The UK Government Seeks to Ban a Legitimate Discipline of British Target Shooting
By a staff correspondent
No one, on either side of the political divide would argue that the government does not have a lot on its plate. The process of exiting (or not exiting it may seem) the European Union is taking up every moment of everyone’s time. My sources tell me that whole floors of departments have been taken over by the previously unknown department for exiting the European Union. In addition to this, our foreign policy has brought upon our heads, the spectre of global terrorism. So while our ministers are desperately trying to get out of Europe without destroying the nation, our Police and security bods are trying to keep the baddies out, or stop goodies becoming baddies.
Ultra Long Range shooting. If you don’t have HME, then you have no hope of competing.
THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO BAN .50 TARGET RIFLES AND MORE
The UK Government wants to ban legitimate target shooting with large rifles. To be technical .50 calibre rifles are in the governments’ sights. Now they have increased the scope of the consultation to be any rifle that produces more than 10,000 joules of energy. You can see the full home office consultation document here:
It is a well known fact in the UK, that you cannot commit any offence, no matter how small and still retain a firearms certificate. In one case, the chairman of a shooting club lost his certificate for making what he believed were amusing posts on facebook. The police took a different view, and withdrew his certificate. It really is that controlled and that easy to remove someone’s permission to possess a sporting firearm in the UK. It took him a year and a court case to prove that his facebook comments were genuinely in jest. There are no ifs buts or maybes about the firearms licensing system. Any stain on a sport shooters character, no matter how small, can lead to the withdrawal of the certificate. The onus being upon the (former) certificate holder to prove his fitness to hold a certificate in a court of law.
The current conservative government have chosed .50 calibre target rifles and “Manually Activated Release System” (MARS) rifles to be moved from section 1 (available to civillians after exhaustive checks) to section 5 (prohibited except with the permission)
When the fifty calibre shooters association (the UK’s main body for shooting HME rifles) met with the home office, the civil servants changed the scope of their consultation to include all rifles above 10,000 joules of energy. One must ask if someone suddenly realised that banning .50 calibre rifles was utterly pointless if the nation’s marksmen simply bought .375 cheytac or 20mm rifles. There is growing speculation that in doing so, the home office have broken their own rules on how to implement a consultation.
WHY DO THEY WANT TO DO THIS?
The basic summary of the reasons the home office give:
“… the ownership by civilians creates a risk of these weapons getting into the hands of either criminals or terrorists”.
“the rifles are materiel destruction weapons”
Is this the next stop? Will historic .30 calibre rifles be next for a ban?
IS THE GOVERNMENT RIGHT?
The simple answer is no. Firstly let us lump all rifles over 10,000 joules into a category called High Muzzle Energy. (HME). If someone wants to be an effective baddie with an HME rifle they need three things. They need a range and a massive supply of ammunition and most important, lots of Practice. To be able to shoot HME rifle, let alone shoot one accurately requires a skill level that few posess. That person would need to be on a range, being coached day in day out- for a long time to have a hope of accurate shooting.
HME rifles are not toys, they are large, ridiculously heavy and quite unpleasant for everyone except the firer. The back pressure alone is awful to bystanders. In order to get the best out of any target shooting, one needs a spotter, who is extremely experienced in observation. That spotter is in effect a mobile shooting coach, who is as much part of the long range shooter’s skill as the marksman himself/herself.
So lets just say a criminal manages to get his grubby hands on an HME rifle, he also needs to steal more ammunition than most target shooters possess. He needs to find a quiet uninhabited part of the UK with range like conditions. A good telescope, a target (yes something to actually shoot at) , and a competent spotter. He would also have needed to have mastered, absolutely, the basic principles of marksmanship. When he finds all those conditions and items. The criminal has to transport a rifle the size of a household drainpipe, to a location where he can conduct his illegal activities, get away with what he wants to do and then get away with same drainpipe. All of this with the great British Public looking at him, hearing him, videoing him. (you don’t wave a .50 cal around).
The greatest example of the utter uselessness of an untrained gunman with a .50 cal, is the IRA in Northern Ireland. They got their hands on two barrett .50 calibre rifles. Even with all of the tacit support of some of the local population, the gunmen were rarely able to shoot accurately. Their attempts to strike terror into the armed forces were a damp squib, and they ended up being defeated by aggressive patrolling techniques and some very simple anti sniping measures. After being given a very large fright, both gunmen disappeared over the border into the Republic and did not return.
With reference to the rifles being materiel destriction weapons, this is absolute tosh. If you wish to effectively impede the operation of an armoured vehicle, even a macralon covered Land Rover, you will achieve nothing with an HME rifle. I fyou were lucky (and a superb shot) you might be able to burst a tyre. But a single HME round will more than likely ricochet off an AV. You would have exactly the same result with a .30 rifle. The only possible reason for some uninformed person thinking that HME is material destruction, may be if they were thinking of the .50 calibre browning machine gun. One of these, operated by an extremely well trained military team, could damage an Armoured vehicle, if – and this is a big if- they had enough ammunition and the AV stayed still.
Someone else mentioned that an official was concerened that HME rifles could pierce body armour. That person is clearly not familiar with .30 calibre ammunition which will go through most body armour, except the most expensive, porcelain plate type body armour. So if the world standard target calibre is dangerous, how much more dangerous can .50 calibre be? Again, we must look at the level of practice needed to effectively use any rifle, let alone the behemoths of .50 calibre.
THE FACTS AS WE KNOW THEM
We must acknowledge the benefits of the British firearms licencing system. By and large so much good work is done by the vast majority of our police forces in the administration of this F L M system. It may be popular for some people to make disparaging remarks about our police, but these people are as misguided as the idiot behind the current proposals. From the collective experience of our shooting community, all of us have been treated with the utmost respect and common sense by the vast majority of our firearms licensing teams.
It seems that someone in a position of power is extremely worried about .50 calibre rifles, and the possibility of the misuse of MARS rifles. That person, whoever he or she may be, must be grossly inexperienced. The author is not about to write a criminal’s handbook on how to best use a rifle for nefarious purposes. Suffice it to say, that a properly trained marksman could wreak much greater havoc with the tiniest of calibres, employed sensibly.
In addition to this, HM Customs (now known as the border agency) have successfully intercepted 110 real illegal firearms being imported into the UK in the past 12 months. This includes a batch of fully automatic skorpion pistols. See that story here:
The criminal fraternity are clearly not interested in a huge heavy drainpipe that requires a year of training to come close to being accurate. They want short automatic machine pistols which can be concealed.
So we can draw the conclusion, that this so called consultation is an ill thought out attempt to gain a few more votes from a failing government. Infact, this entire process is nothing more than yet another attack on our culture, hobbies and freedoms. Once again the legal target shooting community are made to suffer to allow someone to gain a vote of two.
Target shooters at Bisley go out in all weathers to indulge in their globally recognised sport
DOES THIS AFFECT US?
Target shooting is part of the history and fabric of British Society. Most target shooting clubs date back to the Boer war, when our Afrikaner friends outshot the British Army of the day. As a way to remedy this target shooting clubs cropped up all over the British Empire. Most clubs in this country date back to the turn of the 20th century. The NRA (of the United Kingdom) has twice played a pivotal role in improving the marksmanship of our soldiers, in both world wars.
Thankfully since the dark days of WW2, the British target shooting community has been able to concentrate on the very difficult task of hitting a black circle of paper at 300,600 and 1000 yards. Bisley Camp, the home of the original (British) NRA is the global centre of shooting excellence. As a British policeman once described the NRA: “Bisley is the mecca of global target shooting”.
Every target shooter in the free world, would love to come to Bisley and lie down on the mound and shoot targets. Our government is planning to attack one section of our target shooting community. This consultation is seen by many as being the thin end of the wedge.
This assault on lawful British target shooters is an attack on the world recognised Olympic sport of shooting. It is an attack on Britains’ rich history, its values and most of all of Britain’s inclusive tolerance. The British shooting community is the most reliable, the most law abiding and the most responsible shooting community on this earth. Target shooters are the most law abiding members of our society. As soon as they stop being law abiding, their ability to target shoot is withdrawn.
Bisley is the global centre of target shooting. Shooting is part of the very fabric of British Society
WHAT TO DO NEXT?
Great Britain, invented target shooting and now our own government is attempting to destroy one of the sports that is part the history and very fabric of our nation. So what can we, as lawful and well behaved citizens do to save our sport? There are two simple answers.
First and foremost, we the British Shooting community must take into account, the one sensible aspect to the consultation. The worry that any firearms (not just HME) may fall into the hands of criminals.
We must take every measure that we possibly can, to secure our firearms. If this means new windows and a front door, so be it. We must consider always removing bolts, barrels, chassis systems and keeping our firearms an their components in separate safes. Where possible we should alarm our houses.
When travelling with firearms, we should be discreet when loading our cars, try to travel two in the car, so that one person can always wtay with the vehicle for rest stops. If we are travelling alone, pre removed parts can be carried in a day pack while we visit the loo, and for extremly long journeys, food can nearly always be eaten while we have eyes on our vehicles.
We owe it to our fellow citizens to take every measure, to prevent our firearms falling into the wrong hands.
VOTE WITH OUR CONCIENCES
The second thing we must do, is vote and tell our elected representatives why we are going to vote that way. The British Shooting community have stayed silent and passive for too long. The time has come to write to MP’s and ask them to support us. If one’s MP is ambivalent or worse – personally backs a ban. The votinig target shooter must make it absolutely clear that he or she will be voting for “the other party” at the next election.
The only way in which British shooters can continue to save their sport is if the members of parliament realise that all of the 350,000 odd fire arms certificate holders will vote on this one issue above all others. If the British shooter does not do so, then he or she cannot complain when target shooting is banned and Britain looses every shooting event at the Olympics.