Monday, 20 October 2014

This old chestnut.

It's appropriate that at this time of year, this petition re-appears, for this is the season of the chestnut, and this old chestnut, the re-introduction of .22 pistols for competition shooting, is once again doing the rounds. If you are interested, the petition can be found HERE. In all the time that this petition has run, and with all the petitions that have gone before, there is not a snowball in Hell's chance of it ever getting to the required 100,000 signatures in order for it to be considered for the backbench business's committee. The reason being that there are just not enough shooters in the UK that can be bothered; they can muster the energy and resources to get themselves to the clay ground, Scotland for a bit of stalking, or out for a night of pest control, but as none of these activities involve a pistol, then it doesn't concern them. Their myopic approach to shooting, is to be fair, more like tunnel vision, "I don't shoot (fill in the space), why should that affect me?" well it does, anything and everything in the shooting sports effects everything else, from the '97 pistol ban to the hung act, right up to the latest anti-gun guidelines put forward by ACPO.
Over the years anti groups and politicians have used everything at their disposal to curtail firearms ownership, and the weapons that get the best results are, dividing the shooters themselves by discipline, and then compounding this with class hang ups; and shooters swallow it every time. Despite a large turnout in the years leading up to the pistol ban for the march in London, and the many petitions, with a few exceptions the only people marching and signing, were pistol owners, all the other shooters, by absentia, were prepared to throw this group under the bus in order to save their own discipline. And just to prove that shooters are consistent in their approach to life, now they have an opportunity to redress the balance, they leave it around 18,000, out of approximately 1,500,000 gun owners, to do the work.
It is my opinion, and feel free to disagree, that the pistol shooters who shoot for the UK in international competitions, including the Olympics have a responsibility to do more in this matter. The elite few travel to foreign parts in order to practice, this now brings in that class divide, for only "rich" can afford to undertake this sport. Now don't get me wrong, if there were facilities here in the UK, were practice could be undertaken by everybody, but those who chose to use facilities abroad, for whatever reason, take advantage of those facilities, much the same as tennis players for example, then fair enough! But there are not, and we only get the shooters that can afford it, not the best we can offer.
So for this, and many other reasons, the target of 100,000 signatures will never be obtained, and around this time next year there will be another petition asking the same question, requesting the same thing, with the same result. This is not to say we should stop trying to overturn this ridiculous legislation, but without more people getting involved and doing their bit, pistol shooting will remain an elitist sport, undertaken by the wealthiest, not the best, for a country that rejoices in the winning, albeit quietly, but doesn't trust the most trust worthy member of its society, just the richest.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Beware the Jack boot.

In a statement not to dissimilar to that issued in the 1930's by another police state, the Association of Chief Police Officers, are at it again. This time they are asking family, friends, neighbours, or for that matter anyone who feels like it, to report to their local police, anyone who is storing any firearm irresponsibly. The guidelines, for it is not law, as issued by ACPO and the Home Office is as follows: "Where it is judged necessary, based on specific intelligence in light of a particular threat, or risk of harm, the police may undertake an unannounced home visit to check the security of a certificate holder's firearms and shotguns. It is not expected that the police will undertake an unannounced home visit at an unsocial hour unless there is a justified and specific requirement to do so on the grounds of crime prevention or public safety concerns and the police judge that this action is both justified and proportionate.
It is recognised that there is no new power of entry for police or police staff when conducting home visits. To mitigate any misunderstanding on the part of the certificate holder the police must provide a clear and reasoned explanation to the certificate holder at the time of the visit."
As our friends at the countryside Alliance point out, and there is no-one that I am aware of, that disagrees with keeping your guns safely and securely stored when not in use, and that you make sure your security is adequate. But as with "Guidelines" of this nature it is open to malicious abuse; from a neighbour who maybe an animal rights activist, someone who doesn't agree with you parking your car where you do, the list is endless. And you, as a law abiding member of society will hear the thump, thump on the door demanding to see your security, because the police are acting upon information received. They will not be at all concerned that the information was given anonymously, and if a name is given, it's doubtful if they will go to the trouble of verifying the source. The information need not be that specific either for example; "I saw a woman, in a house, with a gun, in Acacia Avenue." That's it, as they have your details on their computer, they know all the holders in Acacia Avenue, likely as not she's the only one. All the information required has been received to make an unannounced visit to the holder. Of course this statement may be true, the individual could have seen what they said they saw, but the holder could have been getting ready to go hunting or the clay range, they may have already been, and were cleaning their gun before locking it away. I live in a small house, with widows in every room, and providing I'm not breaking the law of the land I may do pretty much as I wish within those confines, this includes cleaning and servicing my guns or dry firing them, to practice with one of the many laser systems available. All within the privacy of my own home.
The police have a difficult enough job to do as it is, so why do ACPO feel the need to pursue those in society that are the most law abiding, most responsible, and the arguably the best allies they have when it comes to fighting crime. My guess is career police chiefs with political ambitions, from within large towns and cities, who see all firearms ownership as something that must be stopped at all cost.
A Crimestoppers line has been opened to enable members of the public to report concerns about certificate holders and firearms security. The Countryside Alliance is strongly opposed to this, and has contested it vigorously. If you believe that any action taken by the police may be as a result of false or malicious information they may have received from a member of the public, then you should tell the Countryside Alliance or B.A.S.C.immediately, because you are a member of either, aren't you?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Double standards.

It is interesting to read the report from the Department of Transport on the current state of car deaths and related accidents. Here, as in the most of the rest of the world, driving a car is a licensed activity, but once you have your licence, provided you can afford the insurance and the vehicle, you can drive anything you like in the domestic car range. The DoT states that 60% of people lose their life on Britain's rural roads approximately 862 deaths with another 7537 people being seriously injured.

The separation of rural and non-rural car deaths is, in my opinion, used to infer that rural drivers are in some way less safe than non-rural drivers. It does however omit the percentage of rural drivers to non-rural drivers who were killed in these accidents. With no figures that I could find, but speaking from experience, my money would be on a very high percentage of the car driving deaths being non-rural drivers, driving on rural roads as though they were on the stage of a rally. Additionally, a high proportion of the rural deaths I'll wager are rural people going about their lives when some maniac comes hurtling round a bend on the wrong side of the road, ploughing through either horses, sheep, cattle, or more increasingly deer, as well as pedestrians; there are rarely footpaths or pavements in the rural environment.

The extrapolated amount of car deaths per year, wherever they occur, is in excess of 1400, with over 12,000 serious injuries. Every single one of these numbers is a life and having any number in either of the categories, other than 0 is something we should all strive to address. So how about some common sense laws that would help reduce these terrible figures.

Firstly, lets require that anyone wanting to drive a car must have a good reason for needing to do so, after all, in most non-rural environments the train and bus infrastructure is so intense that you will see more buses in 5 minutes there than in a week in a rural situation. Then, should they be granted a licence, they should have to prove that they have used the vehicle in the previous 12 month period and have purchased sufficient petrol to enable the use of the vehicle over such distances. A vehicle can only be purchased with a licence, and any and all vehicles must be detailed on the said licence. If you wish to get a new or different vehicle you must apply for permission to change your vehicle, and you cannot get your new vehicle until the old one has been disposed of in the manner prescribed. Failure to purchase a vehicle within prescribed time periods, show use of vehicle, or purchase petrol, will all result in the revocation of the licence. Once revoked re-application will be required, but having previously had a licence revoked, for whatever reason, will count against you in this endeavour. Your licence will also be removed from you if you show signs of an anti-social activity whilst in possession of you vehicle or at any point during your normal daily life. Parking and speeding offences will not immediately see your licence revoked, but you must declare any offences incurred since the last time your licence was granted, when you re-apply at the prescribed 5 year interval. Now I am sure that these few small steps would go a long way to making our roads and streets a safer place.

All of the above and good amount of others, too numerous to mention, are applied to firearms owners. Falling foul, even in the slightest, will have the police at your front door in no time, eagerly waiting to remove your firearms. Firearms and cars are very dangerous items if used in an inappropriate way, and yet the misuse of a car or an accident involving a car very often does not, as a rule, generate enough interest to get a bye-line in the local paper. For some reason society seems to accept that killing 1400 people per year, every year is an acceptable price to pay for people to be able to drive their vehicle, however recklessly or irresponsibly they undertake that task.

Friday, 3 October 2014

You’re never too old!

Here is proof, if proof were needed, that age, and all the things that accompany living a long and fruitful life bring, need not be an obstacle when it comes to the shooting sports. Our good friends over at Fittleworth rifle club have scored yet another fantastic achievement.
      Small-bore rifle shooting often gets over looked by the big boys, clay shooting, game shooting, and stalking; and whilst if you shoot with a shotgun, it will not help your shooting one little bit, but, if you hunt with a rifle, it will highlight all the bad habits that you have acquired over the years.
      A relatively new dimension to small-bore target shooting is lightweight sporting rifle, all you need is a rifle and ammo, no other special gear. Any sights are allowed, and you will shoot, un-supported, standing up, over 20yds to the target. I have seen many a good shooter fall down at this discipline through poor trigger control, bad sight picture or head position. But, when they have come to terms with this discipline, they have all noticed less un-attributable misses.
      So, if you think you can do better, why not contact your local rifle club, after all a nonagenarian can do it, how hard can it be?

He's done it again!

Two years later, and just shy of his 90th birthday, the Mounteney Jephson Memorial Rifle Club's oldest member has done it again. During the summer, in the Sussex county lightweight sporting rifle competition, John Gilbertson again emerged triumphant in his division of this growing, highly disciplined and competitive sport. All the members of the club offer their heartfelt congratulations to him on this phenomenal achievement. Click here for previous story. However, this time he was not alone, other members of the club also won their divisions, and those that did not win were, on the whole, placed in the top three in their respective divisions.
         With the start of the winter season now just around the corner, the club has not only got John and the rest of the summer shooters competing, but also new members who have joined the club, but too late to be trained to a sufficient level in order to compete. With the shooters ages spanning 77 years from the youngest to the oldest, and divisions within the competition to accommodate all levels of ability, we are looking forward to more awards at the end of the season.
          As for the prone rifle shooting, we are still able to participate at a club level, and this year we have two junior members shooting in the National Small-bore Rifle association, national counties league, for Sussex. We know they will do their best and do the club and county proud.

With over 112 years of history as a club, and never having been the largest by any means, during those years, we have consistently trained members who have gone on to represent the club, the county and the nation; not bad for small, rural club.