The First-tier Tribunal (Charity) (the Tribunal) recently decided not to recognise Cambridgeshire Target Shooting Association (CTSA) as a charity.
The principal issue was whether target shooting was a sport for charity law purposes. The "advancement of amateur sport" was introduced as a charitable purpose in the Charities Act 2006, with "sport" being defined as "sports or games which promote health by involving physical and mental skill or exertion".
The Tribunal considered that the promotion of health means "improvement in general health, including physical and mental wellbeing" and that "the physical or mental activity under scrutiny must be more than 'effort'; it must amount to 'skill or exertion'".
It found that the activities involved in target shooting were varied, and some (namely prone shooting and bench shooting involving rests) did not involve any physical skill or exertion. These formed a material part of CTSA's activities. Although there was evidence that some health benefits would arise in the case of someone moving to target shooting from no activity at all, the Tribunal determined that "more must be shown than that it is better to get out of one’s armchair in order to drive to a bench on the shooting ground, than merely to remain in that chair."
The Tribunal was similarly unpersuaded by the evidence on mental skill or exertion. Although there was some evidence to show that elite air pistol shooters had improved "neural efficiency", better concentration and improved reaction times, this could not be said to relate to target shooting as a whole.
Whilst CTSA had adduced evidence of the social benefits of target shooting, these did not amount to health benefits.
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© Farrer & Co LLP, May 2016