There is no exact formula for gaining permission to shoot over land. But the golden rule is to remember, essentially you are going up to a stranger and saying can I play with loaded guns on your land. Remember that and act accordingly, here’s some tips;-
What are you actually asking for?
You need to know what you are asking for, simply asking for permission to shoot is very ominous and will likely result in a quick firm no. Think about what you want to do. If you are looking to shoot clays somewhere as you’re sick of the prices at the local shooting ground think about where exactly you may do this. Remember a farmer doesn’t want his fields trampled when you go to pick up the clays you have missed. How are you going to throw the clays? You will need a trap manual or automatic, think about offering to store it on the farm or if possible out in the field (if secure, ish) and offer the land owner the use of the trap and leave a few boxes of clays with the trap for him/her to use.
If your asking to shoot pigeons which is a common pastime offer this as free pest control, wood pigeon is a major agricultural pest if the farmer has rape crops or peas then he will likely want them to be thinned out. Think about offering to share the bag if this is something he/she likes to eat.
Game shooting, it’s very unlikely a land owner will give up his game for free. If this is what you are after then you may have to pay. This is assuming there isn’t already a shoot on the land. If there is a shoot on the land and you want to shoot game you will have to foot the bill of joining the syndicate if a position is open. If there is a game shoot this doesn’t necessarily mean no, ask to shoot pigeons and crows as pest control. Crows especially are a major pest for nesting game birds. You may come accross a very generous land owner who allows you to shoot game but the likelihood is you’re going to have to start on pests first. I have permission to shoot game in a few areas free of charge but this is because my primary effort is the pest control, the odd pheasant, duck or goose is a thanks from the farmer.
You know what you want to shoot. How are you going to shoot it?
In all cases know your ammunition and make sure the land owner knows you know. Let’s assume you’re shooting shotgun. What type of cartridge do you need? Fibre wad is always going to be the one, a farmer doesn’t want a field full of plastic. How far will your shot go 300m is the exclusion zone you’re looking for (this is just a rule of thumb.) Remember Safety Safety Safety. Show the land owner you understand your craft.
And remember you hate litter, you pick up 100% of cartridges and you make a point of picking up any others you find.
When are you wanting to shoot?
Let the land owner know when you plan to be out, let them know that you will text him/her every time you go out. Also let them know you will be calling 101 to inform the local police force when you are out. The land owner doesn’t want the police tipping up on reports of gun fire.
Where can you shoot?
Make sure you know where you can shoot. We’re still in our initial conversation with the land owner so tell them if they give you permission you will come back with a map to be clearly marked. (Try google maps they have satellite images you can print off and this shows field boundaries.) Also get written permission. You do not need written permission by law but it’s much better if you get it. The land owner may be a farmer with employees that don’t know you, written permission and a marked map will quickly end any uncomfortable conversations when handling a firearm. It’s also good to display this in any vehicles, it will put peoples minds at rest. Let the land owner know this. Written Permission can be in any form but I suggest the BASC form you can download the PDF here. Ensure the land owner knows you are aware of any public rights of way and think about highlighting them on the map.
Dress respectably, I’m not talking suit and tie but dress appropriately. (No trackies and trainers. And if you drive a Corsa with a K&N air filter and stainless exhaust get a lift.)
Who are you talking too?
If you’re tipping up at someones door, ask them if they are the land owner if you don’t know. Remember who you are talking too, it’s Sir or Mam, if you know the family name you can also use Mr or Mrs/Miss. If they introduce themselves by first name try using sir anyway, most people will say “please jut call me Jeff.” It shows respect and gets you on a good footing.
Have you got any other perms? ask them if its OK to share their number for a reference. If your reading this you may just be starting out so think who you know that may offer a reference. References are best coming from a pillar of the local community, if you are local try the post master, pub landlord etc.
Also get a business card or if you have a work one then use that.
If you don’t have it, GET IT! You need public liability insurance and you need to make sure the land owner knows this there are many products I use BASC. As of the last time I checked this was the most comprehensive, you get a nice magazine every few months too as well as other membership benefits.
What if they say no?
More often than not the answer will be no, remember you are asking a lot of a person. They may already have some people shooting for them. It will be annoying, but don’t let this show. Say it’s OK you understand that you are asking a lot of them. Leave a business card (if a work one mark it up with what your asking for) tell them if they change their mind then you would be happy to come back.
First Impressions are everything
As most people will make up their mind about someone in the first few seconds it’s worth thinking about what you’re going to say, your reading this so it’s likely you have given this some thought. When driving over just run it through in your mind what you might say. I’m not talking full word for word script just enough so you’re happy. People will pick up quickly on those who have thought things through and this will come accross in your favor.
CHECKLIST – make sure the land owner knows
- you’re only using fibre wad cartridges
- you’re only shooting where and when it is safe to do so
- you always carry a written permission slip and shotgun/firearm certificate
- you always carry a marked map
- you are insured
- You are happy to give references
- dress appropriately (and no chav cars)
- don’t forget a business card or contact information sheet.
- first Impressions are everything
- address them as Sir or Maam until told differently