Crossbows – the Law and Where You StandMark Watts
Crossbows, like airguns, sit in an interesting legal grey space in which an individual does not need a specific license to own one. The only real restriction on owning a crossbow is age, in which the end-user must be over the age of 18. That is not to say that you can use a crossbow in any environment (as you cannot but we will get onto that later), but crossbows, like airguns, are not legally classed as firearms in the United Kingdom.
WHAT RESTRICTIONS ARE PLACED ON CROSSBOWS?
As previously stated, there are not many restrictions placed on the ownership of a crossbow, however, there are subsequent laws that prohibit the use of a crossbow. Firstly, people can be prosecuted for using crossbows for illegal hunting, or for attacking people. Furthermore, a crossbow can be classed as an ‘offensive weapon’ if carried in public and lead to a prosecution, however these all fall under separate laws not specific to crossbow ownership and usage.
In regard to specific legislation regarding crossbows, the Crossbows Act 1987 states that a crossbow cannot be bought or sold in England, Wales or Scotland by, or to those under the age of 18. A separate law makes the same provision in Northern Ireland.
Furthermore, possession is also prohibited by those under the age of 18 years old except under adult supervision. This applies to both a fully assembled crossbow or parts of a crossbow which together can be assembled to form a crossbow capable of discharging a projectile.
That said, the Crossbow Act 1987 does not apply to crossbows with a draw weight of less than 1.4kg.
WHAT CAN YOU USE CROSSBOWS FOR?
In the United Kingdom, crossbows have seen a resurgence since the late 20th century for recreational target shooting. This essentially refers to placing a target at a given range and shooting at it.
Hunting animals in the United Kingdom with any sort of bow in the UK is unlawful and can lead to prosecution.
For more information, you can find the full legislation at the following address – https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1987/32