Home Office Licensing Failure Prevents Opening of New Small Bore Shooting Range in Chichester
Dear Mr. Tyrie,
I am pleased to be able to tell you that Chichester now has a brand new, state of the art, small bore indoor 25 yd shooting range in Oaklands Park. The range is situated behind Chichester Rugby Club and almost opposite Chichester University. It will be operated by Chichester Rifle Club who are closing their Quarry Lane Range after 60 years of use.
This new range has been paid for by Covers Builders Merchants at a cost of £350,000. The range was designed under the guidance of Mr. Frank Haxton and he has issued the Range Safety Certificate for the range. Mr. Haxton before he retired was the Officer Commanding the MoD’s Warminster School of Musketry Technical Support. Indeed Mr. Haxton wrote the standard MoD Code of Practice for range safety (Joint Services Publication 403 part 2).
Sussex Police have just inspected the range and acknowledged its state of the art safety and security features. Unfortunately they will not permit shooting to start on the range because Mr. Haxton is not approved by the MoD. In fact no one is approved by the MoD. The firearms certificates of the Club’s members say that shooting can only occur on a MoD approved range. The MoD relinquished their responsibility for civilian ranges over two years ago. In the mean time the Home Office has dragged its feet and has still not come up with a means of permitting small bore shooters to shoot on new ranges.
Thus we are in a catch .22 situation. We have a new range designed and inspected by the man who wrote the rule book when he was in the Services. The range has been certified to meet the MoD code of Practice but because the MoD no longer certify anyone to inspect ranges then Mr. Haxton can’t state on the Safety Certificate that he is MoD approved. The Sussex Police therefore will not allow small bore shooting on the range and Chichester Rifle Club is left with no way at all of complying with the law.
Shooting could start on the new range if the Chief Constable of Sussex could adopt the same approach as other police forces and ask his Firearms Licensing team to apply some common sense pending a resolution of the matter from the Home Office. As a matter of great urgency, would it be possible for you to raise this matter with Sussex’s Chief Constable?
What is also required very urgently is that the Home Office issue the new regulations they’ve been supposedly working on for over two years. Could I ask that you bring your influence to bear on the Home Office to speedily resolve this ludicrous situation.
In the meantime Chichester has a wonderful indoor range sat idle.