From plastic to lead - A gun permit in Poland
Everyone reading this is either playing or used to play airsoft and is still in touch with the community to some extent. Many of us did not stop with just having replicas of weapons and started their adventure with the military after getting into airsoft, I personally know at least two such people myself. Still, other bored and disgruntled old guys (like me), discouraged by the changes in the community and how airsoft games have changed (because it used to be better back in the days tc.), switched from plastic BB to metal coated lead. This text is not meant to discourage one from taking part in airsoft games in the least, nor to convince you that firearms are better. It is only meant to make one realize that these passions can be combined because, let's face it, we play/played with toys that look like guns, and in Poland you can have a real one without major problems, so why not go to an airsoft game on Saturday and to a shooting range on Sunday? Just don't confuse the guns.
A popular meme circulating on social media back in the day
In Poland the whole procedure looks as follows. To have a firearm one must be over 21 (there are exceptions, but rare), be healthy in body and mind, and cannot have been sentenced for an intentional crime that resulted in death or injury. These are the basics one can't do without. There are three types of noteworthy permits - for weapons for sports purposes, collectors and a specific combination of the two. You can forget about a permit for a weapon for personal protection, unless you are the owners of a seven-time robbed exchange office with a disability group caused by the number of gunshot wounds inflicted by the perpetrators (or if you are an member of the parliament). Hunting in this text is omitted because it is a completely different story.
Weapons that can be owned using the above-mentioned sports license are all king of repeating or semi-automatic weapons (with exceptions) with rifled barrels up to the caliber of 12 millimeters. Therefore, one can buy a million types of AKs, AR-15s (civilian M16s/M4s), Glocks, Berettas, USP, revolvers, MP5s, P90s, AUGs, sniper rifles, and whatever your heart desires. The limit is the 12 mm caliber, so the Barrett M82/M107 is out. The exception is the full collector's license, which allows one to buy weapons above this caliber, but more on that in a moment.
A trip to the shooting range with your own equipment sometimes turns out to be a quite a logistic task in terms of luggage ... But we are supported in this task by equipment by 5.11 Tactical
In order to obtain and maintain a firearms license for sports purposes, you must belong to a shooting club, have doctors checkups, a shooting license, a competition license, and compete in sports competitions. It takes six months and costs from 2,500 to 3,500 PLN (about 560 to 790 EUR). You buy the weapons you want, can carry them in a holster when loaded and lend them to other holders of this permit.
To obtain a collector's permit, you must belong to a collector's association, pass the doctors examinations and pass the exam before an unfavorable commission from the Provincial Police Headquarters. It takes 3-4 months (unless there are no exam dates) and costs up to 2,000 PLN. You buy any weapons you want, including the one above a caliber of 12 mm, you cannot carry them loaded, you cannot lend them to your colleagues.
In my opinion, mainly due to the police exam, which is difficult, and peaky approving board, apart from a few exceptions the best solution is a hybrid solution. Besides, in Poland there are not many places where one can shoot with a Barrett. The hybrid option a license for a weapon for sports purposes with a sports weapon license for collecting purposes attached to it. This allows one to bypass the police exam, but the caliber restriction remains. However, you get a license for at least twice the number of weapons almost for free.
An explanation is needed here - in Poland, weapons are bought upon presentation of the so-called promise, that is "a certificate authorizing the purchase of weapons". The permit is issued for a given number of weapon pieces, which can be expanded when used up, but here a lot depends on the opinion of a policeman. By obtaining a hybrid permit, you get a promise pool for weapons for sports purposes, but usually at least twice as much for a collecting purposes. Therefore, one doesn't have to bother with expanded it, which takes twice as long, and the gun cabinet fills up at an alarming rate. Mostly wives and girlfriends are intimidated by the rapidly depleting cash pool.
Many shooters initially choose domestic designs based on the AR15 and AK47/74 platform. A new rifle or carbine can be purchased in from 2,500 PLN (AK) and 5,000 PLN (AR15).
All the steps needed to get a permit
Now to the point: the first step one has to take is to join a sports club and collectors association. If you are from the south, I recommend KKS Arsenał, if from central Poland, Nadwiślańskie Towarzystwo Strzeleckie, if from Pomerania, Klub Strzelających Inaczej. The cost of annual membership is not more than PLN 300. If your shooting club is simultaneously a collectors' association, sign up by correspondence to Braterstwo for 10 PLN (2.5 EUR) a year. On their website (brotherhood.eu) one will also find detailed FAQs and document templates that are missing in general texts.
After joining the club, you are entered into the PZSS (Polish Sports Shooting Association) system and you will have a 3-month internship period, during which you should prepare for the shooting patent exam, on which both your firearms licenses will be based. The NTS Quiz application will prepare you for the theoretical part (one hour a day, for 2-4 weeks and you know everything). The club will prepare you for the practical exam in the form of shooting with a pistol, a rifle and a shotgun, of course for a fee of 50-75 PLN (12-17 EUR) per training. You will need 6 to 12 of them, unless you are as reluctant and hotheaded as me - than it will be more.
Before taking the exam, you need to visit a sports doctor who will certify that you can play this sport, or at least pretend to be an athlete, so that everyone will leave you alone and that you can collect weapons. The doctor will charge you no more than 200 PLN (45 EUR).
During the skill test, you will need to place 4 out of 5 rimfire shots within a circle 15 centimeters in diameter, somewhere on a target set at a distance of 25 meters. It's not accuracy that batters but grouping. Shots are fired from a standing position. It is similar with the rifle, but the grouping decreases to 5 cm, the distance increases to 50 meters, the target size decreases, but at least the stance is prone and the rifle can be rested on a special support.
The shotgun exam is a slightly different story. You may come across two forms of the exam. The first one is shooting a steel target at a distance of 15 meters, which must be pushed down 4 out of 5 times until the magic lamp at the examiner's table lights up. The second option is skeet shooting, i.e. at ceramic orange discs thrown into the air, which need to be hit 3 out of 5 times. I don't need to say which one is easier.
The price of the exam is 400 PLN (90 EUR), and with a doctor its up to 600 PLN (135 EUR). If you pass the theory, but fail the practice exam, even the whole exam, subsequent attempts cost 100 PLN (23 EUR) per pistol/rifle/shotgun category. Do NOT even think about failing one of the categories, because I guarantee that you will regret it, and to get failed category, one have to pass the whole thing again. I know one person who did that and I mock him at every opportunity. Have you passed the exam? If yes, its all downhill from now. The hardest part is behind you.
The next step is an application for a competition license (70 PLN - 16 EUR), which entitles you to take part in sports competitions. Participation in competitions is compulsory to maintain the license, and this is necessary to maintain the sports license. You must compete eight times to maintain the license. Four times in the main competition and twice in the side competition. So, for example, 4 times in a rifle category and two times in a pistol category and a shotgun category. This can be done over the course of a single sports event, so don't worry that you will have to spend eight Saturdays a year on it. Entering competitions will also be needed when applying for a permit. There is no basis for it in law, but the commanders of the WPA (Department of Administrative Proceedings of the Provincial Police Headquarters) want it that way and there is now way around it. Therefore, before submitting your application, it's a good idea to compete in at least four, preferably twelve events. It depends in which voivodeship you live. Apparently, those who are near Katowice have the worst off.
If you belong where you need to, you have a patent and a license, you have done the competitions, now it's time for the doctors - again. This time you go back to the sports doctor (the one who is on the list of doctors who can adjudicate on the permits) and visit a psychologist from the same list. Appropriate specialists will be recommended to you at the club. Each of them will rob you of more or less 200 PLN (45 EUR). There is no fear for the results. There are legends that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE failed these tests, but it's like with the Loch Ness monster. If you have both arms and legs and you can see the doctor it will be fine. The examination is valid for 3 months, so now you have to close the topic quickly.
Time to complete the paperwork: club and association certificates, a copy of the license, announcements from the competition, papers from doctors, two photos and three applications. Two for a permit (sports and collecting), both for 242 PLN (55 EUR) with payment confirmations. The third for a gun approval, you don't have to have it, but now it will cost 10 PLN (2.5 EUR) and a sheet of paper from a printer and then you will have to pass a separate exam and go to the doctors again. The last paper will come in handy when you think getting a job at a shooting range. This entire pile of paper can either be delivered in person to the local Department of Administrative Proceedings of the Provincial Police Headquarters or sent by registered mail.
Now another month of waiting. During this month, a district officer visit awaits you. He'll drop by, have a cup of coffee, talk about why you need a gun, where do you work, what do you want to buy, where will the gun cabinet be, ask your neighbors if you're not doing any rows at night and leave. You can even call him yourself and invite him. Just do not do as I did and do not enter a separate address of residence and intended place of storing weapons in the papers, because then there will be visits from the district officer at both addresses, and why, for example, the parents should be bothered. Just enter the address where the wardrobe with toys will be located.
After a month of waiting and not a day less, they will call you from the WPA that they are waiting for you to pick up your papers and you are granted two firearms permits and one license. Why is it so? Because discretion has been abolished a long time ago and if you meet the criteria, the Police MUST issue a permit. So you go to the WPA, pick up your papers and apply for a promise (17 PLN/4 EUR per unit ). There should be no less than 10 (4 to 6 for one permit). They will be available for collection after a week.
If you do not have a gun cabinet yet, it's time to spend 1000-1500 PLN (225-340 EUR) on an armored cabinet with S1 resistance class or higher. Buy one 2x larger than you think you will need. I say that from by own experience. I do not include this in the cost of the permit, because you do not need it to get one. And that's it! End! Finito! You can go to a store and put together the real firearm equivalent of your favorite replica, or buy the MG-42 in a semi-auto.
Piece of cake! Who are we seeing at the shooting range?