Shooting Range Certification – October 2021 update

A requirement for shooting range certification comes into place in June 2022 – at that point, ranges in New Zealand will be required to have appropriate certification in place before they can be used. Existing ranges will have 12 months from that date to get the application process underway. However, there is no reason, right now, that you shouldn’t be working towards being compliant – especially if you currently missing the key elements of that compliance.

As one of the members of the Range Certification Engagement Group – I am placed well to provide an update on how this is progressing. Representatives from the main national organisations are on this group – so if you are a member of one of these organisations and are unsure what is happening:

Contact your head office in regards to the upcoming changes and what you can do to prepare for them. National groups should have plans underway for compliance.

My interest, via this site, is primarily for the independent groups that are running ranges either in a private or commercial capacity and are going to still be required to certify their ranges to continue operating. This includes temporary ranges.

The process itself does not seem to be forming into anything too onerous (and I am here to help facilitate that process for you) – however, there are a few key elements for compliance that potentially will cause issues with some existing ranges.

A lot of this is still being discussed and finalised – but the ‘Exposure Draft’ – a version that the general public will get to read and comment on, is nearly ready for publication.

Private ranges – i.e. zeroing the rifle on the back of the farm

At this stage, there remains no obvious issues with a farmer zeroing his rifle on the back of the farm. There is specifically and excluding for this in the draft document. However, the question does remain – is zeroing a rifle a separate process for developing a rifle load for reloading? Is practising your shooting so you can be an ethical and effective hunter separate from zeroing? If you can practice, how often – the line between private use and a temporary range is still a little unclear – and while the Police are obviously going to be focusing on the established ranges for some time, working to get them certified, there is understandably still a bit of concern in the community regarding IF they will be able to carry on what they have been doing.

I would put it this way though – if you have others coming onto your property to shoot their firearms – especially if there is some form of remuneration involved – you will need to be certifying your range soon. The alternative is a potential $10,000 fine.

I am putting together a system to make this as easy as possible – but there is likely still doing to be some hard and fast requirements in regards to the amount of space behind a target required – and we are still working on definitions and requirements in using hills and mountains as backstops. While many of us have been using large blocks of dirt as bullet catchers – we are going to need to formalise their size and slope. This may catch people out.

Another headache, potentially.

In addition, a line within the Arms Legislation Bill is potentially going to be another headache – 38N (b) – requires

all necessary territorial authority and regional council consents to operate the shooting range have been obtained.

For a permanent range, this essentially means a consent process – for temporary ranges, this also potentially means a consent process. Which, until now, in some TLA areas, hasn’t been required – as shooting fits under a general sporting temporary use of land. Generally, while still requiring to stay within noise and traffic limitations, this has been a permitted activity – and therefore hasn’t required specific, written permission from the local council. As anyone who has dealt with a council might appreciate – there is a very real possibility that this will come with a fee.

There are plans from the Police end of things to make this as simple for the local council to understand and approve – though – sadly, I can still see this as an additional step that will require a fee on the council end. We shall see.

So – what now?

Hurry up and wait? While some groups seem to be claiming they know what the process is now, it’s important to understand that the document that will manage a lot of this process, and the training and certification of the new range inspectors – hasn’t been finalised. I have heard of at least one range that has supposedly shut down because they can’t get certified. I don’t know all the details, but, being that no range can or will be certified under this new system for around another year – that can’t be the right reason. I would pick it’s actually just an easy out for the landowner – which – sadly – might be the path a few people take.

Want more information?

I don’t/won’t/can’t talk on behalf of any organisation – but – if you need some independent advice – and have already been in touch with your governing organisation, if you have one – feel free to get in touch.