Published originally in Gun Africa (edition 27).
One of the easier types of licences to obtain is the occasional sport shooting or occasional hunting licence in terms of Section 15 of the Firearms Control Act, 60 of 2000 (FCA). Although the FCA appears to have few stipulations for such a licence, my experience in having dealt with such applications for some time, as well as dealing with appeals after such licence applications have been refused, means I have a fairly good idea of what is required by SAPS.
The relevant portions of Section 15 that are important to note are as follows: ‘15. Licence to possess firearm for occasional hunting and sports shooting
(1) A firearm in respect of which a licence may be issued in terms of this section is any-
(d) handgun which is not fully automatic;
(e) rifle or shotgun which is not fully or semi-automatic; or
(f) barrel, frame or receiver of a handgun, rifle or shotgun contemplated in paragraph (a) or (b) and which is not a restricted firearm.
(2) The Registrar may issue a licence in terms of this Section to any natural person who is an occasional hunting or occasional sports person.
(3) (a) Subject to paragraphs (b), (c) and (d), no person may hold more than four licences issued in terms of this Section.
(b) If a personal holds a licence issued in terms of Section 13, he or she may only hold three licences issued in terms of this Section.
(c) A person may not hold more than one licence in respect of a handgun contemplated in Sub-Section (1)(a).
(d) If a person contemplated in paragraph (a) holds any additional license contemplated in Section 12 in respect of a firearm contemplated in this Section and Section 13, the number of licences which that person may hold must be reduced by the number of such additional licences held.
(4) A firearm in respect of which a licence has been issued in terms of this section may be used where it is safe to use the firearm and for lawful purpose.’
Maximum number of licences
To summarise, the maximum number of licences you can have in terms of Section 15 is four. However, if you have a licence in terms of Section 13 or 12, the four licences are reduced by such licence/s. That is, if you have one Section 13 or Section 12 licence, then you can only have a further three licences in terms of Section 15. Also note the restriction with respect to handguns, in terms of which you are only entitled to one handgun in terms of Section 15. However, seeing that you are entitled to one handgun in terms of Section 13, so it is quite possible to have a Section 13 self-defence handgun, as well as a Section 15 occasional sport-shooting handgun. Also note that you are not entitled to a semi-automatic or fully automatic firearm in terms of this Section. Therefore if you wish to obtain a licence for a semi-automatic rifle, you must be a dedicated sport shooter or hunter, and make your application in terms of Section 16. In terms of Section 17, if you are a Category ‘A’ collector, you would be entitled to apply for a fully automatic firearm, but this is another discussion.
However, Section 15 of the FCA appears to have little or no real guidelines or requirements. Once again though, the SAPS appears to have its own internal guidelines, and again the assistance provided at station level differs from DFO to DFO, with some being more helpful than others. However, from experience, generally when a person is applying for an occasional sport shooting or hunting firearm, he or she must furnish the following documents and information, as detailed hereunder.
For occasional sport shooting, with the applicant being a member of a shooting club, a membership letter and/or a letter of recommendation from the chairperson of the club concerned is required.
Some sport-shooting clubs are also prepared to give the applicant an endorsement certifying that the particular firearm being applied for, for occasional sport shooting, can be used at the sport-shooting club in question. If you are applying for an occasional hunting firearm, normally what is required are two written references from persons with whom the applicant has hunted with, or from farm owners on whose property the applicant has hunted. The more supporting documents the better, and if you are a member of a number of sport-shooting clubs and/or hunting associations, attach such letters to your motivation.
With respect to the actual motivation itself, the focus here is really on the type of sport shooting or hunting that you are contemplating. For instance, if you are going to be using a .38 special 4 inch revolver, explain how this revolver is suitable for occasional sport shooting, with adjustable sights, an extremely good trigger, and any other characteristics making this firearm suitable for occasional sport shooting. If you are applying for a bolt-action rifle for occasional sport shooting, or a 12-bore pump-action shotgun, explain how these firearms are suitable for occasional sport shooting.
In addition, give the police some background as to any sport or general shooting experience you may have, together with the fact that you have used friends’ or family firearms in the past for occasional sport shooting. Obviously this is not ideal, as you have to have the owner present while you are shooting, which will impede your progress.
With respect to hunting, if you are applying for a certain rifle for hunting a certain type of game or over a certain terrain, explain how the rifle and/or shotgun is suitable for the type of animal/bird you wish to hunt. For instance, if you are applying for a .308 rifle for occasional hunting, explain how it is a good all-round medium calibre suitable for hunting small to medium game, and stipulate the types of animals and where you wish to hunt. In addition, it is worthwhile to explain some of the ballistics involved, as well as the different bullet weights, and the fact that ammunition is easy to come by. Indicate you have used similar types of rifles for which you are now applying, and the type of animals you have hunted before.
If you applying for a shotgun for wing shooting or bird shooting, again explain the suitability of the double barrel, over-under or side-by-side shotgun, or whatever type of shotgun you are applying for, and how it is idea; for the type of bird or wing shooting you wish to do and what type of terrain, giving details of past shoots you have been on, if possible, supported by references from other hunters, friends, family or farmers with whom you have hunted with before. Please do not forget to initial each page of your motivational letter and sign in full at the end or on the last page, as we have seen some recent applications being refused by the CFR for this very reason. If you are refused for failing to initial and sign your motivational letter, you would then have to argue on appeal that this is not a requirement in terms of the FCA, and that only the SAPS 271 form needs to be signed in full.
However, it is better to avoid an unnecessary refusal and appeal or resubmission, with obvious delays as a result. Furthermore, remember that you cannot apply for a new occasional sport shooting or hunting licence at the same time as your competency. If, for instance, you already have a handgun competency, but now need to apply for a further competency for a rifle, bear in mind that the competency application must be submitted prior to, and granted before, you submit the firearm licence application. Each person’s particular circumstances, as well as the firearm you are applying for, may differ, and hence the above is just a simple guideline to follow that does not by itself attempt to cover all issues