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Reflections on a year in shooting

The past year has been a rollercoaster for shooting. Welcome developments, such as the fact that Exmoor Foxhounds’ Tony Wright’s Hunting Act appeal was overturned sat alongside controversial news that set-aside was to be scrapped, with potentially disastrous ramifications for ground-nesting birds. The dramatic increase in sales of game meat in supermarkets nestled up to the devastating news that flooding in the north of England had killed tens of thousands of poults over the summer months.

Perhaps the most dominating theme of 2007, however, was disease. Bird flu, foot-and-mouth and Bluetongue swamped the news pages of ST as we raced to break all the newest stories and keep readers up to date. The conveniently timed relaunch of ST’s website in July allowed us to post all the latest developments from DEFRA as they happened.

On a positive note, shooting has received a lot of great press this year. Alan Titchmarsh, for example, presented the BBC’s Nature of Britain series, which was watched by more than five million viewers and showed the vital role that pheasant shooting and grouse moor management play in the countryside and rural economy. Celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay also showed the sport in a positive light.

ST achieved several milestones in 2007, celebrating its 125th birthday as well as launching its first-ever podcast and a series of game preparation videos on its website. Next year, the most important news stories will be documented regularly in a multi-media format (podcasts and videos). Supplementing the magazine’s news in this way expands the coverage of noteworthy events to include more interviews and behind-the-scenes reports, which helps viewers to relive special occasions.

The past year has certainly kept the ST news desk busy. Shooting is often misunderstood in the national press, which can lead to a false impression of the sport. ST’s pages provide an opportunity to correct these errors and highlight the fantastic conservation and charity work the sport promotes. Next year has many political hurdles to overcome and will see some important consultations concluded.

A full news review will appear in the 27 December issue of Shooting Times.