Use of an Approved Range by Unlicensed Persons

Overview

From 1 October, 2008, a person may possess and use firearms on an approved range without the authority of a licence or permit (or other exemption) when they wish to try out the sport of shooting or when they are participating in an approved firearms safety training course, provided that they:

  • Remain under the direct supervision of a suitably licensed club/range official (or licence holder appointed by them) or firearms instructor, and
  • Have completed a declaration form P650 and responded 'No' to all questions in the personal history in Section B of the form.

Completing the P650 Declaration Form

Direct Supervision

Unlicensed Persons undertaking Firearms Safety Training

Unlicensed Persons wanting to try Target Shooting

Club/Range Obligations

Completing the P650 Declaration Form

What is a P650 Declaration form?

A P650 'Declaration - Person shooting on an Approved Range or undertaking a Firearms Safety Training Course' is the form which must be completed prior to an unlicensed person shooting on a range or undertaking firearms safety training - section 6B of the Firearms Act 1996. The form asks a series of questions required by legislation - clause 129 of the Firearms Regulation 2017.

If a person wishes to participate in both activities as prescribed by section 6B (1)(a) and section 6B (1)(b) of the Firearms Act 1996, then two (2) declarations are required to be completed.

Where are the P650 forms available?

From approved Firearms Instructors, your local Firearms Club, on the Clubs Internet page or by clicking on the following link:

What if a person responds 'Yes' to one of the questions in Section B - Personal History?

The person cannot shoot. A copy of the P650 form would only be sent to the Firearms Registry for further determination if the person wishes to proceed to shoot or complete firearms safety training. NOTE: A copy only of the P650 form should be sent to the Firearms Registry, the original of the P650 form must be kept by the club/range official or instructor.

Should a person who surrendered a category H licence in the Buyback of 2003/2004 answer 'Yes' to question a) on the P650 form?

No, they surrendered their licence; it was not refused, revoked, suspended or cancelled. The person should respond 'No' under these circumstances.

What if a person falsely answers the questions in the personal history of the P650 declaration form?

Section 72(2) of the Firearms Act 1996, prescribes for an offence where a person makes a false and misleading entry in or alteration to a record required to be kept under the Firearms Act 1996.

The Firearms Registry will conduct audits from time to time to check on forms and registers maintained by clubs and instructors as provided by clause 129(4)(c) of the Firearms Regulation 2017.

Prosecution of a person would be considered where a false and misleading statement is made by a person in connection with the completion of a P650 declaration from and this comes to the attention of the Firearms Registry.

Can a form be pre-completed with photo identification details recorded on the form?

Yes, a form can be partially completed. A club/range official or instructor must ensure they sight the photo ID and verify it against the recorded details. It would be prudent to sign and date the Declaration on the day in the presence of the club/range official or instructor.

What is acceptable photo identification?

Acceptable photo identification is a photo ID issued by a government agency or public authority. Drivers licence, passport, etc which lists name, date of birth and address details. A business or club ID is not acceptable.

Can a club/range official or an instructor accept a P650 declaration if the person doesn't produce photo ID, but produces other documentation?

No, photo ID must be produced and sighted by the club/range official or instructor, except in the case of a minor, when the photo ID of the parent or legal guardian is supplied and sighted.

When the P650 form is completed, is it sent to the Firearms Registry?

No, the form must be retained by the club, range official or firearms instructor. The form must be kept for a minimum 2 year period by the club, range official or firearms instructor for their records. Forms are not sent to the Firearms Registry unless a person has responded 'Yes' to any of the personal history questions and they wish to proceed with shooting. In this case a copy only of the form is sent to the Firearms Registry by the club, range official or firearms instructor.

Will the parent/legal guardian have to sign a declaration form every week to enable a minor to participate in a school shooting program?

No, the P650 form is completed by a parent/legal guardian and lasts for the duration of a firearms safety training course that is delivered by an approved FST Instructor. One form will suffice if the course is run over several weeks.

Can a Shooting Master at a GPS/boarding school holding guardianship sign as legal guardian for students in a school shooting program?

Yes, but only where the GPS/boarding school hold written consent from the parent as the legal guardian. The onus will rest with the school to prove they were authorised to act as a legal guardian and in turn make such decisions on behalf of the student.

Does a Firearm Instructor Permit holder who trains security guards and government agency employees in safe handling of pistols use the P650 form for course participants?

Yes, a Firearm Instructor Permit holder who trains security guards and government agency employees in safe handling of pistols may use the P650 form for course participants. Section 6B of the Firearms Act 1996 provides an exemption for unlicensed persons shooting on approved ranges and for persons undertaking firearms safety training courses approved by the Commissioner in accordance with the regulations and while under the supervision of a firearms instructor approved in accordance with the regulations.

Direct Supervision

What is direct supervision?

Close and direct supervision is direct, personal and exclusive supervision and must not exceed a ratio of one unlicensed person to one licensed supervisor.

The licensed supervisor must be present at the firing line and not leave whilst shooting activities are being undertaken by the unlicensed person.

The licensed supervisor must be able to immediately render assistance to the unlicensed person, if required.

The licensed supervisor must personally convey the firearm and ammunition to be used by the unlicensed person from its place of storage to the firing line.

The licensed supervisor must personally convey the firearm and ammunition from the firing line to the place of storage upon the conclusion of shooting activities.

Who is authorised to directly supervise unlicensed persons on the range?

A person who is the holder of a licence to possess or use a firearm of the kind being used by the unlicensed person may directly supervise the unlicensed person. The supervising person must be authorised by a club or range official.

What control of ammunition is required when an unlicensed person is shooting under a P650 at a shooting range?

The supervising person authorised by a club or range official is to maintain accountability and control of ammunition at all times and retain possession of ammunition until the unlicensed person is at the firing line. The supervising person is to include the loading of ammunition in the practical component of firearms safety training and ensure the unlicensed person is only permitted to load the firearm when deemed competent to do so by the supervising person. When firing ceases, the supervising person is to ensure no ammunition is left in the possession of the unlicensed person.

Can an interstate person directly supervise unlicensed persons on the range?

Yes current legislation allows direct supervision of unlicensed persons by interstate licence holders who are authorised to possess or use a firearm of the kind being used by the unlicensed person.

Clause 128 of the Firearms Regulation 2017, extends the supervision of unlicensed persons using an approved range under section 6B of the Firearms Act 1996.

Clause 26(2)(b) of the Firearms Regulation 2017, provides for an interstate resident who is the holder of the equivalent of a category A or B licence issued in their State or Territory, to supervise an unlicensed person who possesses and uses a firearm at an approved range in accordance with section 6B(1)(a) of the Firearms Act 1996.

Clause 26(3)(b) of the Firearms Regulation 2017, provides for an interstate resident who is the holder of the equivalent of a category H licence issued in their State or Territory, to supervise an unlicensed person who possesses and uses a firearm at an approved range in accordance with section 6B(1)(a) of the Firearms Act 1996.

Unlicensed Persons undertaking Firearms Safety Training

If a firearms safety training course is run over several days, does a person participating in that course need to complete the P650 form each day?

No, the P650 form, once completed for the purpose of a firearms safety training course lasts for the duration of that course.

When does the parent/legal guardian of a minor need to sign a P650 form?

Only when a minor is undertaking an approved firearms safety training course under direct supervision of an approved firearms safety training instructor. The P650 form covers the duration of the safety training course.

If I complete a P650 form to undertake a firearms safety (longarms) training course signed by an approved FST Instructor, does this also authorise me to shoot under supervision at an approved shooting range?

No, the P650 form you signed only authorises you to undertake the firearms safety training course. If you want to shoot under direct supervision of a licence holder at an approved range you need to complete a separate P650 Declaration form signed by an authorised club or range official.

Unlicensed Persons wanting to try Target Shooting

Does a person need to complete a new declaration every time they wish to try target shooting under direct supervision at an approved range?

No, the P650 form must be completed on the first occasion by an unlicensed person. Where the person seeks to attend the shooting range on more than one occasion, the club or range official can:

  • Maintain a register to record the name, address, date of birth and details of photo identification of the unlicensed person, and
  • The register must record that there has been no change to the circumstances of the person which would affect the responses provided on their initial P650 form.

Does the parent/legal guardian need to sign the declaration form every time the minor undertakes target shooting under direct supervision?

No, the parent/legal guardian will need to sign a register maintained by the club confirming that there has been no change to the personal circumstances of the minor since the original declaration form was completed.

Can a licensed international resident try target shooting under section 6B(1)(a) of the Firearms Act 1996?

Yes, clause 129(9) of the Firearms Regulation 2017, applies to overseas tourists. Overseas tourists may possess and use firearms on an approved range provided:

  • they successfully complete the P650 form, and
  • the date that they use the range is recorded, and
  • the name of the person who supervised the person is recorded.

A passport is the accepted photo identification for an overseas tourist.

What about interstate persons?

Interstate persons can try target shooting upon successful completion of the P650 form.

If a company wishes to arrange a corporate day of shooting and participants successfully complete the P650 form, will they all be able to shoot?

Yes, subject to the range being able to facilitate the number of shooters and can ensure direct supervision for every shooter - refer to the 'What is direct supervision' FAQ above.

Can a person participate in a club target shooting competition by completing a P650 form?

There is no restriction within section 6B(1)(a) of the Firearms Act 1996 or clause 129 of the Firearms Regulation 2017 to prevent an unlicensed person, who has completed a P650 form, from participating in a club shooting competition provided the club can ensure direct supervision for the shooter.

The intent of the P650 is for an unlicensed person to undertake firearms safety training or shoot on a range to trial the sport of target shooting. Check with the club/range officials regarding the number of times they will allow an unlicensed person to participate before committing to the club and the sport.

Club/Range Obligations

Does the P650 form apply to possession and use of longarms and pistols?

Yes, however it excludes prohibited firearms.

What is meant by 'possess' in relation to a person shooting on an approved range?

For the purposes of section 6B of the Firearms Act 1996, 'possess' is defined as knowingly having custody of a firearm. Section 4(1) and section 4A of the Firearms Act 1996.

Does a club/range official have a right to refuse to allow a person to shoot on the range?

A club and range approval must be operated with proper regard to the preservation of public safety and the peace. Clause 95(2)(a) and clause 98(2)(b) of the Firearms Regulation 2017, provide grounds for revocation of a range or club approval if they are not operated with proper regard to public safety. The club/range needs to be administered in accordance with their rules and the advice they receive from their peak firearms association and insurance provider.

The club/range official determines who they approve to shoot on their range. Clause 155 of the Firearms Regulation 2017 provides for an offence of trespass where a person enters a shooting range without the approval of the owner/occupier of the range. The club/range is private property and the club/range officials are at liberty to ask any person to leave the premises at any time. If a person refuses to leave the range, the club/range officials may choose to contact local Police.

Will the licence number of all persons using the range need to be recorded?

No, only those persons who do not have target shooting as their genuine reason will need to have their licence number recorded (such as recreational hunters and primary producers sighting in on the range).

Is there a limit to the number of times a person can shoot at a range after completing the P650 form?

No, the legislation does not provide for statutory limits to the number of times an unlicensed person can shoot although club/range officials should consider the purpose for the return visits, ie. completion of firearms safety training or to try sport target shooting.

Can a club stop unlicensed persons coming back multiple times, completing the P650 form and shooting with no intention of joining the club or applying for a firearms licence?

The club or range official determines who they approve to shoot on their range. Clause 155 of the Firearms Regulation 2017, provides for an offence of trespass where a person enters a shooting range without the approval of the owner/occupier of the range. The club/range is private property and they are at liberty to ask any person to leave the premises at any time. The club will need to administer this in accordance with their rules and the advice they receive from their peak firearms association and insurance provider.