Try BASC’s sustainable ammunition days

Dr. Peter Marshall

Dr. Peter Marshall

Dr. Peter Marshall is BASC's head of training and education, and an experienced shotgun coach and instructor.

Following the joint announcement from shooting and rural organisations of a voluntary transition away from lead shot for live quarry shooting over the next five years, BASC is kickstarting new initiatives to help members and the wider community. Leading by example, we have launched a series of sustainable ammunition days providing bespoke opportunities to members.

The aim of sustainable ammunition days

BASC’s sustainable ammunition days provide members with the opportunity to try non-lead loads and understand more about their shotgun’s capability.

Pilot training course

The pilot training course took place over two days at the end of June at Oakedge shooting ground in Staffordshire. The premise of the session was to inform members of the current availability and to allow them to have-a-go alongside BASC staff and coaches, while abiding by current Covid-19 guidance.

The sustainable ammunition day provided ample opportunity to dispel the many uncertainties surrounding steel shot alongside BASC experts.

The order of the day

Abiding by the current guidance, all attendees turned up in pairs and the day started with a shotgun check by the coaches.

BASC experts provided an explanation of shotgun capabilities with non-lead shot and the ammunition that was available for trial on the day.

For the pilot sessions, attendees had a selection of Ely, BioAmmo and Jocker in the following loads:

ManufacturerCartridgeCartridge caseShot typeLoadwad
EleyVIP Pro Eco wadRecyclableSoft Iron28gOrganic materials
BioAmmoRex SteelCompostableSoft Iron28gCorn Starch
JockerBio Sport CompetitionRecyclableSoft Iron21gPaper

Each attendee took several of each type of shell and headed off to the simulated game layouts to try them.

Results from the simulation

All the cartridges were given high praise by the participants, much to our surprise. The lead debate has been ongoing for decades and we were expecting some push back from participants.

  1. 93 per cent of participants said the loads were effective on clays.
  2. 97 per cent of participants were confident in using steel shot now on game or clays. Two participants still had concerns about the cost of steel loads in the future.
  3. 92 per cent of participants had no concerns about using steel shot once they had tried it.

Thankfully, BASC staff have the scientific expertise and first-hand knowledge to have handled any questions that could have been brought up. The sector has had 40 years to develop steel loads and, in that time, they have come a long way.

Summary of the trial sustainable ammunition day

The two-day event was aimed primarily at BASC members and provided some member interaction as England comes out of lockdown. The event was a sell out and attracted an assortment of attendees including game shooters, wildfowlers, pigeon shooters, ladies, young and old, experienced, and inexperienced.

Future sustainable ammunition days

BASC has big plans for the full roll out of this course over the coming months and years. It exists to provide the practical certainty that the voluntary move away from lead shot for live quarry shooting will future proof our sport.

This course will continue to be updated as and when new products come to market. Research and development of sustainable loads has increased exponentially over the last few years and we will continue to welcome all new cartridges to our courses.

Some quotes from the feedback forms

“Yes, the shot is effective and breaks the clays well, although some of the loads were a little more punchy than the usual lead shot.” – Terry-Anne B.

“For my level of shooting it did not make a great deal of difference. It certainly did not make it worse.” – Michael H.

“Hard hitting, accurate, equal, or better than lead.” – Peter B.

“I found no difference when shooting clays, would like to try on game.” – Sean A.

“No real difference between the two, walking away with a new favourite brand.” – Sam G. 

“I want to move to steel and biodegradable for game shooting.” – Peter F.

“It is just a question of getting to know the cartridge and get some practice with them.” – Simon E.

“Already have confidence in steel shot and have no concerns about the future.” – Ian C.

“I was worried before because you see a lot of mixed opinions both good and bad. After trying them I will be changing over.” – Mathew H.

“Excellent, the steel shot cartridges performed very well. I was particularly impressed with the quality kills.” – Richard A