While we enjoy our sport, it is essential to keep an eye on the future and to fight hard now for the young Shots of tomorrow. The future of shooting is a matter of supply and demand. Supply is probably the bit we all think of first ? maintaining the availability of:
– Something to shoot with ? by working for a simple and fair licensing system that allows responsible people to own and use sporting firearms.
– Somewhere to shoot. Be it target shooting or live quarry, we need to ensure there is continued access to land for shooting.
– Something to shoot at. We must maintain varied quarry lists and shooting seasons, and continue to emphasise the essential role that shooting plays in pest control and habitat management.
All of the shooting organisations have a role in achieving these aims and must play their part. BASC, the largest, has the greatest resources and is able to exert its infl uence in politics, the media and on the ground. Together with other organisations, it can keep shooting safe for the future by ensuring supply.
But what about the other side of the coin ? demand? Can we be as confident? There was a positive blip in new licences on issue last year, but this must be set against a longer-term decline. This is something we need to address.
Fewer people are taking up shooting as a hobby. This is largely due to restrictive licensing changes ? more people are letting their licence lapse than are taking out new ones. If this continues, shooting risks becoming more marginalised as the number of participants falls.
So, what can we do? Initiatives such as the British Shooting Sports Council?s National Shooting Week are a good start. However, one week a year is not enough; we must do more. Shooting grounds, airgun clubs and rifle clubs must promote themselves more widely. How many of them market themselves outside the existing pool of shooters? I am willing to bet that the answer is not many. We should not hide away from the public gaze. What we do is safe, legal, responsible, well run and has proven benefits for the economy and for wildlife habitats. Let?s shout it from the rooftops and encourage as many young people as possible to join us as beaters and pickers-up.
The majority of our population is urban-based and often their opinions are made on the basis of a lack of knowledge of what shooters do. BASC is determined to change this perception. So, let?s work together to encourage more people to take up shooting ? a growing sport is much easier to safeguard than one that is shrinking.
For more on young Shots, see page 18 of the 29th of September issue
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