Morally, I have no problem with shooting game.

That isn’t to say I enjoy killing for the sake of it, but when I shoot a rabbit or pigeon for example, I don’t feel guilty.

The love of the sport for me comes from the thrill of the chase; the satisfaction of finally, after hours of waiting, having the reward of a fat rabbit to take home.

I usually eat what I shoot. If I don’t waste it, what’s the problem?

Most people tend not have a problem with it. However, what many do have a problem with and which is something that has been widely covered in the shooting press recently, is the level of waste and increasingly disrespectful attitudes surrounding large driven shoots.

Personally, I think driven shoots are a fantastic force for good in the battle to conserve our countryside and the ways of life it sustains. However, instances across the country, including some local to me, of Guns not even taking a complimentary brace of birds home is plainly wrong and risks a ban on the sport altogether, brought about by people ignorant of shooting’s benefits.

At a time when many in our country are going hungry, the waste of thousands of good-eating birds combined with the money tied into large shoots, is presenting an elitist image, severely detrimental to the wider sport and its participants.

In contrast to rough shooting, where the sole purpose is the meat you end up with, some critics may argue that large shoots are participating in industrial scale killing in which the thousands of birds shot are simply a by-product that can’t be disposed of fast enough.

And this highlights the root of the problem. What’s needed isn’t more places to distribute the meat which would otherwise be wasted but rather a change in attitude.

Perhaps large shooting estates should consider moving away from such large bags of birds, instead endorsing a more sustainable form of the sport which advocates the skill of the hunter and a respect for the hunted. By doing this, the fantastic conservation associated with driven shoots which makes them so valuable can finally get the publicity it deserves.

Small driven shoots are a test of skill and bring groups of like-minded people together in a form of sustainable shooting. These are the values larger shoots could be adopting.

There will always be those who strive to take away our right to participate in the sport we love. Let’s not give them grounds to do so.

If estates produce a smaller number of challenging birds in combination with greater competition between sportsmen, those skilled enough will continue to participate. This may also encourage more rough shooters into driven shooting.

In order to conserve our sport and the lifestyles it maintains, it must become far more sustainable or risk extinction. Large estates would therefore be wise to move towards this, as putting money into a more manageable form of driven shoot would be a good investment for the future.

It’s not about the numbers of birds you shoot; it’s about the challenge they present.

Euan Trower

I’m a 19-year-old student from rural Devon. I currently study history and politics at the University of Warwick. I’m a keen shooter and conservationist who cares deeply about the countryside. I spent most of my childhood outside with friends, building dens, climbing trees and exploring the countryside which felt like an uncharted wilderness. A fundamental part of my growing up was learning how to use guns and knives responsibly; I now respect them as essential tools. I didn’t learn hunting as a cruel, outdated endeavour; I find it is a way to maintain the bond between countryman and countryside. However, this way of life is threatened by increasingly intolerant views based on simple misunderstanding. For many the countryside is redundant, hunting is cruel and the people who live there nothing more than tourist attractions. I would like to change this view.

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