Whilst members of prominent shooting organisations rush around, often at personal risk in tense time of terrorist activity in Brussels, to save shooting from the EU bureaucracy. What is hapening back in Blighty. This is a story about club attitudes that often drive shooting sports into the ground.
In the NRA's Autumn 2015 journal (p.53) under the "Club Call" section of clubs looking for new members. The British Sporting Rifle Club were telling readers what they had to offer!
BSRC say that "Access is only available through membership of the BSRC. It is only by operating in this way that the club can generate funds to run and maintain sophisticated and expensive target systems"
So I decided to answer thie call and join BSRC. Or so I thought!
I filled out the form in September 2015. The club gives a 50% reduction on the membership fee of £80 for those joining after 1st October. I duly wrote out a cheque for£140 (inc the joining fee).
I sent the application off to the single address (c/o NRA) published for use in mid October. I followed up a week later to say the form was on its way.
I heard nothing.
On 3rd Nov I enquired with the secretary.
On 5th November the response was "nothing received as yet. I am at the club tonight so will double check".
On 6th November the secretary emailed "I can confirm that I have received your application, you have missed our Executive Committee Meeting (1st Nov), your application will be reviewed in January."
So no sense of urgency of the fact there was a committee meeting on 1st November. Club rules make the secretary responsible for preparing applications for the exec committee.
I was disappointed, felt let down that expectations weren't managed. Clearly BSRCs chosen postal address is not up to the job.
I was told "We also suffer from an antiquated postal system which we cannot improve as the Post Office will not deliver direct, only c/o NRA and we can only collect from there if a committee member happens to be on the range on a weekday during office hours." This excuse speaks for itself.
The upshot at this stage was that I'd paid £50 subscription to the NRA as NRA membership is a proviso of BSRC membership.
As my next chance at BSRC process was to be 10th and 24th January 2016. I had to renew NRA membership in December at the cost of £74.30. Thats a total so far of £124.30 paid to the NRA when I already have membership through another clubs affiliation. An unecessary doubling up but happy to in BSRC context.
I responded to BSRCs secretary asking how the January announcement left me and what next steps were. I didn't want to have to pay for the half year on completion of the induction process to have to renew my membership in full at April. I asked if there was anything I could I do during winter for preparation. I was considering starting again in new April membership year.
The response was a lot of excuses. The pièce de résistance as follows;
Whilst I understand that the Club is run on entirely voluntary help and the Secretary, but in her own words said she has "a full time job, a home to run and two spaniels in training! So, sometimes things don’t get done simply because personal matters have to take priority." Words fail me.
Further excuses were the running of applicants names past the police to get them 'cleared'. Clubs are only required to notify the police of those who join and those who leave or of those who have not attended during the club year. Not wait for vetting responses, a process that incidentally may be illegal under the Data Protection Act. Certificate holders have already been vetted and can actually be accepted for membership if the club wishes. It was all coming across disjointed and and disorganised.
Unbeknown to me (because they didn't send out any information, dates or a rule book) I had yet to get to the 'Secret Ballot' stage, so I puzzle at why time was wasted at the outset with the police.
The next excuse was that the secretary's own admin setup and computer all takes time. What? Three weeks my application was lying around with the secretary's full knowledge and that there was a committee meeting in November 1st with the next in January.
I raised my concerns politely about the clubs mailing address and how my expectations have not been adequately managed and the possibility that membership value and associated costs was unrequited in the delays and system failures. After all all I was required to do was attach a stamp and pop to the post box.
But as usual, people inflate, become defensive, close ranks etc. My application went back in ready for April and was promptly black balled by the committee in their 'Secret Ballot'.
Strange really as I've only met the chairman once and have never met any other committee members. Two or more whom must have black balled me as their rules require two black votes to reject transition to a 'period of probation'. I'm told the secretary abstained from voting.
Ive since found out that it's highly likely that the secretary's boyfriend is to blame through coaching the exec committee. A disgusting affair designed to spoil another mans sport.
Despite early calls to discuss by phone, no call came nor number given for me to call and show my true integrity and supportive attitude. Their rules allow prospective members to be called in but yet appeals to the chairman resulted in defensive stances against the applicant. Despite offering an apology to the secretary, which has not been acknowledged, the club refuses to see things from the applicants point of view.
If clubs put as half an effort into uniting against threats to shooting as they do to unnecessary rules we'd have a stronger position in the UK.
The Oozlum bird comes to mind.