I have been asked countless times, and not infrequently by experienced shooters, how difficult or onerous getting the certificate to buy black powder is. The answer is, not very difficult at all.

As with a firearms and shotgun certificate, the test the licensing authorities must satisfy is, does this person have a reasonable need to have this certificate? For the shooter, this is put even more simply - are they a member of an approved shooting club?

Shooting a Matchlock Musket

Finding and completing form ER4A

The aspirant black powder shooter should contact their local police force firearms licensing department and complete the form ER4A; application for an Explosives Certificate for an individual's own use in their firearm/shotgun. This is usually available online on your local authority's firearms licensing page.

This form must be filled out as completely as possible, including the certificate number of any currently held firearms/shotgun certificates. Note also the difference between a certificate to acquire but not keep, and one to acquire and keep. The most common certificate for individual shooters is one to acquire and keep, legally stored at their home premises.

After this is complete, I would recommend mailing the completed form (and any other certificate applications) by recorded post.

For new shooters

Many new shooters will join a club and apply for their firearms/shotgun and black powder certificate at the same time. This is probably the simplest solution, as it's something of a 3 birds, 1 stone route for the new shooter. There is nothing stopping you from applying for a black powder certificate further down the line, should you not wish to do it with your first application.

Joining a club will satisfy the police that you have an appropriate need for the certificate. Re-enactors will follow a similar path, being a member of a re-enactment group, for example a Waterloo era group, will necessitate the shooting of black powder firearms. Be aware that it is common for re-enactment members to hold only a certificate to acquire, I would advise contacting your particular group for advice and guidance on how they would like you to approach applying.

For current FAC/SGC holders

Experienced shooters, or those already in possession of a firearms or shotgun certificate who have come to black powder shooting later, are at no disadvantage as regards an Explosive Certificate application compared to those who apply for all at once. Current certificate holders only need fill out the form ER4A, purchase an HSE compliant black powder storage box, and await their visit.