For target shooters and foreign hunters, obtaining a Firearm Certificate in the UK to shoot deer, may involve acquiring some additional knowledge and skills, experienced African hunter and target shooter Peter Osborne, explains how taking the PDS1 Certificate achieved this. 

Peter Osborne Deer Stalking UK

Growing up in South Africa, I seemingly had unlimited access to, and the use of firearms from a very early age. Although there was a modicum of adult supervision it was, well in my case, a trial-and-error approach as my parents lacked any fieldcraft know-how! In hindsight, the problem with this survival-of-the-luckiest approach to gun-craft, shooting and hunting was the propensity to adopt and then retain bad habits.

I am not referencing being unsafe or being blasé about safety, I am more referencing the handling, sequence and process associated with good field and game management of ensuring a safe shot resulting in a clean kill and respect for your quarry.

Peter Osborne Hunting Africa Rifle

(Above: Peter remains an experienced African hunter)

Having come from this background, I recently completed the Proficient Deer Stalking Certificate Level-1 course, something that was a necessity for me, as the Chief Officer of Police had added conditions to my firearms certificate that precluded me using my own firearms to stalk deer.

I thought the course would be another required, but dull and boring hurdle to facilitate a variation to my FAC and access to the Capreolus Club and therefore, access to more stalking areas. I was in for a humbling lesson, the course is genuinely informative - although it has a lot of basic information that anyone who has hunted or shot a rifle on a range may inherently know or believe they know, it was the relevance, application and sequence of the information that was most useful from my perspective, including:

1. The recommended technique to seamlessly mount a rifle from your shoulder onto the shooting sticks whilst maintaining sight and engagement with the quarry.

2. The kill-zone versus executing a perfect heart or head shot (I think this may have more relevance to those who grew up in South Africa and have read “The Perfect Shot” a book written by Kevin Robertson);

3. Effective breathing and in parallel managing your emotions.

4. The difference between the six deer types as well as identifying male and female deer as antlers are shed annually.

5. Only releasing the safety when the shot is assured and safe and then reloading immediately.

6. Taking time after the shot to give the quarry the space and needed time; and

7. Starting the tracking from the point of the shot – not where you believe the quarry is or could be located - follow the spoor1

Things I believe I knew but were re-enforced:

1. Set your scope for at a 6-10 magnification (8 being optimum) – as most shots are between 80 – 150 metres.

2. Locate your quarry using the binoculars then use the rifle, so you have the bigger picture - before looking through the scope and focussing.

3. Once you have taken your shot, reload immediately whilst keeping your focus on the quarry.

4. Respect for your quarry - give the quarry time post the shot and then perform the eye test to ensure it is dead.

Hunting is both a pleasure as well as a great day out in the country and by stalking you are key to maintaining a healthy deer population.

A great day’s stalking includes enjoying the environment, terrain, company, and the amazing ability of your quarry to maximise its environment - it is not just the shot.

Old Dog new tricksEditor’s note: As well as having substantial experience hunting in South Africa, Peter is an experienced target shooter in the UK.

Wishing to make the transition from target shooting in the UK, to deer stalking, Peter successfully completed the PDS1 Certificate, thereby evidencing to his local police force that he had acquired sufficient knowledge and skills to be granted a variation to his Firearms Certificate to shoot deer.

With his new FAC in hand, Peter has gone on to join the Capreolus Club Plus scheme - stalking syndicate, which has given him unlimited access to thousands of acres of deer stalking and rough shooting in the south of England.

If you have an FAC that restricts you to target shooting on ranges, or have come to the UK from overseas, and would like to hunt deer in the UK, the PDS1 is the perfect course for you. It is nationally available and approved by the two-leading land-based awarding bodies LANTRA and UK Rural Skills.

To learn more about the PDS1 certificate follow this link: deer-stalking-course

To learn more about the Capreolus Club deer stalking syndicate click here: deer-stalking-syndicate-vacancies-for-2022

Look out for more from Peter in the months to come! 



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