3800 Joule range limit

My attention has been drawn to this by someone spluttering with rage.

I can see why: not only is someone at the MoD being a bit heavy handed but this is compounded NRA seeming to be caving in as per usual. (see underlined bit.)

How can anyone propose to use ME as a universal and absolute arbiter of "range safety" without any reference to the ballistic efficiency of the projectile?

To saving you grubbing for a calculator, 3800 Joules = 2802.7ft lbs.

A 155 grain projectile driven to 2854 fps produces an ME of 2802 ft lbs or 3799Joules.

Anyone know the MV of Green Spot or Black Spot??

Muzzle Energy and the MoD

Along with clubs and individuals the NRA found itself on the back foot when we were quietly told, in a phone call from one of our Regional Members of the General Council, in the last week in October 2007 that the MoD had agreed to change the muzzle energy rates for use of their ranges by civilians from 7000 joules to 3800 joules. This news caused great consternation as effectively it meant that Target Rifle, Match Rifle, F Class and other forms of long range shooting were effectively banned on all MoD ranges and Bisley (which uses the MoD Range Danger Area of Pirbright).
Urgent discussions between the NRA and the MoD revealed that a final decision had not yet been reached, but that this was a proposal. However, to induce a bit more concern, Altcar decided to be ahead of the game and to introduce the new proposed provisions with immediate effect. This ensured that the knowledge of the proposed change was out in the general shooting community at the same time as the Association became aware, and panic ensued. At the same time as the NRA was trying to discover how serious the issue was, and what the MoD's intentions were, we were simultaneously under assault from shooters concerned at losing their sport.

In early discussions we learnt that the reason for this proposed change of policy was that when looking at the introduction of the .338 sniper rifle the Army had discovered that if fire was not precise, rounds could escape from ranges. The muzzle energy of a .338 is 6000+ joules. The MoD then carried out a general examination to find a muzzle energy figure that would guarantee rounds would not escape from ranges. On this basis they proposed to introduce the 3800 joules limit that meant, in terms of Target Rifle, 144 grain bullets were OK but competition ammunition of 155 grain was probably out.

Effectively if no accommodation could be reached most national and international long range competitions could not be shot in the UK on most ranges, including Bisley.

A series of urgent meetings took place between the Association and the MoD, to either get the limits changed upwards or find other ways of satisfying the Defence Estates concerns. We were informed that the general limit of 3800 joules would remain however, if we could propose a package of measures designed to ensure that all rounds fired would be contained by the range stop-butt, then the MoD would consider allowing civilians to shoot ammunition that exceeded the 3800 joules figure.

To give an example of the scope of this decision to reduce the muzzle energy limit one has only has to look at 'historics', the Brown Bess musket which, when fired using black powder, generates some of the highest muzzle energy figures, accepting that the ball at most travels a few hundred yards.

Even though this form of measurement (muzzle energy) is an inexact science the MoD insist that this is the way in which they will judge what firearms and ammunition can be fired on their ranges. Discussions around a different method of measuring or arguments about whether the current 155 grain bullet is 'over or under the bar' will not be worth the effort, because we have tried. We have to realise that to the military there is no 'Defence Imperative' to allowing us to shoot on their ranges.

In our discussions however they are willing to consider letting civilians shoot in excess of 3800 joules if we can put in place procedures that will ensure that all shots will hit the stop-butt.

The NRA is determined to do everything it can to ensure all legitimate shooters can continue to take part in and enjoy their sport.

To this end the Association has negotiated a months grace to allow us to put together proposals designed to meet the needs of the MoD and allow all of you who shoot fullbore to continue shooting.

The military have indicted that we need to offer 'comfort' relating to the following, Safe Person, Safe Training, Safe Practice and Safe Place, in that we have the correct procedures in place to guarantee bullets will be captured by the stop-butt.

Safe Person/Training
The military want to be assured that everyone who shoots on a MoD range is competent and safe to fire the classes of firearm they are using.

Initially this will probably require each Club Secretary or Chairman to sign off each individual as being competent and safe, identifying the types of firearms they are able to fire. If agreed the NRA will supply by e-mail and the website an agreed form of certificate for clubs to use.

Going forward it has already been indicated that training of individuals will be an issue. As previously notified the Association intends to send to all its clubs the new Probationary Training pack, originally for them to choose to use or not. As with RCO courses, it will probably become a requirement for individuals, new to the sport, to have undertaken an approved course to shoot on MoD ranges. The NRA intends to supply appropriate course material for clubs to meet this need.

In the future the NRA also believes that to make things easier for clubs and individuals that we may need to introduce a 'Shooting Logbook' so that a person's qualifications, experience and classes of firearms they are able to fire are recorded in the same document for easy production.

Safe Practice
It has been suggested that in future on a MoD range it will be necessary for civilians to demonstrate that their fire is accurate from the outset of a range day. It is proposed that if there is no 'zero range' the shoot should start at 200 yards to ensure all rifles are zeroed before moving back. This will be inconvenient and will require that everyone turns up to shoot at an agreed time to get zeroed, with the whole procedure being monitored closely by RCOs. The details of what this means in practice are still to be agreed.

In addition a strict understanding of range orders and compliance will be essential for clubs to ensure their continued use of MoD ranges.

Safe Place
MoD Ranges, as we are all aware, are strictly inspected, maintained and controlled environments. The ranges at Bisley are, incidentally, leased from the Army. As such they are inspected and certificated by them regularly and are thus controlled by the same conditions as those ranges run by the MoD. Effectively, the muzzle energy restrictions will affect Bisley in the same way as any other MoD range. Fortunately we do have zeroing facilities that other ranges may not have.

The NRA accepts that what is proposed is possibly onerous and will be seen by many as a further erosion of shooting rights. The Association, however, will be attempting to minimise the effects of these changes and trying to keep everyone shooting.

Any input from clubs and individuals to help achieve this aim is welcomed. Please contact the NRA by e-mail as we will be fully engaged on this project and are unlikely to be able to answer all your telephone calls during this period. Your input will, however, be fully taken into account. We hope that by working together and using the considerable expertise within our wider membership we can achieve a successful outcome for us all. Updates will be posted regularly on the NRA website as matters develop.


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