Warning on illegal crossbows in HK

HUNDREDS of illegal crossbows may be used in unauthorised hunting and shooting activities in the territory, according to local sporting veterans.

About 100 crossbow licences have been issued since the introduction of a new law in 1991, enacted after a man was murdered with a modified crossbow the previous year.

The law requires a person to apply for a licence for crossbows with a draw-weight of more than six kilograms.

The licence allows the possession of a maximum of two crossbows and a specified number of arrows. It also specifies the storage place - either inside a padlocked cabinet at the owner's home or in an authorised armoury.

Owners require a special licence to emigrate with their crossbows.

Anyone aged over 18 with proof of crossbow shooting experience and a written recommendation from the Hongkong Crossbow Association can apply for the licence for an annual fee of $800.

A crossbow with a set of three arrows costs from $1,000 to $30,000, depending on the material, which affects the maximum draw-weight and therefore power.

Past president of the 30-strong association, Mr Pavic Ng Man-shek, said he believed there were many more unlicensed crossbows being used by amateur shooters.

''Most would be expatriates who might think they will leave the territory one day and do not bother to get a licence, or they just do not want to be known as a crossbow owner,'' he said.

''They sometimes hunt or shoot with their crossbows in the countryside and are seldom spotted or checked.'' An executive member of the association, Mr David Ma Hung-kit, estimated that there were licences for only 30 per cent of the crossbows in the territory.

Mr Ma said the brain drain problem, which had been affecting the association since its establishment in 1985, and a lack of venues suitable for premises and a shooting range had prevented the promotion of the sport.