Complaint about shooting from member of public

Evillemon

Well-Known Member
So last week i took my mrs out shooting. She wanted to practice with the centrefire having now mastered shooting good 1" groups with my 17hmr. I took her to a local farm where i have permission after checking with the land owner that this was ok by him which it was.

We set up some targets in a valley with a safe backstop and did a bit of target shooting at a range of 300yards into the middle of the field.

Whilst shooting a couple walked up a public footpath which ran parallel to the field in which we were shooting, although as they were well over 300 feet away from the shooting i did not think it was necessary to cease shooting entirely whilst they walked what is quite a long footpath.

About an hour later after we had just packed everything up the police turned up. They said that they had heard the shooting and come to investigate what was happening, i explained that i had permission to be there and that i had a license and was not breaking the law. They both seemed reasonable officers however the one in charge started saying that he wanted me to be more careful shooting near to the footpath and the road behind us. I explained that i knew the law and had a range finder and had double checked that i was over 50 feet from either the road or the footpath (which i didnt actually legally need to be but did for good practice.)

Anyway after a chat which seemed nice, the officers even wanted to see my rifle and seemed interested to find out more about shooting. However just as they were about to leave they had a call through to say a member of the public had rang in a complaint about someone shooting - me of course. It must have been the couple walking along the footpath on my permission.

The police just said to be careful in the future etc etc and left - no further drama

however ........... this week i received a call from my FEO who said that the officer who id been speaking to had got in contact with him and reported that he was concerned about my shooting ?? he had also told my FEO that i was shooting very close to a footpath and also a road which is used by cars, also that he was concerned id been letting my Mrs shoot the gun. My FEO explained that he had set the officer straight in that i am legally allowed to let me mrs shoot my gun under supervision and that there is no specific law which prevents me from shooting near the public footpath.

He was however concerned that the officer reported me having been shooting near to the road and would have to carry out an investigation. He did tell me not to be too worried and that there sorts of complaints are not uncommon, i havent had my guns removed or anything and hes told me i can keep shooting without issue but maybe to stay away from the area where the complaint is about.

Although i know i was more than 50feet from the road, and that the shooting was in no way a danger to the public on the foot path i cant help but be worried. I love shooting and if i were to lose my license id be totally gutted. Although i know i wasnt too near to the road im sure joe bloggs member of the public has blown things out of proportion and the officer who has reported me to the FEO sounds like he was determined to find fault in me. I dont know how i can prove i was far enough away and the police officer clearly doesnt know as when he arrived wed already packed the gun away so i dont see how he can say exactly where i was.

But ive been reading a lot of stuff online and i know the police and the firearms licensing units can be very harsh on us shooters and that knee jerk over the top reactions can be common. Id appreciate if anyone has any advise or if anyone has been in a similar situation ? Im a member of BASC and have contacted them but they have bascially said they cant do much until the police either do or do not issue proceedings against me... ill be honest the whole thing has me very worried. Im an upstanding citizen and a job that requires me to have a clean criminal record and although i know i wasnt doing anything wrong - im starting to get myself very worried just because there is always the potential for disaster and given these events i dont feel that my luck is in right now

:(
 

basil

Distinguished Member
In other words he may be saying to stay away from that particular area till it alll blows over?
Maybe it was multiple shots that alarmed the public?
Though you may have been completely legal and i think you`re FEO has seen it that way not every member of the public is so forgiving.
 

Evillemon

Well-Known Member
In other words he may be saying to stay away from that particular area till it alll blows over?
Maybe it was multiple shots that alarmed the public?
Though you may have been completely legal and i think you`re FEO has seen it that way not every member of the public is so forgiving.
I hope so, hats off to my FEO i know he is a stand up guy. He was really straight with me on the phone and said that they do get silly complaints from the public who dont always understand shooting regularly and on most of the points hed set the officer straight. Its just shooting near the road he was concerned about, he said that he would probably have to come and have a look at the land with the officer and possibly me to identifty if i was being dangerous
 
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Hornet 6

Well-Known Member
Bottom line is you can no more prove you were not too close, and they cannot prove you were too close.
Keep a low profile as far as multiple shots at targets go for a while, but don't worry over much.

Neil. :)
 

Jimbo 30 06

Well-Known Member
Hi Evillemon

Firstly i say stop worrying what will happen will happen. I have been in your situation twice while shooting Decoying Pigeons in the day and while lamping at night. As long as you have permission and were on the land you have permission then no real problem. You stated that you were minimum 50 ft from the road that is good as you only need to be 50ft from the centreline of the road. The only advice i would give you is if you shoot near a footpath and you see a member of the public traversing the path STOP SHOOTING UNTILTHEY ARE OUT OF SIGHT THEN RECOMMENCE. My self personally would also return my rifle/gun to its slip. I am supprised at BASC not being any help are you a member of the NGO if so give their firearms officer a ring he will advise you and ease your mind and assist you. Hope this helps.

Jimbo
 
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Evillemon

Well-Known Member
Thanks lads i really appreciate the replies, as the Mrs keeps saying im sure it will all blow over and everything will be fine. I dont think you realise how vulnerable we are as shooters truely until something like this pops up - new experiance to me and one i am, very keen never to repeat, needless to say after this is done i will be even more super double careful with everything
 

badbob

Well-Known Member
Section 161 of the Highways Act 1980 makes it an offence without lawful authority or excuse to discharge any firearm within 50 feet of the centre of the highway and in consequence of which a user of the highway is injured, interupted or endangered.

it doesnt sound like youve been reported for an offence, just given some advice by the FEO

It happens more and more, someone phones the Police, as soon as a gun is mentioned its usually the full monty response.
most members of the public are brainwashed into a state of sheer horror of guns and will phone the Police
because of that or because theyre just "antis"

best avoid these confrontations by using discretion and keeping a low profile especially when in sight of members of the public
best to stop shooting if walkers horse riders are using a nearby footpath or bridleway

target shooting or plinking again will bring a response unless its on an authorised range,
if you want to chance your arm carry on, but I would avoid risking another complaint
and yes theres always potential for disaster


 

Apache

Well-Known Member
target shooting or plinking again will bring a response unless its on an authorised range,
if you want to chance your arm carry on, but I would avoid risking another complaint
and yes theres always potential for disaster
Bad advice. You are doing nothing wrong, carry on.

I do tend to stop shooting if I see a person, but no need to slip the gun. I frequently walk out my front door with a rifle over my shoulder. Frequently encounter walkers.

Lets not make this any harder than we need to.
 

Taff

Well-Known Member
Carry on, but think how you may feel if you new nothing about shooting and meet a man with a gun, I shoot a lot on areas of public access, and found ringing in to the police before going, can solve a lot of problems. And I always unload ad say hello to walkers, most are fine, I had one regular who would ring the police all the time, he ended up with a caution for wasting police time.
 

jubnut

Well-Known Member
Bad advice. You are doing nothing wrong, carry on.

I do tend to stop shooting if I see a person, but no need to slip the gun. I frequently walk out my front door with a rifle over my shoulder. Frequently encounter walkers.

Lets not make this any harder than we need to.
+1

its a crying shame that this sort of complaint ever occurs, I am sorry to hear that you should have to go through this.
 

EMcC

Well-Known Member
Bottom line is you can no more prove you were not too close, and they cannot prove you were too close.
Keep a low profile as far as multiple shots at targets go for a while, but don't worry over much.Neil. :)
Next time leave a couple of empty cases where you were shooting from then offer to show any interested parties where you were shooting from and then the empty cases will add evidence of your firing position.
It should be easy enough to show where your target was by ground disturbance so there you have it and providing the public footpath and road was where you say it was - job done !!
 

Evillemon

Well-Known Member
Thanks a lot to everyone who has replied, it has made me feel a lot better to read your advice and support as ive been obsessing over this since the call from my FEO. Hopefully ill end up meeting the FEO and the officer at the field and my FEO will explain that im fine.

In retrospect - now that i realise how much trouble a complaint from joe blogs can cause i would not shoot at all if there were a member of public in sight let alone near to where we were sitting. Hopefully the FEO will just tell me to be more aware /considerate of members of the public walking and trying not to upset them and then put this one down to inexperience from me and let me be without a major drama - fingers crossed ! :(

Cheers lads

tim
 
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Mr. Gain

Well-Known Member
I wouldn't worry - as has been said, there's no evidence you've done anything dangerous.

All the same, it's worth being prudent: if you go out zeroing/practising, pick your moment (not so early that you wake the neighbours, but not so late in the morning that you catch the tide of ramblers heading for the pub); don't shoot when there are people nearby (they may well not have seen you before they hear the shot, and even if they have, they may assume they are in danger when they do); and pause to look around between shot strings, to check that no one has put in an appearance while your attention has been on the rifle and target. I like to do this kind of shooting with a buddy so that one of use can watch out for random members of the public (they get everywhere!) while the other shoots.

Footpaths are usually much more of a problem than roads (assuming that the road is behind you), as people in cars hear little, hedges often make it hard for cyclists and pedestrians to locate a shooter, and road users are in any case usually on the way to somewhere, with better things to do than making trouble for others. Walkers, on the other hand, often behave as if they own the place, and some resent anything that fails to match up with their chocolate-box, BBC view of the countryside.

If you absolutely have to deal with them, unload and sleeve your gun or rifle before approaching them, be pleasant (the usual stuff, weather, routes, local points of interest, etc.), and most of the time they'll go away cheerfully reassured. Not all encounters go this way, however, which is why I prefer avoidance. Some will say one should embrace every opportunity to be an ambassador for shooting, but that can turn out to be less of a cocktail party and more of a tribal incident.
 

finnbear270

Well-Known Member
I, along with I'm sure, many other rifle and shotgun users have had much worse experiences than your recent one, sounds to me like you are getting yourself into a panic over nothing, you are suffering from the self induced idea that what you are doing is wrong,....... when you have had anti's mix you a bottle as many times as me,(Three separate arrivals at my home address, by standard ARV teams after vermin shooting trips,& one more serious looking arrival of three + blacked out fat BM's, one of which was poised to ram the gates) then you can put things in perspective, at least you didn't get hauled off like that poor fella who was pigeon shooting.:eek:
 

David BASC

Well-Known Member
Official Member
Tim,
I am sure everything will be OK, as you have found, many officers have no idea about the law, and to suggest you were 'near' a footpath or road when you are a long way off and certainly further away then the law states proves the point.

By the sounds of it your FEO is a reasonable person so as I say there should be no problems.

Complaints from the public are an issue, mainly on noise, and this is something we are working on with DEFRA at the moment and hope for some very positive news soon.

Best wishes

David
 

paul o'

Well-Known Member
+1
2pworth
you have done nowt wrong and your well within your rights to carry on, aswell as the walkers do to continue walking ! on your given land your are able to do tip em bolx, next time give the control room a buzz tell them you are doing pest control work at and on xyz! that will stop old bill coming unless you comit an offence in law! which your not? . (right to ruin i call it). Carry on feller :thumb:. you could request as i did some years ago after a chopper call to my hide around a mile from any main rd, that did you comit any unlawful act under the firearms act or crockpot-acpo ! send the letter to the flo main man/woman and request he/she informs you what is happening by the same way, this way he/she must act or inform you that there's NO case.if your farmer is involved give him a copy keep him upto date on whats happening always to maintain his trust in you.
let us know the outcome

atb
:tiphat:



Bad advice. You are doing nothing wrong, carry on.

I do tend to stop shooting if I see a person, but no need to slip the gun. I frequently walk out my front door with a rifle over my shoulder. Frequently encounter walkers.

Lets not make this any harder than we need to.
 

mickey308

Active Member
Assuming that you were not using expanding ammunition for the target practice then I don't think you have anything to worry about......easier said than done I know! Perhaps, if I may say without fear of recrimination a little less of "I know the law" as some serving officers get a little wound up by this to say the least.
 

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