Crossbow Laws UK
The number of people owning a crossbow is on the rise and providing we use them responsibly, there is no reason that they won’t remain 100% legal.
Just because they are legal does not mean that there are not very strict rules that must be followed. During this post we are going to outline the main laws for crossbows.
We take no responsibility for missing or incorrect information although, to our knowledge, at the time of writing all the information provided is correct.
According to UK crossbow law, you do not need a licence or registration to own a crossbow. But, the Crossbows Act 1987 governs the age limits for selling or buying them.
In England, Wales, or Scotland you must be at least 18 years old to buy a crossbow. Likewise, it is illegal to sell a crossbow to anyone under the age of 18.
You must have adult supervision to be in possession of this type of weapon. Persons under 18 can only use them when supervised by a person who is at least 21 years old. This helps to keep misuse to a minimum, got to keep safe.
The Crossbows (Northern Ireland) Order 1988 makes similar prohibitions.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (section 5) prevents the use of a crossbow for hunting birds. Further prohibitions come from the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (section 50). The law makes it illegal to be drunk in a public place while in possession of a crossbow.
You may not use a crossbow for hunting in the UK. Many other countries in Europe and the US are allowed to hunt with crossbows but not in the UK.
You may only shoot crossbows on private land, this includes gardens, farms/fields or crossbow/archery clubs however you must always have the owners permission.
They are 100% legal to own but this does not mean that you can walk down the street with one, in this case it would be classed as an offensive weapon and you may be arrested. If you have one in the back of your car un-cocked, on the way to somewhere you can legally shoot, you will not have any problems.
1; Sale and Letting on Hire
A person who sells or lets on hire a crossbow or a part of a crossbow to a person under the age of 18 is guilty of an offence, unless he believes him to be 18 years of age or older and has reasonable ground for the belief.
2; Purchase and Hiring
A person under the age of 18 who buys or hires a crossbow or a part of a crossbow is guilty of an offence.
A person under the age of 18 who has with him—
(a) a crossbow which is capable of discharging a missile, or
(b) parts of a crossbow which together (and without any other parts) can be assembled to form a crossbow capable of discharging a missile,
is guilty of an offence, unless he is under the supervision of a person who is twenty-one years of age or older.
4; Powers of Search and Seizure
(1) If a constable suspects with reasonable cause that a person is committing or has committed an offence under section 3, the constable may—
(a) search that person for a crossbow or part of a crossbow;
(b) search any vehicle, or anything in or on a vehicle, in or on which the constable suspects with reasonable cause there is a crossbow, or part of a crossbow, connected with the offence.
(2) A constable may detain a person or vehicle for the purpose of a search under subsection (1).
(3) A constable may seize and retain for the purpose of proceedings for an offence under this Act anything discovered by him in the course of a search under subsection (1) which appears to him to be a crossbow or part of a crossbow.
(4) For the purpose of exercising the powers conferred by this section a constable may enter any land other than a dwelling-house.
This Act does not apply to crossbows with a draw weight of less than 1.4 kilograms.
(1) A person guilty of an offence under section 1 shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.
(2) A person guilty of an offence under section 2 or 3 shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.
(3) The court by which a person is convicted of an offence under this Act may make such order as it thinks fit as to the forfeiture or disposal of any crossbow or part of a crossbow in respect of which the offence was committed.
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out our UK knife laws