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Shoot­ing has never been un­der greater scru­tiny,” Si­mon Hart MP warned at West­min­ster Kingsway Col­lege at the launch of the Bri­tish Game Al­liance (BGA). He had two key mes­sages; first that we must all agree that every bird shot has to en­ter the food chain and se­condly, that if we don’t start reg­u­lat­ing our in­dus­try, the state most cer­tainly will.

In many ways it is that omi­nous truth which has brought about the cre­ation of the BGA. As for­mer Bar­bour model, crack Shot and board mem­ber Lord Percy em­pha­sised: “If there wasn’t a pretty ma­jor is­sue you wouldn’t be here, nor would there be a need for form­ing the Bri­tish Game Al­liance.”

BGA founder Tom Adams, a young en­tre­pre­neur­ial South African Cirences­ter grad­u­ate, de­scribed the two is­sues as “com­ple­ment­ing each other, pro­vid­ing the car­rot of a great game mar­ket and the stick through reg­u­la­tion and au­dit­ing”.

Fash­ion­able

We have prob­a­bly all heard ru­mours of sur­plus game be­ing buried or burned, which are shock­ing to the naive. The con­sen­sus, of course, is that this is a man­i­fes­ta­tion of “big bag cul­ture” and it’s be­come fash­ion­able in cer­tain quar­ters to say “oh, 150 is quite enough for me”.

The fun­da­men­tal is­sue is that “big days” are big busi­ness and the bedrock of many ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. It isn’t just that they pay the keep­ers’ wages but the trickle-down ef­fect is huge — pints in the lo­cal keep pour­ing and ho­tel beds are filled. So the sport is a ne­ces­sity. Pleas­ingly, it is a growth in­dus­try and yet, as we all know, it has a huge prob­lem.

The sug­ges­tion that “if a bird is not go­ing to be eaten, it can­not be shot” will not seem par­tic­u­larly pro­found to read­ers of Shoot­ing Times but, with the col­lapse of the game mar­ket and the is­sue of the grow­ing num­ber of pheas­ants and par­tridges put down, what hap­pens to game is be­com­ing a chal­lenge for all of us, dou­ble gun­ner and hedgerow pootler alike.

Field to fork

The good news, as we all know, is that we have a prod­uct that is well treated, free range, nat­u­ralised and has a far bet­ter life than the three-quar­ters of

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