Shooting organisations currently rent around 45,000 hectares of public woodland in England from the government body and feel their sport has not been given equal status with other recreational activities such as walking and cycling.

The move comes in response to the FC?s public consultation entitled The Study of the Forestry Commission Estate in England, which looks at the long-term role of public forests.

The consultation was launched on 6 July and ran until 28 September.

?BASC is urging the FC to promote and properly recognise the current and potential value of live quarry shooting as a recreational activity,? BASC?s head of gamekeeping, Tom Blades, said.

Mr Blades added: ?BASC believes there are double standards in the way in which different recreational activities are supported within the public forest. For example, activities such as mountain biking and walking enjoy the provision of extra cycle and footpaths at no cost to the user. On the other hand, shooters who are themselves recreational users of the public forest have to pay for the right to use the forest and in turn pay for the infrastructure that supports their sport.?

Mr Blades also pointed out sporting leases should not place excessive restraints on shooters: ?Given the economic and environmental benefits that can be obtained through shooting, it seems odd that some recent FC leases have included unnecessary restrictions on shooting. BASC would like this policy to be reviewed.?

Shooting statistics in public woods

The Countryside Alliance?s (CA) Tim Bonner concurred.

He said the FC?s complicated shooting leases can be off-putting: ?The CA is working towards the situation where shooting is licensed on FC and other Government land in a way that ensures public safety but allows the widest possible access to the hunting and shooting communities. We have been concerned that some of the licensing process has become so complex as to make hunting and shooting on some public land unworkable.?

Nigel Cox manages a small private shoot near Canterbury, in Kent, and rents 300 or so acres from the FC.

?I think the shooting organisations are right to press the FC on this issue. It is outrageous that shooting should be sidelined as a recreational activity on public land. It should be given the same status as other woodland sports. I have, however, always found the FC a pleasure to deal with when negotiating leases.?

An FC spokesman commented: ?The consultation attracted 2,170 responses and a further 2,292 answered a short questionnaire focused on woodland visitors. There is a lot of information and opinion to assess before we are ready to make recommendations to ministers.?

He added: ?Our current policy is to continue to lease shooting rights provided they are compatible with other priorities for a woodland, particularly public access. We already have more than 300 shooting leases on the England estate covering 45,000 hectares.?

Let us know what you think about this!

  • malcolm bennett

    i took a lease out on a wood 6 years ago,cleared all the mess out from the last lot of shooters that were there,cut out new rides and built new release pens,stocked it with birds and got together with some fine people to have a good shoot.even the locals said how well the wood was looking and how nice to walk round with there gradchildren and see the birds out.also we have attracted so much more wildlife to the wood,now because of all the rules of what you can do and what you carn’t make it impossible to hold the birds, ie cannot stim round feeders.feeders to be out of sight.no hand feeding,no quad to be used hard to walk round all feeders on 250acres,not allowed to shoot foxes that are taking you’r birds,the list goe’s on.yet they stii want there rent,and still cut down trees during the season when they say all work will be done before the season starts,then they tell you there will be a drag hunt through the wood on 4 or 5 occasions in the week,scattering the birds to all 4 corners of the earth,but the rent still goe’s up.so i have no choice after all our hard work to call it a day,another shoot packed in,i will go back in 4 or 5 years from now to see what it looks like,i spoke with our local fc and it was basic nothing will change and it looks like getting no better,we have done so much work and spent so many days of own time thinking this was going to get better by the years and by the season,thaks fc for thinking of us.perhaps the dog walker,cyclists and ramblers will clear the rides when brambles start to block there way,or will they just move to another wood till along comes another lot of shooters to have ago and clear the rides once again,and then low and behold the woods full of walkers.cyclists and ramblers once again.please fc if you manage to read this give it some thought because now you have lost revenue off us but most important,a team of people who maintained you’r wood FREE of charge.thankyou malcolm bennett a very pretubed gamekeeper looking for somewhere new in lincolnshire.

  • Dido Bendigo

    After robustly arguing against a windfarm on my doorstep, planned by FC(Scotland). I found they could no longer manage to get me a deer carcass. They took many orders, but never fulfilled one of them.

  • darren

    why is it that people are allowed to have and use shotguns in a public area, but a air gun in a case with a loaded magazine next to it in a public area
    will get you arrested by the police and you could have your gun confiscated and fined, you have around 45,000 hectares of public woodland to shoot in, if you have a air gun you have 0, and you feel shotgunning has not been given equal status with other recreational activities, think of the poor air gunner sat in his back garden shooting a £1000 gun at a target, 10 meters away, and nowhere else to go because the nearest range is 20 + miles away i believe shotguns are more dangerous than air guns
    with an air gun if you miss the target you miss the target with 1 projectile which is traveling slower and dropping faster , with shotguns when you hit the target you also miss the target with a lot more than 1 projectile that is traveling faster dropping slower and your allowed to have it in a place were people take there kids for a walk, please call to develop a new national policy for shooting but include air guns in it as the majority of air gunners are sensible law abiding citizens the same as the people with shot guns, air gunners should be given a equal status with other recreational activities as well

  • fred hampton

    hi my name is Fred Hampton im only 15 years old and i read the shooting times every week to keep up todate this descusted with in ways the game shoots inploy game keepers(which i am one my self) to keep the wood in good inck and manage the woods so they dont get to over grown so they now we can take caer of the woods and land that we have of them and i think that we should press It is outrageous that shooting should be sidelined as a recreational activity on public land i think It should be given the same status as other woodland sports such as walking and not knowing what to do when peopel are shooting and some times they just walk strate through the middle of the shoot mountin bikers makeing a mess of the rides though the wood because they just wont stike to the paths that are set for them its always being not shore weather the birds are there or weather some one has walked through the cover crops or the woods and the licensing process has become so complex as to make hunting and shooting on some public land unworkable and unsafe in cases.