Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Has it really been a month?

Thanks first of all to Karen Jones for giving me a kick up the backside and here is the first blog post for a very surprising month. I won't bore you with the pathetic reasons I've been giving myself, because what they amount to in the end is pure idleness.

So what's been happening?

The date for Circadian Trust's withdrawal from the Outdoor Complex is getting closer every day, but it's still too soon to go public with the details of what is going to happen.

Meanwhile, let me tell you about the economics of being a starter. You may have spotted that the starters get together at the end of each meeting and put together their claim for the cost of the shots we've fired off. Over the years the price per shot has gone up slowly (perhaps a bit too slowly) and now we charge 50p per shot. Which sounds a lot, I guess, but then the other costs have to be borne by the starters themselves.

Guns are the major item of course. And the economics of the basic revolvers that we use are a bit weird. To buy a gun like ours will set you back somewhere between £300 and £500. Once you've obtained them - and that isn't easy - they become absolutely worthless. The law is such that you are not allowed to sell them to anyone. There are two options: hand them in to the police who will destroy them - give them to UK Athletics via a recognised gun dealer for the use of another starter.

UK Athletics does hand over guns to new starters. But there's a catch. To be given a gun you have to be a Level 3 starter and a have a firearms license. But you can't become a Level 3 starter unless you have a gun. Nor will the police give you a license unless UK Athletics say you can have one. How you get out of this I have no idea.

You have to have a firearms license, which will set you back £60 nowadays. It also gives you a license to buy and transport the black powder you will need to make the ammunition you will be firing off.

Oh - didn't I say that you have to make your own ammunition? To do that you have to have a special bit of kit, which in my case lives in the garage.

And now there's a twist. Black powder explodes with smoke but no light. To make the flash that timekeepers like we add "flash powder" to the mix. Until recently you could buy this without a license. Now the government - or whoever is in charge of these things - has said we have to have a license. Cost - wait for it --

------- £660.

Maybe 50p a shot isn't so much after all.

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