The Charity Commission has rejected an application for charitable status from the Cambridgeshire Target Shooting Association on the grounds that it was not established exclusively for charitable purposes.
The CTSA, which acts as a county association, administers small-bore target-shooting leagues for its affiliated clubs and their members and runs a shooting range.
It has the objects of promoting participation in healthy recreation, the advancement of education, the relief of disabled people through participation in target shooting and the development of skill in target shooting so people would be "better fitted to serve their country in the armed forces, territorial army or any other organisation in which their services may be required in defence of the realm in times of peril".
The CTSA said in its application that target shooting promoted health because participants needed to have such attributes as upper-body, arm and lower-back strength, flexibility, a slow heart rate and improved balance.
But a decision document published on the commission’s website yesterday says that although the activity involved physical and mental skill the regulator was not convinced that target shooting itself promoted health.
The regulator concluded that although the defence of the realm was a recognised charitable purpose for the public benefit, it was not established that encouraging skill in target shooting would promote this.
"After detailed consideration in 1993, the commission determined that the purpose was not charitable if there was no connectivity between target shooting and the defence of the realm," the document says. "There is no evidence to show connectivity here, so that this purpose cannot be accepted as charitable."
The commission did conclude, however, that the association’s objects concerning the promotion of inclusive target shooting and education could be considered charitable.
The regulator found that there was no "overarching purpose that could be said to be charitable for the public benefit".
The private benefit to members in participating in competition and recreational activity was not incidental to furthering its charitable purpose and these benefits militated against public benefit being demonstrated, the commission’s decision document says.
"Although the commission recognises target shooting as a sport that involves physical and mental skill, it was not satisfied it had been sufficiently demonstrated that the activity itself promotes health," the document concludes.
"Accordingly, it could not be considered charitable either under the description of purpose of the advancement of amateur sport or under the common law purpose of the promotion of community participation in healthy recreation.
"In consequence, the commission concluded that CTSA is not established for exclusively charitable purposes for the public benefit."