Advice on what to do when your shoot is targeted by antis
What are the practical measures you can take to maintain safety and de-escalate a situation if you are unlucky enough to be confronted by protesters on a shoot day?
Confrontation and intimidation
Remember that extremists amongst animal rights groups frequently work to the same agenda – that of confrontation and intimidation, intended to create violence.
It is almost impossible to restrict access to land by groups hell-bent on such action. However there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you are in a position to deal with such incidents efficiently as well as maintaining the safety of all concerned.
Make a photographic record
As with all digital photographs, camera phones have a time code embedded within the image file. Providing a date, time and location recording for evidence and intelligence to hand to the police is very useful.
Download an app such as EvidenceCamPhoto (just £1.99) which gives GPS co-ordinates and a date/time stamp. You can also input notes on the photo (names, etc.) for future reference. You can then immediately transfer the data by e mail or Whats App if necessary.
Intimation and harassment
As stated, extremists will attempt to use intimidation and harassment to elicit a violent response. The aim is to show their targets (keepers, beaters, pickers-up and shooters) in a negative light.
Of course they are also trying to disrupt a legitimate activity to such an extent that it is stopped.
If aggressive protesters arrive at your shoot, they may already have played the disruption card. Unless you can change drives or location, stopping the day’s activity may be the safest response. Disappointing and costly though this may be, it is far better than a confrontation involving firearms. The point at which this becomes necessary is one for careful consideration.
Calm and polite
What we can have much more control over is the way in which we, as Guns and supporters, are viewed. A calm and polite manner goes a long way towards maintaining a safe situation as well as highlighting the tactics used by the aggressors.
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Safety is the key message. Plan ahead and if necessary inform the police of planned Shoot days and the likelihood of disruption from extremists.
Organisations such as the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association and British Association of Shooting & Conservation (BASC) will be able to provide informed direction. You could also consider employing the skills and experience of a specialist security company.