Shooting Gazette - - This Month -

Shoot­ing has long been a tar­get for dis­senters and the ex­plo­sion of so­cial me­dia over the past decade has given them a plat­form.

Ev­ery sport has its prob­lems but just when we’re turn­ing a cor­ner, there’s some scan­dal that knocks us back. Wildlife crime, rap­tor per­se­cu­tion... as iso­lated as it is, it has given our vo­cal op­po­nents just what they need. And we all get tarred with the same brush when th­ese shock­ing and dis­ap­point­ing acts are com­mit­ted. Of the 5,000 game­keep­ers in the UK, a hand­ful have let us all down. A frac­tion of 1%. It’s like say­ing a shoplifter is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of all who use a su­per­mar­ket.

Th­ese ‘he­roes’ have the abil­ity to gal­vanise a move­ment, giv­ing an­tis a fo­cus and a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to air their mis­guided views. Hand them an ipad and a Face­book ac­count and you have the per­fect storm. Ev­ery­thing they read on so­cial me­dia be­comes a truth, the story is ma­nip­u­lated, shared and shared again. Be­fore long, it be­comes a fact and we’re once again try­ing to de­fend the low ground.

This is demon­strated by the re­cent de­ba­cle in Wales and the ban­ning of shoot­ing on NRW land. De­spite hun­dreds of supporting re­view pa­pers prov­ing the ben­e­fits of shoot­ing and an ini­tial ac­cep­tance by min­is­ters, they chose to bow to the vo­cal mi­nor­ity of on­line ac­tivists. And Eng­land, Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land will be next. The ob­jec­tors are en­er­gised and have a sense of moral jus­ti­fi­ca­tion – they’ll suc­ceed un­less we act. Now!

What we need is a joined-up ap­proach. All our or­gan­i­sa­tions must come to­gether, sit around a ta­ble and com­bine tal­ent, re­sources and man­power to for­mu­late a plan of at­tack. The NRA in the US is a fear­some lobby, a po­lit­i­cal mon­ster made up of count­less smaller or­gan­i­sa­tions that once all beat their own drums. By com­bin­ing their ef­forts they now have a loud voice.

I doubt we’ll ever have our own hero. We have a few celebrities but would they put for­ward to spear­head our fight? In the mean­time, we only have our­selves. If you have so­cial me­dia, write a sta­tus, tweet, come out in vo­cal sup­port of the sport we all love, share posts that high­light the fan­tas­tic work our game­keep­ers do, lobby your MP, write to BASC and in­sist they start work­ing with other or­gan­i­sa­tions. Make your voice heard.

Re­mem­ber, in the mid1990s hunts were warned that they were walk­ing blindly into a ban. They acted too late and in 2004 it all changed for them. We’re not walk­ing blindly but crawl­ing on our knees. We all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to act.

Jonathan Davis, by email

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