We’ve all had a bit of a breather since the Annual Conference in March: it took a huge amount of effort to organise in a few short months but, judging by the very positive feedback, it was well worthwhile and will be repeated next year. We’d really appreciate your feedback on the event – was it worthwhile for you, did you enjoy it, what could we improve for next year.
But we’re back in the saddle now with news to report on a couple of fronts.
The UKPSF issued guidance on non-frangible rounds after the conference and has been in correspondence since with the Home Office and ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers). The most recent reply from ACPO dated 27 April 2015 that makes the position very clear:
“…as paintball markers are only designed to use frangible projectiles, they are unlikely to cause serious injury and would not be classed as “lethal barrelled”. That being so, they are not classified as firearms for the purposes of control under the Firearms Act 1968, as amended.
“…proposing to use paintball markers making use of non- frangible ammunition would have serious implications for the paintballing community, as I have no doubt that this would mean restrictions on the possession and sale of any paintball markers which were considered to be “lethal barrelled” by virtue of the 1968 Act.”
The letter goes on to say that independent testing should be conducted to determine whether ammunition is frangible and hence remain outside the Firearms Act. The UKPSF guidance in respect of rounds other than conventional paintballs is that they are outside the definition of frangible until such time as ballistic testing demonstrates otherwise.
Allowing the use of such rounds runs the clear risk of paintball markers being re-classified as lethal barrelled weapons, bringing their sale and use within the Firearms Act and effectively killing the sport at large.
The UKPSF has advised the importer of some such rounds of the ACPO correspondence and of the need for independent ballistic testing to be undertaken. The importer has agreed to contact the manufacturer.
Until the outcome of such testing is known, the UKPSF’s position remains that such rounds should NOT be used because, in law, they turn a paintball marker into a firearm.
Good progress has been made developing an online membership system, which will be fully automated and web-based, enabling new and renewing members to enter their details, upload a photograph and pay online. Once their details are uploaded and any fees have been paid, the member will receive a membership card by email to print out (and laminate if they wish) that will show their name, address, membership number and photo ID.
The card will also include a QR code that can be read by any QR reader enabling event organisers, retailers, clubs and sites to check membership details.
The system will allow a variety of online payment methods (credit and debit cards, Paypal and direct debit).
The back office element of the system is already in place and work is in hand to develop a user-friendly front-end system that will be integrated into the UKPSF website. This is unlikely to be available until the end of June as we also need to re-do the main website to comply with the latest Google requirements (mainly that the website functions effectively on tablets and smart phones).
Many thanks due to Paul Grover and Alan Craggs of Skirmish High Wycombe for their work developing the system and to Jock McCracken, and Kayleigh Stanton from the UKPSF Council for their efforts making it all happen.
Getting paintball recognised formally as a sport in the UK has been a long-standing ambition of the Federation, as it will hopefully help raise public awareness of paintball as a sporting discipline. Such increased awareness and understanding has the potential to lead to greater participation, mainstream media coverage, access to development funding and, in the long term, even inclusion in multi-activity sport events (such as the Olympics).
We have met with a board member of Sport England who has and will continue to provide advice on how to proceed. A key aspect of formal recognition is demonstrating the health benefits of paintballing because Sport England is judged by the impact its activities have on the nation’s health.
On the advice of the board member, we have approached a university with a faculty of sport and medicine with a view to post-graduate research being undertaken to assess the health benefits of what we know can be a physically demanding sport. A meeting has been arranged with the university for later in May to explore what may be possible.