National Association of Target Shooting Sports
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The National Association of Target Shooting Sports (NATSS), was a working group comprising representatives from 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, in addition to the absence of a coherent development ladder for British Target Rifle shooters to progress from grassroots to elite level. As such, UKSport provided funding to study the possibility of merging the three largest governing bodies. This was a complex undertaking as all three organisations had very different governance structures and financial circumstances. Both the NSRA and NRA were cash poor, though the NRA had significant facility assets in its Bisley site. The CPSA was the largest with approximately 15,000 members compared to the ~5,000 members each of the NRA and NSRA. Most notably the CPSA was and remains legally constituted as a private Limited Company whereas the NSRA and NRA are both Companies Limited by Guarantee and hold Charity status, creating significant legal challenges as to how assets and finances would be merged and managed.
Immediate reaction amongst shooters to the group 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, such as the CPSA's lack of charity status which would have required substantial restructuring to amalgamate into a new body that would be eligible for charity status.
Due to poor initial public communications, misinformation was rife with some shooters believing 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 as fanciful at best.
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 shooting in schools and in the National Curriculum
- Widening and increasing membership
- Protecting the heritage of the sport
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 shift in focus by the constituent bodies on attaining £750,000 of grassroots funding from Sport England as part of a "whole sport" funding bid by NSRA, NRA and CPSA.
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 project was shelved 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.
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