It’s easy to feel as if it’s one attack after another for shooting these days. There’s the ongoing lead shot debate, a firearms law review sparked by recent terrorist atrocities, and now the latest claim that grouse moors are to blame for flooding!
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Behind the scenes our major organisations are tirelessly working to counter these challenges. There are successes too, such as the NGO’s work to help secure a landmark overruling for the gamekeeper who was refused a buzzard control licence; and the long-awaited Hen Harrier Action Plan has now been published – a big step forward in, hopefully, getting all the agencies working together to help hen harrier numbers recover.
The trouble still seems to be in getting all these positive stories, conservation successes and the benefits of shooting to sink in for the wider general public, whose misconceptions of shooting remain ingrained. This is not helped by the mainstream media insisting on trotting out old shooting stereotypes (think Downton Abbey) and the constant attacks from the antis. Even the book I am reading at the moment, which has nothing to do with field sports, resorted to describing shooting as a sport for rich bankers with cavalier attitudes; even claiming that the shot birds are buried in pits at the end of the day! This did not make for soothing bedtime reading! BASC believes we can all help to push the positive messages and the ‘real’ image of shooting out to those that don’t know any better – find out how on p61.
A similar frustration, where the reality of a situation is overshadowed by the myth, is playing out when it comes to the plight of the curlew, as James Marchington explains on p64 this month... perhaps someone should hand a copy of his article to the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett, who has described grouse moors as an ‘industrial landscape’.
Elsewhere, we’re looking at two subjects that I’m sure many of us could benefit from addressing. The first is eye dominance. Mike Yardley cuts through the conflicting advice most shooters will probably have received at some point or other to bring you a definitive guide. I still receive differing opinions from people on my own eye dominance, so I found this very insightful. And Don Brunt is asking us to take a truthful look at how well we really shot this season and whether we owe it to our quarry to improve. I know what I’ll be doing this summer then, aside from trying to rein in the tearaway cocker.