Dear LH, I have been recently watching YouTube videos on how to make homemade crossbows and dart guns and stuff like that. My question is: is it legal to make homemade crossbows and dart guns in Australia? Thanks, Aussie Rambo
Image: Torsten Mangner
Once again, I’ve got to kick things off by stating that I’m not a lawyer to speak of, and as such, seeking expert legal advice is always an option.
That being said, I can’t find any particular bit of law that specifically prohibits building a crossbow or similar projectile weapon from raw parts, but it’s quite clear that the right to build ends the exact second you’ve actually finished your crossbow, because there’s a variety of laws relating to this kind of weapon when it comes to possession.
Again, I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect you’d get very short shrift indeed arguing that because you hadn’t, say, painted your crossbow that it wasn’t finished. The moment it’s operational, you’ll fall under the variety of laws that govern this kind of weapon ownership across Australia.
There are also laws that may apply depending on the parts you need to have delivered to start building your crossbow or dart gun, so I’d strongly advise getting strict legal advice relating to the state in which you live before making any plans at all.
Weapons of this type are usually referred to as “prohibited” weapons, which might at first glance suggest that you’re not allowed to own them at all. This isn’t entirely the case, however, with the prohibition in some cases relating to either holding a licence for their use or where you intend to use them.
You haven’t stated your location in Australia, and this is quite important. Here’s an overview of the laws as they apply in each state and territory:
Western Australia: In WA, it’s illegal to possess a crossbow unless you’re an exempt collector or arbalest, a process which involves both seeking permission from the minister of police and having owned the weapon prior to the 1st of July 2011. As you’re looking to build, that’s not going to be you, and outside of dramatic presentation purposes (where again, you need approval) they’re not permitted at all in WA.
Northern Territory: In the NT, crossbows and similar weapons are permitted for hunting purposes with a licence, but it is illegal to receive crossbow parts across the state’s border, which could scupper your crossbow building plans.
South Australia: South Australians are required to acquire a prohibited weapons exemption for pretty much every type of weapon you’re thinking of making, although the list of exemptions is a little wider than most other states. I’m struggling to think of how you’d qualify a crossbow under religious grounds, or for astronomical use.
Queensland: If you’re a Queenslander, you can apply for a Miscellaneous Weapons Licence to own a crossbow, although you’ll have to supply a “genuine” reason (recreational, club membership, or military re-enactment) to hold the licence and the crossbow itself.
NSW: As with other states, New South Wales views crossbows as prohibited weapons that require a specific permit.
Victoria: Victoria differentiates between prohibited and controlled weapons, but crossbows are specifically listed as prohibited. To own a crossbow in Victoria, you’d either have to apply for and gain a Governor In Council (GIC) exemption, or be a member of a club or organisation that has a GIC, typically a sporting club.
Tasmania: You can use a crossbow for sports purposes with a club in Tasmania, but not for the purposes of hunting.
Which brings up a further important point. Most states have sporting club exemptions, but not every sporting club that includes archery is entirely happy with crossbow usage. As such, no matter the state you’re in, you may find it hard to gain an exemption under club grounds.
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