Jonathan Djanogly, Chairman of the BSSC, has written to Oliver Dowden MP suggesting target shooting be among the first sports to open after lockdown

credit: Archant

Jonathan Djanogly MP, Chairman of the British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC), has written to the Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, suggesting that shooting sports be considered among some of the first sports to benefit from the easing of lockdown restrictions, along with golf and angling.

Djanogly highlights clay target shooting and target rifle shooting as two sports that could be suitable due to the potential to easily enforce safe social distancing measures while operating, and the fact that target shooters of all kinds regularly adhere to strict guidelines and protocol and would willingly adopt any additional restrictions deemed necessary.

Here is the letter, published on the Gun Trade Association’s news pages, in full:

Dear Oliver,

I write to you as chairman of the British Shooting Sports Council.

It has been suggested that outdoor sports such as golf and angling might be amongst the first to benefit from an easing of the current ‘lockdown’ restrictions. I would suggest that shooting sports such as clay target shooting and target rifle shooting might be equally suitable.

Clay target shooting

There are 378 clay shooting grounds registered with the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association providing individual practice and major competitions. In addition, there are many more non-CPSA grounds which operate under the 28-day planning rule, putting on pay and play and non-registered weekend competitions. In a normal year, these shooting grounds would together provide some 3.9 million Gun days of clay target shooting, supporting thousands of jobs at the grounds and across the shooting industry. All grounds are currently closed.

Clay shooting grounds are invariably remote and self-contained. Large crowds are not the norm. Shooters stand in dedicated cages or firing points both for safety and to regulate the competition. Clay shooters, be it in practice or competition, always wear protective eyewear and are also always in small squads of 1-5 so it is relatively simple to apply an agreed social distancing guidance.

Target rifle shooting

The National Shooting Centre at Bisley, Surrey, is the pre-eminent target shooting range in Europe, but there are in addition some 300 rifle ranges, large and small, operated by affiliates of the National Rifle Association. Most are local clubs run by volunteers. All are currently closed. All MoD ranges have been closed to civilian target shooting clubs. In addition there are many more smallbore rifle clubs affiliated to the National Smallbore Rifle Association. In a normal year, these ranges would jointly provide some 600,000 Gun days of fullbore and 1.3 million Gun days of smallbore practice and competition.

Outdoor ranges are akin to open fields, with targets set at distances up to 1,200 yards. Shooters fire from firing points with around 2.4 to 3.5m spacing between individual targets. This style of shooting in open ground should pose no significant risk.

Covered ranges are similar to outdoor ranges save that targets are usually set at distances between 25 and 100 yards and the firing points are covered, typically with a simple open fronted shed style construction, similar to a golf driving range. The distances between targets averages around 1.5m and firers can be separated by Perspex, mesh or ply screens. Maintaining a 2m “social distance” could be achieved by using alternate targets, coupled with stricter management/supervision of access and egress.

Indoor ranges are effectively housed in long, narrow buildings and are usually ventilated by extraction that draws air away from the shooter. Target spacing averages around 1.5m and firers are usually separated by screens. Maintaining a 2m separation between participants may be possible depending on the configuration of the range.

Safety is paramount in all shooting sports and distancing between firing points is inherent in this. Target shooters of all sorts routinely comply with clearly defined and rigorously enforced range regulations and would willingly adopt any additional restrictions that were proven to be necessary. We are of course aware that facilities such as clubhouses or social areas may have to remain closed for the time being, but the re-opening of ranges and shooting grounds, even on a limited scale, would be greatly welcomed by the sport.

If you would like further details on shooting grounds and ranges, and of how they might be brought to conform with any new conditions set out by Government to limit spread of Coronavirus, then I would be more than happy to help.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Djanogly