ROAD signs in Oxfordshire are being used for shooting practice, according to a researcher who tracks incidents of 'gunfire graffiti' across the UK.

Andy Rigsby, who runs a website dedicated to the issue, says he's recently recorded several incidents of rural road signs apparently being shot at in the county, possibly by people using shotguns.

Drivers are targeting signs in 'drive by' attacks, according to Mr Rigsby, who fears that if the vandalism goes unchecked it may lead to more violent behaviour in future.

He said: "People simply aren't aware that this is happening and don't recognise it when they see it.

"We don't know much about guns in this country which makes it easy for the perpetrators to illegally experiment and rehearse with all types of firearms.

"The UK has strict gun laws but many of these shootings reveal the use of illegal firearms is far more prevalent than a lot of people think."

READ MORE: Smoke in Abingdon after fire in Nuffield Way

Mr Rigsby said in the last two months he has recorded two incidents in Oxfordshire where road signs have apparently been shot at.

On May 13 he discovered a warning sign for a bend in the road with a hole 'shot' straight through it on the B4100, four miles north west of Bicester.

Although it's not known for certain when the damage was done, he believes it looks like a recent bullet mark that could have been discharged in the six weeks prior to when he first saw it.

He has reported the damage to the police.

On June 22, Mr Rigsby, who has served in the military and has handled guns for 45 years, spotted a diversion sign near Chipping Norton on the A361 with an apparent shotgun bullet hole just above the 'v'.

Oxford Mail:

He has recorded 587 sites in total in the UK and Northern Ireland where guns are suspected of being used to damage road signs and published his first book, Gunfire Graffiti – Overlooked Gun Crime in the UK, in 2012, under the pseudonym Matt Seiber.

READ MORE: Boy attacked in The Leys park in Witney after LibFest

The book was based on ballistic research carried out in Oxfordshire by Cranfield University who studied 40 incidents of the supposed phenomenon.

Mr Rigsby said he could not say whether the problem is getting worse but believes it has been ongoing for decades, with very few people ever caught.

He said that gunfire damage on random street signs and road structures has appeared before violent attacks in the past.

Michael Ryan, who killed 16 people in Hungerford in 1987 before shooting himself, is known to have driven around at night on the outskirts of the town, shooting at road signs before he carried out the massacre.