The reluctant revolutionary

Roger Hoad is fighting for the Kent shooter

James Marchington meets Roger Hoad, the man leading a modern day peasants’ revolt against clay shooting’s governing body the CPSA

Roger Hoad didn’t go looking for trouble. It found him. There he was, quietly enjoying his retirement in a sleepy cul-de-sac just outside Canterbury, when suddenly he was thrust forward as the figurehead of a grassroots rebellion. Now he carries the hopes of Kent shooters on his shoulders as he takes on the might of the CPSA.

The turning point was earlier this year, when Kent’s county CPSA came close to being disbanded because it was unable to form a committee. As they discovered in Buckinghamshire, if that happens the county’s CPSA is shut down – no county championships, no county shooters, it’s as if the county itself had ceased to exist.

A handful of dedicated Kent shooters weren’t going to let that happen. Top Skeet shooter, Johnny Walker stayed on as vice-chairman, Roger was co-opted onto the committee as chairman and secretary, and Dave McConnachie was pressed into service as treasurer.

That might have been the end of the story – business as usual – except that Roger feels there’s something going badly wrong with shooting in Kent, and he isn’t the type to sit back and let it happen.

“I’m not a troublemaker, but I get things done,” he tells me as we sip tea in his spotless living room. “A managing director of mine once told me: ‘Change what you can’t accept, and accept what you can’t change.’ It’s good advice.”

Roger’s career saw him rise through the catering butchery trade, from cutting steaks for P&O liners to looking after a string of blue chip customers as national accounts manager. Shooting is in his blood – he got his first air rifle at the age of five, took up clays in his twenties, and fast approaching 64 he still enjoys Sporting, Skeet and Trap. He’s no threat to George Digweed, but he loves his shooting and he’s passionate about looking after the ordinary, grassroots shooter.

And that’s where Roger feels duty bound to make a difference. “Not many years ago the Kent County Sporting Championship got between 150 and 200 entries. This year it was held outside the county, and we had just 34 entries. So far this year we’ve had seven county championships, and the total entries for all of them is 96.”

Those are the headline figures to a deeper problem. Throughout Kent, leading shooting grounds are turning their backs on the CPSA, refusing to run registered shoots. Roger puts it down to an inflexible, dictatorial approach that makes it impossible to run registered shoots profitably. “Dartford ran a shoot recently and had to turn away regular customers who weren’t members of the CPSA. It cost them £800,” he explains.

Roger is tackling the problem using principles he learned in the catering business. “I’m finding out what the shooters want, and then I’ll do something about it,” he says. “The first thing was they weren’t getting a county write-up in the CPSA magazine. We’ve dealt with that; the next thing is to bring the Kent championships back to Kent.”

To do that, he’s prepared to kick the CPSA into touch. “We can run our own championship here in Kent, as a non-registered event. The CPSA may not like it, but the shooters will – we could easily get 150 entries again.” From the opinions Roger has canvassed so far, his plan seems to have massive support. It’s certainly caught the CPSA’s attention: just minutes before my visit, CPSA chief executive Nick Fellows called Roger to arrange a meeting.

“I’m not shouting and ranting,” Roger says, “just politely explaining how things are. I’m not on some big crusade to bring down the CPSA, but they need to remember they belong to the members, not the other way around. They need to listen to what shooters want.”

Since our meeting with Roger we have been informed that the CPSA has changed its rules on registered shoots. See the website for more details.

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