The Cambridgeshire Target Shooting Association has lost its bid to register as a charity after the charity tribunal ruled that shooting as a sport did not require enough exertion to be a charitable purpose for the public benefit.
The CTSA arguing that shooting was a sport that required endurance, coordination, fine motor skills and focus, and therefore the group had a charitable purpose under the Charities Act 2011 - the advancement of an amateur sport which promotes health.
But the tribunal upheld the commission’s decision that shooting did not require enough skill or exertion, as specified in the act, to be considered to be promoting health.
Sandra Haskett, secretary of the CTSA, described the decision as "inconsistent and unfair". She said that Sport UK and the International Olympic Commission both accepted target shooting as a sport.
"This is a great shame for CTSA and the sport of target shooting," she said.
"We will be denied the very significant tax and other advantages of charitable status that are granted to a very wide range of sports.
"We took expert legal advice about challenging that decision and were told we had a strong case to do so – thus, we appealed to the charity tribunal."
She said the organisation was exploring other options, which she hoped would achieve some of its aims.
A Charity Commission spokesman said it was pleased with the decision. "The judgment provides guidance for the first time from the tribunal about the extent to which health benefits arising by way of physical or mental exertion must be demonstrated to justify any sport or game as charitable," he said.
In October, the High Court ruled that the card game bridge could not be considered a sport and was therefore not entitled to National Lottery funding.