The latest edition of the Ministry of Defence range safety manual makes life easier for rifle clubs by making high muzzle energy zeroing simpler and explicitly setting out that handloading is permitted, as well as removing lower age limits.
Available on the MoD pages of GOV.UK (here), part 2 of volume I has this to say about handloading:
65. Ammunition Restrictions. All Civilian clubs that use hand loaded ammunition are to obtain confirmation and be prepared to demonstrate that it falls within the parameters for use on MoD Land Ranges.
This is the first time, to the best of UKSN’s rather limited knowledge on this topic, that any MoD policy document has set out in black and white that handloaded ammunition is permitted for use by civilians. It is a significant departure from the only other explicit MoD reference to handloading, which is the prohibition on using handloaded ammunition in the L81A2 Cadet Target Rifle.
While this policy statement makes no change to current practice, it is nevertheless a major step forward for handloading and should secure its future on British ranges for years to come. The MoD have accepted that it is central to what we do, and UKSN believes this latest statement is the excellent result of patient work behind the scenes by the NRA (on the simple basis of “who else would be campaigning for this?”)
The “be prepared to demonstrate” part of the above paragraph could be interpreted as meaning “have a few spare rounds to hand in case anyone wants to take them away and test them”. If so, it’s by no means as bad as we feared when we originally spotted this news.
High Muzzle Energy zeroing
The latest edition of JSP403 Vol I part 2 (from page 61/page 2-A-1) also contains some changes to the HME zeroing process. The qualifying group at 200m has been reduced from 5 rounds to 3 rounds. In addition, if HME rifles are to be used at 200m or less, the requirement to fire the 3 shot group and keep the zeroing target has been removed altogether – but observers must still be used to check that the first round hits the target, in addition to the RCO (HME) recording the use of HME firearms in the range log.
Shooters are strongly encouraged to download the JSP, read the information for themselves and discuss it with qualified RCOs (HME). UKSN is not run by an HME shooter and so this post may well be garbled.
Age restrictions have also been removed from MoD policy, although local range administrative units (RAUs) are still permitted to impose their own age restrictions if they consider local conditions justify them.