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How to: Apply for a Pistol Licence (B Endorsement)

I often talk to friends or people at the range and shooting events about pistol shooting, it seems many people who are already interested in shooting activities are keen to try pistol, but don’t know how or where to start. I know that information can be hard to come by at times, and often it seems like people are deliberately making it difficult. For this reason I thought I would give a bit of a shakedown of the current process here in New Zealand.

I will start by pointing out what I would hope is already generally understood information; Firstly It is illegal to shoot a pistol anywhere in New Zealand other than a pistol range which has been approved by the police for this purpose. You must have a specific endorsement on your firearms licence in order to possess a pistol (B Endorsement), and you may only transport it from your pre-approved security (safe) to the pistol range and back again (with the exception of to a gunsmith / store).

It is possible to attend a training course at a pistol range in New Zealand without first having a firearms licence (under strict supervision), but many clubs require that you have at least begun the process towards getting your licence. It is also a police requirement that, after 3 visits as a visitor, you must become a financial member of the club in order to progress your training.

Basic firearms licence

If you don’t have a basic sporting (A Category) licence, you will need to follow the following steps to get one:

  • Attend a firearms safety course (generally one or two evenings)
  • Sit a test on the information you have learned at the course (And pass of course)
  • Pay an application fee (paid at an NZ post shop)
  • Complete an application form from your local arms office (This application will require you to provide details of at least two character references)
  • Install security measures such as a safe / strong room
  • A police vetting officer will then visit you and your chosen character referees to discuss the reasons you would like to own firearms, ensure you are a person of good character, and check your security measures are appropriate
  • If all goes well, you should receive your licence in the mail.

Once you have your licence, endorsements such as the “B” endorsement for pistol shooting can be added to your licence. Or you can apply for endorsements at the same time as you apply for your licence.

The author engages some steel downrange.
The author engages some steel downrange.

Applying for your B Endorsement

In order to apply for your “B” Endorsement you will need to follow the steps listed below:

  • Join a pistol club, attend and complete their training programme (which should comprise of  at least 12 days supervised training and lessons)
  • Join Pistol New Zealand
  • Complete a club range officer examination
  • Complete a 6 month probation period with the club
  • Apply to the club to get permission to apply for your endorsement (the club must deem you as a safe and competent shooter)
  • Visit your Arms officer and get a form (POL67F), or download from the police website (you will need to get it witnessed by a police officer though)
  • Provide your POL67F to your club who will complete their section and send it to Pistol NZ
  • Pistol NZ will then complete their section and forward it onto the arms office [Editor’s Note: I am in the process of applying for my pistol licence, and the AO suggested that PNZ might mail the form back to me, and I could electronically submit back to the AO (i.e. via scan/email)]
  • You will also need to pay an application fee, again via NZ Post
  • You should then expect a visit from a police vetting officer to discuss the reasons why you would like to shoot pistols, inspect your security (you must have a “B” endorsed safe, not your basic “A cat” safe as there are much more stringent measures set on safes for endorsed firearms which can be found on the police website)
  • The vetting officer will also contact at least two referees again. Generally these referees will be people who have a reasonable knowledge and understanding of your shooting activities, rather than just character references
  • All going well you should then receive your new licence with relevant endorsements in the mail

Once you have your endorsed licence you may begin looking to purchase a pistol. Hopefully during your training period you will have had the opportunity to shoot a variety of pistols and types of events, and you may have established an understanding of what you want.

Acquiring a pistol

Once you have decided on a pistol and a place you are purchasing it from, you need to talk with your club and get an Application for a Permit to Procure “Pinky” form which will be signed off by a member of the club executive, authorising you to apply for a Permit to Procure. You take this form with you to your Arms Office and you will be issued two copies of a POL67C Permit to Procure form.

Once you have this Permit to Procure you take it with you to the person or store you are procuring the pistol from, and they will complete their section on the forms. You then take the completed forms and the pistol to your Arms Office who will inspect the pistol to ensure it is the same as the one originally applied for. They will keep a copy of the form so it can be entered in their records and you will be allowed to take the pistol, and your copy of the permit for your records.

Why is it so much effort?

I know that in reading this, it sounds like a long-winded process. To be honest, it is. I would estimate it taking about a year (or longer depending on circumstances) to fully complete the process. There is a reasonable amount of start-up and ongoing costs associated with owning pistols to be aware of (Application fees, Pistol Club joining fees, annual Pistol Club fees, Pistol NZ Fees, not to mention cost of firearms, ammo and equipment). However, after completing the process, I can understand why it is set up this way.

Pistol shooting is great fun, and you will meet some great people, but safety is key (things have the potential to go pear-shaped very quickly with pistols and their very short barrels). By completing the whole process, it ensures that only those people who are very motivated and keen, as well as competent and safe have access to these endorsed firearms. You don’t want to be competing in a match at your range with guys you don’t feel safe around. The knowledge that everyone you are shooting with has completed the above process does provide that assurance of competence and safety.

If you’re interested in shooting pistols, I would highly recommend contacting your local pistol club and enrolling in their next training programme. Visit the Pistol NZ website for a directory of pistol clubs throughout NZ.

Auckland Pistol Club – shooters who get stuff done

We all heard about the noise complaints at Auckland Pistol Club (APC). We were all instantly worried about our own clubs, and the directions our shooting sports could take if established venues such as this one could get shut down. Well, the news, for once, is good.

It should be clarified, APC was never shut down. They entered into a voluntary closure of 3 months, to get out in front of what could have been a messy situation. The club and its members took proactive measures to ensure their pistol shooting range would not be in danger of having its doors closed by anyone else.

Substantial effort has been put in, to ensure Aucklanders have a safe place to train and compete. Image credit: APC
Substantial effort has been put in, to ensure Aucklanders have a safe place to train and compete. Image credit: APC

Their club secretary had this to say to The Gun Rack;

“We closed voluntarily for 3 months at the time of the first complaint to allow us to engage with the complainant and council. Needless to say the complainant has never engaged with us. We are in frequent contact with the council and working with them on the issue. We have been opened ever since that initial 3 month closure.”

The club has put substantial effort (and $$$) into making sure shooters in Auckland have a safe place to train and compete. The 16-bay turning target ISSF range has been sound-insulated and has proven to be very effective at containing noise, with sound dampening material at the mound and down the walls of the range.

The Auckland Pistol Club has great facilities and is open for business! They’re busy making sure all of the ranges capture as much escaping sound as is reasonably possible, in order to ensure the club can continue to operate at full capacity. Image credit: APC

Also fully approved by the club for use, is the large IPSC range which is used by members for casual practice, and weekly competitions. There is more soundproofing to be done on this range, so there is a restriction on ported handguns and magnum calibres until this is sorted.

So, how can you help Auckland and national shooting sports? Well, you can do two things:

  1. Always obey the instructions of the range you are shooting on, to help protect the ongoing use of that land, especially if your range has a resource consent in place or fussy neighbours.
  2. Chip in. Lend a hand, gift some materials or donate a few bucks to help the cause. APC has a ‘Give-a-little’ page, helping them to fund work such as the IPSC range soundproofing – that’d be a good place to start.

Where to shoot in NZ: Waiuku Pistol Club

It’s been a while since I’ve written a ‘where to shoot‘ post, possibly because I haven’t really been anywhere too exciting in the last little bit. However, that could be because I’m quite spoiled as a member of Waiuku Pistol Club.

At the beginning of the year I was tossing up joining one of three pistol clubs, to get my B Cat licence and start getting into 3 Gun comps. I was looking at Howick Pistol Club, Auckland Pistol Club and Waiuku Pistol Club.

Not many ranges are set up for rifle, shotgun and pistol use.
Not many ranges are set up for rifle, shotgun and pistol use.

I have shot pistol at Howick and Waiuku, and done an induction at Auckland Pistol Club. I quickly eliminated APC, because even though the facilities were excellent, only pistols or pistol carbines could be shot there. Since I shoot a lot of centrefire rifle, and a smidgen of shotgun, I didn’t want to shell out for a pistol membership and still have to pay range fees when I wanted to shoot long guns.

Howick was eliminated for the same reason, but also because the indoor range with specific target zones means most competitive pistol matches need to be shot in a modified format. This was disappointing as the range is only 5 minutes from my house!



So in the end, even though it’s the furthest of the three from where I live, I ended up joining WPC so that I could shoot long guns as well as learn pistol. The club was also enticing because it had the best range availability. With shooting allowed between 10 am and 4 pm, Wednesday through Sunday, there’s plenty of time to practice and shoot competitions. If you’re a visitor, don’t just rock up – you will be turned away! Visitors can shoot long guns after 12 pm on Saturday or pistols after 10 am on Sunday.

This ensures there is space on the range for you, and also that there are people around who can unlock the ranges and show you around. If you want to head down for a few hours to try before you buy, or just want to sight in your hunting rifle, make sure to follow the WPC visitor’s instructions for an easier experience.

What’s available?

For the princely sum of $20 (cash), you’ll have access to a couple hundred metre ranges and several smaller ranges. There are steel silhouettes for rimfire, falling plates for pistols and shooting tunnels for you guys with magnumitis or particularly short, noisy, braked or ported barrels. If you want to find out more about the ranges, click here.

The range is in Otaua, just south of Waiuku, and is about 45 – 50 mins drive from Manukau. If you’re anywhere south of the Auckland CBD, it’s a very driveable distance for regular trips. I head down just about every Sunday from East Auckland, stopping at the BP service station before the Drury offramp for a healthy breakfast of a pie and coffee.

You and everyone else around you will be glad for the shooting tunnels when big guns like this .300 WSM are on the range. Also great for when there's a bit of rain!
You and everyone else around you will be glad for the shooting tunnels when big guns like this .300 WSM are on the range. Also great for when there’s a bit of rain!

Once you’re there, the club house is warm and dry, and sheltered from the wind if it’s howling. Unlike some ranges in the wider Auckland region, you don’t have to use a long (or short) drop if you’re busting. The club house has ‘facilities’ as well as a safe area for cleaning/maintaining pistols, a well-equipped first aid area and a large seating area for courses, meetings or just having a bite of lunch.

Whatever you need in terms of food and drink, take with you, as there aren’t any shops nearby. Also, you’ll be juuuuust out of cellphone reception for the duration of your visit to the range. Which – let’s face it – is probably a good thing!

Club culture

I’ve heard some people say that they found Waiuku members a bit stand-offish when they visited. This wasn’t encouraging when I was looking at joining. However, this hasn’t been my experience. At least not any more so than other ranges.

When you’re an unknown person at a shooting event or visitor’s day and have access to some pretty powerful hardware, it’s natural for regulars at any range to treat you with a bit of a keen eye until they’re certain you’re someone who is safe and capable.

This is quickly overcome by being sensible and practical (courteous as well), and also asking questions if you don’t know the procedures.

There are plenty of members around who are keen to help you have a good time, and will share their knowledge with you if you ask (sometimes even if you don’t!).

You’ll also sometimes see groups of scouts or Adventure Girls come through – a further testament to the openness of the club towards education and furthering people’s experience with firearms.

If you’re looking for a spot to spend some hours putting lead down range this summer, I’d highly recommend checking out WPC. Also, as we’ve just started a new quarter, it’s a great time to sign up as a member, as you won’t have to pay a full year’s fees.

If you’ve got any questions, pop them in the comments section below or get in touch with the club via their website or Facebook page.

Cardboard challenge

You may have heard of steel challenge. The competitive test of a pistol shooter’s accuracy and speed, involving lead and copper tipping over steel plates at a rapid rate of knots.

Quick reloads are half the battle won! Photo credit: Chris Watt
Quick reloads are half the battle won! Photo credit: Chris Watt

So, what’s cardboard challenge? That’s what you do when you don’t have steel! Legitimate steel challenge involves eight standard courses of fire, shooting at steel plates ranging between dinner-plate size to double that. It’s scored only by the time it takes you to complete each stage. If you’d like to learn more about, you can check out the official page here.

However, what I really wanted to talk about after shooting this mocked-up, strung-together course of fire, is the importance of being part of a club that is willing to try new things. Although we didn’t have the necessary targets available a couple weeks ago, people at the Waiuku Pistol Club were willing to put in the time and effort for everyone to have a go and see if it’s a sport that could have a home at the club.

Last weekend there was an FBI qualification shoot (not an actual one – obviously! But the same one the FBI does). Once a month the 3 gunners take over range one and the Cowboy Action Shooters take over range five. Not to mention service pistol, IPSC and all of the rifle and shotgun disciplines available.

If you're shooting competitions, get ready to burn through a lot of ammo!
If you’re shooting competitions, get ready to burn through a lot of ammo!

In New Zealand shooting sports aren’t nearly as developed as they are in the States, however with clubs providing adequate facilities and plenty of interest from organisers and participants alike, there’s no reason it can’t get that way. The important bit is that we all play our own part and get involved – without people to take part, arrange events and even just clean up afterwards, it just wouldn’t happen.

Make sure you’re giving your local club plenty of love!