22 Jan 2017 – Target shooting faces an existential threat from a planned £1,000 hike in Home Office Approval fees – and the NRA has said nothing about it after 10 days.
Published on the 12th January, the Home Office proposal would kill off most small rifle clubs by imposing unsustainable and punitive licensing fees.
One would expect, therefore, that as the national governing body responsible for most target shooting in the UK, the NRA would have immediately alerted all of its members and affiliated clubs to this.
Not so. The picture at the top of this blog post is a screenshot taken at 1pm today of the NRA homepage at http://www.nra.org.uk. As can be seen, the news items on there pre- and post-date the release of the proposals – and there is no mention of this existential threat to the target shooting sports.
In contrast to the NRA, the starving and broke NSRA managed to give a public warning about the plan and a holding response – five days after its publication, but better than none at all. BASC, unsurprisingly, managed to respond to it on the same day as it was published thanks to their dedicated firearms and media monitoring teams.
Only the Countryside Alliance, whose members have few irons in this particular fire, have joined the NRA in publicly ignoring it.
UKSN’s author had urged readers to give the NRA time to write a considered response, believing the obvious thing to do was to let the association read the plan, respond to it and publish their reply for others to take their lead from. 10 days is far longer than is needed to do this given the critical importance of these plans to the very existence of our sport at grassroots level.
The NRA cannot claim to be a national governing body if it ignores harmful legislative threats like these. A lot of older shooters still hold a burning grievance against the NRA of 1996/7, which stood aside and wrung its hands as anti-shooting campaigners destroyed the sport of competitive pistol shooting. It is vitally important that the NRA of 2017 – a very different animal – does not repeat that fatal blunder with rifle shooting.
While in recent months the NRA has done some admirable public work on behalf of the licensed firearms community, burying your head in the sand while hoping people will see this and muddle on through is disgraceful. Not everyone is a Facebook user. Not all rifle clubs are aware of this. Not all shooters read the BASC website, or policy announcements from the Home Office. Bear in mind that this has not been reported by any news organisation, either.
I have no doubt the British Shooting Sports Council is doing its good work behind the scenes but in the 21st Century people expect to see public acknowledgement of these things, well ahead of adverts for profit-making courses.