Home Office minister Vernon Coaker attacked animal rights extremists and praised law-abiding shooters in a well-received speech to the British Shooting Sports Council (BSSC) last week.

Mr Coaker was the BSSC?s special guest for its annual luncheon, held at the Army and Navy Club, in London. The BSSC represents more than a dozen organisations acting for the shooting community in the UK, including BASC, the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association, the Gun Trade Association, the Countryside Alliance (CA) and the National Rifle Association. Among the guests were Kate Hoey MP and Bill Wiggin MP, the BSSC vice-chairman.

Relationships between Government ministers and shooters have historically been frosty due to a long list of restrictions imposed on the sport, but Mr Coaker was determined to counter the growing problem of animal rights extremists attacking shooters and anglers. He said: ?We?ve made positive strides to reduce the number of incidents in the bio-science area over the past 18 months and we will continue to ensure that people carrying out activities within the law can continue to do so without being attacked. I?ve already had meetings with shooting and fishing representatives to discuss these matters.?

Responsibility was a theme of Mr Coaker?s speech. He also praised the BSSC?s National Shooting Week initiative for ?presenting your sport to the public in a positive light while promoting the responsible use of firearms.? National Shooting Week takes place between 26 May and 3 June and, to date, has grounds and clubs across the UK offering more than 100 public open days.