Does the relaxation of lockdown mean we can go shooting now? How does Boris Johnson’s address impact on the shooting industry? Find the latest guidance here!

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The Government has released its “Our Plan to Re-Build” Recovery Strategy, outlining how businesses and individuals may begin to progress following the Prime Minister’s address on Sunday May 10th, in which he informed the country that lockdown restrictions would gradually be relaxed, with more clarification provided the following day. The Recovery Strategy can be found in 2 parts. The first 50 pages are here and a new set of guidance, “Covid Secure”, can be found here.

The address and the Recovery Strategy has, however, left segments of the shooting industry confused.

Can we go deer stalking and pigeon shooting now?

BASC has advised its members that deer stalking in England can resume from May 13th (this does NOT apply to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland at present). Pest control, conservation and seasonal work on game shoots (again, in England) is possible so long as they meet the requirements described below:

* You may carry out these activities with those from your household group and /or one person who is not from your household group

* You may travel any distance in England with people from your household group to engage in these activities but the person who is not from your household group may not travel in the same vehicle as you do

* You must observe the rules on social distancing at all times

* You must have the permission of the landowner before engaging in any shooting or shooting related work on their land.

* Any pest control must conform to the law and the general licences.

* Deer management must be conducted according to the law. Roebucks are currently in season and Muntjac may be managed at any time of the year.

* Before shooting any quarry species you should consider how the meat will be put into the food chain.

There have been issues with different police forces interpreting the government’s rules in different ways. If in any doubt about how your local police will react you should contact the police before shooting, inform them that you are planning your activities within the current regulations and obtain the reference number for the call. You should also carry your certificate with you in case you are challenged by the police. Furhter information can be found here.

Can we go clay shooting now?

The clay shooting industry has been left a little in the dark. It looks like golf and angling are now back on, however, clay shooting and rifle target shooting have not yet been specifically addressed. It is our understanding that governing bodies are seeking clarification and we will update you on this as and when we have the information.

Social media is adding to the confusion, with some grounds announcing they are opening, and others announcing they are waiting for clarification from government/governing bodies.

The CPSA released a statement, which included the following passage: “We are aware of the changes in restrictions regarding outdoor exercise and statements overnight from golf and fishing associations regarding the opening of venues. We are awaiting the detailed government document with further clarification today and are in communication with the government to confirm the position with regard to clay target shooting.”

They then released this statement, again confirming the need for further clarification prior to the opening of clay grounds.

When will gun shops open? What is the advice for the trade?

The Gun Trade Association has produced a brilliant overview of the document, which gives us a better idea of when the rest of the industry, such as gunshops, may be back up and running along with guidance on keeping gunshop employees and customers safe upon reopening.

Simon, director of the GTA, said: “The 50-page recovery strategy has 2 main areas of good news for the Trade. First that our customers can start thinking about going out shooting, second our shops should be opening soon.

In England, the relaxed lock-down rules due to start tomorrow (13th May) are the beginnings of progress. People can now go out to exercise as much as they like and as far from home to an outside space as they like – as long as they maintain the social distancing rules. There is still a need for clarification on shooting grounds.

From a planning date of 1 June, in phases, ‘non-essential retail’ will be able to open. More guidance is expected on this roll-out soon. As I have indicated before, this will rely on your shops being able to meet the ‘Covid-19 secure’ guidelines.

Detailed shop guidance is HERE, which you should read and act upon. (Factories, plants and warehouses guidance is HERE.) You have a responsibility to your staff and your customers and will need to do a risk assessment. That does not have to be complicated, but you should work through your plans for the following:

Increased handwashing and surface cleaning

Staff working from home where possible – bookkeepers etc.

Where social distancing is difficult – what mitigation can you use – time management, screens or barriers, back-to-back working

Staff vulnerabilities

Write the key points down. You must share this plan with your employees and consider putting it on your website, so that customers understand how you will operate. Download the poster below and display it at the door.

I know it’s a faff but, as we have already found out in some areas, council environmental health teams will be inspecting and can close you down if they are not happy.

You have a couple of weeks now to get ready. I will be pressing for early inclusion of the Trade for opening and will pass on further guidance as it becomes available. I will also be tracking guidance for the devolved governments.

In the meantime, the provision of ammunition for pest control purposes and taking guns in for storage can continue using the Type A model of operation issued last week (in the members’ downloads section of the website).”

Yes, it is all a little confusing right now. But rest assured, ours is not the only industry in turmoil and we will continue to update our readers as and when we have information. For now, stick to the rules we have been able to clarify, stay safe and await further updates from our rural and shooting organisations.