Labour MPs wholeheartedly backed shooting at last week?s rural reception. In attendance were Richard Caborn, minister for sport, Vernon Coaker, the Home Office minister responsible for firearms, rural affairs minister Barry Gardiner, Lord Rooker and Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton, both DEFRA ministers in the House of Lords.

The reception was organised by the Country Land & Business Association (CLA), the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Fisheries and Angling Conservation Trust Ltd (FACT), and gave MPs a platform to voice their views on shooting sports. Richard Caborn pledged support for pistol Shots competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games, and said the Government was working towards allowing them to practise in this country.

DEFRA minister Barry Gardiner was equally complimentary of the conservation work carried out by shooters. CLA president David Fursdon told ST: ?Barry Gardiner outlined how he wanted to see 95 per cent of SSSIs in a good state of health by 2010, and confirmed that DEFRA will work with the CLA and its members to ensure that target is met. He also recognised that it is our members who provide the environment for many people to go shooting.

I was delighted that the pledged canoe access to rivers would be facilitated through voluntary agreements and not by way of legislation. It was also useful to hear Vernon Coaker say, ?Make no mistake: there are no plans to ban shooting?, but we must still engage with public opinion. The antis are good at doing this ? we must do better.?