News of a second lockdown will be painful for many but altogether unsurprising. It will be tough, and 2020 will certainly go down in history as a monumentally challenging year, but together we can fight through it.
From the first restrictions introduced all the way back in spring, BASC has been working, alongside our partner organisations, to ensure shooting has a clear strategy to continue within the guidelines set by the various governments. Our country-specific Covid-safe shooting documents shows us leading by example. The granting of an exemption from the rule of six prior to lockdown was a case in point for the extensive work that has been undertaken by the organisation.
The government’s decision to lockdown England for a month, starting 5 November, is a shock for our community, just as it is for so many other sectors, but we are working tirelessly to ensure its impact is not insurmountable. Our efforts across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland focus on ensuring all shooting is free to operate as soon as possible.
Unprecedented is perhaps the most overused word of 2020, but not in our nightmares would we have envisaged such circumstances this time last year. We are a shooting organisation made up of passionate shooting people, many of whom have had their seasons and hard work interrupted by Covid. Being forced to write that shooting as we know it cannot take place in many formats is distressing.
Since Boris Johnson’s announcement on Saturday, BASC has been in communication with ministers, MPs and civil servants to understand fully what the following month means for shooting. With reluctance, and like the Wales ‘firebreak’, we have had to accept the government’s lockdown decision and have produced the following advice.
We know that shooting can take place in a Covid-secure manner, we know that it is fantastic exercise and beneficial to our physical and mental health, but we also must respect the seriousness of Covid-19. And we must play our part and comply with the laws.
Looking ahead, the focus must remain on ensuring businesses and livelihoods connected to shooting can resume as soon as possible. BASC has seen success in securing a level playing field for shooting businesses, our lobbying work for grants in Scotland earlier this year is a prime example.
The resilience shown by individuals and businesses has been inspirational. Having spoken to dozens of concerned members I know many are facing personal problems. Fortunately there are organisations such as the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust and RABI who exist to talk and help those in rural industries. Our respect for these organisations who have continued to work at such an extraordinary level throughout the pandemic could not be higher.
There are undoubtable physical and mental health benefits for getting outside with our gun, and enjoying the sights and sounds of our wonderful countryside. For me personally it is a gateway to freedom, space to think and a form of exercise. I ask that those who are able to work within the guidance, stay safe, and protect yourself and shooting’s reputation so that we can all get out again.