NRA Charity Commission Report


Well-Known Member
Dear all,

It seems the NRA is in trouble.

3 documents make lamentable reading.

1) Charity Commission letter to the MP Adam Holloway after he requested the Charity Commission investigated the nationally published fiasco of a dispute between the NRA and Artist's Rifle Club regarding a lease renewal (Attached)

2) Detailled Charity Commission report on the NRA - lamentable reading on how the commercial and charitable aims of the NRA are not being kept separate and poor use of funds in £250k legal battles over rent increases in the thousands and questions the management and trustees experience and competency in running the organisation. (Attached)

3) An NRA journal from 2001with an account of how Bisley Shooting Ground Ltd ("BSG", who operate the sporting clay layouts) became seperated from the NRA and the NRA are now trying to throw out, seemingly after NRA bungled it as the majority shareholder in the sporting clays venture (~p.55

This all comes about after the NRA management and trustee's poor handling of the Artist's Rifle Clubs Dispute, the what appears to be a repeat with BSG and possibly refusing to let the BSRC renew its lease on the running deer and sporting rifle complex at Bisley.

My thanks to Callum Long-Collins for retrieving the Charity Commission reports

Best wishes,




Well-Known Member
Regulatory compliance case: National Rifle Association
Published 7 February 2020

Charity watchdog monitoring National Rifle Association after it breached rules by engaging in ‘recreational shooting’
The Charity Commission issued the National Rifle Association (NRA) with formal regulatory advice in May 2019 after finding the charity acted outside its charitable objects by promoting civilian recreational shooting competitions and other activities. Whilst the NRA has made progress in addressing this, it remains subject to close scrutiny by the regulator due to the seriousness of this issue.
Charities must advance their charitable purposes for the public benefit, and the Commission considers that there is only the most tenuous, if any, connection between civilian recreational rifle and pistol shooting and the NRA’s charitable purpose of promoting the efficiency of the Armed Forces for the defence of the realm.
The regulator found that the charity was promoting recreational shooting for civilians at Bisley which did not further its charitable purpose so it issued the trustees with a formal Action Plan under section 15(2) of the Charities Act.
The Plan required the trustees to review the activities and demonstrate how the charity achieves what it is set up to do. The trustees will now report to the Commission quarterly on whether participants in its marksmanship events are (a) a member of the military, police or other emergency services; (b) a former member of the military, police or other emergency services; or (c) a member of the cadet force.
The trustees must monitor the figures and measure whether their activities further the charity’s purpose. If the results show little involvement of the military, emergency services or members of the cadet forces, the Commission expects the trustees to take appropriate action.
The Commission’s clear regulatory advice is that recreational civilian marksmanship activities do not further the purpose of the charity, and, therefore, it does not consider these activities charitable. In light of this, the trustees have restructured and reorganised its affairs, in accordance with the Commission’s guidance.

Poor separation between charity and National Shooting Centre
The Commission is critical of how the charity was managing its relationship with its wholly owned trading subsidiary, the National Shooting Centre (NSC). A charity can generate funds through a trading subsidiary, however this must be managed carefully so that the charity remains focused on furthering its charitable objectives. The Commission examined this arrangement and found that it was not clear to members of the charity or the public how the two organisations were separate and independent, due to the overlapping activities. It was unclear how conflicts of interest and loyalty were managed as the charity’s CEO was the NSC’s only director and decision-maker.
In response to formal advice from the Commission, the charity has taken steps to ensure separation and independence of the two organisations, including by appointing an independent director of the NSC, restructuring its website and introducing new contracts around the NSC’s use of charity assets. Any shooting activities that do not involve sufficient participation of the military, police or cadets must be undertaken by the NSC, in order to raise funds to be spent on charitable purposes.
The trustees accept the importance of ensuring wider public understanding of the charity’s objectives, and the Commission expects this to be reflected in how they move the charity forward.

Leasing issues led to damaging disputes
The NRA lets out part of its property at Bisley to tenants and private non-charitable clubs for use as club houses and for recreational shooting. The charity has been criticised for requiring non-charities to pay market rate for tenancies. It is appropriate for charities to do this, and indeed charity law requires trustees to get the best return on commercial tenancies with non-charities. However, public trust and confidence in the charity was put at risk as a result of property disputes.
The Commission was concerned about the trustees’ lack of control over the management of the leases. In particular, processes around decision-making records, and management of lease renewals, were found to be inadequate. It told the trustees to have proper oversight of these decisions and instructed the charity to strengthen its governance around this, which it has done.
The Commission advised the charity to give sufficient notice to tenants to allow for negotiations when renewing leases, and the trustees have committed to notifying tenants at least 9 months prior to lease expiry.

Handling of complaints
The regulator also identified and advised on weaknesses in the trustees’ handling of complaints, which included members’ concerns about transparency and accountability. The Commission reminded the trustees of the importance of members’ meetings and working collaboratively to avoid any mistrust. Members should feel able to hold trustees to account for the management of their charity, so the trustees must be open and transparent as far as is possible. The implementation of a new Disciplinary Code should provide reassurance that matters can be raised respectfully without fear of reprisal.

Helen Earner, Director of Operations at the Charity Commission said:
Charity holds an important place in the public mind, and all organisations that enjoy the privilege of charitable status must act within the rules and have a responsibility to demonstrate to the public how they are fulfilling their charitable purpose. Being a charity means being driven by a mission that the law recognises as charitable, and not allowing other activities to take away from the work you have set out to do to help people.
The public also rightly expect trustees and senior leaders in charities to uphold high standards of common decency and behaviour towards all those they come into contact with. This is because charities should be distinct from other types of organisations in their motivations and methods.
We will be closely monitoring the charity’s progress in the coming months.
Progress by the charity on actions set by the Commission is set out below. The trustees must provide an update on all matters raised in the Commission’s Action Plan on a quarterly basis.

Notes to editors:
1. The regulator has not looked at individual leases, as it cannot intervene in the administration of charities, however it has provided the trustees with advice and guidance to improve the management of such situations.
2. Following the Commission’s intervention, improvements have been made to the charity’s governance including:
  • A new modernised Articles of Association of the NSC has been implemented, introducing the requirement for more directors including someone who is independent of the charity in accordance with Commission guidance.
  • A Real Estate Subcommittee is being formed that will have 3 trustees, and has terms of reference around giving advice, guidance and recommendations to senior staff, and monitoring the process of granting and renewing leases.
  • Introducing a checklist that will be used by the trustees when considering any proposed lease for approval. This checklist provides a full audit trail, including a means for recording tenders and professional and valuations advice.
  • Initiating restructuring of the charity’s website to make it clearer what activities are undertaken by the charity. Ongoing development is being undertaken.
  • Identifying the benefit of having a trustee with significant experience of real estate management, communication skills, and voluntary sector experience on their board as part of undertaking a skills matrix. The General Counsel will be taking this into account in considering vacancies at its February meeting.
  • New provisions have been added to the charity’s disciplinary code. The Commission has been clear that the management of any conflicts of interest or loyalty within that process is key.
3. The charity’s purposes, set out in its governing document, fall under the promotion of the efficiency of the armed forces of the Crown, or of the efficiency of the police, fire and rescue services or ambulance services, which is a charitable purpose set out by Parliament in the Charities Act.
4. Gun clubs were historically registered as charities on the grounds that teaching people skills of accurate shooting could be considered as a charitable purpose for the defence of the realm. In the mid-1990s the Commission reviewed the basis of charitable status of gun clubs and concluded that the training of civilians in shooting could no longer be said to promote the defence of the realm for the public benefit. Many gun clubs were removed from the register as they were not able to establish that their purpose was the promotion of the efficiency of the armed forces through the training of the military.
5. Organisations which seek to advance the sport of shooting have not been accepted as charitable in the absence of sufficient evidence that participation in the type of shooting promotes health. This was confirmed when the Charity Tribunal upheld the Commission’s decision not to register the Cambridgeshire Target Shooting Association.
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Well-Known Member
In suspect this might make Mercer's job (and, indeed, the NRA's job) a rather harder than it appears.
One of the biggest advantages a charity has is that it is to all intents and purposes tax-exempt, and can transfer any surplus made by its "trading subsidiary" (in this case the NSC) to the charity free of tax via Gift Aid.
I think that the NRA will struggle to show that it delivers "charitable purpose" unless it can demaonstrate a higher routine range use by the services than it likely achieves at present.
An alternative would be for the NRA to divert far more of the surplus from NSC to supporting services shooting, possibly through very heavily subsidised/free range use. But this might, in turn, materially reduce range availabiilty for civilians, and hence the value that NSC can get out of clubs and tenants.


Well-Known Member
Well what little relevance the NRA had to "defence of the realm" was lost in 1957.

The NRA could have adopted a timetable for its "Service Rifle" events to be within say ten years of 1957 shot exclusively with the SLR.

It didn't. Indeed it could also have allowed telescopic sights to be used over, say, 300 yards plus. But didn't.

It is it's own fault. Yet bad for us it has affected us all.

I believe had the NRA in 1988 been shooting the SLR since 1968 there would have been no self loading rifle ban.

And that had there been no "example" set in 1988 of a ban then there would have been no ban of pistols in 1996.

The NRA has in the late 20th Century obsessed with a relative high standard of marksmanship in a relatively small cohort on static targets and small scoring zones without any fire and movement.

Relevant "defence of the realm" would have been shooting self loading rifles moving or appearing and disappearing targets where a hit anywhere was the same score as a near central hit and with some fire and movement.
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Well-Known Member
Certain parallels with the RSPCA, although perhaps a different degree but both charities. Maybe tthe result of a less than pro-active Charities Commission ?


Well-Known Member
Yes, well, it's been bending the rules for years on that, I reckon.
Not in my book. Encouraging citizens to become proficient in the use of small arms can only be of benefit to military skill at arms, as it's certainly not detrimental.

Of course the NRA's willingness to throw proficiency with military style semi auto's under the bus in 1987 kinda DOES clash with their professed agenda...

Personally, I'd rather have an overloaded bladder than come to their aid should an arsonist have taken exception to them.


Well-Known Member
It's notable that before WW1 that many of the NRA events and courses of fire were relevant to then believed likely the sort of shooting skills needed in war and the type of weapons needed. Indeed with incredible premonition in 1912 the NRA sought to ban the Ross rifle from competition decrying it as being "a target weapon masquerading as a military rifle."


Well-Known Member
I'm keen to understand which NRA events/competitions will qualify for charitable status. At my reading if no members of the armed forces or cadets take part in the flagship competition it could be the Queens Price will need to be run by the NSC.

Either way expect subscriptions to increase.



Well-Known Member
Of course the NRA's willingness to throw proficiency with military style semi auto's under the bus in 1987 kinda DOES clash with their professed agenda...
If you recall their press conference at that time they only wanted to throw the AK-47 under the bus. But keep the SLR. Which quickly fell apart when a female reporter asked what actually was the difference in terminal effect?

The self-loading and pump action centrefire rifle ban another example of shooting safe under the Tories.

It it was Robin Corbett a Labour MP (in favour of the ban nevertheless) who told Douglas Hogg that if there was no compensation - the Tories' initial decision - that the ban would proceed no further in Committee.