Are you looking to take up shooting? Or maybe you already have a firearm collection and you’d like to improve your shot?
So long as you practice proper firearm safety, shooting can be loads of fun! From weekends spent hunting, to days out on the shooting range, to special events like Cowboy Action Shooting, there’s no shortage of fun activities that can involve your firearms. They can bring the whole family together, make for an exciting date, or even just time well-spent by yourself. That said, there are many restrictions on discharging your firearms in Ontario. So, if you want to shoot, where can you legally do it?
There are three ways you can shoot your guns legally in Ontario:
1. At a Shooting Range
If you want to shoot, the shooting range can be a great place to start. Most shooting ranges don’t require you to have your firearms possession and acquisition license (PAL), so you don’t have to worry about any of the paperwork. When you shoot guns at a shooting range, you’re under the supervision of a licensed shooting range officer. Plus, most ranges offer packages that include the firearm itself, the ammo, and most importantly, an informative instruction period before you begin.
Even if you’re a seasoned shooter, a shooting range can be a great option! You can opt to become a member and use them as your club facility. Many ranges offer a variety of themed shooting packages that can also add a little extra fun to your day out. Anyone up for shooting zombies?
2. Join a Club
To join a gun club in Ontario, you’ll need to be the holder of a valid firearms possession and acquisition license (PAL). This means you have to pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course exams. Once you’ve passed and received your license (after the processing time and minimum 28-day waiting period), you’re ready to start shooting!
A gun club is an excellent option for shooting your firearms legally. At a gun club, you’ll get some face-to-face time with other members, some of whom may have years more experience with firearms. This is a great way to, not just socialize with other gun enthusiasts, but also to learn, practice, and perfect your technique.
Did you know that some gun clubs even offer Cowboy Action Shooting? If you’re a fan of the old west and cowboy movies, then you can live out this era with Cowboy Action Shooting, a fantasy shooting sport that uses genuine or reproduction firearms from the Old West. In it, you shoot various metal targets with real ammunition while being timed. It’s fun for the whole family, with shooters usually required to dress in Old West type clothes, like a cowboy hat, jeans, and a flannel shirt, really adding to the fun.
3. Crown Land
A time-honored way to learn how to shoot legally is with outdoor target practice. However, to legally shoot outside of a shooting range or gun club, you can’t just set up a target in your backyard.
In Ontario, you’ll need to go to what’s known as crown land. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has a website that documents the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas (CLUPA). You can also explore this website to find details on the location and classification of the various crown lands in the province. (Note that the far north and southern Ontario are not yet covered.)
In order to make sure you are allowed to shoot a firearm on the crown land, you must use crown land that is classified as a “General Use”-area. These areas are shown in yellow on the MNR CLUPA maps.
If you happen to see diagonal lines overlaid on the map, it indicates areas with potentially different rules. It’s often easier to just look for areas that are all yellow, without any overlay markings. Otherwise, you’ll have to do some research on the additional restrictions that apply to the overlay area in order to be sure you can legally shoot there.
Once you’ve selected your spot, access the land use report for that area from the website. Using the land use report, you’ll be able to confirm the specific land use intent for that General Use Area and ensure that it is suitable for what you want to do. And that’s shooting, of course!
To find the perfect crown land area make sure it is:
- Conveniently located (as much as possible)
- Big enough to shoot safely in an area that has some kind of backstop
- Accessible, as it is illegal to trespass on private property to get to crown land
Please note that it’s illegal to destroy or harvest timber on crown land without proper permits and licenses. So, it might not be a good idea to set up your target on a live tree. Instead, set up a target with its own free-standing base to avoid any legal issues.
And there you have it. Three legal ways to learn how to shoot guns in Ontario!
Now, if you’re looking for the perfect gun to shoot, you’ll want to visit GTA Guns and take part in our online gun auctions! It’s a guaranteed safe and legal way to purchase new firearms hassle-free. To learn more about GTA Guns auctions, or any of our other services, you can click here, or simply contact us to ask any questions you may have. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!