Eoghan Cameron has urged people to try to put something back into shooting in 2020 in his first New Year message as BASC chairman.
Mr Cameron said the coming year would not be without its challenges but it would be a year to “replace fear with pride”.
He said: “BASC’s message for this year is try to put something back into shooting in 2020. There are so many ways you can contribute to the future of the sport. Whether you introduce someone to shooting, gift your neighbour some game or even cook it for them, lobby your local MP, encourage your friends to join BASC, do something to support Year of the Gamekeeper 2020 or take part in a conservation project – the opportunities are limitless.
“The past year was a demanding one. The general licence proved a massive challenge and there has also been increased pressure from those who oppose our way of life, with no end of political turmoil thrown into the mix. But, time after time, on issues that are crucial to shooting, our organisation has shown members that we can be trusted to deal with such pressures.
“The coming year will undoubtedly throw up more challenges but I am genuinely excited to see how we move forward in 2020.
“It should be a year to replace fear with pride. It will be a year to take the fight to the enemies of shooting as never before. It will be a year to be honest with ourselves and live up to our own high standards and ethics.
“It will be a year to drown out the cynical, dishonest anti-shooting rhetoric that spells catastrophe for the British countryside with our own clear message that shooting is a pillar of hope and positivity for rural Britain. We are rightly proud of our sport and we are here to stay.
“British game meat has never been in a stronger position thanks to the efforts of the British Game Alliance, the fieldsports organisations and you, the shooting community. Let’s continue to build on this in 2020. Game meat is sustainable, healthy and delicious and there is no end to the creative, modern and traditional ways in which it can be prepared. I’m continually dumbfounded as to why some Guns do not capitalise on it. There can be no excuse for shooting game without having any intention of eating it. Guns whose primary aim on a shoot day is to pull the trigger must step back and reconsider; there are alternatives available.
“The sport of game shooting comes with significant ethical responsibilities and to those who will not live by them, I say this is not for you.
“It is a source of huge frustration to the shooting community that the menace of raptor persecution still looms large thanks to a few reckless individuals. Prioritising themselves above all others, they treat the law-abiding shooting community with contempt. Make no mistake that they are sabotaging shooting and our community must view them through the same lens as sabs. Culpability resides also with those who would turn a blind eye or fail to highlight it. Please enjoy your shooting, but never at the expense of the sport.
“Many of us have had the privilege of growing up with shooting, serving some sort of ‘apprenticeship’ before becoming fully-fledged Guns or Rifles. Others come to the sport later in life. While they are most certainly to be welcomed with open arms, they cannot be expected to have an instant understanding of all that makes the sport so precious.
“It is incumbent on newcomers and those with experience to ensure that sporting ethics, manners, safety, technique and the many other core principles are not bypassed in the excitement of getting to one’s peg or stalking one’s first roe buck. Given the growing popularity of shooting, there is a risk that the requisite high standards fall by the wayside, inadvertently damaging the sport that we hold dear.
Do not be afraid to ask those with experience for advice. Equally, do not be afraid to coach the less experienced, or call out low standards among those who should know better.
“Shooting goes hand-in-hand with conservation and as part of that, perhaps now is the time to start looking more carefully at sustainable ammunition. It is time to bust the myths and open our eyes to the inevitability of a future in which the use of lead shot is placed under greater examination.
“So, Happy New Year to you all. Enjoy your shooting in 2020. Keep sustainability to the fore, keep game on your table and keep practicing!”