Stories originated by the BBC investigating the number of children with shotgun certificates appeared on the BBC News website, BBC Radio 4?s Today programme and throughout the media last week. The reports caused dismay among shooters concerned by their factual inaccuracy. Shooting groups complained on the grounds that the reports failed to make it clear that, by law, children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult when out shooting.

BBC News Home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw wrote the following: Thirteen children under the age of 10 have been issued with shotgun certificates in the UK over the past three years. The youngest child to be granted a licence was seven years old, figures obtained by BBC News show.

Mike Yardley, Spokesman for the Shooting Sports Trust complained to the BBC on behalf of several shooters who contacted him after hearing the report on Radio 4?s Today programme.

?A lot of shooting people believe that the BBC appears to have some sort of bias against shooting now. It seems evident in its sensationalised news coverage and in other factual and dramatic programme output too.

?The latest ?story? concerning the shock horror of young shotgun certificate holders ? like the Exmoor Emperor saga ? misled by its headline (originally, Children under 10 issued shotguns). It is interesting to note though that the content was altered later. I complained to Today on Radio 4 as soon as possible and they put me through to the Bulletins Desk who, apparently, disseminated the broadcast version.

?I am extremely worried about the long-term consequences of this sort of reporting to the future of our sport. The perception of the British public is, too often, being distorted. I suspect the climate of misinformed opinion may be turning against us. This must be addressed.

The rest of this article appears in 30th March issue of Shooting Times.

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