Growing up in the shooting community and enjoying shooting as a hobby is great. I have taken great interest in it and in learning about the wildlife. It has broadened my knowledge and helped me understand more about how nature works. Something that is not appreciated, however, is how hard it can be at school.
Shooting is not the most common sport, especially in my generation. People don’t allow it to be ‘normal’. It is thought of as cruel among those who don’t have an educated knowledge about it. Quite often they aren’t afraid to say something negative about it. A lot of my teachers have pushed veganism/vegetarianism at school. The teachers have not given a balanced view of both sides. They have been biased against country pursuits. Most of the time, they do not bring up any sort of hunting views but each time they do, it is brought up as poaching and law breaking. They want to avoid upsetting people, but what about us, shooters?
This behaviour demonises the sport. I don’t mind if people have a different opinion to mine, so long as they do not force it upon me. I think that this is important as everybody is entitled to their own say.
Shooting as a hobby
For a while I kept very quiet about going shooting as I was worried about what people would say or think. Now, I am not afraid of people knowing, as I have some facts to back up my reasoning.
I think that people who enjoy country pursuits, like shooting, hunting or fishing, are seen as a minority and are overlooked. If you were to insult or offend other minority groups, action would be taken, whereas field sports are an exception. I have previously received a lot of abuse for enjoying shooting as a hobby. Now, I have had the strength not to be influenced by it.
Since I have become a Young Shots Journalist, it has become known throughout my school that I enjoy shooting as a hobby and some people have learnt to get on with it. One of my teachers has become very interested in what I have been doing and is always excited to hear about my achievements and articles.
Accepting the changing world
Today’s society is putting limitations on hunting as people’s perceptions of what is involved alter. I don’t disagree with all of the changes and regulations being put in place. My view is that in some ways the shooting community needs to smarten up its act.
I would like to encourage young people to get involved in the shooting world and pursue shooting as a hobby. By going beating, I have met so many people who have given me many opportunities. And by going to BASC events, you meet other people with similar interests. BASC competitions are a great way to get involved in the community, too.
I think that we, as country sportsmen and women, need to inspire more people to take an interest. We should be doing things like going to schools and events and giving people a well-rounded view. I think that it is important to give people an understanding of how the countryside works in all its aspects.
Nowadays most people don’t realise where their food comes from. They buy it in plastic packages and the thought of that animal being farmed does not occur to them. The idea of hunting and game shooting may sound awful to some. But they need to realise that the meat they are eating comes from an animal that has been killed in some way, too.
Local shoots and hunting on grounds nearby is one of the best ways to harvest an animal. It has low food miles, meaning that there is less carbon emissions and it is coming from local sources. Not only is it a more eco-friendly way of eating meat but venison, for example, is a lot more healthy and less processed than meats like beef and pork. The animals that tend to come under the game shooting category have a lot better quality of life than animals like pigs and chickens which are confined in sheds. Game is also very tasty – you can see for yourself on the Taste of Game website.
I think that country sports should not just be seen as a hobby but also a way of helping the environment and allowing wildlife to flourish. It is the most natural way of life.