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As many crossbow owners know, nothing is more satisfying than hitting your target with one of these advanced bows. But crossbows are also tightly regulated in many areas of the world. But what about Australia? This is what you need to know.
So are crossbows legal in Australia? For several years, crossbows have been classed as Prohibited Weapons in Australia. The exact severity of this status varies from region to region, so always look up your local laws. In many regions, a permit is required to possess a crossbow legally in Australia.
To make sure that you don’t run afoul of the law, you must always check your national and local legislation.
This also applies to hunting with crossbows, which can be regulated even more stringently.
Let us now explore the legality of this particular bow within Australia more closely!
Do You Need A License To Own A Crossbow In Australia?
In many regions of Australia, you cannot legally own a crossbow without having an official license or permit. Crossbows are classed as Prohibited Weapons in most areas of the country, with varying degrees of enforcement depending on the local authority.
Crossbows have only been designated as Prohibited Weapons in Australia for a few years.
Before the legal changes, crossbows were classed as Controlled Weapons.
Australian law defines Prohibited Weapons as ones that aren’t appropriate for widespread possession and sale.
This doesn’t mean that Prohibited Weapons are completely illegal, but it does mean that they are very closely monitored and can only be obtained with official licenses and permits.
Each of Australia’s regions has slightly different regulations relating to crossbows.
Almost all of them require you to apply for a license to own a crossbow, but in some areas, crossbows are completely outlawed.
Every local authority has the power to change these regulations if they deem it necessary, so always try and keep up to date with the latest rules.
Let’s look more closely at the crossbow laws for each region:
ACT/New South Wales
Crossbows are deemed to be prohibited in both the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and New South Wales regions.
You can only apply for a crossbow permit if you’re going to be a member of a listed archery club and you want to use their target shooting ranges.
Once you’ve obtained your permit, you can purchase a weapon, which is then sent to a licensed crossbow dealer in the local area.
You then go to the dealer and retrieve your crossbow.
The rules governing crossbows are much less stringent in the Northern Territory, where you do not need a permit to possess a crossbow as long as you are over the age of 18.
Crossbows are still classed as Controlled Weapons in the Northern Territory.
The legislation in Queensland requires you to obtain a permit for each crossbow that you want.
You must also complete an approved crossbow safety training course.
After authorization, you can order a crossbow and have it delivered to a registered firearms dealer in Queensland so that you can pick it up.
You can use your crossbow at licensed specialist ranges or on private property that spans at least 20 acres.
You need to have written permission from the landowner.
The crossbow rules in South Australia are a bit more relaxed than in most other regions.
To obtain a crossbow, you either need a hunting or prohibited weapon permit or proof of membership to a registered archery club.
You’ll also need to pass a course on using crossbows safely.
To possess a crossbow in Tasmania, you’ll require a permit from the Police Commissioner.
You can only shoot on recognized ranges that are suitable for crossbows.
In Victoria, you’ll need a permit to own a crossbow.
You can apply for an exemption if you have been a registered member of a recognized archery or crossbow club for more than six months.
You must still be over 18.
The region with the most stringent crossbow laws is Western Australia.
Only registered members of clubs affiliated with Archery Australia who applied for a permit before June 2010 can possess a crossbow.
No one else can now possess or use a crossbow in Western Australia.
Can You Hunt With A Crossbow In Australia?
Much like the laws dealing with ownership of crossbows, the regulations governing crossbow hunting vary from region to region. It is possible to hunt with a crossbow in Australia in certain areas, but there are various restrictions in place.
The laws regarding crossbow hunting are much more abrupt when it comes to crossbow hunting.
In most of Australia’s territories, it is illegal to hunt animals with a crossbow.
These include ACT & New South Wales, Tasmania, and Western Australia.
It is legal to hunt animals in Australia’s other regions, including the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria.
However, there are still some rules in place governing the type of equipment that you can use and which animals you can target.
Queensland and South Australia’s rules are relatively relaxed but check your local authority.
In South Australia, hunters are able to take advantage of exemptions to the region’s crossbow regulations, but there are still calls to ban the practice altogether.
In the Northern Territory, you can hunt feral pigs and certain species of ducks.
You need a hunting permit when chasing after any game.
To see exactly which species you can hunt, contact the Northern Territory government and obtain permission from the local landowner.
In Victoria, there are specific restrictions that affect the crossbow equipment that can be used while hunting.
You are only allowed to hunt deer with crossbows in Victoria.
If you want to hunt ducks, quail, or other game birds, you can only use a shotgun and not a crossbow.
There are different crossbow requirements depending on which kind of deer that you’re after.
For larger deer, like red deer, crossbows must have a draw weight of at least 150 lbs.
You can only use broadhead arrows that weigh at least 26 grams and have two or more blades.
For smaller species such as fallow deer, the minimum draw weight drops to 120 lbs. Bolts and arrows must weigh at least 22.5 grams and include two or more blades.
How To Remain Lawful When Using A Crossbow In Australia
The best thing to do is make sure that you clearly understand the local laws and permit requirements in your home region. These regulations can vary widely throughout the different regions of Australia, with some areas being more vigilant than others. If you can shoot a crossbow, always do so in the correct places outlined in local government laws.
If you want to own or use a crossbow in most of Australia’s regions, you’ll need to obtain a legitimate permit.
These are either issued by the local police commissioner or a government regulatory body.
Make sure to check local legislation to find out exactly how to get your permit.
In some areas, you’ll also need to take a recognized crossbow safety course to be allowed to get a permit.
These courses explain how to use your crossbow safely and how to store it securely, as well as any safety protocols that must be followed during shooting.
These courses will also explain all the minute facets of your local crossbow laws.
In many regions of Australia, you can only use a crossbow in specific areas.
For the most part, these will be locally registered archery or crossbow clubs for target shooting.
This includes tournaments and practice sessions. Some shooting ranges will also allow you to fire your crossbow.
In some regions, such as South Australia or Victoria, you cannot obtain a crossbow without either applying for a permit or being a member of a registered archery association or group.
Other regions will allow you to shoot crossbows on private land, such as Queensland.
This may be subject to space restrictions. In Queensland, you can only shoot your crossbow on private land that exceeds 20 acres.
In these instances, you must obtain the permission of the landowner in writing if you want to practice with your crossbow.
If you are shooting on someone else’s land, make sure to take the proper safety precautions to ensure that no danger is posed to the people you’re with or anyone else who might be on the land.
Use backstops with your targets to prevent bolts from getting lost after firing.
As you can see, whether or not a crossbow is legal in Australia mainly depends on the state, who you are, and your intended usage.
While none of the above should be taken literally nor as legal advice, what it does show is that it’s essential to check with your local authorities.
Only they can dictate what is legal and what is not for you.
And this may not just apply to crossbows.
Pets, for instance, are another story altogether.
I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy indoor and 3D archery with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.