A bold new plan to boost game sales and uphold shooting standards has been announced, with sporting agents and shoot owners to act as self-regulators.

An initiative has been proposed with the intention of promoting the consumption of game and maintaining shoot standards.

Expected to launch in mid-April, the British Game Alliance (BGA) is being headed by Tom Adams, former director of shooting for GunsOnPegs.

Mr Adams told Shooting Times that the BGA, which is seeking Defra approval, hopes to explore new markets for game. “I’m in discussions with processors in Hong Kong,” he revealed.

“I think the Middle and Far East pose quite interesting opportunities for the BGA and the game industry as a whole.”

Assurance scheme proposed

In the UK, BGA plans include educating the public about the health benefits of game, engaging with bloggers and celebrity chefs and exploring how to diversify game products for maximum appeal. It also hopes to operate a “British Game” assurance scheme, akin to the Assured Food Standards red tractor, with products approved by the BGA receiving a pheasant logo stamp.

Shoots will be encouraged to register online and, while specific membership fees are still to be decided, there will be a tiered annual fee tied to the number of birds shot per season. There will also be an optional levy per bird, as “an opportunity for the Guns to support the BGA’s efforts”.

Shoots seeking membership will be expected to abide by the BGA’s Shoot Standards, which Mr Adams described as a “refined” version of the existing Code of Good Shooting Practice, though the actual standards are still a work in progress.

“It’s a little less wordy and a little easier to follow in terms of the structure,” he said. “But the actual principles of it are drawn from the Code of Good Shooting Practice, which we should all be striving to adhere to.”

He clarified: “There’s probably a little more focus on game handling. We’re trying to ensure that certain issues that could be just brushed over resonate with people when they read a comment about game handling, [such as] having game in chillers and below a certain temperature within a certain time. These are key issues we need to address; they need to be very clear.”

Investigate complaints

The BGA would investigate any “credible complaints” about poor standards on shoots, revoking membership and publishing details of any complaints that are upheld.

Though exactly how that would work is still unclear as Mr Adams explained that the BGA is currently looking into the options regarding who would investigate these complaints and whether it would be an external regulator.

Mr Adams is part of the Sporting Agents Committee, which also includes Gwyn Evans of Bettws Hall, Mark Osborne from William Powell, Dylan Williams from the Royal Berkshire Shooting School, John Duncan from Roxtons and Adam Morton from A. Morton Sporting. This committee intends to select a main board to oversee the BGA “detached from the shooting industry” and made up of executives drawn from the supermarket, PR, legal and financial sectors, along with a planned advisory board to help oversee the launch of the BGA and continue in an advisory capacity.

“Current Sporting Agents Committee members will be asked to sit on the advisory board with other shoot owners (small and large) as well as the organisations to offer governance and insight from the shooting community,” revealed Mr Adams, though he could not yet confirm any specific appointments.