- National Association of Target Shooting Sports
The National Association of Target Shooting Sports (NATSS), was a working group comprising the representatives of the NRA, NSRA and CPSA to explore the possibility of merging the UK's three main National Governing Bodies for Target Shooting.
Shooting in the UK had been criticised by a number of funding groups including UK Sport as well as its athletes for its scattered and disparate governance structure, as well as the absence of a coherent development ladder for British Target Rifle shooters to progress from grassroots to elite level.
This concern arose despite the continuing successes of GB shooters at all levels.
Immediate reaction amongst shooters was mixed, with some embracing the possibilities that a single, consolidated organisation would bring, whilst others raised practical considerations regarding the implementation and impact of a single coherent body. These included the fact that the CPSA did not have the same charity status as the NRA and NSRA, and would require substantial restructuring to amalgamate into a new body that would be eligible for charity status.
Some shooters also thought a third party was attempting to usurp the existing bodies, which resulted in angry postings to a number of Internet forums. Resistance remained, even when it was made clear that NATSS was formed of representatives of the existing bodies. Outright hostility was barely tempered, and serious practical concerns remained regarding the nature of a merger and how such an action would be implemented, and who wanted a merger to take place at all.
Much hostility to the merger proposal arose because the NSRA and NRA are member associations, so could not merge without explicit permission from their memberships at an AGM or EGM. The NATSS steering group had no powers beyond conducting research and the project was essentially a viability study.
As the project was funded by UKSport, it was believed by the proponents there was no need to seek permission from members before undertaking the studies. The project was instigated by mutual agreement of the respective executive committees. As Sport England was funding much of the exercise, and as this was a GB-wide matter, this became contentious.
The accuracy or otherwise of the NATSS "Surveys" may be gauged by the fact that at a NRA Council Meeting, the NATSS and amalgamation proposals were Unanimously rejected.
31 July 2007
Following the "Bisley Forum" of 2007, the NATSS steering group was hosted by the CPSA on 31 July 2007, where "Performance Matters" were appointed as facilitators. Performance Matters claimed extensive experience facilitating similar mergers and restructurings for sports NGBs, but there seems to be little evidence of that available to the members of the NGBs. The involvement of Performance Matters was supported through funding obtained from UKSport and CCPR. SportENGLAND seems to have been a contributor, but this appears to be being suppressed.
However, the appointment of this organisation, and its remit, was not approved by any of the Memberships, and there has been little or no information given about the so-called "extensive experience facilitating similar mergers and restructurings for sports NGBs". Indeed, even cursory enquiries caused concerns.
It was also announced that there would be a series of regional workshops to consult with stake-holders such as firearms dealers, owners and managers of shooting centres, county association representatives, as well as shooters themselves. John Perry of the CPSA was seconded from his usual duties to work exclusively on the NATSS project as the liaison between the constituent bodies and Performance Matters.
Nine workshops were held around the UK in March and April 2008. An online survey was also made available for those unable to attend the workshops, and to reach the wider shooting community. The survey results were published on 30 April 2008.
Generally, those taking part in the Regional Workshops felt they were being presented with a "one issue" agenda, amalgamation, and all presentations questions and answers seemed to be directed with that single aim in mind.
The survey was taken by 2601 people, and unaudited reports claim that 54% thought there would be challenges and drawbacks to modernisation, with 91.4% of the opinion that on balance the benefits of modernisation outweighed the drawbacks. It was then claimed that ultimately 87.5% were in favour of a merger, whilst 10% opposed it. There is no substantiation of these figures, which are widely accepted at fanciful at best, and simply nonsense otherwise.
Questions have been raised as to the validity of the survey, as the survey permitted participants to skip questions. Although 2601 individuals participated, not all questions were answered 2601 times. For example, the question on whether the respondent favoured a merger was only answered by ~1000 participants, so, only ~35% of the participants explicitly stated support and ~4% stated opposition, with ~61% abstaining from the question entirely.
Five strategic priorities were identified from the survey:
- Protecting the sport
- Repositioning the sport in the media and public perception
- Education - target sooting in schools and in the National Curriculum
- Widening and increasing membership
- Protecting the heritage of the sport
In fact, these were not identified from the survey - they were parts of the "agenda" prior to and at the "regional workshops".
The participants were faced with one agenda from the start, amalgamation, as if it was the only possibility, and decided upon.
The results of the survey were largely validated by the feedback from the workshops, although the workshops naturally allowed more detailed discussion.
A summary of the Workshop results was released on Wednesday 4 June 2008 , and updates from Performance Matters were made available throughout 2008 and into 2009
Work on NATSS stalled in late 2008 due to a focus on attaining £750,000 of grassroots funding from Sport England as part of a "whole sport" funding bid by NSRA, NRA and CPSA, under the umbrella of GBTSF (Great Britain Target Shooting Federation) which led to confusion regarding Sport England money being administered by a group with "GB" in its title.
In fact, this was a tactical blunder by the NATSS who failed appreciate that there are four "home nations" involved in each of the shooting sports, and that, "Sport ENGLAND" wondered why it should be in effect subsidising the three others.
Following a CPSA Board meeting on 22 July 2009, the CPSA announced on 3 August its intention to withdraw from the process due to slow progress and the end of UKSport funding for Performance Matters.
Following the withdrawal of the CPSA, the NRA shelved the project indefinitely.
Whilst NATSS remains shelved, the research and survey work performed in its name continues to be a valuable resource for the constituent groups. Shooting has been very slow to modernise to the internet age, and in the wake of the NATSS project, many issues that members had repeatedly emphasised as requiring action have been taken on board – most notably in the areas of communication and public relations, with new websites and mailing lists launched.
On 18 October 2010, the NRA launched its own survey soliciting opinions from members and non-members to build on the work it has done since August 2009 and develop its strategy for the future.
Meantime, nation-wide in the Regions away from Bisley, the principal discipline of "Target Rifle" is having problems for want of range facilities because access to MoD Ranges is being made very difficult.
- ^ "31st July 2007". http://www.nra.org.uk/common/asp/content/latest.asp?site=NRA.
- ^ "Regional Workshops". http://www.nsra.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=159&Itemid=101.
- ^ "Survey Results". http://www.nsra.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=244&Itemid=101.
- ^ "Workshop Results". http://www.nsra.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=278&Itemid=101.
- ^ "May 2008 Update". http://www.nsra.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=269&Itemid=101.
- ^ "July 2008 Update". http://www.nsra.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=314&Itemid=101.
- ^ "August 2008 Update". http://www.nsra.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=329&Itemid=101.
- ^ "January 2009 Update". http://www.nsra.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=439&Itemid=101.
- ^ "February 2009 Update". http://www.nsra.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=469&Itemid=101.
- ^ "NRA Survey". http://www.nra.org.uk/common/asp/content/latest.asp?site=NRA.
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