The Scottish Country Sports Tourism Group (SCSTG) was established in 2005 for the purpose of marketing and promoting Scotland’s world-class fieldsports as well as providing industry training to improve delivery to the client. When I became project manager of the SCSTG in April 2009, I decided to incorporate a new element to the purpose of the group — education and participation.

The SCSTG’s current aims are therefore delivered through two main projects: its website, which is a one-stop shop where more than 250 sporting and accommodation providers advertise their services to the sporting public around the world, and industry training through the delivery of The Excellence in Customer Care course, which highlights the importance of the customer in our traditional industry.

When I joined the SCSTG, access to fieldsports was a real issue. Education and participation therefore became an important part of increasing sporting tourism in Scotland. There was a market, but access to fieldsports was perceived to be difficult. The new Scottish Country Sports Experience should go some way to solving this access problem and help to dispel the myth that fieldsports are a closed shop.

The project is funded by Perth and Kinross Council (through EU funding) and the half-day experiences are aimed at newcomers and tourists.

Participants will learn about the different fieldsport disciplines, the relevant etiquette, the species they are likely to encounter and how their involvement in a day’s sport fits into the rural environment. They will also have the opportunity to have a go at target or clayshooting, or fishing under the supervision of trained tutors. In short, the primary focus is to equip newcomers with the necessary tools and confidence to go on to participate safely, and to progress to the next step of a “real” sporting experience.

Participants will also gain an understanding of the sporting and rural environments while enjoying an introduction to the equipment and skills required to participate safely on a shooting, fishing or deerstalking outing. Though it is currently a local project, my intention is to expand the Scottish Country Sports Experience throughout Scotland to provide tourists with easy access to fieldsports as well as creating more demand for fieldsports-related businesses.

In my opinion, all of us involved with fieldsports have a duty to promote the benefits they bring to the rural landscape, whether they are environmental, economic or social, as well as providing opportunities for newcomers to get involved to ensure the survival of these sports.

For further information or to find out more about the SCSTG, email ian.robertson@cstgscotland.com or visit www.countrysportscotland.com.

SCSTG is offering a free listing to accommodation and sporting providers until the end of June. For more information, contact Victoria Brooks, tel 01350 723226.

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At that time, almost two-thirds of those who responded to the debate supported my proposal and I am certain that many more will now agree with me in the light of recent developments.

Let us take the lead on this issue and start a vigorous campaign to legitimise the sport of shooting woodpigeon by its inclusion on the quarry

list. As the saying goes, “wake up and smell the coffee” and heed what Natural England is saying.

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