What coronavirus means for British shooting sports

You can go shooting again in England. Deputy Chief Constable Dave Orford, the national lead on firearms licensing, has provided clarity on shooting under the current Covid-19 guidance following concerns raised by BASC, other shooting organisations and police forces.

Northern Ireland followed with advice from the attorney general’s office allowing outdoor activity.

Advice from the NI attorney general’s office

Wales, Scotland have yet to clarify their positions. BASC Scotland sets out the route out of lockdown for Scottish shooting here.

DCC Orford says he has spoken to government and he will give clear instructions to individual constabularies that shooting can take place under the current regulations as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to.

That advice was not immediate. On 22 May 2020, Northumbria police were still advising shooters wrongly that, ‘current guidance is for people not to take part in any form of shooting during the lockdown period unless there are genuine exemptions for the legal shooting of pest species. Shooting must be absolutely essential in order to protect food, crops, and livestock or prevent disease at the request of the farmer or landowner affected or in the interests of public health’.

DCC Orford says: “When considering outdoor shooting, police should view it in the same way they would for golf and fishing.”

“My guidance to forces is clear; any facilities associated with outdoor sports and physical activities, including shooting ranges, can now reopen, if those responsible for them feel ready to do so and if they can do so safely, and in line with related public health guidance. My advice extends to outdoor pest control and deer management, on the proviso that they are doing so in line with guidance and within the law.

“I’m really grateful to the shooting community for their support and forbearance through these times. I would ask that do their utmost to follow the coronavirus guidelines on activities and the management of locations.”

Dr Conor O’Gorman, head of campaigns and policy at BASC, says: “This advice sets out a clear marker for police forces to follow and it should clarify some of the confusion that has been evident in the last week or so. Shooting is back open for business as long as people follow the sensible social distancing guidelines laid down by government.”

Most of the main countryside and shooting organisations have set up coronavirus minisites. You can find them here:

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