Coronavirus Update: 30th April 2020
Coronavirus Update – 30th April 2020
Shooting at Bisley
As Government wrestles with the difficulties of deciding when and how to ease restrictions, NRA staff are busy planning for whenever the red light flickers to amber. We have made representations to Government to ensure target shooting be considered with activities such as golf and angling, urging that many ranges pose no greater risk to the spread of the virus than a walk in the park. The May announcement of the review of, and any resulting changes to, the current Government restrictions will be carefully scrutinised; hopefully they will signal the timetable to ranges opening.
In planning a re-opening of Bisley our first priority is the safety of our shooters, visitors and staff; and we are working up risk assessments, range by range, activity by activity. Target shooters are overwhelmingly thoughtful and responsible, and I am confident we can rely on their good sense to ensure any new procedures are respected. Maintaining social distancing is easier on some ranges than others, so we intend firstly to open weekends only on Century, Stickledown and Short Siberia rifle ranges (electronic targets only – we will install 6 shotmarkers on Short Siberia), booking targets by the hour for single firers. The enforced layoff has provided a unique opportunity to re-face and refresh our targets; Rick Wells and the range staff are keen to see shooters back on the firing points.
We are finalising procedures for booking and paying for targets, buying ammunition, hiring firearms etc. to minimise the interaction between staff and shooters; further details will be published when changes to Government restrictions are known. Starting initially at weekends on limited ranges will allow us to assess and modify procedures, before expanding to a fuller opening.
Autumn Competitions & Training
Optimism coupled with a dash of pragmatism has led us to plan an autumn series of competitions for Match Rifle, Target Rifle, Civilian Service Rifle, GR&P, Historic and Classic, and Target Shotgun to take us through to October. The draft timetables, format and schedules are largely complete, and we will shortly be surveying competitors to assess their appetite to take part. We will not be seeking firm commitments (or cash), but an indication whether there is sufficient support to allow our planning to continue; your response will be keenly studied by Peter Cottrell and our competition team.
The format, procedures and management of each competition will adhere to Government restrictions at that time; there are many challenges to be overcome but there is no lack of enthusiasm from NRA staff to organise competitions that deliver a proper test of marksmanship.
Similarly, training will resume as soon as we are confident we can deliver courses while adhering to government restrictions. In addition to re-scheduled RSO and RCO courses, extra probationary modules will be added to the calendar in the autumn to ensure all those yet to complete their training, together with new members, can quickly take up the sport as soon as possible.
National Clay Shooting Centre (NCSC)
We will open our National Clay Shooting Centre at the same time, again initially weekends only. Clay shooters will see the benefits of significant maintenance of traps and other infrastructure; new card system to replace tokens on Skeet and Olympic trap; and an extensive clear up of wads and clay debris, which coupled with soil improvement and re-seeding, has resulted in newly sown grass growing greener by the day. Richie Vallance has also completed the transfer of NCSC members to a new database, and is putting the finishing touches to new membership options that include shotgun storage.
Away From Bisley
We are in regular dialogue with the MoD regarding access to their ranges. They recognise maintaining social distancing is relatively straightforward on many of their ranges; however this is harder to achieve when transporting personnel to and from the ranges. I suspect that the earliest we will see NRA affiliated clubs back on MoD ranges is September 2020.
On a brighter note, NRA Regional Ranges manager Nic Couldrey has been working with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) in response to concerns raised by affiliated clubs about the cost of indoor small bore ranges operated by the South East Reserve Forces and Cadets Association (SERFCA) . He has obtained clarification from SERFCA and can now confirm that the daily rate per lane can be interpreted on a per hour basis. This results in a charge of £9.70 per hour per session for a minimum of two lanes. Licenced Clubs will receive a letter from SERFCA confirming the revised rates which we believe should address the concern.
We have also been supporting clubs with their applications for grants from sports bodies; and encouraging them to claim grants from the Government scheme to support small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
NRA staff have also been working with other shooting organisations to encourage and assist police firearms licensing teams with their work; their focus on renewals and pragmatism shown on medical checks by a number of forces is to be applauded. With police staff resources under considerable pressure it is imperative that licence holders submit their renewal papers in good time before expiry.
I was chuffed to bits to learn that we have received 21 new NRA membership applications since the closedown. Please accept my grateful thanks for your support; such snippets of good news are much appreciated by Georgina Thatcher and her membership staff.
Finally stay safe, take good care, but keep positive however dark the news – we are all looking forward to the return of our members and affiliates to their ranges across the UK.
NRA Secretary General, NSC Chief Executive