Unshakeable determination

BASC chairman Eoghan Cameron highlights the issues facing shooting in his first blog of 2023.

Don't be a passenger

We all know them. Those who shoot who do not engage with the issues facing field sports and regard membership of BASC as lower down the priorities list than a new pair of smart shooting socks. Even now, so long as personal interests in field sports appear unaffected in the short term, they happily let others carry the burden for protecting the sport.

Shooting, though, faces a choice: be held back by passengers and self-interest or be propelled forward by a unified, engaged and courageous community committed to high standards and sustainability.

Those who shoot without conscience or contribution today will find little kindness in the judgement of tomorrow’s generations.

When history is as relevant today

Speaking of the future, take stock of history. History as a source of courage rather than mere nostalgia. Yes, there are tough choices and challenges ahead of us – denying it is pointless – but we should take inspiration from the resolve of our forebears.

When Stanley Duncan founded the association in 1908, he had three clear objectives: to assist wildfowlers, to protect wildfowling habitat, and to defend wildfowling against a growing threat from extremist antis.

He knew these were not fleeting challenges and they remain as relevant to the whole gamut of field sports today as they were to wildfowling in 1908.

The late Peter Hathaway Capstick once wrote in his characteristic, no-nonsense style: “In these days of mouth-foaming Disneyism, with ten or more hours a week of thinly veiled, anti-hunting, TV wildlife shows drumming into every 12-year-old mind that man is slaughtering everything in sight in the name of horrid blood sport, it is fashionable to look upon hunters as depraved, moronic, insensitive buffoons. That the sport hunter is more responsible for wildlife conservation through habitat preservation and species management than any preservationist group is not widely understood.”

That was published some 45 years ago and yet it could have been written last week.

We are ready for the fight

The point is that constant challenges, public ignorance and misplaced hostility are not a recent evolution for field sports.

However, we ourselves continue to evolve, to educate, to fight for what we know to be right and banish the practices and people we know are not.

This is not a six-month campaign or even a six-year project; it is who we are and it is why we, a minority in society, continue to adapt and overcome despite the unsporting odds.

BASC is battle-hardened by 114 years at the front line of defending and promoting shooting on behalf of our whole community. You don’t get to be 114 years old through failure, despondency or arrogance, but through unshakeable belief and determination to succeed. Opponents of all shapes and sizes come and go, but the truth is that we’ve been at home on this battlefield far longer than most. The legacy of Stanley Duncan and others like him shows that it is courage and foresight rather than nostalgia and hope that will define the future of field sports.                                                                          

I wish you all the very best of health and success for 2023.