Following the statement issued by the game shooting and other rural associations (BASC, British Game Alliance, CLA, Countryside Alliance, GWCT, the Moorland Association, NGO, Scottish Land and Estates and SACS) calling on members to engage with a phased transition over five years to using non-lead shot for taking live quarry, this BASC guide provides information for determining what non-lead cartridge is suitable for you.
There remains some scepticism of the effectiveness of non-lead shot, despite the fact that field trials comparing lead and steel shot have found no difference in the number of birds killed per shot. In Denmark, the Netherlands and Flanders, where the use of lead shot is illegal, those who shoot report no problems with effectiveness. In these areas more than 95% of those who shoot use steel shot, and that is likely to be the most popular alternative in the UK.
It is worth bearing in mind that wildfowlers in the UK have been using non-lead cartridges for more than twenty years and that British pigeon shooters have increasingly used steel as the price paid per bird has increased for those taken with non-lead shot. The development
of biodegradable wads for steel shot is a real game changer for the future use of steel cartridges.
The use of non-lead shot removes the argument that game shooting uses a toxic material, banned in many other applications, to the detriment of animal welfare, the environment and human health. Game harvested with non-lead shot will not come with a Food Standards Agency (FSA) warning, meaning it can be enjoyed by children and pregnant women and can be eaten more frequently by everyone.
This BASC guide sets out the steps you need to take to use non-lead shot. If you are in any doubt about which ammunition can be used in your gun consult a reputable gunsmith.
As members of FACE, the European association of hunting organisations, BASC is working to ensure that any EU regulations to restrict lead shot are appropriate, reasonable and easily complied with.
A member of BASC staff chairs FACE’s ammunition working group.
In the UK we are keeping the government, MPs, and other legislative assemblies informed and have held meetings in Westminster and Whitehall to brief the key people.
We are working with the cartridge manufacturers and proof houses. We are issuing advice on how to transition and will be working the necessary elements into our training programme.
Understand what the proof marks on your barrels mean, and what cartridges you can safely use.
Understand the difference between standard and high-performance steel shot and which of these you can safely use.
If you are unable to use steel shot understand the qualities of bismuth or tungsten varieties.
If you use steel shot go up at least two sizes of shot and consider opening up your chokes.
Pattern your gun/cartridge combination and practice on clays to achieve clean kills.
If your gun is not ‘nitro’ proofed, you cannot use steel shot without risking bulges appearing in the barrels, which might mean the gun is out of proof and it would be illegal to sell it. You should instead use bismuth or tungsten – see below.
With an old gun it’s worth checking that it is still in proof. This can be done by a gunsmith.
The market for non-lead shot is developing rapidly and the cost is likely to fall as demand and production increases. The development of biodegradable and other non-plastic wads/cups for steel cartridges makes it possible to shoot steel without littering the countryside with single-use plastics. The cost of steel is comparable to or less than lead. Bismuth and tungsten varieties are considerably more expensive than lead and steel. There is a wide choice of non-lead shot available for 10, 12 and 20 bore guns. The range for 16, 28 and .410 bores are more limited but expected to improve.
For more information, visit BASC’s dedicated webpage here.
Contact us on a dedicated lead hotline 01244 573 057 or email email@example.com
BASC’s Conor O’Gorman examines the Health and Safety Executive’s call for evidence in more depth and analyses what it means for shooting.