If you live in the UK you may be wondering are paintball guns legal in the UK, well let’s dive into it! Paintball is an incredible and thrilling outdoor hobby played widely in America! But, if you live in a different country and still want to benefit from the unlimited options paintball opens for groups of friends, team building, stag nights, and parties then it is good to check out the legality first.
Paintballing is a thrilling and exciting sport, but because of the ‘guns,’ we are frequently asked if the equipment is legal or regulated.
However, when it comes to any activity these days, health, safety, and legal issues are at the forefront, and paintball is no exception.
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Are Paintball Guns Legal in the UK?
Yes, paintball guns are legal in the UK. There are some paintball gun laws in the UK, but they are fully legal when operated within restrictions and laws safely! This is excellent news for our paintball enthusiasts overseas since paintball guns shoot breakable none lethal rounds they are legal!
The paintball industry is governed by the air guns section of the Firearms Act of 1968. Because paintball markers fire frangible ammunition that breaks upon contact rather than inflicting penetrating harm, the Home Office does not consider them to be firearms. Unlike in the US where paintball guns are considered to be firearms they are not in the UK.
Paintball Gun Laws in UK
Since paintball guns are dangerous the UK government has a few laws to keep all parties safe while still allowing the public to enjoy what paintballing has to offer! You should pay close attention to the laws and guidelines enforced by the government as you don’t want to have any issues with the police.
Here are the main UK Laws to Follow:
- Only use paintballs and paintball guns that have been approved
- This ensures that there aren’t any paintball guns sold to the public that are unsafe, and generally keeps tha game safer.
- Regular testing of air cylinders and CO2 bottles is required.
- You should be doing this anyway if you own your own gun, test the air cylinders or CO2 on a regular basis.
- The maximum speed for tournament guns should be 300 fps (approximately 9.9 ft/lbs).
- This isn’t really an enforced law by the government, but any novice to professional paintballer knows that fields and arenas limit fps for games to make sure everybody has a good time and doesn’t get dangerously hurt.
- A paintball gun can’t be “capable of discharging a missile” at a muzzle velocity of “6ft lbs” for an air pistol “or, in the case of an air weapon other than an air pistol, 12ft lb” (https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/firearms)
- This is a guideline put out by the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) and you shouldn’t worry about it too much as all paintball guns sold over the counter or online legally will conform to these guidlines.
Do You Need a Licence to Use a Paintball Gun? – Are paintball guns illegal in UK
Although most paintball guns meet the above requirements, some exceed them and must be licensed under the Firearms Act or be designated a “prohibited gun.”
Is There a Paintballing Governing Body in the UK?
The regulatory body in the United Kingdom in the United Kingdom Paintball Sports Federation (UKPSF). This is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the sport and making it as safe and fun to play as possible.
The UKPSF, formerly known as the European Paintball Sports Federation (EPSF), was founded in 1990 by a group of players and industry professionals who got together at a time when the sport was receiving negative attention and faced investigation due to the wording of the Firearms Act.
The Act’s wording has since been altered, and the UKPSF has issued a number of guidelines and rule books in the years thereafter. They aren’t a government-enforced agency, but they still have a huge impact on the game of paintball in the UK!
Here are the key issues to keep in mind when it comes to the UK law as it pertains to paintballing.
Cylinder Testing – In conformity with UKPSF rules, compressed air cylinders must be tested on a regular basis. Your compressed air cylinder must be inspected five years after it was manufactured if it is fiber wrapped. This includes CO2 bottles, as well as all bottles with a capacity of more than half a liter.
Check the tank for the date the cylinder was made; the date will be etched onto it. Refilling a bottle that has passed its test dates is prohibited, and no respectable provider will allow you to do so. Accidents involving bottles that have not been tested may potentially put you and other players at harm and could lead to consequences.
Firearms Act – The paintball industry is governed under the portion of the Firearms Act that deals with air guns. As a result, it’s critical to understand when a license to use an air gun is required. To avoid the need for a license, a gun that is more than 60cm long must not be capable of firing more than twelve ft/lbs will be safe for you to buy and play with without a license
The critical figure drops to six ft/lbs for firearms under that length. If air guns have a greater capability, they will need to be licensed. Paintball markers, in particular, cannot discharge more than one paintball at a time or they will be classified as automatic. They can only use certified paintballs with a maximum speed of 300 feet per second. All tournament markers are limited to a maximum velocity of 300fps, or 9.9ft/lbs, and site markers should be at 250-280fps to keep players safe. This corresponds to 7ft/lbs to 8.7ft/lbs.
Additional Safety Measures – In America, health, and safety have gone a step farther, and they tend to follow suit. Across the pond, tournament organizers require that players wear complete face and ear protection while wearing paintball masks.
While this is not currently law in the UK, the UKPSF correctly points out that it is still necessary due to the minor matter of insurance. Any UK paintball site’s insurer will require that all players wear face masks, goggles, and ear protection at all times.
Paintball marshals are in the same boat. When it comes to tournaments, it’s common for organizers to demand eye protection. Aside from insurance concerns and tournament regulations, wearing protective gear is an important safety precaution that should always be followed. It keeps you safe and on the field without worry.
Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 – This Act imposes some limitations that are important to remember. To begin with, it is illegal to carry a paintball gun in a public area unless you have a valid permit or a good cause to do so. The defendant bears the burden of proof in this case. This includes all air guns, whether loaded or not.
It is common knowledge and practice not to flaunt your paintball gun in public as it can cause issues from onlookers who may think it is a real gun. Always keep your marker in a bag while not using it to ensure nobody gets the wrong idea.
Giving a paintball gun or ammunition to someone under the age of 18 is also illegal. Under 18-year-olds are not permitted to possess these objects unless they are members of an authorized and specified club or are on privately held property with the approval of the proprietor. In the latter case, everyone under the age of 14 must be supervised by someone over the age of 21.
The Future – There have been calls to tighten gun laws even more. A parliamentary committee suggested that all air guns, even those with little power, be licensed. They also advocated prohibiting youngsters under the age of 12 or 14 from handling guns. Another idea is to create a computerized database that lists everyone who has a gun license. License holders would have to demonstrate that they had a legitimate cause for possessing the gun, as well as a secure location to store it and that they were qualified to do so. At this stage, these are only proposals, and both sides have lots of complaints.
Wrapping it up!
Paintball guns are legal to use in the UK, there are some laws that you should follow, but use your best judgment and if you have specific questions always seek local advice as people you play with will have a better idea about local requirements and laws!
Have fun and be safe out there!