We must tell them the truth about our sport, the ed­i­tor says

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Free­dom of the press - Phill Price urges ev­ery air­gun­ner to de­fend their sport against bad re­port­ing

Many years ago a wise man told me a hard fact of life that I’ve never for­got­ten. He said that the truth doesn’t mat­ter when it comes to dif­fi­cult is­sues. It’s what peo­ple be­lieve that af­fects what hap­pens in the world. It took me a while to grasp just what he meant, but through­out my life I’ve come to ap­pre­ci­ate just how well he un­der­stood what mo­ti­vates peo­ple. If some­body you trust tells you some­thing, you’ll prob­a­bly ac­cept it as true with­out ever check­ing the facts, and of course, your friend might have been wrong all along.

The same ap­plies to the news­pa­pers and tele­vi­sion. I’ve heard peo­ple say ‘ they couldn’t print it if it wasn’t true’, but we all know that the less hon­est news­pa­pers ex­ag­ger­ate many things to help sales. They love a juicy story that will shock and tit­il­late their gullible read­ers, and re­mem­ber the old say­ing, ‘ Never let the facts spoil a good story!’


The ma­jor­ity of the UK’s pop­u­la­tion lives in towns and cities, hav­ing no first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the coun­try­side at all. I once heard some­one in a group of town­ies stand­ing be­side their shiny Range Rover on a coun­try lane say, “are those ones the horses or the cows? I al­ways get that wrong” and they weren’t jok­ing! I’ve spo­ken to many peo­ple who think that all shoot­ing is wrong, mostly be­cause the only time they ever see it is on TV or a movie, when bad peo­ple are killing good peo­ple, so they think that’s what guns are all about. Also, those raised on the Dis­ney view of an­i­mals think that they’re just like us in ev­ery way, so killing a rab­bit re­ally is mur­der.

Shoot­ing sports are un­der con­stant at­tack from those who’d like us banned from do­ing what we love, and they’ll use any and ev­ery sneaky tech­nique to achieve their aim. With this in mind, they’ll feed the mass me­dia any neg­a­tive story they can find to poi­son the pub­lic’s mind against us, at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. Ed­i­tors look­ing to fill their news pages are all too quick to use a story that sounds dra­matic, and they care not a jot of its con­se­quences. Their aim is to sell as many copies of their pub­li­ca­tion as pos­si­ble, whether the sto­ries are ac­cu­rately re­ported, or not.


This is where we come in – you and I. Ev­ery time we read an ar­ti­cle that tells un­truths about out sport we must write in and set the record straight. Lo­cal news­pa­pers are just as guilty of pub­lish­ing un­sub­stan­ti­ated ar­ti­cles that show shoot­ing in a neg­a­tive light, and are more likely to pub­lish your let­ter telling the real facts.

The cor­rect way to re­spond is to write a short and clear let­ter es­tab­lish­ing the facts and cut­ting through the lies. Ex­plain that we en­joy our sport within the law and that we are ma­ture and re­spon­si­ble peo­ple. For ex­am­ple, I once read a let­ter in which a lady said she’d seen a man shoot a rab­bit with an air­gun and she had be­come hys­ter­i­cal with dis­tress. Fur­ther, her chil­dren had been trau­ma­tised and could no longer sleep. Know­ing the land on which she claimed to have seen this ‘de­spi­ca­ble’ act car­ried out, I went for a look. She would’ve had to be sev­eral hun­dred yards away from where the man was shoot­ing, so must have had some pretty good eyes.

I wrote to the pa­per’s ed­i­tor ex­plain­ing that what was be­ing done was law­ful and eth­i­cal, lead­ing to the har­vest­ing of wild, free-range, or­ganic meat for the din­ner ta­ble. Fur­ther, the air­gun­ner was pro­vid­ing a crop pro­tec­tion ser­vice to the farmer, sav­ing his busi­ness money. Next, I pointed out that the lady in ques­tion was clearly ex­ag­ger­at­ing and that per­haps, she had an axe to grind and wasn’t be­ing wholly hon­est. I’m pleased to say that my let­ter was pub­lished in full and the lady chose not to re­spond. That took me all of 15 min­utes which I con­sid­ered time well spent.


I’m a keen sup­porter of my lo­cal Wildlife Trust be­cause of all the ex­cel­lent work they do and I re­ceive reg­u­lar mag­a­zines from them. I was shocked and sur­prised to read in one is­sue, ‘ if you see any­body lamp­ing you should call the po­lice’, even quot­ing the name and phone num­bers of the lo­cal of­fi­cers to call. I im­me­di­ately called and ad­vised them that they were wrong. They were pretty eva­sive about who was re­spon­si­ble for writ­ing such to­tal non­sense, but they’ve never re­peated the com­ment. I con­tacted the of­fi­cers named who as­sured me that they’d be speak­ing to the Wildlife Trust to en­sure that they got their facts straight.

Just think about this: If a mem­ber of the pub­lic calls 999 and says, ‘ I’ve seen a man with a gun,’ the po­lice are duty bound to send an armed re­sponse team, a process that costs thou­sands of pounds and wastes their time. Had I not chal­lenged the mag­a­zine, that in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion could have been re­peated for years.

All shoot­ers have a duty to de­fend our sport from ev­ery il­le­git­i­mate at­tack, no mat­ter how big or small. When writ­ing, be po­lite, cour­te­ous and make sure of your facts be­fore com­mit­ting them to pa­per, un­like some of the re­porters. We out­num­ber the an­tis thou­sands to one but they are bet­ter at us­ing the me­dia to suit their ends, so it’s time for us to fight back. Please, stand up for your sport with well- con­sid­ered replies that show us as the sen­si­ble, re­spon­si­ble peo­ple we truly are.

“Shoot­ing sports are un­der con­stant at­tack from those who’d like us banned from what we love”

We all have a duty to set the record straight every­time the mass me­dia pro­trays shoot­ing in a bad light

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