The process for legally obtaining a handgun for target shooting in Canada can seem long and complicated. However, it is well worth the effort as once the redtape is dealt with, you will be able to enjoy a very rewarding, challenging and fun sport. After getting all of the paperwork in place for your first handgun purchase, it usually only takes a day or two to buy each additional handgun.

Following is a brief description of the steps involved.
  • Obtain an application form for a 'Possession/Acquisition License' - available at the post office.
  • Successfully complete the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and the Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course (or challenge the exams). See for an explanation.
  • Forward the License application with proof of Safety Course completion, photo and appropriate fees to the Canadian Firearms Centre in Miramichi, New Brunswick.
  • Police background checks will be completed as well as reference and spousal checks (the authorities seem to have given up on reference checks as they are too time-consuming {and probably the most valuable part of the screening process!!}).
    If anything shows up on these checks, even if you were a victim of a criminal act (theft, assault, etc.), the application will be forwarded to the Chief Firearms Office (CFO) of your province for further investigation.
  • If approved, a firearms license will be produced and mailed to the applicant (currently 1 to 2 months)
  • Join an approved handgun club, such as the Eastern Ontario Handgun Club.
  • Complete a mandatory Club level handgun safety course and serve a probation period.
  • Fill out an application for an 'Authorization to Transport (ATT)* - club executive will forward to the CFO along with their recommendation for processing.
  • Further police checks may be done along with a second computer record check.
  • If approved, an ATT will be mailed to the applicant, or in Ontario, to the club.
  • At this point, you may purchase a handgun from a gun shop or an individual. The registration must be called in to Miramichi (1-800-731-4000) for approval.
  • The information is forwarded to the CFO for final approval and issuance of an ATT (short term) for transport from the vendor to the purchaser's home.
  • Handguns cannot be moved from the dwelling until an ATT is received allowing for the transport to an approved firing range (in Ontario this ATT usually covers all approved ranges in the province).
  • The permit is valid for one to three years and must be renewed at the recommendation of the Club executive.
  • To transport the firearm to any location other than an approved range i.e. gunsmith, border point for competition in the US, etc., requires the owner to obtain another ATT from the Chief Firearms Office.

    * A few words on the infamous ATT here: There are two basic 'types' of ATT: Short term and long term. Short term ATTs are issued by the CFO when (generally, there can be exceptions) a requirement exists to move a restricted firearm from one place to another on a temporary basis (like taking it to the gunsmith or bringing it home after purchasing it.) Long term ATTs are required to move restricted firearms to and from approved shooting ranges. While it is not strictly necessary to have a valid long term ATT to own restricted firearms, it is required if you wish to bring them to the range. A person wishing to apply for a long term ATT must belong to a registered club and the club must endorse that person's application. EOHC generally has new members complete an ATT application as a part of the new members safety course, whether or not they currently own restricted firearms. The exception to this, naturally, is if the prospective member does not carry the 'restricted firearms' endoresment on their PAL.

Modified from a page on the Canadian Shooting Sports Association site.

This page was updated on 5/3/2007 2