The Canadian Firearms Safety Course
If you want to get a license to purchase firearms, or to hunt in Canada, you are required to take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course (CFSC). I have taken the course and wanted to share some info about it from a personal point of view. This isn't necessarily the "official" description of the course, but it's what I learned and did while I was there.
The course I took was the one for non-restricted firearms, which means rifles and shotguns. Handguns are considered restricted firearms in Canada, and a more advanced course is available in order to get a licence for them.
The course was taken over two days, though the first day was just a few hours in the evening. Depending on who is giving the course, it will likely be piggy-backed onto the Hunter Safety course (required to get a hunting license, I believe). When I took it, the first half was the basic CFSC and the second half was for hunting. If you are only interested in the firearms safety course, let the instructor know that. He should be able to accommodate and not charge you for the entire thing.
What has covered? Well, I was surprised that there was no live firing at all. The course was strictly on safe gun handling, not shooting. The main focus was on how to safely carry, load and store several kinds of non-restricted firearms. We all got to handle 5 different styles of guns (such as bolt-action, pump and lever action) to get familiar with them.
There was history and theory as well, some of which I found was a little useless. Knowing how to pack an antique pistol with loose black powder isn't something everyone needs to know. We learned about caliber, sighting, carrying techniques and heard a few good hunting stories from the instructors. Most of the class was in lecture format, following the workbook that came with the course. Throughout the day, we were all brought to the front to handle the weapons, ask questions and demonstrate what we were learning.
At the end of the CFSC portion of the class, there was both a written and a practical test. The written test is a mix of multiple choice and true or false questions. The practical part required you to check a selection of firearms for safety before handling, how to identify kinds of guns and ammo and also how to handle a firearm safely while crossing a fence. I thought that last one was a bit odd, but it sounded like a standard part of the practical test.
Though I had never even picked up a gun before the course, I passed the written test with 96% and the practical with 100%. It's not a difficult course, and I learned quite a bit about guns in the process. I do wish that some firing had been included.
Now that I have taken and passed the CFSC, I am applying for my Posession and Acquisition License (PAL). I'll follow up with another article on the process and paperwork for that.
If you are interested in taking the course, try looking into it in the fall. That is when it is most frequently offered, as most people who take it are after their deer hunting licenses. Rural communities can have them scheduled several times over the course of a few months.