WH Smith says youngsters under 14 will not be sold shooting titles, even though it is legal to hold a shotgun license below that age.
And even adult customers attempting to buy a magazine featuring shooting now face a humiliating alert as staff receive a “till prompt” to check the buyer’s age. The high street retailer based the policy on the qualifying age for a firearms certificate and says checks are already in place for a range of products, including scissors and adhesives “where an element of common sense” is required.
However, sports groups point out that there is no minimum age for holding a shotgun licence in Britain, although children below 18 cannot buy or own a gun themselves and under-14s must be supervised by an adult.
Countryside campaigners say the company has shown a “complete lack of understanding of the law” and may now feel the backlash of an angry countryside.
Alison Hawes, South West regional director of the Countryside Alliance, said the ban was “ignorant and ridiculous”.
“I hope they will realise they have made a big mistake and have a change of heart,” she added. “If word gets around, as is likely, then it may be that country people will no longer buy their magazines from WH Smith.