Monthly Archives: March 2015

GGG takes on NRA 7.62mm ammo supply contract – here’s the tech specs

Lithuanian ammunition maker GGG has been selected by the NRA to supply 7.62mm ammunition for the Imperial Meeting and the Inter-Counties Meeting.

According to a bulletin from the NRA itself:

GGG ammunition offers both excellent performance and exceptional value; pricing per round will be around 78 pence for competition / retail sale compared to 99 pence from the previous supplier. The NRA has decided to invest the resulting savings to reduce TR entry fees for the Imperial meeting by 9.5% in real terms and increase youth discounts to 40% for all competitors aged under 25.

The previous supplier, RUAG Ammotec UK (the British division of Swiss aerospace and defence conglomerate RUAG), supplied top grade ammunition at an eyewateringly high price which, in recent months, broke the £1/rd barrier at the NRA range office. RUAG’s most recent annual earnings statement, issued earlier in March, discloses that the company’s Ammotec division increased its profits by 6 million Swiss francs (£4.19m) during financial year 2014; the overall group’s profits were up by 7.5% year-on-year.

Performance data for the new GGG NRA round (which is CIP compliant) from the Birmingham Proof House’s test rig, which uses a 24″ barrel, are:

  • Max Average Working Pressure 3598 Bar
  • CIP conditions mean velocity 2822 ft/sec
  • Velocity SD 13.3

The NRA’s own trials using 30″-barrelled target rifles “with typical TR internal dimensions” produced the following figures:

  • Velocity 2979 ft/sec
  • Velocity SD 11.7
  • Extreme spread as a proportion of v-bull size: 0.66

The round is assembled from GGG’s own cases – which the Birmingham Proof House uses in their proof loads – and primers, powder sourced by GGG and is topped with the 155gr Sierra MatchKing HPBT 2155 bullet.

SMK 2155s, according to Sierra’s website, have a ballistic coefficient of .450 @ 2600 fps and above, .443 between 2600 and 1800 fps and .417 @ 1800 fps and below.

The NRA’s own technical notes on the new ammunition can be found here. GGG’s website is located here, though readers should note that the page for 7.62mm NATO ammunition is the 147gr bullet and information for the 155gr round doesn’t appear to be available.

UKSN’s author has shot the 147gr round in short range practice (up to 600yds) and was happy with it, for what that’s worth.

WARNING: TECHNICAL INFORMATION IN THIS POST IS PRESENTED FOR INFORMATION ONLY. DO NOT TREAT IT AS AUTHORITATIVE. USE PUBLISHED LOAD DATA FROM A REPUTABLE COMPANY IF ASSEMBLING AMMUNITION TO REPRODUCE THESE CHARACTERISTICS. UKSN CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ACCIDENTS CAUSED BY USE OF INFORMATION PRESENTED HEREIN.

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Updated Home Office Firearms guidance – March 2015

The Home Office has, without warning, updated the key UK firearms law interpretation document.

The latest guidance, released on 25th March is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/417199/Guidance_on_Firearms_Licensing_Law_v13.pdf

UKSN has no idea (yet) what has changed in the 259-page document. if you spot it, leave a comment and we’ll update this post.

Given how vitally important the guidance is – it effectively takes the place of proper laws in their absence, on matters such as firearm certificate condition wording and the precise – it is disgraceful that civil servants are able to rewrite firearms law at will without oversight or even publicly notifying people directly affected by this. Until recently this was not the case; however, that is for another time and another blog post.

Dream job! Accuracy International is hiring a ‘test shooter’

It looks like British sniper rifle maker extraordinaire Accuracy International is hiring someone to test, evaluate and demonstrate their new products.

The job advertisement, which doesn’t explicitly name AI but instead mentions a “world renowned manufacturing company of Sniper Rifles” [sic] which is based in Portsmouth, states:

You will be a key member of the team and you will carry out production and production and development testing of sniper rifles and accessories in accordance with company quality standards and agreed business plans.

Quite frankly this is a dream job for anyone interested in accurate long range shooting, sniping or sniping equipment. So yes, naturally there’s a nice large catch:

  • Proven success with standard and large calibre sniper rifles, with 10 years minimum military operational experience as a sniper or sniper instructor.

This role would suit an individual who has a wealth of hands on experience as an operational sniper, and preferably as an instructor as well, so would therefore suit a SNCO/WO from a teeth arm.

Oh well. Civilian shooters, you can stop drooling now. Ex-infantry sniper sergeants and higher, you’re all lucky gits.

Free NRA membership for U21s – it’s official!

UK Shooting News reader Mary Pearse commented on our interview with NRA chief exec Andrew Mercer and said, “U21s in fulltime education qualify for free membership of the NRA.” – really? I don’t see this on the NRA website link to ‘Membership rates'”.

Indeed, it’s not highlighted on the NRA website. Happily, UKSN is able to provide cast-iron confirmation that under-21s qualify for up to three years’ free membership of the NRA.

The main reference is on page 12 of the 2014 Bisley Bible, as reproduced in a screenshot below:

Bisley Bible 2014, free NRA membership for U21s

Bisley Bible 2014, free NRA membership for U21s. Click to enlarge

Just to be sure, Chris Green, an LMRA member who is also a coach of Brunel University TSC, contacted the NRA membership department directly while helping young members of Brunel apply for that membership. After some sterling work by Nick Halford from the membership department, Green received the following email which he passed to UKSN:

Email from NRA confirming free U21 membership rate

Email from NRA confirming free U21 membership rate. Click to enlarge

Subsequent emails confirmed that the “joining fee” is not applicable to U21s applying for free membership under these terms. The membership lasts until the year that the young shooter turns 21.

So there you have it. Do note that this information was current as of February, and a lot can happen in a month. The 2014 membership rates have also increased, though UKSN has no idea whether this offer will still be in the latest edition of the Bisley bible. Incidentally, the latest edition is due for release very soon…

Update

Chris Green gets in touch to point us to some very important documents – namely, the NRA membership application form and also the sponsor form, a very important part of the U21 application. He says: “Applicants will need to fill out the attached forms [below] and the committee of each club will need to send off the HOA form to confirm that applicants are members. Please spread this around to any other Universities and youth organisations you know of.”

You will need all of the forms listed below. UKSN strongly advises you use an antivirus scanner before opening these; they were clean on upload but ultimate responsibility is left to the person downloading them.

If you have any questions, contact the NRA Membership Department in the first instance.

https://ukshootingnews.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/application-check-sheet.pdf

https://ukshootingnews.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/hoa-club-form-2015.pdf

https://ukshootingnews.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/im-2015-a4.pdf

https://ukshootingnews.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/referee-form-1.pdf

https://ukshootingnews.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/referee-form-2.pdf

The NSRA, Hut 103 and 25 years of failing to build a hotel

Q: For how long has the National Smallbore Rifle Association promised to use a derelict plot of land it owns at Bisley Camp to build a hotel? A: A full quarter of a century.

Regular Bisley Camp users will be fully aware of the ramshackle old building on the left as you drive into Bisley Camp. Formally known as Hut 103, the former Army cookhouse has been mostly derelict since the closure of curio exhibition The Trench Experience, which was run by NRA and Artists’ Rifles member Eddie Jones.

Jones noted at the 2012 Bisley General Meeting* – an annual meeting, led by the NRA, at which users of Bisley Camp come together to air their grievances about items of not-always-mutual interest – “The NSRA are building a hotel on the Hut 103 site, which will be ready in time for the Olympics, so they have another 18 days to complete that.”

So for how long has the NSRA been promising to do something with Hut 103?

Looking back at the NRA General Council minutes of June 2006, we learn:

A question was asked whether the NRA had discussed with the NSRA what their intentions were in relation to developing the old cook house as it had become an eye-sore.

The meeting was informed that the Managing Director of NSC had approached the NSRA to have the building taken down under Health and Safety Regulations. To date this had not progressed because of an asbestos problem and the costs associated with its removal.

That’s not the only historical mention of a hotel on the site of Hut 103. A quick look over Guildford Borough Council’s website turns up a 2009 application for “Erection of a two storey accommodation lodge with 77 car parking spaces”. Sadly we can’t link to this, given how GBC’s website works, but if you go to their “search for a planning application” page, click the blue button labelled “view a planning application” and then type “09/P/00177” in, you’ll find it.

In 2012 that permission was extended (PDF document, 3 pages) “to enable construction of the works when the economic conditions improve.” We’re now in 2015 and Hut 103 remains firmly in place.

Going back a little further, in 2001 the NSRA submitted an application – reference 01/P/01533 – for a “two storey accommodation building”. Seeing a pattern yet?

All this seems like reasonably recent history. The NSRA have spent time, effort and presumably significant sums of money, on getting planning permission for their pet hotel scheme. Having done this, they seem to sit around and do nothing with that permission, occasionally renewing it when it comes close to expiring. Meanwhile, Hut 103 (and Hut 105, to the immediate rear of 103) continues to fester away.

The NSRA has been doing this ‘renew it as it gets close to expiring’ act, on and off, for 25 years. This public consultation, from 1989, invites residents covered by Surrey Heath borough council to comment on an application for “erection of 120 bedroom Hotel following demolition of existing stores.”

One wonders what NSRA members make of all the futile time and effort spent repeatedly obtaining permission for something that’s never come to fruition. Perhaps if half that time, effort and money expended over the last quarter of a century had been spent clearing the asbestos out of Hut 103, there’d be a new building on its site today.

* Incidentally, the minutes of the BGMs make marvellous reading if you’ve the patience to wade through the tub-thumping verbiage. Shortly after mentioning Hut 103, Jones was forced to admit that he was paying off a £1,500 debt to the NRA at the princely sum of £4 per week, following a court order. UKSN also found a letter from one Edward Jones on the Guildford Borough Council planning application website, dated the day after the 2012 Bisley General Meeting, questioning whether the existing planning permission was still valid.

New electronic targets and a £5 caravan bet: Andrew Mercer interview

NRA chief executive Andrew Mercer speaks to UK Shooting News about his plans for Bisley Camp, the NRA – and beyond.

When UK Shooting News interviewed Andrew Mercer, the National Rifle Association’s chief executive, over the UKPSA insurance allegations, he also spoke at length about his wider plans for the NRA. All information was correct as of three weeks ago – regular readers will be aware that UKSN is a blog and its author does all this in his spare time.

Divisions in UK shooting

“There are factors and groups and we try hard to avoid that – it’s not the reality of where we sit”, said Mercer, commenting on the UKPSA situation.

“Across all parts of the NRA, membership is growing and we have a [financial] surplus,” he added, pointing out that the NRA spent three quarters of a million pounds on capital expenditure last year. “Those who think the NRA is on its uppers are wrong.”

“Bisley is the engine room that drives our activity. Our focus is on moving to the regions,” he continued, stating that 50 people applied for the job of regional ranges manager when it was recently advertised.

Spencer Site and the posh caravans

Over the last year the NRA has cleared the old caravan Site 4 and rebranded it as “Spencer Site”, complete with NRA-approved static caravans and proper fixed services such as electricity. The site has caused much controversy, with many scratching their heads at the prices for the pitches and the vans.

“I have a £5 bet that all the pitches will be sold by [this year]’s Imperial Meeting” says a very bold Mercer. “But I made a misjudgment – I thought people would spend £25,000 but we’ve not sold a caravan for less than £40,000.”

A sign affixed to the NRA Range Office currently trumpets how 50% of the pitches have so far been sold off-plan.

The roads

“Where should I spend £100,000 on roads,” asks Mercer. His biggest roadbuilding scheme is re-tarmacing of the range road that runs around to the rear of the 600yds firing point on Century. In addition, the area in front of Fultons and the range road to Melville are also in line for a revamp. Last year alone the NRA spent between £60,000 and £70,000 building “properly engineered roads”, according to Mercer.

What about the road that runs down to Short Siberia, notorious for its deep potholes and ruts? Apparently, planning problems aside (the road sits in a different council area from the rest of the camp and so is subject to a different planning regime), there are environmental concerns about worms which stop a proper metalled road from being built. It seems that environmentalists in the Surrey Heath council area think the current gravel-based, pothole-ridden surface allow the worms a better chance of survival, when moving across the road, than a proper tarmac surface would.

Mercer does not explicitly say that this is utter nonsense. He does, however, point out that Short Siberia accounts for 40% of the NRA’s range hire revenues. It is followed in those stakes by Century, then Melville, and finally Stickledown, the iconic 1,200yds range at the north of Bisley Camp.

New electronic targets and other range works

What else is the NRA doing for its ranges? Six new Kongsberg electronic targets are due to be deployed on Butt 19 for use between 100yds and 300yds, along with new target frames. Mercer tells us that these electronic targets will be available to hire by the hour: “It’s a bit of a revolution in how we deliver our services.”

He also drops in an interesting snippet: it costs about £24,000 to replace a full butt’s worth of targets on Century. The overhaul involves replacing the old design with a completely new frame, set of rollers and all the rest. “The existing design is not very good and we want to get the core stuff right,” said Mercer.

How are the target shotgun works on Cheylesmore going? “Phase 1 is done, phase 2 is a work in progress and we hope to complete phase 3 after that,” he says, going on to mention the NRA’s plans for new target shotgun bays behind Melville range.

He ends our conversation by dropping in a useful snippet for young shooters: there is a 40% discount for NRA members under 25 entering NRA competitions. That alone is well worth having, and is a very strong incentive to join the NRA when you consider that U21s in fulltime education qualify for free membership of the NRA.

All in all, the association seems to be getting itself onto a sound business footing. Regular users of Bisley Camp won’t have failed to notice the quality of the ranges improving, with drainage works and new range floors being laid in a number of locations.

While the NRA’s financial situation seems to be improving going by the figures Mercer mentions, things like the disappearance of the HOG rally won’t have done much good for the Bisley clubhouses. Neither will the NRA’s reputation have improved thanks to the ongoing saga of Jessica Bayldon-Lee’s rifle, the missing scope and bolt and the questions raised over NRA armoury security, as reported in Gun Mart and mentioned in the latest NRA journal. Other whisperings have reached UKSN’s ears.