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The Canadian Firearms Safety Course

Updated on December 28, 2008

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.


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    • profile image

      Me 6 years ago


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      Henry 6 years ago

      A POL ia a Possession Only Licence and a PAL is a Possession Acquisition Licence. These are not permits, they are actual licences which have to be tested for and applied for through the Federal Government. A POL means you can only possess the firearms you owned at the time the governmnt changed from the FAC in 1994, you can purchase Ammunition but no other firearms with this licence. A PAL is a Possession Aqwuisition Licence which entitles you to purchase Firearms and ammunition because you have reapplied and registered firearms after the federal laws changed in 1994. A licence and a permit are somewhat similar but I have a permit to camp in a campground, not a licence. I have a permit to transport a handgun from point A to B in Canada but not a licence to carry a handgun where ever I want in Canada.

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      Henry 6 years ago

      Any and all CFS Courses require a practical, they do not use live ammunition it is all dummy ammo. I would not want to know that someone wrote this exam without a practical. Everything can be 100% on paper, but the actual visual of holding and working with a firearm would be the only way I would consider being with anyone who has a firearm in their possession.

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      Can I get a gun with a criminal record 6 years ago

      Can I own a gun with a criminal record

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      Kator 6 years ago

      I understand that some (or perhaps all) jurisdictions no longer have a practical exam due to liability issues .. which is of concern. Having licenced hunters who have not been given a practical range examination is a little frightening.

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      Mike 7 years ago

      There are lists on here for cfsc and crfsc courses... just google them..

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      rpal 7 years ago

      depends on what the record is for, violent offence? prob not... you can always apply and see what happens

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      sirhuntsalot 7 years ago

      can you get a p.a.l if you have a criminal record

    • Butch45 profile image

      Butch45 8 years ago

      Hi I have a pal and BC residence hunter #. I think the core program is to get a hunter # and pol is possession only permit and the pal is possession and acquisition permit.The place to get the info would be your local rod and gun club. Your local gun shop should have the info. The other good way is to phone the fish and game dept in your area any good Conservation officer should be able to help.

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      Erin Sandhals 8 years ago

      I took the CORE Program 2 years ago and I was wondering if it is the equivilant to the CFSC. They sound like the same courses. Can I still apply for a my PAL?

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      Brian 8 years ago

      Where can I find places that offer courses?

      i have looked online and can't find any training academies in the Greater Toronto Area.

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      Mike 8 years ago

      I believe you can just talk to one of the examiners in your area to obtain it.