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posted 15 Sept 2019, 13:59 by Tony Cattermole   [ updated 15 Sept 2019, 13:59 ]
This has been yet another very active year in all respects.

We are once more made welcome for our AGM at the Royal Gunpowder Mills by the staff and volunteers. We hope that the future of this iconic and historic location is now secured, and what is there preserved.

Our monthly meetings and lectures continue at the Museum of London in their excellent Clore Education Centre and we are most grateful to them. We have enjoyed a series of interesting and educational lectures there and our thanks go to all the presenters.

One of the lectures was from our President, Dr. Roads, regarding the “cutting edge” Firearms Museum, which he designed, and has just opened in Oman.

The shooting and collecting community in UK continues to be under great pressure.

The major item we have faced in the last year was the Bill, which became the Offensive Weapons Act.

The Bill was intended to deal with knives and corrosive liquids in view of the high level of crime with those, and firearms were added subsequently, requiring great effort to overcome some proposals.

We also had to look at the situation of knife and bayonet collectors. The Act introduces controls on sales (including online), delivery and displays.

Regarding firearms, the Act prohibits two types of rapid firing rifles (trigger and lever release). Prohibition of high energy rifles (.50 cal. BMG etc.) was withdrawn (with the proposal of enhanced security), as were some Labour party proposals (elimination of sect 11(4) - the Miniature Rifle Range exemption, controls on hand-loading and air guns). As I write this the expected Public consultation on these is in hand.

We have, during the last year, given considerable input to the Home Office, both in writing and at meetings, in relation to the next stage of definition of an antique in the Act. That is, the Statutory Instrument defining an obsolete ignition system and an obsolete cartridge.

The list, currently included as an appendix in the “Guide on Firearms Licensing Law”, will become statutory. The definition of antique which is now in Section 126 of the Act incorporates the statutory list. This will be by obsolete “propulsion system” or “obsolete cartridge”, which will define Sect 58 (2) arms. The concept of the list seems established, but the additions (or subtractions) of cartridges from the existing one, together with the date, currently 1939, await agreement.

The Statutory Instrument is expected later this year and should also include the details of compensation for the now prohibited trigger and lever release rifles.

New fees have been established in the P & C Act, which include Home Office Clubs approvals, Museum Firearm Licenses, Registered Firearms Dealers with authorities for prohibited weapons (hitherto issued free) and Sect 5 Carriers, Marine Security Companies, Olympic Shooters and Trophies of War. There are substantial increases both for grant and renewal, but nowhere near what was first proposed, so both the Home Office and the BSSC may claim some success.

The medical certification by GPs also remains a subject of debate. We have participated in Home Office meetings on the topic and also strongly underlined that the 2016 guidance should apply until the public consultation just released is complete and new guidance drawn up.

Another issue in hand is the controls on Ivory. This issue is now up for Judicial Review and my post on the website gives more detail.

Potential air weapon controls are expected to be reviewed in the Autumn.

This is expected to be dealt with by strengthened regulations rather than legislation.

We participated in the revision of the wording of the new non statutory “Guide on Firearms Licensing Law” providing recommendations and clarifications to the Home Office in conjunction with BSSC.

Member states are introducing the EU Directive into their legislation in varying soft and hard forms. Its current form was a result of much hard work on our part and other organizations and colleagues, especially and notably the efforts of Stephen Petroni and FESAC. Two remaining issues being debated are standards of deactivation and large capacity magazines.

I attended the FESAC AGM in June this year in Holland as the UK representative. My report has been published. One main issue resolved is that FESAC remains a Foundation rather than becoming a Federation. We are looking at potential expansion of inclusiveness.

I regularly attend British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC) meetings, having also now been appointed chairman of its Technical & Research Committee, as well as attending other parallel groups. BSSC is a vital coordinating central entity for the shooting and collecting organizations in all fields.

David Penn retired as Secretary at the AGM in March 2019. He was presented with a handsome Armada plate at the Annual Luncheon by Jonathan Djanogly, the Chairman, with thanks for his many years of work.

Graham Downing, already known to many of us, took over as Secretary.

David was co-opted to BSSC so we will continue to receive the benefit of his expertise and historic knowledge.

Through BSSC we are updated on World Forum, FACE and other activities in Europe.

Needless to say the issue of lead is also one that we will have to deal with soon, and we follow that carefully.

David’s “Legislative Updates” to HBSA and MLAGB are valuable summaries and will continue. We thank him for all his work, both for us, and as Secretary of BSSC.

I represent HBSA (and also BDS) at the Metropolitan Police FLD “Independent Advisory Group” which meets two or three times a year. It is proving a useful two-way communication forum. We have been in touch with a number of Police FLDs on collecting and Section 7 issues and have been able to provide letters and telephone calls supporting members.

We also continue to have meetings at the Home Office, and maintain contact with NABIS, the police and other entities. BSSC Practitioners Group is a useful forum for these contacts as well as collaboration.

Standards of training for Police Firearms Licensing Depts. have now been established and published in the “Learning standards for FEO's and those exercising delegated authorities” document. We were able to review and comment on this, one point being mentioned was “interpersonal skills”.

Rev. Dr. Paul Wilcock, our new Editor, is working on the next Journal issue. We wish him continued success. Stephen Barrett remains on the editorial panel. Thanks to them both.

Our finances show a modest surplus in 2018 as detailed in the Treasurer’s Report. We have good financial security for the coming year. Thanks go to Tony Cattermole for all his work as Treasurer and to Molly Milner for reviewing the accounts.

The website and email alerts are a very complete source of information to members. There are however members who still require news on paper, which they continue to get from Report, and thanks go to our Report Editor, John Lechner. We all benefit from the interesting articles.

Our website continues to be an excellent central point of reference for members, non-members, students, researchers, etc. Journal summaries, Legislative updates, lectures and our calendar are all much visited by our members, researchers and others. Thanks are due to Tony Cattermole, our webmaster, for his continuing work on this and e-communications with members. We also have a specifically dedicated means to store and access the picture library that we have on the website, for which we have to thank David Frohnwieser.

Our successful First World War firearms film can now be viewed via a link on our website, as also our 40th Anniversary MG film. Thanks to Tony Cattermole for setting this up and to those members who assisted with descriptions of the arms included. The number of viewings of this successful project continues to rise.

We thank David Carroll our Range Practice Officer, who has completed another year of successfully running our shooting program, with support from Mike Townsend, Paul Smith, Allan Kirk, Maurice Kanareck, Steve Isherwood, Tim Castle, Terry Hoskins, and others.

Heritage pistol also had another successful year and we thank Molly and Richard Milner for organizing and running the shoots. Molly will take over as Heritage Pistol Representative from Stuart Taylor and we thank Stuart – also for his continuing role with our Northern Group, along with Andrew Claxton.

The HBSA Miniature Rifle meeting on the Winans Range, run by Allan Kirk, is now a fixture in the shooting calendar, along with both of the Rook Rifle shoots, one of which Allan runs, and Paul Smith the other at Stourport.

The annual sporting rifle shoot, organized by me, now also seems a popular fixture in the calendar as an opportunity to shoot a wide variety of sporting arms.

At this point I would also like to thank all of the officers and volunteers who put in so much time for the HBSA and without whom we could not function. I have mentioned others by name elsewhere and now thank Chris Smith for all his work as HBSA Hon. Secretary.

We have David Frohnwieser assisted by Colin Page and his team to thank for organizing the splendid displays put on, both at our own events, and also shows and arms fairs. Without question this is important as an educational tool, advertising HBSA’s work, and in bringing in new members. A number of new members were interviewed at the Bisley fairs and British Shooting Show. We also attended, with an appropriate display, the visit of King Goodwill of the Zulu Nation to Brecon Barracks.

Our annual Section 7 pistol exhibition continues at Trafalgar. Thanks go to Ian Patrick for organizing that and to NRA’s support with the event.

We are glad to report that the steady flow of new members continues, notably from the above mentioned events.

Thanks to Chris Reid our Membership Secretary for staying on top of the administration of that, renewals, and other topics such as GDPR, requiring careful review.

I regularly attend NRA General Council meetings and we continue to have a close relationship with the NRA, who are very supportive of “Historics”. This includes the “Heritage Pistol” program on Cheylesmore range.

I write regular articles for NRA Journal, especially regarding historics and “Historic” meetings and notably, this year, about IHAM celebrating the 150th Imperial meeting

Our young members shoots organized by David Franklin Johnson and Maurice Kanareck continue. An important initiative, for which we thank them.

Neil Macfarlane continues in post of NRA “Historics” discipline representative and attends Shooting Committee meetings. We continue working together with NRA, both on current historic shooting and on the broader future of shooting historical arms going forward. NRA also work with us in providing support for their members applications for FAC variations when needed.

Attendances and entries at IHAM and Trafalgar meetings remain steady but are not growing as might be hoped.

Members around the Country have been catered for, as usual, by the Welsh Branch, the Northern Group, and the Wessex Group.

The Welsh Branch has again maintained its full and interesting lecture programme oriented towards summer months in view of their location, plus clay pigeon shooting when they are able, and occasional shoots on military ranges. The Chapel Bay Fort Museum is doing exceptionally well and receiving many visitors. Congratulations to Emma and George Geear.

The Northern Group continues its successful lecture programme at Royal Armouries. Their display stand for the fourth time at the Northern Shooting Show, was a great success, with increased visitors. Once again various police FLDs were present at the show and worked on applications and variations “face to face”. Thanks to Northern Group for its continuing efforts and success.

The Wessex group has also continued its local programme of meetings and talks, combined with social clay pigeon shooting.

What may be considered historic evolves with the passage of time, as does the process of preserving heritage for future generations. The work of both private collectors and museums, especially in collaboration and cooperation, with each other is most important.

HBSA has a highly respected status in this field, which we work hard to maintain, as well as the impetus in our continued mission of supporting collecting, studying, and researching historic arms, and preserving our heritage.

Derek Stimpson
September 2019