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Follow the code

The Code of Good Shooting Practice has been updated this year, and we should all be familiar with it and abide by it, says the Countryside Alliance's director of shooting, Adrian Blackmore.

We should be proud of our shooting sports as the United Kingdom has something that is extremely special, and the envy of game Shots throughout the world.

Game management has helped shape and enhance our landscapes for many generations, and that management is now involved in some two thirds of the rural land mass of the United Kingdom.

Within that area, nearly two million hectares are actively managed for conservation, with the equivalent of 16,000 full-time jobs spent on that conservation each year. Two million hectares represents approximately 12 per cent of our rural land, which is more than 10 times the total area of all our national and local nature reserves.

As a result, wildlife thrives where land is properly managed for game shooting – a sport that is worth £2 billion annually to the UK economy. Over one million people are involved, and many more enjoy the end product as consumers of pheasants, partridges, red grouse and other wild game. What is more, the contribution that shooting makes to the rural economy is considerable, and frequently at a time and in places where other sources of income are few and far between. For many communities, it really can be the main economic driver.

The considerable environmental, economic and social benefits of game shooting are far too important for them to be jeopardised either by unacceptable management practices undertaken on any shoot, or by the behaviour of those taking part; it is the responsibility of all those that shoot to ensure that any activity that could bring our sport into disrepute is stopped immediately. Choosing to ignore them is not an option, as that would be the next worst thing to condoning them.

The Code of Good Shooting Practice was first produced in 2008, and it embodies fundamental respect for the quarry species, care for the environment, and consideration of others. It is a shoot manager's legal responsibility to ensure that the shoot and its employees comply with the law, and Guns must also comply with the law insofar as it affects them, whether it is with regards to the regulations restricting the use of lead shot, or knowing what can, and cannot, be shot. The regulations that have to be complied with are listed in The Code, but in addition to these, advice is also provided that needs to be followed in order both to deliver sustainable shooting, and meet the standards required. Advice is also provided on how to achieve best practice, any deviation from which would need to be justified.

The Code is applicable to all game shooting, whether it is walked-up, driven, wild bird, or released, and whatever your role when shooting, you should always be aware of The Code and raise awareness of it to others. It should be your yardstick when deciding if you should accept an invitation to shoot, or what shooting to buy.

Although The Code of Good Shooting Practice has now been around for over 10 years, it would appear that there are still a few shoots, as well as some involved in shooting, that are either unaware of its existence, or who misguidedly believe that it does not apply to them. Neither is acceptable.

Shooting and shoot management practices will always be judged by the way participants and providers behave, and it is essential that they are conducted to the highest standards at all times. The Code has recently been updated to reflect changes to the law, and to stress how important it is for everyone that participates in game shooting not just to comply with it, but also to promote it. It is not just the responsibility of shoot organisers to do so.

If a shoot, or anyone participating in game shooting, ignores The Code of Good Shooting Practice, for whatever reason, then they are a threat to our sport. It is therefore essential that all agencies promoting shoots, and those taking days shooting, are confident that the management practices being undertaken meet the highest standards, as do their own. If there are any concerns to the contrary, then these should be reported to the secretary of The Code of Good Shooting Practice.

Click here to download the Code of Good Shooting Practice

The article was written by Adrian Blackmore for the October/November 2017 issue of Fieldsports Magazine (p.46).

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