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Shooters need proof of insurance

My new BASC membership card has just arrived. I’ve duly detached it and signed it and have put it in my wallet where it will reside, in company with Countryside Alliance and Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust cards, for the next 12 months, until I do the same thing again next year. I repeat this action every year out of habit, as in all the years I’ve been a member, I have never shown my card to anyone.

However, the membership card notes that I have insurance cover for All BASC recognised activities, and that it gives me cover when I’m shooting to the tune of £10million public liability, and even £35,000 personal accident. My Countryside Alliance (CA) membership duplicates this, which is rather a waste of my subscription money, but I do believe strongly in supporting both organisations.

Everyone who shoots should have public liability insurance, which is one of the reasons why I believe that membership of either BASC or the CA is so important. When I belonged to a shooting syndicate, one of the rules of membership was a subscription to BASC and I like to believe everyone was a paid-up member. However, the shoot captain never asked to inspect our membership cards, but simply trusted our honesty. Whether or not this was misplaced I wouldn’t like to say.

Last year I had the pleasure of spending a day on a shoot in Germany. Before setting off, the senior member of the syndicate inspected everyone’s game licences and insurance. The Germans are a law-abiding lot, so everyone had the paperwork ready for inspection, which passed off quickly and without a hitch. It was all part of the ritual of the shooting day. No-one minded and it was reassuring to know that everyone was covered in case of accidents.

In all the years that I have been shooting I have never seen a similar inspection in the UK. Perhaps surprisingly, in view of the over-regulated society in which we live, there is no legal obligation to have insurance cover if you shoot. Most of the shooting community take shooting safety extremely seriously, as they should, so claims against the BASC insurance cover are few.

Yet accidents can happen, and I know I’m not the only one who has had pellets whistle past my ear while picking-up on a pheasant drive. It would be reassuring to know that everyone shooting is insured, as if I had the misfortune to lose my sight due to careless shooting, I wouldn’t hesitate to sue for compensation.

So isn’t it about time that we followed the Germans’ example and made a point of showing our membership cards at the start of each shooting day? Commercial shoots should also make a point of insisting on membership of a shooting organisation for everyone taking part on a bought day, and failure to produce a current card should automatically bar that person from taking part. It’s not much to ask, really, is it?

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