I'm being shot at by a crazy local guy!

I'm flying my small fast 250 size quad over the field at the back of my (UK) house, between 10-30ft in the air, just back and forth in a line.

I think it has happened three times, the first two times I did not fully recognise it was happening - I thought the swoosh sound (of the bb/pellet/bullet), was just my imagination. But today I heard it again really close to me (within 2 metres of me) and hit the bushes next to me.

I saw the guy carrying a really big professional rifle with big scope and it looked like a silencer on the end. To me (with no gun experience) it looked like one of those big long sniper rifles. He was hiding behind some trees.

What do I do? I've never been shot at before? 

I'm not flying over houses or within 50 metres of anybody, I'm not flying fast as i'm still learning the racing drone skills, so i'm going slow 3-10m/s. 

Before I call the police, I need to know am I in the wrong? am I doing anything illegal? Do I need to speak to the C.A.A (Civil Aviation Authority)?

According to a neighbour, the guy is a recluse who built a house without land permissions (that kind of crazy, you get me?) who keeps pigs, chickens, and threatens neighbours, cuts their fences, things like that. My neighbours seem afraid of him, think he's dangerous.

I have no video of him shooting at both me or my drone (yet). I'm thinking about repeating the flying, and setting up a camera to try and get some footage, as we all know it's one word against the other. 
Is this a good idea to do this? Or dangerous? I don't want to feel intimidated, or threatened on my freedoms, particularly when I'm being shot at.

Any help and advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks

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This may or may not be of value to you. When you said the firearm he used appeared to have a silencer on it, I immediately thought of a PCP air rifle like the AirForce Condor, or Talon. They are "air guns", but use a pressurized tank to propel the projectile and most people put a silencer (Lead Dust Capture) device on the end. Many consider them to be "toys", but they are quite dangerous and indeed a weapon. I believe you are in the UK, and as I understand it airguns are legal there without a permit so long as the force is less than 7 Joules. A lot of airgun people purchase these because they can get them legally in the UK, and then modify them to be full force (with higher tank pressures). If you google AirForce Condor or AirForce Talon you might see photos of what he is using. Again, this all might be just worthless info, but when you said someone is shooting at you, I felt the need to contribute what I know simply because it seems so dangerous on his part.

If the diagram you made is accurate, look for the projectile (or evidence of its visit) in the fence.

Hi Benbo

  I'm going to "out" myself here, as one of the UK's relatively few licenced firearms holders I'm probably in a better position to clear up a few points.

First off if this guy is shooting at all outside of land he has permission to shoot on he's committing an offence whether that's an air rifle or a proper centrefire or rimfire rifle. Public land isn't land he has permission to shoot over, unless specifically authorised by the local authority/crown and then only with huge amounts of red tape. In short if he was supposed to be there, you'd know already.

Second if this guy is shooting at you, or near you, or discharging a firearm in a threatening manner, he's committing and offence. There's no exemption for shooting at drones or kites etc

Third if he is trying to damage your property then that's an offence

Fourthly, being anywhere with a firearm without permission or good reason is armed tresspass. Which is an offence as well

I'm no lawyer but I'd say this guy is very quickly going to find himself off the streets, shame you have no video evidence but he's probably stupid enough to implicate himself anyway.

Now, from the description of the events it sounds to me as if what you have on your hands here is a loony with an air rifle, if he'd let off anything centrefire near you (silenced or not), you'd have heard a supersonic crack and a muzzle report, silencers ( more properly moderators) reduce noise they don't make a firearm silent especially with regard anything supersonic. If he was using a silenced shotgun you'd have been hit and if he was using a rimfire (silenced or not) you'd almost certainly have heard the impact more clearly and you'd have holes in your fence. 

Finally for your peace of mind (if that's possible) if this guy had either a centrefire/rimfire rifle or shotgun it would be either illegally held or the police would already be aware he had it. Step 1 in an investigation of  firearms holder in these circumstances would be to seize everything he had and then sift the evidence. Step 1 if he's not a firearms holder should be to search his vehicles and premises to seek unlicenced/unlicenceable firearms (ari rifles etc). It sounds like the guy is a bit unstable and so therefore he'd be unable to obtain a licenced firearm of any description so it's likely to be the latter.

If you're flying within the CAA exemptions then you have nothing to worry about legally.

Thanks for providing all this helpful information, I would not have a clue what it is he is shooting with. Looking up PCP air rifle, it definitely looks like one of those with a gas bottle below the barrel, thumb hole in the wood stock, not something you could hold with one hand. I have another meeting with a different police officer today so will learn more as and when. I feel fairly sure he's a nutjob with a rifle, probably knows gun laws, will probably argue that i'm to blame for his shooting, probably deciding to protect something of his house/chickens/wife/land under threat etc, my diagram is as best as I can describe and I am as respectful of these things as anyone can be.

There is no law that allows you to "protect" property in the UK that would allow you to discharge a firearm in any threatening manner, we don't have property protection laws like in the US or SA so no he's got no legal excuse. If your drone was a dog and he was a farmer protecting livestock it'd be a different matter but your dog would still have to be on his property before he could act. My guess is he'll decide to deny everything, in which case it's your word against his, maybe a discrete video camera would be useful next time you fly there. 

Civil rights for drones now! Including the inherent right to self-defense.

It's coming...

In related news - Americans may or may not have the right to shoot them down:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/whos-sky-anyway-u-drone-case-tests-right...

Interesting article about shooting a drone, however it fails to address an issue -

- But what if it is the pilot who is also being shot at during flight? (as it seems to be the case here).

- Why didn't the shooter (in view) just ask the pilot to stop flying instead of shooting first? (even if the pilot is flying accordingly and with respect to the rules).

Hi Ben,

Clearly the guy who shot at you and or your drone isn't much interested in rules and has a very inaccurate sense of his rights.

Don't try to make sense of someone who is clearly not sensible.

Just let the law take it's course, that should with any luck solve this issue.

People do stupid things all the time, you just seem to have a neighbor who is unusually talented at it.

Best regards,

Gary

Toy guns can make you blind, or worse, if you have very very very bad luck. Is he so stupid that he was shooting at another human being, he's probably not smart enough to talk away a police officer.

BTW, is it legal to fly drones in England without the landowner's permission? Have you admitted that there may be a problem for you.

Response by the C.A.A (Civil Aviation Authority) to my email regarding being shot at (UK):

-----------------------------------------------------

Thank you for your enquiry.

Reports of this nature should be brought to the attention of the police.

In relation to the rules for flying drones, there is a section available on our website relating to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). You will find lots of information on the laws and regulations around UAVs, UAV permission and how to apply and safety advice, I have also attached FAQs, which you may find useful.

 

Please use the following links to our website:

http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=1995&pagetype=90.

CAP 722: http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/modalapplication.aspx?appid=11&mode=detail&id=415

Yours sincerely

Rick Chatfield
General Enquiries and Case Management

Communications Department
Civil Aviation Authority

 

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