We will not know the dates for all these stages as the timing must be led by the decisions of both government and other industries.
Our over riding concern will be the safety and health of those taking part in the sport and their wider group of family, friends and work colleagues, however hard it may seem to accept, HFT is not truly essential.
Social distancing is still key as is hand hygiene, and of course if anyone suspects they might be COVID-19 symptomatic they must follow government instructions and isolate at home.
We are nearly at the stage where clubs can consider allowing individuals to go back and shoot at their club ranges. The latest government guidance (OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy) has a staged recovery plan, Stage 1 applies in England from Wednesday 13th May and allows for outdoor sport such as tennis and angling, it does however rule against using outdoor gyms and playgrounds due to the commonly touched surfaces, HFT falls somewhere between these two classes of activity, the government cannot set rules for every sport so it is down to ourselves to make sensible risk assessed judgements when planning our return as well as staying alert to risk when and where our return should occur.
We are lucky that ours is an outdoor sport and it is known that the virus does not survive as well outdoors as it does indoors. For this reason, if indoor facilities such as club houses can be kept locked off that will avoid these higher risk areas.
Common contact points and infection risks will need to be identified and addressed:
- CROWDING – a suitable booking system to manage numbers needs to be agreed so those attending are able to practice the 2m distancing rule and respect the distancing of others, failure to do this should be viewed as seriously as a breach of gun safety.
- PEGS - have slightly narrower fixed pegs so each competitor can just carry a pipe (450mm long plastic drainpipe) that drops over the peg and which the competitor carries with them
- STRINGS -Course setter ties each reset string to the base of the peg so the string will only need to be hooked and pulled to reset the target rather than wrapping around the competitor’s hand until the slack is taken up
- MATS - All competitors use their own mats (those in the same household can obviously share)
- DOOR HANDLES AND GATES - Any doors or gates that will require opening frequently should be permanently held open
- POSITIONAL SUPPORTS - Have each competitor use sanitizer hand gel following any supported positional to immediately sanitize hands. Alternatively, all positionals shot unsupported for the short term.
- GENERAL HYGIENE – the course setter or club committee / organiser will ensure the course is clean and fit to be used before competitors arrive.
Looking to the future we are some months away from large regional or in particular national competitions as these will require a broader infrastructure to have returned including restaurants and hotels, based on the latest published government guidance UKAHFT are clear that this will not be before mid-July at the earliest. This sadly means that rounds Round 3 and 4 at Rivington and Emley will not take place.
As previously mentioned any monies already paid to UKAHFT for pre booked but now cancelled rounds this year will be transferred as credits against next year, if the shooter needs to have a refund please contact Pete Sparks but I am sure you appreciate that UKAHFT has already had to spend money on buying badges and trophies for this year.
Above all else look after yourselves and those around you.