For many clubs around the country the new year means renewals and subscriptions. We are no exception. After the past couple of years where shooting was heavily curtailed, or, even suspended, use of of your rifle, for use at an approved club, or, range was impacted. Those who needed to renew their certificate in this period were either successful with little fuss, or, had a fight to prove why they had not shot. On the whole, most police forces were understanding of the situation.
All that has now changed. And, for those who belong to more than one club, the old chestnut of the “Primary club”, has once again surfaced. Back beyond 2013, the NRA were pushing the concept of a “primary club”. This primary, or, home club would be the club that you detailed as the club you would most likely be shooting at. Whilst you are free to join other clubs, this club would be responsible for keeping a record of your shooting attendance. And, only if you failed to attend during a 12 month period, or, failed to renew at the said club, would they inform the police of this by way of a “NIL” return.
Whilst certain groups could see the benefit of such a scheme, if only to reduce the time spent by the police in cross checking and correlating the data. However, neither the police or the Home Office were on board with the idea, preferring the existing system. This is given due coverage in the latest version of the Home Office guide on firearms law, December 2021. Therefore, any members of a club, and other clubs to which a member belongs, fulfilling the criteria, must have a “NIL” return made against their name when the time is appropriate.
Only a member of one club? Then you should be fine, if your club or membership secretary are doing their job. If you’re a member of more than one club, as a number of our members are, not having proof of attendance could be a problem. Prior to the lockdown of 2020, there was not a single member that the police did not contact the then secretary for details of the member looking to renew their licence. As we had the information, we were able to confirm the police request. Since the relaxation of lockdowns, some are asking for 5, or, even six years of records of attendance. So far the H.O. guidance has us all covered, stating that proof need only be shown for the previous 12 months. Where some FEO’s seem to be getting ahead of the game is that all the attendance records must be kept for six years minimum.
So, is there such a thing as a “Primary club”? The current answer is NO. Every club must make a (1)”nil return for any and all members” who fail to show attendance. Whilst this is unlikely to change, if it does, we will let you know.
Source: (1) National Small-Bore Rifle Association