UK Airsoft & UKARA

Posted by Yosser H On Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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UK Airsoft & UKARA
++State of Play++YOUR Defence
OR Disarray!


Is UK airsoft ripping itself apart? Currently a lot of accusations and rumour are abound about deals and restrictive practices between organisations and retailers. So we thought we’d take a look at the underbelly of UK airsoft and try to figure out what’s happening.

Well those familiar with previous posts on the actions of UKARA will be familiar with the dysfunctional family that is UK airsoft. And that dysfunction continues in what we are seeing in the latest spats that are taking place within the UK Airsofting scene.

After the revelations that this blog helped expose on the UKARA front, many of the retailers making up the membership met up at The Grange back in November 2013 to discuss tactics and a way forward for the organisation. In their defence of the many ordinary fee paying membership of UKARA called for an elected board and chairman but sadly it is a fact that the current organisation lacks the ‘articles of association’ to force such an issue to pass and was flatly refused by those few controlling members of the UKARA board, as Frank likes to point out being a member doesn’t afford a say, just like being a member of the Automobile Association. The membership also showed its dismay over the lack of adhering to its own rules or guide lines and pointed to the example shown by founder member Zero One at the 2013 NAE event (LINK HERE)and condemned the policy of selling to wristband holders at the event, especially when members are advised about the code of conduct of ‘3 games in not less than 2 months’ rule. It appears UKARA's own rules appear flexible, although to be fair the VCRA actually does allow for sites own 'membership criteria' to be allowed for.

It now appears rumours abound of more supposed UKARA shenanigans with an instruction to retail members about not accepting any other membership scheme as a means to avail airsofters of a defence under the VCRA other than UKARA (of course!). So far it appears to be just a verbal edict (rumour)– but if anyone has anything in writing please feel free to get in touch anonymously of course!

All this came to light by Zero-Ones stance on not accepting membership of the British Airsoft Club (BAC) and now followed up by JD Airsoft’s none acceptance of P.A.S.S. (Player Approval Site System) despite them ALL meeting Govt. laid down criteria such as verifying a members address and skirmish credentials and confirming the sites 3rd party liability insurance is in place. As most will know in UK law the onus is on the seller to check and confirm a players eligibility under the VCR Act the exemption granted from the Secretary of States known to us as the ‘skirmishers defence’ and UKARA registration satisfied this criteria happily for a number of years and even helped obtain that right when the act was first written up – UKARA helped provide a central database that could be administered for the use of retailers for the purposes of distance selling and making it all easier for us UK airsofters making internet purchases. However a lot of players have fallen out of love with the system due to the apparent control UKARA are exerting within the market and talking to Govt ministers and ACPO without reference back to those who play the game – us the players over issues that affect us all, not just retailers. I have even heard many well-known & respected players within the UK airsoft community whisper the words ‘Cartel’ when referring to UKARA.

And so the status quo continues at UKARA and the voices are being raised of a cartel operating within the ranks. UKARA seem to dictate who can and can’t be let into their closed ranks and ‘controlling’ or at the very least dictating terms to its members on what is and is not acceptable as a ‘defence’ for the sale of a RIF, for want of a better word ‘protectionism’. Is the rumour of a CARTEL coming true?

I asked Frank Bothamley from UKARA for a response on some of these allegations and I have reproduced his reply below (if the reply seems a little disjointed it’s because the reply was next to each question posed in the email)….
“…method of checking by a retailer has always been the retailers discretion, ukara has never enforced any particular method.

UKARA did ask members about their views of changing membership requirements and the view was that the requirement for a premises should be removed and that if no premises then an ecommerce web site and business insurance must be present. The terms are the terms and do not change from one applicant to the next. It is an association, we are Gun Trade association members but have no say whatsoever about how it is run, I am a member of the AA and get no say in how it is run.

We are the UK and Ireland ICS distributor, to have a trade account with Firesupport has no relationship with UKARA. As a distributor our trade requirement is that you have a premises and business insurance. It is our terms nothing to do with ukara. Just like one of my distbutors saying I have to spend £5000 to get trade prices.

I have never said and never will say that you must only sell using the UKARA system to get a trade account.

I have said in the past that we only accept trade customers who are ukara retailers because for us it made it easy to check that they are a certain type of business.

As for withholding supplies that is complete rubbish

I will always be as open as I can be.

Thanks
Frank”

It’s no longer about arguing the rights or wrongs over one system or another so long as they satisfy the criteria that the UK Govt has set down under the VCRA rather than retailers stop acting like a cartel – yes it’s their necks on the chopping blocks and various systems satisfy the criteria maybe we should look at those retailers that are open and accepting of change rather than preserving a status quo that we the players have NO SAY in? Whether that be just a passive database or a player led one, but one is required for internet sales to continue. I must emphasise that NOT all UKARA registered retailers are acting this way, some are a voice for change in the industry and have called for change to happen as well as more democratically elected UKARA panel, so far change has been refused and the same controlling interests are behind the management of UKARA and things won’t change until it does at least within UKARA. The winds of change are blowing though!




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3 comments

  1. Totally agree that the hobby is tearing itself apart- players need to start giving a shit before things get worse- player apathy and a few morally bankrupt retailers are now more of a threat to airsoft than the politicians.

    Posted on April 26, 2014 at 6:19 PM

     
  2. Anonymous Said,

    Shut up with always bitching about UKARA and attempting to create mountains out of mole hills.

    This site is worse than the Mirror, hell it's worse than the Sun for all the accusations and made up shit that goes on here.

    Posted on May 4, 2014 at 8:41 PM

     
  3. Yosser H Said,

    if you dont like it - dont read it - personally i'd rather be informed than uninformed to whats going on within the politics of OUR sport (our sport not the retailers!)

    Posted on May 5, 2014 at 8:52 PM

     

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