Whilst the nation has been under lockdown due to COVID-19, the NSRA has continued to operate, albeit in a slightly reduced capacity, with some staff furloughed and others working from home. Throughout this difficult period, it has been very encouraging to see members and clubs continue to affiliate to the Association and the NSRA would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their support. In addition, coaches and instructors are still able to renew their qualifications, but please be aware there might be some delay in receiving your new license until such time as staff are able to return to the office.
Meetings of the Board of Management and essential technical committees continue to take place with the assistance of technology; hence, plans for restarting shooting activity, as well as forward planning for other activities, are under constant review. It is important to note that the NSRA are liaising with other shooting organisations across the globe to assess the feasibility of any international activities in which the NSRA are involved. COVID-19 is impacting many of our shooting friends around the world and therefore we must be aware of the challenges they are facing as well as our own.
In line with government advice, the Lord Roberts Centre and Aldersley have been closed for shooting, like other ranges across Britain. This remains the case; however, the NSRA are carefully considering measures to reopen our ranges as soon as it is safe to do so. We are continuing to closely monitor the situation nationally and are able to advise clubs based on direction given by the Government. Consequently, the NSRA are acutely aware that the Government are looking at easing the restrictions for some sports such as golf and fishing where social distancing can be easily maintained. We are actively working, along with the British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC) and others, to try to ensure target shooting is included in this relaxation of the lockdown on sporting activities. Once we know when this can happen and what it looks like, we will be able to form our strategy for competitions and other activities. As soon as the information is available we will post it on the NSRA website and our social media pages.
Many clubs and individuals have entered NSRA competitions that were due to take place this summer. Whilst all NSRA Shoulder to Shoulder competitions have been cancelled for 2020, it is not yet clear whether the scheduled postal events will be able to go ahead. For any NSRA competitions that are cancelled as a result of COVID-19 all those who have entered will have the opportunity to decide if they would like a full refund or alternatively, they will be able to carry their entry fees over to the following year. Further details regarding this will be available on the NSRA website very soon. All enquires relating to competitions will be addressed as soon as the competitions staff are able to return to the office. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause and also thank you for your understanding and cooperation in these challenging circumstances.
Please be assured that once government restrictions start to be the lifted the NSRA will be carefully assessing the direction given by the Government so that we are able to provide clubs and our members with advice on how to safely resume their shooting activities. We understand that many clubs may be struggling financially at the moment and therefore we would like encourage you to look into the support that is available, such as the Sport England Community Emergency Fund and the Small Business Grant Fund.
We are also petitioning the Home Office (HO) on your behalf. A letter is to be sent to the Minister for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to review the costs of club FACs and HO approval to help reduce the financial burden that many clubs are facing.
Furthermore, the NSRA, along with other shooting organisations, are making representations through BSSC to try and secure an extension for any FACs that are due for renewal in the coming months. This is similar to that which has been granted for MOTs. We hope that this will help to relieve some of the pressures on the NHS with respect to requests for medical certificates as well as reducing the burden on the police in these extraordinary circumstances. However, at present we encourage all FAC holders to submit their renewal applications as soon as possible before expiry.
It is great to see that a lot of coaching and training is still continuing whilst people are at home. Coaches and shooters are communicating in different ways to make this possible. The NSRA have published guidance on our website (in conjunction with British Shooting) to ensure people are aware of the safety issues relating to this practice and have provided advice to help maintain safe and effective training.
In the meantime, we all need to stay at home if possible, remain upbeat, observe the guidance and stay safe.
John Lloyd, Chairman