18 Jan 2016 – Ministry of Defence officials will be summoned to a meeting with MPs and the NRA over fears that MoD-sponsored cadets are being prevented from shooting by needless red tape.
“Cadet units across the country are keen to engage and participate in target rifle shooting,” said Mark Garnier, MP for Wyre Forest (Kidderminster), “yet the rules surrounding transportation for rifles and ammunition make it all but impossible for schools and cadets to participate in target rifle shooting.”
Addressing defence minister Julian Brazier MP at today’s defence questions in Parliament, Garnier asked: “Will my honourable friend meet with me and representatives from the National Rifle Association to discuss how to get around these very, very difficult rules in a practical and, particularly, safe manner?”
“I would be delighted to meet with my honourable friend and the National Rifle Association,” responded Brazier, who added: “While it’s clearly a very skilled business handling youngsters on a rifle range, we can’t find any evidence through any of the service organisations that there is a particularly acute shortage, although there are some individual cases that have been brought to my attention.”
The MoD’s cadet organisations labour, rightly or wrongly, under mountains of paperwork when it comes to shooting. Unlike civilian rifle clubs, where you can put your rifle and ammunition into the boot of your car and head to the range for a day, the MoD states that between four and six adult instructors, who must have passed various MoD-specific courses, are required just to move a rifle and ammunition to and from the range.
NRA chief executive Andrew Mercer told UK Shooting News: “It has been widely reported that cadets are suffering from what we at the NRA view as unnecessarily prescriptive regulations regarding the transportation of target rifles and ammunition; we are grateful for the support of Mark Garnier MP who has raised our concerns in the House and facilitated a meeting with the Minister.”
UK Shooting News understands that the situation has become acute in recent years as out-of-touch and risk-averse MoD officials impose ever more stringent requirements, in terms of minimum staff numbers and qualifications. It has reached the point where some cadet units are simply giving up on shooting (or at least, cutting back on it) in favour of less onerous activities. Concerns also exist over the number of courses available for adult volunteers to gain the necessary qualifications to move arms and ammunition, or to help run the range.
The MoD’s problems would be halved overnight if they stopped applying processes designed for trained soldiers to execute live firing field exercises at night to cadets using single shot rifles on purpose-built ranges under tight supervision.
As for the security requirements, a balance needs to be struck between protecting the security of what are, after all, section 5 firearms (in the case of the L98A2 Cadet GP rifle, essentially an L85A2 rifle without full auto capability) and actually allowing the cadet forces to deliver fun and inspiring training to their teenage charges.
A video of the exchange can be accessed here, via the Parliament website. Fast forward it to 15.25 and 9 seconds. I have no idea how long it will remain live for.
Thanks to DNA_Cowboy for the tipoff.