Back to shooting as lockdown eases

As the grounds open up again, Anita North has some timely advice for shooters getting back out on the range.

As the grounds open up again, Anita North has some timely advice for shooters getting back out on the range.

There were loud cheers and lots of jumping up and down for joy when the CPSA announced that shooting grounds could reopen, albeit with strict guidance and procedures required.

Of course we are also faced with the situation being slightly different in each of the home countries. Writing this article at the end of May, shooting grounds have been able to reopen in England, but not in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

There is much work being done by shooting grounds to enable them to reopen. Guidance documents have had to be prepared, measures put in place to ensure safety, and assessment paperwork completed.

Not all shooting grounds are ready to reopen just yet. For some it is not viable to open with limitations, while for others there are wider implications if they do. So if your local or favourite shooting ground is not yet open, don’t get angry, irritated or upset.

Bear with them and things will ease and more shooting grounds will be able to open. In the meantime, if you are going shooting, plan ahead and make sure you can get the full benefit without causing problems for others.

Plan ahead

Check ahead with your shooting ground, and find out what you need to do. Many grounds have implemented a booking system, so that you book a certain time to shoot.

Make sure that you read any guidance that they issue. So many grounds are now on Facebook or have their own websites, so information can be easily found. If you just turn up at the ground you may have a wasted journey.

Don’t overdo it

The most important thing is to enjoy your time shooting. Some have embraced doing regular gun mount practice and also physical training to keep on top of their game during the lockdown.

Did you do any of this? If the answer is no, then one of the main things about going back out shooting after such an enforced layoff is to remember to not overdo it.

For many grounds you need to book a time slot for your shooting, so for many this will mean more intense periods of shooting. If you haven’t been doing any work on your fitness, the muscles that you use when you are shooting may tire a lot quicker than you expect and can also have more potential to damage.

With this in mind, remember to pace yourself. You may not be able to go out and shoot the 200 targets you were used to. Build up your shooting. 

Keep your distance

Remember to play safe. The guidance and rules aren’t there to frustrate you, but to protect everyone. I know that when I have asked people, they tell me that they miss the social side of shooting as well as the challenge that it brings competing to measure progress.

For some it’s almost unbearable not to be socialising. However, for the moment we still need to follow social distancing rules to ensure that we don’t cause a surge in Covid-19 cases.

We need patience as shooting gradually returns to the sport and environment loved by so many. Remember you are protecting yourself and everyone else.

Happy to be back

It’s clear, even just from posts on social media, that those of us who have taken the opportunity to get out and do some shooting have felt super happy to do so and feel reassured that the shooting grounds have put in place measures that help everyone feel safe and shooters are adhering to the safety rules. 

The return of shooting also means coaching can take place. There is an opportunity for one-to-one coaching with social distancing rules in place. I am really looking forward to getting back to it! I know when I spoke to fellow coach Allen Warren, who did a brilliant few days at Nottingham & District Gun Club, it felt great to be back.

Allen Warren, ‘the Skeet Doctor’ gets back to coaching under distancing guidelines

Competitions and more

There is lots of work being done to prepare for the return to competitions. The competitive shooters that I have spoken to told me they are missing the challenge, the adrenaline and the buzz that competing gives them. 

On the home front, British Shooting are working on a staged return to shooting starting with the elite shooters. They are posting regular updates on their website, so if you are involved with Olympic Trap or Olympic Skeet, then it’s worth checking the website regularly. They include links to guidance in each home country. 

As one of the coaches on the Pathway programme, I am involved in regular meetings with other coaches. It’s great that we get some time, albeit in a Zoom meeting, to see each other and talk.

Trust me, coaches miss their work and are itching to get back to working with groups. It is hoped that by August group activities for Pathway will get started, but decisions are impacted by situations, so work will resume when it is safe and appropriate to do so. 

If progress continues to be made, then we may see some competitive shooting in the UK later this year (fingers crossed) by the autumn, but an announcement will be made when it is appropriate.

On the international scene, events have been cancelled through to September, with the most recent announcement being the cancellation of the World University Championships which were due to take place in the Czech Republic in September.

So until next month, if you are lucky enough to get out shooting then do enjoy it. I would love to hear from anyone who does get out. What does it feel like to be back shooting? What has this layoff taught you? What are you working on now that you are back shooting?

Here’s to everyone staying alert, staying safe and staying well. Finally, I must say thanks to John Martin for the photo of Allen Warren that illustrates this article.

Not ready to go out yet? Here is more on shooting at home


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