We know that it’s easy to get excited about buying your first gun or stepping into your blind for the first time, but there are some steps you need to follow before you can get to that point. It’s not as simple as buying a deer tag or choosing a firearm, there are courses, licensing fees, and most importantly a lot of patience involved.
We know the whole process can be intimidating and maybe even a little bit confusing, but we hope to help simplify it for you so you can be prepared before you even get started. So, if you’re looking to get your firearms licence, restricted firearms licence, or hunting licence, please take a look at the process below so you can make sure you’ve given yourself the time you need to get everything set up properly.
How to Get Your Hunting and Firearms Licence In Ontario
Step One: Book your Course
As soon as you know you want to get your hunting or firearms licence, you should begin to look into your course options. Courses fill up fast so it can take a few months before you can secure a spot.
We offer the Hunter Safety course, the PAL course, and the RPAL course here at That Hunting Store and the list of upcoming courses available on our website <link>. New dates are added as they become available with our instructor. Please note, because these courses are in such high demand, we have a no refund policy. You are responsible for remembering your own date and will not be reimbursed if you miss your course. Details of our policy are available on our courses page.
Step Two: Prepare for your Course
Once you’ve booked your course, it’s important to record the date and time down somewhere. Seriously, put it as an appointment in your phone, mark it on your calendar, book it off or work, do whatever you need to do to remember the date. You’re responsible for remembering your own course date, and will not be reimbursed if you miss your course. The instructor does not do any reminder calls, so it’s up to you to remember.
If you have registered for the Hunter Safety Course, your book is included in the fee. For those taking the Firearms Safety Course, the book is not included in the fee but can be downloaded for free on the RCMP website. You can also click here to be directed to the page.
Other things to keep in mind when preparing for your course:
- Pack yourself a lunch because it’s a long day. You’re going to get a few breaks throughout the day, so bring yourself some food.
- New Covid-19 rules: Wear a mask and bring your own pens.
Step Three: Attend the Course
Depending on the course you’re taking, you’ll have a different number of hours that you’re expected in the classroom. Our schedule is listed on the course page <link> and will be told to you when you book. It’s best to arrive at your course a few minutes early to make sure you have time to check in with the instructor before the course begins.
Important note: Courses often begin before the store's regular hours. The courses take place in our range, and have a separate entrance around the back of the building that will be open for students.
During your course, you’ll watch videos, listen to the instructor’s lecture, and take your exam at the end of the day. The instructor marks the exam right away and lets you know whether you have passed or failed.
Both types of Firearms Courses (PAL and RPAL) include a written exam and a practical exam. The practical exam includes tasks like ammo identification and gun safety, and you must pass both portions to pass the course.
If you fail the course, you will have to retake the course in its entirety.
Step Four: Passing the Course
What happens next depends on the type of course.
Hunter Safety Course:
Once you’ve passed, the instructor will give you a copy of your test results. You’re able to take those directly to the Ministry of Natural Resources to apply for your Hunting licence right away.
Once you have your hunting licence, you’ll be able to buy your tags for your region, also known as a Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) and head out hunting all in the same day! For details on the different fees, visit the MNR website.
PAL & RPAL Courses:
The firearms courses are a little bit more involved when it comes to getting your licence. Once you pass the course, the instructor will send the results to the Chief Firearms Officer to verify. This process takes a few weeks, but once they are verified the results will be mailed to you.
Once you have your verified results, you can submit your application for a firearms licence (or restricted licence if you took the RPAL course) to the RCMP. The RCMP may take up to four months (or longer depending on volume) to approve your licence. They will then mail you your firearms licence or updated licence with RPAL designation.
Step Five: Keep an Eye on the Expiration Date
Your Hunting licence needs to be renewed every three years and your PAL/RPAL needs to be renewed every five years. Make sure you stay on top of the renewal dates and get your applications into the appropriate authorities before it's too late. You wouldn’t want to find the perfect firearm on sale only to learn your firearms licence is expired, would you?
If you have any further questions about your Hunting or Firearms Licences, visit the MNR
websites. You can also contact us
and we’d be happy to assist you the best we can.