Gundogs and game fair visitors alike were to be found not just on the banks of the river Test, but also cooling off in its clear waters last weekend when the 49th annual CLA Game Fair was held on the Broadlands estate, near Romsey in Hampshire.

A record 138,000 people made the pilgrimage to the UK’s largest annual fieldsports festival to enjoy three days of stunning sunshine at an event noted by many for a more relaxed atmosphere than in recent years ? perhaps this was down to a less hostile political fieldsports climate, but more likely it was the metereological climate which made visitors stroll more slowly up and down the aisles, and gaze languidly at the displays. It was too hot for any sustained political protest about fieldsports’ future, however an enormous number of visitors did resort simply to wearing their “Bollocks to Blair” t-shirts whilst watching the superb displays of hounds in the main ring, rather than mount a sustained assault on the barricades of the only bastion of Governmental interference present at the show ? the Defra stand.

At the fair, the shooting community was buoyed by several important announcements made during the weekend ? full coverage of these will be given in the News section of the upcoming 3 August issue of Shooting Times available this Thursday, but in brief they are outlined below:

Game Acts to go

Firstly, on Saturday, DEFRA minister Lord Rooker announced the Government’s intention to abolish the Game Acts, meaning effectively the end to the game licences as well as the ban on the sale of game meat out of season ? a boost for the game meat industry and a welcome relief, for shooters, from puzzled Post Office counter clerks searching out “gaming licences”.

Shoot Assurance Scheme launched

Secondly, widespread co-operation amongst the major shooting organisations over the past two years has borne fruit in the shape of the Shoot Assurance Scheme. The scheme was heralded by its originators as the first step in meaningful self-regulation of shooting. While membership of the independently assessed scheme is entirely voluntary, the anticipated results for those shoots both large and small which subject themselves to its criteria will be improvements both in the professionalism of the shoot and its habitat. It is expected that Shoot Assurance membership will, in the future, offer customers a mark of confidence in the individual estate in a similar way to existing schemes such as the Red Tractor logo, the British Standards kitemark, or the Fairtrade stamp.

Find out more about last weekend’s Game Fair in this Thursday’s issue and watch out for a gallery of pictures from the show on this website later in the week.

To see a gallery of images from the show click on this link http://www.shootingtimes.co.uk/gallery/