Its like one of those nightmares from which you wake up sweating, but in this case the horror is still there. Just imagine a gameshooting world without lead shot. Unthinkable? Dont you believe it. Rifle ammunition is already on the slippery slope (Is stalking facing a lead ban? 24 March). I assume that the military and police also will be removing lead from their ammunition so they can shoot people with environmentally-kindly bullets.
When the incompetently drafted rule on non-toxic shot for fowling was forced on us I made my views known and have done so ever since, for the change was made on the strength of no scientific evidence, and being species- and not environment – based was nonsense. BASC scientists should have researched a learned paper to prove the matter one way or another. Remember their promise? No non-toxic until it was as cheap and effective as lead. What happened to that? I felt and still feel cheated. I had a quiet think and counted 11 of my friends who used to shoot a great many duck and now shoot none at all for as one said, With non-toxic its one shot to knock it down and two on the water to finish it off. I did not take up shooting to do that. Amazingly, many talking heads preach that non-toxic is as good as lead just check out the ill-conceived puff for,non-lead shot in the latest BASC magazine. Those against it are considered prejudiced so theres a clear hint of BASCs thinking on it. Those false prophets have no truth in them. It is not as good as lead period. And those who claim it is have axes to grind. I dont mind them deceiving themselves but they try to deceive the rest of us. Remember the old American saying, dont pee down my back and tell me its raining.
Yes, I do tire of being right all the time, but at the time of the introduction of non-toxic shot for fowling I predicted the end of lead shot for all shooting within a few years. I am usually a cheerful person but write with a heavy heart for I see that day approaching faster than you might think. Imagine a lead-free shooting world. Pigeon shooters would be paying £26.50 for 32g bismuth per box. If they shoot brilliantly and kill one for two, their 100-bird day would cost them £212 in cartridges. If they tire of the bismuth and go for tungsten matrix, the same day costs £270. A semi-serious clay shooter with his 300 practice shots a week would pay £750 for the cheapest 30g bismuth load. The high-bird gameshooters would be finished as the non-toxic is even worse at range so no more arguments about high-bird shooting. Gunsmiths could not afford to carry stocks at such prices and some would go under. Prefer the cheaper iron shot? In that case say goodbye to your nice English guns. Grandpas old pair of Boss guns is scrap. Also you cannot put it through anything tighter than half-choke and you need plastic wads at a time when we are moving away from them to fibre for environmental reasons. Wounding would be the norm. It would be funny if twerent so serious.
What really causes the heart to miss a beat is the look of the good and the great on the newly formed advisory group on lead ammunition who will decide our fate. Led by BASC, it comprises an unholy alliance with their mates the RSPB who hate us, so no prizes for guessing which way they will vote, ditto The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Food Standards Agency. I am surprised they have not invited their other new best friends from the League with whom they lobbied so successfully to outlaw rearing cages with such disastrous results (The gamebird code: what went wrong? 31 March). I am informed that the very people who should be represented, the National Gamekeepers Organisation, were not invited to be on the group.
BASCs director John Swift says of the group, The aim of the Lead Ammunition Group is to bring together stakeholders from all interested parties to address a wide range of topics concerning lead ammunition. The group is tasked with identifying any significant threats as well as perceived threats that are not significant. The group is to advise on opinions for managing any risks, knowledge gaps and communication issues and so on. What in the name of all thats holy does that Birtspeak mean? As Victor Meldrew said, I dont know what language that is, but it sounds like B******* to me.
I see with awful clarity the way things must go. Shooters have few friends on that advisory group. Lead-free shotgunning grows closer and we are being led to it like French aristos to the guillotine. It is the story of the fowling lead ban all over again. Bird shooting will be vastly diminished, many will desert as they have deserted wildfowling. In a long life with the gun I have never come across such a concerted and dangerous threat to the sport I love. This is time to stand up and be counted. Time for BASC to get its scientists to surprise us by compiling a learned scientific paper on the matter there is a first time for everything. Just how many people have been damaged by ingesting lead from shot birds? It must fight to the death to defend lead shotgun pellets and the sport it is handsomely paid through our subscriptions to protect. Even now it can make some amends for the laying cages betrayal.
You might guess I feel bitter and angry about this, but I have no confidence that my views or those of Shooting Times readers will be fairly represented on that advisory group. I suspect BASC of being anti-lead while some Council members, who try to speak their minds, tell me of a climate of fear.
Time to get writing, put pressure on shooting organisations to show some backbone and spirit or we will be sold down the river. Fail to act and you deserve all you get, in which case would the last game Shot left in the UK please turn out the lights?