NEW BASC chief executive Ian Bell has spoken of his desire to demystify shooting in order to broaden its appeal to the general public.
In his first interview since taking over at the head of the UK’s largest shooting organisation, Mr Bell said one of his priorities will be to identify innovative methods which raise awareness of shooting and its benefits.
“We must educate people as to what it is we do and why we do it,” he said. “We must highlight the benefits we bring to the UK economy and the benefits we bring to the countryside. While not all may agree with us, they will understand us better and I think that's important.
“I am keen that we reach broader and wider parts of the population than we have done routinely in the past.
“I would love to see many more people who might not traditionally think about shooting getting involved in the sport; whether they eat the game meat, understand more about what we do, help out with the conservation or actually actively get involved on a shoot day.
“There are an awful lot of things people can do that will make them part of the wider world of shooting. The more we can broaden the appeal and understanding of shooting, the more our voice will be heard.”
Mr Bell has also spoken of the importance of BASC working closer with other rural organisations to present a more unified front, especially on key issues such as raptor persecution and maintaining standards.
“There are a number of major challenges for shooting in the months and years ahead,” he added. “One of the things we must do as shooting organisations and as individual Guns is to practice what we preach.
“We must maintain our very high standards and convince people that we really are committed to enhancing our natural habitats. The actions of the odd one or two that appear in the press should be seen alongside the commitment of everyone else who does not wish to tolerate bad practice.
“BASC’s membership has hit record levels and it is clear that if we have a large proportion of the shooting population all focused and asking BASC to lead on their behalf, then our voice becomes stronger and we really get across the messages that we want to get across.
“An awful lot of people have put their trust in BASC and it's down to us to deliver on that. But we also want to work with sister organistions in the rural community to deliver for shooting and conservation.
“BASC and many other organisations are very clear. We must continue to take robust steps in order to ensure there is no hiding place for illegal activity and bad practice.
“The Code of Good Shooting Practice, which we have signed up to with other organisations, describes a way that those involved in shooting should operate. We should be encouraging compliance with that code so that those people who look to us to show leadership are very clear that we maintain and promote the standards that will be crucial to shooting’s future.”
BASC chairman Peter Glenser said: “BASC’s council is delighted to welcome Ian on board and excited to see how he will continue to connect the association with its members while also delivering on the strategy that will steer shooting through the many challenges ahead.
“We are confident that Ian’s passion as a shooting man and his clear leadership skills will enthuse staff and members alike to ensure that BASC stays fiercely committed to representing the interests of shooting.
“Council would also like to put on the record its appreciation of Christopher Graffius, who has selflessly undertaken the role of acting chief executive for more than a year and a half and hands over with the association enjoying its highest membership on record and perfectly positioned to ensure we remain the voice of shooting.”
Read how Ian Bell's father stoked the life-long passion which saw him take up the biggest job in shooting.