New research from the University of Northampton has provided a much clearer, evidence based picture of the social impact of participation in driven game shooting (DGS) in the UK. Dr Tracey Latham-Green, who had never previously been involved in any form of game shooting, field sports or activities opposed to these pastimes, completed the PhD study between 2017 and 2020. The study was independently funded from the departmental budget surplus of the University of Northampton’s Directorate for Research, Impact and Enterprise, receiving no external funding from any organisations, and consisted of seven field visits to different sizes and types of shoots, both commercial and not-for profit syndicates or club shoots, along with 45 in-depth interviews with the full range of participants in DGS including beaters, pickers-up and guns. This allowed production of a detailed questionnaire which yielded a very comprehensive quantitative dataset of 2424 survey responses suitable for analysis.
The evidence indicated that:
- Driven Game Shooting (DGS) creates strong social networks, derived from rural and heritage identities. These networks help reduce loneliness and can provide support in times of need, such as following a close bereavement, or during the covid-19 pandemic.
- Participation in DGS, especially for older individuals who had retired from work, provided a sense of purpose, which is associated with positive health benefits.
- Regular exercise, particularly for beaters and pickers-up, was another key positive benefit, potentially impacting both mental and physical well-being.
- Taking part in DGS in any capacity has a positive impact on participants' mental health and well-being, measured using the short Warwick-Edinburgh mental well-being scale (SWEMWBS) compared to national data, which was found to be statistically significant using recognised testing methods. Membership of a syndicate enhanced these mental well-being benefits.
- All of the shoots visited in the study complied with best practice and standards however, individuals expressed concern that poor practice by rogue shoots could negatively impact their ability to take part in DGS.
- Individuals felt their lack of social media expertise hindered their ability to challenge misconceptions regarding their hobby on social media platforms.
Dr Latham-Green said “This study provides a unique insight into the social impact of participation in driven game shooting in the UK for all of those who take part, not just the paying guns but also the beaters, pickers-up and others involved and considers the social impacts of both commercial DGS participation and participation as part of a not for profit syndicate shoot, an area not previously explored in detail. I encourage anyone who is interested in the results to read the executive summary of the study.” The executive summary can be downloaded here. The full 420 page PhD will shortly be available at the University of Northampton's research repository here or at the British Library Thesis repository here.