Crossbow Laws UK

Do You Know The UK Crossbow Law?

First of all, as a prepper it is important to have a variety of good hunting tools at your disposal.

One of the very best and most stealthy is the crossbow - a silent, accurate and deadly hunting weapon that is well worth considering as a 'must have' bit of survival kit.

However, as preppers, we have a duty to ensure we all act within the laws of the United Kingdom [as they stand now], and make sure your safety and the safety of others is never ever compromised.

Failing to comply to the Crossbow Laws in the UK will result in serious consequences - namely, imprisonment if you're stupid enough to think you can go outside of these laws.

What Does The UK Crossbow Law Say?
Crossbow Act 1987
Chapter 32

An Act to create offences relating to the sale and letting on hire of crossbows to, and the purchase, hiring and possession of crossbows by, persons under the age of seventeen; and for connected purposes.

[15th May 1987]

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 eighteen is guilty of an offence, unless he believes him to be seventeen years of age or older and has reasonable ground for the belief.

2; Purchase and hiring.

A person under the age of eighteen who buys or hires a crossbow or a part of a crossbow is guilty of an offence.

3; Possession.

A person under the age of eighteen 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 etc.

(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.

5; Exception.

This Act does not apply to crossbows with a draw weight of less than 1.4 kilograms.

So, in a nutshell, the above official government laws mean...... 

Section 1 - (The Sale): It is considered an offence for any person to sell or let on hire a crossbow or part/parts of a crossbow to a person under the age of 18.

Section 2 - (The Purchase): It is considered an offence for any person under the age of 18 to purchase a crossbow, or hire a crossbow or part/parts of a crossbow.

Section 3 - (The Possession): It is considered an offence for any person under the age of 18 to have on his/her person, a crossbow which is capable of firing and discharging a missile, or to have parts of a crossbow which together can be assembled to form a crossbow which is capable of firing and discharging a missile.

Please Remember This -

Hunting, in general, is illegal in the UK, however, any hunting can only be undertaken on private land with the landowners permission, and certain animals and birds can be hunted.

e.g. to hunt deer your require a very special hunting license. However, vermin like rats require no special license, just the landowners permission.

Using a crossbow (or any bow weapon) for hunting is completely illegal here in the UK.

The crossbow itself cannot be carried in public and a common sense approach should be adopted when transporting a crossbow.

However, It is not illegal to own a crossbow.

A note on the broadhead bolt:

Broadheads are not illegal to own or use in the UK, you just cannot bow hunt with them.
Although they are legal to own and use, it is highly discouraged, due to the risks involved in doing so, especially around wildlife and other people.
Broadheads should only be used in a safe, controlled environment, with strict safety measures in place.
Although legal, they are usually not permitted on public ranges  and 3D course, because, in addition to the safety issues, they can cause too much damage to targets.

Finally - a crossbow is a powerful, lethal weapon and, as such, should be treated with a planned, common sense approach.

It should be given the respect it deserves as a lethal weapon - always use safe practices at all times and ensure you have ample space beyond your target.

Steve Hart - UK Preppers Guide
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    • Andy in Birmingham on October 8, 2018 at 9:06 pm
    • Reply

    If anyone is interested in properly learning how to shoot a crossbow, learning about crossbow safety, laws, etc, and they want to shoot and develop thier skills in a safe environment, I recommend they join an affiliated Archery club with a crossbow section, or even a dedicated crossbow club (although these are not very common).

    If shooting 3D foam animal targets out of doors in the woods is your thing, then clubs registered with the National Field Archery Society (NFAS) are worth checking out. Most now have crossbow shooting members and crossbow competions. To see if there is a crossbow friendly club near to where you live check out the NFAS.

    Shoot safe, stay safe, and have fun!

    • Thursday Morning Wake Up Call on August 30, 2018 at 3:38 pm
    • Reply

    We had a visit from the local constabulary at 8:30am this morning. 2 plastic police who told us that a ‘close neighbour ‘ (it narrows it down to 2 people) with complaints that we are firing crossbows in the garden (OUR GARDEN).
    We have a professional foam layered crate as a target and the bolts that were left in from yesterday evenings shooting were looking pretty good in terms of grouping. They couldn’t do anything and we are not doing anything wrong and agreed but said as it’s school holidays can we just be aware that children may be about ( which we are). They tried saying this is a ‘warning’ but for the second time in the last few weeks since we bought the crossbows tweedle dum and tweedle Dee have been to have a word cos of complaints from whoever.
    On our own property and as a hobby and very useful piece of protection should shit hit the fan, I will keep on using my crossbow whenever I feel like it. And we told them that but said we would obviously be careful.

    • Martin on June 28, 2018 at 9:56 am
    • Reply

    Is it illegal to modify a crossbow to make it more powerful if it is still under the legal limit after modification???

    • Paul K on April 17, 2018 at 5:04 am
    • Reply

    I’ve just purchased a Hickory Creek Mini In-line (take down) CB and want to take it up to Wales this summer. With regard to “carrying” it in public: Can I hook the two pieces onto the back of my backpack or would it need to be concealed in a case? What is considered carrying it in public? Common sense tells me that anywhere that’s not private land is public so unless I have access to said land, the only place I’ll be able to use it will be the range.

      • Anon on July 1, 2018 at 5:42 pm
      • Reply

      While i cannot tell you about crossbows, it may be worthwhile using knife laws as a starting point and let common sense take over from there.
      Apart from the permitted pocket knives, you may not carry a knife in public unless it is being carried to take to a specific location for professional, educational, religious or for another “good reason” (which is dependent on what individual law enforcers decide is classed as a good reason.)
      you may transport any type of knife that is legal to possess, but it must be packaged in a way that it is not readily available.
      For instance, i used to walk to work and wanted to take a 3″ fixed knife to work to get sharpened. I emailed the local police and asked if that would be classed as “good reason”
      Their response was that it isn’t good reason to them, and that i would have to transport it in a bag, in the boot of a car.

      Now, this is the case for a 3″ knife. You are asking about, what is effectively, a sniper weapon. Common sense tells me that you would neither be able to carry it in two pieces on a clip, not in a case, unless it is between storage and your car or your car and your destination.
      it would also need to be in the boot, in it’s case.

      As for where you can use it…
      I think that saying that “anywhere that’s not private land is public” doesn’t quite describe it right. I think a more accurate way to look at it is “anywhere that’s not public is private”
      With this in mind, I would think it’s safe to say, don’t have it anywhere that you can easily get to it while in public areas. But anywhere else, you will NEED the landowner’s permission. And to really cover your a**, get it in writing. Make sure this written evidence has the location, date, your name, your intentions (including choice of ammo/tips/target), the landowner’s name and get them to sign & date it in blue ink. Please also note that signposts that say public footpath do not mean public land.

      You have a lethal weapon there. You seem to be asking what is the minimum you need to do. I think you aught to take every precaution you can to ensure you stay within the limits of the law. Really go overboard; hold the limbs in one case and the body in another, wrap it in rope in such a fashion that you would have to completely unwrap it before use. Basically make it clear, if you do get searched for whatever reason, that you cannot use it in the spur of the moment and that it will require an amount of time to fetch it and prepare it.

      If in doubt, get in contact with the local police that cover the area in Wales that you are traveling to for advice. Tell them what you intend to do with it and see what they recommend.

      • Chris on January 6, 2019 at 12:56 am
      • Reply

      If people can see it, you are breaking a law. You may transport a crossbow to where you are taking it if you conseal it. Even if it’s in a Tesco bag disassembled (other supermarkets are available). You should not stop off at the pub on the way and you should take all reasonable precautions not to let it fall into the wrong hands so no getting it out in McDonald’s on the way or falling asleep on the train leaving it on the seat next to you (other fast food restaurants are available).

      Finally, do not tell the public you are transporting it. There’s nothing worse than word getting around and having some damn snowflake making a fuss.

      Kind Regards
      The Pirate.

    • Coopey on April 11, 2018 at 4:22 pm
    • Reply

    I have one and remember that these are just rules or legislation. Not laws. They need your consent to enforce legislation.
    The actual LAW on crossbows may be different to the legislation.

      • Knows Better on May 11, 2018 at 8:22 pm
      • Reply

      Need your consent to enforce legislation. What utter bollocks.

        • Dr. Harding on May 24, 2018 at 10:00 pm
        • Reply

        Not quite.
        Much of UK Policing is actually by ‘consent’.
        When an Officer of the Royal Warrant (such as a Police Officer carrying a ‘warrant card’) asks if you ‘Understand’ a charge, he or she is not asking if you ‘comprehend’ what is being said, but asking you to agree to ‘under stand’ (that is to ‘stand under’ the authority) of the Officer and enter into a contract with him under Admarity Law. That is indeed consent in all but name.
        For all intents and purposes if you say ‘yes’ when a Police Officer presents you with a piece of legislation or a charge, then you have given your ‘consent’ to standing under his authority and having a 3rd party (usually a Court) hear the contractual dispute.
        If you do not give consent they will subject you to all sorts of verbal garbage to get you to submit and either say you understand or sign a statement of some kind, both of which are ‘consentual’ contracts.
        As a free man or ‘freeman’, or ‘soverign individual’ you are not bound, but as a citizen you are ‘subject’ and bound.
        Most Police Officers below the rank of Inspector dont actually know this (but should), but many have been schooled in the field and on camera by individuals who refuse to stand under false rules written on a piece of paper and called ‘legislation’, which you are then told you must follow.
        If someone wrote into legislation that you must hand over your eldest son to the state at age 18 to be used a state approved killer, would you? If you have kids you likely already have given ownership to the state by ‘Registering’ them. Registering means to pass ownership to the Regent or their representatives (Government). In return you are given a nice receipt called a Birth Certificate, but the state then own your child and can tak them into care or conscript them at will. It was all ‘consentual’ as noone forced anyone to do anything regarding Regitration.
        Anyway, getting back to the point. you should never say you ‘Understand’ to a Police Officer, nor sign any ‘statement’ unless you want to enter into a contract.
        Its very, very, complex, and if you get just one word or procedure wrong you will blow it and end up ‘contracted’ and off to a Court hearing, or worse.
        That is just one reason you should remain silent beyond giving your name and get a Lawyer who comprehends these matters (not all do, they just know ‘process’).
        I suggest people look up the Freeman and Freeman on the Land movements for some eye openers.
        People have many more rights and powers than they realise, do you ‘understand’ now?

          • Jean Charles Poitier on June 23, 2018 at 9:15 pm
          • Reply

          Than you for this she opening information

            • Martin on July 1, 2018 at 8:46 pm

            Don’t listen to the sovereign citizen bollocks. If the police ask you if you understand what is being said, that is precisely what they mean.
            There is no contract to being policed.
            You sign a statement and tgat becomes evidence that can be presented. Yiunrefuse to sign a statement and that may be commented upon as evidence.

          • John smith on June 30, 2018 at 5:40 am
          • Reply

          All of this is total bollocks. It has been tested time and time again by morons calling themselves freemen or sovereigns in the courts and fails every time. Stop spreading shit that you read on the internet, you’ll get gullible people hurt or arrested.

            • Andy in Birmingham on October 8, 2018 at 8:54 pm

            @John smith,

            Dr. Harding clearly meant well, but he did over simplify things and just added even more confusion.

            Anyone who is a Citizen or a visitor to this country (other than a head of state I do believe) has already given consent. Also, no Citizen can ever be a ‘freeman’, and he did not make that clear.

            Ironically, (as I read it anyway), if you go to a Court to test being a Freeman or a Soverign then you submit to the court and give consent to it, therefore making a mockery of trying to be a ‘freeman’, lol.

            All the best to you.

          • Andy from Birmingham on October 8, 2018 at 8:45 pm
          • Reply

          Dr. Harding,
          Thank you for attempting to explain consent but the very complex issues you have tried to explain have been simplified too much for such a complex issue. The result is that what you implied as opposed to explained has gone well over the heads of most of the people reading (and certainly commenting on this).

          I recognise what you were trying to explain, but all you should have said was, ‘any person who is a Citizen, or enters the country by all usual means, automatically ‘consents’ to all Laws, etc’.

          Being a Citizen or a visitor IS CONSENT.

          Thats it, you should have just left it there.

          Alluding to exceptions was not well advised. You should have also made it clear that No ‘Citizen’ can be ever be a ‘Soverign’ or even a ‘Freeman’, but you did not make that clear. That is why so many ‘freeman’ who remain citizens, or visitors, fall on thier faces and badly muddy the waters so that nothing is clear at all.

          The ‘Understand’ element is for legislation and corporate contracts (ie speeding tickets by xyzconstabulary registered and trading as ‘xyzauthority’ etc) not criminal Law.

          As I said, I appreciate your input, but you should have made it crystal clear that basically, if you are not a real ‘Soverign’, or a head of state (or a diplomat holding certain cards), consent is already given.

          As for crossbow ‘laws’ in England, they are currently very sensible and very reasonable, and no Citizen or visitor to this country, or freeman, 😉 should have any issue with complying with them at all.

          Thanks for your input Dr. Harding, but although you clearly meant well, you have actually contributed to more confusion.

          All the best to you, and I hope this comment does not offend you, it was not my intention.

    • Paul on April 3, 2018 at 10:30 pm
    • Reply

    Ridiculous how far this country has fallen.

    Competing for acceptance that you have no right to life……and defence of that life.

    Let’s ask the acid attack victims if they would prefer their old face over their new face ….IF they didn’t have their right to defend themselves taken away.

    What if gun ownership was allowed in uk would it have happened? If the subjects had learned from the other subjects who jumped this shithole and paddled to the U.S. were eventually they became CITIZENS who were born EQUAL TO KINGS AND QUEENS UNDER LAW!!!

    For God and Queen eh?

    United Kingdom is no longer Great

      • Da vid on May 27, 2018 at 7:56 pm
      • Reply

      Gun ownership is legal in the UK.

        • PAUL JACOBS on September 23, 2018 at 1:16 am
        • Reply

        Not for self defence it isn’t !!!!!!

        You have to have a bloody good reason for owning one and self-defence is not considered one of those reasons so why bother saying it is legal in the UK

          • Jamie on December 31, 2018 at 1:15 pm
          • Reply

          No, you do not need a reason. You have a right to own a firearm although there are restrictions on what firearms you can own (i.e. no barrel of less than 12″). If you apply for a shotgun licence and it is refused without good reason (i.e. conviction for a violent crime) then the police are acting outside their authority and you can appeal. There are restrictions but they are all reasonable (like having a locked cabinet to keep it in and keep the ammo separate) but it is a right.

          You are correct that you are not allowed to own a gun to shoot people but that is reasonable. Only septics are that retarded. If you have a shotgun for shooting pigeons and you shoot a burglar that is self defence but if you buy a gun to kill people that is murder.

    • Paul on March 20, 2018 at 10:33 pm
    • Reply

    I have a crossbow by my bed incase I encounter any unwelcome intruders.
    Should I have an interference and use my crossbow to defend myself, am I carrying out an illegal act?

    1. yes you are, that is a WEAPON and if you use that on an intruder you will be the one arrested.
      you are able to use “reasonable force” but that does not include killing someone, just ask Tony Martin.

        • Jamie on December 31, 2018 at 1:19 pm
        • Reply

        Tony Martin was convicted solely because he shot the man in the back as the man was trying to escape. He was not defending himself, he was the aggressor. If he had shot the man in the chest it would have been completely different although it could be said to be disproportionate if the man was unarmed.

    • Alexander Adams on February 27, 2018 at 11:32 pm
    • Reply

    Is it allowed for my son (at the age of 11) to use MY crossbow for target practice with my strict supervision?

    • peter weston on January 10, 2018 at 6:47 am
    • Reply

    Thanks for making the rules clear to see and understand.
    A crossbow is a very useful item to own and to able to use. May I suggest a set of an article on them.
    * Building a backstop at home and a home range and use of crossbows at home.
    * Different draws and weights and effects, different changes of designs, alternative strings and prods.
    * Bolts, designs and styles, and heads. homemade designs and home post poop construction ideas.

    • NancyDrew on January 9, 2018 at 3:56 pm
    • Reply

    Remember Mick… David killed Goliath with a slingshot!!

      • James McConnell on November 8, 2018 at 1:32 am
      • Reply

      Sorry, but David did not kill Goliath with a slingshot, quite simply because it is a fairy tale myth and so therefore factually non-existent!

    • Jeremy on January 1, 2018 at 7:58 pm
    • Reply


    Can you target practice with a cross bow legally on your property or are there ranges you can visit?

    • mick on December 28, 2017 at 6:58 pm
    • Reply

    Hello ,I have recently seen a lot of crossbows for very little money but i spotted one that fires 8mm bb’s ,being as though it’s not shooting an arrow would it be legal to hunt with the same as a slingshot ?

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