MoD bans rifle clubs from running fire with movement shoots

6 June 2016 – The Ministry of Defence has banned civilian rifle clubs from carrying out fire with movement practices on MoD ranges – and imposed extra restrictions on cadets and civilian clubs.

A policy letter (PDF) issued by the Defence Land Ranges Safety Committee, dated 23rd May, states: “Civilian Gun Clubs – Fire with Movement on MoD Ranges. The practice involving fire with movement for Civilian Gun Clubs is prohibited on MoD ranges.”

The NRA has come out against the move, with a statement on its Facebook page declaring:

The National Rifle Association Civilian Service Rifle and Practical Rifle disciplines are recognised target shooting sports.

Matches consist of rifle shooting practices that are designed to test marksmanship skills in a variety of positions in conditions designed to put mental and physical demands on the ability of the competitor to hit the target.

The sport has an excellent safety record and has been shot on many MoD Ranges since the late 1970s.

The MoD’s Defence Ranges Safety Committee Working Group have decided to formally prohibit the practice of civilian gun clubs firing practices involving ‘fire with movement’ on MoD ranges.

This restriction does not apply to Bisley or other private ranges.

The NRA defines ‘fire with movement’ as: ‘Any movement away from a firing point with a rifle made ready’

Under this definition movement between firing points with a rifle made ready (i.e. loaded, with a round in the chamber and safety catch applied) is prohibited.

Movement between firing points with a rifle not made ready is permitted. This eliminates the risk of a rifle functioning if dropped.

The NRA is incorrect to say the restriction does not apply at Bisley, however. Affiliated clubs and individual NRA members are banned from conducting full-fat rundown practices with rifles loaded or made ready*, as specified in the conditions of many NRA CSR matches. However, the association gives itself a free pass for competitions that it organises and runs directly.

Affected clubs should contact Iain Robertson, the NRA’s head of safety, technical and legal services, for further information.

No 200 mils rule for cadets and civilians

Also in the letter is a formal ban on civilian clubs or cadet units making use of the 200 mils rule, which allows adjacent ranges to be shot over even when the full range safety template falls across the neighbouring range’s butts or firing point. When that happens parts of the range can be closed off and the remainder kept in use if the 200 mils rule (referring to the safety template’s flank angle from the firing point) is applied. See the UK Shooting News Graphics Department’s diagram below:

200 MILS rule

Figure 1: A rough sketch depicting the 200 mils rule in use

The red lines show the safety angles to the side of each range. People are not allowed inside these areas when live firing is taking place. However, as the danger areas of some ranges adjacent to each other overlap, the 200 mils rule allows parts of each range to be closed off so firing can safely take place. 200 mils refers to the safety angle that the standard danger area template imposes. It is normally applied from the farthest flank of each firing point in use.

Banning cadets and civilian clubs from applying the 200 mils rule means those organisations will be able to get fewer and fewer range bookings, depriving range operating contractor Landmarc of revenue.


  • UKSN’s author has been conducting modest rundown practices on Century at club level for a couple of years. Not once in that time have I ever been given clearance to run practices involving loaded (not even made-ready) rifles – though clearance for unloaded rifles has always been readily forthcoming.

Top picture via the NRA of the UK

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “MoD bans rifle clubs from running fire with movement shoots

  1. Nicholas Harman

    I recall running forward with loaded .303 magazine fed rifles dropping and firing when in the school CCF. Even at 16 I felt it was possibly not a good idea. Especially when people fell over with their rifles, as they frequently did.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Gaz Corfield Post author

      The control measures to reduce the obvious risks aren’t difficult to implement, depending on firearm types in use. My service rifle ranges all run with Lee Enfields, where applying the safety catch physically disengages the striker from the sear as well as locking the bolt closed. A made-ready Enfield with the safety applied is just as safe as an unloaded rifle, if you don’t fiddle with the safety catch or trigger. It helps that the Enfield cocking piece design allows you to see at a glance whether the rifle is made ready or not.

      In addition, the approved method of movement in CSR is for the rifle to be carried in one hand at the centre of gravity, so your fingers are nowhere near the rifle’s controls. (not sure I agree with that myself – it seems safer to me to have both hands on the rifle so as not to drop it. But dem’s der rules…)

      As for falling over, the control measure is simply to order, “no firer may shoot if their rifle touches the ground until the bore has been inspected and verified clear by a safety supervisor”. Add to that an inspection of the range floor (as RCO) before you start, to identify and remove if possible any trip hazards, and to brief firers on any permanent trip or fall hazards (e.g. drainage ditches).

      Shot under close supervision, rundowns are perfectly safe and a good way of keeping up your fitness too. And very good fun!

      Like

      Reply
      1. Nicholas Harman

        Yes of course the fly in the ointment was that you could not necessarily trust 16 year olds to do things like apply safety catches and when they fell over the rifle could have gone off

        The old ranges we ran around on were littered with potholes, ditches and various other traps for the unwary, the one by the Thames whose name escapes me was a particularly bad one

        Like

  2. Nick B

    This is an interesting definition of the 200 mils rule – at the least in the current NRA RCO manual (Edition 6) it merely describes the ability of M.O.D units (only!) to share a range (or complex) and / or shoot at differing distances as long as the 200 mils angle is observed. This definition of 200 mils you have referenced here makes no mention of shooting at differing distances and merely to adjacent ranges. What’s interesting is that this is presented as a new prohibition – but it’s certainly been the case for a number of years on M.O.D ranges (outside of Bisley I hasten to add) that civilian clubs have not been permitted to take advantage of it.
    I’ll check the previous editions of the NRA RCO manual but I don’t believe civvy shooters have been able to use the 200 mils rule on an M.O.D range – well, ever? (perhaps when things weren’t so defined and that anything not expressly prohibited was therefore permitted)

    Like

    Reply
    1. Gaz Corfield Post author

      I had a vague memory of the 200 mils rule never applying to civilian clubs, and also applying to distances rather than adjacent ranges, but the letter refers to adjacent ranges. To be honest, I had Pirbright No.3 range in mind when I drew the diagram – it was formerly a 600yds gallery range split into two 300y/m ranges by the construction of a 20′ earth bund down the middle. Despite that, some pen-pusher insists simultaneous firing at different distances on each half cannot take place…

      Like

      Reply
  3. Nick B

    The M.O.D itself trusts 16 year olds to run down – and with deeply section 5 firearms at that – in fact you could do it at 15 years and 7 months old (minimum enlistment age – takes into account school leavers ages). I myself did this many many times before I hit 18. The problem is really that the M.O.D doesn’t trust anyone but itself to run the ranges properly – not our ability to conduct said practices.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Nicholas Harman

      But a 16 year old soldier is perhaps more disciplined than the average 16 year old schoolboy? God when I think back to some of the things that went on with firearms on CCF days and courses. One boy got hold of wooden .303 bullets designed for the Bren and started using them in his .303 rifle on a night exercise. We certainly kept our heads down that night.

      Like

      Reply
      1. Nick B

        TBH – there’s not a lot in it between a 16 year old squaddie and a schoolboy – the sheer volume of 252’s for contravening section 69 of the Army Act 1955 in my 2 and a half year training period would bear this out (not just my charges I add, but rather my whole troop and squadron). There may well be discipline within the Army, but there’s a goodly percentage of it is ill-discipline!

        Like

    1. Gaz Corfield Post author

      Very few private ranges are certified for fullbore centrefire rifles, which is what CSR is shot with.
      Even fewer private ranges have the physical features (or rather, lack of) needed to run fire with movement practices.
      The MoD doesn’t care about civilian shooting at all beyond covering its own arse. Landmarc, its range operations contractor, only cares inasmuch as it can gouge civilian clubs for money with zero risk to itself.

      Like

      Reply
  4. Gary E Nelson

    Given what I see in the photo, I see no problem with the tactic. Hands/fingers nowhere near the trigger. Only suggestion to appease those who do not understand is have everyone run “in line”. I did that at the Winston P Wilson competitions although we did a jog, not a run and stayed in line towards the target(s).

    Like

    Reply
  5. Charles

    We used to take part in the “Volongdis” competition, involving a team of six, two with a Bren LMG, and four riflemen, and a specified amount of ammo. I first did this in 1963 in 303 days. It started off with all the teams well behind the 600 yards firing points, then they loaded up and made safe. On the Commnd they ran to the 600 firing point, and shooting started with the Bren. It was a bit involved, but the teams then ran to 500, did some shooting there, then to 400, more shooting, then to 300. Scoring was a point per hit made at 300 yards, so wasting rounds on the run-downs didn’t help, but having 40 or 50 rounds extra at the start definitely did.
    I don’t recall ever doing this event without having extra ammo, and all the teams I spoke to did the same. All is fair in love and war!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Charles

      I should say, ALL movement was done “loaded”, rifles with a round chambered and a filled mag on the gun, and the Bren with working parts forward with a filled mog on top.

      Like

      Reply

Leave a comment...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s