Can I fire a shotgun near a road?

PUBLISHED: 11:33 05 August 2020

Even if you are shooting miles from a footpath, always be vigilant for trespassers

Even if you are shooting miles from a footpath, always be vigilant for trespassers

Archant

It is illegal to fire a shotgun near a road? Do you have to be 50 feet away from a highway when shooting to stay within the law? Tony Jackson replies!

Robin on footpath sign, Erithacus rubecula, Peak DistrictRobin on footpath sign, Erithacus rubecula, Peak District

Q: I am a member of a small DIY pheasant shoot in Sussex of around 500 acres. However, the ground is bordered on two sides by public roads which usually hold a moderate amount of traffic. We have been told that it is forbidden to shoot a gun within 50 feet of a highway. Is this in fact the case as there seems to be some confusion about this law?

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Tony Jackson replies: This is a misconception. Shooting a shotgun within 50 feet of a highway is not prohibited in England and Wales, but an offence is committed if, as the result of firing a shotgun, someone is injured or placed in danger. This could easily be the result of a shot charge over the head of a walker or cyclist, pellets dropping on a vehicle or striking it, a horse and rider alarmed by the sound of a shot or, in the worst scenario, a passer-by hit by pellets.

It is forbidden to shoot from a public highway or verge in England and Wales – and although shooting from a public highway is not forbidden in Scotland, reckless discharge would be committed under common law if a member of the public was inconvenienced or disturbed as the result of a shot.

Although they are not classed as highways, you should also never shoot close to a footpath, bridleway or cycleway. However, anyone who chooses to walk repeatedly along a footpath so as to try and disrupt a shoot can be restrained by an injunction or be subject to a claim for damages.

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