actually happens is that you nominate with the registry who your primary club is for whichever category of license you're applying for. The registry will contact your primary club annually and ask them if you've completed your attendances. For this reason it's important to sign your clubs attendance register.

Nomination of your primary club defaults to the club which you used for your genuine reason.

Target Shooting

You will need to shoot on at least four (4) occasions during the year to satisfy this requirement and you must have those attendances recorded.

Recreational Hunting

You will need to participate in two (2) hunting, shooting or safety training activities conducted by an approved hunting club each year and have that participation recorded.

Both Target Shooting and Recreational Hunting

In this situation the attendance requirements are accumulative. You need 6 attendances, 4 for target and 2 for hunting.

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Purchasing a firearm

You can never have too many guns.

What you buy is entirely up to you. Club members may be able to advise you on some items but ultimately nothing beats the internet for access to a wide variety of information. Forums like www.ozfclass.com, www.australianhunting.net, ausvarmint.com, etc. are invaluable for new shooters. These forums are frequented by our country's top shooters in many disciplines along with many of the magazine contributors, publishers, gun shop owners, gunsmiths and importers.

And remember "I want it!" is a valid reason for purchasing any firearm.

You will also need to purchase an approved gun safe or make arrangements to store the rifle at the club. Before you purchase a firearm you will need to obtain a Permit to Acquire from the Firearms Registry. The Permit to Acquire P562 form is available from the Firearms Registry and most Firearms Dealers. The dealers will accept a deposit on a rifle before you obtain the PTA. There is a new online Permit to Acquire request form provided by the registry.

If you state that the firearm will be stored at your home the Police may contact you to inspect your gun safe prior to issuing the Permit to Acquire. For the first firearm application, a 28 day cooling off period applies after the Registry receives your the Permit to Acquire application form. It takes about 6 weeks to receive the approved Permit to Acquire form. This form is used to complete the purchase and transfer of the firearm.

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Firearm safe storage requirements

When you apply for a Permit to Acquire or if you own firearms the Police have the right to contact you at any time to inspect the firearm storage facilities but they must arrange a suitable time for the inspection. If they turn up at your door unannounced you can say no but if it's convenient you can also say yes. The Firearms Act requires that a person who possesses a firearm shall take all reasonable precautions to ensure - "its safe keeping, and that it is not stolen or lost and that it does not come into the possession of a person who is not authorised to possess the firearm."

The NSW Police web site has a section devoted to safe storage with a number of informative brochures. One which is of great value to newcomers is their list of pre-approved safes however you will need to contact us for this as the police have removed it from their website. The two other important ones are the Category A & B storage brochure and the ammunition storage brochure.

When choosing a safe consider that they are generally over quoted on their capacity especially if you're buying target or varmint style rifles with wider stocks or large scopes attached or if you store them with the bolts in (legal in NSW despite what many will try and tell you). Subsequently a 5 gun safe is often only good for 4 guns. If you're really keen consider that you will quickly accumulate a number of different firearms and a 6, 8 or 10 gun safe may well be a more sensible purchase. Another consideration is that the larger doors on the larger safes make it easier to transfer guns to and from the safe without banging them on the door frame of the safe. The last thing you want to do is scratch your new pride and joy because you skimped on a smaller safe.

Another thing to consider is that you will likely acquire more ammunition than can fit in the ammunition compartment of your standard safe. One of the best ways of dealing with that is to purchase a small toolbox and padlock. It's compliant and convenient. Many shooters have a number of them and have purchased sets of keyed alike padlocks. One great advantage is that you set them up for your different firearms and when you want to head out with that firearm you just pick up that firearms toolbox and you have everything ready to go.

Your guns when stored can only be accessible to someone licensed for that category of firearm. You can share storage with other people as long as everyone having access to that storage has the appropriate category of license. A common question is. What do I do with the keys? You will hear people say that unlicensed people are not allowed to know where the keys are but that's unrealistic because NSW doesn't have any thought police yet. Regardless it's a good idea to invest in a key safe unless you have a combination or biometric safe.

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Transporting Firearms

You've just walked out of the store with your your new pride and joy and now you have to transport it home. But what are the laws there?

Well, basically, there are none.

This is actually acknowledged by the Police in their generically named Cat C, D & H transportation brochure.

Having pointed that out, there are some things to consider. You do have a responsibility to secure your firearms from theft. Leave it lying uncovered in the back of a station wagon parked in the wrong area and you're asking for a broken window, a stolen firearm and a big legal bill from the fight to keep your license.

It is therefore generally advised to keep your rifle unloaded and out of sight in your car and to keep your ammunition separate which is easily achieved with one of the previously mentioned tool boxes.

When travelling interstate it's important to be aware of the legislation for each state. You need to comply with the local laws for any State or territory through which you will be travelling. To find out more just contact the police registry in each state. A quick source of general interstate information is the forums.

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