Together, we are stronger

Eoghan Cameron

Following this year’s AGM, BASC chairman Eoghan Cameron explains the vital role of the Association’s membership in the challenges ahead.

Once again, the Saturday morning sun shone as we welcomed people to BASC’s head office for our AGM. This year, two new members of BASC Council were formally announced during the meeting – congratulations and welcome to Gareth Wilson and Aidan Dryden.

I’m very lucky that my role requires me to go anywhere that could have a bearing on shooting in these islands. That can be anywhere from Stormont to Westminster, Brussels to Holyrood, Buckinghamshire to Blair Atholl. Because when it comes to shooting, we are playing giant, simultaneous games of chess in which all the pieces and all the boards are interconnected. 

There are no silos anymore – what happens in France, Botswana or Latvia can have a bearing on the UK just as much as what happens in England can have a bearing on Wales and Northern Ireland and so on. BASC has to be everywhere, and our members have to be more aware and more involved than ever before.

Leading from the front

BASC is leading from the front and fighting the battles where and when they need to be fought on behalf of the whole community. 

BASC is uniquely capable in the sector. We excel at long-range strategic planning, taking difficult and decisive action, and communication and engagement in the widest possible sense. If it’s important, we make sure the information is out there. Wherever possible, we keep our members in the loop about our activity – what we’re doing and why. When we act, we do so not at random, but in pursuit of our mission, vision and strategic outcomes.

Take a look at my personal highlights of BASC’s achievements in the annual review – this is not empty fighting talk. It’s a record of delivery where it matters most. And we will always deliver for you. But we can be so much more powerful if our community is better engaged with the issues, values results over rhetoric and realises the contributions small and large they can personally make to securing the future of shooting.

Our future defined by us

I want a future defined by us, not our opponents. That means looking ourselves in the mirror and asking – do I shoot sustainably? Who have I educated about shooting? Do I really self-regulate or would my actions and standards not withstand wider public scrutiny? What will my legacy be to the next generation? Uncomfortable questions perhaps, but if we don’t challenge ourselves in the right ways, we expose ourselves to unwanted challenge by others.

In these giant games of chess, size matters. In truth, our opponents are greater in number than us, their coffers bursting at the seams, the fanatics among them quite willing to mislead to achieve their ends. We should not underestimate them as they frequently do us. 

But we are not the 300 Spartans fighting a heroic rear-guard action only to face glorious but certain defeat. There are 150,000 of us and we don’t agree that our future will be dictated to us. The other side know by now that if they prod us in the chest, BASC will make their eyes water. Now imagine what message 300,000 BASC members would send. Just by recruiting one new member each, we would make our opponents’ size and noise count for even less. This is not fantasy land – it is achievable.

BASC membership in this day and age is as crucial as the rifle bolt to the stalker, the tide times to the ‘fowler and the pointer to the walked-up grouse shot. Those without it are not just ill-equipped, they are taking a gamble with the future. 

So my message to gamekeepers, ghillies, wildfowlers, beaters, pickers-up, stalkers, game shots, trade members and every other segment in between is: we need you and you need us. And we will never have support more valuable than that of an engaged and passionate shooting community motivated to remain master of its destiny.