How to apply for your FAC in the UK
Applying for an FAC can feel like a daunting task but given a valid reason the process shouldn’t be complex. While gaining a shotgun certificate is straight forward, there are added barriers when it comes to the FAC. These are as simple as smallholding pest control to competitive long range shooting. If this is your own land this should be straight forward but if this is with a club or owned by someone else you will need their written permission. The authorities are not obliged to accept your application, they will need to have clarity on why and where you’ll use the proposed gun you’re applying for.
Differences between an FAC and Shotgun license
Once you’ve gained your Shotgun certificate you’ll have the opportunity to buy as many shotguns you like to be used on any land where you have permission. The same doesn’t apply when you gain an FAC. Each entry to your face will have to be pre approved by your FAO. So while you may be approved to own a 22lr rifle, you’d had to apply for a variation to own a second one. This can be done if you wanted a dedicated night vision set up as well as your standard daylight shooting rifle.
You will need to confirm how much ammunition you wish to hold as well as how much you’d buy at one time. You will also need a further variation for a moderator for your rifle. This is almost essential should you wish to shoot around livestock or close to residential areas. You will have to have any calibre or moderator pre approved before you make your purchase so keep this in mind.
Why you’d need an FAC
You’ll need an FAC for any shotgun which holds over 3 cartridges, air rifles with a muzzle energy over 12 ft/lb and any rifle. This is a sensible division between shotguns and air rifles for casual work and tools to fulfill important jobs. A shotgun with over 3 shots is realistically a tool for those who need to conduct high volume pest control. These tools are certainly not something you’d need for clay or game shooting. Similarly, sub 12ft/lb air rifles are ample for pest control at short distance however at longer ranges becomes ineffective. This is only an issue if you regularly need to stretch to these ranges but in this case you can apply for an FAC.
Qualifying for an FAC
To be granted an FAC you will need to prove that the work being carried out is done best with an FAC qualifying gun. You need to have permission to shoot at least one piece of land which is appropriate for the calibre. You will also need to outline what the purpose(s) of owning said gun would be. This includes pest control, target shooting, practical shooting or a combination of some or all of the above. If you pay to go stalking, this should be sufficient to be granted an FAC.
The advice we’d recommend is gaining permission for pest control and also joining a target shooting club. This will allow you a safety net should one or the other close at some point. The target club will also give you access and awareness about other calibre guns which will come in handy at a later date. Make sure that your rifle club has the facilities to allow you to shoot the guns that will your purposes. Most ranges have facilities for 22, but not all can stretch to large full bore calibres. For extended magazine shotguns, target shooting isn’t something you’d need an extended magazine for so pest control should suffice.
The paperwork required to fill out and FAC is somewhat more involved than a shotgun certificate. Namely, you will need another referee and the permissions of the landowners where you will shoot. You will need to be specific about the calibre and the mechanics of the gun, bolt action 22lr rather than 22lr. Unlike a shotgun certificate, you will have to provide details of how much ammo you will store and how much you’d buy. Make sure you have enough space to buy in bulk to avoid re-zeroing each time.
Otherwise, the paperwork is fairly straightforward and similar to a shotgun certificate. On your first application, it’s unlikely you’ll be granted an open ticket. An open ticket gives the holder the clearance to shoot where their permissions are. A closed ticket allows you to shoot over land that’s had previous police approval. While this seems blurry, an open ticket allows you to make the decision on whether the lands safe or not.
Like a shotgun certificate, the police will check for any criminal conviction and they will consult your GP to check your medical history. This isn’t something to be concerned about and is part of appropriate due diligence. It’s best to be honest about any citations before they find them for you. If you already have a shotgun certificate, you should consider a coterminous license. This will combine the two renewals at the same time and offer you a discount on the admin.
One thing you may not have considered is storage. Unlike a shotgun, a rifle and its ammunition will need to be stored in separate lockable containers. Ammo storage can be contained within the cabinet but will require a different key. Keep in mind that a rifle with a scope will take up more space than a shotgun so you may need to look at a bigger cabinet. Your shogun peripherals including slips and cleaning rods won’t fit your rifle, so bear this in mind before your first rifle purchase. The cost of the rifle may only represent a small portion of your total bill.
Applying for your FAC will require some give and take. Not all of us have access to hundreds of acres of land to apply for all calibres of rifles. Keep this in mind before applying for every rifle you’d like to own, focus on the need. Applicants are unlikely to get large calibres approved without extensive range experience at their first attempt. If there’s a need to shoot deers then a rifle chambered in .240 will cover all species found in the UK. This will also be enough to shoot foxes and pests at a distance too.
For work around livestock or in close proximity, a 22lr has been a world favourite calibre. Accurate within 100 yards and whisper quiet, there’s enough energy to dispatch rabbits, pigeons and crows with ease. The quiet round means disruption to livestock is minimal and what you do shoot will be intact to use for food too. If you need to deal with small pests then this is a brilliant choice and a brilliant choice for a first time applicant.
Gaining an FAC isn’t something you can apply for on a whim. You will know when you need an FAC when your shotgun and air rifle combo aren’t working for you anymore. Having the support of your landowner will make the process far simpler. Don’t overstretch in your request and make sure you can validate each calibre with clarity. Demonstrating you can use a smaller calibre safely will put you in good stead for advancing to an open ticket and larger calibres.
For those looking for a large capacity shotgun the same still applies. An FAC shotgun will cover a capacity of 4 shot and above which is perfect for busy pest control. Using this added capacity at a clay pigeon ground probably won’t be appreciated by your guns in adjacent stands. Applying for this with the support of your landowner should be enough validation to have one granted. For those with an existing shotgun certificate, the process is similar to what you’ve experienced. The additional hurdles will be the additional referee and permissions for locations you wish to shoot in.